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Greece Going Forward; Strikes in Britain; Hariri Murder Investigation; Reporting on an Afghan Firefight

Aired June 30, 2011 - 08:00:00   ET


ANNA COREN, HOST: Welcome to NEWS STREAM, where news and technology meet.

Hello. I'm Anna Coren, in Hong Kong.

Well, Greece's parliament is voting on how to implement the austerity package it approved yesterday, an unpopular measure designed to save the country's economy.

Indictments issued against suspects in the murder of former Lebanese leader Rafik Hariri.

And we'll bring you more from our Nick Paton Walsh, embedded with American troops in a remote corner of Afghanistan, deep in Taliban country.

We begin in Greece, where parliament is preparing to vote on the next phase of its tough new austerity package. On Wednesday, Greek lawmakers narrowly approve the five-year cost-cutting plan by a vote of 155-138.

Well, today, they're debating how to actually follow through with it, what's likely to be another intense day of debate. Athens must pass the legislation in order to secure a vital $17 billion bailout installment from the EU and the IMF.

The austerity plans are provoking anger on the streets of Athens, sparking two straight days of violent protests. So what can we expect going forward?

Diana Magnay joins us now from the capital.

Diana, as we said, two straight days of violent protests, more violence overnight. But today I believe relative calm.

DIANA MAGNAY, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Today is calm. That violence coincided with two days of general strikes, and it was really the first part of the austerity program when lawmakers decided that they would go ahead rather than let Greece fall into bankruptcy, which was when the people on the streets realized that their fate was set, as it were.

This implementation bill which is now being debated is just the mechanics of how to put that austerity program into action, and that is really the difficult part. That is what everyone has to watch closely now to see if we're not in the same position three months down the line. How will Greece actually go about implementing these cuts to the social welfare system, this reduction of the bloated public sector?

How will it start implementing this huge $17 billion privatization program without selling off state assets at sort of rock-bottom prices, which is what everyone on the street fears most? Fearful, too, of their jobs. How is this country going to really crack down hard on a culture of tax evasion?

Those are all the questions that are being debated in the parliament right now as this bill is expected to pass. The question is, of course, whether they'll actually be able to implement these measures over the coming weeks and months -- Anna.

COREN: Diana, how will these drastic austerity measures -- how will they affect people living in Greece day to day?

MAGNAY: Well, this is why you've seen the sort of level of public anger on the streets, because everyone is affected. You have -- everybody across the board has had their pensions reduced. There are huge wage cuts. The public sector has already suffered 10 percent job cuts, another 20 percent of sets (ph) to go.

Tax hikes have gone up. VAT is going to rise to 23 percent. That's sales tax. That is a huge increase.

And, in fact, the opposition is most angry about the tax proposals, because they say, you know, when you tax people who are already suffering as much as they can, when you tax the private sector, how can you possibly expect Greece to come out of this very deep recession that it finds itself in? How can you possibly bring Greece into a position where it will be able to grow?

And unless it begins to grow at some stage, then it can't obviously begin to pay off its debt. So it's this vicious circle.

The opposition says this austerity program isn't the right way of going about it, but now that is the path that Greece is set on. And at least it means that in the immediate future, it will get the money it needs to prevent it from defaulting on its debt in July -- Anna.

COREN: All right. Diana Magnay in Athens.

Thank you for that.

Well, austerity measures are also sparking unrest in Britain, where hundreds of thousands of public sector workers have walked off the job to protest planned pension changes. Well, they say the government is trying to make them pay more and work longer.

Well, our Dan Rivers is following the protest and joins us now live from London.

Dan, what's going on?

DAN RIVERS, CNN SR. INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, the protesters just arrived here in Westminster, where they will all congregate behind me to hear speeches and so on. We're being told by both unions and the police, more than 20,000 people on the streets so far, all very good-natured. But there is a lot of anger here at these proposals to make people in the public sector work longer, pay more into these retirement funds, and retire later.

People we've talked to this morning have described it as a betrayal, as a breaking of the contract with the state, that they feel basically that they work in these jobs, some of these jobs are not that well paid, but they felt that the deal always was they would get a good pension at the end of it. And now they feel the government has moved the goal post.

The government though is saying some of these retirement deals are just unaffordable. It means that a teacher on about $50,000 a year, which some of them are on -- some of them are on more than that -- would end up with a pension fund of about $800,000 if they worked for the full 30 years. And the government is saying that's imply unaffordable in these times.

COREN: Dan, as you say, the government says that this will make it fairer for all taxpayers. Is it likely that this strike, that this demonstration will change the government's position?

RIVERS: Well, at the moment, the government is saying that negotiations are still ongoing. And, in fact, the opposition have said this as well. They've condemned the strikes, saying this is happening while negotiations haven't even been exhausted yet, and this strike is basically premature.

There's no sign at the moment of the government backing down on these measures though. In comments to the press, various government ministers have made it very clear that this is not negotiable, this is going to change. These final salary schemes are not going to continue.

And that's coming against the backdrop of lots of other austerity measures here. We've seen the students and other protesters on the streets angry about the costs -- increasing costs of going to university. This is the teachers and the lecturers angry that they're not going to get the pension they thought they were going to get.

All over, the government is having to retrench the state massively to pay for this huge overspend that they've got. People here saying that's because the government bailed out the bankers and it's the banks that should be paying, not them.

COREN: Dan, we've seen all this violence in the streets in Athens because of the austerity measures taking place in Greece. You mentioned the anger on the streets of London because of the austerity measures taking place in the U.K.

What is the general mood, I guess, looking forward?

RIVERS: Well, there's been lots of talk about a sort of summer of discontent here, echoing the winter of discontent that crippled the country in the 1970s. It's probably a bit premature to say that at the moment, but certainly there is a lot of very widespread anger here from the public sector about some of these measures, particularly the pension, because, don't forget, it's not just the public pensions that are proposed -- that there are proposals to change. The state pension that everyone gets no matter who you work for is also changing.

In the old days, you could retire here at 60 if you were a woman. Now that age is being moved up. It may be 66 in a few years' time before women get that state handout, the same age as men.

And one of the people I talked to here this morning felt very angry. She said, "Not only is my teaching pension not going to be as good as I had been counting on, but also the state pension that I had been counting on, well, I'm not going to get that for six more years."

And so her whole plans to retire -- she's now in her 50s -- have been thrown into disarray.

COREN: Yes, certainly tough for those people looking to retire, as you say.

Dan Rivers, in London.

We appreciate the update. Thank you.

Well, it's all about austerity in Italy today as well. The government is expected to approve a new budget plan to provide up to $68 billion in savings. Well, that could mean more public sector hiring freezes and cuts to government-funded programs.

Well, Dan asked Italian workers how it's affecting them.


IVAN CONSALVO, MARINE BIOLOGIST: It's very difficult for me, because it's not easy to obtain money from the bank or to buy our home, our car. A scooter is difficult to buy for me.

STEFANO MANZOCCHI, ECONOMIST, LUISS UNIVERSITY: I think that especially people that have been on temporary (ph) for so long in the public sector are ready to go and riot in the streets.


COREN: Well, certainly unemployment is one of the big issues weighing on Italy's economy. The jobless rate now stands at more than 8 percent.

Still to come here on NEWS STREAM, a special tribunal issues indictments in the assassination of the former Lebanese prime minister in this 2005 bomb blast. But will the answers it arrives at unite or divide the country?

Plus, Libyan leader Moammar Gadhafi is recruiting more volunteers for his fighting force. We'll tell you who's answering the call.

And caught in a firefight, an up-close look at the conflict in one of the deadliest places in Afghanistan.


COREN: For more than six years, Lebanon has waited to find out who killed former prime minister Rafik Hariri. Well, now one official tells CNN that a special tribunal for Lebanon has issued indictments in the case.

Arwa Damon reminds us why this assassination and investigation are so divided.


ARWA DAMON, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): On the one hand, it's the murder of just one man in a tiny country, and yet the assassination of Lebanon's former prime minister, Rafik Hariri, on February 14, 2005 had a volcanic effect.

The fury sparked the so-called Cedar Revolution. The momentum it generated forced the ouster of Syrian troops after a 30-year occupation. France and the U.S. were quick to push through a U.N. resolution to investigate the murder, leading to the creation of a special tribunal for Lebanon meant to bring about justice and break the culture in which assassinations were carried out with impunity and rarely prosecuted.

SAAD HARIRI, SON OF RAFIK HARIRI: I have no doubt, not a single doubt in my bones, that those who committed this crime will pay the price.

DAMON: But despite the slain former premier's son's desires, there are those who question the tribunal's very legitimacy, turning it into a polarizing entity between Lebanon's multiple factions and their various international patrons.

NICHOLAS BLANFORD, AUTHOR, "KILLING MR. LEBANON": I think that the tribunal has worked its way into this kind of Lebanese dynamic. I mean, at the end of the day, this is a tribunal about one dead Arab politician. And six years on, everyone is extremely worried that this is going to trigger a civil war.

DAMON: The tribunal effectively split Lebanon in two, the Hariri camp, led by Rafik Hariri's son, Saad Hariri, firmly backing the tribunal, along with the U.S., France, and Arab powers like Saudi Arabia. And the Hezbollah-led camp, backed by Syria and Iran, stating that the tribunal is an Israeli- American creation intended to curb the powerful political party's militant group.

The tribunal is expected to indict members of Hezbollah, prompting its secretary-general, Hassan Nasrallah, to declare the powerful militia would cut off the arm of anyone who dared touch a member. Not a threat taken lightly in Lebanon, where Hezbollah's military capabilities by far surpass those of the Lebanese army.

Should Hezbollah escalate political action, or impose its military presence throughout Beirut, that could lead to an internal conflict, which could in turn trigger another Israeli invasion and set the region up in flames, all of which puts Lebanon in a very precarious situation.

OMAR NASHABEH, LEGAL EXPERT: If there is a warrant for arrest issued by the office of the prosecutor and endorsed by the pretrial judge, then Lebanon has to comply and is legally bound to comply.

DAMON (on camera): On special occasions, church bells in the Islamic call to prayer are emitted from this memorial erected at the very location where the attack against former prime minister Hariri's convoy took place. It is a haunting reminder of the man whose mission in life was to bring prosperity to this nation, but whose death threatens to rip it apart.

Arwa Damon, CNN, Beirut.


COREN: Rafik Hariri's son Saad served as prime minister until January. Hezbollah forced the government to collapse over his cooperation with the special tribunal. Saad Hariri's successor is expected to respond to these indictments any minute now, and we will go to that.

But our Rima Maktabi is following developments from Abu Dhabi.

Rima, Saad has said that this is a historic moment for Lebanon. Tell us the significance of it.

RIMA MAKTABI, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Anna, indeed an historic moment for Lebanon. It's a country that has witnessed many assassinations in the past, even before Hariri in 2005.

Since the '70s, politicians, leaders and journalists are assassinated without anyone being tried or even questioned for that. So the symbolism of this tribunal is that it's the first of its kind in the Middle East, and also because the Lebanon population has waited all these years to see it happening.

Four members of Hezbollah have been indicted by the special tribunal for Lebanon, and the names have been given to the state prosecutor today. And we are expecting as of now the Lebanese security to look for these names and try to arrest them -- Anna.

COREN: Rima, Hezbollah has repeatedly denounced this tribunal. Has there been any reaction from Hezbollah?

MAKTABI: We reached out to a Hezbollah media officer, and he said that there's no comment and that Hezbollah has not seen (INAUDIBLE) or taken a look at the indictment.

Now, let's point out that all these are media leaks and sources telling us and the rest of the media about what's happening. The names have not been officially announced by this special tribunal for Lebanon, and this is not expected before weeks, until probably Lebanon gets back to the tribunal and tells that they weren't able to arrest those people.

Hezbollah has not commented yet, but we know the Hezbollah line on that. They say that it's America and Israel that have killed Hariri.

COREN: Rima, we saw from Arwa Damon's piece that this tribunal, its decision, could be rather divisive for the country. Give us a bit more context if you would.

MAKTABI: People are tense in the streets. I just came back from Beirut one day ago, two nights before today, and everyone has been awaiting these indictments.

Some of them are for this tribunal. A big number of the Lebanese want to see the criminals being indicted. However, a large number also do not want to see this tribunal happening. Among them, Hezbollah, which is a very powerful group in Lebanon.

And Anna, it's worth nothing that this is only the first indictment, and we expect two more in the future, according to a U.N. source who told us that this indictment is about the perpetrators of the assassination. However, other indictments may include more important names, names of people who organized and ordered this assassination, and some of them may not be Lebanese.

COREN: Rima Maktabi in Abu Dhabi.

We appreciate the analysis. Thank you.

Well, African Union leaders are discussing the conflict in Libya. The AU has criticized France for dropping weapons inside Libya to arm the rebels, saying they could end up in the hands of al Qaeda.

Well, France says the move is part of its mandate to protect civilians, Libyan civilians. It is the first country in the NATO alliance to publicly acknowledge it's arming the rebels.

Well, meanwhile, Moammar Gadhafi is calling for volunteers to join his cause. And women of all ages are stepping up to defend the regime.

Our David McKenzie met some of them.


DAVID MCKENZIE, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Assembling a general purpose machine gun with an unusual accessory at hand. The women of the region have come to Ben Walid to prove their loyalty and to show off their weapons, which they're not afraid to use.

(on camera): These are people -- sisters, grandmothers and mothers. But in Moammar Gadhafi's Libya, they are a fighting force.

(voice-over): From a young age, girls get military training in schools here. But with a war on, Libya's embattled leader has caused for fresh volunteers. And women of all ages are signing up, like 40-year-old textile worker Fatima Masul (ph).

"I train after work at 4:00," she says. "I go to train on using weapons. I like it and I like the training, and defending my country. And now I'm training other women to use the guns."

"They learn to use this to defend (INAUDIBLE) in the country," this sergeant says. "They're trained to use it. They assemble it and they take it apart, and they shoot and they get excellent scores."

But many of these women are still unfamiliar with their rifles.

The volunteers were bused out by the government to meet us. It's tempting to dismiss them as a military force, but consider this -- the Nuns of the Revolution, Gadhafi's famous female bodyguards. They're not just cosmetic. One reportedly took a bullet for him in Athens (ph) in '98. And since the '70s, women have trained in a special facility in Tripoli for combat.

We met a female soldier at a graduation ceremony. She didn't want her name used. She's still fresh from the eastern front. A canalist (ph) still attached to her wrist.

"I forget my role as a woman. My role is now to fight," she tells me. She has four children and a husband fighting near Misrata.

"Do not underestimate any women in Libya, whether old or young," she says. "At any age, do not underestimate her. The women are still able to perform more than you think."

The Libyan government claims they have handed out more than a million weapons to civilians since the beginning of the uprising. Raised to fight, could the loyalty of Libya's women be the defining factor in this war?

David McKenzie, CNN, Tripoli.


COREN: Ahead on NEWS STREAM, we will go to Wimbledon. The women's semifinals are under way, but many are still in shock about the fate of a former men's champion. Our Pedro Pinto has the latest.


COREN: Well, the women's semifinals are under way right now at Wimbledon, and that's where we can find our Pedro Pinto, who has the very latest.

Hello, Pedro.

PEDRO PINTO, CNN INTERNATIONAL SPORTS ANCHOR: Hi. Welcome to Wimbledon, where it's not sunny, as it was yesterday, but no rain so far. So no matches have been affected.

Of course, the two main matches on the day won't be affected by the weather, whatever happens, because they'll be on center court. The first semifinal between Petra Kvitova and Victoria Azarenka is under way on center court behind me.

Let me give you a little bit more about the final four women's standing on the side of the draw as we take a look at the matches that will be taking place.

Right now, as I mentioned, Kvitova taking on Azarenka. Victoria Azarenka is from Belarus. She's 21 years old. This is her first Grand Slam semifinal, and she's ranked number five in the world right now.

She's facing Petra Kvitova, who's from the Czech Republic. She's also 21, second straight Wimbledon semifinals. She surprised a lot of people by making it that far here last year, and she's ranked eight in the world.

After these two ladies wrap up their match, it will be Maria Sharapova, the 2004 champion, stepping out on to center court. Sharapova is, of course, from Russia. She's 24, which means she's the oldest woman left in the draw, a veteran at 24.

She's got three Grand Slam titles, including Wimbledon back in '04, like I mentioned, and she hasn't lost a set here at Wimbledon this season. So she is the odds-on favorite.

She'll be taking on Sabine Lisicki, who's probably the most surprising contender still left in the women's side of the draw. She's a wildcard, only the second wildcard ever to reach the semifinals here at Wimbledon, and the first German to reach the semifinal of a Grand Slam event since Steffi Graf.

So this is the lineup here on day 10 at Wimbledon, as we really expect a lot of drama and excitement, as always, throughout this event.

COREN: Now, Pedro, speaking of drama, Roger Federer -- what happened? He will not be in the men's semifinals tomorrow.

PINTO: Unbelievable. We were watching this match yesterday, the men's quarter final between Roger Federer and Jo-Wilfried Tsonga.

Now, take nothing away from the Frenchman, but when Federer went up two sets to love, everyone was thinking routine win for the six-time champion, right? Absolutely wrong. And for the first time ever in his career, he went on to lose a five-set match after being two sets up.

What went wrong, you ask? A lot of people are saying that they noticed a certain lack of passion, lack of drive from the former world number one, who is now, of course, a veteran. He's got the all-time record of Grand Slam titles at 16. And a lot of people are questioning his hunger.

I don't know if that's correct. Roger Federer said after his defeat to Tsonga that he still feels he has what it takes to contend for Grand Slam titles. Curiously, it's the second straight year he's been knocked out here in the quarter finals. And people are really asking, what can he do until the end of the season? He's got one more chance to win a slam, of course, at the U.S. Open.

Another quick note for you regarding the other quarter finals that took place. Tsonga advanced. He'll next face Novak Djokovic, who went through his match against the Australian Bernard Tomic in four sets. Also on Wednesday, we saw Rafael Nadal and Andy Murray advance, so they'll be facing off for the second straight year in the semifinals.

The men, taking center stage tomorrow. However, today, it's all about the ladies.

COREN: All right, Pedro. We'll let you get back to it. You enjoy Wimbledon.

Good to see you. Thank you for that.

Well, ahead on NEWS STREAM, battles in Afghanistan. The U.S. has announced plans for a troop drawdown, but some soldiers say that it can't come soon enough.

We'll take you to the front lines for a glimpse into some of their struggles. That's next.


COREN: Hello. I'm Anna Coren in Hong Kong. And you're watching News Stream. These are your world headlines.

Well, Athens approved a broad new austerity package on Wednesday, but today it's all about the details. Well, Greek lawmakers will make on the best way to implement those measures. This is parliament's final hurdle in securing the next installment of bailout funds from the EU and the IMF.

Hundreds of thousands of public sector workers have walked off the job in Britain. The protest is against planned pension changes. Well, marchers say the government is trying to make them pay more and work longer to receive less. The strike is being counted as one of Britain's biggest since 1926.

Well, two French journalists are back in Paris after being held hostage in Afghanistan for 547 days. Well, the men who worked for France 3 Television were captured, along with their interpreter in December 2009. The Taliban militants had threatened to kill them unless a number of detainees held by France were released.

Well, the French journalist release is just one of a number of stories out of Afghanistan that we are following on News Stream this hour. Well, let's take a look at a couple of the others.

In a moment we'll hear what authorities have learned in the aftermath of a terror attack on this Kabul hotel on Tuesday and what we know about the terror group believed to be behind it, the Haqqani Network.

But first our Nick Paton Walsh will take us behind the scenes of a firefight in one of the most deadly places in Afghanistan, the Kunar Valley. Its ground the U.S. afford to lose. Well, Kunar is on Afghanistan's eastern border, under 200 kilometers from the Capital Kabul, close to the border with Pakistan. It is a key transit route for militants between the two countries. And as Nick Paton Walsh found out, the scene of some of the fiercest fighting for U.S. troop in the 10 year war.


NICK PATON WALSH, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, Kunar in eastern Afghanistan is some of the toughest terrain that America has troops in here. And you can see this particular base is surrounded by hills on either side, which give the insurgency essential vantage point from which they can attack the base. Violence, frankly is so consistent, it makes it very hard for them to have the kind of contact with locals they need. Life here really a waiting game for the worst to happen.

Everywhere you look here in Kunar on Afghanistan's eastern border, the choicest aren't good. Outpost Pertel King (ph) is caught between hills full of Taliban. If the Americans leave, militants from Pakistan will flow through the valley, and if they stay then every few days this happens.

The mortars hit the base. The last attack was long enough ago there's panic. They're worried the Taliban have been preparing a big one.

After days of nothing, the insurgents have finally amassed around the compound and they attack all sides.

They use mortars first, aiming for Taliban dug into the hills. But the incoming fire is very accurate here. Their range cover from heavy machine guns.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Grab your rounds. As soon as they go, cycle it.

PATON WALSH: But the bullets are too close.


PATON WALSH: Locals scatter just before huge American firepower have the last word. Four massive air strikes across the hills and then the Taliban fall silent.

UNIDENTIIFED MALE: Say hi to Osama for me.

PATON WALSH: America knew why it came here, but isn't sure why it's staying.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: So we get like a police call for like grass and cigarette butts when you -- no?

PATON WALSH: 10 minutes later, jets swoop in to strafe the hills. A show of force, but the Taliban are now either gone or dead, at least five killed by the soldier's count.

The next morning it's starts again. Mortars and rocket propelled grenades pound the base.

For the second time in just 15 hours, the base is under attack. Much heavier this time. And it appears they've taken casualties.

More air strikes. This valley is vital strategically, but doesn't want to be conquered.

The medics fly in to collect one soldier. His injuries are not life threatening.

An American president presence in areas like this, as many argue, vital to the country's integrity. They can stop here students flooding in from Pakistan's madrases. Staying, though, does incur pretty huge cost. Leaving, though, runs the risk of allowing areas like this to become the safe havens that America came here in the first place to eradicate.

There's no real victory to be had here, though. Just a question of how long they will stay growing louder.

Nick Paton Walsh, CNN, Kunar, Afghanistan.


COREN: Well, Nick and his producer, Tommy Evans, risked their lives to bring us that report. And you can get a better sense of what it was like to be behind the scenes of that firefight on our web site. Well, they sent us these images which really show you what it's like to be under attack and what it can take to get the better of your enemy, in this case, dozens of bullets.

Well, you can see more of these images and watch Nick's report again on our Afghanistan crossroads blog. Just click onto

Well, after being held hostage for 547 days in Afghanistan, speaking out about their time in captivity, well two French journalists are back in Paris. Herve Ghesquiere and Stephane Taponier and their interpreter were captured in December 2009. Militants threatened to kill them if a number of detainees held by France were not freed.

Well, it's not clear what led to their release, but the pair who worked for France 3 Television say they remained optimistic that they would be freed.


HERVE GHESQUIERE, FRENCH JOURNALIST (through translator): I think I'm all right. Obviously, you have to stay strong. You had to keep -- to maintain your strength. You couldn't give in to boredom, hopelessness, you couldn't go there. We knew we had to keep really strong.

STEPHANE TAPONIER, FRENCH JOURNALIST (through translator): and I'm very well. I'm good in mind and body. We had no idea how long we would last -- we were going to be kept in captivity, but we could have kept going.

But I can tell you we are happy to be back.


COREN: I bet they are.

Well, a terror leader suspected of providing support for Tuesday attack on Kabul's Intercontinental Hotel has been killed by Coalition forces. NATO says a precision air strike in southeast Afghanistan killed the Haqqani commander and several fighters.

Well, Barbara Starr has more now on the reach of the Haqqani Network and the aftermath of the attack in the Afghan capital.


BARBARA STARR, CNN PENTAGON CORRESPODNENT: The Taliban had claimed responsibility for the attack on the Hotel Intercontinental, but senior security officials tell CNN intercept and intelligence convinces them this is the work of the Haqqani Network. The powerful warlord Jalaluddin Haqqani runs an insurgent network on both sides of the Afghanistan-Pakistan border tied to both the Taliban and al Qaeda.

President Obama says Afghan forces are getting better at dealing with insurgents.

BARACK OBAMA, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: That doesn't mean that there are not going to be events like this potentially taking place. And that will probably go on for some time.

STARR: It began with attackers storming the hotel's side entrance. Several detonated suicide vests, others went to the roof.

A predator drone flew over the hotel, providing video as the attack unfolded. A U.S. Blackhawk helicopter carrying a sniper team then shot at insurgents on the roof.

U.S. officials insist Afghan forces ran the entire operation, fighting their way through the hotel. But given the sophistication of the attack, they called for the helicopter and consulted a coalition advisory special operations team at the scene.

Even last fall as I traveled in eastern Afghanistan, a Haqqani stronghold, a senior U.S. general was already worried about the Haqqani's longstanding efforts to destabilize the Karzai government.

MAJ. GEN. JOHN CAMPBELL, U.S. ARMY: We focus, really, on the Haqqani Network as one of the most important insurgent networks here in Afghanistan. I believe it's the biggest threat to Kabul, because of their location, how close they are to Kabul and the objectives they want to get at.

STARR: This week, a powerful senator was out of patience.

SEN. CARL LEVIN, (D) MICHIGAN: The safe haven enjoyed by the Haqqani Network in Pakistan is continues to provide freedom for that group to launch attacks against the United States and coalition troops in Afghanistan. You both, I believe, have talked to Pakistani military leaders. Why do they refuse -- why does Pakistan refuse to take on the Haqqani network?

LT. GEN. JOHN ALLEN, COMMANDER U.S. FORCES AFGHANISTAN-NOMINEE: As we have emphasized to the Pakistanis, we've got to bring pressure to bear on this insurgent safe haven.

LEVIN: Yeah, but you want to comment. Is likely to change in the near-term?

ALLEN: Sir, I don't think it is likely to change. It is both the capacity issue for the Pakistanis and I think potentially a willingness issue.

STARR: Whether it's the Haqqanis, the Taliban or al Qaeda, the real issue at hand, of course, is that all of these groups can still stage spectacular attacks and raise very real questions about whether the war in Afghanistan can really succeed even as President Obama prepares to bring the first troops home.

Barbara Starr, CNN, the Pentagon.


COREN: Well, just ahead on News Stream, as Yemen waits to hear from its wounded president, we hear from the country's acting leader. It's his first interview with a western TV network.


COREN: Well, security in Yemen is deteriorating after months of protests. The government acknowledges it has lost control of five provinces to militants. Well, basic necessities are in short supply. And the embattled president is recovering in Saudi Arabia after an assassination attempt.

So what does the future hold? Well, acting president Abdu Rabu Mansoor Hadi sat down with our Nic Robertson for an exclusive interview.


NIC ROBERTSON, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Why does the president insist on coming back to Yemen against pressure of the United States, against pressure from the opposition here. Many people consider him now to be part of the problem for Yemen, not part of the solution, the reason why the economy is in bad shape, the reason why there is so much corruption. They say this will be a perfect opportunity for him to step down -- he's been injured.

ABDU RABU MANSOOR HADI, ACTING PRESIDENT OF YEMEN (through translator): He is part of solving the problems in Yemen. He's part of the political balance here in Yemen. He's been an expert in dealing with all differences and with all political and tribal differences and tribal approaches.

ROBERTSON: How dangerous is the situation now? You say provinces are out of the government control. How many provinces has the government lost control over?

HADI: More than five provinces. Talking to you, there is a fight between the government forces and al Qaeda in Abyan since 5:00 am this morning.

ROBERTSON: Has the United States increased its drone attacks?

HADI: I'll give you another secret, the drone are two types -- one taking pictures and collecting information, and the other one is carrying missiles. Actually these missiles could not be launched unless the voice of the enemy himself is recorded. And his voice is usually recorded with the CIA with our operations room with Pentagon and if it is identical than this missile is launched and fired, otherwise it could not be launched.

ROBERTSON: How long do you think the president can survive and go on in power? He's lost huge and important support, political support, military support, tribal support.

HADI: Actually he has not lost all the support. This is what the opposition is saying. He still has his ruling party. It consists of 3 million people. He has also the army with him.

ROBERTSON: Isn't what you're proposing, a recipe for heightened tensions and for civil war across the country?

HADI: Let me tell you, first, that Gamal bin Omar, the envoy from the United Nations Secretary-General has come to Yemen and he brought a new proposal. He proposed that a meeting should be held among the ruling party, the opposition inside and outside Yemen, the youths as well on a roundtable. We discuss all Yemeni issues and we draw up a roadmap and we agree on this agreement or we ratify this agreement.

ROBERTSON: By the terms of this agreement you are outlining here, when would President Saleh step down as president?

HADI: It will include the election of a president. And it will also include elections of a new parliament. And also a new political system in the country. It will be a parliamentary system instead of presidential. And it will arrange for a good government rule so it will wipe out or vanish any grievances, any complaints for any party.

ROBERTSON: But when will President Saleh step down?

HADI: When the election of the new president occurs or takes place.

ROBERTSON: And when would that be? When would that election be?

HADI: When we propose this. Gamal bin Omar is coming next week.

ROBERTSON: But that's the whole problem, isn't it? Nobody can agree on this issue. They wan the president to go now.

HADI: The president is actually sick.

ROBERTSON: You said he's going to come back.

HADI: I said he's coming, but I didn't say that he's coming soon.


COREN: Well, Vice President Hadi says Mr. Saleh's health is improving every day, but President Saleh has not been seen publicly since the June 3 attack on his compound.

Well, coming up on News Stream, we'll get the latest global weather forecast with our Mari Ramos. And this isn't something you'd see every day: an assault rifle unattended on the back of a police car. We'll tell you how it got there and where its owner was. That's next.


COREN: You're looking at the skyline of Hong Kong as we look at a few clouds there in the sky. It is a lovely evening here, a little cloudy today, a couple of storms. But at the moment all clear. But the weather story today is that a tropical storm has made landfall in Mexico. And our Mari Ramos, she has all the details. Hello, Mari.

MARI RAMOS, C NN WEATHER CORRESPONDENT: Hello, Anna. Good to see you again. Let's go ahead and talk about Tropical Storm Arlene. It is the first tropical storm of the season and -- in the Atlantic. And it kind of developed very quickly and has moved on shore very quickly.

We were expecting that to happen today. And earlier today it did make landfall here across the eastern coast of Mexico in an area called Cabo Rojo. It's about halfway between Tampico, which is a larger city and the city of Veracruz.

Let's go ahead and move in here and show you what's going on. It made landfall around 7:00 am local time with winds close to 100 kilometers per hour. There were some hurricane warnings posted. And as you can see, there are some larger cities around this area. So it is an area that we're monitoring very closely.

The concern is that once we get to some of these other areas where it's more mountainous, we could end up with some very heavy rain, easily maybe 100-200 millimeters of rainfall. And when that happens, you could really have the threat for flooding and mudslides.

I wanted to show you right over here what the storm actually looks like on the satellite. And we're looking at all of Mexico here. And even though that at one point I'd showed you that area called Cabo Rojo is right in this region, you can see how widespread the rain is, all the way up into the border with Texas. Brownsville may get some rain associated with this.

But notice in areas farther to the south here the storm is picking up moisture from the Pacific and kind of dumping it on this side over here. So areas that are hundreds of kilometers away from that center of circulation are still getting some very heavy rain and will continue some very heavy rain as we head through the next few days.

Some of the rainfall totals that we've had so far, that city I showed you, Tampico, that had over 145 millimeters of rain. It's been raining since the day before, so that's very significant as well.

Notice Tuxpan farther to the south, that area has had over 100 millimeters of rain.

Those areas are generally flat. Once we get into the mountains not only is the rain magnified, but also the wind. We can see that core of the stronger winds close to 100 kilometers per hour making landfall now.

The storm should continue moving inland into this very mountainous areas, I was telling you, and then should pretty much dissipate, but that moisture will remain here, I think, for the next couple of days.

Look at these rainfall totals that we're expecting, especially north of where that center made landfall, that red and the darker red, 25 maybe 50 additional centimeters of rainfall.

Let's go ahead and check out your forecast next.

You know as we head through the next couple of this, we're still expecting more rain showers along the eastern coast of China, the strong flow of moisture will return -- or should stay here. And all this area will see some heavy rain. We're just not expecting it to be as heavy as what you've had earlier in the week. And hopefully we won't see a significant of flooding.

Very quickly, the situation in Europe, what a change in the temperatures here. Even in Berlin we're only looking at 15. This is what, almost 15 degrees cooler than what you had yesterday. That's a big difference. That's because this front continues to move on through here. And as that happens, the temperature is really continuing to change.

We're still dealing with some heat, though, as we head to areas of the south. But even there the cold -- not cold, I can't say cold, but generally average, let's say -- cool temperatures are beginning to kind of push that stuff away.

Barcelona at 24, that's not too bad. You were close to 30 at this time yesterday.

Back to you.

COREN: 24 is nice, I have to say. I think we're up there in the 30s at the moment. But, yeah, I'll take 24.

Thank you, Mari. Nice to see you.

Well, this was just an accident, but police in Seattle say they're pretty embarrassed about it. As Jeanne Moos reports, the actions of one absent-minded officer have given residents there a lot to talk about.


JEANNE MOOS, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Ever drive off with something sitting on your roof? Well, imagine you're a cop and you're driving around with this thing on your trunk. Even the Seattle police say.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It's a careless act.

MOOS: A semiautomatic assault rifle.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We're very embarrassed.

MOOS: Probably loaded, say the police.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: People should expect more.

MOOS: Sitting unattended on the trunk of a patrol car parked in downtown Seattle.

Passerbying Nick Gonzalez snapped a picture, alerted officers on bikes, then sent the photo to Seattle's alternative newspaper, The Stranger. It sure was a strange sight.


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Whoops, that wasn't very smart.

MOOS: Now it's one thing to leave a cup a coffee on the roof and take off, but the gun apparently didn't fall off. A source confirms to CNN that one officer was unloading his car in the precinct garage. He set the rifle down on the trunk of a second car, then forgot it. A lieutenant came out, got in the car and drove off with a gun on the trunk. She parked a few blocks away to stop at a Starbucks and that's when passersby spotted the rifle.

The whole thing feels like a scene out of There's Something About Mary.

Ben Stiller rests Cameron Diaz's dog in a body cast on the roof then forgets it and drives off.

Now when police do this with a gun it would most likely be considered minor misconduct and result in a reprimand or a suspension of a day or two.

Of course, there are worse things you could leave on top of your car.

On the MTV series Jackass they put a baby doll on the roof.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Stop the car! Stop! Hey! Hey! Stop!

MOOS: To see how folks would react.




MOOS: The real mystery is how did that assault rifle not fall off on the drive to Starbucks? Though truth be told we had to do a couple of takes because our coffee cup stuck.

Take off.

Jeanne Moos, CNN, New York.


COREN: She needs to put her foot on the pedal a bit more I think.

Well, we're now going to take you over and out there to the Philippines where one man is using his job to spread a little joy on the streets. Well, meet Ramiro (ph), he's not dodging traffic, he is directing it with his very groovy dance moves. Ramiro (ph) who is 55 -- 54, I should say, years old has been a Manila traffic cop for six years. Well he says he enjoys making other people happy with his unique moves, moves that he says are practiced and perfected in his free time at home.

Can you believe it?

Well, Ramiro (ph) is not the only officer known for his fancy footwork. Let's check out some others.

Well, Tony, the dancing cop of Providence, Rhode Island has been dancing for decades. He says one day back in 1984 he got bored directing traffic and started to spin and twirl.

And in Thailand, one policeman, he even puts on a costume -- wait for it, it's coming up. You'll see it very shortly. Yes, there he is. Ireporter Steve Tyler says the cop's moves helped break the stress of Bangkok traffic.

Whatever gets you through I say.

Well, that is News Stream, but the news certainly continues here at CNN. World Business Today is coming up next.