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Inside the Syrian Border; Greece on Strike, Again; Pakistan Arrests
Aired June 15, 2011 - 08:00:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
ANJALI RAO, HOST: Welcome to NEWS STREAM, where news and technology meet.
I'm Anjali Rao, in Hong Kong.
Tear gas is fired as protesters in Athens, Greece, express their angry opposition to the next round of budget cuts.
Their faces tell the story. We go inside Syria to hear from refugees living in fear of being hunted down.
And the information that apparently led to the killing of Osama bin Laden. Now Pakistan has taken the informants into custody.
Protesting the country's next round of sweeping budget cuts. Labor unions are also voicing their opposition, joining protesters with a 24-hour strike. Many of the country's hospitals, banks, ports and other public facilities have ground to a halt. Prime Minister George Papandreou is struggling to get support for his new five-year austerity plan needed to secure the next (INAUDIBLE) with the EU and the IMF to avoid a default.
The protesters said they would form a human chain around parliament to try to block debate on the new austerity measures. We'll have more from Athens in just a few minutes.
Meanwhile, though, in Syria, we're hearing more reports of government atrocities against civilians. President al-Assad's army has been accused of destroying homes and burning crops in its latest rampage to silence suspected dissidents. Well, the government says the army's action is all to restore order.
Turkey now says more than 8,000 Syrian refugees have crossed into Turkey to escape the violence. Until recently, CNN had been unable to independently confirm these reports from inside Syria. However, on Tuesday, our Arwa Damon was able to cross the Turkish border into Syria for a few short hours. She got a first-hand look at the suffering in a refugee camp located about 17 kilometers northwest of Jisr-Al-Shugur.
Here's what she saw.
ARWA DAMON, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Hunched over, this man tries to stay dry. All he has for shelter, a piece of tarp and branches. He is one of hundreds of Syrians living in squalor and fear, just a stone's throw from the Turkish border.
(on camera): So we're just right now on the very edge of this makeshift camp, and you can see these crude tents that people have strung up for shelter. It's just started to rain now. It's just a plastic tarp.
(voice-over): Crammed together, six families. Their feet, caked in mud. Mothers trying to provide their children what comfort they can.
(on camera): It was also raining last night quite heavily, and they were saying that they had to spend the entire night on their feet because the entire floor was just turned into mud.
(voice-over): The women, who don't want to be filmed, simply asked, "Is there anything left that we haven't been through?" The families here bathe in a muddy stream, where they also wash the few clothes they brought with them. Illnesses are already spreading.
"My biggest problem is the children," Mohammed Medi (ph), a pharmacist, says, "and people with heart disease. I don't have the medicine for that."
He emptied his shelves as he fled, setting up something of a field hospital. A child he was trying to treat returns.
(on camera): He had given the child pills, but he can't swallow them. So now he has to somehow give him an injection, and he's been going through everything that he has here, trying to figure out what's suitable.
(voice-over): The people here are mostly from the town of Jisr-Al-Shugur and nearby villages. They fled as the security forces closed in, but not before witnessing brutal destruction.
"They set our field on fire, destroyed our homes," this woman laments. "The military had started bombing as we left," she says.
Her family planned on crossing into Turkey for protection, but others choose to stay here, hoping against hope they will receive news of loved ones lost in the chaos. Some even dreaming of returning home.
Twenty-six-year-old Moussa (ph) tried heading back to his village a few days ago. "I was on my friend's motorcycle, and suddenly, I saw the military advancing to the olive groves, and they started shooting at me," he tells us. For now, Moussa (ph) and many others watch and wait, fearful that the government forces will hunt them down in this wretched corner of their homeland.
RAO: Well, Arwa is back in Turkey. She joins us now live from the city of Harbiye.
Arwa, I understand that the Syrian government is urging people to return home.
DAMON: That's right, Anjali. We heard that report on the Syrian state Arab news-run agency. And they were saying and quoting the minister of information following a cabinet meeting, urging residents to return home, saying that now Jisr-Al-Shugur and the surrounding areas were safe, that common security had been restored, bearing in mind that the Syrian government has continuously maintained that it entered this area chasing down armed groups, and that is something that we have been hearing refuted from these refugees, from residents of those areas themselves.
In fact, many people saying that they are so fearful of the Syrian security forces, that they wouldn't dare go back home. The level of fear is so great, Anjali, that people are saying that if they are caught with an I.D. card that says their birthplace, has it listed as Jisr-Al-Shugur, they say that that is enough for a death sentence, or at least for them to in fact be detained.
And so it seems very unlikely that we're going to see any sort of a massive influx of refugees back into these areas because the level of trust between those who have fled and the authorities is minimal, or even nonexistent -- Anjali.
RAO: Resources are obviously incredibly hard for these people on the border to come by. So how is aid getting to them?
DAMON: Well, that's one of the big challenges. You saw that pharmacist there who was struggling with whatever basics he does have.
They are largely relying on the charity of Turkish villagers across the border who are using these smuggling routes to bring across things like bread, blankets, basics, children's powdered milk, and those sorts of things. They have received some minimal medical supplies from them, but they really do need help.
Now, we did also hear reported on the Syrian Arab news agency that the Syrian Red Crescent was going to be getting in touch with the Turkish Red Crescent to facilitate the refugees returning home, but also to facilitate some sort of medical and supply aid. We got in touch with the Turkish Red Crescent, who said that they had not received an official request just yet. And the trick is that the Turkish Red Crescent cannot actually officially provide aid for those Syrian refugees that are across the border in Syria.
But a lot of those we've been talking to yesterday are imploring the international community to step in, because at this stage, they can no longer live in these conditions. And they say they most certainly can no longer live under the rule of this type of a brutal regime -- Anjali.
RAO: Obviously an extremely bleak situation there.
Arwa, thank you very much.
Arwa Damon there, live in Turkey.
Well, now let's head back to Greece, where emotions are running high this hour. It's a situation that has implications not just internally, but for all of Europe and the world as well.
Well, a Greek default would rekindle fears of defaults from other bailed- out nations such as Portugal and Ireland, and that would lead to new questions about the viability of the euro and the Eurozone as a whole, affecting the entire world economy.
So, after years of unrestrained spending, what is Greece doing to climb out of this mess? Well, essentially, it's selling off the family's silver, including Athens' former international airport. But more of a concern out on the street, higher taxes and lower wages.
Well, adding to the problem, the government says that more cuts are essential if Greece is to get continued financial help. But with so much public opposition, Prime Minister George Papandreou is struggling to find support. And without his austerity plan, international lenders say they will not approve a second bailout which is worth up to $170 billion. That's on top of the $145 billion bailout that it already had been granted.
So, with more on the situation in the Greek capital, journalist Elinda Labropoulou joins us now from Athens.
Elinda, give us a senses of what the atmosphere is like on the streets and what people are hoping to achieve today.
ELINDA LABROPOULOU, JOURNALIST: Well, the atmosphere remains quite tense. Most of the protesters, about 10,000 of them, have remained outside parliament hoping to prevent deputies from entering the building where a debate on the new austerity measure is to be held in just over an hour's time.
Now, the unions have -- are holding also 24-hour strikes, protesting the measures. Some of them have joined forces with the protesters after marching to parliament. There were some clashes between police and protesters, and police fired tear gas a number of times.
As you say, it feels pretty much like Greece is selling off the family silver at this point. This is what the Greek people are saying. They're saying that they're being sold off.
They're also, at the same time, fearing the new austerity measures they're hearing about -- these tax hikes, more job cuts. About 20 percent job cuts are expected in the next five years. And this comes at a time when unemployment is over 15 (ph) percent, a 40 percent rise in this last year.
So a lot of the people that I spoke to on the square just a little bit earlier spoke about just exactly that, fears for the future, fears about unemployment, especially the youth. They're saying there's nowhere for them to go. So what they're doing is they're staying outside parliament, determined to see that the measures don't go through.
RAO: The situation has been going on for several weeks now. Is it having any marked impact on the government, Elinda?
LABROPOULOU: It's hard to tell, because even if the government could feel -- it can feel the impact, because it has a number of parliamentarians now saying that they might vote against the measures. We had somebody defect from the governing party yesterday. But overall, the prime minister is not in a position, really, not to push through with the measures. The popularity of his party is going down.
For the first time, the opposition is in the lead, for the first time in the last two years, since Papandreou came to power. But all the same, he has -- the prime minister has little leeway not to push the measures ahead.
The finance minister, only weeks ago, had said that Greece has enough money to last until mid-July. And (INAUDIBLE), Greece's lenders, have said that unless these measures go through, they cannot guarantee that the next installment of the bailout package will go through.
So, as we understand, the government is in a very, very tight situation.
RAO: The government says that these measures are necessary, but obviously there's a huge amount of anger here. So is anybody proposing an alternative to what the government says they have to do?
LABROPOULOU: Well, there are people who are calling for a default, thinking that this might be the way forward. At the moment, there aren't very many solutions. I mean, austerity is as (ph) defaulting as the other, or some form of (INAUDIBLE) default, the terms of which I'm not quite clear yet.
What a lot of Greeks are feeling and they're not very happy with is they're feeling that a lot of their European counterparts have let them down. This is one of the things that you hear a lot in Greece. So we're expecting more support from the Europeans on this.
They see no consensus. They don't see a clear line towards the Greek financial crisis. And at the moment, this doesn't leave them with very many alternatives.
RAO: This is really a very fluid situation. We're going to be keeping right on top of it.
For now, though, Elinda Labropoulou, thank you very much, indeed.
Well, intrigue in Pakistan and perhaps a double game for spies. Pakistani intelligence arrest informants who helped the CIA get Bin Laden. Coming up, the tense relationship between the two spy agencies.
And that volcano in Chile is still wrecking travel plans way across the globe. We'll have the latest on the high-flying ash cloud.
Plus, in Sudan, northern troops are driving southern villagers from their land and tearing families apart. We'll bring you the stories of those escaping.
All still ahead on NEWS STREAM.
RAO: Welcome back.
Pakistan's intelligence agency has arrested several informants who they say helped the U.S. The informants supposedly gave the CIA information that led to the raid on Osama bin Laden's compound.
U.S. and Pakistani intelligence heads discussed the arrests on Friday, and officials say the relationship between the two spy agencies is very tense. One Pakistani spokesman rated it as only a 4 out of 10.
Our Reza Sayah is in Islamabad, where he is following the reaction to the arrests, and he joins us now.
Reza, what more do you know about who exactly these people in custody are?
REZA SAYAH, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, Anjali, just when you thought this relationship between Pakistan and the U.S. couldn't get more twisted and tangled and complicated, we learned that the ISI, Pakistan's top spy agency, has indeed arrested several suspected informants, Pakistani men who allegedly helped the CIA, fed them information before the big raid on the Bin Laden compound last month. "The New York Times" reporting that one of these men is an army major who reportedly was writing down license plate numbers of cars going in and out of this compound.
One of our sources, a security official here in Pakistan, said that's not true. He flatly rejects that one of the individuals arrested was indeed an army officer. We do know, according to security officials here in Pakistan, that some of the individuals arrested were staying at a safe house rented by the CIA that served as some sort of lookout on to the Bin Laden compound.
Obviously, these developments, these arrests raise a lot of serious questions. First and foremost, why is the ISI arresting informants for the CIA when they were supposed to be on board in efforts to find and capture Bin Laden? You would think they would praise these men, commend them, instead of arresting them. And the fact that they have arrested them suggests that they may not be happy with them.
We caution that we still don't have all the details about these arrests, Anjali, but they certainly raise a lot of questions, and they could ignite another wave of suspicion about Pakistan's commitment to the U.S. fight against militants.
RAO: Does this, Reza, go any way towards appeasing those in Pakistan who are still so angry that the Americans acted to take out Bin Laden on Pakistani soil?
SAYAH: Well, look, this relationship started to really deteriorate after that raid on Bin Laden. And there's no indication that there's any efforts being made, any real efforts, other than rhetoric from both sides, to improve relations.
The fact is, it's at a low point. There's a lot of finger-pointing and friction. Just this last weekend, CIA Director Leon Panetta came into Islamabad and reportedly had evidence that the military was colluding with insurgents.
The ISI, for its part, has kicked out most of the U.S. military trainers. They're not giving as much intelligence to Washington. U.S. lawmakers are pushing for a reduction in funds.
And we could go on and on about this relationship that's severely damaged. And the question is, what can these two countries that need one another at this critical juncture do to mend their relationship? At this point, no one seems to be coming up with an answer.
RAO: Reza Sayah, live in Islamabad, Pakistan.
Thank you very much.
Still to come here on NEWS STREAM, the effect of Chile's volcanic ash cloud continues to be felt around the world. We'll hear from some of the many stranded passengers.
RAO: Welcome back to NEWS STREAM, live from our studios at CNN in Hong Kong.
Now, the ash cloud from a volcano in Chile is making life unpleasant for air travelers half a world away as it drifts through the airspace over Australia and New Zealand.
Alice Pooley talked with some of the frustrated passengers.
ALICE POOLEY, REPORTER, NETWORK 10 (voice-over): As the ash cloud moved further west overnight, Perth Airport was thrown into chaos. Stranded passengers, some who have been stuck for three days, reached breaking points.
JULIE KEMPIN, STRANDED PASSENGER: Really stressful. I mean, basically, Tiger Airways had a phone number that you could ring. They actually took the phone number off line. And you can't even ring them.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Yes, yes, very tiring. I miss home.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: And you're stuck on the other side of Australia, trying to run your business. You know, your kids are missing out on school.
POOLEY: These pictures taken in the transit lounge show the extent of the backlog. Almost 100,000 people have been affected by the volcanic cloud. A section of it over the Indian Ocean is now on a lower level, approaching 15,000 feet. It means domestic carriers that could fly in and out of Perth yesterday now can't. It's too dangerous.
All airlines have now canceled domestic flights for the rest of the day.
SEAN DONOHUE, SPOKESMAN, VIRGIN BLUE: Our safe operations is the fundamental piece of our business. It will continue to be that.
OLIVIA WIRTH, SPOKESPERSON, QANTAS: It's been a safety before schedule approach for Qantas, and it's always safety first. We have a very detailed risk assessment program.
POOLEY: With cloud over the east now dispersing, most flights around the rest of Australia have returned to normal. But Virgin and Qantas have suspended services to New Zealand, and there will be at least another 12 hours before all Tasmania flights resume.
In the west, the skies won't be safe for at least another 24 hours, but it's not clear where the danger will head next.
REBECCA PATRICK, DARWIN VOLCANIC ASH ADVISORY CENTRE: The ash cloud has the potential to move east and affect some of the southern cities, so we're just keeping a close eye on that.
POOLEY: Alice Pooley, 10 News.
RAO: Straight ahead on NEWS STREAM, the lines are drawn. Sudan will soon officially be split into two separate nations. We'll tell you how that's also creating a divide amongst families there.
RAO: I'm Anjali Rao in Hong Kong. You're watching NEWS STREAM. And these are your world headlines.
Demonstrators have clashed with police in Athens where thousands of Greeks are on the streets protesting against more tough austerity measures. With many people angry over high taxes and low pay, a 24 hour general strike has brought much of the country to a standstill.
Security forces in Pakistan have arrested five people suspected of feeding intelligence to the U.S. before the raid that killed Osama bin Laden. The arrest put further pressure on the already strained relations between Islamabad and Washington.
A volcano in east Africa, which has been billowing smoke and ash for three days is finally losing intensity. The Nabra volcano in Eritrea was thought to be extinct, but it rumbled back to life on Sunday after a series of earthquakes. U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton cut short her visit to Ethiopia to make sure she didn't get stranded there by Nabra's ash plume.
And the U.S. president has weighed into the current Sudan conflict. Barack Obama sent a taped message to the leaders of the northern and southern parts of the country calling for the violence to end. Well, South Sudan is just a few weeks away from assuming its independence as a separate country.
Well just weeks before Sudan splits into two separate nations violent clashes are breaking out in the oil rich region of Abyei. And as Jane Ferguson reports, it's not just a nation that's being split up, it's families as well.
JANE FERGUSON, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Adok has lost two children, literally lost them. When North Sudanese soldiers attacked her hometown of Abyei she ran. In the confusion, a family of 10 became 8. Her husband is out looking for the two youngest.
ADOK, ABYEI RESIDENT (through translator): We ran away when the fighting escalated. And nobody could see their families. Everything there is very bad."
Adok is from the Dinka tribe. Black African southern farmers caught in the middle of a violent land grab by Arab North Sudan just weeks before South Sudan gains independence.
The northern government, headed by Omar al Bashir, is accused of chasing the Dinka from the oil rich land they have farmed for generations.
ADOK (through translator): I drank water from ponds. And people on the way helped me to find food.
FERGUSON: The attacks came at night and chased terrified residents away. As they fled, running in all directions, she says the family members lost one another.
And there are many families like Adok's.
DOMINIC DENG, TWIC COUNTY COMMISSIONER: The Sudanese ambush came with the number of (inaudible) and using heavy artillery bombardments. The whole of town is small. And even during the day-time, you cannot see your parent or your relative in that situation.
FERGUSON: The local radio station is helping in the search for lost children from Abyei, trying to connect families over the air.
BOL DENG, MAYARDIT FM: I was just writing the names of those children we have lost so that later on we announce and if people listen to the radio in other areas and the children is there so they call in.
FERGUSON: Homeless and hungry, Abyei's families who do make it here are sleeping out in the open next to filthy pools of water.
State agencies are saying that tens of thousands of South Sudanese have fled here. They came in the night with nothing. Many of them have come with no food. And so they're dependent on foreign aid.
Next to children, it is the elderly who suffer most when chased from their land. Nyok is 95-years-old. She shelters in an abandoned shed with other old women. It took 10 days for her son to get her here. She has seen fighting between Arabs and the Dinka over the decades, but has never had to leave her home so far behind.
NYOK NYONG, ABYEI RESIDENT (through translator): In the past there were wars, but none has ever been like this. There has never been a war like this.
FERGUSON: But she does have one blessing: her family is still together.
Jane Ferguson, for CNN, South Sudan.
RAO: Now the place where there's been tremendous hidden suffering, a city in a remote corner of Pakistan, shut off by the Taliban for years. It sits in the tribal area north of North Waziristan near the Afghan border. Getting in food and medicine is tough, getting out is even tougher.
Phil Black takes us there.
PHIL BLACK, CNN CORRESPONDENT: You can't see it at first, these children look happy, relaxed, and welcoming. But when I ask them about their families, each face tells a story of suffering.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: My name is Jamal Zem (ph).
BLACK: The Pakistani Taliban killed both of Jamal's (ph) parents. His father was shot. His mother died when a rocket struck their home.
"There is nothing in my life now," he tells me. "When I was young, they used to hold me. Now I cry when I sit alone."
All of these children have lost one or both parents, and they haven't seen the rest of their families for four years. They're from the city of Parachinar. It's in Pakistan's remote tribal area where the border forms an isolated beak of land that cuts into Afghanistan. The tribal area is mostly populated by conservative Sunni Muslims who shelter and support the Pakistani Taliban. But the people of Parachinar are mostly Shia Muslims, regarded by the Taliban as heretics.
They resist the Taliban. And for that they suffer.
Parachinar has been under attack and under siege since early 2007. There is only one road linking it to the rest of Pakistan. This is what the militants do to vehicles that try to make the journey.
Those who manage to escape say the population is always critically short of basic supplies.
SARIT GASMI, FORMER PARACHINAR RESIDENT: Definitely the shortage of the food (inaudible) shortage of medicines.
BLACK: Abductions are common on the road, so is torture and murder. These images were provided by people from Parachinar. They show the remains of eight men who they say were captured by the Taliban. Their heads are severed, their bodies mutilated. It seems their limbs were cut off before they were killed. CNN can't independently verify the photos.
Barit Hussain (ph) told us he fled the violence, bringing his family to live a poor existence on the outskirts of Pakistan's capital. He says the Taliban killed his two brothers and a nephew. He dreams of going home, but first he wants Pakistan's army to intervene.
For four years the people of Parachinar have been pleading for government help and for almost as long the government has said it will. But it hasn't. Now the Pakistani government says it has decided to send aid flats, carrying people and cargo. And the military is promising to deploy soldiers. But there is no date for any of this to begin.
There are no official figures, but it's estimated the siege of Parachinar has claimed thousands of lives and displaced thousands more. For 14-year- old Hassina Bivei (ph) weeps while thinking of her homeland. Those who have escaped do not know when they will return. Those who are trapped do not know when the suffering will end.
In return for resisting Pakistan's enemies, they say their country has forgotten them.
Phil Black, CNN, Islamabad.
RAO: Japanese officials have come up with a plan they hope will calm fears about more radiation hazards, especially for children living in near the crippled Fukushima Daiich nuclear plant. Starting in September, radiation measuring devices will be given to 34,000 children in Fukushima City. All children between the ages of 4 and 15 will wear the devices for three months. And the data will be examined to make sure the exposure levels are safe.
Well, radiation began leaking from that nuclear plant following the March 11 earthquake and tsunamis. Now Japanese researchers are proposing using GPS data to get better information about the size of earthquakes and tsunamis.
Here's how it would work, the global positioning systems tracks the size and direction of horizontal and vertical ground movements when an earthquake strikes. That information is then used to calculate quake magnitude and ocean wave heights.
Well, in Bahrain there's a growing sense of discord. Shia Muslims say the Sunni run government is systematically trying to push them out of influential jobs and then labeling them enemies of the state.
Nic Robertson reports from Manama.
NIC ROBERTSON, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: E-mails, catching up on the news, that's about all journalist Mansoor al-Jamri has to do these days.
MANSOOR AL-JAMRI, EDITOR-IN-CHIEF, AL WASAT: What we have now in Bahrain is there is -- the biggest (inaudible)
ROBERTSON: Four months ago, as Bahrain's pro-democracy movement kicked off he was far busier, reporting for CNN, running the country's only independent newspaper, Al Wasat. Then suddenly...
AL-JAMRI: I was at the newspaper has been charged with fabricating the news knowingly and with the aim of spreading some sort of discord and unrest amongst the population, which is not true.
ROBERTSON: April 3, he was forced to quit and will now stand trial on those charges. The government, he says, is purging Shias from top jobs.
AL-JAMRI: And they have targeted the Shia community in the most inhumane way. Every Shia now is a criminal. Every Shia in Bahrain is considered by the state as an enemy of the state. And unfortunately this is not a recipe for calm in the future.
ROBERTSON: The same al-Jamri was forced to step down, one of the board members was taken into police custody. A week later he was dead, the police say he died of sickness. His family says his body was covered in cuts and bruises. And now the newspaper here is effectively run by the Sunni regime recently writing an article accusing the United States of supporting the opposition.
Al Wasat's revenues have sunk along with its reputation. The government's grip on the media is near total.
AL-JAMRI: Since then, the media has -- there has been a clamp down on the media, the International Federation of Journalists reported the dismissal and intimidation of at least 86 journalists.
ROBERTSON: All of this is nothing new to al-Jamri. His father, an outspoken member of Parliament, spent years in jail calling for reform. The irony, when his father was last released from jail 2001 as the king promised change. The royal invited the younger al-Jamri back from exile in Britain to open an independent newspaper, Al Wasat.
The country, he says, is entering another cycle of fear.
AL-JAMRI: The dismissal that are going on, the people are being summoned. Now people are afraid to talk. I mean, people who are talking are risking being -- being pursued by the authorities one way or the other.
ROBERTSON: Even though the state of emergency is over?
AL-JAMRI: Absolutely. Absolutely.
ROBERTSON: He's not alone. He believes many other are being dismissed like him on trumped up charges.
Government officials say 1,300 people have been dismissed from their jobs, but they add that 800 to 900 of those have now been reinstated. Opposition sources say that's not true. The believe the number who have lost jobs is well over 2,000, almost all of them Shia, and almost all of them still out of work.
Al-Jamri is banned from travel. This journalist, lured back from exile, fears his fate could be that of his father.
Nic Roberston, CNN, Manama, Bahrain.
RAO: The international Olympic committee says that it will not now give any tickets to Libya's Olympic committee, quote, "until the current situation becomes clearer." That comes after an angry public response to news that members of Leader Moammar Gadhafi's family may get passes, but the British government points out that key figures in the Gadhafi regime would not be allowed into the country in any case. Colonel Gadhafi's eldest son is the head of Libya's Olympic committee.
It's becoming way too common, another very high profile hack attack (inaudible).
RAO: Welcome back.
A new report raises concerns that Sony deliberately downplayed it's recent and extensive PlayStation Network breech. Kyoto News says the tech giants knew in late April that the hacking was massive. At that time, Sony only - - Sony only announced that some information might have been leaked. Ultimately, it came out that some 100 million PlayStation users were indeed affected.
The Kyoto news finding accounts from a Japanese ministry document. CNN is still waiting for a response from the government.
Well, the U.S. Senate is one of the latest victims in a rash of significant online hacking. CNN's Brian Todd has a look at who these national security hackers are and what they might be after.
BRIAN TODD, CNN CORRESPONDENT: A team of hackers announces we don't like the U.S. government very much and says just for kicks its hacked into the Senate's web site. LulzSecurity, known as LulzSec, takes a public jab saying in a release is this an act of war gentlemen? A reference to the Pentagon saying it now consider cyber-attacks an act of war. LulzSec posts what it says is internal data from Senate.gov.
What is this? And how sensitive is it?
ANUP GHOSH, INVINCEA: What we're seeing here, Brian is LulzSec has shown proof that they are on the Senate web server, able to run system commands, essentially they own this server.
TODD: Anup Ghosh is founder of Invincea, a cyber-security company that works with government agencies and private industry. The Senate Sergeant at Arms says the intrusion does not compromise the security of the Senate's network, but Ghosh says if LulzSec's hackers wanted to, they could have taken the Senate's web site of its server, could have replaced content on any Senate site.
Experts say LulzSec's done that before. The group didn't like a PBS documentary about WikiLeaks, so it hacked into PBS's web site, posted a fake story about TuPac Shakur and Biggie Smalls being alive and well in New Zealand. Both rappers were killed in the late 90s.
The name Lulz in LulzSec, experts say, is hack speak for laughs. But no one knows the real names of the people in LulzSec or how many of them there are.
Kevin Mitnick was once the world's most wanted hacker. He served five years in prison for hacking into phone company's sites and firms now consult him on cyber-security.
He says he corresponded with LulzSec hackers when they first started.
KEVIN MITNICK, AUTHOR: They enjoy the game of breaking into the system. And they think they're really enjoying their media attention, because they have a lot of followers. I think over 125,000 of them now. They've actually dedicated their web site to their attacks.
TODD: We used Twitter to try to reach LulzSec, tried calling a couple of phone leads, never got them.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We are not available right now as we are busy raping your internet.
TODD: Ghosh says despite the dark humor, LulzSec's hacking spree has a broader message.
GHOSH: That our networks are open. They have unfettered access through the weak security mechanisms that are deployed in today's networks to get on anyone's network to show them and shame them and humiliate them.
TODD: Ghosh and other experts say that's also a positive side to what LulzSec's doing. They're putting CEOs and government web masters on notice that their networks are vulnerable as opposed to nation states and cyber- criminals who don't announce it when they hack.
Brian Todd, CNN, Washington.
RAO: On Monday night, U.S. Republican presidential would be wannabes took the stage for their first organized debate. And by many estimates it was Congresswoman Michelle Bachmann who rose from the already crowded field. But for years, Bachmann has been better known for her bloopers and highly charged comments.
CNN's Jeanne Moos has some of the candidate's highs and the lows.
JEANNE MOOS, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Enter Michelle Bachmann. Actually, when she tried to enter, arriving at the debate, she was stymied by a locked door. But she was right about having a wonderful evening.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Big night for Bachmann.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: She stole a headline.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: A steal the show performance.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: She had charisma.
MOOS: But a mere four-and-a-half years ago she was star struck.
Michelle Bachmann first popped up on our radar screen back when she was a rookie congresswoman. We'd never even heard of her. Michelle who?
We were doing a story on how people fall all over the president after the State of the Union speech. And there she was, clutching at then President Bush. We even timed her.
Freshman Congresswoman Michelle Bachmann of Minnesota latched on to the president for a record-breaking 24 seconds.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Are we going to get a kiss, Mr. President?
MOOS: After that, there was no kissing Michelle Bachmann good-bye.
There's been some funny moments. For instance, winners of Hoarders (ph) mocked host Chris Matthews for saying an uplifting Obama speech sent a thrill up his leg, while he mocked her.
CHRIS MATTHEWS, MSNBC ANCHOR: Michelle Bachmann, are you hypnotized tonight? Has someone hypnotized you? Because no matter what I ask you, you give the same answer.
MOOS: Then there was the time she misplaced the start of the Revolutionary War.
REP. MICHELLE BACHMANN, (R) MINNESOTA: Here's the state where the shot was heard around the world.
MOOS: Thing is, Lexington and Concord are in Massachusetts while she was speaking in New Hampshire.
One of her most uncomfortable faux pas wasn't even her fault.
BACHMANN: Good evening. My name is Congresswoman Michelle Bachmann.
MOOS: If her eyes seem to be wandering off camera during her Tea Party reply to the State of the Union, that's because they were.
BACHMANN: Look no further...
MOOS: Instead of looking at the network pool camera, she was looking further over at the teleprompter mounted on this Tea Party Camera where she looked fine.
BACHMANN: And it's an honor for me to speak with you.
MOOS: And it was an honor for Saturday Night Live to lampoon her.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: The economy was headed for disaster as you can see from this chart.
MOOS: Real Michelle Bachmann...
BACHMANN: ...a staggering 10.1%.
MOOS: Fake Michelle Bachmann.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE; As this next chart clearly shows.
MOOS: Now the real Bachmann is back. And instead of grabbing the president, she's trying to be president.
BACHMANN: As president of the United States...
MOOS: Jeanne Moos, CNN, New York.
RAO: A quick for you now at an amazing piece of video. Watch this 19 year old American woman. She got caught in a furious storm last week and was literally blown away as she tried to run for cover. Dana Strew (ph) of Wisconsin says she left her car, because she was afraid she was in the path of a tornado. Thankfully, though, Dana was not injured.
Well, up next we'll have a preview of the season's next golfing major, the U.S. Open. And proof that it happens to all of us, even Hugh Hefner next up.
RAO: Now we don't normally cover sailing here on NEWS STREAM, but you have got to see this. Defending America's Cup champions Oracle Racing showed off their state of the art wind sail catamaran in San Francisco. But a practice race in one of the futuristic craft didn't quite go according to plan, they lost control of the boat and it slipped over in spectacular style throwing crew members into the sea. Grinder Shannon Falcone (ph) hit the wind sail as he fell, suffering a dislocated rib cartilage. And on this evidence, the venue for the 2013 America's Cup will be a challenge for the world's best sailors.
Golf fans rejoice, we're just a day away from the start of the U.S. Open. And it's a sign of how much the balance of power has shifted in golf that most of the favorites are from outside the U.S. Patrick Snell has a preview.
PATRICK SNELL, CNN SPORTS CORRESPONDENT: There's no doubt the European challenge here at Congressional is expected to be strong. The top two players in the world right now are both from England. Luke Donald and Lee Westwood have yet to win a major between them, unlike Northern Ireland's Graham McDowell who won this title last year at Pebble Beach in California. Though I have to say it's been a bit of a rocky road for him since.
Earlier this year he had disastrous final rounds at Sawgrass in Florida for the Player's Championship and the last round at the Wales Open, saw his challenge fade away very badly. So I wonder how has that left his mindset right now?
GRAHAM MCDOWELL, GOLFER: You know it's bizarre, because if anything I feel like the glare is off me this week. I feel like I've done -- I've done it the last three or four months has been difficult. You know, I spent the last just under 12 months looking back at Pebble. You know, I've spent the last 6 months reflecting on 2010, you know. And I mean, somehow having arrived here this week I feel like I've done it now and I'm back.
Yeah, my U.S. Open trophy is back here with the USGF. I'm back. And I'm ready to sort of get on with the rest of my career now. You know, I mean, I feel like if defending titles is a strange -- it's a strange psyche because I mean, you know, I've got nothing to defend this week.
SNELL: There will be no Tiger Woods at this event. The 14-time major winner is missing out on the U.S. Open for the first time since 1994. But what we do get instead is a dream opportunity for his fellow American Michael Whitehead, the 23-year-old who was invited to play as a result of Tiger's withdrawal. And certainly you talk about a dream break for him, Whitehead was the only loser in a three man playoff for two U.S. Open places.
MICHAEL WHITEHEAD, GOLFER: Yeah, everybody keeps calling me Tiger's replacement. I walk around the golf course and they're like oh that's Tiger's replacement. I'm not Tiger's replacement, I'm just the guy who got in when Tiger withdrew. But, yeah, it's kind of fun. Woods and Whitehead in the same article. I'm glad he listen to his doctors this time.
SNELL: And it gets even better for the 23-year-old, because we understand he will be getting married next month. It's just one big piece of good news after another right now for Michael Whitehead.
Back to you.
RAO: Patrick Snell there.
Now Playboy founder Hugh Hefner has been dumped just days before his wedding. He was due to marry Crystal Harris, at 25 some six decades his junior later this month.
The couple met at a Halloween party at the notorious Playboy Mansion and moved in together soon after. The couple were engaged at Christmas last year, but after a six month engagement Hefner posted this on Twitter.
"The wedding is off. Crystal has had a change of heart of heart."
But he remained upbeat.
Four hours later he posted "the break-up is a heart breaker. But better now than after the marriage."
Lucky I think that where Hef is concerned there are plenty more fish in that sea.
Well now before we go I do want to update you on our top story this hour which is around 25,000 protesters out in force on the streets of Athena. They've thrown petrol bombs at the Greek finance ministry. Their protesting against the latest round of proposed budget cuts. Greece needs to avoid a default on its debt. And so many people angry over high taxes and low pay, a 24 hour general strike has brought much of the country to a standstill.
We will of course have much more from Greece on "WORLD BUSINESS TODAY." That's up next. But this has been NEWS STREAM. I'm Anjali Rao in Hong Kong.