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Germany Votes to Give EU Crisis Fund More Powers to support Greece, Other Ailing Eurozone Members; Amanda Knox Appeal; China`s Big Launch; The Body Shop Hand Delivers 7 Million Signatures To UN Today; Cubans Allowed To Buy/Sell New Cars For First Time Since 1959

Aired September 29, 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.

And we begin in Germany, which voted to give the EU crisis fund more powers to support Greece and other ailing Eurozone members.

Also, in just over an hour, China is set to launch an experimental space module, the first step toward a Chinese space station.

And Amazon takes the wraps off its new tablet and takes aim at Apple.

A big victory for German Chancellor Angela Merkel and positive news for the Eurozone as well. Members of the German parliament have approved new powers for the EU crisis fund by an overwhelming majority of 523-85. The highly-anticipated vote was considered the biggest test of Chancellor Merkel`s leadership since she took office six years ago, and members of her own party had previously voiced to the measure.

Now, the EU crisis fund was created to support debt-laden countries like Greece and provide financial stability in the Eurozone. And Greece has been told it must sort out its finances before anymore bailout money is doled out, and that is why inspectors for the EU and IMF are in Athens as I speak checking on the implementation of the government`s latest austerity plans.

Diana Magnay explains why it is so important for Greece to make good on its debts and avoid default.


DIANA MAGNAY, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Experts fear that a Greek default could send shock waves across the global economy and even bring about another financial crisis. That`s despite the fact that Greece is only ranked 32nd in the world in terms of GDP.

Banks fear that a Greek default could drag down other Eurozone economies like Portugal, Ireland, Italy and Spain. And also, that they could infect French and German banks, who hold billions of dollars` worth of Greek sovereign debt. Furthermore, that infection could spread to the U.S. because of the close ties between U.S. and European banks.


STOUT: And for more on Germany`s moves to expand the powers of the EU crisis fund and Greece`s audit meeting with officials in the so-called troika today, Frederik Pleitgen joins us from Berlin. And John Defterios is standing by in Athens.

And let`s begin with you, Fred, and the latest out of the German parliament. A major victory for Angela Merkel.

FREDERIK PLEITGEN, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: It certainly is a major victory for her, and there certainly will be a lot of relief on the part of Angela Merkel. Not only did she manage to get this vote through parliament, but she also managed to do it with her own majority of her own governing coalition.

As you said, there were some dissenters among her governing coalition. There were a lot of people in the Liberal Democratic Party, which is one of the coalition partners, who were against this measure. There were also a lot of people in her own part. But in the end, when it came down to the vote, there were actually less dissenters out there than many people thought, and the measure did pass pretty easily.

This is very important for Angela Merkel not only from the perspective of the Eurozone -- of course it`s very important for her to be a very strong leader within the Eurozone right now -- but it`s also very important for her domestically to be able to govern this country at this point in time. Many people were talking about the coalition possibly breaking apart if in fact this vote went in the wrong direction, but we`re now seeing that it didn`t. So certainly a sigh of relief on the part of Angela Merkel and many of those in the governing coalition -- Kristie.

STOUT: Now, let`s go to John next.

And there in Athens, John, officials from the so-called troika are there for talks on more bailout funds.

What`s the latest word?

JOHN DEFTERIOS, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, it`s fair to say, Kristie, that they have here in Greece one eye on Germany with a sense of relief from that vote that Fred was talking about. And the other here is how to work through what is a half-a-billion euro shortfall for 2011.

Prime Minister Papandreou is a cabinet meeting as we speak right now. It`s my understanding from a Finance Ministry official that the troika will meet with cabinet members after that meeting.

So it`s a half-a-billion euro shortfall, and then another 10 billion Euros to close on 2012, 2013, and 2014. That`s part of that July package of 160 billion.

So a quite tense window of opportunity here. There`s a finance minister meeting in Luxembourg Monday, and the troika wants to have the draft on the table for that meeting.

STOUT: Now let`s go back to Fred in Berlin.

And Fred, if there is another vote in Germany for another bailout for Greece, could Angela Merkel deliver again, or has she lost some political currency from today`s vote?

PLEITGEN: Well, I`m not sure how much political currency she would have lost, Kristie, but it certainly would be very difficult, especially if you`d be talking about something like a further expansion of the aid for Greece and for other Eurozone countries. That was one of the things that really caused a lot of anger within the governing coalition, when people were sort of talking about expanding the bailout fund to up to two trillion Euros, as some people were saying in some publications.

So, if in fact she would have to do it again, if in fact she would have to put up more German taxpayer money, that would be a very difficult undertaking, especially with her coalition partner, the Liberal Democrats. A lot of them were already cringing in all of this.

A lot of these parties, they run on a platform of lowering taxes, on being better with taxpayer money. And certainly, they had a very hard time pulling through this. So it would be a very difficult task for her to get something similar through parliament again.

However, when you heard the debate today in the German parliament, a lot of the parliamentarians were saying they don`t believe this is the end. They think that more could be to come, whether it`s additional money, whether it`s making the current fund more efficient, whether making that money more readily available. They don`t think that this is going to be the end.

And when you talk to regular Germans, when you talk to taxpayers, they also don`t believe that this is going to be enough. They also think they`re going to have to put up more money. It`s something that a lot of people in this country are very, very worried about -- Kristie.

STOUT: All right.

And finally, let`s go back to John in Greece.

And John, we have seen ongoing strikes and protests against austerity measures there. And I believe we can hear the sound of some demonstrations happening there behind you today.

How are the effects of austerity being felt among the people there?

DEFTERIOS: Well, we have the music playing now before a rally that takes place early this morning. It`s the Won`t Pay rally. They don`t want to pay these property taxes that were put into place. We have 20 percent pension cuts, 40 percent for those who took early retirement, and salary cuts of 20 percent.

Here`s video of the Finance Ministry. This is something that`s escalated in the last three hours.

We have six ministries being blocked by employees at each one of those ministries. This is the Finance Ministry, the one that`s supposed to be implementing the cuts right now. The employees say, look, they weren`t prepared for the 20 percent cut for their salaries or their pensions, and they took out very, very long loans on mortgages during the boom times here, 2003 and 2004, and they`re paying a horrendous price.

And as part of these reforms, they`re worried about state layoffs, even though they haven`t happened yet, but we`ve seen 800,00 jobs cut out of the private sector. This is the projection from now, 16.3 percent employment, to 2012. The Labor Institute saying it could shoot up -- look up the number here -- to 26 percent in 2012.

So, a biting recession of seven percent. It`s in the third year right now and likely to spill over to the fourth year. And to be candid, the tension on the ground, you can feel it, actually.

You have ministries being blocked, and a number of the administrative buildings as well. They`re not taking this lying down, as the cabinet meeting being held by Prime Minister Papandreou and then the troika meeting afterwards is unfolding this afternoon.

STOUT: Well, a frightening projection for unemployment there.

John Defterios, joining us live from Athens. Fred Pleitgen, live in Berlin.

A big thank you to you both.

Now, stock markets around the world have been shaky in recent weeks on concerns over the Eurozone debt crisis, but Germany`s latest move may help to change that. U.S. stock futures are all pointing higher right now, but will the optimism last?

Well, stick around for Wall Street`s opening bell in "WORLD BUSINESS TODAY." That begins in just under an hour.

A 26-year-old American man is in custody, accused of plotting to blow up the Pentagon and the U.S. Capitol in Washington. But wait until you hear how he allegedly planned to do it.

Now, U.S. authorities say Rezwan Ferdaus plotted to fill model planes like those you see here with plastic explosives and fly them by remote control into the Pentagon and the Capitol. He allegedly also planned a simultaneous ground attack in which gunmen would fire on people evacuating both buildings. Authorities say that Ferdaus was never a threat because undercover FBI agents intercepted the plot and kept close tabs on him.

Now, convicted of murder, but fighting to clear her name, Amanda Knox and her attorneys are trying to convince an Italian jury that she did not kill her British roommate, Meredith Kercher.

Paula Newton is covering the appeal for us in Perugia, Italy. She joins us now.

And Paula, what have you heard from Amanda Knox`s legal team today?

PAULA NEWTON, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Quite a passionate defense. You know, in terms of the evidence, there isn`t much that is new. But they are picking apart all of that evidence from the trial, and also pointing to motive and saying, look, there is no motive for this crime.

You know, throughout, Kristie, the defense calling her a mere baby, a little girl who was just learning to speak Italian, and pointing out, Kristie, that this young woman, they claim, was "crucified" in the media, and that for this reason, she became an easy target for what they call both a botched police investigation and a prosecution that they say created fantasies to try and fit what was a highly-charged scenario, that Raffaele Sollecito, along with Amanda Knox -- Sollecito being her boyfriend at the time -- came up with some kind of a sex game in which Meredith Kercher was then murdered. And her defense now calling all of the facts of that case pure fantasy -- Kristie.

STOUT: Now, Amanda Knox, she was sentenced to 26 years in prison. She is fighting for an appeal. The verdict, just days away.

How is she doing? How did she appear to you in the courtroom?

NEWTON: It`s interesting, Kristie. I haven`t seen her since the original verdict, almost two years now. To me, she looked much more frail than she did in the past.

She certainly was very attentive in court, the whole time taking notes. She had such a sad expression on her face though. She certainly does not pose a figure right now that you would say seems very hopeful. Obviously, there is a lot at stake here, and by any means, this appeal will be a tough one for her.

We do expect to hear from her and her former boyfriend on Monday. They will be given perhaps 15 or 20 minutes to address the jury themselves, and that will be crucial. Her family does say that that is what she`s concentrating on right now.

You know, I had a quick word with her father before he went into see her for break, and he agrees that he believes the defense is much more passionate this time, that they`ve gotten to know their daughter now for four years are in a much better position to try and convince that jury of her innocence.

STOUT: And Paula, this case has captivated people around the world. And there is no doubt, a massive media presence where you are.

Could you describe the scene as this appeals trial draws to a close?

NEWTON: Kristie, it`s not just the intense media scrutiny here in Italy, but throughout the world. There are dozens and dozens of camera crews here, print media from all over the world, but also on the blogs, on the social networks. This is a big topic of discussion.

And why? In many instances, what you`ll hear from many people is that a murdered woman, Meredith Kercher, has been lost in all this, and that her family`s pain and suffering has kind of been neglected in a way. On the other hand, the things that the prosecution has said about Amanda Knox are so salacious, the very details of that case is what continues to propel the media interest in all this. And it is even heightened from what the interest was during the original verdict almost two years ago, Kristie. And Amanda Knox can`t help but be aware of that right now. And at every turn, she and her family are trying to make sure that in public opinion, that they`re able to pull them along on that side, remembering that the jury is not sequestered in this case.

STOUT: And we`re now hearing that the verdict could come as early as Monday.

Paula Newton, joining us live from Perugia, Italy.

Thank you very much for that update.

Now, ahead here on NEWS STREAM, China`s rocket ride. The space module is set to blast off into orbit and showcase China`s growing space prowess.

And bombshell testimony in the trial of Michael Jackson`s doctor, and it`s only day three. Find out who will take the stand today.

And slugging it out for a coveted playoff spot in Major League Baseball. The race for the wildcard comes down to the very last second.


STOUT: Welcome back.

Now, if everything goes according to plan, China`s space program will take an important step forward in the next hour. Now, the Tiangong 1 is sitting on a launch platform. It is ready to ride into orbit. And here, you see the Long March rocket that will carry it there. And officials say fueling is complete, final system checks are under way.

Now, Tiangong 1, which means "heavenly palace," is an unmanned module. And let`s give you a better idea of what this mission is all about with this animation.

It is essentially just target practice. Tiangong 1 is there to dock with other spacecraft over the next two years, and once those maneuvers are perfected, China will be ready to start building its manned space station. Now, Tiangong 1 is not a piece of that future project, it is designed to fall back to Earth.

And keep in mind that China sent its first taikonaut into space eight years ago.

Let`s bring in Eunice Yoon now from CNN Beijing.

And Eunice, the ultimate goal here is to build a Chinese space in orbit. So why does China want its own space station?

EUNICE YOON, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, for both practical as well as political reasons, Kristie.

Experts say that China really wants autonomy and it wants control. The country has been growing wealthier and wealthier and more powerful, and they really want to establish itself as an international player in several fields, including space explorations. So, for practical reasons, people say that China wants to benefit from these homegrown technologies, as well as expertise. But for political reasons, it wants to be able to shore up national pride.

And, in fact, authorities have already been calling on the public to suggest names for the space station -- Kristie.

STOUT: And what is the mood in China? And I ask because, on Tuesday, there was another rail crash in China. It sparked public outrage. So will this launch refocus the nation`s attention?

YOON: Well, certainly, there`s been a lot of proud publicity surrounding this launch ahead of the National Day festivities. The state media have been calling this launch a milestone. And, in fact, we were able to talk to several people who said that they felt proud of China`s achievements, as well as its technological prowess.

There are some people who have been questioning the costs of the mission, but the authorities really have been downplaying those concerns, saying that the Tiangong 1 is actually more cost-efficient than spacecraft built - - or similar spacecraft built by the U.S. or Russia -- Kristie.

STOUT: And as China revs up its manned space program, what is its motivation? What does China want to achieve with space exploration?

YOON: Well, China really wants to be the next space superpower in the same league as the United States and as Russia. And, in fact, a lot of analysts here say that they`re hoping to do this and to achieve this in incremental but significant steps. And you could see that with the space lab that is going to be launched today.

The space lab is supposed to help the Chinese really master the technique of rendezvousing and docking. And this is seen as a technique that is crucial to any advanced space program.

And then, of course, in the future, they are already talking about planning a lunar lander, as well as eventually sending a man to the moon. So there`s no shortage of ambition when it comes to the Chinese for its space exploration program -- Kristie.

STOUT: Eunice Yoon, joining us live from Beijing.

Thank you very much for that.

Now, the final night of baseball`s regular season, it was one to remember. Don Riddell will be here to tell you whether the Red Sox or Rays made it to the playoffs. That`s coming up after the break.


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

And the final night of baseball`s regular season had everything, including an epic comeback.

Don Riddell is here with all the highlights -- Don.

DON RIDDELL, CNN INTERNATIONAL ANCHOR: Yes, thanks very much, Kristie.

Baseball fans are still catching their breath after what was surely the most incredible night`s drama in the history of the regular season. For the last month, the wildcard races in both the American and National leagues have been gripping, and of their nail-biting conclusion -- well, they really were wild.

This is how it looked in the American League on September the 3rd. The Boston Red Sox were nine games ahead of Tampa Bay, but they had a disastrous run of results, while the Rays played brilliantly to catch them up. The teams were level going into the final game of the season.

You know, a Hollywood script writer couldn`t have written what happened next. Knowing that they had to win against the Yankees, the Tampa Bay Rays made a disastrous start.

In the second inning, New York`s Mark Teixeira hit a grand slam, meeting the Rays were losing by five runs to nothing.

Meanwhile, over in Baltimore, the Red Sox were doing rather better against the Orioles. Dustin Pedroia homered in the fifth inning, to put Boston 3- 0.

But as if the drama wasn`t intense enough already, the heavens then opened. It was pouring with rain, meaning play was suspended for nearly an hour and a half.

Back to Florida, where things got even worse for the Rays. By the eighth inning, they were losing 7-0. But then they fought back. Evan Longoria`s three-run homer cut the deficit to just one run. But there was still work to do.

In the bottom of the ninth, with two outs, meaning this was the last chance to score, Dan Johnson smacked a homerun to tie the game up and force extra innings. He hardly ever hits homeruns, by the way.

The Rays have been fighting for the last 25 days, and they weren`t about to give up. We`ll come back to that one shortly.

Meanwhile, the rain had stopped in Baltimore and things were going badly for Boston. They blew a one-run lead in the 9th. And then, when Carl Crawford dropped Robert Andino`s hit to left field, Nolan Reimold came home to score.

So, the Red Sox lost. But that wasn`t necessarily the end of their season, because Tampa Bay might have lost, too. Just three minutes later, bottom of the 12th, the Red Sox result on the scoreboard. Evan Longoria knew what he had to do. He smashed the winning homerun to put Tampa Bay into the playoffs.

The Red Sox are out of it. And that was just incredible.

And if that wasn`t enough, the situation in the National League was equally tense, and it was a pretty similar story there, too.

Back on August the 25th, just over a month ago, it looked as though the Atlanta Braves were cruising to the playoffs with a 10.5 game lead over the Cardinals. But then they began to choke, losing a slew of games, while St. Louis went on a winning streak to hunt them down. That mean those two were tied going into the last night of action against the Phillies and the Astros respectively.

The Cardinals were really fired up for the game against Houston, and they absolutely destroyed them. This is a montage of RBIs that helped St. Louis to a very comfortable 8-0 win. They were then able to sit back and watch the television to see if Atlanta could match them.

The Braves had a 9th inning lead against the Phillies, but Chase Utley`s sacrifice fly scored in Pete Orr to tie this game up. Atlanta couldn`t respond, so it went into extra innings. It remained tied for three more innings, but in the 13th, the Phillies got a breakthrough. Hunter Pence singled to score in Brian Schneider, meaning it was do or die for Atlanta in the bottom of the evening.

But they`ve been struggling all month, and they couldn`t do it. A double play for them, out of their misery, signaling the end of the Braves` season and sending the Cardinals to the playoffs.

Now, the big football news still concerns the Argentine striker Carlos Tevez, who has now been suspended by his club, Manchester City, while they investigate whether or not he refused to play in this week`s Champions League match in Munich. City has said that his suspension will last for up to a fortnight, pending a full review into his alleged conduct during the 2-0 defeat at Bayern Munich in Germany. Tevez will not be considered for selection or take part in training while the review is under way.

Kristie, that`s all the sport we`ve got time for just now. But wasn`t that baseball incredible?

STOUT: Pretty incredible stuff. Thank you very much, indeed.

Don Riddell there.

Now, ahead here on NEWS STREAM, we`ve got new details about Michael Jackson`s final moments. We have got the latest on the involuntary manslaughter trial for Jackson`s former doctor, Conrad Murray, and what witnesses say they saw him doing at the time of the pop singer`s death.

And Amazon outdoes itself with the new Kindle Fire. And we`ve got a full breakdown of all the bells and whistles.


STOUT: And we could find out even more about the chaotic last moments of Michael Jackson`s life when key witnesses take the stand in just a few hours. Now, Jackson`s doctor, Conrad Murray, is accused of involuntary manslaughter in the singer`s death. And Randi Kaye reports witnesses for the prosecution testified on Wednesday that Murray seemed frantic as the pop star`s life ebbed away.


RANDI KAYE, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): You`re looking at the bedroom where Michael Jackson took his last breath, shown inside the courtroom. One of Jackson`s security guards, Faheem Muhammad, had been called to the house when Jackson stopped breathing and described the scene for the jury.

DAVID WALGREN, DEPUTY DISTRICT ATTORNEY: And when you came around to the far side of the bed, what was Conrad Murray doing?

FAHEEM MUHAMMAD, JACKSON`S SECURITY GUARD: He appeared to be administering CPR. He appeared very nervous. He was on his side, he was sweating.

WALGREN: And that time, did you see Michael Jackson`s face and his full body?


WALGREN: And what did you observe about his face at that time?

MUHAMMAD: That his eyes were open and that his mouth was slightly open.

WALGREN: Did he appear to be dead?

KAYE: Mohammed said at one point Dr. Murray asked Jackson`s security guards if they knew how to revive someone.

WALGREN: Had Conrad Murray asked you and Alberto Alvarez if you knew CPR?


WALGREN: And did you see Alberto go over and assist Dr. Murray with CPR?


KAYE: By the time Faheem Mohammed had arrived 911 had already been called, but 911 was not the first phone call Conrad Murray made when Jackson stopped breathing. In court, new insight into Murray`s state of mind from Jackson`s personal assistant Michael Amir Williams. He painted a picture of a doctor on the edge.

On June 25th, 2009, Williams received a frantic voice message from Murray which was played in court. That message was left after Michael Jackson had suffered cardiac arrest. Murray gave no indication of that on the message, only saying Jackson had, quote, a bad reaction. Murray called Williams not 911.

WALGREN: Were you asked to call 911?



Did you upon hearing that message call Dr. Murray?

WILLIAMS: Yes, sir.

WALGREN: Did he ask you to call 911?

WILLIAMS: No, sir.

KAYE: In court, Williams was also asked about Murray`s strange behavior at the hospital as news spread that the King of Pop was dead.

WALGREN: What, if anything, was the request of Conrad Murray?

WILLIAMS: He said that there`s some cream in Michael`s room, or house, room that he wouldn`t want the world to know about. And he requested that I or someone give him a ride back to the house.

WALGREN: Did you agree to take Conrad Murray back to the house?

WILLIAMS: No, sir.

KAYE: Williams told the court he was so spooked by Murray`s behavior he asked Jackson security to lock up the house and not allow Murray back inside.

But defense attorney Ed Chernoff pointed out Williams waited months before sharing his concerns with authorities.

CHERNOFF: Mr. Williams, the very first time you told the police about Dr. Murray wanting to get some cream was on August 31st, 2009, correct?

WILLIAMS: Yes, sir.

CHERNOFF: This was over two months after Michael Jackson had died.

KAYE: Williams told the jury he frequently saw oxygen tanks at Jackson`s house. Oxygen is required by the FDA to be on hand when Propofol is being used in case the patient has to be resuscitated.

WALGREN: Can you saw what you personally saw in that regard?

WILLIAMS: It was normal for oxygen tanks to be there. And if they were there, he would bring them to the bottom of the stairs and the chef or the children would bring them up. But it was normal to see the oxygen tanks the last few months.

WALGREN: That would be a period of time that you knew Conrad Murray was coming on an almost nightly basis.

WILLIAMS: Yes, sir.

KAYE: Even with all those oxygen tanks, Michael Jackson never had a chance. As the defense says, he died so quickly he never even closed his eyes.

Randi Kaye, CNN, Los Angeles.


LU STOUT: And Don Lemon is in Los Angeles covering the trial for us.

And Don, yesterday we heard some tragic details about the day Michael Jackson died. We heard how two of his children witnessed the struggle to revive him. They were there. I mean, describe the reaction in the court room.

DON LEMON, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Yeah, first let me tell you about the kids - - they said, both of the kids were watching, Kristie, and that one of them, the daughter, was just balled up and in tears and the son was just red- faced. Unbelievable to think, because Michael Jackson is laying on the floor and Conrad Murray with one hand is trying to resuscitate him, with the other hand he`s on the phone. And he`s asking the security guard if he knows how to give -- how to revive someone. So that`s the unbelievable part.

And it is probably the most emotional part of the testimony yesterday and the emotional reaction from a fan. They, of course, are talking about Michael Jackson`s kids their nieces and their nephew and for Catherine Jackson their grandson.

The family yesterday in court was a little bit lighter than the first day when they had opening statements. They`re a little bit more animated. They talked to people in the court room and interacted with folks as they were walking in the hall. Dr. Conrad Murray yesterday during the testimony was very serious.

But as he got up to enter and leave the courtroom, he was -- he made an effort to smile and nod a people. So there was a marked change in his demeanor, I guess trying to portray a more confident Dr. Murray in courtroom and among the spectators, Kristie.

LU STOUT: And we also learned, yesterday, that Conrad Murray asked Jackson`s personal assistant for some cream that Jackson wouldn`t want the world to know about. Just how damaging was that testimony?

LEMON: I think it was very damaging. Of course, the defense hasn`t had a chance to present their side. Right now it`s just the prosecution. And the defense is going back and cross -- and doing cross examination. But what they`re trying to say is that this, which is -- this is an actual bottle of Propofol, that this milky white substance, this creamy substance is what Dr. Conrad Murray was referring to. And this all happened at the hospital two hours later, two hours after they called 911, after Michael Jackson was pronounced dead. They say, according to a testimony, according to his assistant and to his security guard, that he -- Dr. Murray wanted to go back to the house and retrieve some sort of cream that Michael Jackson wouldn`t want the world to know and that would embarrass him.

And prosecutors are saying that this is a cream. That he`s trying to clean up the evidence.

LU STOUT: And Don, what kind of testimony should we expect today?

LEMON: We can expect more of the same testimony. And in one day, in one day of testimony in a trial a whole lot has come out. We can expect to hear from two paramedics who arrived on the scene very early, the first two paramedics. Michael Jackson`s personal chef is going to testify. And his head of security is going to testify as well. So it`s probably going to be another day of emotional testimony. And really, another day of bombshells into the death of Michael Jackson.

LU STOUT: Don Lemon joining us live from Los Angeles, thank you very much for that.

Now, let`s shift focus now and get to a forecast of the world weather. In fact, here in Hong Kong this morning it was pretty wet and wild thanks to a typhoon. Now let`s map out the storm with Mari Ramos. She joins us now live from the world weather center -- Mari.

MARI RAMOS, CNN WEATHER CORRESPONDENT: Hey, that typhoon (inaudible) came up in Hong Kong. And that means everything shut down, Kristie, in Hong Kong. I don`t have to tell you. You`re there. You knew how it was. And you saw it. Pretty rough for a little while across that area as the outer bands of the storm moved through the Hong Kong region.

You know what, let`s go ahead and take a look at the pictures. This is quite a bit of damage. These are -- there were downed trees, downed power lines, there were downed signs. Look at that, there`s a vehicle underneath all of that rubble there, just an example of the power of the winds that were whooshing through this area in the last 24 hours.

Very high waves also along the harbor. Very dangerous conditions. There you see a few boats that did get in trouble because of the high waves.

And as we head through the next couple of hours, as high tide nears, there is a concern for some more coastal flooding in some of the lower lying areas there of Hong Kong proper.

So there`s the storm, even though the storm was, what 300 kilometers, 400 kilometers away -- come back over to the weather map over here.

That`s what the storm looks like on satellite. Hong Kong in this area here. It`s a very large weather system measuring about 1,800 kilometers across. So the rain stretched from Hong Kong through Hainan which where the center of circulation is all the way back to Vietnam and even parts of Laos even getting some rain.

This is some of the stronger winds we saw in the Hong Kong area -- 108 right at the airport, and 115 right at the entrance of the harbor there. So pretty significant wind gusts there. Presumably in the mountains it was probably higher.

The rainfall totals also pretty impressive across the entire region. This one from Hainan, 167 millimeters of rainfall in the last 24 hours. And notice, pretty significant even as we head to areas farther south.

Because the track that this storm is expected to take -- it`s still a typhoon by the way -- we`ll probably see it weakening somewhat, but that`s not going to make too much of a difference, especially in the kind of damage that it can do and also in the rainfall. But because of the track it is expected to take, and because it`s moving rather slowly, we`re going to see very heavy rain continuing to spread all the way from Wendong Province all the way back over toward Vietnam and through Hainan. And some of these areas will get an additional 15, maybe 20 centimeters of additional rainfall as the storm continues to move inland.

Remember that we had another tropical cyclone move through here just in the last couple of days. And talk about what you guys have been through in the Philippines in the last few days as well. Now you have to worry about our next storm. This one is still to the west of you, still far away, but it is expected to intensify. And the latest forecast track has them clipping the northern portion of Luzon here as we head -- probably by Friday you`ll begin to see the effects of the storm. So definitely something to monitor closely.

The Philippines are still cleaning up from Nesat. Now they have another storm to contend with.

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

Hey, Kristie, for so long when we talked about Australia we were talking about that 10 year drought that became a way of life for so many people. Well, now -- then we started talking about all of this rain and how significant the rainfall was, especially in the spring and the summer. Remember all of that flooding that we had, particularly in Queensland.

When we looked at vegetation, how much the vegetation has grown you can clearly see in these areas where the rainfall was the heaviest that it is far above average as far as vegetation growth. And this is significant, because yikes, now we get into fire season. And this very significant, because all of that plant growth provides fuel for fires. And that is what we`re already starting to see across many parts of Australia. Of course, the fires are not that big, this is just a representation, but you can see here all of the smoke from these fires.

So now as we head into this fire danger period that last even in through January, they`re saying at least for now you have to have a permit. They`re telling farmers, you have to have a permit before you start any agricultural fires right now. It`s pretty dangerous, because they are concerned that fires can spread very, very quickly through this area.

So this is going to be a story, I`m afraid, we`ll be monitoring as we head into the next few weeks and months. Back to you.

LU STOUT: Yeah, especially as we`re just entering the fire danger season there. Mari Ramos, thank you very much for that.

Now up next, Amazon has unveiled its first tablet. Now can the Kindle Fire compete with Apple`s iPad? I`ll ask Nick Thompson in our regular tech conversation next.


LU STOUT: Welcome back.

Now Amazon took the wraps off its newest Kindle on Wednesday. And the Kindle Fire is less of an e-reader and it`s more like a tablet. It`s only available in the U.S. for now where it will cost just $200, less than half the cost of the cheapest iPad. Now Amazon`s other Kindles have black and white e-Ink screens while this has a color touch screen, making this the first Kindle that can handle movies.

And if you want to see how Amazon is geared up to support the Fire`s media playing capabilities, take a look at this, this is Amazon`s homepage. And right here, you`ll notice that the first five items are all digital media from streaming videos to e-books, to apps, all five are accessible with the Kindle Fire. And it`s only underneath that you get to the physical products that Amazon sells like the books, the toys, or clothes.

Now let`s take a closer look now at Amazon`s strategy with the Kindle Fire. I`m joined by our regular contributor here on NEWS STREAM, Nick Thompson from The New Yorker.

Nick, good to see you.

And is the Kindle Fire a sign that Amazon is turning into a retailer of digital goods?

NICK THOMPSON, THE NEW YORKER: Absolutely. They see that there is this transitioning happening. It`s a transition that`s been going on for awhile, but it`s happening much faster now and they are absolutely making a commitment to it.

One thing that`s very interesting is they`re selling the Kindle Fire almost certainly at a loss. And they`re selling it so that people will buy the Fires for $200 and then start using Amazon services like downloading music, like watching videos, and then they`ll get used to doing all those things on Amazon and those are things they`re going to be doing for a long, long time. And they`re very profitable. If you can sell someone a downloaded song, you can make a lot of money.

So Amazon is going to lose a little bit of money now in order to get a lot of money later.

LU STOUT: Now Nick, let`s look at some of the Fire`s key specs. They`re all over the screen here. I mean, for example, it has a 7 inch screen, 8 gigabytes of storage. It can access some Android apps through the Amazon app store, but the key it`s just $200. So Nick, as a media consumer, why would I pick the Kindle Fire over the iPad?

THOMPSON: Well, the iPad has a few things that the Fire doesn`t have. It has a camera. It has GPS. It has larger storage. But the Fire at 40 percent of the price is a great deal. And if you like Amazon`s services and you already have an Amazon account and you can use the Amazon store -- remember, the Amazon store is much better than the iTunes store for finding things. It has much more data and much better recommendations.

The other cool thing about the Fire is they made a lot of content deals right at the start. It took the other tablets awhile to start working with publishers of all kinds. So the Fire comes immediately with all kinds of, you know, obviously all the movies, but also all sorts of Magazines. My parent company for example, Conde Nast, is available right on the Fire immediately. The New Yorker, where I work, my favorite magazine, has a -- you know, a version of The New Yorker with entirely customized for the Fire right at the beginning.

So there`s a lot of stuff you want right now.

LU STOUT: And Nick, how worried should Apple be right now about Amazon?

THOMPSON: Well, Apple should be worried. I think this is first real competitor. Remember, Apple has sold whatever it is, 29 million tablets. So they`re way, way ahead. They`re tablet is great. People really like it. But this is the first competitor that`s actually shown it really wants to compete hard, right?

Everybody else has come out and said we have a slightly inferior product that we`re going sell at the same price. Amazon is saying we have a slightly inferior product that we`re going to sell at 40 percent of the price and we`re going to come right at you and we`re going to try to take marketshare and we`re going to try to get data.

And Amazon is a company that has shown it knows how to get into these markets and do quite well.

So I think this is the first time that Apple needs to sweat a little bit.

LU STOUT: Nick Thompson of The New Yorker, very interesting stuff. Thank you very much indeed. I`ll see you same time next week. Nick, take care.

Now up next here on NEWS STREAM, 7 million signatures and one name to put a stop to human trafficking. And just ahead on NEWS STREAM, we are at the United Nations in Switzerland as a campaign by The Body Shop comes to its climax.


LU STOUT: Welcome back.

Now Cuba`s streets are clogged with classic cars, but that may start to change on Saturday. Now a law passed on Wednesday, it allows Cubans to buy and sell new cars for the first time in five decades. Shasta Darlington looks at how some Cubans can`t wait to trade up, while others don`t want a younger model.


SHASTA DARLINGTON, CNN CORRESPONDENT: They rumble down city boulevards and country roads across Cuba, 1950s Fords, Buicks, and Pontiacs, some in mint condition, others on the verge of collapse.

The reason there are so many classic American cars on the streets of Cuba is because under local law, Cubans can only freely buy and sell those cars that were already here before Fidel Castro`s 1959 revolution.

Russian Ladas and modern Asian models are reserved for a privileged few. But that is about to change, according to an official decree, Cuba will allow the unrestricted sale of any and all cars starting in October. Both buyers and sellers will pay a 4 percent tax. Owners of more than one car will pay slightly more. One of the many radical economic shifts put forward under President Raul Castro.

He said limits and buying and selling homes will also be lifted before the end of the year.

Like many owners, Michel (ph), outfitted his `52 Plymouth with a diesel engine and turned it into a taxi. But he might be open to selling it.

"When they open a car showroom I`ll get in and try them all and then I`ll tell you what I do," he says. "I`ve never been in a modern car."

But he doesn`t think the 1950s classics are in danger.

"If these cars didn`t exist, not as many foreigners would come to Cuba to drive around in them and take pictures."

The owner of this `56 Chevy has no doubts.

"Development is development," he says. "As soon as I can, I`ll sell this and buy a new one."

A few foreign models like Peugeot and Kia are already imported, but they`re out of reach of ordinary Cubans. Many are (inaudible) until public transportation improves the roomy American cars will be in high demand as cheap people movers that refuse to die. Yankel (ph), for example, says he isn`t throwing in the towel on his `53 Chevrolet. It takes some tinkering, but he says it could run for another half century.

Shasta Darlington, CNN, Havana.


LU STOUT: Globally, 600,000 to 800,000 people are trafficked across international borders every year. That is the kind of shocking statistic that the CNN Freedom Project is putting in the spotlight.

Now the Body Shop is also hoping to help end the child sex trafficking trade. And it has taken its message to the United Nations this Thursday. Now since its launch in 2009, the Stop Sex Trafficking of Children and Young People Campaign has gathered support in more than 50 countries.

Now The Body Shop UK still have written more than 700,000 petitions to Downing Street. It`s said to be one of the largest petitions ever delivered to a British government. And campaigners, they cycled and marched through the streets of the Danish capital Copenhagen in February, 58,000 petitions were then handed to its equality minister. And here in Hong Kong, some 300,000 petitions were handed to the legislative council.

Now all together, more than 7 million people have signed petitions worldwide calling for, quote, "the United Nations human rights council to organize an annual full day meeting on the rights of the child, focusing on child trafficking."

Those petitions were handed over to the UN in Geneva a little under two hours ago. And Erin McLaughlin was there. She joins us now live. And Erin, did you witness the handover of the petition. How did it go?


That`s right I have another more specific number for you, that`s 7,044,278, that is the exact number of signatures that have been presented to the UN human rights council in Geneva today. As you mentioned, it`s part of a three year call to action to protect young people around the world from trafficking. It`s an initiative by The Body Shop, the world`s second largest cosmetic retailer, and ECPAT an NGO.

The petition was presented to the president of the UN human rights council herself. We had a chance to speak with her after the ceremony. And this is what she had to say.


LAURA DEPUY LASSERRE, PRESIDENT, UN HUMAN RIGHTS COUNCIL: We would like to call on all these governments that they should really consider joining efforts in this combat against sex child trafficking. In fact, it -- it has a broader scope, but I mean the focus of this campaign, of this ECPAT and The Body Shop campaign on stopping the sex trafficking of child and youth is very, very important in the sense that it is the worst form of exploitation.


MCLAUGHLIN: The president also calling for countries who have no already done so to adopt the UN optional protocol against the sale of children, child prostitution, and child pornography. So clearly, Kristie, the UN putting child trafficking high on their agenda today.

LU STOUT: Now the Body Shop is out to spur actual policy change, but how did this campaign begin? Did it begin at its stores with its customers first?

MCLAUGHLIN: Well, this campaign is very much an example of commerce meeting a good cause. The Body Shop has trained all some 50,000 of its global staff on how to educate its customer base about the issue of child trafficking. It`s placed its petitions in prime retail space by cash registers.

So really The Body Shop using the power of its customer base to initiating change, Kristie.

LU STOUT: All right. Erin McLaughlin joining us live on the line from Geneva. Thank you.

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