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Fourth Arab Leader Forced from Power, Russian President Threatens Missiles Deployment, NASA Killer Asteroid Watch

Aired November 24, 2011 - 08:00:00   ET


ANNA COREN, CNN INTERNATIONAL HOST: Welcome to NEWS STREAM, where news and technology meet. I am Anna Coren in Hong Kong. We begin in Egypt where there is now tentative calm on the streets of Cairo.

Actress Sienna Miller is being hounded by the press tonight who are intensely scared, as an inquiry into British press ethics continues.

And why NASA is the target for human exploration. Is this a planet? It is an asteroid.

Well, five days of violence will not delay Egypt's upcoming election. The Supreme Electoral Council said that it is prepared to go ahead with parliamentary elections next week under any circumstances.

A relative calm has returned to Cairo. Soldiers have put up barbed wire barricades to separate protesters and police. Cairo may be quieter but it is certainly not empty. You are looking at pictures of Tahrir Square. Protesters say they will stay there until the ruling military council stands down.

Well, the council has apologized for the deaths of at least 38 demonstrators. The second time this week it has that story on its Facebook page. But this time the council went further promising to pay medical bills for thousands of injured protesters. Let's bring in our Ben Wedeman from Cairo and Ben, this certainly is an unusual step from the military while there is obviously relative peace in Cairo, surely this will not appease protesters.

BEN WEDEMAN, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: No, in fact, today we are really happy. There was a very long press conference given by a spokesman for the military council as well as electoral officials in which journalists really asked a broad range of questions. And it is clear that the military although it sort of offered this apology, expressed its regrets over the death of at least 38 people but the injuring of well over 3,000 does not really seemed to have lessened the anger here in Tahrir Square.

In fact, just a few minutes ago we saw several thousand people coming to join the protesters in the Square. Tomorrow yet another million man demonstration has been called. Of course, Friday is the weekend here in Cairo and even though it is relatively calm around Tahrir Square, as we saw yesterday, that calm is very easily broken.


WEDEMAN: They call it a field hospital, a collection of tents in the middle of Tahrir Square, which for days now has been treating hundreds of protesters overcome with tear gas, hit by rubber bullets. They are all volunteers here all the equipment and medicine and food have been donated. More than 3,000 protesters have been injured since Saturday, more than 30 killed. Attempts by Egypt's military ruler fueled Marshal Mohamed Tantawi to accelerate the transition to civilian rule were contemptuously dismissed by the people in the Square.

TARIQ ZIYAD, PROTESTOR: You know it seldom (INAUDIBLE) starts with one step. There has not bee a step -- you know, if people will believe that seriously that Tantawi and his gang are doing anything for us, we really would not say anything ...

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We are not expecting anything. And also, Tantawi, is a pain machine -- is robotic regime.

ZIYAD: Just show us the steps, show us the plan.

WEDEMAN: Briefly Wednesday there was a glimmer of hope the violence would stop. Religious leaders intervened, convincing the security forces and the protesters to stop fighting. Young men cleared away the ruble from around the clock street battles on the road leading to the Haven ministry of the interior while others headed back to the Square. But not everyone did. Several hundred young demonstrators held their ground.

We have the most intriguing stand off here. On the one side are the security forces and riot police who have been battling for days against the protesters who are behind that barrier over there. And in the middle is the army keeping the two separated.

Over the heads of the soldiers, young men taunted the police on this street off Tahrir the soldiers formed a thin camouflage line between a tense calm and chaos. There appears to be little animosity towards the soldiers. It is the police they hate, for a reason, acknowledges Army Lieutenant Colonel Islam (INAUDIBLE) .

"There is a huge sensitivity between the people and the police," he tells me. We hope the time will come when the police restore their proper position and play the role they should in any state. But it does (INAUDIBLE) the uneasy truths evaporated, rocks flew, the soldiers huddled under their plastic shields and the police went back to firing volleys of tear gas.


And of course, just a few moments ago we heard more ambulances, one ambulance coming from the area where these clashes have taken place, another ambulance going there, so it may be that these clashes have resumed yet again. Anna?

COREN: Then we saw from your page that (INAUDIBLE) have obviously been hit by a lot of tear gas. You and your crew have encountered it as well. There are concerns, I understand, about this type of tear gas that is being used.

WEDEMAN: Well, when you talk to the demonstrators and you talk to the doctors in the field hospitals, they seem to indicate there are nerve agents being used that this is some sort of particularly strong tear gas being deployed against the protesters. Now, I have noticed, for instance, yesterday, I picked up a tear gas canister made in the United States. It said it expired in 1995 but as far as really dangerous tear gas beyond the usual, it is really hard to ascertain whether that is being used or not. Anna?

COREN: Ben Wedeman in Cairo, thank you for the update.

Well, we've all seen the pictures of protesters' eyes burning affected by the tear gas but we want to give you a better idea of what it's actually like to experience its affects. Just take a look at this footage from Ivan Watson.

IVAN WATSON, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: This is where the fighting has been raging now, police not very far away and these kids choking, puking. Police fire sometimes at a range here expecting (INAUDIBLE) and there is another (INAUDIBLE) at the police.

COREN: Ivan Watson in the middle of those protests and as you can see, those protesters were hit by the tear gas we mentioned a little earlier.

Well earlier today, CNN was set to talk to Egyptian columnist and commentator Miral el-Tahawi to get her take on events unfolding around Tahrir Square but then she Tweeted this, "Beaten, arrested in Tahrir ministry."

For hours there was no activity on her Tweeter (INAUDIBLE) . Then a little under three hours ago, "I am free" she has since written that she spent 12 hours with Interior Ministry and Military Intelligence staff and claims she was sexually harassed. Her Twitter (INAUDIBLE) also says that Military Intelligence staff later apologized for the treatment that she received.

Well, elsewhere on the micro blog the hashtag (INAUDIBLE) has been used to call attention to her plight. Well, these are just the most recent of hundreds of Tweets. The U.S. State Department, you know, writes activists and journalists who spread the word about her situation.

Well, now to another Middle East flash point, Bahrain, all eyes are on the monarch and whether he will honor his pledge to carry out the recommendations of an independent commission. Islam police use excessive force and torture against civilian detainees during anti-government protests earlier this year. The commission is recommending legal reform and better training of security forces.

Well, the protest in Bahrain had their roots firmly in the Arab spring. CNN's Mohammed Jamjoom takes a closer look at the tensions that still divide the kingdom.


MOHAMMED JAMJOON, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: For a short while, many wondered if Bahrain would go the way of Tunisia, Egypt in (INAUDIBLE) . In February, thousands of protesters began to march demanding reforms. Despite a brutal crackdown, they persisted. Then in March Suadi -led GCC forces arrived to support Bahrain's government.

While an uprising may have been stopped in the tiny (INAUDIBLE) -led (INAUDIBLE) majority country the tensions never went away.


JAMJOON: M. Cherif Bassiouni heads the Bahrain Independent Commission of Inquiry, a body that was set up by Bahrain's King to investigate allegations of abuse.

BASSIOUNI: This is the most complicated situation and that is because I think both sides view each other not only with enormous mistrust but with an almost surreal sense of -- I know this word is going to get me in trouble but a sense of paranoia. You can't really trust anything the other side is saying.

JAMJOON: After months of investigations on Wednesday it released its findings. A highly critical report that said among other things, that Bahrain's security forces had used excessive force and torture against people arrested during protests. Also, listed in the findings, mistreatment of detainees including beatings, threats of rape and electrocutions.

KING HAMAD BIN ISA AL-KHALIFA (through interpreter) : We will not accept or tolerate the ill treatment of prisoners.

JAMJOON: Immediately, King Hamad Bin Isa Al-Khalifa, publicly promised reforms and accountability especially for officials who did not perform their responsibilities.

KING HAMAD BIN ISA AL-KHALIFA (through interpreter) : The officials who did not perform their responsibilities, they will be accountable and replacement and in addition to all that, we will uphold and achieve the reforms that will please all sections of our community and this is the only way to achieve national reconciliation.

JAMJOON: But one opposition official says that is not enough.

KHALIL ALMARZOOQ, OPPOSITION OFFICIAL: That we need elected government fully authorized parliament to make this government responsible and accountable fair and (INAUDIBLE) system, anything then to addition of (INAUDIBLE) and includes the security.

JAMJOON: Protesters want much more so there was sporadic protests again on Wednesday, a day that was supposed to be about taking responsibility and talking reconciliation. It is unclear now if this will lead to a vicious circle of conflict that just keeps inflicting pain. I am Mohammed Jamjoon, CNN, (INAUDIBLE) , Bahrain.


COREN: Well, Yemen, the president has signed off on a power transfer deal but with the ink barely dry, fresh protests break out in (INAUDIBLE) . We'll explain why. Plus, the pressure mounts on Britain's tabloid press, actress Sienna Miller is the latest (INAUDIBLE) hero deal at the UK phone hacking inquiry. And old suspicions, new threats, Russia's president takes the hotline on U.S. missile defense in Europe.

Well, a British government backed inquiry to media ethics and practices is back in session in London. Speaking at the hearing a short time ago, actress, Sienna Miller describes being hounded by the press. She said it made her, "intensely scared and paranoid". Miller won a financial settlement from the News of the World newspaper after her phone was allegedly hacked.

She is not the only witness testifying today. Formula One Head, Max Mosley is just finishing his testimony while also J.K. Rolland is still scheduled to speak. CNN's Atika Shubert is outside the London court where the hearings are taking place and she joins us live. Atika, what have we heard coming from the court?

ATIKA SHUBERT, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, actually the first witness we heard was a secret witness that we cannot identify, only known by the letters HJK and we were not able to hear that person's testimony. It was the first speaker witness that the (INAUDIBLE) inquiry have had.

After that we heard from Sienna Miller and she describes as you pointed out, how terrified she was being surrounded by and hounded by Paparazzi photographers. But perhaps, most damaging to her was her personal relationship. Because her phone was hacked, she did not know it at the time, she said, so she blamed her close friend and associates. Here is what she said.


SIENNA MILLER, ACTRESS: It was baffling how a certain piece of information kept coming out and the first initial steps I took were to change my mobile number and then I changed it again and again. I ended up changing it three times in three months.

And stories still continued to come out, which was very private information that only a select group of people knew about. And so naturally, having changed my number and being pretty convinced that it could not have been as a result of hacking even though that was my suspicion, I, horribly I accused my friends and family of selling stories and they accused each other as well.


SHUBERT: We have just now been hearing from Max Mosley that former Formula One boss, you might remember that the news of the world ran a huge headline on him about an alleged Nazi orgy as it was described with five women. He says the allegations were untrue. That there was no "Nazi theme to it" and that he attempted to sue the News of the World but found that he was constantly under attack.

And he also describes it, as we saw inside the court documents today, the way the News of the World attempted to threaten some of the women involved in that incident by saying that they would publish their photos and show their identities unless they did an interview with News of the World.

And this was something that Judge Levinson (ph) said basically amounted to blackmail. So we are seeing a lot of frankly dirty tactics by the British tabloid press on display here at the Levinson (ph) inquiry, Anna.

COREN: Atika, how long will this inquiry go on for and what will come from it? What sort of action could be taken?

SHUBERT: Well, it is expected to go on for at least a year, possibly longer and at the end of it, Judge Levinson (ph) will make recommendations that could very well become regulation for the press. But we really do not know at this point and remember as this is going on, there are at least three separate police investigations into phone hacking by the media, computer hacking by the media, as well as police corruption and bribery for trying to obtain information.

So there us a lot of different strands ongoing. We do not know quite where it will end up. It frankly will depend on those ongoing investigations.

COREN: Atika Shubert in London. We appreciate the update. Thank you.

Well, the leaders of France, Germany and Ital have held emergency talks about Europe's deepening debt crisis. You are looking at live pictures of a new conference from the trio in Strasbourg. (INAUDIBLE) countries are anxious to see Italy's new prime minster, Mario Monti follow through on promised reforms to sure up the Italian economy.

Well, French president, Nicolas Sarkozy, also has been pressing German Chancellor Angela Merkel on the role of the European Central Bank. Nicolas Sarkozy wants the ECB to be more decisive in solving the region's sovereign debt problems. CNN will continue to monitor what the leaders have to say this hour and we will bring you the latest when we have it.

Well, now this line up has all the makings of a great movie or at least an amazing reality TV show, actor George Clooney, footballer, Cristiano Ronaldo dos Santos Aveiro of Formula One fame. Belly dancer and assorted show girls. But this is not the cast of Oceans 14, it's actually part of the witness list for Silvio Berlusconi's trial.

Well, the former Italian prime minister is charged with having sex with an under age dancer, Karima el Mahroug. She is nicknamed 'Ruby the Heart Killer'. Well, prosecutors also allege he later tried to pull strings to get her out of jail when she was arrested for theft. A lawyer for Berlusconi says George Clooney and Cristiano Ronaldo are being called as witnesses because they attended parties at the former leader's house.

Well, Chelsea's (INAUDIBLE) young (INAUDIBLE) ride with plenty of fan fare at the start of the season but the pressure is on Andre Villas-Boas after another defeat. Thomas will join me more. That is next.

Well, (INAUDIBLE) clubs have their places in the knockout rounds of Football's Champions League and Alex Thomas is here to tell us how they did it. Alex?

ALEX THOMAS, CNN INTERNATIONAL SPORTS CORRESPONDENT: Yes, Anna, well, (INAUDIBLE) have raised a few eyebrows by becoming the first team from Cyprus ever to reach the last 16 of Europe's top club competition. Vfb L'beck's (ph) whose qualification is less of a surprise. Manuel Fredricks, header in the (INAUDIBLE) seconds of wins at tonight's match sealing a two one victory for the German side who came from a goal down to beat Chelsea. The Blues are still expected to qualify because they only need a goal of straw or win at the home of Valencia next month.

However, if we take a look at the group, they are (INAUDIBLE) to top that. There could be a top match in the round of 16 even if Chelsea avoids relegations for the (INAUDIBLE) League. This was (INAUDIBLE) cup fourth defeat in seven matches and increases the pressure on their young Portuguese manager, Andre Villas-Boas.


ANDRE VILLAS-BOAS, MANAGER, CHELSEA FOOTBALL LEAGUE: It was a game where it was adding for a one-one. Big chances for (INAUDIBLE) but I think we had the good share of chances in the first half, in the second half. But good football play by any of the teams, which is in the end (INAUDIBLE) but that's not what matters today. What matters is that (INAUDIBLE) takes three important points to change the nature of the group and we go to a -- to a -- to the last final game against Valencia to decide our qualification.


THOMAS: The last (INAUDIBLE) was of course, (INAUDIBLE) as the next Mourinho after copying Jose's career path and joining Chelsea after a successful spell at (INAUDIBLE) . Last season Andre Villas-Boas, the Portuguese club won every competition they were in losing just three of 30 matches. So how does the new Mourinho compare with the special one?

Well, in Jose's first season with Chelsea, his team lost just once in only 12 (INAUDIBLE) League matches this year. The Blues under Villas-Boas have suffered four defeats and conceited 17 goals. Mourinho's Chelsea gave away 15 goals, about as well as (INAUDIBLE) through to the Champions League knockout rounds as well.

They qualified as group (INAUDIBLE) winners. Robin Van Percy continuing his astonishing run of scoring to help the (INAUDIBLE) shoot down Borussia Dortmund 2:1 at the (INAUDIBLE) Stadium. The (INAUDIBLE) forward getting both of his sides goals and taking his tally for the year to 38 from 41 appearances.

But despite a late consolation goal for Dortmund it is a disappointing night for them especially if star youngster Mario G"tze gets injured in the first half. Also, (INAUDIBLE) was a surprise anything won (INAUDIBLE) at home (INAUDIBLE) .

Well, a group (INAUDIBLE) Milan and European champions Barcelona already qualified but they were battling for top spot on Wednesday and it was the (INAUDIBLE) Club that came out on top edging a five goal thriller at the (INAUDIBLE) zero 32. Leo (INAUDIBLE) on the score sheet again for Milan's it was a (INAUDIBLE) for Ibrahimovic hit the target against his former club. It was (INAUDIBLE) Hern ndez; he hit the win with half an hour to go.

Well, (INAUDIBLE) was watching the (INAUDIBLE) match on Wednesday alongside (INAUDIBLE) , the Swiss tennis star enjoying the night off from the Barclay's ATP World Tour Finals. So he missed a bit of a shock result at the O2 Arena where world number one, Novak Djokovic was taking on David Ferrer, Ferrer already with an (INAUDIBLE) scout this week after beating Abby Mario (ph) Monday.

And he took an even bigger one here claiming the opening set by six games to three. Djokovic had also lost the first set against Tomas Berdych on Monday but this time the surf (ph) could not stage a comeback. Ferrer is nicknamed 'The Wall" and Novak looks like he had run into one after a grueling season. It was a straight (INAUDIBLE) victory in the end for the Spaniard who's into the semis with Djokovic. It was only his fifth defeat of the year.

And I am hesitant, Anna, to mention this last story for fear of jinxing it once more but Sachin Tendulkar maybe on the verge of an unprecedented 100 hundredth, India's so-called 'little (INAUDIBLE) ' scoring a half century on day three of the third test against the West Indies. In his home city of Mumbai he is 67 knockouts, Tendulkar scoured his last 100 in March of this year. We have been waiting ever since for him to get the 100th.

While Dutch star, (INAUDIBLE) is in the studio for world's sport in just over three and a half hours time. For now, it is back to you.

COREN: He (INAUDIBLE) can do it. Alex Thomas, good to see you, thank you for that.

Well, still ahead on NEWS STREAM, Yemen president keeps his word and signs a deal to end 33 years in power. We will look at why some of the countries anti-government protesters are not celebrating just yet.

And missiles on the move, why Dmitry Medvedev is threatening to station short range missiles in Southern and Western Russia.


COREN: Hello, I'm Anna Coren in Hong Kong and you are watching NEWS STREAM. These are your world headlines.

Well, Egypt's military rulers have apologized for the deaths of protesters during the latest round of violence in Cairo's Tahrir Square. And the Supreme Electoral Council says that despite five straight days of clashes, it is prepared to go ahead with Parliamentary elections next week.

Actress Sienna Miller gave evidence, today, at the British inquiry into journalistic ethics in the newspaper industry. She told the inquiry it was terrifying to be hounded by press photographers. Well, "Harry Potter" author, J.K. Rowling is also scheduled to testify.

The Arab League holds a meeting today to discuss the crisis in Syria. The government, the president, Bashar al-Assad, has ignored the latest calls to stop a violent crackdown on civilian protesters. The United Nations estimates at least three and a half thousand people have been killed since protests began.

Well, even as Yemen enters a new political era, violence is continuing in the capitol. Well, medical personnel say five people were killed in Sanaa's Change Square on Thursday and 27 injured from gunfire from pro-government forces.

Well, they were reportedly protesting of the granting of immunity from prosecution to President Ali Abdullah Saleh. What's all part of the deal, he signed in Saudi Arabia on Wednesday transferring power to the vice president and ending 33 years of rule. Well, Mr. Saleh will keep the title of president for up to 90 days.

Well, there have been so many changes of leadership in the Middle East this year, Egypt, Tunisia, Libya and now Yemen. The leaders of those countries have met different fates, so what will happen to Mr. Saleh? To talk about the possibilities I'm not joined by Nima Elbagir in London.

Well, Nima, if Mr. Saleh goes, if the deal is done, as we assume it has been done, he will be the fourth Arab leader to be forced from power, this year. Can we assume that this is set in stone?

NIMA ELBAGIR, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, he has now handed down all executive powers to his vice president. So, in that sense the deal is definitively done. The issue remains whether that offer of immunity on which basis he signed the deal, whether that will stay in place. The immunity is going to be extended to President Saleh and his family. And that's really one of the issues that has so angered activists.

Activists immediately took to the streets, yesterday evening, upon hearing of news that the opposition had signed (ph) this deal because they say Saleh's nephews continue to be in the intelligence unit, his son was head of the Republican Guard, there has been no sense he will step down from that positions. So, in fact, as far as they're concerned, the infrastructure of rule, the son (ph) it put in place is all still there. The vice president, who is now charged with putting in place the transition government, this was Saleh's deputy while he was leader.

So, whether the clashes will force the opposition members to signed this deal, to go back to the table and ask for further concessions from Saleh. That's what we're waiting to find out -- Anna.

COREN: Nima, as you say, his family hold some very powerful posts in the government. His son and three nephews are in the military and intelligence services. What will happen to them?

ELBAGIR: Well, at the moment, the deal give all of his family immunity, whether that immunity extends further out into the extended family and the extended clan whom Saleh has put in positions of power across government, that's still unclear, but the immediate family, the nephews, the son be which activists have always accused Saleh of ruling through. In fact, a lot of the clashes that had happened in recent months had been between opposition members and the units that were led by Saleh's nephews and his son.

So, a lot of the accusations of malpractice, all of the accusations of oppressions that the activists have been leveling against Saleh, much of that is directed against his immediate family. And that's why this deal is unacceptable for so many people in Yemen -- Anna.

COREN: We know that that deal, obviously, was signed in Saudi Arabia. Do we know if Mr. Saleh will be returning to Yemen anytime soon?

ELBAGIR: Well, a lot of that is still unclear. The wildcard here is Saleh's health and that's one of the reasons that many people feel that has finally able to be pressured to make this deal. He was injured, if you remember, in an attack on the presidential palace. His hands were very badly burned. The U.N. secretary general Ban Ki-moon indicated that he'd been told by President Saleh that he was planning to come to the United States to seek medical attention.

But the Tunisian former president, Abidine Ali Alia (ph) , is still in Saudi Arabia, so Saleh will find himself in, you know, pretty high ranking company there, in terms of those who have already been toppled by the Arab Spring, but everything is still on the table, Saleh, to my understanding, is negotiating right down to the wire. Whether he will enflame the situation, that's what remains to be seen, and whether it will be acceptable for him to go back in these circumstances, what risks he will take to show that he is not being completely brought low by this deal. That all, you know, all of this is still to play for -- Anna.

COREN: Nima Elbagir in London. Thank you for the analysis.

Well, the last two days we have brought you the story of a young woman raped in Afghanistan. Well, Gulnaz's case has attracted international attention because she was raped by a relative but convicted of adultery in the case. Well, she recently learned her 12-year sentence has been reduced to three. A spokesman for the prosecutor says Gulnaz may soon receive a presidential pardon. But for now, Gulnaz and her young daughter, a child of the rape, remains behind bars.

A female member of Parliament says this care reveals much of what is wrong with Afghan society.


FAWZIA KOR, AFGHAN PARLIAMENT MEMBER: The prosecutor and justice system of Afghanistan can easily make a woman -- put a woman on trial for a case of adultery or sexual relationship. For the man, they can easily get out the prison by, you know, bribing.

I know, it's strange because sometime the prosecutor and judges they think that it's always the woman fault. It's always the woman fault. See, even if the woman doesn't commit the crime, they believe that that it's the woman fault , so they give her more detention while they give the man less detention or free the man.

So, as I said before, the judiciary (ph) in Afghanistan is basically man friendly, not woman friendly and that's why we are working very hard to have a woman in the supreme court of Afghanistan.


COREN: Well, Washington has also weighed in on the case. The U.S. State Department says, "Gulnaz's situation is one no woman should have to face...the law for the Elimination of Violence Against Woman was a major advancement for the rights of women in Afghanistan, but without full training and implementation, situations such as this one will continue to occur."

Russian president, Dmitry Medvedev is threatening to deploy missiles in southern and western Russia to fight back against the missile shield the U.S. is planning for several European countries. It isn't the Russian president's only threat. Jill Dougherty explains what's at issue and what's at stake.


JILL DOUGHERTY, WORLD AFFAIRS CORRESPONDENT (voice-over) : Dmitry Medvedev still calls Barack Obama a partner, but the Russian president's announcement Wednesday throws that partnership into doubt.


DMITRY MEDVEDEV, RUSSIAN PRESIDENT (through translator) : The Russian Federation will deploy modern offensive weapon systems in the west and south of the country ensuring our ability to take out any part of the U.S. missile defense system in Europe.


DOUGHERTY: Medvedev is threatening to station short-range missiles in Kaliningrad, the Russian enclave on the Baltic Sea between Lithuania and Poland. Those Iskander missiles would be aimed squarely at the missile shield the U.S. is planning to build in several European countries, which Washington insists is meant to defend against threats from Iran.

President Medvedev wants a legal guarantee from the U.S. that it's not aimed at Russia.

MEDVEDEV (through translator) : We will not agree to take part in a program that in a short while, in some six to eight years time, could weaken our nuclear deterrent capability.

MARK TONER, U.S. STATE DEPT. SPOKESMAN: We've been clear, all along, for many years now, that this system is not directed against Russia.

DOUGHERTY: But, the Obama Administration insists it's not changing its plans to deploy the missile defense system. And there are more threats from Medvedev including possibly pulling out of the new START arms control agreement which the two presidents signed just a year-and-a-half ago.

START is one of the crown jewels in the so-called "Reset with Russia," symbolized by that famous "reset" button Secretary of State Hillary Clinton pressed with Russian foreign minister, Sergei Lavrov, more than two-and-a-half years ago.




CLINTON: I got it wrong.


DOUGHERTY: Obama needs Russia's help on a raft of challenges: Iran, Syria, North Korea and Afghanistan. So, why is President Medvedev rocking the boat, now?

Steven Piper, former U.S. ambassador to Ukraine and arms control expert, points to politics in Russia.

STEVEN PIPER, BROOKINGS INSTITUTE: It's aimed at the Russian domestic audience with a view to the parliamentary elections there in 10 days time. and just as in America, you know, beating up on Russia has always good in politics, in Russia taking a hard line against the United States and NATO always plays very well for the electorate, there.

DOUGHERTY: And in March of next year, Russians will go to the polls to elect a new president. Medvedev won't be running, the leading candidate is Vladimir Putin. The "reset" may not be over, but it could be running into some stormy weather.

Jill Dougherty, CNN, Washington.


COREN: Well, let's take a closer look at where the U.S. is planning to base the anti-missile inceptors that Russia so concerned. Well, in September, U.S. secretary of state, Hillary Clinton, signed an agreement to set up a ballistic missile defense system in Romania. It called for the U.S. to build and operate a facility at an airbase in south of the country. The U.S. has 24 naval ships designed to detect and track ballistic missiles.

According to Reuters News Agency, they will be stationed in the Mediterranean Sea before 2015. Well, earlier this year, the U.S. Navy cruiser, Monterey, arrived in the Black Sea. It was there to take part in naval exercises with neighboring Ukraine, but it also has anti-missile capabilities. Well, that didn't go down well with Moscow, either.

Well, coming up on NEWS STREAM, the search for asteroids, because if one was headed towards earth, what could be done to change its course? Stay with us, here on NEWS STREAM.


COREN: Well, there are just 37 days left until 2012. Hard to believe, isn't it? Well, some of the superstitious among us have speculated that the world could end next year. NASA says there are no special threats to the earth in 2012, but you might feel better knowing a team of astronomers is looking out for killer asteroids. Well, our John Zarrella joins us from the Kennedy Space Center in Florida.

And John, certainly well connected and have the inside scoop. What are they telling you?

JOHN ZARRELLA, CNN CORRESPONDENT: You know Anna, we're here at the Kennedy Space Center visitor complex at the Rocket Garden, behind me. And a couple days from now, just a few miles from here, NASA's going to be launching a probe, a rover, to Mars to search for evidence of past life.

Well, we got to thinking well, we're searching in the universe for all of this -- the singes of life, but what about protecting life here on earth from something that may be coming at us from out there?


ZARRELLA (voice-over) : A nuclear blast. Humanity never wants to see another one of these on the planet, but off the planet, that's a different story. Rather than destroying life, it could save us from asteroid extinction.

JONATHAN MCDOWELL, ASTROPHYSICIST: If you don't think they're a clear danger, ask your nearest dinosaur.

ZARRELLA: While scientists are making great strides searching for life in the universe, they are also working on ways to prevent massive asteroids from ending life here, like one did the dinosaurs.

MCDOWELL: Bad things happen to good planets. We know that the earth has been hit by asteroids before. In the long run, I think our species has to learn how to protect the earth in that way.

ZARRELLA: Scientists say there are methods that should work, a nuclear blast, knocking the asteroid off its collision course or simply running into it with a spacecraft. To get a better handle on these flying rocks, NASA's first human deep space mission, around 2025, is going to an asteroid.

Down in the Florida Keys, they're already planning.

MIKE GERNHARDT, ASTRONAUT: If I chip a rock on an asteroid, it's going off. It has escape velocity so...

ZARRELLA: Astronaut Mike Gernhardt is developing tools astronauts would need.

GERNHARDT: This is a soil collection device that we cock.

ZARRELLA: And just off shore, an asteroid proving ground of sorts, where the tools are tested in the near weightless environment beneath the surface.

But don't go losing any sleep over an asteroid impact. New findings show there are fewer of the really big ones, the size of a mountain, than was thought and none will threaten the earth for centuries.

There is a down side, those smaller ones, like the one that flew by earth a couple weeks ago, well, astronomers say they don't know where most of those are, about 15,000 of them.

AMY MAINZER, ASTRONOMER: We only have found a very small fraction of those objects yet and they could still cause considerable damage.

ZARRELLA: Like taking out a metropolitan area or an entire state. But, scientists are confident, if there's enough lead time, say 10 to 20 years before it would hit, they're pretty sure they'll get the asteroid before it gets us.


Now, out at NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, California they're working on some of these different ideas and one of the things they say, Anna, is you could fly out there, bring a bunch of spray paint, paint the asteroid, it would add some weight that it turn it enough to miss the earth, so something as simple as spray paint might do the job.

COREN: That's hope so, John, because you've got me a little bit concerned, as does that scientist, "bad things happen to good planets." Now, are they sure that they can actually move these asteroids so they don't hit the earth, at all?

ZARRELLA: You know, that's -- yeah, that's in interesting point, because what they say to us is, OK, say you spray paint it or you nuke it, and you move it just a little, not as much as you thought. Maybe it was supposed to hit the continental United States at first, but now it's aiming for Europe or Russia, so you have geopolitical issues that they have to deal with. Hopefully we never have to deal with it, but if they were, there are even those things that they have to take in consideration, making sure they nudge it enough so that it misses everything.

COREN: Here's hoping. And I know, John, you will definitely be covering that story if it is headed toward space anytime soon. John Zarrella, joining us there from the Kennedy Space Center. Thank you.


COREN: Well, ahead on NEWS STREAM, talking turkey.





COREN: We'll explain the origin of these presidential Thanksgiving tradition. Please stay with us here on NEWS STREAM.


COREN: It's time for a check of the weather with our Mari Ramos.

And Mari, I believe that parts of China can expect a cold snap.

MARI RAMOS, CNN INTERNATIONAL METEOROLOGIST: Yeah, you know, they've already had a little bit snow in some parts of China and temperatures, even at this hour, are already below freezing, in Beijing, for example. So, we're definitely seeing those temperatures cool down. Seoul right at freezing, right now.

That push of cold air will continue moving across this northern tier of China and then eventually more into Japan. Even here we're seeing temperatures slightly below the average for this time of year, six right now for (INAUDIBLE), eight right now in Tokyo.

The coldest airs, of course, farther to the north and that's where the bulk of snow is expected to be.

Speaking of snow, we have some pictures of those to show you from earlier in the week. This is in Inner Mongolia and in western China, I should say. And you're seeing a lot more of the snowfall coming in. Unfortunately, this kind of stuff didn't make it through Beijing, you didn't really get a lot of snowfall or any snowfall, I should say. We really could use the precipitation whether it comes in the form of rain or snow, either one would be good. What we don't need is the traffic jams, right?

Well, this moisture now has continued to move on across the northern portion of the Korean peninsula. Oh, how cute, as snowman. And we're seeing the moisture continuing on. But there was a little bit of frost across Beijing, this picture taken earlier today. And I really like that blue sky there in the background. It must be a beautiful, beautiful day. I must have been a beautiful day, today.

Well, anyway, that moisture is already moving on through the Korean peninsula and back over toward the East Sea, or the Sea of Japan, picking up moisture there, so we think across Japan, the snow probably be a little bit more intense in some of these areas that facing toward the west, here. So watch out for that. Expect some travel delays associated with that. But you can see that most of the snow will be in the extreme north, Saporo (ph) will get some snow and also some portions of Honshu, here. And we'll be monitoring that, of course.

Switching gears and talking a little bit about the tropics. They're not doing anything about this area of low pressure here, near Sri Lanka, but it is expected to bring some very heavy rain, we think, over these areas inclining the possibility of some significant flooding, in some cases over 25 centimeters of rain expected across some these areas, also in peninsula parts of India. Watch out for that. This is definitely a weather maker in the days to come.

Speaking of weather makers, we have one more thing to tell you about and that's this weather system moving across Afghanistan, Pakistan and now it's starting to move into western parts of China. Heavy snow expected with this, and defiantly colder temperatures across this entire region. Even back over toward the Middle East we've seen temperatures well below the average, five degrees lower than normal, so that's going to be something else to monitor. And look at all that snow hear, south of the Caspian Sea into Iran.

Ten in Tehran, 19 Kuwait City, if you think about it, their average high, this time of year is about 28 degrees. So we're definitely a lot collar than we should be.

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

And of course it is Thanksgiving Day, today, so happy Thanksgiving to you, wherever you are in the world. Big travel day. Actually, today, fewer people traveled then they were yesterday, for example. In San Francisco they've got a 45 minute travel delay, there. But the entire eastern half of the United States, the middle and eastern half, is actually enjoying some pretty fabulous weather, 23.2 million people were expected to travel across this time frame, right now. And it looks like they're actually not doing too bad. Back to you.

COREN: Sounds good. We had some pumpkin pie in the (INAUDIBLE) , Mari.

RAMOS: Oh, nice.

COREN: So getting into -- getting into the spirit of it. Happy Thanksgiving there to you, over there in the U.N. All right, catch you later.

Well, to paraphrase the U.S. president, Thanksgiving is a wonderful day for Americans and one of the worst days to be a turkey. Well, Barack Obama saved two birds from being dinner, but how did the odd tradition of an official pardon begin?

Well, some say President Harry Truman started it, but staff at the Truman library say they have found no evidence to support that theory.

Well, George H.W. Bush was the first president to officially offer a pardon to poultry. That luckY turkey was sent to live at the unfortunately named Frying Pan Park.

Well, the pardons have provided definitely haughty fair in the form of funny photos. Here's Bill Clinton's agriculture secretary getting close to one gobbler. And George W. Bush seems to have his hands full with this bird.

Of course, the pardon is not a prerequisite for an amusing picture. Ronald Reagan is certainly hamming it up for this turkey.

Well, that does it for us here and NEWS STREAM, but the news certainly continues here at CNN. "WORLD BUSINESS TODAY" is coming up, next.