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New Era in Iraq; Kurds Fear for Future After U.S. Troops Withdraw From Iraq; Hillary Clinton in Myanmar; Yahoo Board Members Looking To Sell Company; Georgetown University Students Find Clandestine Tunnels in China
Aired December 1, 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: Hello. Welcome to NEWS STREAM, where news and technology meet.
I'm Manisha Tank, at CNN Hong Kong.
And we begin in Iraq.
A new era is for the country as U.S. troops enter their final days there.
U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton has met Myanmar's president. We'll bring you the details from Yangon.
And two parties claim the lead in Egypt's election race so far. We're expecting the first round of results this Thursday.
Nearly nine years after coalition troops invaded Iraq, the nation's leaders have held a ceremony for departing soldiers. Nearly all American troops are scheduled to be withdrawn from Iraq by the end of this year.
Vice President Joe Biden is in Baghdad for this service. Also attending, Iraqi president Jalal Talabani and the prime minister, Nouri al-Maliki.
The White House says violence in Iraq is at its lowest overall level since 2003, but at least 10 people were killed and 30 were wounded on Thursday. A car bomb exploded at an outdoor market in the town of Khalis. That's north of the capital.
Well, let's take a look back at what's been of course a very, very lengthy conflict. The war in Iraq started with "Shock and Awe" on March 20, 2003. Many of you will recall that.
Moving on, coalition forces took Baghdad on April the 9th, ending Saddam Hussein's regime. You might remember seeing this statue fall in all of the news coverage at the time.
Now, the infamous "Mission Accomplished" speech happened in May. Then- President George W. Bush declared major combat operations were over, but fighting continues.
And in December -- we'll move this on -- Saddam Hussein was later found hiding in a spider hole. Three years later, after a lengthy trial, he was put to death by hanging.
Now, the intense battle of Fallujah happened in November of 2004. U.S. and Iraqi forces killed about 2,000 insurgents. They declared Fallujah liberated on November the 14th.
And in January, 2005, Iraq held its first free election in half a century. Millions of Iraqis voted.
But security issues still very much plagues the country. 2007 saw a surge of U.S. troops into Iraq, and that strategy is credited with reducing violence in Baghdad and Al Anbar province.
In early 2009, the U.S. military handed control of Baghdad's Green Zone to the Iraqi authorities. And in late 2010, the last U.S. combat brigade left Iraq, although 52,000 American troops remained.
Well, the U.S. and Iraq differ in their views about the purpose of Thursday's ceremony, and the Western media were not actually allowed to watch it.
Let's get more on this. We're joined by CNN's Martin Savidge. He's live from Baghdad for us.
Martin, why didn't the Western media get to go?
MARTIN SAVIDGE, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Hello, Manisha.
Well, the explanation that was given to us from the authorities were security concerns, and the reason, of course, that this whole event had to be held indoors, because they worry about anything out of doors could be targeted by any sort of militant group. So, it's held indoors at the Al Faw Palace, which is located at Camp Victory.
And because they say they have limited space, by the time you got the dignitaries in, by the time you got the soldiers in, Iraqi and U.S., there simply was no room for the Western media. However, Iraqi media was allowed inside, and there was a pool of reporters that's been following Vice President Joe Biden, who was also in attendance. So you had Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki there, you had the president of Iraq, and then you of course had the U.S. representative in the form of the ambassador and Vice President Joe Biden.
So, a tempting target, no doubt, but it still seems that keep Western media was a selective choice.
TANK: Right. So what do we actually think happened at the event itself?
SAVIDGE: Well, I mean, this was really the first of what are expected to be a series of events which will mark, of course, the U.S. withdrawal, the end of the war, so to speak, here in Iraq for both the United States and for Iraqi soldiers. This was an opportunity, according to the U.S. government, to basically remember the sacrifice that had been made not only by U.S. soldiers, 4,500, but on top of that, Iraqi soldiers that had been supporting the U.S. efforts here. So, acknowledging that there was sacrifice made, of the commitment that's been done, and a salute to the troops, if you will.
The Iraqis had kind of referred to it as, this is the formal end of the U.S. presence, the formal end of the war. The U.S. is now -- well, actually, it's not going to happen for a couple more weeks yet.
TANK: Speaking of time, you mentioned weeks there, but this has gone on some years now. How has Iraq changed over the period of the last 10 years would you say?
SAVIDGE: Well, that is a long and complicated road to go down.
It's changed, most notably, I guess -- to Baghdad, say, now versus when I first came in 2003, there is still a very heavy military presence here, no doubt about it. This is still a nation that has a sense of a war footing. There are checkpoints every couple of hundred yards, heavily-armed soldiers, heavily-armed military police. It's not the Green Zone anymore under the Americans, it's the International Zone under the Iraqis.
So, the only real significant change is the color and the style of the uniform. What was a heavy U.S. military presence has now become primarily an Iraqi military presence. But it's a nation that still faces some very deep problems, internally and externally.
You know, it should be pointed out that both for the prime minister and for the president of the United States, the removal of U.S. forces does help both of them in some ways. Iraqis have grown tired of what they call the occupancy, the occupying force. And then, of course, for President Obama, it's a fulfillment of a campaign pledge in 2008.
TANK: Yes, it certainly still has its troubles to overcome, hearing about that car bomb explosion just today.
Martin, thank you very much for that.
Martin Savidge, there in Baghdad.
Well, not everyone is pleased to see U.S. troops withdraw from Iraq. The Kurds were targeted by Saddam Hussein's brutal regime more than 20 years ago, and as Arwa Damon reports now, they're still worried about the future.
ARWA DAMON, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Only a faint outline survive the decades and desert winds.
(on camera): You were born here?
(voice-over): This was 43-year-old Jamil Mohammed's childhood home.
JAMIL MOHAMMED, DISPLACED KURD (through translator): This was a bathroom.
DAMON (on camera): Right there.
MOHAMMED: These were all rooms of our house. Every small hill you see was a house here.
DAMON (voice-over): There were once 40 farmhouses here, a village called Karach (ph) in the district of Mahmour (ph).
Along with countless other Kurdish villages, it was razed by Saddam Hussein's bulldozers in the late '80s in a ruthless operation against the Kurds in northern Iraq. It was part of Saddam's Arabization campaign aimed at displacing local Kurds and replacing them will Arabs, especially around the oil-rich city like Kirkuk.
Who should control these areas is now disputed, a stripe of territory between the semiautonomous region of Kurdistan and the rest of Iraq, a territory with a mix of Kurds and Arabs. And with the U.S. largely viewed as the main protector of the Kurds, anxiety over the U.S. withdrawal is especially palpable here. "Of course," Mohammed says, when asked if he believes the Arabs will again try to drive out the Kurds.
(on camera): Mahmour (ph) is technically part of Nineveh Province, which borders the region of Kurdistan. But it is being mostly protected by the Peshmerga, a Kurdish fighting force. And local officials tell us they take their orders from Erbil, and not from the government in Baghdad.
(voice-over): At the Mahmour (ph) local Kurdish party headquarters, one of the deputies, Nariman Mahmoud, tells us he's convinced all Baghdad needs is sufficient military might and it will strike. "The system in Baghdad is a dictatorship," he says, "with Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki at its head."
The current Kurd/Arab tensions don't just center around land, but what's underneath it, billions and billions of barrels of oil. Baghdad and the Kurdistan regional government have yet to agree on who makes final decisions on oil contracts. Right now, the Kurds are signing contracts Baghdad said are illegal.
Among many Kurds, including the regional prime minister, concern over what the post-U.S. future will hold.
BARHAM SALEH, PRIME MINISTER, KURDISTAN REGIONAL GOVERNMENT: There is one fundamental challenge for Iraq. Where do you want to be 10 years from now? Where do we want to risk another centralized dictatorship with access to oil resources and turn it into weapons and tear into the communities and the peoples of Iraq again? Absolutely not.
DAMON: Jamil Mohammed says he's disappointed the U.S. is withdrawing before the tensions between the Kurds and the rest of Iraq are resolved, fearing the Kurds will be crushed once again.
Arwa Damon, CNN, Mahmour (ph), Iraq.
TANK: Well, 4,486 U.S. troops have been killed in the Iraq conflict. The Pentagon says more than 320,000 service personnel have been wounded in action.
These are just some of the U.S. and coalition soldiers, Marines, airmen, sailors and Coast Guardsmen who have died. And you can find their stories on our Web site, and each casualty has their own page where you can submit your memories or messages through CNN iReport. That's at CNN.com/international.
We should also add, the Iraqi casualty count is harder to track, but by CNN's tally, at least 128,000 Iraqis have been killed.
As we speak, U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton is likely dining with Myanmar's opposition leader Aung San Suu Kyi. The two leaders were due to meet for dinner at the U.S. chief of mission residents in Myanmar's formal capital, Yangon. Their meeting caps a series of firsts.
Before today, Aung San Suu Kyi and Clinton hadn't actually never met face to face. It's also the first time that a U.S. secretary of state has visited Myanmar in more than 50 years. A junta has ruled the country since 1962, and has only recently taken its first steps towards political reforms.
Earlier on Thursday, Clinton met with the country's recently elected president, Thein Sein.
Jill Dougherty reports now from the new capital, Naypyitaw.
JILL DOUGHERTY, CNN FOREIGN AFFAIRS CORRESPONDENT: Here at the presidential palace, Secretary Clinton met for several hours with Myanmar's president, Thein Sein, and members of his government. Secretary Clinton telling him that both she and President Obama are encouraged by the steps that they have taken to provide for their people. President Thein Sein calling her visit historic.
The State Department also announced that President Obama has sent two letters, one to President Thein Sein, and the other to Aung San Suu Kyi, the head of the democracy movement here in Myanmar. Secretary Clinton says that the Myanmar government has taken some initial steps, including easing restrictions on the media and releasing 200 political prisoners. But she says there should be more. And if there are more steps, the U.S. is prepared to reciprocate, including potentially exchanging ambassadors.
Next stop for Secretary Clinton, Rangoon and the first of two meetings with Aung San Suu Kyi.
Jill Dougherty, CNN, Naypyitaw, Myanmar.
TANK: So, for more on this historic visit, let's go now live to Myanmar, where CNN's Paula Hancocks is standing by in Yangon to talk to us.
Paula, you know, Secretary of State Clinton is there. This is a very, very significant trip, certainly for her, certainly for relations for the country. But let's talk about the country folks. Do they actually know what's going on and appreciate the importance of this visit?
PAULA HANCOCKS, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, Manisha, it's interesting, because over the past three days, we've been here in Yangon, we've been in Naypyitaw, and we've been speaking to a lot of people on the streets, certainly here in Yangon. Most people didn't know that Hillary Clinton was coming. So, while certainly it is definitely being covered at the political level, this is very much a top-down effort, and it will take a long time for it to trickle all the way down to the people who really do want to reap the benefits and feel the benefits of a country that says it is opening up and says it is going to stop the isolation from the rest of the world and start reforming.
Now, on the streets, some of the people we spoke to in marketplaces say that they haven't felt the changes at this point, but you do sense that they are optimistic that something could get better. Some ladies were telling us that they have been working very hard for years to try and make ends meet. It is a very difficult life working on those markets, trying to make enough for the family. And they're hoping that, finally, things will get better, but they haven't seen things getting better at this point.
We've also spoken to the chairman of the first private bank that was opened here in Myanmar. He says that he's hoping that these reforms do continue. From his point of view, he's hoping that there will be increased investment into Myanmar if and when those U.S. sanctions are lifted -- Manisha.
Paula Hancocks, live for us there in Yangon.
Thanks very much for that.
Still just ahead here on NEWS STREAM, the first votes have been cast. Now it's time for the results. We'll go live to Egypt, as the country awaits word.
Plus, the potentially alarming buildup in China. We'll have one analyst's theory on several thousand kilometers of secret tunnels.
And shares of Yahoo! are up after unconfirmed reports of a possible buyer.
TANK: Results of the first stage of Egypt's parliamentary elections could come out in the next few hours. The Muslim Brotherhood and the Al Noor Salafi Muslim Party both say they're in the lead, but there aren't actually any official numbers out yet.
The outcome will help to determine who sits in the country's lower house of parliament. At least 42 people were killed in the days before the poll during protests demanding an end to military rule.
So let's get the latest on the vote count. We're joined live by CNN's Jim Clancy. He's soaking up the atmosphere in the capital, Cairo.
But Jim, I also hope you're managing to soak up some numbers.
JIM CLANCY, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, we're getting -- as you said, these are preliminary numbers. Some of them are exit polls. Not everybody trusts these numbers that are coming out thus far, but they do show that, as expected, the Muslim Brotherhood is making a very strong showing indeed. They will dominate the political scene.
And Islamist parties, including the more fundamental, the more radical Salafi parties, also doing better than expected. Now, that's created some nerves in areas like this one, like Zamalek, an upscale neighborhood in Cairo along the Nile River. And when people look at this, they wonder, what is going to happen? What direction is our country going to go?
Well, it's a topic of discussion here in the coffee shops, all along the street along the Nile. And we've got Hassam Magahed (ph) here, who's a businessman in IT.
Some people have told me today here that they're very concerned about what comes next. Are you?
HASSAM MAGAHED (ph), BUSINESSMAN: I'm not. I'm not that nervous. Actually, I think most of the people are exaggerated about their reaction because it's a surprise.
This is the first election, the first election, we can say, during the last 30 years, or more than that. So it's not clear who are the powers in the street, who are the political powers. But I don't think that it will be that bad, or that their action will be that bad to the street, as Muslims and liberals, all the people, are exaggerating about their power in the streets and their bold reaction, you could say.
CLANCY: Well, a lot of them feel like, we went to Tahrir Square, it was the secularists, the liberals that did this, and it is the Islamists that are reaping the benefits of it.
They shouldn't be surprised, should they?
MAGAHED: I agree with that. However, I think it's not the fault of the Islamists. I think it's the fault of the liberals, because for the last nine months I think we should give the credit to the Islamists because they worked, they were organized enough. They put the plans together for that kind of election. And the liberals are just attacking them, are just putting some pressure on them, but they are not working as organized as they should be.
CLANCY: Hassam (ph), your advice seems to be, stop worrying and stop working.
MAGAHED: I think so. I think so. I'm positive, and I think we should be optimistic about that. And we should work.
We have fair elections right now. If they win, and there's a final reason (ph) to give the Islamists, then it's four years. In four years we can (INAUDIBLE) them.
And it depends on the liberal parties. If they can be stronger within these four years, I think this will be for the benefit of the country.
CLANCY: Hassam (ph), I want to thank you very much for being with us here, live from the streets of Cairo.
And Manisha, I'm going to throw it back to you now. But you get a flavor there of what people are thinking. I think some of the more reasoned voices are saying, everybody, calm down, go slow, let's see how this all sorts itself out.
We'll have the official results for you, Manisha, in about two, three hours' time, maybe a little bit longer. Everything is running a little bit late.
Back to you.
TANK: All right, Jim. Thank you very much for that. Really good to get some of the sights and sounds there of Cairo.
Now, still to come here on NEWS STREAM, a public apology from Manchester United's boss. Alex Ferguson speaks out after the Red Devils suffer a shock home defeat in the Carling Cup.
TANK: Hello again.
It's time for a sports update. And there was something of a Palace coup in Manchester on Wednesday night.
Our man Don Riddell is in London with the somewhat stunning details -- Don.
DON RIDDELL, CNN INTERNATIONAL SPORTS ANCHOR: Thanks very much, Manisha. That's absolutely right.
You know, it's not often that Manchester United lose at Old Trafford, and it's even rarer that you hear manager Alex Ferguson apologizing. Well, he said "sorry" to the club's fans all around the world last night for allowing their Carling Cup defeat to Crystal Palace.
Ferguson rested many of his regular starters Rooney and Vidic, assuming that his United 11 would still be able to cope with the team from the division below them. Antonio Valencia very nearly put United in front there, but it was Palace that took the lead in the 65th minute, and it was an absolutely brilliant goal from Darren Ambrose. He smashed it into the top corner from 30 yards, leaving the goalie absolutely no chance.
The home side were back on level terms almost immediately though. The Italian striker Federico Macheda won and then scored a penalty to make it 1-1.
This game was being played at a frenetic pace, but there were no further goals until that header from Glenn Murray in extra time. Palace were on the brink of an historic upset, United couldn't respond, meaning (INAUDIBLE) go through to the semifinals of the Cup. United have now gone three games without a win.
The NBA lockout lasted for 149 long days, but later today, in cities across North America, it will start to feel like a return to normality after a labor agreement was finally struck over the weekend. This is the week that sees the league stirring back to life.
Player agents and team officials were formally allowed to begin discussions again on Wednesday, and team facilities will open their doors for players for voluntary workouts today. Training camps are officially going to start on the 9th of December. Saturday's handshake agreement is yet to be ratified, but it appears that will be just a formality.
Now, the Olympic games are drawing ever closer, and the world's top swimmers are ready to break more records. Swimwear giant Speedo, the company responsible for the bodysuit war that effectively turned the sport into a technology battle, has unveiled its new design for the games in London. The FASTSKIN3 suit, as it's know, is the culmination of four years of research and development, and the first of its kind where cap, goggles and suits have been engineered to become one racing system. Speedo says that the new suits are both revolutionary and innovative, and will produce a flood of world records next summer.
That's all the sports we have time for now, Manisha, but we'll be live in Ukraine looking ahead to the (INAUDIBLE) later on "WORLD SPORT."
TANK: That's going to be great stuff. We'll look ahead for that on "WORLD SPORT."
And those guys, they look like superheroes, but no more so than you, Don. Thank you.
RIDDELL: Thank you.
TANK: Coming up here on NEWS STREAM, a new study claims thousands of kilometers of secret tunnels exist in China. We'll tell you why that's raising alarms about the country's nuclear capacity.
TANK: I'm Manisha Tank in Hong Kong. You're watching News Stream. And these are your world headlines.
U.S. forces are leaving Iraq and the nation is holding a tribute ceremony honoring troops from America and other nations who served there. U.S. vice president Joe Biden is in Baghdad for the occasion. But the commemorations have been marred by violence elsewhere. A car bomb at an outdoor market in the town of Khalis killed 10 and wounded 30 people this Thursday.
On a landmark visit to Myanmar, U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton met President Thein Sein. A senior U.S. official describes the meeting as workmanlike. And so Clinton urged the president to pursue more reforms. Later this Thursday Clinton will have a private dinner with opposition leader Aung San Suu Kyi in Yangon.
Gunmen attacked and sprayed an Afghan family with acid after the father rejected a man's request to marry his daughter. Authorities say the attackers broke into their home, attacked the family and ran away. All five family members were taken to hospital. Doctors say the teenage daughter is in critical condition.
Medics in Yemen say five people have been killed in an artillery attack in the province of Taiz. People living there blame forces loyal to the president Ali Abdullah Saleh who stepped down last month after 33 years in power. Taiz has been a hotbed of opposition to President Saleh. People there say the attacks on the province are designed to snuff out dissent.
Now stock markets around the world are still reacting to news that six central banks have taken action to support the global economy. These are the numbers coming out of Europe at the moment. A bit of a mixed picture with the Xextra DAX coming off quite a bit since the sessions earlier highs.
Well, we're also going to see if Wall Street continues with any of the gains that we did see on Wednesday when the stock markets open in about an hour from now. So the big question is are we in any better shape after the coordinated action from the central banks?
We put that question to Alan Clarke, EuroZone economist at Scotia Capital.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
ALAN CLARKE, SCOTIA CAPITAL: Maybe ever so slightly there's some coordinated action, but things have got to get really, really bad for the authorities to take the right action to turn any good. So it's going to get worse before it gets better I think.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
TANK: Well, not the most optimistic view from him, but investors seem to have a different opinion on how effective the policy change will be.
Let's bring in Andrew Stevens. And he can give us a bit more on this. Andrew, first of all, let's take a look at how the Asia-Pacific markets were doing, because actually they had a pretty good run, I think.
ANDREW STEVENS, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Absolutely. They had a fantastic run. Now look at Hong Kong, Manisha, up for 5.6 percent. I mean, this really is a knee-jerk reaction what's obviously happened on Wall Street in the last session and what happened in Europe yesterday.
And to be honest, if you see what's going on in Europe at the moment, it's still holding up relatively well given that was such a big spurt yesterday. And the Wall Street futures are looking in positive territory at the moment. So all in all not looking too bad.
But what was helping Hong Kong in particular, I want to come back to this one, is the action we saw from China yesterday as well, as you know. We saw them take half a percentage point off the reserve requirement ratio. Basically the means the banks can lend -- the banks have more money now to lend to small businesses in particular in China.
So China is also moving with this coordinated approach to try and get the Chinese economy moving a bit, hence we got this almost like a double whammy for Hong Kong. Also Shanghai obviously down here, up 2.3 percent.
TANK: This is the thing, isn't it? You know, to get this money moving. There were two things, Andrew, that struck me. And I don't know if they struck you when we heard about this action by the central banks. First the Chinese and then the rest of the big central banks, and I thought oh my goodness is the debt crisis worldwide if the global economic crisis is that bad? And my other thought was it's like putting a Band-aid on someone who has broken their leg.
STEVENS: Well, yes and no. I mean -- there are two different things, in a way. They're obviously related, but we have a euro crisis. We have politicians unable to find their way out of a crisis, unable to come to an arrangement which will solve the problems, the deep problems, structural problems in Europe at the moment.
What we saw yesterday from the central banks is they are fundamentally providing money for the global financial system to keep operating. If they hadn't stepped in as we heard the economist say, things are really bad for them to actually take this action. They stepped in to keep the wheels turning, if you like.
So they are separate things. They've done that. Now the focus goes back to Europe. They've got to sort this out. They got this little breathing space that we don't have this crisis in the financial system if you like, but we've still got a crisis in the EuroZone.
TANK: Now when the good times were the good times, one of the reasons they were so good was because people were making a lot of money out of the property market. Now this was -- this grew into this big bubble. People got very concerned about it. And it was a big issue in China. Where do we stand with those sorts? That particular investment market?
STEVENS: Well, this comes back to what the Chinese did yesterday with cutting the deposits that the banks have to keep. What it specifically did is boosted stocks like the Chinese property developers, because they've been squeezed by the Chinese, because as you know there have been property bubbles forming in China. This has been a real concern.
Inflation has been a real concern. So China has spent the past nearly 18 months tightening monetary policy, raising interest rates, taking money away from the banks to lend so they can squeeze inflation out. They've done that reasonably successfully. It's still high, but it's not as high as it has been. It's not at critically high levels.
They have now opening the tax if you like. They're worried more about growth, less about inflation. They changed very clearly their focus from worrying about inflation to worry about growth. And you saw the -- take a look at these, these are the Chinese property developers today, these are the companies that have been squeezed with these tightening measures. These are the companies that are going to get particular benefit from loose monetary policy, hence investors are piling back in.
Early -- too early to say where it goes from here with China, but certainly they very clearly signaled, Manisha, that it's about growth now.
TANK: Yeah, well, look at that -- look at that pop up on the markets. It's really interesting stuff. And you guys are going to have so much more from all the angles, right?
STEVENS: We certainly will.
TANK: Great. All right. We'll see you soon on World Business Today. Thanks Andrew.
OK. New questions are being asked about the size of China's nuclear arsenal. A three year long study claims to have uncovered thousands of kilometers of tunnels capable of hiding thousands of nuclear missiles, that's many times more than current estimates. Chris Lawrence has the details for us.
CHRIS LAWRENCE, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: While the Chinese were building these tunnels, a Georgetown professor was digging into China.
PHILLIP KARBER, GEORGETOWN PROFESSOR: The students downloaded 200 hours of Chinese video.
LAWRENCE: Dr. Phillip Karber and his team of students have produced the world's largest report on China's tunnels. China admits they were dug by a secretive branch of its military responsible for deploying ballistic missiles in nuclear warheads.
KARBER: They had 3,000 miles of these tunnels, 3,000 miles.
LAWRENCE: Can you put that in any perspective?
KARBER: Imagine a tunnel 30 feet by 20 feet high running from Nova Scotia to Tijuana.
LAWRENCE: Karber is a former Pentagon strategist who used to look for weaknesses in the old Soviet Union. Based on the size of these tunnels he says China could have as many as 3,000 nuclear warheads.
LAICIE OLSON, CENTER FOR ARMS CONTROL AND NON-PROLIFERATION: The study and the way that it comes to this estimate is that the students and their professor make the assumption that because the -- because China is working on this system of underground tunnels this must automatically mean that they have a far -- they're working on new nuclear weapons.
LAWRENCE: Policy analyst Laicie Olson and others working on arms control question the Georgetown team's methods. Olson says suggesting that China has 3,000 weapons is a huge jump from the current estimate of a few hundred warheads and could lead rival Asian nations to start an arms race.
OLSON: These don't lead us to estimates that could potentially impact foreign policy in a very negative way.
LAWRENCE: But students who slogged through 200 hours of video and translated more than a million words disagree.
NICK YAROSH, GEORGETOWN STUDENT: Seeing hundreds of thousands of Chinese men who worked to build these things and hearing their stories and seeing how much effort they put into this is another issue that shows how important this is to the Chinese military.
KARBER: They may provoke an arms race, even unintentionally.
LAWRENCE: Well, no matter how many nuclear weapons you believe China has the team's research did yield some fascinating revelations including how China would use disguise rail cars to transport some of its long range missiles in secret.
Chris Lawrence, CNN, the Pentagon.
TANK: Iran is feeling more diplomatic pressure after students stormed the British embassy in Tehran. The European Union has just imposed new sanctions on 180 Iranian companies and individuals. The UK foreign minister is still pushing for more punitive measures, including an embargo on Iranian oil.
Now these countries here, you can see them kind of in that red color, they've actually joined Britain in recalling their ambassadors or actually closing their embassies. Italy is considering similar action although it's open for now along with many others.
As for these countries in purple, you can see them here, these are the ones that have not had diplomatic missions in Tehran for decades now, the U.S. in particular cut all ties after the 1979 hostage crisis. Relations with Egypt also deteriorated after the Islamic revolution. And as you might imagine, Israel has no representation in Tehran.
Now there has been some progress in the case of an Afghan rape victim who was jailed because of an attack of the (inaudible) attacks. The country's president Hamid Karzai has called a high level judiciary meeting to discuss Gulnaz's case. A potential release: perhaps. Gulnaz is serving three years in prison for adultery because her attacker was married at the time. The president has the power to immediately pardon Gulnaz, but under the current agreement Gulnaz would have to marry the rapist to secure her own release.
Now, just ahead on News Stream, Facebook has agreed to 20 years of privacy audits from its leading members about their personal data. We'll have that story and more business news coming up in a just a minute.
TANK: And a great team they are too.
Now, ever since Yahoo sacked its CEO in September, market watchers have been wondering who might buy the struggling internet company. Many names have been tossed around, including AOL and Microsoft, but now media reports say Yahoo's Asian partner, this one here, Ali Baba, is preparing a bid.
Now let's bring in our regular News Stream contributor, Nicolas Thompson. He joins us from CNN New York for a bit more insight on this particular story.
So what do you say, Nick?
NICK THOMPSON, NEW YORKER: Well, it looks like what's happening is there's a lot of turmoil on Yahoo's board. They're trying to figure out who to sell the company too and they've been soliciting bids. So over the last couple of days the big story has been that American private equity firms Silverlake and TPG have been preparing bids for small stakes in the company. They would eventually -- that would give them control.
But then the news broke yesterday that actually Ali Baba may want to buy the whole thing and is preparing a bid in coordination with two American firms Blackstone and Bane to buy the entire thing.
Now Yahoo is a really complicated company. It has these massive American assets. 650 million users who do all sorts of things. But it kind of missed all the important things that have happened on the internet over the last 10 years so they have all these users, but they don't really have anything essential or that people think is particularly valuable. That whole chunk of U.S. assets has almost no value to investors.
They also, however, have this -- they owned part of Ali Baba and they owned part of Japan (inaudible). That stuff is really valuable. So when you buy the company, you're getting both these U.S. assets and these Chinese and Japanese assets which (inaudible). It's a very complicated deal on how everything is parceled out and who gets control of what.
Ali Baba's offer, in which they're going to buy back the share in their own company that Yahoo owns as well as buy the rest of the company and then give that to Americans seams like very potentially good deal for Yahoo's investors and possibly for Yahoo's owners. So it'll be interesting to follow how that goes.
TANK: Yeah, I mean, I'm going to be really interested in what price they actually set in the end, because there's obviously been so much discussion of that.
Let's talk about Facebook and privacy. I'm not going to name names, but I know that some people have issues with Facebook and privacy. And they don't like it. But anyway, what's the latest?
THOMPSON: Well, some people like the heads of the U.S. government for example.
I mean, what happened to Facebook is they have this pattern ever since they were founded where they tell you here we were protecting your information with these privacy protections and then they change them and all this information you thought was protected is suddenly out in the open and everybody can see it.
Now, the FTC, a United States agency, has said you can't do that anymore. If you're going to make information public that people thought was private, you just can't do that. And not only that we're going to audit you for the next 20 years. So suddenly Facebook has a bunch of restrictions on the way it operates.
Now will this really change the company's attitudes towards privacy? Probably not. I mean, Facebook's business model is based on the dissolution of our privacy standards. They want as many people to share as many things as possible and for as much of that information to get to advertisers. Not only that, but the founder of Facebook Mark Zuckerberg and the leadership really believes that this isn't just a business interest this makes the world a better place. So every incentive at Facebook is to push for more and more sharing and for less and less privacy protection.
So you have a little bit pushback from the U.S. government. We'll see how Facebook responds over time.
TANK: Yeah, Mr. Zuckerberg is not big on apologies. But anyway -- and you didn't see -- you didn't see the feed, but it was me pointing at myself saying I have issues with Facebook's...
THOMPSON: Well, you and the federal government have something in common here.
TANK: I'm in great company. Thank you so much, Nick Thompson, as usual.
Still ahead on News Stream, the familiar red ribbon of World AIDS Day marking the occasion around the world.
TANK: Around the world -- globe, people are marking the 30th anniversary of World AIDS Day. An estimate 33.3 million people are infected with HIV. The red ribbon is the universal symbol of awareness and support for those living with HIV.
Now we're going to head over to our world weather center to check with Mari Ramos. Hurricane force winds in parts of Britain and also in the U.S. What's going on Mari?
MARI RAMOS, CNN WEATHER CORRESPONDENT: Hey, yeah, you know these have been some pretty intense weather systems that have been affecting parts of the UK and parts of the U.S. Let's go ahead and be clear on that. It's not, of course, a widespread thing.
Let's go ahead and start in the UK first of all. Most of it has been across the north into parts of Scotland. Here what we have ended up with is some -- in some cases winds that have been higher than hurricane force. Any time you go past 120 kilometers per hour we end up with winds that are stronger than that.
And let's go ahead and put this in motion. And I think Brandon is helping me out with this now. Here you see the winds now in Scotland over 180 kilometers per hour. And this is very significant. Notice back over here as well, over 160 kilometers per hour.
There are some reports of damage. Most of this was in less -- less densely populated areas. To areas of the south it has been somewhat better.
So we're still dealing with some of the remnants of that. And when we look at the radar, you will be able to see a little bit more of that. And you can see now that in the last few hours we're starting to see a little bit of break in the north, but a series of strong storms starting to come in right into this area right in here across northwestern France. And some of those storms will bring you some locally heavy rain, strong gusty winds, even the possibility of some hail. We're not expecting hurricane force winds with that, though.
In the U.S., the situation is a little bit different. Here we have something called Santa Ana winds. And they're basically very strong winds that blow from the land toward the sea. So this kind of changes the weather pattern. Mild weather across Southern California. Not only does it bring you very intense heat, usually, it also brought some very strong winds, for example like you see here over 150 kilometers per hour.
It looks pretty at first, right? You know, Southern California people know that this is not pretty at all. It can really cause some damage. And by nightfall what you'll see in our next piece of video you can really start to see some of the damage.
By the late afternoon and evening there were more than 20 flights that were canceled or diverted, I should say, out of LAX, the airport there, including three international flights. And many of those were actually diverted toward places in Canada. So that was pretty significant as well.
We're still expecting the weather conditions to be similar to what we had today and yesterday. So still quite windy, just not as bad as what we had before.
Last but not least, we'll end it on a happy note, can we play that last piece of video that I have from you? This is from Australia. Check this out, you're going to love this Manisha. This is from Bondi Beach in Australia and they are night surfing. Wow. I've never seen that. But they're doing this to celebrate the first day of summer. You'll be happy to know summer is expected to bring some rain to western Australia. They badly need it.
TANK: That is some cool night surfing. I enjoy seeing that. Thank you very much, Mari. Great stuff.
Now I want to introduce you to this nifty new web site. It's called the CNN Eco Sphere. As world leaders discuss climate change at Cop 17 (ph) in Durbin it offers an interactive real-time view of tweets tagged with the hashtag #COP or #Cop17. Errol Barnett has the details for us.
ERROL BARNETT, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Take a look at this spinning globe with what appear to be trees springing and sprouting from the surface. Well, this is actually a 3D and interactive representation of your online conversations about climate change. We're calling this the CNN Eco Sphere. And it's very simple for you to use. Simply include the pound symbol, hashtag, and COP17 in all of your tweets. You see we're covering the climate change talks in South Africa in December and we want to include as many of your online discussions as possible.
What happens when you send out that COP17 tweet is it populates here as a single leaf. And if someone replies to you or retweets your message it will be attached to one of these branches. And as the conversation continues and grows you'll see your branch become a full fledged tree.
You can also log in as I've done the next page through your own Twitter account to make it simple as well as search popular topics at the bottom of the page.
All of this is at CNN/ecosphere.com This is really where you can plant your idea and watch it grow.
From CNN Center, I'm Errol Barnett.
TANK: And here's another cool thing online, the British government is looking for the next generation of web savvy spies. This web site house is how they're hoping to attract new recruits. It's a challenge for self- taught computer hackers. Crack this code and you're directed to the British intelligence service web site where you're then invited to apply for a job.
As befits an intelligence agency, you'll notice there is no mention of GCHQ on the page itself.
That was News Stream for you, but the news continues here at CNN. World Business Today with Andrew and the team is next.