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Pakistan Taliban Attack; Destruction in Missouri; Misrata: After the Battle

Aired May 23, 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.

Military targets. An attack by the Pakistani Taliban rocks this compound in Karachi, as reports surface the Afghan Taliban can't locate their leader.

Devastation first seen in the light of day. Tornadoes destroy towns from Minnesota, all the way to Missouri.

And heading to Seoul for plastic surgery. We'll tell you one girl's story that could leave you wide-eyed with surprise.

We begin in Karachi, Pakistan, where Taliban militants stormed a naval base late on Sunday night, laying siege to a main building there for hours. At least 10 members of Pakistan's military were killed, as well as some of the militants.

Now, the militants appeared to target this now burnt-out plane. It is a P- 3C Orion, which the U.S. government has supplied to Pakistan. The Pakistani navy says it is now in complete control of the situation and that the naval base has been cleared of all terrorists.

Our senior international correspondent Stan Grant is live at CNN in Islamabad with the latest.

And Stan, since the killing of Osama bin Laden, this is the most brazen militant attack yet. Give us the details.

STAN GRANT, CNN SR. INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Yes, it certainly is. And the Taliban, of course, claiming responsibility for this attack as well, Kristie, and saying that it's in retaliation for the ongoing military operations against it by the Pakistan army. They accuse the Pakistan military of killing innocent civilians.

Now, we've just heard from Rehman Malik, who is the interior minister here. He gave a lengthy briefing about what exactly took place.

What we can tell you now is they suspect there were before four and six attackers. Now, what they did is they came to the back side of this naval base, they used wire cutters. They were able to cut into the wire, then use ladders to scale the ladder (ph) and actually get inside the base itself.

They were very heavily armed. They were carrying automatic weapons, rocket launchers, and hand grenades. Some of those rockets were indeed fired at those planes that you just talked about. Two of those planes have, in fact, been destroyed.

Once they were inside there, Kristie, a lengthy firefight ensued. This went on for hours, and the commandos from the navy and the army brought in.

Now, we can tell you that, again, according to Rehman Malik, the interior minister, he's confirming that 10 troops have been killed, another 15 have been wounded. Three of the militants, he said, they are confirmed dead. They suspect another is also dead, but they can't confirm that. Two, they say, actually escaped.

Now, one of the dead militants exploded a suicide vest. There was another suicide vest found, and that was not detonated.

Now, of course there is a lot of concern about how these militants were able to stage these attacks, how they were able to get inside. And Rehman Malik saying to people, look, we are in this battle every day.

He says, "Trust us. Trust us. Pakistanis are facing 9/11," a reference to the September 11 attacks in New York, facing that every single day -- Kristie.

STOUT: Now, the other big story in Pakistan today, highly speculative, multiple sources reporting on the death of the Afghan Taliban leader, Mullah Omar, there in Pakistan. What is really happening there?

GRANT: Yes. Again, a very, very confusing picture.

This started early in the morning, and you can imagine while this major operation was under way, these rumors were swirling across Pakistan, coming out of Afghanistan. They were coming out of intelligence sources there claiming at various times that Mullah Omar had been killed, that he was killed leaving Quetta, going to Waziristan, in the north of Pakistan.

They've been walked back from there, but there is a lot of speculation now about where exactly he is. Hearing from Afghanistan itself. They are saying that the Taliban and other sources have in fact lost track of him, that they had been in regular contact with him over the past 10 years while he's been leaving in Pakistan, but the past five days they have lost all contact.

Now, this was actually put to Rehman Malik, the interior minister here, as well. He says he has dismissed this out of hand, these reports about his death, reports about him being -- he has dismissed this story out of hand. But, of course, these stories continue to come out. They're coming from the Afghan side. We'll have to see where they lead from here -- Kristie.

STOUT: All right.

Stan Grant with the word from Islamabad.

Thank you, Stan.

Now, in the U.S., towns have been torn apart from vicious tornadoes. Now, this one, it touched down in eastern Kansas on Saturday, killing at least one person.

Another deadly storm system swept across parts of Missouri. One tornado touched down in the city of Joplin just before 7:00 p.m. Eastern Time. Some people were out shopping at the time.

One chilling video captures the exact moment this twister struck. Listen to this.





STOUT: You could hear people wailing there before the storm tears through, and a woman in the background yelling, "Jesus!"

That chilling clip, it was posted onto YouTube. And as darkness fell, the extent of the destruction was still unclear. But morning has shown what one storm chaser calls complete devastation.

A short time ago, city officials reported at least 89 deaths. Emergency crews are searching for more victims under the rubble.


STOUT: Now, we can take you live now to Missouri. Our Brian Todd joins us now from St. John's Hospital, which took a direct hit, total devastation there.

What are you seeing behind you?

BRIAN TODD, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Kristie, we'll show you what we're seeing here. Our photojournalist John Person (ph) and I can walk a few feet and kind of show you, get a closer view of the St. John's Regional Medical Center here.

It took a direct hit, as you mentioned. Look at the top of the building. It looks like part of that has been sheared off.

Most of the windows in the facade here have been damaged. We are told that there were hundreds of people inside here, that they got everyone out. No word on specific numbers of casualties right now coming from this building.

One interesting thing that we heard was that there were x-rays from this building found 70 miles away from here, 70 miles away in Dade County, Missouri. So we saw a gurney actually that was tossed around and thrown down the street probably four or five blocks.

There's a downed helicopter over there that was tossed off its helipad on its side, the front of it sheared off, the rotors completely taken off. I mean, this is devastation on a scale that people here have really never seen.

City officials tell us that 25 to 30 percent of the city is completely -- well, it has suffered severe damage. Not completely destroyed, but suffered very, very severe damage. But if you walk around here, it looks like it's completely destroyed.

The landscape is unbelievable -- houses completely flattened, just not even there. Trees uprooted, power lines down, cars like this over here -- look at this. Look at the wreckage of these cars over here.

They're thrown on top of each other. They're thrown against buildings. They're thrown on to properties, on to trees. This is all over the place for miles and miles as far as you can see.

So what they're telling us is right now, 89 confirmed deaths, Kristie. That is certain to go up. Hundreds of injuries.

They're warning people, just be very careful when you go back to your homes, because there are gas leaks, there are possible fires, downed power lines. It's still a very, very dangerous situation here, Kristie.

STOUT: It is unbelievable, these images of the storm's aftermath that you're sharing with us live there from Missouri.

Now, in that building behind you, the hospital, no doubt there were people there when this storm struck, 7:00 p.m. local time on Sunday night. What about the survivors? Have you talked to them about what it was like when the tornado struck the hospital and how they managed to get through it and to escape?

TODD: Well, the survivors, we're actually just trying to find them right now. You know, most of us just got on the scene a short time ago. We're trying to locate survivors. We hope to be able to speak to some of them later.

We have spoken to some people who were first on the scene here, some people who work at the hospital, who say that it just came upon them fairly suddenly. One person, a storm chaser around here, said that it was "rain- wrapped," which was a problem, meaning there was such a driving rain storm at the time, that maybe part of the tornado could have been obscured and people maybe didn't get a great view of it.

But one of the officials here said that they had about a 20-minute warning between when the tornado alerts first went off and when it hit. That's about double what they normally get, so that could be a very positive thing that could end up saving some lives.

STOUT: Brian Todd, joining us live from the scene.

Thank you very much indeed, Brian.

Now, you are watching NEWS STREAM. And still ahead on the program, despite a renewed push for a peaceful resolution to Libya's civil war, the conflict grinds on. Nic Robertson will bring us the latest on what the rebels say they need to win.

And U.S. President Barack Obama and the first lady plant a tree in Ireland, a trip the president says is taking him back to his roots.

And we head to Seoul, where this young girl's eye surgery is eye-opening in more ways than one.


STOUT: Welcome back.

Now, the European Union has opened a new diplomatic office in Libya in the rebel stronghold of Benghazi. Now, the EU foreign policy chief, Catherine Ashton, arrived in Benghazi on Sunday. She met the chairman of the political body opposing Moammar Gadhafi's rule and talked to CNN's Sara Sidner about how Libya can move past war.


CATHERINE ASHTON, EU FOREIGN POLICY CHIEF: There is a national dialogue to be had. And there's a big discussion in this country to be had right across Libya about the future they want and the people that they wish to elect and the constitution they want. And in the course of that, it will be very important to safeguard what all this has been about, which is human rights and fundamental freedom.


STOUT: Now, as Catherine Ashton visited Benghazi, at least four explosions rocked the western rebel-held town of Zintan on Sunday. But in Misrata, also in western Libya, people are finally hopeful the siege that has gone on for weeks could finally be coming to an end.

Ben Wedeman was able to walk around in the heart of that city.


BEN WEDEMAN, CNN SR. INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: We're on Tripoli Street in Misrata. Here was the scene of the most intense fighting between revolutionaries and the forces of Moammar Gadhafi.

Here, as you can see, people have set up an ad hoc museum with all the ammunition, the weaponry that was used in that battle, a battle that now seems to be over. The front has now moved well away, more than 20 kilometers from here. NATO intensely bombarded Gadhafi's forces in these cities, forcing them, and, of course, forced by the rebels themselves, to leave the area.

What we've seen in recent days is that NATO has conducted air bombardments of the port around here in Sirte, in the city of Homs, and in Tripoli, stopping any sort of naval attack by Gadhafi's forces on Misrata. So it does appear that the siege has been lifted.

And now people can finally walk around and see what is left of their city. Lots of damage here, but we also see the same old Libyan sense of humor. Here we have a carpet featuring Moammar Gadhafi. The sign says, "It is compulsory that you wipe your shoes."

People here say the battle for Misrata was the turning point in this war, that they succeeded against all odds in breaking the siege. The next stop perhaps is Tripoli.

Ben Wedeman, CNN, Misrata.


STOUT: Now, further west, forces loyal to Moammar Gadhafi have been stepping up their attacks against the rebel stronghold in the mountains near the Tunisian border. And there, Senior International Correspondent Nic Robertson has just met with a group of rebel fighters who say it is getting harder for them to push back.


NIC ROBERTSON, CNN SR. INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: How is the battle going against Gadhafi here?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Today is going harder.

ROBERTSON: Today is going hard?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Yes, because --

ROBERTSON: This is what we can hear from the hills right now.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Yes. And if you just stay a couple hours, maybe we'll have good pictures (ph) for you guys.

ROBERTSON: What's this over here?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: This is the Grad.

ROBERTSON: This is the big rockets, the Grad rockets.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Yes, the big one.

ROBERTSON: Katyusha they call it as well, the Grad.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: No. This is the Grad, the Russian --

ROBERTSON: Yes. And these rockets have been falling right here on the border area?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Yes, just before two weeks ago.

ROBERTSON: Two weeks ago?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Yes. Me and my brother, we came back when the battle started. He passed away.

ROBERTSON: Your brother was killed in the fighting?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Yes, in the fighting. Yes. He's older than me one year.

ROBERTSON: And you came back from London to join the fight two months ago, three months ago?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Yes. And my one brother has come back from Canada as well.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Yes. And everyone was out, back here again.

ROBERTSON: Do you worry you'll lose your life like your brother?


ROBERTSON: You're not worried about that?


ROBERTSON: But it's possible.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Yes, it's possible. We know that, because (INAUDIBLE) way we call a shihada (ph).


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Yes. We call it shihada (ph). We're looking for shihada (ph), actually.

ROBERTSON: What do you need to win the battle?


ROBERTSON: Just guns?


ROBERTSON: When did you capture these?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: This before two months.



ROBERTSON: That's very old. Good grief.


ROBERTSON: And you're still using that? You're using that in battles today?


ROBERTSON: You're using this?


ROBERTSON: It's held together with pieces of tape.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We're just taping it together. And the first time we used to go get this.

ROBERTSON: You used this one with the tape to capture these other weapons?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Yes. And I think this is since 1950.

ROBERTSON: How wide is this territory that you can control? We're on the top of the mountain ridge, but high wide is it?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: How wide? It seems about 270 kilometers.

ROBERTSON: So 270 kilometers long, but how wide?



UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Only about 25 kilometers.

ROBERTSON: Twenty-five kilometers. So that's this sort of narrow finger of land that sticks into Libya.

So the only way to expand your territory here is to have more fighters.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Yes. And more guns.

ROBERTSON: This is how the battle is being fought, with the rebels on the mountaintops, with improvised equipment, and Gadhafi's forces with the heavy weapons in the valleys below. Both sides seem stalemated. Neither can move.

Nic Robertson, CNN, near Nalut, in the rebel-controlled western mountains of Libya.


STOUT: Now, coming up here on NEWS STREAM, they are setting Twitter and the British media abuzz at the moment. Super injunctions are the talk of the town. We'll be looking at how the online world is trying to get around these privacy orders handed down in U.K. courts and what it could mean for the future of social networks.


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

Now, the International Monetary Fund is accepting nominations to replace this man, former chief Dominique Strauss-Kahn. He stepped down amid sexual assault allegations against him. Now, Europeans have always held the top IMF job, but that could continue.

Now, this woman, the French finance minister, Christine Lagarde, is among the frontrunners to replace Strauss-Kahn. Now, Mexico's central bank chief, Agustin Carstens, is also being mentioned, as is Trevor Manuel, the former South African finance minister.

Now, meanwhile, there are new details about Strauss-Kahn's alleged activities shortly after he checked into a Manhattan hotel, one day before he's accused of assaulting a hotel maid. A law enforcement source tells CNN that Strauss-Kahn sought the company of two female receptionists, inviting them to his room for a drink. Now, CNN understands that both women turned down the invitations.

Now, in the U.K., there is a dispute brewing over one way celebrities can keep their names out of the gutter. Now, courts have been granting more and more sports stars and celebrities anonymity, banning the media from reporting illicit affairs. But critics argue that super-injunctions were not intended for that purpose.

Now, they stem from the European Convention on Human Rights, which states this: "Everyone has the right to respect for his private and family life, his home and his correspondence." But instead of being used to suppress important data, trade secrets, or to protect individuals from harassment and domestic violence, some media outlets say that they are increasingly being used to hide celebrity sex scandals. Now, the media is also banned from reporting the very existence of these orders.

And in a country which prides itself on its press freedoms, media outlets are rebelling against the bans. Now, yesterday, a Scottish newspaper went so far as to print a photo of a married Premiership footballer widely believed to have taken out a super-injunction, preventing details of an extramarital affair being made public. Ironically, that super-injunction has generated masses of publicity. A woman's name is not covered by the injunction, but his is.

Now, even so, it is easily found online, having been tweeted and re-tweeted thousands of times, making a mockery of the high court judges' ban. Now, the footballer in question is even believed to be considering suing Twitter. But in a world where social media is playing an increasingly prominent role, questions are being asked about privacy laws and their viability in the virtual world.

And separately, a British journalist could face prosecution after allegedly breaking a different privacy order on Twitter. Now, the journalist allegedly named an English footballer accused of having an affair of having obtained a super-injunction to hide his identity.

CNN's Atika Shubert is following the story for us in London, and she joins us now.

And Atika, what do we know? Or should I rephrase that? What can you tell us perhaps about the general uproar?

ATIKA SHUBERT, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, there has been something of a media revolt. Not only have we seen tens and thousands of tweets on Twitter, basically breaking the injunction, we're now seeing media here in Britain starting to take some action of their own.

You mentioned, of course, "The Sunday Herald" and their front cover, but now "The Sun" newspaper has said they are seeking a hearing today at the Royal Courts of Justice to try and get this injunction overturned, the one referring to the professional footballer there alleged to have an affair with a reality TV star. Now, the only thing I can say in this is the fact that he is a professional footballer, and that there is this injunction over an alleged affair.

I can't mention his name because I'm here in Britain. I can't show his face. And this is the same for every other British media here.

But while that's happening, on Twitter all kinds of things are being said. And, of course, outside of Britain, such as the Scottish newspaper, they've been able to put up the picture and so forth.

So this is why the newspapers here are so upset. They're saying, what is the point of this injunction if it's being made a mockery of by social media and other media outside of Britain?

STOUT: And Atika, a question for you about --


DAVID CAMERON, BRITISH PRIME MINISTER: It is rather unsustainable, the situation, where the newspapers can't print something that everyone else is clearly talking about. But there's a difficulty here, because the law is the law, and the judges must interpret what the law is. What I've said in the past is the danger is that judgments are effectively writing a sort of new law, which is what parliament is meant to do.


SHUBERT: And that, of course, is British Prime Minister David Cameron commenting on this situation where the law is clearly not being followed by social media. And clearly, he says it's unsustainable.

The question now is, what is the solution to resolve it?

STOUT: And also, what will happen to Twitter? Will Twitter face legal issues in the U.K. over the posts that defy the privacy rules there, or is it mainly Twitter users in the U.K. who have to worry about this?

SHUBERT: Well, if Twitter has assets here, according to lawyers I've spoken to, then there might be some concern. But really, Twitter is based in the United States, and it's not bound by British privacy laws. It's really more concerned with the laws where it's based, in the U.S.

Twitter users may find themselves under some legal pressure, but Twitter has famously always defended the anonymous users that it has not wanting to reveal those details, and it's not clear whether or not Twitter could actually be compelled to give up those details. So we really don't know how far this legal challenge is going to go.

STOUT: You know, the super-injunction, it seems like something that is abused by celebrities, it's impossible to enforce. So why does it need to exist? I mean, before we got to you we did review the legal reasons, but what are some solid real-world examples why Britain needs this type of legal protection?

SHUBERT: Well, the entire basis of this was to help protect privacy, and there are plenty of good reasons why that might be. Victims of a crime, for example, may not want to be identified. This may be one way of making sure their name isn't mentioned in the media. It might -- also, for example, stalking cases is another reason.

There are plenty of reasons why an injunction may be valid. And it's important to note that a recent report that came out by the top judges here in Britain basically said an injunction should only be put in place when absolutely necessary. A super-injunction, which is when you can't even mention that an injunction is in place, they should really only be very sparingly used. And they do point out that an actual super-injunction, they can only find records of that actually being issued in two separate cases.

STOUT: Well, this is such a legal tangle. And thank you, Atika, for explaining it all for us here on NEWS STREAM.

Atika Shubert, joining us live from London.

Now, still ahead here on the program, the U.S. president gets in touch with his Irish roots. We'll take you live to Ireland.

And it is said that beauty is in the eye of the beholder. And for this young girl it really is all about the eyes. We'll explain.


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

Now search and rescue operations are underway in Joplin, Missouri after a violent tornado tore through the town. Emergency officials say at least 89 people are confirmed dead. And they expect that figure to rise.

Now Pakistan's military has regained control of a Karachi naval base that was stormed by militants. Taliban fighters attacked the site last night, killing at least 10 members of Pakistan's military. Now militants appear to target this now burnt out plane, a P3C Orion supplied to Pakistan by the U.S. Now the siege ended after several hours of fighting.

Spain's governing Socialist Party has suffered a major setback in local and regional elections. Opposition Conservatives cruised to victory with a 10 percentage point lead. Now the elections were overshadowed by a week of protests over the country's deep economic crisis.

And a witness in Syria says about 7,000 people turned out in Homs to bury four people shot dead by security forces. Now CNN cannot confirm the authenticity of this video posted to YouTube. Troops took no action against the crowd, in contrast to the violence of prior days.

And since the protests began, human rights groups say that more than 800 demonstrators have been killed. And the violence has spurred some people to seek safety in neighboring countries.

Now Arwa Damon has traveled to Lebanon's border with Syria. She joins us now live on the line. And Arwa, have you seen or met with Syrian refugees. And if, what are they telling you?

ARWA DAMON, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Hi, Kristie. We're in the small village of (inaudible) that is just across from the Syrian border, a few kilometers from Teskena (ph), that is where the harshness of the military crackdown took place over the last few weeks. And there are around 6,000 refugees here according to the Lebonese commission for relief.

We spent the afternoon with a family of four, four children age of 13 to 9. And, Kristie, they fled here, they were separated from their parents and the crackdown began in Teskena (ph). Their parents had gone back home to try to check on their home, left them at their uncles house. And the military assault was still intense, they were unable to reunite. They fled creeping through the fields and farmlands, crossing a river and an unofficial checkpoint to end up at their Syrian ankh (ph) house here in Lebanon.

And on May 15, Kristie, they got a devastating phone call from their mother, so distraught. She was crying hysterically. All she could say was they killed your father. According to these children and their relatives, their father was killed when Syrian security forces entered their home in the evening and for no reason of which they are aware shot their father.

Their mother right now is refusing to leave her husband's body. She had hidden it in the house. She's too afraid to bury him, because she believes that if she goes outside Syrian security forces will steal her husband's corpse.

The children are in complete shock, utterly devastated, unable to fully put their thoughts together. They are telling us unsure of what the future is going to hold for them. And that is a story that we hear time and time again in these parts, just the utter tragedy, people say, of what is happening in Syria, Kristie.

STOUT: You know, a story of a terrifying ordeal for that family repeated over and over and over again.

Now Arwa, let's bring up a photograph for our viewers to look at. And in this photo, it shows Syrian soldiers, they're preparing to hand over an elderly Syrian woman to Lebanese army troops. And Arwa, I wanted to ask you, is this moment that we're seeing here at all representative of the situation at the border -- the controls and security in place there?

DAMON: Well, Kristie, we've been hearing that both the Syrian and the Lebanese military have increased their presence along the border. And while we were here, we heard of four families that were actually trying to cross back from Lebanon into Syria and they were prevented from doing so by Syrian border guards. Again, we cannot confirm whether or not this was true. This is what an official here told us.

The Syrian border guards not allowing these families back into their homeland, because they said there was a massive military campaign underway. We've heard repeated stories of how the Syrian military is detaining individuals who come into Lebanon to seek sanctuary in some cases, according to Human Rights Watch and other organizations, handing them back over to the Syrian authorities, or detaining them here in Lebanon.

One has to also take note of the fact that a lot of these families, even though they are technically outside of Syria, technically should be in safety here in Lebanon are still petrified for their lives and for their own security because of the close ties between both these countries. Syria and Lebanon have had a very at times controversial relationship, but one that has spanned decades. The intelligentsia of both countries are very closely intertwined. And so that is a great concern for a number of the refugees.

Even though they are in what should be a safe country. They're here seeking refuge. They're being taken in by the families here. There are still great concerns for their own security and for the security of their loved ones that have stayed in Syria.

And Lebanese authorities have been coming under some criticism, because of actions such as the one you mentioned there where they are, in some cases, handing people back over to the Syrian authorities, Kristie.

STOUT: Arwa Damon joining us live from the Syrian-Lebanese border. This story has been one very difficult for us to report on. We thank you, Arwa, for being there and for sharing the stories of the Syrian refugees with us.

Now over in Egypt, state television there is reporting that a police officer has been sentenced to death for killing protesters. And this is the first such sentence related to the revolution. The shooting, it happened on January 28. As you can see, it was a heated day of demonstrations.

Now a criminal court in Cairo says the officer randomly fired into the crowd, killing 20 people and wounding 15 others. He was tried in absentia. It is not clear where he is now.

Now U.S. president Barack Obama has begun a six day European tour this Monday. His first stop, Ireland where in addition to meeting with Irish leaders, Mr. Obama will stop at the village of Moneygall. Now that is the town that is home to a distant branch of his family tree.

And the next day, President Obama visits Queen Elizabeth in London and meets with the British prime minister David Cameron.

After that, Mr. Obama attends the G8 summit in Deauville, France where he is expected to hold talks with the leaders of Russia, France and Japan.

And the last stop, Poland and possible talks with the Polish prime minister over the possibility of basing U.S. fighters in his country.

And we can go live to Ireland right now. Fionnuala Sweeney joins us live from Moneygall. And Fionnuala, I understand that President Obama, he had talks earlier today with his Irish counterpart. What is the latest on that?

FIONNUALA SWEENEY, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, greetings, first of all from a very windy Moneygall. We're expecting a storm system to pass through here and there's been a lot of speculation about whether indeed Barack Obama will be able to take a helicopter down here or whether he will have to drive an hour-and-a-half outside Dublin to the birthplace of his forefathers.

Yesterday, indeed, he did earlier in the day meet with the Irish president also the Irish prime minister. And in speaking with the recently elected Irish prime minister, President Barack Obama reaffirmed the strong relationship between Ireland and the United States and drew parallels with the diaspora in America.


BARACK OBAMA, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Obviously it is not just a matter of strategic interest, it's not just a matter of foreign policy, for the United States, Ireland carries a (inaudible)


SWEENEY: Well, in an hour-and-a-half from now, Barack Obama expected to land by helicopter a short distance from where I am. This town really hasn't been the center of this much attention ever in its existence. In 1850 Barack Obama's great-great-great grandfather, Prometh Curly (ph) left this little village. Today has 300 inhabitants. And he left for the United States. And Barack Obama is related to him through his mother.

He will visit the locals, all have been in a state of high dudgeon over the last few weeks since it was discovered that -- announced that Barack Obama would visit here. He's expected to spend around 45 minutes to an hour here before traveling back to Dublin where he's expected to make a major speech in the center of the city later on this afternoon.

In the meantime, let's go back to you.

STOUT: All right, Fionnuala Sweeney joining us live from Moneygall in Ireland. Thank you Fionnuala.

Now the Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu will address the American-Israel Public Affairs Committee today laying out his vision for peace in the Middle East. Now it comes after he roundly rejected Barack Obama's plans. That is because Mr. Obama said that negotiations for Palestinian state should be based on borders from before the 1967 war, allowing for a mutually agreed swaps. Now Netanyahu will address the pro- Israel conference today and Congress on Tuesday.

Now they say that beauty is in the eye of the beholder. But who ever said that it's in the eyelids of a person. Now straight ahead now some South Koreans are going under the knife to change the way they look.


STOUT: Welcome back.

Now some call it cultural imperialism and others say it is a way to get ahead in life. Plastic surgery is a booming business in South Korea, but it is quite controversial. Now Kyung Lah finds out why this 12-year- old girl is going under the knife in a quest for beauty.


KYUNG LAH, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Lee Ming Gyung (ph) is a picture of childhood grace and poise, but she says not beauty.

What she sees are her small Asian eyes. But that will change tomorrow when this 12-year-old, with the permission of her mother, gets plastic surgery for more westernized eyes.

"If I get the surgery, my eyes will look bigger," she says.

Do you think think you'll look better after the eye surgery?

"I'm excited. I think I'll look better than I do now."

She's not alone.

Dr. Kim Yung Gun (ph) personally performs more than two dozen of these surgeries a day as head of Seoul's biggest plastic surgery clinic BK Dum Yun (ph).

Looks like every single one is full.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Yeah. A patient is coming in and out, in and out.

LAH: Patients of all ages from middle age to the adolescent like Ming Yung (ph).

How many surgeries are performed per day in this clinic?


LAH: 100 a day.

It's not just eyelid surgery, but nose reshaping to elevate the nose and facial contouring to slenderize a typically rounder Asian face.

When patients come in and talk about why they want these types of surgeries, what do they tell you?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The Chinese and Korean patients tell me that they want to have some face like Americans.

LAH: There are hundreds of plastic surgery clinics just in this one district of Seoul. It is an accepted part of Korean cultural, because of that, the history and the technique of the surgeons is why this place has become the plastic surgery capital of Asia.

A tourist destination most notably among newly rich globally competitive mainland Chinese. 30 percent of Dr. Kim's patients are international. And of that group 90 percent are Chinese.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Two of them are Chinese...

LAH: Two of them -- these two behind them are the Chinese doctors. It's why he speaks Mandarin.

Dr. Kim says in Asia's increasingly global economy, he believes appearance is simple math and the equation of success.

A financial investment in their life?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It can have more than 100 times improvement in their investment. They can find a much better job if they have pretty faces.

LAH: And to many here, a pretty face is a western one, an image of beauty everywhere in Asia from American models and superstars to wide eyed Asian faces. An ideal Ming Chyung (ph) recognizes, pointing to this blonde woman as someone who she thinks is beautiful.

And when we look at Asian models -- which woman is beautiful?

Why? Why is she ugly?

"Her eyes," she responds.

A global ideal doesn't stop at the face, says dental surgeon Gyung Hop (ph) who says he's been fighting a trend, Korean mothers bringing in their toddlers to have this muscle under the tongue surgically snipped. Why? The belief that it will help a Korean speak clearly in the world's language of success: English.

Is that a pressure of globalization?

"For 10 years there's been this crazy drive for early English education," says Dr. Chyung (ph). "Mothers long for their kids to have better English pronunciation."

That competitive drive is why Ming Kyung's (ph) mother says she's giving her daughter plastic surgery.

Who wants this surgery?

"I want her to do it," she says.

Do you think you're helping your daughter's future by giving her the surgery?

"Yes. I think it will help her." She adds bluntly, "this is a society where you have to be pretty to get ahead. She's my only daughter."

On the morning of her surgery, Ming Kyung (ph) sits for a 3D photo session, gets a preview of what she will look like and a final consultation with the doctor. Then heads into a 20 minute surgery she hopes will make her beautiful.

MARTIN WONG, GIANT ROBOT MAGAZINE: And ultimately it comes down to this -- you know, it's a form of cultural imperialism. You know, but it's aesthetics. You know, it's the beauty myth.

LAH: The surgery carries a totally different meaning to Asian- American activists, says L.A. based writer Martin Wong. We spoke via Skype.

Everything from children getting pushed into the eyelid surgeries to Asian adults westernizing their faces for globalization smacks of racial self hatred says Wong.

WONG: They're making a statement about their own race, about where they come from and about who they are. They're not doing it on purpose. They're not saying that they think that they're inferior looking, they're not saying that they're ugly, but that's the message that they're giving nonetheless.

LAH: A month later Ming Kyung (ph) and her mother e-mail these photos from before to after. Ming Kyung (ph) says she's happy with her new look. She's still dancing. And now sees more than just her eyes. She sees a brighter future.

Kyung Lah, CNN, Seoul.


STOUT: Maybe it's just me, I thought she was beautiful before the surgery.

The subject of beauty has recently touched a nerve in the U.S. In fact, CNN contributor LZ Grenderson has weighed in on the fury surrounding a Psychology Today blog post. It was called why are black women less physically attractive than other women? The magazine quickly took that post down.

And Grenderson, he writes this, quote, "A system that declares one set of physical attributes as a standard to which a multiethnic society must adhere is destructive and its racist."

Now his article has drawn more than 3,000 comments from readers.

Now one of them writes this, "in Indonesia there's also a belief that men and women with darker complexions are not as beautiful as, and in fact even inferior, to their fairer counterparts."

And SuiteAria, another reader writes this, "I agree that beauty is very often culturally defined. I also agreed that "ugly" could be more of a character reference than a physical attribute."

Now we want to hear your thoughts on beauty. Just log on to the News Stream blog, join the conversation. You could also watch Kyung's compelling report once again. You can find it all at

Now up next, after the break, it is all over for a few weeks. And we'll look back at the end of another Premiership season and the start of a new era at Chelsea again.


STOUT: Now you might forgive Carlo Anchelloti for feeling blue this monday. Pedro Pinto joins us from CNN London to tell us why -- Pedro.

PEDRO PINTO, CNN SPORTS CORRESPONDENT: Hey, Kristie. It's true. And it's because the Italian manager was sacked by Chelsea on Sunday. Even worse than the fact he lost his job was the way in which the Blues communicated their decision to him. Half an hour after the game outside the dressing room in one of the tunnels at Goodison Park where Chelsea had just lost to Everton.

It's a surprising way of dismissing a coach who led them to their first ever league and cup double last season. Then again, it shows how ruthless owner Roman Abramovich with managers who don't win any silverware. The 51-year-old Italian paid the price for a trophyless season.

An official club statement said the team had fallen short of expectations. And this was the right time to make a change ahead of next season's preparations.

While most European football leagues have come to an end, the NBA playoffs are in full swing. We're at the business end of the season with both conference finals taking place.

On Sunday night the Miami Heat took a 2-1 lead in their series over the Chicago Bulls.

Chris Bosh had a huge game at the American Airlines Arena as Miami turned up the heat on the Bulls. The power forward missed his first three shots, but then started asserting himself. He had his jumper working and also got his share of points on the inside. Bosh outshining Wade and James as he scored 16 points in the first half.

Now Chicago made a run in the third quarter. Derrick Rose draining the tough shot. He didn't have a great night, though, 8-19 from the field, a quiet 20 points from the NBA MVP.

At the other end, Miami's big three started to take control. Dwayne Wade making the tough lay-up, then it's Bosh scoring in the paint. He had a game high 34 points. Last but definitely not least LeBron James, who also got involved, 22 points, 10 assists for LeBron.

The Heat winning comfortably 96-85 to take a 2-1 lead in the series and take a big step towards the NBA finals.


LEBRON JAMES, MIAMI FORWARD: Just changed my game plan tonight. Be more of a facilitator. And if I need to get it going offensively I could. You know, the great thing about it is CB had it going. You know, when we have someone going on our team we continue to give the ball to him and then continue to feed of their energy offensively and you know he brought it home for us tonight.

CHRIS BOSH, MIAMI FORWARD: I just kind of wanted to work all the areas where I randomly catch the ball in the offense and you know be aggressive when they call my number down in the post. So I just want to try my best to maintain that intensity and keep it going for game 4.


PINTO: And game 4 is on Tuesday in Miami.

One final note from the world of tennis, Novak Jokavic improved to 38- 0 this season with a straight sets win in the first round of the French Open.

That is a quick look for sports for this hour, Kristie. Back to you.

STOUT: Pedro, thank you.

Now two words sure to strike fear into the hearts of European air travelers: volcanic ash. Now should they be worried?

Mari Ramos is at the world weather center -- Mari.

MARI RAMOS, CNN WEATHER CORRESPONDENT: Kristie, here we go again, huh?

But you know what, this time around things are a little bit different. Yes, this is a very large volcano, possibly larger than that other volcano in Iceland that erupted last year.

Let me go ahead and show you what we're talking about. This is the volcano. It's underneath a glacier. It erupted back in 2004. It -- one of the big concerns with this not only is the ash but also the fact that it is underneath a glacier, so there's going to be a lot of melting here and for communities -- surrounding communities, the potential for flooding. This also, of course, the ash fall.

The people most affected are going to be the people that live closest to the volcano. We can't forget about that.

This is fairly close to the Eyjafjallajokull volcano, the one that erupted last year and cost all of those problems across this area here of northern and western Europe. However, the weather patterns are a little bit different this time around. Even those these explosions, these eruptions are actually quite large, the weather patterns are different. They're not taking the ash directly into Europe and into the path of those Transatlantic flights as we had seen last year.

Even though we are going to see some problems with volcanic ash, and that's what we have highlighted for you here in this volcanic ash advisory from the surface to about maybe, what, 12 kilometers, about 35,000 feet we could see the problems with ash. And it will be affecting mainly we think Ireland, Scotland, northern parts of the UK here. That will be the area of concern. And we could see some travel delays associated with that as we head through the day tomorrow.

Not sure, yet, if this is going to affect other parts of central or western Europe, but we'll of course continue to monitor. This is something that changes quickly. So you do need to stay tuned if you have travel plans in this area. Back to you.

STOUT: All right. Thank you very much indeed. Mari Ramos there.

And for today's over and out there, we are going to the rolling hills of southern England. That is where a helicopter and armed police were scrambled. A cricket match interrupted, an entire golf course cleared, and with good reason. A white tiger was sunning itself in a field.

Now police, they hotfooted to the scene. They confirmed the danger, called staff from nearby zoo and cleared the area.

In went some of the force's bravest officers, but as they stalked, this dangerous animal -- here it is -- it actually rolled over, showing them its belly.

But if you could just take a look at it, it wasn't an act of submission or friendship, because it was a big fluffy toy. Now it didn't roll over, it was blown over by the helicopter.

So it happens to be your tiger, it is now in police custody in the lost and found.

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