Return to Transcripts main page


Pressure on Syria; Afghanistan's Future; Ai Weiwei Tax Controversy; Bangkok Residents Angry Government Protects Center While Ignoring Them; Gabrielle Giffords Still Recovering

Aired November 16, 2011 - 08:00:00   ET


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

I'm Kristie Lu Stout, in Hong Kong.

And we begin in Syria, where pressure is mounting on the government both from protesters inside the country and at a meeting of the Arab League.

Chinese dissident artist Ai Weiwei speaks to NEWS STREAM about his massive tax bill and imminent appeal.

And the long walk to recovery for Gabrielle Giffords, the U.S. congresswoman who was shot in the head earlier this year.

Syria stands increasingly isolated. The Arab League is set to reaffirm its decision to suspend Damascus. Now, one-time ally Turkey is threatening to turn off the power, and that comes after Jordan's king essentially called on Syrian President Bashar al-Assad to step down.

And earlier this month, al-Assad's government agreed to an Arab League peace plan. The regime said it would withdraw troops, release prisoners, and let journalists and monitors into the country, but the bloodshed has continued.

YouTube videos like this one chronicle the crackdown. And activists say 400 people have been killed since the November 2nd agreement.

On Tuesday, Damascus moved to keep one of its promises, freeing nearly 1,200 detainees, but opposition groups said that was too little, too late.

Let's bring in Ben Wedeman from CNN Cairo.

And Ben, has the suspension been ratified yet? And just how significant is this move?

BEN WEDEMAN, CNN SR. INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, it is significant. It really is a slap in the face of Syria, one of the founding members of the Arab League. And we did hear that some of the Syrian officials called the decision to suspend Syria disgraceful and shameful.

The Syrians are not going to be attending this Arab foreign ministers meeting that is due to take place shortly in Rabat, Morocco. There, they will come out again and call for Syria to live up to this Arab action plan that came out on the 2nd of November. And, in fact, Syria said they agreed to it.

Yesterday, the Syrian foreign minister, Walid al-Moualem, saying in a press conference in Damascus that Syria is going to carry out the action plan. And, of course, as you mentioned, they did release, last night, according to Syrian television, 1,180 prisoners. But the opposition says that's really just a drop in the bucket of the tens of thousands of people who have been detained since the outbreak of the uprising against Bashar al- Assad in March -- Kristie.

STOUT: Now, Ben, will the Arab League decision pave the way for more international pressure and perhaps U.N. sanctions?

WEDEMAN: That's still a few steps away. But what the Arab League is doing is cranking up the pressure. For instance, Arab League officials are, at this moment, involved in organizing a large conference to bring together the squabbling Syrian opposition for a meeting here in Damascus, possibly to discuss Syria in a post-Assad era.

And in addition to that, the Arab League did call upon its member states to withdraw their ambassadors from Damascus, although that was a decision left up to the individual countries. Egypt, for instance, has come out and said they will not pull their ambassador out of Damascus, but we see pressure coming from a variety of areas. Most importantly, as you mentioned before, Turkey, with its energy minister saying Turkey may consider cutting the flow of electricity from Turkey to northern Syria. That is a serious blow if it were to be actually carried out -- Kristie.

STOUT: Now, the pressure is on, discussions about a post-Assad Syria. Now, Ben, you have reported on the Arab Spring revolts in Tunisia, in Egypt, and Libya. What is your thinking now? Will there be another successful revolution in Syria?

WEDEMAN: Well, Syria is a much harder nut to crack, for instance, than Libya. Syria is made up of a variety of ethnic sectarian groups, some of them who still actually support the regime of Bashar al-Assad because they're worried about a Sunni majority takeover.

On the military level, Syria is a much more militarized country than Libya, for instance. We have seen defections of Syrian soldiers and officers from the army to the opposition, but it could be a much bloodier, a much difficult, a much more protracted conflict.

And there's also the question of the friends of Damascus. Russia still supports Damascus, Iran does. These are countries that, backing up Syria, may make toppling the regime much harder -- Kristie.

STOUT: Ben Wedeman, joining us live from Cairo.

Thank you very much for that.

Now, the Afghan president, Hamid Karzai, is holding four days of talks with 2,000 tribal elders and leaders, and security is extremely tight in the capital of Kabul. The Taliban have threatened to attack the gathering. It's known as the loya jirga.

Mr. Karzai told tribal elders today that a security pact with the U.S. is in Afghanistan's best interest. He also said he wants a strong but independent relationship with the U.S. and NATO, and he indicated that Afghanistan is ready to host U.S. troops for the long term on certain conditions.

Now, Nick Paton Walsh has more from Kabul.


NICK PATON WALSH, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Slowly, NATO is transferring the security of Afghanistan over to Afghans. The next regions to be handed over will soon be announced by President Hamid Karzai. It may, NATO and Afghan officials have told CNN, include two of what have been historically the most violent parts of the country's south.

First, in Helmand, there's the district of Nad-e-Ali, where many British troops have died over the years. But also, in Kandahar, the Arghandab Valley, recently a hotbed of insurgent violence where many Americans have also died.

Now, an Afghan official in Arghandab tells us security is a lot better, but that's because the Americans are there in force. If they leave, he tells us things may get worse, and fast. But the logic of this, some say, is to have Afghans face their toughest work, while NATO still has enough troops to help.

HAROUN MIR, POLITICAL ANALYST: It is good while we have a significant NATO presence in Afghanistan to start with (INAUDIBLE) spots in Afghanistan. And that will provide the opportunity for the Afghan security forces to defend themselves and, in the meantime, have the support of NATO.

WALSH: Transition and America's long-term role in Afghan security are to be discussed here in Kabul at a loya jirga, a meeting of tribal elders called by President Hamid Karzai. But, still, the hills around, lined with police. The security of the meeting itself is the real story. The Taliban claiming on Sunday they had a leaked security plan for the event.

(on camera): As you can see, they've sealed off the roads all around leading up to the Inter-Continental Hotel and the loya jirga, met by that extra ring of security. Just slightly further up this road, only yesterday, a suicide bomber was shot dead as he tried to get into the compound.

(voice-over): The topics for debate, how long American troops stay, if peace with the Taliban is possible, and whether night raids by U.S. Special Forces should continue. Analysts say Karzai wants the meeting to legitimize his long-term pact with the U.S., but it may instead give voice to opponents and critics of American policy that leaves him yet weaker.


STOUT: Let's go live to Nick Paton Walsh in Kabul. He is at CNN Kabul, and he joins us now.

Nick, what was President Hamid Karzai's message today?

WALSH: Well, opening this loya jirga, he wanted to be clear he believes America and Afghanistan need a long-term military relationship, but also wanted to sound a number of nationalistic terms as well, referring to Afghans as "lions who aren't used to having strangers in their home." He said and also setting a number of limits on any future American presence here under any forthcoming deal. Americans will not be able to have the power of arrest, could not conduct night raids, or search Afghan homes, things, actually, the Afghan government have been coming out strongly against in the past as well.

But you have to also bear in mind the audience he's listening to here, a number of people who could come out against him, could be strongly critical of his position in support of NATO's policy here. And we may find the president, perhaps at some point in the future, seeing this final meeting caused more issues for him than garnered him consensus -- Kristie.

STOUT: Now, the loya jirga is a meeting of more than 2,000 leaders, but when Afghanistan already has a parliament, and has elections, why have this meeting? Why is the jirga necessary?

WALSH: Well, there have been criticism this is not constitutional as a meeting. It's not being done through parliament, for example, which people may concede to be the more normal legal forum.

The president is entitled to call a meeting like this at any stage he'd like at all. And I think what President Karzai is trying to do here is to form some kind of consensus.

If you put this through the legislature, it could take an exceptionally long time, and I think the decision he needs to put forward towards the Americans, the deal he needs to strike with them, he needs to be seen to have been consultative, to have reached out across the country for a broad consensus, allow his critics a voice, but, above all, be seen at the end of it to have gone through some kind of democratic process -- Kristie.

STOUT: Nick Paton Walsh, live in Kabul.

Thank you.

Now, ahead here on NEWS STREAM, I speak to Chinese artist and activist Ai Weiwei about his fight against a huge tax bill and his chances of a successful appeal.

And the defense deal between two old allies. The latest on President Barack Obama's trip down under.

And what next at Zuccotti Park a day after the Occupy Wall Street camp was shut down?

Stay with us.


STOUT: Chinese artist and activist Ai Weiwei has paid $1.3 million as part of a disputed tax bill. That allows him to continue to fight accusations of tax evasion that have been leveled at him by the Chinese government.

Now, authorities say that Ai's company, called Fake Cultural Development Ltd., owes $2.3 million in back taxes. Ai says he paid part of that amount to prevent his wife from being jailed. She legally represents the company.

His tax bill caused outrage among some Chinese netizens and inspired an online movement to raise the cash. And Ai tells CNN the money to pay the bond came from 30,000 contributors.

Now, in an interview with "The Guardian" newspaper, Ai Weiwei describes the last year of his life as "like a Hollywood movie." And it certainly has been eventful.

This time last year, Ai was placed under house arrest by the Chinese police. Allegedly, it was to prevent planned demonstrations against the planned demolition of his studio in Shanghai. The Chinese government, they ordered the studio to be demolished in January of this year.

And then, in April, Ai was arrested at an airport in Beijing as he was about to board a flight to Hong Kong. And then, as now, he was accused of economic crimes, and he wasn't released on bail until June for showing good behavior and on medical grounds.

His family, as well as human rights groups, they believe the real reason for his imprisonment is his outspokenness and political activism. You may remember the earthquake that devastated parts of China's Sichuan Province May, 2008. Now, authorities had refused to release the list of students who died in poorly-constructed schools during that disaster, so Ai Weiwei conducted his own investigation and published a list of thousands of names online.

Back to the present day and the current disputed tax bill. Now, neither Ai nor his lawyer have seen the official tax evasion documents. And they are trying to locate two missing company employees who allegedly have. Ai says that they have been detained and interrogated, and that they are being hidden by police.

I spoke to Ai Weiwei just a few hours ago about his plans to continue challenging the tax evasion charges against him, but he told me he is not optimistic about the legal appeal.


AI WEIWEI, CHINESE ARTIST AND ACTIVIST: I don't think I have much chance. You know, the Chinese judicial system, under the tax bureau, is working for the police department. They are the same people.

You know, there is no real independent law (ph) case in China. I was affected by this kind of political intention.

So, you know, we don't have much hope. Our only hope is to pin (ph) the rights and to show the public what's going on, and to make awareness -- to reach the consciousness in the public. And we only can win this like a moral win.

STOUT: What was the political motive, if it was a political motive?

AI: Well, the first day, when they take me to this to secret detention, and they clearly tell me that, "Weiwei, you are openly criticizing the government. The crime you have is separation of state power." But they use some other crimes also, like pornography, or you married twice, or you have economic crimes -- to make people know you are such a liar and whatever you say is not credible, and you are only the representative of the Western anti-China forces.

STOUT: Where are you calling from right now? Are you calling in from your compound in Beijing? And are we being monitored on the phone as we speak right now?

AI: Yes, of course. Every sentence, everything I do is under the most clear (INAUDIBLE). I mean, you know, there's a lot of people here from -- I mean, the secret police. And I'm calling from a park which I do exercise in the afternoon.

STOUT: Are you seeing police around you? Did they follow you to the park?

AI: They are following me, but they are not getting close. Because if I see them, I will even go directly to them and film them. So I think they feel very embarrassed somehow, because they should do everything in public.

They should have opened up public discussions. They should have shown what evidence they have to educate the public. But with such a big event, no newspapers in China openly discuss this.

I mean, my name cannot even be mentioned on the Internet. And everybody, even the police, come to a full interrogation, they're quite shy about this.

STOUT: Now, you're very much a wired person. And, in fact, you've been posting photos of yourself on Google Plus with various tax documents. Why are you doing this? And why are you doing it on Google Plus, which is blocked in China?

AI: Because our voice can never really be heard in China. You know, my name even cannot be typed here.

So our only way to let the public know what's going on is to try to show people, you know, details, this proof. That may never really make our condition better, but that will make everybody aware what is really going on.

STOUT: President Barack Obama, he is in Asia. He is out to boost trade ties and security ties with countries here in the region.

Do you fear that the United States and other countries will turn a blind eye to the human rights issue in China in order to boost trade?

AI: I think so. I think the United States and the West, and nations, they are -- because -- due to their economic problems, they are shy to speak out for those basic values. And that's a big, big mistake.


STOUT: And that was activist/artist Ai Weiwei speaking to me earlier. As you heard, he is clearly concerned about economic concerns maybe overshadowing China's human rights record.

Now, meanwhile, Australia and the United States are forging closer military ties in a region some say may be wary of China's expanding military. In the future, up to 2,500 U.S. Marines will be stationed in northern Australia for six months each year. The deployment is part of a new defense deal announced during President Obama's visit to the longtime U.S. ally, and the agreement will also allow more U.S. ships and military aircraft to operate from Australian bases.

Mr. Obama's trip, it highlights a changing balance in the power in the Asia-Pacific region. And CNN's Brianna Keilar has more from the Australian capital.


BRIANNA KEILAR, CNN WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: President Obama is polishing up his "Good day, mate" at Parliament House. It sounds a little like "good day," but I think by the end of the trip he'll have it worked out. But the president and Prime Minister Julia Gillard detailing a more permanent U.S. military presence here in Australia.

While the president's visit to the APEC Summit in Hawaii had much more to do with the U.S. economic profile in the Asia-Pacific region, and certainly Australia is an important trading partner -- the U.S. actually maintaining a trading surplus with Australia -- the president's visit here has much more to do with increasing the U.S. military presence in the region. And that is really attached to this new announcement by Prime Minister Gillard and President Obama.

JULIA GILLARD, AUSTRALIAN PRIME MINISTER: We have great joint initiatives to enhance our alliance 60 (ph) years old, and being kept robust for tomorrow. It is a new agreement to expand the existing collaboration between the Australian Defense Force and the U.S. Marine Corps and the U.S. Air Force.

BARACK OBAMA, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Our U.S. Marines will begin rotating through Darwin for joint training and exercises. Our Air Force will rotate additional aircraft through more airfields in northern Australia. And these rotations which are going to be taking place on Australian bases will bring our militaries even closer and make them even more effective.

KEILAR: How much of this has to do with China being a rising power both economically and militarily, and the U.S. trying to provide a counterweight to that, President Obama sidestepped that question a little bit. He and the prime minister emphasizing more the ability that this new announcement will allow for them to provide humanitarian assistance in the region like was needed after the earthquake in Japan and after the tsunami in Indonesia. But White House officials have talked about providing greater geographic balance in the region.

And so this military emphasis certainly ties in very much to commerce, because you've seen China recently launch its first aircraft carrier, and making some claims to the South China Sea territorial claims, to the South China Sea, which sees a lot of commerce. So, the idea here, that the U.S., with its economic in the Asia-Pacific region, wanting to make sure that it can enforce it and its ally's interests.

Brianna Keilar, CNN, Canberra.


STOUT: Now, ahead here on NEWS STREAM, one day after New York police kicked them out, Occupy Wall Street protesters return to Zuccotti Park. But can they still make a stand?

And her story of suffering and survival inspired the world. A nanny who was brutally treated by Gadhafi family members is on the road to recovery. We'll update you on her condition next.


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

A human rights group tells CNN that Syrian army defectors have attacked an intelligence complex near Syria's capital Damascus. And CNN, like many other news organizations, is not allowed into Syria so we can't confirm these reports independently.

Now Afghan president Hamid Karzai is meeting with tribal elders in Kabul for a gathering known as a Loya Jirga. Mr. Karzai told tribal elders today that a security pack with the U.S. is in Afghanistan's best interests. And he indicated that Afghanistan is ready to host U.S. troops for the long-term on certain conditions.

The United States will send up to 2,500 marines to Northern Australia, enhancing the two nations' military alliance. The deployment was announced by both leaders during President Obama's visit to the long time ally as part of a regional tour.

And the tents are gone, but protesters are back in New York's Zuccatti park. A New York court sided with the city, saying demonstrators can return, but cannot camp in the public space. Now also banned, tarps, and generators. Now police cleared the area overnight on Tuesday.

And the Occupy movement, it reaches its two month milestone on Thursday, but it seems New York is not the only city ready for protesters to clear out now. In Dallas, Texas authorities have been authorized to evict protesters. And the mayor could order the move later on Wednesday. In Calgary, Canada demonstrators have been told to clear out of Olympic Plaza. And police may more tents out of the area today.

But in Toronto, protesters are still camped in St. James Park for now. Now they won an injunction against the city's eviction order.

Now the city of London looks set to serve up similar papers. Occupy protesters set up camp near the London stock exchange weeks ago.

Let's take you live to downtown New York. Deborah Feyerick joins us now from Zuccatti Park. And Deborah, what is the mood among the Occupy protesters there?

DEBORAH FEYERICK, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Frustrated. They're actually frustrated. And tensions really are running high. Take a quick look, a much, much different scene than what we saw over the last two months. The tents are gone, the generators are gone. The park is virtually empty. As a matter of fact, there are really just a couple of dozen demonstrators, that's it. The men wearing the yellow vests, the ones you can see, they're actually private security doing -- guarding this park.

And what we've seen is one demonstrator was actually arrested after he tried to break up a fight. A protester saying, well, they didn't know who it was who started the fight, but it seemed to be somebody who was sent in specifically to try to stir things up. So right now this morning at least one arrest, but the circumstances around that a little bit unclear.

Private security has been here.

Protesters saying, though, that they remain committed to this cause.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: And I want them to realize that this country, the U.S., in the past 40 years has done much too much too much harm to the rest of the countries around the world, but that cannot go on any more. We are not a destructive state. We have to stop this.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: A lot of us are intelligent, well versed people. We're not all ignorant individuals such as you see behind me. We are well versed people and we understand what's going on in America. And we're not going to take it any more.


FEYERICK: And really what these people share is an anger at the economic disparity between the folks who are protesting and those in this Wall Street area: the bankers. You have to keep in mind this Wall Street area is right by the Trade Center where the towers once stood. So they're really just demonstrating to make sure that their voices get heard.

But again, very quiet. Tomorrow marks the two month anniversary. They're saying that there will be a lot of people coming out, but right now it seems that the leaders are regrouping to try to figure out what their next move will be, Kristie.

STOUT: Yeah, all eyes on tomorrow, very significant day.

And Deborah, before the eviction what were the conditions like inside the Occupy camp? Did you see anything that would raise, as Mayor Bloomberg put it, public health and safety concerns?

FEYERICK: It was very, very crowded. There were a couple of arrests that took place. People who technically weren't here because of the Occupy Wall Street movement, but who sort of came because there was free food, there was a sense of community. Everyone seemed to have it under control. And they really were organized in such a way that they had a kitchen area, they had a library area. They even had members who were doing security. Those people are gone. And one man told me that in fact when fights would break out they would be stopped almost immediately.

But this morning we saw something very, very different where a fight breaking out and it was the private security guards who immediately stepped in and then had that man arrested. So a very different dynamic here in the park, Kristie.

STOUT: All right. Deborah Feyerick joining us live from Zuccatti Park. Thank you very much for that.

Now it may have been cleared away in Tuesday's cleanup, but after almost two months the Occupy Wall Street protesters had equipped Zuccatti Park with some innovative amenities like a makeshift library containing thousands of books.

And many protesters, they were angry, claiming the books have been thrown in a dumpster on Tuesday. But the New York mayor's office has since posted a picture on its Twitter feed of the books safely stored away and ready to be picked up.

Now if Newspapers are more your thing, well check this out. It is the Occupy Wall Street Journal. And the headlines there, New York Unites, and the Revolution Begins at Home. In fact, Zuccatti Park has become something of a media hub with its own communications zone. And here you see volunteers manning a live stream and a web site station.

And if all that hard work made the protesters hungry, well they could head to the Zuccatti Park communal kitchen. Local businesses provided free food and drinks.

And for those who fell ill, the camp even had medical facilities. These doctors and nurses joined the 99 percent last week offering free flu shots to protesters.

Now today is a momentous one for Italy, but will it bring the country back from the edge of financial fear? Now former European Union commissioner Mario Monte is expected to be sworn in as prime minister shortly. He presented his handpicked cabinet to Italy's president for approval today.

Mr. Monte says he will also take on the post of finance minister. His new government's mission is daunting. It will try to push through tough new reforms aimed at reducing Italy's sky high debt of $2.6 trillion.

Now Greece also faces daunting challenges. Its new national unity government lead by Prime Minister Lucas Papademos is expected to survive a vote of confidence today, but it is less certain whether Greece can restore its shattered finances. There's already political wrangling over new deeply unpopular austerity measures. Now the tax hikes and spending cuts are required to secure more international bailout money for the cash strapped country.

And we will have much more on the new governments in Italy and Greece and both nations' renewed efforts to deal with their economic crises. The fate of the European Union as we know it could be at stake. Stay tuned for World Business Today at the top of the hour.

Now in today's Freedom Project report we want to usssspdate you on the former nanny for the Gadhafi family. She suffered terrible abuse at the hands of her employers. And Dan Rivers has been following her remarkable story since August. And he brings us this followup.


DAN RIVERS, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Shweyga Mullah continues to make really good progress in Malta where she's receiving medical treatments for the horrific burns that she suffered at the hands of Aline and Hannibal Gadhafi in Libya arrived in Malta on the 15th of September. We were there to see her touch down. And she was escorted into the Malta Day Hospital where she's been ever since.

She's had two different surgical procedures. One on the 27th of September that dealt with the front of her torso which had been terribly burned when, as she claims, Aline Gadhafi poured boiling water over her head and her torso. They've done a skin graft on her front.

The second procedure in October, on the 15th of October has dealt with her scalp area, again awfully burned. They haven't done a skin graft there, because they are wanting to try and allow some of the hair follicles to grow back and those that are there to survive. And it's something that she's asked for. So they're just really cleaning those wounds to try and let them heal.

And the fantastic news is they think she could be discharged as early as next week and become an outpatient. This will mean that she can go and stay in an apartment that the Maltese government are going to provide for her and get some sense of normality back into her life.

She'll continue with this physiotherapy she's been receiving to try and free up her shoulder and of course the psychological counseling that's been so important for her to get over this trauma.

Dan Rivers, CNN, Barcelona, Spain.


STOUT: And still ahead here on News Stream, we meet angry flood victims in Bangkok who say they're neighborhood is being sacrificed for the greater good of the city.


STOUT: Now authorities in Thailand are considering building a canal super highway through Bangkok to prevent future floods like the one that is currently crippling the capital. Now disaster experts out of Bangkok University are studying the plan. And it would involve linking existing natural canals in a superhighway to divert the course of flood waters in the north.

Now meanwhile, though, some Bangkok residents may be living with the deluge for months. Liz Neisloss has that.


LIZ NEISLOSS, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Bubbling up under the outskirts of Bangkok, the flood waters of Thailand. The water is creeping in to the city's south and it's time to prepare. Along the roadways, floodwares for sale. You can still bargain for a boat.

But north near Bangkok's flooded Dom Muang Airport, you better already have your vessel. Mired deep in flood water for a month, neighborhood residents didn't want to leave their homes, but now they want the water to leave.

Officials insist the water must pass through here for the good of central Bangkok. And giant barriers corral the water in places like this so it can be slowly channeled out.

This is what Thai's call the big bag, a massive wall of sandbags intended to keep the flood waters north. For Bangkok it's part of the solution, but for this neighborhood it's part of the problem.

This gap in the barrier was created days ago by angry residents. They tore away sandbags to release some flooding and create a passage way for boats. Residents say they're sick of sitting in water.

"My community and 20 others have trouble. We ask the authorities to open the big bag barrier to allow the water to go out, because this water is dirty and there are a lot of mosquitoes," the community leader says.

But Bangkok authorities want the barrier to stay put.

So these people have taken charge and convinced the city to provide these sandbags to create their own dry zone, a community center for food and clean water.

Police are posted at this big bag to keep watch. Anger still percolates here and in other areas and in by the flood waters.

"We're doing our job here to make sure that people don't dismantle the sand bags," says this police official. "In some areas it's a big negative, but I believe we can solve this and find a water level that will satisfy everyone."

It's hard to satisfy five families sharing this space. They spend their days here and then climb up to the second flood of this flooded house to sleep.

Un Amiran (Ph) is frustrated and stressed. She feels unwell, but says it's too hard to get to a doctor. She says release the water.

"They should take away the sand bags, because the water should flow through. If we block it here and there, the water flows nowhere, just traps here."

Not far away the bloated body of a dead dog floats by.

Back at the barrier, the police colonel gets instruction from negotiators with the local community. Remove a token layer of sandbags to let more water to flow on, a step toward calming this week's unrest.

Bangkok officials say this neighborhood could be under water for another month.

Liz Neisloss, CNN, Bangkok, Thailand.


STOUT: Now new evacuations are posted in another Bangkok neighborhood just today because of the rising water.

Let's get the latest now with Mari Ramos. She joins us from the world weather center -- Mari.

MARI RAMOS, CNN WEATHER CORRESPONDENT: Hey, Kristie. There's just so much water still left in those areas to the north of Bangkok, and that's very significant. All of that water eventually does have to drain out. And with those barriers in place, of course it will take longer for those communities that are north of the barriers. So that's very significant as well.

(inaudible) this is from Google Earth. And what you're looking at is again the Bangkok area, the area in black, that line in black that you see right there, that is the main Bangkok area. This is the city center right in here. These are that outer ring of walls and barriers. And right here in blue is of course the Chao Phraya River.

The neighborhood that was, according to the Bangkok Post, ordered new evacuations is this one Bang Kapi. They say that some of the (inaudible) some of the canals in this area have actually been overflowing. So they're telling people, you know what, you need to move to higher ground. And that's very significant.

The other area that was mentioned is Dom Muang Airport. This is an area that is still under water. And in some cases over a meter of water is still left in some of those regions. So that's very significant as well.

As far as the actual weather, you what we're not expecting any rain or anything here. We're now into the dry season. This is a time where temperatures normally go up pretty high, into the mid-30s. And it does feel stifling hot at times.

We do have some scattered rain showers as we head into peninsular parts of Thailand, Laos and Cambodia. Also still getting some rainfall here, Kristie. And this is significant, because remember these areas have been suffering from significant flooding for quite awhile still. So that's still a big deal.

As far as the temperatures. You know what, you know, today was going to be -- tomorrow pretty similar to what we had today. Across this area not a lot of changes expected as we head into Friday.

We do have some heavier downpours as we head into parts of the Philippines here. This possible tropical cyclone that we were watching over the weekend and early into the week has moved on to areas farther to north. So you should begin to see already some improvement across the central and northern Philippines as that area of disturbed weather moves away. But still some locally heavy rain showers are expected in some of those areas.

I want to take you to another part of the world and show you one of mother nature's just most amazing sights. And this is volcanic eruption. And look at this, it's not only beautiful it's dangerous too, right. But it's in a national park in Congo. And what authorities are saying that for now it does not pose any type of -- any type of danger to the local communities that are in that area. It's a sparsely populated region, mostly protected area.

But they're saying, hey, Kristie if you can get there and they'll actually take you to the volcano to be able to see it.

You know, those fountains that you see there of lava can actually spew up into the air up to 300 to 400 meters. Beautiful.

STOUT: Wow. Quite a sight to see in person. Mari Ramos thank you very much for the share.

Now Mythbusters listen up we've got a mystery for you to investigate. Now new satellite images on Google Earth show a set of unidentified structures in the middle of China's remote Gobi Desert. As you can see, there's no sign of any activity nearby and no obvious explanation as to their purpose.

And here is another mystery pattern. Now this one is in a circular shape. And a closer look reveals fighter jets right in the center.

And then there's this, it's a massive neon blue structure. This one right here, zoom in, and you can see what appears to be cooling towers.

Now these bizarre structures have triggered plenty of speculation but no answers. Now we do know this is not the first time Google Earth users have spotted bizarre structures in remote areas of China.

Now back in 2006 they spotted this. And people thought it looked like a massive terrain model. So they started searching through Google Earth. And sure enough they found a match. And if you look closely the model it matches an actual area of land near the border between China and India.

Now why is it there? We'll leave you to your own conspiracy theories.

Now ahead here on News Stream, the resolve of Gabrielle Giffords. Now fellow U.S. congress members cheered the lawmaker after she was nearly killed in a shooting rampage. And now Giffords says that she is getting better and stronger every day. And she's making a promise to her constituents.

That is ahead.


STOUT: Now back in January this U.S. congresswoman almost died in a shooting rampage. Gabrielle Giffords survived the assassination attempt, but she suffered a major brain injury. Deborah Feyerick shows us the remarkable progress she has made over the last 10 months.



FEYERICK: Among the most powerful images recorded by Gabrielle Giffords' husband astronaut Mark Kelly is this one.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: It's going to get better.

STOUT: The video aired on ABC in a Diane Sawyer exclusive interview. Asked how she felt when her husband told her about the shooting that left six dead and 13 wounded.



GIFFORDS: It's sad. So sad. A lot of people died...

DIANE SAWYER, ABC NEWS: It hurts here, right?

GIFFORDS: Yes. Yes. Yes. Tough. Tough. Tough. Tough.

FEYERICK: She tells ABC she remembers nothing from that day.

SAWYER: That day is gone.


FEYERICK: Nor is she angry about it.



GIFFORDS: No. Life. Life.

FEYERICK: The home movie is taken by Kelly in the last 11 months shows how much music has helped Giffords recovery, enabling her to find words after the shooting.

GIFFORDS: I love you.

FEYERICK: Helping her remember songs.

GIFFORDS: Let it shine. Let it shine. Let it shine.

FEYERICK: Even coaxing her with the help of a therapist to take her first steps.


FEYERICK: The bullet tore through the left side of her brain which controls speech and language. Giffords spends two hours with a therapist learning to find words, make short sentences and move her right side. Asked by ABC is she'll go back to congress.

GIFFORDS: No better.

SAWYER: It's better?

GIFFORDS: I've -- oh...

KELLY: She wants to get better.


SAWYER: You want to get better.


SAWYER: And so you think to yourself I'll go back to congress if I get better?

GIFFORDS: Yes. Yes. Yes.

FEYERICK: Today in a brief recorded message on her official Facebook site, Giffords tells her constituents she's anxious to get back to work representing them.

GIFFORDS: I'm getting stronger. I'm getting better. I want to go back to work. Representing Arizona is my honor.

FEYERICK: The message coincides with a hearing on Capitol Hill in which a woman who witnessed the Giffords shooting asked for more stringent gun laws, including universal background checks.

In the interview, Mark Kelly says the couple have been planning to have a baby through in vitro fertilization. Giffords was shot the week before that procedure was to have taken place.

Deborah Feyerick, CNN, New York.


STOUT: And that is News Stream, but the news continues at CNN. World Business Today is next.