Return to Transcripts main page


Horrors of War in Tripoli; U.N. Building Bombed in Nigeria; Hurricane Threat to East Coast of U.S.

Aired August 26, 2011 - 08:00   ET


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

I'm Kristie Lu Stout, in Hong Kong.

A deadly bomb blast rips through the United Nations building in Nigeria's capital, and we will bring you the latest.

Residents flee Tripoli as the fighting goes on. And meanwhile, rebels are going door to door in the hunt for Moammar Gadhafi.

Hurricane Irene has New York in her sights, and the residents there are hunkering down.

But we start in Nigeria. At least seven people have been killed in an explosion that rocked the United Nations building in the center of the capital, Abuja. Now, the U.N. in Geneva has confirmed to CNN that the blast was caused by a bomb.


CORINNE MOMAL-VANIAN, U.N. DIRECTOR OF INFORMATION: The only thing that we can confirm at this point is that our information officer in Lagos has confirmed that there was a bombing at the U.N. premises in Abuja. We have no indication at this moment of the number of casualties, if any. We do not know how much the building was damaged and what type of bomb it was. We can only confirm that there was a bombing at the U.N. building in Abuja.


STOUT: That casualty number is still very much in flux, and police say a bomb squad has been deployed to the scene. A little over an hour ago, we spoke to Alkasim Abdulkadir, a journalist in Abuja. This is what he told us from the scene.


ALKASIM ABDULKADIR, JOURNALIST: The blast occurred around 10:35 a.m. this morning, and from what I can see, several Red Cross vehicles pulling - - Red Cross officials pulling people out of the debris where a blast blew the southern part of the building. The rescue operation is still going on. Patients are being taken to the national hospital, which is a minute's drive from the U.N. building.


STOUT: And we have more to come on the situation there in Abuja within the next hour, right here on NEWS STREAM.

Now, in Libya, the U.K. Defense Ministry has just said that British warplanes fired long-range guided missiles at the large headquarters bunker in Moammar Gadhafi's hometown of Sirte. Now, meanwhile, fighting has broken out at the Tripoli International Airport again. Our team there says that forces loyal to Moammar Gadhafi are firing on anything and everything in the area. They're targeting NATO jets and destroying four empty passenger planes.

Despite rebel gains around central Tripoli, violence remains unpredictable and indiscriminate. Many residents are fleeing the capital out of fear of being killed, and the U.N. Security Council has unfrozen $1.5 billion in Libyan assets to be used for humanitarian aid. But the rebels' National Transitional Council says it's not enough and is urging the Sanctions Committee to make available the total $100 billion frozen at the beginning of the war.

Opposition forces stormed through an apartment complex in Tripoli on Thursday, going door to door in their search for the fugitive dictator. Earlier, rebels had claimed that they had cornered Gadhafi and his sons in the building near his former compound. That turned out to be false.

Gadhafi still may have surfaced though, at least on tape. A new audio message was released on Thursday, supposedly in his voice, but CNN cannot independently verify that.


MOAMMAR GADHAFI, LIBYAN LEADER (through translator): Do not leave Tripoli for the rats. Do not leave them. Fight them. Destroy them.

You are the overwhelming majority. You have marched in millions. March with the same millions, but fight this time. Fill the streets and the fields.


STOUT: And while Colonel Gadhafi sent a message from a mystery location, life around Tripoli has changed dramatically.

Our Dan Rivers has been watching events unfold on the ground in a city still reeling from fierce fighting and an uncertain future. He filed this report, and I've got to warn you, some of the images you're about to see may be disturbing.


DAN RIVERS, CNN SR. INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): This was the very heart of the regime, a potent symbol of Gadhafi's resistance against the West, now overrun by his enemies. So is the writing on the wall for the colonel. The rebels would like to think so, and they are determined to flush him out with minimal collateral damage.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We don't like to spend a lot of blood, you know, because they are -- even they are our brothers.

RIVERS: We've got to be careful at every corner in this part of the city near Gadhafi's compound.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: They're taking shots to the side.

RIVERS: We're not sure if they're shooting at us, but we don't stay to find out.

The streets are awash with guns, all toted by the rebels. So far, we haven't seen a single Gadhafi loyalist here.

Among the fighters, Zyad Tariq, who was held in prison for political dissent. He says he can't remember for how long, but he does remember the torture.

ZYAD TARIQ, FMR. POLITICAL PRISONER: We've been beaten. We've been put electricity in our foot. We've been held with our hands tied up like this.

RIVERS: We visit the Matika (ph) military hospital, now echoing with the screams of children caught up in this mayhem.

Kirstie Campbell works for an aid agency and has been watching hundreds of injured civilians being rushed in for treatment.

KIRSTIE CAMPBELL, INTERNATIONAL MEDICAL CORPS: The women who have been killed, they're basically hiding (ph) from snipers into the houses, from mortars into the houses. Not even in the streets, in their homes.

RIVERS (on camera): It's pretty sickening.

CAMPBELL: I've worked for 10 years in war zones and this one was really bad.

RIVERS (voice-over): I meet Uday Dominir (ph), a 27-year-old fighter shot twice by a sniper yesterday. This is near to where he was shot. Hardly a surface that's not punctuated by the ferocious firefight.

And at the end of this smoke-filled street, an intersection littered with bodies. I count a dozen, a grisly tableau of urban warfare, the victims' hands bound behind them. The rebels say they were execute by Gadhafi's men, but these bodies appear to be black Africans. Black Africans make up a large portion of Gadhafi's army, raising questions about whether the men were executed by the rebels.

(on camera): These terrible scenes sum up the horror of parts of Tripoli now -- bodies strewn across the street, gunfire echoing through the sky, and large parts of the city remaining a no-go zone.


STOUT: Let's turn to our breaking news story this hour. Back to that bomb blast in Nigeria.

At least seven people have been killed in an explosion that rocked the United Nations building in the center of the capital, Abuja. Let's get the latest details now.

Christian Purefoy joins me now live from Lagos.

And Christian, any new information on this bomb attack?

CHRISTIAN PUREFOY, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Kristie, well, the reports we're getting now are that this could well have been a suicide car bomb that attacked the U.N. headquarters earlier this morning. I spoke to one lady who -- a very reliable source -- said she was actually outside the U.N. building at the time. She was just leaving, and she saw a white SUV enter the gate very swiftly, and then there were two explosions, she said. The second one shattered windows, shattered the walls, and then she ran.

That claim is being backed up by, again, another anonymous security source, but also pictures coming out of ruins of a car outside the building. It would also fit very well with the style of the main suspects, if you like, Kristie, of this attack, Boko Haram, an Islamic militant group in Nigeria who have carried out very similar attacks in the past.

And we had one against the police CG (ph) a few months ago, where a car bomb tried to enter the police headquarters. And then there was another car bomb last year in the capital, Abuja.

So very similar styles, and it would explain how they managed to get such a large device so close to really what is quite a secure area, Kristie. I mean, in that area, you have the U.S. Embassy very close -- Kristie.

STOUT: A very sensitive area with a lot of high-profile targets there. As you mentioned, Abuja, not new to attacks like this.

Who could be behind this attack? Are Islamist militants who have done this before in Abuja to blame?

PUREFOY: At the moment, all the security, all the police are trying to deal with the situation, Kristie. No one sort of laying blame. They're trying to help the victims, help the injured, and then they'll try and find out what exactly happened.

But it is highly likely, once this is confirmed to be a bomb attack, Kristie, that it will be the Islamic militant group Boko Haram. The name means Western education is a sin.

And for the past, you know, six months, they've been waging what was is almost a low-level in the northeast of the country. Normally, Kristie, their attacks focus on government buildings, police stations, that sort of stuff. So this is a very significant departure if it is Boko Haram in attacking the U.N., which is not a Nigerian government building and has never been part of their aim, although their aims have never been quite clear.

It's a very loose group often affiliated with Nigerian politics. But there have been, Kristie, reports of connections being made between Boko Haram and other extremist groups, particularly in northern West Africa, in the Sahel Islamic extremist groups in sort of Niger and Mali. But this would be a significant departure and a dangerous departure for Nigeria -- Kristie.

STOUT: All right.

Christian Purefoy joining us live from Lagos.

Thank you very much for that added insight there.

Now, also joining us on the line is Mr. Seyi of the Nigerian Red Cross. He was among the first responders to arrive at the scene when this bomb blast took place at the U.N. building there in Abuja.

Mr. Seyi, welcome to CNN.

And tell us, what did you see when you first got there to the scene?

MR. SEYI, NIGERIAN RED CROSS: Well, we mobilized the volunteers of the Nigerian Red Cross immediately. Over 100 volunteers were committed to the operations. And then we were able to rescue some (INAUDIBLE). And then even evacuated the dead ones.

STOUT: OK. You say that you have 100 volunteers there at the scene. You were able to assist with those who were wounded and of course deal with the bodies of those who passed away.

Can you confirm the number of fatalities?

SEYI: I want to confirm the number of fatalities, because we work in conjunction with all the rescue agencies like (INAUDIBLE) the other agencies and that of Nigerian Red Cross.

STOUT: Right. And because you're working with these other agencies, you can't confirm on that count. Understood.

But while we still have you on the line, can you give us more details about the number of wounded you saw on the scene?

SEYI: The number of wounded, I may not be exact in the number, because --

STOUT: How many did you come across?

SEYI: Not all our ambulances were operational during the operations. We have other --


STOUT: OK. Then let's step away from talking about fatalities, et cetera.

Describe the level of destruction there at the building.

SEYI: Well, (INAUDIBLE) is badly damaged, the first floor, the security post. And then the windowpanes on other floors were also affected. But the area of impact, the ground floor.


Mr. Seyi of the Red Cross, who was among the first responders there at the scene, describing the ground floor badly damaged there, the U.N. building which has been targeted by this deadly bomb blast there in Abuja, the capital of Nigeria.

We will continue to keep tabs on this story for you.

At our last count, we understand that at least seven people are dead as a result of this bombing.

Now, up next on CNN, Gadhafi's whereabouts are unknown. Some rebels claim that he's been hiding out here in this trailer in recent days.

And a powerful hurricane sets its sights on the East Coast of the United States.

And the resignation of Naoto Kan paves the way for Japan's sixth prime minister in five years.


STOUT: OK. A quick update on our breaking news story.

That bomb blast that targeted a United Nations building in the Nigerian capital of Abuja took place 10:45 in the morning. It is believed that at least seven people are dead.

You're looking at recent picture that have come into us of the aftermath of this bomb blast. You can clearly see the front of the building has been ripped apart.

Earlier, we were speaking to our correspondent Christian Purefoy. He's been talking to eyewitnesses who say that they saw a white SUV in the area, and that there were two explosions in total.

Now, this bomb blast which killed at least seven people there in Abuja is believed to be a suicide car bomb. Any additional details on this incident, we'll bring it to you right here on CNN.

And now to other news we are following.

Hurricane Irene is roaring north. Just listen to that. It's the sound of Hurricane Irene battering the Abaco Islands in the Bahamas on Thursday.

Now, this video, it was shot by a CNN iReporter who described the heavy rain and fearsome winds. Irene wreaked some significant havoc there in the Bahamas, but no deaths have been reported.

The storm is expected to hit the United States' East Coast by Saturday. And from South Carolina to Maine, nearly all of the Atlantic Seaboard is preparing for Irene, and residents in coastal areas are bracing for the possibility of widespread damage, power outages, and floods.

And in these states governors have declared states of emergency, and some counties in North Carolina, Virginia, Delaware and New Jersey have ordered mandatory evacuations. Irene is expected to make landfall late Saturday afternoon, but the wind and rain could arrive later today.

And with Hurricane Irene threatening a full-force hit on New York, residents and authorities are making contingency plans. People started loading up essential supplies on Thursday, getting in stocks of food and water and batteries in case of power outages.

New York's mayor is urging residents who live in low-lying areas to move out or risk getting stuck if the transit system is shut down. And he's already ordered some particularly vulnerable people to evacuate.


MAYOR MICHAEL BLOOMBERG (I), NEW YORK: We're also notifying the other hospitals in these Zone A low-lying areas, as well as nursing homes and senior centers in these low-lying Zone A areas, that they must -- I repeat the word "must" -- evacuate beginning tomorrow and complete the process by 8:00 p.m. tomorrow night, unless they get permission to stay in place based on the ability of the particular facility to keep operating during hurricane conditions.


STOUT: CNN's Mary Snow is in New York. She joins me now with the latest.

And Mary, what's the mood in New York ahead of this storm?

MARY SNOW, CNN CORRESPONDENT: You know, Kristie, this is so rare in New York, that New York might potentially be hit by a hurricane, a direct hit. There's a range. Some people are taking it very seriously, some others saying we're going to wait it out, see what happens.

And because it is so rare, there have been some "what if" scenarios that have been looked at over the years. And hurricane experts say it wouldn't take a major hurricane to cause significant damage.


SNOW (voice-over): If anyone is worried about a hurricane hitting New York, it's coastal geology professor Nicholas Coch. And to understand why, he took us to Southampton, New York.

NICHOLAS K. COCH, QUEENS COLLEGE PROFESSOR: This is actually where the 1938 hurricane broke through and made Shinnecock Bay a branch of the ocean.

SNOW: Coch says most New Yorkers forget that it was here that a powerful Category 3 hurricane made landfall in 1938. It was called the Long Island Express, and it caused widespread damage even in New York City, some 70 miles away.

(on camera): Even if New York City is spared a direct hit --

COCH: That's right. It's going to have massive flooding, yes.

SNOW (voice-over): For years, Coch has been sounding the alarm about how vulnerable New York City is because of its topography. He says storm surges could trigger massive flooding in low-lying areas, particularly lower Manhattan.

Consider this simulation done by NOAA showing what a Category 2 hurricane could do to a tunnel linking Brooklyn and Manhattan. Donald Cresitello, with the Army Corps of Engineers, mapped out some worst-case scenarios.

A Category 1 hurricane, for example, could flood the subway station at the southern tip of Manhattan with three-and-a-half feet of water. A Category 2 storm, he says, could put JFK Airport under five-and-a-half feet of water.

DONALD E. CRESITELLO, U.S. ARMY CORPS OF ENGINEER: If a storm were to occur, it could be catastrophic given the population density in the northeast.

SNOW: High winds are also a big concern, and city officials have evacuation plans at the ready. Despite all the preparations, Coch says it's not the hurricane he's most worried about.

(on camera): What's your biggest concern?

COCH: The New Yorker.

SNOW: Why?

COCH: Because they don't listen. You can always tell a New Yorker, but you can't tell them very much.


SNOW: So there you have it. Add stubbornness to the list of factors in these evacuation plans.

And Kristie, the mayor will have a big decision to make. He said he will decide by tomorrow morning whether or not to order mandatory evacuations in some of those most vulnerable zones in New York City, in those low-lying areas -- Kristie.

STOUT: Yes. That's right. Here's hoping that everyone can safe during all of this.

Mary Snow, thank you very much indeed.


STOUT: You're watching NEWS STREAM. We'll be back right after the break.


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

Now, Japanese Prime Minister Naoto Kan has resigned, bowing to pressure over his response to the earthquake and tsunami that devastated the country in March. Now, Kan had promised to step down after parliament approved two bills relating to the country's recovery.


NAOTO KAN, JAPANESE PRIME MINISTER (through translator): This is my first commitment that I made to you and fulfilled today. And also that we are going to have a new leadership, leader of the DPJ. And afterwards, that I'm going to step down further from the prime minister's status and dissolve the cabinet en masse.


STOUT: Now, Kyung Lah has more now on this major political development.


KYUNG LAH, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Japan's prime minister officially steps aside, giving up his job as the head of his party. In effect, giving up the premiership.

Prime Minister Naoto Kan made the announcement to his party after passage of two key bills in the parliament on Friday. Kan was deeply criticized for his handling of Japan's disasters, the earthquake, a tsunami, and the nuclear crisis, as well as the economy.

The next prime minister inherits all of these problems, but there's a bigger systemic problem. Whoever is the next premier will be the sixth prime minister that Japan has seen in just five years. That political instability led Moody's to downgrade Japan's economy just this week. And as leading analysts to say that Japan is broken on a number of fronts.

KEITH HENRY, ASIA STRATEGY: Broken political system is beginning to reflect finally the broken economic system here, the inability of the Japanese economy to deliver positive growth in a long-term sense and the inability of the politician to deal with that.

LAH: The ruling party elects its new leader on Monday. And on Tuesday, the full parliament officially makes that person the new premiere.

Kyung Lah, CNN, Tokyo.


LU STOUT: Now coming up after the break is this where Gadhafi has been hiding in recent days? We tour a motor home that the rebels claim was his.

We'll also go inside a Tripoli neighborhood traumatized by war. Stay with us.


LU STOUT: I'm Kristie Lu Stout in Hong Kong. You're watching NEWS STREAM. And we're watching events unfolding in Libya very closely, but want to bring you some other headlines we're following this hour.

Now in Nigeria, at least eight people have been killed after a bomb blast rocked the United Nations building in the center of the capital Abuja, now though some wire reports say it is higher. Witnesses say many people have been injured. A journalist at the scene says it may have been a car bomb. It is not yet clear who is responsible for the blast.

Now tens of millions of people on the eastern seaboard of the United States are embracing for the impact for Hurricane Irene. The storm is expected to make landfall Saturday midway up the coast in North Carolina with widespread flooding and damage predicted. Evacuations are underway. And flights have been canceled with warnings posted as far north as New York.

Now fresh from talks in Russia, North Korea's leader Kim Jong-il has told Chinese officials he is ready to resume six party talks without preconditions. Now that's according to the Chinese state news agency Xinua. The talks have been suspended since 2008.

Now we are keeping a close eye on events in Libya as the hunt for Moammar Gadhafi goes on. Now rebels are still on the prowl after claims that the fugitive leader was hiding out in a Tripoli apartment complex on Thursday turned out to be false. Ongoing violence around the country's capital is forcing many residents to pack up and flee out of fear of being killed.

A dozen dead bodies were found with their hands tied behind their backs near Gadhafi's former compound on Thursday.

And Tripoli's international airport remains a hotspot for clashes. Our team there says Gadhafi loyalists continue to shell the area targeting four empty passenger planes.

Now as Libyan opposition fighters capture more ground, they are learning more and more about Moammar Gadhafi's secret world. Now Arwa Damon is at the Tripoli airport and she first takes us through a luxurious home on wheels that rebels say was used by Gadhafi himself.


ARWA DAMON, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: The fighting around the Tripoli International Airport does continue, but rebels say they are making gains. And they point to this as evidence, a mobile home that they say they just captured from Gadhafi's farm located around 15 minutes from here.

Now they said as they entered, they did encounter some resistance. There were some firefights. But they said they've begun to comb through this sprawling farm complex. And they brought this to show to the other rebel fighters.

Now it does seem to be in fairly good condition. There are a few boxes back here with almonds, water. There's a toilet that is fully functional. And then in the kitchen, everything seems to be packed away, but a fully equipped kitchen. There was water in the refrigerator as well.

There are sheets on both beds in the bedroom. Rebels were speculating that perhaps Gadhafi had spent a night here recent. There's absolutely no way to verify that at this stage.

Then they pulled this out, your toiletries kit that contains items for men and for women. And in the back here, they'd earlier showed us a gas mask that they say they found. There's also your other basic things inside this second toilet and shower. And then in the back what is the main living room area.

So not too many personal belongings here, actually. But still the rebels say that this is an indication that they feel that they're closing in, they're beginning to uncover more about the way that Gadhafi lived, because they really did not have much access to that.

One of the young fighters was saying that being on that farm, seeing this, seeing the complex -- Gadhafi's air conditioned tents that he said were set up outside, made him realize just what a life of luxury their leader was living while he says they continued to suffer.

Arwa Damon, CNN, at the Tripoli International Airport.


LU STOUT: And that was a fascinating glimpse inside the private life of Colonel Gadhafi. And Arwa, she joins us now on the phone from Tripoli's international airport, the latest.

And Arwa, describe the damage and destruction around you.

DAMON: Well, Kristie, it was certainly intense here overnight. There was a nonstop pounding of artillery, Grad rockets coming in, a plane caught fire on the tarmac that was alongside another plane that had been damaged by incoming artillery the night before. A very intense pounding.

One of the rebels was in awe, to a certain degree, of the amount of artillery that Gadhafi loyalists still had in their possession given the amount of secret weapons stores that they had uncovered, given the amount of military facilities that had been hit by NATO forces.

We're hearing NATO just overhead as I speak. There were some rounds that were launched in the direction of the airport earlier this morning as well. And the rebels are telling us that their still trying to go through that farm that belonged to Gadhafi, trying to fully secure it. They say that they have not managed to do that just yet.

LU STOUT: You know, Arwa, Gadhafi is in retreat. And the rebels are in control of most of Tripoli. And yet, pro-Gadhafi forces are not backing down. They are at the airport and in other pockets of Tripoli. Why is that? What is the objective of Gadhafi's remaining troops?

DAMON: Well, the senior rebel commanders here continue to believe that Gadhafi is located somewhere in this area to the east of the airport where they do not have control. And they're basing that on the focus of Gadhafi loyalists on this airport complex, because these attacks come simultaneously at times. They are very coordinated attacks by Gadhafi's loyalists, and the rebel commanders here feel that Gadhafi loyalists either are trying to pin down their forces in this area, keep them bogged down in the defense of the airport to prevent them from going out there and securing that land to the east because they believe that the Gadhafi loyalists are trying to clear some sort of a reef for Gadhafi to eventually escape from.

But given the limited amount of area that is now controlled by Gadhafi loyalists, it is the rebels military assessment, those that have military experience, that the fighting here at the airport is directly linked to Gadhafi's whereabouts.

LU STOUT: Arwa Damon joining us live at the Tripoli Airport. Thank you very much indeed, Arwa.

Now Tripoli has been turned upside down in the hunt for Colonel Gadhafi, and ongoing fighting between rebel and loyalist forces. And signs of war can be seen on nearly every corner. But it is the human cost of battle that is proving especially great.

Lindsey Hilsum has more.


LINDSEY HILSUM, CHANNEL 4 NEWS CORRESPONDENT: The war is still within sight of Tripoli's Mansura (ph) district. And what happened here will never be forgotten. A local computer engineer, Abdel Hamid (ph) showed me where Colonel Gadhafi's neighborhood thugs had their hit forces.

A picture of Gadhafi here.


HILSUM: Now gone.

It was a place everyone feared.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: From the outside --

HILSUM: Decorated in the brother leader's favorite green it's a monument to his eccentricity and to the brutality of his rule.

Just outside, we found a group of young men who had watched in horror last Saturday as three people carrying the new Libyan flag had approached the Gadhafi checkpoint.

MOHAMMED BANI, EYEWITNESS (through translator): The militiamen stopped them and kicked them to the ground. The people in the flats opposite called out why are you doing that to Libyans? They said, if you don't like Gadhafi we'll do the same to you. Watch us.

HILSUM: The bus sheltered their remarks of what happened next. All three were shot in the head and left to die on the street.

Next door was another Gadhafi stronghold where his followers would gather, a place to avoid in normal times and even more so recently.

This was supposed to be a sports center, but it seems that Gadhafi's people used it for something much more sinister. There's a patch of blood on the ground here and a terrible smell. The local men say there was a refrigerated truck here and they found more than 10 bodies inside.

We went to the flat of the El Goula family. Two sons are still missing, two have returned from a horrific ordeal. Arrested last Saturday night, they were interrogated for three days but then released by Gadhafi's soldiers.

Munir's story is almost too raw to relate.

MUNIR EL GOULA, TORTURED BY GADHAFI'S FORCES (through translator): When they opened the gate, mercenaries came and pushed the soldiers back into the jail. They shot an old man in the leg. I didn't think they would kill us, but the mercenaries entered the jail and shot the prisoners in the legs. One took a grenade and threw it in.

Five times they opened the door, shot inside and threw a grenade. A lot of people died.

My brother Abdullah was behind me.

HILSUM: He said somehow he escaped, but believes 20 soldiers and more than 100 prisoners were killed.

The local mosque has become the center for a new kind of neighborhood rule. They're trying to establish law and order. The computer engineer Abdel Hamid (ph) showed us stolen good they've taken from looters and the weapons licenses the mosque committee issues to men on road blocks.

It won't take too long to tear up the (inaudible) scars in Mansura (ph). The mental scars will take much longer.

Lindsey Hilsum, Channel 4 News, Tripoli.


LU STOUT: Some haunting images there.

Now Libya's rebel leadership says it needs more money in order to establish peace and stability. And governments around the world have recognized the National Transitional Council. The question now is whether the African Union will follow suit. Now Libya is the subject of an emergency summit underway in Ethiopia.

The Transitional National Council is again urging the west to release all of Libya's frozen assets saying it is essential for the success of a new government. And the plea comes after the Libya contact group meeting in Turkey agreed to speed up the release of some $2.5 billion in assets by the middle of next week.

Now CNN's Ivan Watson joins me now from Istanbul with the latest on these fundraising efforts -- Ivan.

IVAN WATSON, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: That's right. You've had the rebel Transitional National Council are the beneficiaries of an international initiative, a push, to try to get the rest of the world, not just European, Arab countries, and Turkey and the U.S., to formally recognize the rebel council as the new legitimate government in Libya.

And Mahmoud Jibril, a member of the TNC, he came out at a press conference here this morning and he made a personal appeal to the African Union to please recognize the TNC. Take a listen.


MAHMOUD JIBRIL, TRANSITIONAL NATIONAL COUNCIL (through translator): There will be a meeting in the Arab League in Cairo and I'm happy that the NCT -- NTC was invited to the meeting. The Arab League took this step, brave step, and we thank our brothers in the Arab League for doing so.

The -- also the meeting of peace in Africa is being held in -- at Addis Aaba. And we hope that our brothers will take same step.

Africa is part of us, and we are part of Africa. And we hope from this podium that our brothers and colleagues in the meeting to hear us and hoping that they will take this step, the decision same as the Arab League's who are -- and the Libyan people are waiting for such a courageous decision to be taken.


WATSON: Kristie, South Africa has been a country that's traditionally had close ties to the Gadhafi regime. It's been one of the holdouts on recognizing (inaudible) the fighting rages on is whether or not the Libyan population in the rest of the country, formerly Gadhafi controlled parts of the country, will also recognize the authority of the TNC in the weeks and days to come -- Kristie.

LU STOUT: Ivan Watson joining us live from Istanbul. Thank you.

Up next here on NEWS STREAM riots in the UK led to calls for curbs on the use of social networking sites like Facebook and Twitter. And up next on NEWS STREAM, we'll tell you why the British government has dropped proposals to restrict social media during violence like this.


LU STOUT: Welcome back.

Now officials in San Francisco are still taking heat for cutting off cell phone service this month. Now the move was meant to stop protests around the subway system known as BART.

Now protests like this have taken place every Monday. And there's also been a blackout backlash online. Now hackers have targeted BART's web site. And recently released a lewd image of the transit agency's spokesman.

Now San Francisco's transit system board is in the process of developing a new policy to define situations when the shutdown tactic is warranted.

Now the British government has backed down from earlier calls to censor social networking sites. The British prime minister David Cameron had proposed limits on some social media to prevent people from using the sites to coordinate violence as they did during recent rioting.

Diana Magnay explains why the government has changed its mind.


DIANA MAGNAY, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: It's more than two weeks now since rioting and looting took hold of Britain's streets. The violence started in London, but spread to Manchester, Birmingham, and pockets of other cities as police and the public were attacked and shops ransacked.

It quickly became clear that many of the looters were coordinating their activities through social media. This Thursday, Britain's home secretary Theresa May met with representatives from the three main social media sites -- Twitter, Facebook, and Research in Motion who of course make the BlackBerry to discuss what could be done to potentially limit their role in fomenting social unrest.

Here's one example of a message sent around during the riots, which wrongly claimed that an individual had been shot.

And here is another calling on people to gather in North London and to bring their bags, their trolleys, their car vans. In other words, to go looting.

Just a day or so after the disturbances, the British prime minister David Cameron made it clear that social media was firmly in his sights.

DAVID CAMERON, PRIME MINISTER OF BRITAIN: Free flow of information can be used for good, but it can also be used for ill. So we are working with the police, the intelligence services and industry to look at whether it will be right to stop people communicating via these web sites and services when we know they are plotting violence, disorder and criminality.

MAGNAY: Social media has already been extensively trolled by police to bring charges. These two men were given four year jail sentences for posting a call to riot on Facebook even though the riots they called for never took place.

Now ahead of Thursday's meeting, human rights groups expressed their concern that any possible restrictions of social media. In an open letter to the home secretary they warned of the dangers that measures drawn up in a heated political situation could over extend powers in ways that would be susceptible to abuse.

Now politicians know that it's one thing to make strong statements and another thing altogether to turn them into policy. It's important to note that when Thursday's meeting ended the government made it clear it would not be taking on any additional powers to close down social media networks.

Diana Magnay, CNN, London.


LU STOUT: Now coming up, the New York Yankees make baseball history in grand fashion. Don Riddell has the details in sports just ahead.


LU STOUT: It is time for the sports news now. And the big story, it involves no sport. Here's Don Riddell to explain -- Don.

DON RIDDELL, CNN SPORTS CORRESPONDENT: Yes, if you were planning on spending the weekend watching the first games of Italy's football season, then I'm afraid you're going to have to think again. A strike means there won't be any football in Series A over the next couple of days, because the player's union and the club's union can't agree on a new collective bargaining agreement.

Last ditch talks to resolve the crisis failed on Friday. And the strike was confirmed by the player's union president Damiano Tommasi.

The players are trying to resolve a tax issue and they're also concerned that players involved in contract disputes are made to train away from their main squads. This is the second consecutive weekend that a major European league has been affected by strike action. There was no football in Spain's top division last week.

La Liga will go ahead this weekend, though, but Barcelona have a special assignment in Monaco this evening having been paired up with AC Milan in the group stage of the Champion's League draw yesterday, but they'll now try to win the UEFA Super Cup for a second time in three seasons.

This is again played between the winners of UEFA's Champion's League and the Europa League. And Spanish clubs have dominated this show piece fixture in recent times, winning five of the last 9 games.

Barca are hoping to make it a special night for Pep Guardiola when they take on Porto. Victory would secure a 12th trophy for their manager in just over three years.

If the Catalans do win, Guardiola will trump the legendary Barca manager Johan Cruyff for the number of trophies won, though both got 11 at this point. Guardiola has already steered Barca to three consecutive league titles and will be hoping to match Cruyff's feat of four in a row this season.

Now since his arrival, Barcelona have also won the Champion's League twice, the King's Cup once. There have been three Spanish Super Cups, the UEFA Super Cup, and also the FIFA Club World Cup.

Now for my favorite sports story of the day, New York's baseball fans have been treated to an historic performance, and one that the Yankee's captain Derek Jeter thinks will never happen again.

The Yankees came from behind to beat the Oakland A's last night, scoring not one, not two, but three grand slams.

Now if baseball is not your, a grand slam is when you get three men on base and the fourth hits a home run to score everybody in. The Yankees were five runs behind when Robinson Cano stepped up to clear the bases in the bottom of the fifth. And in the next inning, they did it again.

In over 100 years of history, the Yankees had only ever had a couple of grand slams in the same game before. Russell Martin belted it over right field to make it three putting his team 10-7 ahead.

Now by the bottom of the eighth, the Yankees were well in control. And then they made history. No team had ever scored three grand slams in a single game. But the appropriately named Curtis Granderson scored his 36th homer of the year, giving the Yankees an historic win by 22 runs to 9.

Incredible stuff, Kristie.

LU STOUT: Yes, great story. A bit of sunshine before Irene comes into town. Don Riddell, thank you very much indeed for that. And have a great weekend.

Now Moammar Gadhafi, he has been a controversial figure for years. Even the spelling of his name has sparked controversy.

Now the U.S. State Department spells it this way -- with a Q -- Qaddhafi. "The New York Times" spells it this way with two D's. And here at CNN, we spell it with a G.

Now ABC News compiled a list of all the various spellings and came up with a total of 112 different versions, but a new video posted to YouTube may finally put the controversy to rest. It reportedly shows a rebel flipping through the diplomatic passport of Mohammed Gadhafi, a son of Colonel Gadhafi after the raid on his compound this week. And in it, the preferred English spelling it appears to be Gathafi.

So, we were pretty close.

And that is NEWS STREAM, but the News continues at CNN. "WORLD BUSINESS TODAY" is next.