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Taking on FIFA; Hamza Ali al-Khateeb's Story; Mounting Violence in Yemen

Aired June 1, 2011 - 08:00:00   ET


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

I'm Kristie Lu Stout, in Hong Kong.

Now, despite a growing scandal at the head of World Football, FIFA's presidential election is set to go ahead one hour from now. With only one candidate running, you are looking at the man set to win another term at the head of FIFA.

Former Bosnian Serb general Ratko Mladic adjusts to his new home, the war crimes tribunal at The Hague.

And the space shuttle Endeavour returns to Earth for the final time.

One hour from now, Sepp Blatter is likely to be reelected as president of World Football's governing body. Now, the vote is going ahead after just 17 federations agreed it should be delayed, well short of the 156 needed.

It would be Blatter's fourth term as FIFA boss and is considered a foregone conclusion. He is the only candidate. His only competitor, Mohamed bin Hammam, was suspended amid corruption allegations.

And earlier, Blatter said the World Cup voting system will undergo a complete overhaul. That came after Germany called for an investigation into the 2022 World Cup being awarded to Qatar, the homeland of bin Hammam.

Now, we want to take a closer look now at FIFA's general congress. Now 208 football associations are members of FIFA. Now, they vote on the overall direction of World Football and they participate in various competitions. In return, they get funding from FIFA.

Now, each football association, they get around $250,000 a year. And depending on FIFA's success, they may also get an additional bonus. Now, the money, now that can be used to develop the sport in each country. For instance, paying for pitches and equipment or better coaching.

And all that money, it adds up. Now, FIFA works in four-year cycle, and the most recent one, it forked out $794 million on developing the game around the world. That is 22 percent of its total spending.

Now, few member nations were prepared to criticize Blatter today, and it is not the first time. In February, Sports Illustrated's Grant Wahl, he announced that he was trying to stand as a FIFA presidential candidate. He needed the support of just one of FIFA's 208 member associations. He had 43 days to get it. In the end, not one would support him.

We can talk to Grant now live from Washington.

And Grant, we've been talking about problems at FIFA for days now, but the election proceeded as if nothing happened.

Will FIFA act?

GRANT WAHL, SR. WRITER, "SPORTS ILLUSTRATED": Well, I guess the question right now is, is FIFA serious about tackling corruption in its midst? And there was reason for hope last week, when two of its four most powerful officials, Jack Warner and Mohamed bin Hammam, were charged with bribery, or attempted bribery, of Caribbean officials in this vote for the FIFA election. They have been suspended.

But my feeling is that until FIFA actually attempts to go to investigate Qatar's 2022 World Cup bid, this will only seem like a political power play by Sepp Blatter just so he can remove bin Hammam as his only competitor in the FIFA presidential election.

STOUT: Now, Grant, nobody supported you in your run for FIFA president. Why is that?

WAHL: Well, what I found was there was a tremendous amount of fear in all of the FAs that I talked to. And I contacted about 150 FAs around the world. I actually had some fairly serious discussions with at least two dozen, and a lot of them said privately, we have problems with Blatter, but we can't nominate you, because publicly, that would be a death wish. There is so much fear about retribution from Blatter and FIFA if they had nominated me.

STOUT: Will they investigate the Qatar 2022 bid?

WAHL: We'll have to wait and see at this point. The German FA president has today called for an investigation.

What you have is Mohamed bin Hammam -- they have a lot of evidence at this point that he did engage in bribery for the FIFA election to compete against Sepp Blatter, and he was very involved with the Qatar 2022 World Cup bid. And yet, what we have heard from Sepp Blatter is that there is no investigation at this point into Qatar, 2022, even though bin Hammam has already been tied to alleged bribery.

STOUT: And it's kind of an open secret that the English are reviled by FIFA. Why is that?

WAHL: Well, I think there are a lot of reasons. The members of FIFA, and especially the executive committee, don't appear to like scrutiny. And the English media has been very active in their scrutiny of FIFA and the way it does business. And I think that's a big part of it.

I think there's also a lot of resentment toward what they feel is English arrogance. And yet, at the same time, I have to feel that the English FA deserves to be commended for having the courage to try to get this vote postponed and to abstain from voting for anyone in this election, because what we're seeing here is an organization, FIFA, that has zero credibility right now when you look at their reputation for corruption and being a clean organization.

STOUT: And Sepp Blatter, what is next for him? And will his vote restructuring help him survive?

WAHL: Oh, it will definitely help Blatter survive. He's the big winner in all of this, and he'll get reelected for four more years, which is exactly what he wants. And it will be business as usual at FIFA.

I don't really have high expectations at this point for any of the transparency initiatives that Blatter plans to endorse this afternoon just because all we've seen right now is that FIFA is not capable of policing itself very well from the inside. It's an organization that has $1.2 billion in reserves right now, and it really needs to be hit in the pocketbook to really take things seriously. That's up to FIFA's sponsors and the member associations and the fans.

STOUT: All right.

Grant Wahl of "Sports Illustrated."

Thank you very much indeed.

Let's take you to Zurich now, where FIFA is based and where the election is set to take place in less than one hour. Pedro Pinto is there and has been following every twist and turn for us over the past few days.

And Pedro, Sepp Blatter announced a change in the way the World Cup vote works. Tell us what happened.


We're talking about twists and turns. I think we feel here, our team that's been covering the last few days leading up to the vote, that it's been like a roller-coaster. No doubt about that.

I'll tell you about the change in process of voting for future World Cup hosts. Instead of the FIFA executive committee members, the 24 members having all that power to pick a winner, it will be the congress. In other words, the 208 member associations. And this is an admission, in other words, from FIFA that the process was not working.

They have admitted between the lines that what occurred here in Zurich last December, when they picked Russia and Qatar, just raised too many questions. There were too many allegations around the executive committee members who had too much power, so now that has been diluted to the congress. And FIFA believes this will give an image of more transparency when it comes to picking future hosts for what is their flagship event, the World Cup, the most profitable and the most watched event on the planet -- Kristie.

STOUT: Now let's talk about the English attempt to postpone the election. They got 17 votes in support, but over 170 against. Did they ever have a chance?

PINTO: No, there was never a chance that this vote was going to be postponed. I believe there were 17 votes against the election taking place, 17 abstentions, so far from the number which you gave, which the English FA is trying to lobby to have this election at least stopped for now, and to take place once all the allegations of corruption, once all the suspensions have been cleared up around some of the most powerful men in FIFA's governing body.

Now, as far as Sepp Blatter is concerned, I wanted to talk to you just a little bit about the fact he has acknowledged today seriously that there are issues that need to be resolved. He said that his organization has gone through a storm, that it has been hit hard, but he personally has been smacked by everything that has happened.

He also talked about the tough challenges which he has faced and how he plans to solve them.

Let's listen to what Sepp Blatter had to say earlier today here at the Hallenstadion in Zurich.


SEPP BLATTER, FIFA PRESIDENT (through translator): These last months, we have seen the breakdown of economic and political systems. We have been able to see to what extent rebuilding turned out to be difficult. Politics and economy, you, we, FIFA, we are now facing an important challenge, and I can assure you that we, you and myself, we will pick up this challenge.


PINTO: A change of tone from what we saw here on Friday from the FIFA president. He seems serious, he seems he wants to tackle these problems. Let's see after he's elected, because he will be, Kristie, whether he can transfer from talking the talk to walking the walk.

STOUT: Quite a dramatic change of tone there. Thank you very much, indeed.

Pedro Pinto, joining us live there from Zurich.

Now, today kicks off the EU's nuclear stress test, and we'll tell you what the inspectors are looking for.

Also ahead here on NEWS STREAM, genocide suspect Ratko Mladic woke up in The Hague on Wednesday. And that on your screen, that is the helicopter that took him there. His next stop is the war crimes tribunal.

We'll bring you the latest on the case.

And a strange twist in the horrifying story of a young Syrian boy who suffered a brutal death. We'll tell you what his family is saying now.


STOUT: Welcome back.

Now, on Tuesday, we brought you the horrifying story of Hamza Ali al- Khateeb. Now, his picture is on that poster.

This 13-year-old boy suffered a brutal death, allegedly at the hands of Syrian government forces. Anti-regime protesters have vowed that his blood was not spilled in vain. But they are not the only ones speaking out.

Now, Syrian TV says that President Bashar al-Assad met with members of his family. They later showed two men it identified as Hamza's father and uncle, and both of them praised al-Assad.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE (through translator): What can I say? Best president ever. Thank God he gave us everything that we've ever asked for.

The first thing is the president promised us reforms. And God willing, they will come soon, tomorrow or the day after. I mean, these reforms are for the citizens, and they've been well received. And we were very happy with the president.

The president is very close to the people, and he has offered them a lot. And he said, God willing, he'll give us even more.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE (through translator): They Syrian nation doesn't care to listen to outside media. We received Hamza from the general hospital in Daraa. And the reports were all from legitimate medical reports.

The official report and his picture was written by the attorney general. There are four reports and investigations.

The president addressed the committee today to full investigate the issue in order to get the truth. It's like he's his own son. There's nothing more to say.


STOUT: Now, we should remind you that CNN has not been granted access to Syria, and we cannot independently verify what happened to Hamza, the young boy.

Arwa Damon is following the story from Beirut.

And Arwa, first, do you have any confirmation if that was the boy's father and uncle indeed speaking on state TV praising the president?

ARWA DAMON, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Kristie, we've been trying to get independent confirmation of that, reaching out to the family, as we have been since that video surfaced. We have been hearing from the intermediaries that we've been going through that for days now, they have not been talking at all, not speaking publicly to the media, not even talking to their close friends.

We spoke to a number of activists who did say that they do in fact believe that that is Hamza's father, but two activists at least have told us that Hamza's father and his uncle were detained following the original release of that video. They do believe that this statement was made as a result of coercion, as a result of some sort of threats leveled against the family.

The activists saying that they very much believe that the release of that statement on Syrian state television is part of the government's campaign to discredit the family's story, to discredit what happened to this young boy, and to deny these allegations of torture, as the government has done on state television. As part of that report that they showed where they also had those two men that were alleged to be Hamza's relatives, they also had a statement from a medical examiner who was saying that the discoloration on young Hamza's body was due to the body decomposing rather than any sort of bruising. The medical examiner also saying that his body had absolutely no signs of torture.

So, the Syrian government very much refuting those allegations -- Kristie.

STOUT: Is this video of the boy still circulating inside Syria? Is it still galvanizing the protest movement there?

DAMON: It most certainly would appear to be the case. We have seen a number of demonstrations erupting across the entire country after this video was originally released, and up until yesterday, perhaps even this morning, people going out and chanting their support for Hamza. We've even seen children going out demonstrating, risking a very similar fate, potentially, also vowing that Hamza's blood will not have been spilled in vain.

One activist who we had spoken to, who we asked about the logic that the government would have when it did release to the family, she said that she believed that this was a deliberate move on the part of the Syrian government to try to terrorize people off the streets. But most certainly, it would have appeared to have had an opposite impact, injecting more momentum into the opposition, injection more momentum into the opposition's determination to bring down this regime.

STOUT: Arwa, Syrian state media is also reporting that President Assad has granted general amnesty. What does that mean? Can you fact-check that for us?

DAMON: Well, Kristie, that statement, again, also came out on Syrian state television, and then the Syrian Arab news agency, which is state run, released a longer report on that. And this is not necessarily amnesty in the sense that people who are behind bars will be receiving some sort of a general pardon. It is meant to apply to anyone who had been detained for any crime up until May 31st.

But when one reads what has been broadcast on the Syrian Arab news agency, it appears much more to be a reduction in sentences. A death sentence, for example, will be replaced by life in prison. Life in prison, depending on the crime, will be reduced to 20 years, plus hard labor.

A number of analysts believe and are saying that they believe that this move was not necessarily to appease the opposition, but rather to try to appease Bashar al-Assad loyalists, to give them something to hold on to so that they can continue to say, look, this is a president that is trying to bring about reforms. Activists, for their part, remain very skeptical about this amnesty as a whole, or, rather, the so-called amnesty -- Kristie.

STOUT: Arwa Damon, reporting from Beirut.

Thank you.

Now, Hamza's story spread after a graphic video of his body was posted to YouTube, but YouTube has a policy against what it calls shocking and disgusting contact. Now, the clip was reportedly blocked but later restored. It's another example of the difficulties Syria's anti-government protesters face as they try to show what is happening inside the country.

Now, in Bahrain, emergency law has now been lifted after months of crackdowns, but the nation is warning against anti-government activities, specifically those that could "harm the national peace and safety." Meanwhile, the U.S. has pulled its human rights officer from Bahrain because of security fears.

Now, let's turn now to Yemen, where there is mounting violence across the country. And generals who defected from the regime say missiles targeted a compound where they were meeting.

Mohammed Jamjoom is in Abu Dhabi, where he's been following these accounts. He joins us now.

Mohammed, tell us the very latest of what's happening inside the country, as well as the clashes in Sanaa. You've been speaking to a number of people. What have you heard?

MOHAMMED JAMJOOM, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, Kristie, the more eyewitnesses and residents of Sanaa that we speak with, the more we find out how volatile the situation really has become in Yemen's capital city.

Just to try to break it down a little bit now, you spoke earlier about eyewitnesses who had told us that missiles had struck a camp there in Sanaa that houses defected military generals. That's one thing. You've got units from the military that have defected from the ranks of president Ali Abdullah Saleh. They're occupying their own space there, and that's one thing that makes it volatile.

Then you have in Change Square, in the city of Sanaa, you have, still, tens of thousands of anti-government protesters that are there, but they're actually afraid to leave Change Square, because they're afraid that if they start marching through the streets, that possibly they'll be exposed to violence.

And then, to make it even worse, you have renewed clashes that have been going on the past two days between tribesmen with the al-Hasha (ph) tribe - - that's the largest and most powerful tribe in Yemen -- and government security forces loyal to president Ali Abdullah Saleh. They've been battling it out.

There's been efforts to try to mediate this dispute in the past week. Many tribal chiefs, very influential tribal chiefs and elder statesmen, have been trying to get these two sides to a negotiating table so that they can stop the violence there, but it keeps happening.

A lot of the time we hear reports during overnight hours in Sanaa. It gets much worse. And a lot of the residences and eyewitnesses I've spoken with in the past two days say the fighting has really gotten to a fever pitch. It hasn't been this bad since clashes began in the past week, and it keeps getting worse.

So, people are telling us they're expecting casualty figures to rise. Spokespeople for tribesmen there that are battling government forces are saying that at least 15 tribesmen died as a result of clashes in the overnight hours and today. And civilians that are there are really afraid for their safety and say that this city is really under siege right now -- Kristie.

STOUT: We're looking at these pictures of the city under siege. It's absolutely an apocalyptic sight.

Now, throughout Yemen, a number of groups are opposing the government. You have tribal groups, militants, and, of course, the non-violent protesters.

Mohammed, is there any coordination between these diverging groups?

JAMJOOM: Well, Kristie, right now it does not look like there's any coordination, and it just shows how complicated the picture is.

Now, let me just say, on a good day, Yemen is a very complex place with a very complex tribal structure, a lot of divided loyalties. President Ali Abdullah Saleh has been able to stay atop the power structure of that country for 33 years because he's been able to navigate those tribal loyalties more skillfully than any of his opponents. But right now, a lot of pressure really turning against him.

So, so many different conflicts going on, so many bits of chaos in this country, which is chaotic on a calm day. And many people are wondering if this country really is tipping on the verge of civil war now -- Kristie.

STOUT: Mohammed Jamjoom.

Thank you very much indeed for giving us a clear picture of the chaos in Yemen.

Now, still to come here on NEWS STREAM, he stands accused of some wartime atrocities, but he still has his supporters. We'll bring you the latest on the trial of former Bosnian Serb commander Ratko Mladic.


STOUT: And that is shuttle Endeavour's last ever landing from space. Its final mission delivered the most expensive piece of equipment ever to the International Space Station. Its crew completed U.S. construction of the ISS.

And mission specialist Mike Fincke now holds U.S. record for most days in space. That's a pretty impressive finish for NASA's youngest shuttle.

And as Endeavour touched down, Atlantis rolled out. The very last space shuttle mission is set to launch next month, and it has been a busy night at Kennedy Space Center.

And our John Zarrella, he stayed awake for all of it. He's such a trooper. He joins us now live.

And John, it was such an incredible textbook landing. What is next for Endeavour?

JOHN ZARRELLA, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Yes. You know, that's the way NASA likes it, textbook landings, for sure. And that was in the wee hours of the morning, about five hours ago now, when Endeavour made that landing here.

And, of course, next for Endeavour will be back to the orbiter processing facility. It's already back there this morning, where the technicians will begin to get rid of all of the toxic chemicals and some of the fuel that's remaining, because ultimately, Endeavour will be headed out to California, to the California Science Center in Los Angeles, which will be its permanent home on exhibit out there.

But when it landed this morning, it was Astronaut Mark Kelly, the commander piloting Endeavour as it came in to the runway here at Kennedy Space Center. And after he brought it to a complete stop, the astronauts stayed on board for a little while longer. And then, of course, they got out and did what they do traditionally, which is to walk around the vehicle, inspect the vehicle.

And then Commander Kelly spoke briefly and talked about how he was very, very pleased with how the entire mission had gone.


MARK KELLY, SHUTTLE ENDEAVOUR COMMANDER: It's great to be back here at the Kennedy Space Center. It's great to bring Endeavour back in great shape. It looks like it's ready to go do another mission, but this is going to be the last flight.

The mission went great. We installed the Alpha Magnetic Spectrometer, the ELC-3. So we have the station positioned to where, over the next 10, 15, 20 years, it's got the spare parts it needs to continue doing the science that is so relevant today.


ZARRELLA: And, of course, as Endeavour was touching down here, Atlantis was rolling out to launch pad 39A. And it is getting ready for its launch on July 8th. That's the target date right now, and that will be the last ever space shuttle launch -- Kristie.

STOUT: I also wanted to get your thoughts on the legacy of Endeavour. It is the youngest shuttle in the fleet, but how will it be remembered?

ZARRELLA: Well, I mean, I think it's going to be remembered as the other shuttle vehicles. Discovery and Atlantis are all going to be remembered as marvelous flying machines, the likes of which have never been seen before and will probably never be seen again in our lifetime, vehicles that take off like a rocket but land back on Earth like an airplane, that can carry more cargo into space than just about any other kind of vehicle.

But, you know, by the same token, that was their great Achilles heel, that they were so complicated, that there were oftentimes delays and snafus. And they never really launched as many times as NASA had hoped they'd be able to launch, or carry as much cargo, but if it wasn't for the shuttles you wouldn't have had the International Space Station built, you wouldn't have had the Hubble Space Telescope launched or repaired or serviced numerous times. So both the wonderful legacy and a legacy that, of course, was a bit troubling.

STOUT: All right, John Zarrella, thank you very much indeed.

Still to come here on NEWS STREAM, this man Rotka Mladic, evaded capture for more than a decade, but now charged with genocide he is facing trial. We'll bring you the latest from The Hague.

We all know the damage that this wall of water did to Japan, but could Japan have done more to minimize the impact? We'll look at a new report.


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

Now Sepp Blatter is set to be re-elected as FIFA president for a fourth term. He will not be opposed in the election which will take place in about 30 minutes from now as his only challenger Mohammed bin Hammam was suspended after allegations of bribery which he denies.

Now Syria's government says it is granting amnesty to arrested anti- government protesters. The decree from President Bashar al Assad says it applies to all charges prior to May 31. But another report sees it differently. It says the protesters' punishment is merely being reduced.

And the Space Shuttle Endeavor has returned to Earth for the last time. It landed in the middle of the night at Florida's Kennedy Space Center. In 25 missions, Endeavor has orbited the Earth more than 4,500 times and covered nearly 200 million kilometers.

Now former Bosnian-Serb commander Rotka Mladic woke up in a cell at The Hague on Wednesday. And a court officials says that he will make his first appearance at the UN war crimes tribunal on Friday.

Nic Robertson is following the case from The Hague.


NIC ROBERTSON, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: The tribunal staff were there to Rotka Mladic when he got off the plane from Serbia. The registrar who's in charge of his health, welfare, his detention described Rotka Mladic as extremely cooperative. One of the first that he met with when he got off the plane was a doctor.

Officials here are saying the he has no major medical issues that they've seen so far. That the treatment and assessment that he's getting from the tribunal's doctor is normal, it's going exactly the way that they say it's gone with other detainees, which is an indication he doesn't have any major health issues.

The prosecutor here has described Rotka Mladic and his case and the charges he will face as very significant, significant not just for the victims, because they can begin to see some justice from this man, but significant because the crimes are typical and symptomatic of all those committed across Bosnia between 1992 and 1995 and important as well because Rotka Mladic was the most senior military Bosnian-Serb military commander in the country.

SERGE BRAMMERTZ, PROSECUTOR OF THE ICTY: He was the most powerful military figure in Bosnia during the war. He's charged with crimes that shocked the conscience of the international community. These crimes symbolize a brutality of the war in Bosnia and Herzegovina.

Rotka Mladic is charged with genocide, crimes against humanity and war crimes.

ROBERTSON: Now the prosecutor here also said that they've learned from lessons in the past that the indictment is a trimmed down version of the indictment. They're trying to make it a little shorter so that the trial can go ahead more quickly. How quickly, he said, he doesn't know because that's going to depend on Rotka Mladic and how he decides to proceed. He hasn't indicated yet whether he'll try to defend himself as some of the other detainees here have. He's been given a list of lawyers, 80 lawyers to choose from.

There are other factors as well. His health being a major concern. They say here his health will be taken care of. Every facility that he requires in terms of his health will be given to him. He's currently being held in isolation in detention. He may be able to mix with other prisoners in the future, but right now being held in a cell by himself just a few kilometers from the tribunal.

And he'll be appearing here for the first time Friday morning.

Nic Robertson, CNN, The Hague, The Netherlands.


STOUT: Now Japan's prime minister is facing a major political challenge on Thursday. The opposition Liberal Democratic Party has filed a no confidence motion against Naoto Kan and his cabinet and accuses him of mismanaging the response to the March 11 earthquake and tsunami.

Now the UN's nuclear watchdog agency is praising Japan's response to the nuclear crisis, calling it exemplary, but in a preliminary report they found planning before the disaster was inadequate, because Japan had underestimated the tsunami threat to its nuclear plants.

Now here in this image you can see that 14 meter high wall of water bearing down on the Fukushima Daiichi plant on March 11. Now the plant's walls were designed to withstand a tsunami half that height.

The IAEA team leader says that risks can be managed by preparing for the worst.


MIKE WEIGHTMAN, CHIEF INSPECTOR, UK NUCLEAR INSTALLATIONS: Natural disasters, you perhaps can't predict the precise moment of where they might occur, but you can say let me try and predict what is the consequence of them occurring. And that's what you take into account in design. And that's the lessons to take away for the world.

So you can make nuclear plants safe against natural events, but you have to understand those events very carefully and be able to predict them -- not the time, but the size of them.


STOUT: Now Japan's nuclear crisis has prompted European Union regulators to conduct safety checks on reactors in the region. Now the stress test, they start today with final results ready next year. They will look at natural disasters like an earthquake or tornado as well as extreme heat and cold.

Now authorities will also test for man-made failures and disasters like a plane crash or explosion. And they will check for adequate back-up power. But they will not explore potential terrorist attack scenarios.

Now let's take a look at where nuclear plants lie in the EU. Now there are 143 active facilities in some 14 countries. Now 13 members states do not have any nuclear plants.

France has the most with 58. The UK is second with 19. Germany has 17, but plans to shut them down.

Now let's go live now to Berlin for more on these stress tests. Now Fred Pleitgen is standing by. And Fred, this nuclear test has already started there in Germany. What does it entail?

FRED PLEITGEN, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, it's already started here in Germany, in many respects it's already actually finished here in Germany as well, Kristie. It started shortly after the Fukushima disaster. And it was really obviously triggered like in the whole of Europe, these stress tests were triggered by this Fukushima disaster and also of course by the fact that a lot of these governments have come to realize that there are certain natural disasters that maybe they hadn't planned for in the past.

So what the German's did is they conducted the stress test according to the EU guidelines as you said. How does a nuclear power plant withstand an earthquake? What about things like extreme flooding? Of the flooding here in Germany would be very different than for instance the flooding in Japan after that massive tsunami here. You have more rivers that would flood.

One big point of contentions as you said was whether or not these reactors should be tested to withstand things like terrorist attacks. France and also the UK, of course, were not in favor of that.

And finally, the big question was could these reactors withstand a plane crash. Now the Germans, after conducting these stress tests, had decided to permanently shut off eight of their oldest reactors and then to shut down the other nine reactors they still have left by the year 2022.

That decision has been hailed by a lot of people here in Germany, but there's also been some criticism, especially from European Atomic Energy Forum which says that it's not a good idea. It's politically motivated. Let's listen in to what the head of this forum had to say.


SANTIAGO SAN ANTONIO, DIR. GENERAL, EUROPEAN ATOMIC FORUM: The decision -- in my opinion the decision in Germany is just a political decision. It's a pity that the politicians only look at the short-term. For a politicians, the long-term is four years, is the next elections. And the energy policy should be -- should be considered under much longer period of time.


PLEITGEN: Now, of course, in many respects it is of course a political decision here in Germany, because nuclear energy simply has been a big point of contention here in this country for years. A previous government here in Germany had already decided to shut down all nuclear power plants. Angela Merkel's government, the current one, had then decided to leave them running longer than originally planned, but now is deciding to shut them down again.

The German public certainly very hostile to nuclear energy. But there are some major concern, which is also how do you replace nuclear energy? And a lot of people say that one thing Germany has to realize is that it's going to need more coal fired and more gas fired power plants on top of expanding renewable energies, Kristie.

STOUT: Yeah, and that will have both an economic and environmental impact.

Now despite Germany's decision to close its nuclear reactors, is nuclear here to stay for the rest of Europe?

PLEITGEN: Well, that's something that I asked an expert yesterday. And she told me that she believes that what Germany is doing will certainly not be a signal for other European countries. If you look to other European countries, the French have already said they plan on using nuclear energy in the future. Of course, the UK very much going down the same road building new nuclear reactors as well.

The Poles for their part seem to be reconsidering nuclear energy. They, of course, decided to build several nuclear reactors a couple of years ago. Now some politicians there are saying that it might be a good idea to reconsider that.

And the big question, of course, from all of these countries is energy security in the long-term. If you look at a country like Germany, the economic powerhouse of Germany -- Germany's economy very much based on industrial manufacturing which is very energy intensive. And so therefore a country like Germany is going to have to look for alternatives, possibly import energy, which could also be nuclear energy from places like France.

So certainly energy security versus using nuclear energy is the big issue here in Europe. It doesn't look as though many of these countries that are very much pro-nuclear are going to go away from nuclear energy whereas Germany was a special case, simply because the issue was so contentious here for so many years, Kristie.

STOUT: Frederik Pleitgen live for us from Berlin. Thank you.

Well, up next here on NEWS STREAM, it is the moment of truth for the Miami Heat's big stars. They came to win a title. And now they are in the NBA finals. So how do they fare in game 1? Don Riddell will be here to tell us how.


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

Now they hosted a championship parade even before the season began. Now the Miami Heat, they have a chance to actually win the NBA title. Don Riddell is here with the highlights from game 1 -- Don.

DON RIDDELL, CNN SPORTS CORRESPONDENT: Hi, Kristie. The Miami Heat do have the edge over the Dallas Mavericks in the NBA finals coming from eight points down to win game 1 in Miami by eight points on Tuesday.

LeBron James led Miami with a 24 point display. And even the man from Dirk Nowitzki with something to think about ahead of game 2.

Dallas made a game of it, though. Nowitzsi led all scorers with 27 points. And Jason Terry's 3 ball here gave the Mavs the half-time lead.

And they were up by as many as eight points in the third, but James led the fight back. The man who controversially left the Cavaliers and joined Miami because he said he wanted to win a championship ring beat the buzzer there to put the Heat full clear at the end of the third quarter.

Miami aren't a one-man team, though. And Dwayne Wade did a lot of the work last night. He had a double-double -- 10 rebounds, and 22 points.

That was a block on Shawn Marion. He followed it up with a 3-pointer over the head of Jason Kidd.

The Heat now 10 points clear in fourth and late put on a show down the stretch to make sure the game was there's. James emphatically slamming the ball home more than once to emphasize his team's superiority. 92-84 the score. Dallas are playing catch-up. Mark McKay watched the action.


MARK MCKAY, CNN SPORTS CORRESPONDENT: For three quarters, the Heat and the Mavericks traded baskets as best they could. In a defensive game that saw both teams shoot under 40 percent from the field, it was Miami that made the big shots when the heat was on. That's why the Heat has the early edge in the NBA finals.

LEBRON JAMES, MIAMI FORWARD: In order for us to win basketball games we've got to defend and we've got to get stops. And our offense will speak for itself and we can continue to get stops. So, you know I think for me going to the fourth quarter I know it's winning time, you know that's when the game is won.

ERIK SPOELSTRA, MIAMI HEAT HEAD COACH: Sometimes we have to win when it's not necessarily pretty for us offensively. We just have to grind it and get defensive stops and get some timely baskets.

DWAYNE WADE, MIAMI GUARD: I thought that we played well defensively and it allowed us to get out and get some good shots on the other end. You know, obviously I made some shots tonight, but we all made plays down the stretch that won us the ball game.

JASON TERRY, DALLAS GUARD: We didn't get it done tonight, obviously. We didn't play our best game. And that's why we're on the losing end. But game 2, we've got to come out ready.

JASON KIDD, DALLAS GUARD: This is over with. We've got to look at our mistakes, but we definitely got to play a lot better if we're going to have any chance to win come Thursday.

DIRK NOWITZKI, DALLAS FORWARD: We're a veteran team, so you can't get down with a loss. You've got to come back strong on Thursday. And, you know, I said it a couple of times this playoff run if you're the road team you're happy with a split.

MCKAY: Dirk Nowitzki's game-high 27 points gives Dallas something positive to take away from an otherwise disappointing opener, but the Mavs admit improvements are needed if they're to leave South Florida on even terms in the series.

At the NBA Finals, Mark McKay, CNN, Miami.


RIDDELL: And Kristie, game 2 will be on Thursday night in Miami. The Mavericks will be hoping to steal that one to seize home court advantage before the series switches to Dallas for games 3 and 4 and if necessary game 5.

STOUT: All right. Don, thank you very much indeed. Take care.

Now many of you have probably heard of rodeos, grand national, the Kentucky Derby, but what happens if there are no horses? Well, as Jeanne Moos reports, the show must go on.


JEANNE MOOS, CNN CORRESPONDENT: What do you do when horse herpes turns real horses into no-shows? Forget your saddle, just straddle a stick horse.

KYLIE FELTER, CONTESTANT: A stick horse is a lot different, because you have to do all the work. And I think it's going to be a lot more tiring.

MOOS: In Davis County, Utah, the Mounted Posse Junior Queen contest had to pony up with sticks.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Well, it's kind of weird, but you know you can't really help that the disease is going around.

MOOS: 75 or more cases of horse herpes in nine states, just those two words -- horse herpes -- left one morning host in stitches.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Do you have to have sex with a horse to get the herpes?


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: No, I think you can...

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Why would you -- what is wrong with you?

MOOS: No, horses don't give people herpes, just other horses. And it's often fatal.

But a stick horse sticks around forever.

Giddy-up. Come on. Giddy-up. Giddy-up.

Actually, long before horse herpes at ranch rodeos like the Western Heritage Classic in Texas, kids were riding bucking stick broncos. Instead of shaking a stick, they pretended a stick was shaking them. At the Western Heritage Classic, up to 100 kids do their best to simulate getting thrown.

You know what those kids needed with their stick horses? Sound effects.

Those Monty Python guys didn't even need a stick.

MICHAEL PALIN, ACTOR: You're using coconuts.


PALIN: You've got two empty halves of coconuts and you're banging them together.


MOOS: Stick horses have been used in contests to cut cows from a herd. They've been used to imitate famous dressage routines.

OK, you may never see a stick horse commemorated by a statue, but at least with a stick pony you get to pick out a horse that matches your outfit.

Jeanne Moos, CNN, New York.


STOUT: Well, he's enjoying himself.

Well next here on NEWS STREAM, it is a jellyfish invasion. Coming up, we'll be bringing you the latest on the flood of stingers washing up on Florida's shores.


STOUT: Welcome back.

It is the start of the Atlantic hurricane season. Let's get the very latest now with our Mari Ramos. She joins us from the world weather center -- Mari.

MARI RAMOS, CNN WEATHER CORRESPONDENT: Oh, it's that time of year. Yes, the ritual has begun. June 1, this is when everyone, you know, starts looking at the Atlantic and wondering what's going to happen. By the Atlantic, we mean the Caribbean and the Gulf of Mexico as well, Kristie.

It is the start of hurricane season here. And of course, a forecast came out a couple of weeks ago, May 19 I should say. And they are expecting an above average hurricane season. This is according to NOAA, the agency that makes the forecast here in the United States.

Now they're expecting 12 to 18 named storms on an average of about 11; 6 to 10 of those will be hurricanes, the average is 6; and 2 for major hurricanes, but 3 to 6 could actually become major hurricanes in this area.

So what they don't know, and there's no way to tell, is where these storms may actually hit.

I can show you the names though, those names have been picked out. The first name on the list is Arlene. And you'll notice that with every year we have a male name and a female name and they are in English and Spanish and in French, like Felipe like you see right here -- the languages spoken in this part of the world. So that's how they do it.

Now like they said there's no way to tell where these storms may actually head, but looking at climatology, they usually tend to form here in the western part of the Caribbean and then move into the Gulf of Mexico or maybe sometimes off the coast of Florida and then move through the Atlantic. But, you know, that's usually what happens. That doesn't mean that's what's going to happen.

As a matter of fact, we have our first suspect area right here and it's off the coast of Florida. It looks like this will be bringing some heavy rain into some of these areas. And you know what, they need the rain. Look at the pictures that we have for you from -- right there, right along the Space Coast of Florida, brush fires that are burning. That's because they're in a serious drought across this entire region.

Now, this is just one of many brush fires that have been burning. They are in a drought across much of Florida.

Come back over to the weather map over here. Let me show you. It's not as bad as what's happening in parts of Texas, for example, and New Mexico, but as we head into Florida you'll notice South Florida is considered in a drought and also as we head into Central Florida where all of these fires continue to burn.

So it is a problem. And we do need the rain.

Let's go ahead and check out your city by city forecast.

Oh, you know, summer is almost here. People flock to the beaches, but they're not alone, especially across some of the beaches in Florida anyway. Take a look and listen to this.


BOY: The jellyfish stung me.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: We've only been here five minutes. And we drove 45 minutes to get here. So we're leaving...


RAMOS: Aw, there you go. Those are the jellyfish. They're called maw (ph) stingers. They say that it's not a species indigenous to North America. They usually tend to bloom or blossom, or mate I guess I should say, whenever there are changes in the water temperature like El Nino for example sometimes tends to cause some of this stuff. But El Nino happens in the Pacific. And this is happening in the Atlantic.

So maybe they don't have an explanation for this, but more than 1,800 people, Kristie, get this, 1,800 people have been stung by the jellyfish here. And this is along the Space Coast of Florida. Right there in Central Florida. They're asking people to stay out of the water. And if you do get stung, they say they have vinegar stations set up along the beach to pour vinegar on people. And if that doesn't work there are other ways, they say, that you can try to stem the sting from a jellyfish.

Somebody told me you can use meat tenderizer. I don't know if that's true, though.


RAMOS: Yeah.

STOUT: Or just wear a wetsuit, perhaps.

RAMOS: Or stay out of the water.

STOUT: Look at that. It's just a swarm of them.

RAMOS: Yeah, pretty icky.

STOUT: Alas.

Yeah, it is. I mean, look at that mess. I hope they go away. Mari Ramos, thank you for the jellyfish warning there.

Now Mari, I do have a special treat for you. You have no doubt seen Shuttle Endeavor's crew in their launch gear, but what about like this? Down in the middle, that is indeed Mark Kelly and his team doing their very best Star Trek impersonation.

Now the mission poster is made by NASA's space flight awareness program. And if you're not familiar with the movie, well this is the real deal. And they look pretty similar.

Now as you can imagine, Star Trek is a frequent source of inspiration, sometimes a bit too literal. And this was the poster that started it all, one of NASA's graphic designers, Sals Gawker (ph), the Matrix Style design shifted crews away from the traditional boring format. And that freethinking has given us images like this. Can you guess the movie? Armageddon. The commander, he really does look like Bruce Willis there.

Now they're not all Hollywood inspired. This one pays tribute to the Beatles and their iconic Abbey Road album cover. And you notice, of course, the space vehicle there in the background.

Now it's nice to see astronauts have lighter sides even when they're bound by Earth's gravity.

And that is NEWS STREAM, but the news continues at CNN. World Business Today is next.