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Bahraini King Promises Reforms; Truce Reached Between Egyptian Police, Protesters; James Webb Telescope Set To Launch in 2018
Aired November 23, 2011 - 08:00:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
MANISHA TANK, HOST: Well, welcome. It's News Stream. I'm Manisha Tank in Hong Kong. And we begin with Egypt where anger toward the country's military rulers spills into a fifth day of violence.
Also, is the Yemen president finally on the verge of stepping down?
And how fake military grade computer chips are being produced and sold in China.
Egyptian protesters are dismissing the latest concession made by their country's military rulers. Take a look at these live pictures of Cairo's Tahrir Square, which is seeing violence for fifth straight day now just off the square. Protesters have been hurling rocks and molotov cocktails at police, police responding with tear gas and rubber bullets. Several other Egyptian cities are also seeing clashes, but here around Tahrir Square we're seeing the largest protests. We're told the sound of ambulance sirens is constant.
Well, late on Tuesday military leader Mohammed Hussein Tantawi spoke in a nationally televised address. He said he had accepted the resignation of the country's cabinet and promised to push forward the transfer to civilian authority. But the protesters say it's not enough.
Senior international correspondent Ben Wedeman reports.
BEN WEDEMAN, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: It was a speech that promised an accelerated transfer to civilian rule, but after at least 30 people have been killed and close to 2,000 wounded in the worst violence since the fall of Hosni Mubarak, protesters in Tahrir Square had a simple demand to the head of the Supreme Council of the Armed Forces: go.
MOHAMMED, PROTESTER: I want him to say that it's over. We don't need anything from him. Just go away and leave us build our country again.
WEDEMAN: In the hours before the speech the clashes continued to rage. Parts of downtown Cairo transformed into a battlefield. The protesters have learned fast how to deal with the effects of tear gas. This man is showing off his homemade gas mask. Don't try this at home.
It's as if the uprising against Hosni Mubarak earlier this year never ended.
AMR SHARAF, PROTESTER: All of us knew that this was the beginning of (inaudible) because we were sure that the military council are here just to protect (inaudible).
WEDEMAN: Tahrir Square filled with people responding for calls for a million man protest, vowing not to leave until the military council steps down.
DINA SARHAN, PROTESTER: The army is from the people and for the people, but the council is -- the (inaudible) the old regime and they are not (inaudible). They have their interests at heart. They all want to protect their money and their positions and everything else.
WEDEMAN: The focus is on who the protesters don't want, Field Marshall Mohammed Hussein Tantawi, a former Mubarak defense minister, not on who should take his place.
ABDEL HAMID MORSY, PROTESTER: They don't even care who takes his place, they just want him gone. You know, that's how big of a thorn he is in the people's hearts. They just want him gone, you know, no matter the costs.
WEDEMAN: In a country where the sprawling monolithic state once held undisputed sway, it's a dramatic change in the balance of power.
The people in Tahrir have proven yet again how much power they really have. In the space of just a few days they've put the post-Mubarak rulers of Egypt on the defensive.
And the longer they protest, the more they may be able to achieve.
Ben Wedeman, CNN, Cairo.
TANK: Well, Ben was making it quite clear in his report much of the anger in Egypt is directed towards this man here, Field Marshall Mohammed Hussein Tantawi. He has been the country's de facto ruler since Febrary 11. So let's give you a bit of a breakdown of who he is.
Many Egyptians feel he's too close to the ousted president. Tantawi served as defense minister under the former president Hosni Mubarak for 20 years. Well, Mubarak also appointed him deputy prime minister in the early days of the protesters that broke out in Egypt.
Well, Tantawi may have lost some of the public's trust in September. Now that was when he gave testimony. He testified at Mubarak's trial. The former president faces charges, of course, over the killing of protesters. According to a leaked transcript Tantawi did not implicate Mubarak and suggested foreign interference may have played a role in the violence that took place.
Well, U.S. diplomatic cables released by WikiLeaks referenced Tantawi's tight relationship with his former boss. And we can take a look at some of those. One cable claimed that other Egyptian officers openly mocked the 76-year-old Tantawi as Mubarak's poodle.
But the real problem really -- we want to another one of the cables -- for protesters may be best expressed in another cable. It says Tantawi has opposed both economic and political reforms that he perceives as eroding central government power.
More from those cables. In another assessment he and Mubarak have focused on regime stability and maintaining the status quo through the end of their time. So it's really what a lot of people, a lot of these protesters are reacting to.
So with the process against Tantawi continuing we go now live to CNN's Ivan Watson. He's been watching a lot of this unfold in the last few days. He's in Tahrir Square right now.
First of all, give us an update on the latest situation Ivan.
IVAN WATSON, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, there has been no impact, really, no lessening of the anger of the demonstrators here as a result of Marshall Tantawi's speech last night, which reportedly came after he reached some kind of an agreement (inaudible) who are set to compete in Monday's first phase of parliamentary elections.
He made a significant concession that presidential elections would be pushed up.
But take a look at some of these images from the street between Tahrir Square and Egypt's interior ministry. The battles continuing there. The angry Egyptian youths hurling stones, standing their ground despite canister after canister of tear gas that reduces them, you know, spitting, vomiting wrecks that then get taken off the battlefield, you could say, on motorcycles and then ambulances, or even carried by hand.
The anger of these people has not diminished one bit. They still direct their fury at the Mushir (ph), that's their name for the field marshall Tantawi. Take a listen to some of the protesters.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: That's (inaudilbe) all the people in Egypt wanted Mushir (ph) must be go now. And with that enough (inaudible) enough, enough, enough.
WATSON: What do you want?
UNIDENTIIFED MALE: Well, we need to it to be from the people. The freedom. We don't need any military control for these people.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
WATSON: Now the target of the anger, at least rhetorically, is the military. They want the soldiers and the generals in particular to go back to the barracks and stop governing the country. The physical target of the anger are riot police from the Interior Ministry. They are the ones who are taking the brunt of the wrath of these young demonstrators, some of them just teenagers.
Within the last couple of hours the third floor of the former American University of Cairo library was on fire according to one eye witness. Even as at least four young men were still (inaudible) same building continuing to hurl projectiles at the riot police below -- Manisha.
TANK: OK. Ivan, thanks very much for keeping an eye on things for us. Tahrir Square behind you there, about 80 percent full I would say today. But keep us up to date won't you and stay safe.
Now Yemen's president may be leaving office at last. Ali Abdullah Saleh is in Saudi Arabia to attend the signing of a power transfer deal, but many people are skeptical. And here's why, since March Mr. Saleh has often talked about stepping down, but he's frequently reneged on his pledge to sign the deal. And if you're wondering about the gap between May and October, well Saleh spent most of that time recuperating in Saudi Arabia from an assassination attempt.
An opposition delegation is heading to Riyadh as well. And there is some chance that they will be disappointed yet again.
Will that happen? Let's bring in Nima Elbagir. She's at CNN London to give us some analysis on this. What do we think will happen? How will people react to this, because it feels like something we've heard before.
NIMA ELBAGIR, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, Manisha, we're already getting reports of clashes in the Yemeni capital Sanaa between the forces of the tribal opposition leader Saleh el Ahmed (ph) and government loyalists. El Ahmed (ph) is of course not part of this deal, and neither is a defecting Yemeni army general Ali Mohsen.
And this is part of the problem. This is the best deal that they can come up with in the circumstances, but there are a lot of factors -- a lot of actors who are not part of this accord.
But for Saleh, really the situation is this is the last in a long line of chances that he's been given. As you said, this is the third time the GCC has sat down with him with the understanding that he will sign away his powers. And he has reneged.
The issue is now whether the GCC has told him that this is the end of the line. It's a pretty good deal for Saleh. He gets to keep immunity. He remains president in name even after signing over his powers, and while a transition government is being put into place. So really at the moment there is a lot of impatience with Saleh, but perhaps he doesn't realize how close he has come to the end of the line. So we're waiting to see.
The GCC foreign ministers will be meeting this evening, Manisha.
TANK: Nima, is there any sense of how it is the people, how Yemen the country, will respond to having some sort of a transitional government? Are they ready for it?
ELBAGIR: Well, I think the people have proven that they are ready for some kind of a democratically elected body. They've been out in the streets for months, calling for it.
There is a lot of understanding of their rights that has evolved during the last few months and actually the last few years. Yemen has an incredibly active civil society. You saw the Yemeni human rights activist who won the Nobel Peace Prize.
The issue in Yemen is the wild card of the strongest al Qaeda franchise in the world at the moment, al Qaeda in the Arabia Peninsula, and what that will mean in terms of the outside interest. There is obviously a lot of emphasis and a lot of pressure to stabilize Yemen post-Saleh coming from the western powers, because the last thing they need is any kind of a civil war in Yemen to turn into a playground for the al Qaeda franchises in that region, Manisha.
TANK: OK. We'll leave it there for now. Very interesting developments. Let's see what happens. Nima Elbagir there at CNN London.
Still ahead here on News Stream, hounded by the press: Britain's inquiry on ethics in journalism hears from a couple who were constantly in the news after the disappearance of their daughter.
Plus, U.S. foreign policy and national security, a CNN debate suggests deep divisions among U.S. Republican presidential hopefuls.
And what NASA is up to now. Our John Zarrella will help us peer through this space telescope: through the dust and into the stars. Stay with us.
TANK: In London, the parents of missing girl Madeleine McCann are set to give evidence at a hearing into British media standards and ethics. The inquiry, lead by Lord Justice Leveson, is investigating allegations of phone hacking and other intrusive media practices. The McCann family has been covered extensively by the British tabloid press since Madeleine vanished in Portugal back in 2007.
The inquiry has heard from Mark Lewis today. He's a lawyer representing phone hacking victims, including the family of murdered British school girl Milly Dowler. The Dowlers testified on Monday, saying that phone hacking had given them false hope that their daughter was still alive.
Well, Jerry McCann is expected to follow actor Hugh Grant and comedian Steve Coogan. In short he's criticizing the practices of the British press.
Atika Schubert has been following these developments for us this week at the UK's high court in London. She's there right now and we can talk to her.
And obviously a lot of focus on the McCann family. And I would expect that that testimony again would be very emotional and moving much like what we heard from Milly Dowler's parents.
ATIKA SCHUBERT, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: That's right. It's bound to be very emotional moment in court. We do expect both Jerry McCann and Kate McCann to make their statement in court today. And what they're likely to talk about is the way the tabloid press intruded into their lives.
We're going to have to see whether or not they mention the fact that News of the World, for example, printed the personal diary of Kate McCann while all of this was ongoing. And really just turned their lives inside- out in addition to the trauma of their daughter disappearing.
Now so far we've heard from a lot of celebrities as well. As you know Hugh Grant testified on Monday. He called the tabloid press cowardly and shocking. And then actor and comedian Steve Coogan compared the tabloid press to the mafia yesterday. And we've heard from a range of other people. We're now hearing from a former reporter, from lawyers, from a footballer's wife about how she -- about how the press stopped her.
So we are getting the whole gamut of experiences of people who believe they have been victims of the tabloid press, because this is really an inquiry not just into the illegal methods, but into the sort of ethics and culture of the British tabloid press.
TANK: And that's the thing, isn't it, this isn't just about phone hacking. And phone hacking was something that, you know, was really brought out there into the international arena. That was really a focus for people outside of Britain, but this is about more than that, this is about ethics as well. Is there beginning to be a sense, certainly in the editorials being written up around this inquiry, that something might change?
SCHUBERT: Well, the hope is that at the end of this inquiry some sort of recommendations will be made. And perhaps this means that we'll see some regulations for the press.
But remember, this is still a long way off, this inquiry could take at least a year if not longer. And in the meantime there are several police investigations ongoing looking at those illegal methods alleged to have been used by some reporters at News of the world.
So there are many different strands to this. And this is only one of them.
TANK: They say a journey starts with that one single step. And we are very much at the beginning of that journey, I suppose. Atika, thank you very much, keeping an eye on things for us there in London.
Next up here on News Stream, this Afghan woman was raped by a married relative. But being a victim of that crime meant she was convicted of another. We'll tell you what authorities in Afghanistan are saying about this case.
TANK: Well, we continue to monitor developments as Egyptian protesters demand an immediate end to military rule. These are our live shots coming from Cairo's Tahrir Square, about 80 percent full. It is now the fifth straight day of violence in and around the square. We've seen clashes again between security forces and protesters with some protesters throwing molotov cocktails and stones at police.
Ivan Watson, our reporter there earlier pointing out that a lot of those skirmishes going on in the side streets to Tahrir Square. Within the square itself a lot of chanting, a lot protesting going on, but you can hear ambulance sirens all around.
The military council has promised to speed up its handover to civilian rule, but the protesters say they've had enough of the promises. They want military leader Mohammed Hussein Tantawi to step down immediately.
We're going to getting a live update from a journalist who is in the middle of this, all of these protests. We'll hear that in just a few minutes.
Also, this just in to CNN, an independent inquiry has found that Bahrain security forces used, quote, "excessive force" against people arrested during protests there earlier this year. Mistreatment of detainees included beatings, electrocutions, and threats of rape.
According to the inquiry the death toll from the unrest in Bahrain in February and Marsh now stands at 35.
Now on Tuesday we brought you a disturbing story from Afghanistan. Two years ago Gulnaz was raped by a relative. He was married. So in her society it was seen as adultery by her. And she was sent to prison for 12 years as a result. Well there, Gulnaz gave birth to a baby girl. She could get out of jail if she marries her rapist. Gulnaz says she will agree to the marriage so her daughter can continue to have a mother.
Well, Nick Paton Walsh brought us that powerful story. And he joins us now from Kabul with an update on this. Nick, what's the latest development?
NICK PATON WALSH, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: We do have a remarkable development today Manisha. Afghan prosecutors say that Gulnaz's sentence will now be reduced from 12 to 3 years. And that means she still has time to serve in jail with her daughter. It has give us a remarkable insight, too, into prosecutor's thinking. They've had another look at the case, but (inaudible) she must still spend some time inside. The logic they give for this is that she is currently guilty of not reporting the crime fast enough.
Now but the crime of this, they mean Gulnaz's rape. They perceive this as the same breath to not actually have been raped, but to have been adultery, so confused picture here, really, where I think Afghan prosecutors are accepting something wrong has happened and demanding that Gulnaz stay in jail for not reporting a crime against herself quick enough, a crime which they actually think in the same breath may not even have happened. So a confused picture here.
A spokesman also suggesting the president at some point may issue some kind of decree in the future, potentially pardoning her -- Manisha.
TANK: Well, certainly covering the story has brought -- brought this into focus. And I'm sure will be sparking a lot of debate around the law surrounding a rape in this particular case.
But what does this story actually say about women's rights and NATO's involvement over the years, Nick?
PATON WALSH: Absolutely. We were just speaking to the United Nations here. And the point they make is there has been progress here over the past decade, keen to point out there have been new laws introduced at boosting the rights of women here, but these aren't being universally applied by any stretch at all. Cases like this, horrifyingly common. Gulnaz just one of hundreds, maybe thousands of women, convicted for moral crimes because they were sexually assaulted.
Also this feeds into the whole argument about NATO's presence here. After 10 years, is there more that can still be done? Or is there still a bedrock of society here which is still adhering to values that people in the west might consider to be enormously close to the Taliban regime that they've originally came here to kick out because it was harboring al Qaeda.
So Manisha, this brings up enormous issues about women's rights at a time when the U.S. is looking to drawn down its troop presence exceptionally quickly -- Manisha.
TANK: Well, definitely very important to bring these stories into the public domain so that they can be discussed this way. Nick, thank you so much for bringing this to our attention.
Still to come here on News Stream, the Republican candidates vying for their chance spar over national security issues in a CNN debate.
And we look into a space telescope that could help scientists study the birth of the first stars. But that, the U.S. congress says, comes with a price tag that's too far out of this world.
TANK: I'm Manisha Tank in Hong Kong. You're watching News Stream. And these are your world headlines.
Yemeni president Ali Abdullah Saleh is in Saudi Arabia to sign a proposal to end the country's political crisis. Mr. Saleh is expected to sign the deal brokered by the Gulf Cooperation Council which would see him hand power immediately to the vice president. A source says Mr. Saleh will remain in Saudi Arabia permanently after signing a deal. Yemen has seen months of protests amid -- aid at forcing President Saleh from power.
The parents in a high profile missing child case are schedule to testify before the phone hacking inquiry in London on Wednesday. The McCanns were highly scrutinized by the media when their daughter Madeleine was reported missing in 2007. They'll join other alleged victims of media intrusion who will give evidence before the Leveson inquiry.
Angry protesters in Cairo's Tahrir Square are chanting, they're hurling stones, and withstanding tear gas. These are live pictures for you. It's the fifth straight day of protests in the Egyptian capital. Late on Tuesday, military chief Mohammed Hussein Tantawi promised to push forward presidential elections, but the protesters say they want Tantawi to cede power immediately.
We're now going to go to a live address by the king of Bahrain addressing -- an address by the kind (inaudible). He's addressing a probe into violence in the country.
HAMID BIN ISA AL KHALIFA, KING OF BAHRAIN (through translator): ...to achieve the truth and during very troubled time which was painful for us all. And you knew the challenge and presented challenges that official institution have faced and provocation -- (inaudible) provocation that we had from many sources inside and outside. And you have appreciated the responsibility -- its responsibility in establishing law and order in confronting violence and the terrorization of people and the threats and the institutions in the country.
And at the same time we have found shortcoming on the part of government organs, in particular, and not preventing and using excessive force and ill-treating people in custody on the part of some.
And if somebody asks about our (inaudible) and for our -- request for asking foreign experts to look into the events of February and March 2011 and what -- and the consequences that resulted from those events, that this (inaudible) wish to reform and progress, it must be prepared to accept criticism, positive criticism.
We see many places in Europe, these countries have used -- are used to the idea of being criticized from outside organs. It has actually contributing in creating the human right court in Europe. It punishes European country when it violates human rights. And many European, big European country, and despite their historical heritage, great historical heritage have been condemned irrespect of cases where the justices have torture have taken place.
But these countries do not actually denounce the International Criminal Court, nor does it (inaudible) the judges that criticizes its (inaudible). For the country they have been grateful for the court for showing them the means to reform and progress if they wanted to conform to international law and moral principles.
In addition to that, the international community never consider those countries to be -- those government oppressive. So in brief, they are using (inaudible) of wisdom and they appreciate the result they achieve from a neutral investigation putting confidence in their -- in -- confidence in using the right methods in the interest of their people. And the question here, members of the coalition, how could we deal with this report in order to achieve maximum benefits?
An answer to that question, we are determined, God willing, to guarantee that -- to guarantee not to repeat the painful events that our nation have faced, but to learn from it. And what will help us and give us impetus to reform and to achieve progress we don't want this to ever be repeated to see our country being paralyzed by terrorism and destruction. And we do not want that the foreign workers here with -- with all its faithful effort that it has been subjected to terrorism by sectarian groups.
And we don't want also to repeat that -- our members of our public to be tried in courts that are not legal courts. And we don't want officers and security people killed or harmed because they are protecting our security. And we don't want a repetition of member of the security forces ill-treating anybody.
We have to reform our laws so as to conform to international standards that -- that the government of Bahrain adheres to in accordance with agreement. And even before we received your report we have took the initiative to put a proposal to change -- to change our laws, to reform our laws and to give a greater margin for the freedom of expression and to stop torture and to reform our criminal laws to cover all our bad conduct in order to conform to international standards of human rights.
And we look into the steps, the legal steps in the criminal courts, particularly -- particularly in the case of the medical team. And we looked -- and we're still looking about those (inaudible) from their employment and from the educational institution.
In addition to all that, any person who have been a victim will benefit from the compensation fund for the victims which a law has been put in place for it.
And since we have told you, on the day of forming the committee we will not -- we will not accept, tolerate the ill-treatment of prisoners. We assure you that we will not put any excuse that -- that put us above others.
Members of the committee, your report is comprehensive and detailed. And we have to study it with care, with worthy care. And as a first step we will order a working group from our government to study all recommendations and the result of your investigation with an open eye. And this group will, as a matter of urgency, will provide answers to your recommendation. And we will not lose any time that we won't benefit from it -- from your recommendation.
And we assure you that your report will offer our country an opportunity to deal with the most important issues and most pressing issue.
The officials who didn't before their responsibilities, they will be accountable and replacement. And in addition to all that, we will put and achieve the reforms that will please all sections of our community. And this is the only way to achieve national reconciliation and to deal with the division that hit our society.
After the end of your committee work, we have -- we have decided to -- to ask the participation of international organization to help our officials to improve their standards with -- today is the day of a new page in our history. It has been achieved by the help of God and in our confidence in seeking the assistance of (inaudible) whose conduct is based on (inaudible).
And as we said that Europe was subjected to criticism by the international court in the hundred of ruling that it issued had put all the international standards for human rights. And that also the court of the two Americas in Costa Rica where the international community, the entire international community benefits from these courts. And this proves to us that we -- there is one thing that we lack in our Arab world that have set great example in justice throughout its history is...
TANK: We are hearing from the Bahraini king Hamid bin Isa Al Khalifa. He is speaking after an independent inquiry has found that Bahrain's security forces used, quote, "excessive force against people arrested during protests" that took place in Bahrain earlier this year. Mistreatment of detainees included beatings, electrocution and threats of rape. And according to the inquiry the death toll from the unrest in Bahrain in February and March stands at 35.
He addressed a lot of this. He said we are determined, God will, not to repeat the painful events that our nation has faced, but to learn from it.
He repeated -- repeating a number of times wanting to look to international standards and talked about how today was a very historic day for Bahrain moving forward and the importance of this neutral approach.
Let's also go back now to the situation in Egypt where we're seeing a fifth day of protests in Cairo. We can get more now from journalist Ian Lee who is right in the middle of one of the protests. Ian, we're hearing word of a truce between security forces and protesters. What are you hearing?
IAN LEE, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Manisha, that sounds -- that's right. What I heard -- well, about an hour ago the guns fell quite and we saw the protesters then move across the street filling the entire street. What we're hearing also is that a truce has been reached between the protests and the security forces at the Ministry of Interior. And this is coming from the general prosecutor's office.
We're also hearing that 312 detainees that were arrested since the fighting began on Sunday have also been released.
TANK: OK. So this is pretty crucial stuff. What you're telling us is that the security forces that were there, the ones that were firing the tear gas, the rubber bullets, they stopped firing.
LEE: That's exactly right. An hour ago everything went quiet. And it's been a constant battle for the last five days. So it's something definitely seemed amiss when we didn't hear the continuous gunfire. And then just awhile ago, the general prosecutor's office said a truce has been agreed upon between the police and protesters which, if it holds, effectively ends the violence at least for now between protesters and police.
TANK: OK. Can you just tell us how did people get word of this actually happening? You know, was there some kind of statement? Did it go out on TV? How are people picking up this news?
LEE: Well, Egyptian state TV is reporting is. And also wearing hearing that general prosecutor's office has sent delegates to Tahrir Square to investigate the situation.
And generally also people can just see the lack, the absence of police officers on the street. It definitely seems a lot more peaceful now out alone Mohammed Mahmoud Street.
TANK: OK. Now Tahrir Square has been about 80 percent full or so today. We've been witnesses live shot of Tahrir Square as we are now. How have the protesters responded? What are they doing now?
LEE: Well, the protesters along the battle lines are actually preparing barricades for -- just in case the violence were to take up again. But with the police retreating, I think a lot of people will be happy that the violence has ended, because we've seen so many deaths and so many injuries. Since this began, over 30 deaths and over 2,000 injuries. So this has definitely been a bloody battle. And I think a lot of people are happier now that the violence has stopped and then they can move forward with the political process.
TANK: Yeah, this is what I'm trying to gauge. Right now we're witnessing pictures from earlier it really seemed chaos, particularly on those side streets around Tahrir Square, that's where a lot of those -- you know, the bullets were being fired, where the tear gas was going on.
But as you say, right now people really peaceful, but you know you said also about these barricades. I would imagine that if you were a protester, giving what their protesting about there's not a great deal of trust right now in the ruling military. Have you had a chance to speak to anyone about this truce, any of the protesters how their feeling? Do they trust what's going on?
LEE: Well, I talked to two people. And they told me that, you know, their optimistic about this truce, but at the same time -- or their hopeful for the truce, but they're also preparing just in case it falls through. We seen this sort of thing happen before. And it results back to the violence.
So protesters that I've talked to, the two people I've talked to, said that they're hopeful that it lasts, but they're preparing just in case it doesn't.
TANK: All right. Thanks for keeping us in picture. Ian Lee there with -- confirming these reports that we've been hearing about, a truce between the military and those protesters. The prosecutor's office coming out and saying that. That announcement going out over Egyptian TV.
Thanks very much for that Ian Lee.
We're going to go to a break now, but there's lots more to come right after. Stay right there.
TANK: And we're bringing you back with live shots of Cairo's Tahrir Square, a recap on breaking news we just brought you. A spokesman for the Egyptian general prosecutor's office says that a truce has been reached between protesters and security forces. A journalist on the ground tells us that from his vantage point at least the situation seems to have calmed down. But it's not clear whether that situation exists across all of Cairo.
We'll keep watching this and bring you more on the hours ahead right here on CNN.
Now, before we go, we have to tell you about a new NASA project that will literally change the way we see the universe. The James Webb telescope could unlock big mysteries, but it was almost blinded by a budget battle.
John Zarrella joins us from CNN Miami. He's been keeping a close watch on this story.
It's very expensive to look into space, John.
JOHN ZARRELLA, CNN SPACE CORRESPONDENT: Yeah, it really is, Manisha. You know, you can consider Webb really sort of the younger, smarter brother to the Hubble Space Telescope. But it's been a problem child, fraught with cost overruns and schedule delays.
ZARRELLA: This is the future outside the Maryland Science Center. It's a full-scale model of NASA's James Webb Space Telescope. Scientists believe the real thing will redefine our understanding of our place in the universe. It will be so unique it can look further back in time than the Hubble telescope, almost to the dawn of creation.
JOHN MATHER, SENIOR PROJECT SCIENTIST: The James Webb telescope is to help us find out entire history from the first days after the Big Bang to how the first galaxies are born.
ZARRELLA: And, astronomers say, if they look in just the right place and get just a bit lucky.
ADAM REISS, ASTROPHYSICIST: This may give us our first clues about the existence of life in another solar system.
MATHER: If we can see a planet like Earth with an ocean I think that would be really cool.
ZARRELLA: Webb will orbit about 1 million miles from Earth. It's instruments are designed to image primarily in the infrared range, light we can't see. Webb's capabilities will allow it to literally look where Hubble could not: into gas and dust clouds, at the birth of the first stars and planets.
Sounds incredible, right? Webb might get us another step closer to solving the puzzle: are we alone?
REISS: I don't even know how you would put a price on being able to answer questions like how old is the universe, how did this all start? Where is it going? What is it made of? Are there other people out there like us? These are questions just so intrinsic.
ZARRELLA: But there is a price tag. When Webb is finally launched in 2018 it will be years behind schedule and cost about $8.8 billion, $6.5 billion more than the original estimate. At one point, Congress came close to killing it.
So what happened? How did it end up astronomy at an astronomical cost?
RICK HOWARD, WEBB PROGRAM DIRECTOR: When you're doing inventions and things for the first time, you don't know exactly what you're going to run into. And we found several things that we had to work around.
ZARRELLA: And it better work from the get-go.
When Hubble ran into problems, space shuttle astronauts came to the rescue. But Hubble was only 300 miles up. At one million miles away, even if the shuttle was still flying, it couldn't get there to fix Webb.
ZARRELLA: It really got to the point, Manisha, where NASA has already spent so much money building this thing and getting it ready that it would have cost them more to scrub it. So they went ahead and they really plead with Congress to get the cash they need. And right now they're on track. 2018 a long way away, but quite a telescope -- Manisha.
TANK: Yeah, it's all going to be worth it in the end when we see what comes back from it. John, thank you so much, for putting us quite literally in that picture.
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