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Bombings in Baghdad; Several thousand U.S. Troops Ordered to Afghanistan; Booting Out Racism in English Football; North Korean Immigrant Provides Insight Into Reclusive Regime; Gift Ideas For The Geek In Your Family

Aired December 22, 2011 - 00:08:00   ET

THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.


MANISHA TANK, HOST: Hello, and a very warm welcome to NEW STREAM, where news and technology meet.

I'm Manisha Tank at CNN Hong Kong.

We begin in Iraq, where dozens of people are dead after a series of blasts across Baghdad.

England's football captain faces charges after he's accused of racially abusing an opponent on the pitch.

And Christmas is just days away. We will show you why this flying fish is on our list of the best gifts to give.

Well, let's begin in Iraq.

The Iraqi capital has endured more than its share of bloodshed, but today has been an especially grim and deadly one for Baghdad. A ferocious wave of bombings has killed at least 63 people and it's injured 185 others. The attacks targeted government, residential and commercial districts, and the carnage coming on the heels of the U.S. troop pullout is promising new fears that sectarian strife could tear Iraq apart. Even before today's violence, Shiite, Sunni and Kurdish leaders have been locked in a business standoff over Iraq's vice president, who is accused of backing a death squad.

So let's show you now where exactly these attacks happened in the Iraqi capital.

Police say there were at least nine car bombings and six roadside explosions. So take a look at this map showing some of the major blasts. It seems that no one and no part of Baghdad was safe, and the attacks apparently were coordinated and all took place within two hours of each other at the height of the morning rush hour.

Let's go straight then to Arwa Damon, who is at CNN Baghdad. She's going to give us a bit more information on this.

Arwa, in one of your tweets, you called what happened today a nightmare scenario for Iraqis.

ARWA DAMON, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: That's right, Manisha, because it most certainly is. Not only are the Iraqis having to deal with watching their government seeming to collapse like a deck of cards, but coupled with that is an utterly devastating day with these coordinated attacks that took place at rush hour.

This is so painfully reminiscent of what Iraqis went through when the violence was at its worse, and this is exactly what many Iraqis were fearing would take place after the U.S. military withdrew from their country. And these attacks, they're undiscriminating. They don't differentiate between anybody.

We saw bombings in marketplaces, crowded intersections. One of the explosions even taking place outside of a school as children were arriving. And so once again, Iraqis are confronted with the reality that there's very little they can actually do to keep themselves safe. And when they turn to their politicians for some sort of supporter indication, all they're seeing is this fighting along sectarian lines and allegations flying back and forth.

TANK: Which leads one to ask, how interconnected are politics and violence in Iraq?

DAMON: Well, just to quickly recap the political scenario, first of all, there are those terrorism allegations against the Sunni vice president, Tariq al-Hashemi. He is now up in the Iraqi region of Kurdistan, effectively being protected by the Kurds.

The prime minister is asking for him to be handed over. The government is incredibly polarized. And so with that in mind, we earlier spoke to Iraq's finance minister, who is also a member of the vice president's Iraqiya bloc.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

RAFI AL-ISSAWI, IRAQI FINANCE MINISTER: I personally think it is not connected, but there is a good environment for terrorists to be active about their circumstances. And the political process is not only for (INAUDIBLE), but it is (INAUDIBLE) because of intimidation of the partners. It means they will justify their criminal activities that the solution is not in the political process, the solution is something else.

DAMON: I'm sure prior to the withdrawal, you, yourself, other members of Iraqiya were warning the Americans that this was going to happen.

AL-ISSAWI: So many times we warned the Americans that both the security and the political situation is so fragile, so things should be not only gradual, should be responsible. Unfortunately, no one listened.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

DAMON: And it most certainly would seem, based on what we've publicly been hearing from the Obama administration, that the Americans were either unwilling to see reality on the ground in Iraq or simply incapable of it. Many Iraqis though very worried, because if there can't be some sort of a political resolution to all of this, they fear that the violence will only continue, because the more politically unstable the country is, the more violence we tend to see -- Manisha.

TANK: So what's going to happen now in terms of trying to decipher exactly who was responsible, how it happened, how they coordinated it so meticulously? What happens now?

DAMON: Well, the Iraqi security forces will be launching an investigation into this. However, in the past, there have not been any real answers when it comes to these investigations, at least not the types of answers the Iraqi public wants to hear.

Many people absolutely outraged that this has taken place, because Baghdad, at the end of the day, is a city of checkpoints and blast walls causing massive traffic jams. Cars are constantly being searched. So many Iraqis want to know how it is that so many explosives were able to get through these checkpoints, that this type of sophisticated level of attack was even able to take place. And it throws into question the capabilities of the Iraqi security forces themselves.

TANK: Yes. Innocent civilians are the ones who are suffering here. That's the saddest part.

Arwa Damon, live for us from Baghdad. Thank you for that.

Some of the U.S. troops who have just returned from Iraq will soon be heading to Afghanistan, and that comes ahead of a planned U.S. withdrawal from there in 2014.

Barbara Starr recently spoke with the top U.S. commander in Afghanistan, and she joins us from the Pentagon -- Barbara.

BARBARA STARR, CNN PENTAGON CORRESPONDENT: Manisha, that's right. I just got back from Afghanistan, and we spoke to the top commander and other troops on the ground.

Things are getting better in some places in Afghanistan, but if you thought that U.S. troops were quickly coming home, think again.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

STARR (voice-over): Kandahar: exhausted troops return to camp. The good news, no one is wounded. In this part of southern Afghanistan, violence is down.

MAJ. KEVIN TONER, U.S. ARMY: 2010, Kandahar City and the Arghandab, where my brigade mostly operates, was a fight every day. Today, we rarely see contact.

STARR (on camera): This base is surrounded on all four sides by Kandahar City, the one-time spiritual homeland of the Taliban and a place where U.S. troops fought a series of bloody fights to regain security control. The troops here will tell you things are going much better, but commanders will also tell you what they have said for so long here in Afghanistan -- it's all going to take just one more fighting season.

(voice-over): Troops here say the situation has improved because local forces have been stepping up. It's a crucial sign of hope for the top U.S. commander who's trying to turn things over to the Afghans.

GEN. JOHN ALLEN, ISAF COMMANDER: What we will see over time is that their role will increase, our role will diminish. We'll still play in a counterinsurgency campaign, but they'll have the lead.

STARR: Allen is working on a new strategy. U.S. troops will pull back from combat operations and focus on training Afghans instead starting next year.

ALLEN: Well, we're not done yet. We've got a lot of work to do here. It's work on the security mechanisms, it's work on the systems of government.

STARR: But troops are still battling high levels of violence along the Pakistan border in the east. At this breakfast meeting in Kabul, General Allen offers a controversial element of the new plan: keeping a U.S. military presence here beyond 2014, when President Obama says all troops will come home.

ALLEN: And there is zero daylight between the commander in Afghanistan and the commander-in-chief on this issue, but the number is not relevant right now.

STARR: Even as the so-called 33,000 surge forces are scheduled to be out of the country by next fall, Allen won't be pinned down on a further withdrawal schedule.

ALLEN: We're going to have some requirement here for some period of time, numbers, capabilities to be determined.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

STARR: So, look, if General Allen wants to keep troops beyond that 2014 deadline that both the U.S. and NATO have agreed to, he's going to have to sell it to a skeptical Congress, to the White House, and especially to the Afghan government that would have to agree to let U.S. troops stay on its soil -- Manisha.

TANK: Yes. So a lot of people still to convince. Let's see how he does.

Barbara, the other thing I wanted to talk about -- and you mentioned this in your report -- is there's still violence on the border with Pakistan. But we have actually heard that the U.S. Defense Department has just released its investigation into last month's NATO air strike that killed 24 Pakistani troops. This was a very big deal in the region and a bit of a flash point, certainly diplomatically.

What can you tell us about that?

STARR: It is a flash point. You know, still, since November 25th, those border crossings for NATO between Afghanistan and Pakistan had been shut down by the Pakistanis. There is bad feeling all around.

The investigation results here at the Pentagon are now out, and while the U.S. is saying that the troops acted in self-defense, they thought they were being fired on by insurgents, in fact, of course, that air strike killed 24 Pakistani troops. And the findings are that the U.S. and the Pakistanis had poor coordination, poor sharing of information, and at one point the U.S. actually had incorrect mapping data which led everyone to think that there were no troops in the area, when, in fact, there were these Pakistani forces there.

The U.S. now taking a good deal of the responsibility for all of this, because self-defense or not, it was a U.S. air strike that killed Pakistani forces. And now there will be a decision whether any U.S. troops will be held accountable -- Manisha.

TANK: OK. Thanks for that latest update.

Barbara Starr there at the Pentagon.

As always, we're very grateful. Good to hear from you.

Now, Arab League officials are expected in Syria. The visit only sets the stage though for a full observer mission.

Activists have warned there is no time to waste. They say at least 15 people have been killed so far on Thursday.

Government forces are reportedly using mortars, rocket-propelled grenades, and shelling towns in an attempt to squash dissent. The crackdown is said to be particularly bad in Idlib.

And here you see the YouTube video that was said to be taken on Tuesday of this week. It can't be independently verified by CNN though. Many of the 250 people activists say were killed this week died in Idlib.

Tensions, meanwhile, seem to be growing in southern China's Guangdong Province, in the city of Hamen. Riot police there faced off against protesters there again today, and witnesses say authorities fired tear gas to disperse the crowd and that some people were beaten. Police checkpoints have been set up all across the city.

The demonstrations began on Tuesday over plans a second power plant in Hamen. The protesters say pollution levels are too high.

Just ahead on NEWS STREAM, is a beautiful game turning ugly? Football captain John Terry vows to fight charges that he racially abused another player. We look at efforts to eradicate racism in the sport.

Living in fear. While many North Koreans mourn the passing of Kim Jong-il, others are afraid to speak about the regime that has stifled their freedom for so many years.

And we check in with U.S. Republican candidate Michele Bachmann on the campaign trail. She's receiving plenty of publicity, but it's not her policies that have people talking. That story coming up, right here on CNN.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

TANK: Hi again.

One of the world's top footballers says he will fight tooth and nail against charges of hurling racist abuse. England and Chelsea captain John Terry is to be charged over an incident during a match in October.

This came after a recommendation from Britain's Crown Prosecution Service. It concerns comments the Chelsea footballer allegedly made to Queens Park Rangers player Anton Ferdinand back in October. He said in a statement -- and here it is for you -- "I'm disappointed with the decision to charge me and hope to clear my name as quickly as possible. I've never aimed a racist remark at anyone and count people from all races and creeds among my closest friends."

And then Terry went on to say a little bit more, and here we have it for you. "I will fight tooth and nail to prove my innocence. I have campaigned against racism and believe there is no place for it in society."

So, the question is being asked, is there an ugly side to what football fans call the beautiful game? Racism on the pitch has been put in the spotlight this week. CNN's Dan Rivers talks to football officials and players to ask whether racial abuse can be booted out of the sport.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

DAN RIVERS, CNN SR. INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): It's been a bleak week in the world's most watched football league. The corrosive allegations of racism rather than the game itself have dominated the headlines. Two separate incidents; punishment handed down for one, an unprecedented eight-match ban for Luis Suarez, charges brought for another, John Terry. An ugly end of year for the "beautiful game."

GORDON TAYLOR, PROFESSIONAL FOOTBALLERS' ASSN.: That's been unfortunate, but it's also been a sign of how seriously we now take these issues. And that was illustrated a few years ago now when the England team went to Spain and there was general national abhorrence of the way the Spanish crowd were abusing our black players, and similarly, just recently in Bulgaria. So it would be naive to say it's been eradicated, because it's not.

RIVERS: In the past, racism on the terraces was routine. Black players endured a torrent of abuse simply because of the color of their skin.

BRENDON BATSON, FMR. PLAYER: I do think that the authorities just ignored it, they didn't see the significance of it. If you threw a brick within a crowd, police were in there, grabbing all of you, turfing (ph) you out, et cetera, et cetera. But if you were just giving abuse to black players, well, it doesn't matter.

RIVERS (on camera): A lot of progress has been made trying to stamp out racism in English football. The terrible jaunts (ph) from the terraces in the 1980s are now thankfully largely a thing of the past, thanks to zero tolerance policing. But is racism among some players still a problem?

DANNY LYNCH, "KICK IT OUT" ANTI-RACISM CAMPAIGN: The way football is, is that it's a mass spectator's sport. And given the people -- the sheer amount of people that either watch the game, follow the game, or work in the game worldwide, means that you are always going to have people with certain prejudices that will have the opportunity to bring to the fore.

RIVERS (voice-over): But some think the behavior of the players informs the behavior of the fans.

VIV ANDERSON, FMR. PLAYER: If supporters see players racially abusing other players, what sort of message does that send to them? So it starts with the players. You know, and end (ph) of the field, I think it's really, really important that they tow the line, yes.

RIVERS: Borne out by fans we spoke to in London.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: You can fine a player for racially abusing another player. You can fine them for -- that sends a strong message to other players not to be racist.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I think England this day is a multicultural country. You know, people from all walks of life and continents and different parts of the world are all supporting their clubs. And I think it has to be stamped out.

RIVERS: The John Terry incident will now be meticulously analyzed in a court case, but whatever the outcome, the damage to the reputation to the game is already done.

Dan Rivers, CNN, London.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

TANK: Well, as Dan said, the charges against Terry came just a day after Luis Suarez was banned for racial abuse.

Just ahead here on NEWS STREAM --

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

REP. MICHELE BACHMANN (R), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: With the death of Kim Jong-il, we know that North Korea, it has effectively acted as the Wal-Mart of missile delivery systems.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

TANK: First, Rick Perry. Now Republican candidate Michele Bachmann creates a stir with her choice of words on the campaign trail. We'll have more on what she said and why it's making headlines.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

TANK: Now, if you take a close look at the writing on your screen, the end of the line reads "Kim Jong-il." And hopefully it will be down there somewhere.

To be fair, the "I" and the "L" together do look like they could be a little bit confusing, and so it was for Texas governor and presidential hopeful Rick Perry. Reports say an e-mail from the Perry campaign referred to the late North Korean dictator as "Kim Jong II."

Well, Perry is not the only Republican candidate caught up in a Kim controversy. Some strategists say Michele Bachmann's words may backfire on her.

Brian Todd explains.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

BACHMANN: -- taking the White House in 2012 --

BRIAN TODD, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): She's counting on a big push in Iowa to get back into the GOP race. Getting picked up on the daily news cycle may be part of that, and that means coming up with clever, pithy sound bites.

So here's what Michele Bachmann came up with this week --

BACHMANN: With the death of Kim Jong-il, we know that North Korea has effectively acted as the Wal-Mart of missile delivery systems.

TODD: It wasn't Bachmann's first use of an odd "Wal-Mart" reference to make a political point. Back in July, 2008, on the House floor, she said this about the group Planned Parenthood --

BACHMANN: They are the Wal-Mart of big abortion. They're the big box retailer.

TODD: We called and e-mailed Wal-Mart several times, seeking its reaction to Bachmann's comments. The retail discount giant never responded.

Republican strategist John Feehery doesn't think Bachmann's slamming Wal- Mart intentionally, but he calls the comments stupid.

JOHN FEEHERY, REPUBLICAN STRATEGIST: When trying to craft a clever sound bite, you need to be careful that you don't unintentionally alienate somebody. It seems that what Bachmann is doing is alienating an important part of her political base, which is the Wal-Mart voter.

TODD: Not so, says the Bachmann campaign. A spokeswoman says, "She was referring to the fact that North Korea is distributing weapons as efficiently and cost-effective as Wal-Mart."

Wal-Mart's not Bachmann's only corporate metaphor. In April, she said this about LensCrafters and Planned Parenthood, which sometimes helps women get abortions --

BACHMANN: The executive director of Planned Parenthood in Illinois said they want to become the LensCrafters of big abortion in Illinois.

TODD: Actually, the Planned Parenthood CEO had really said in a print interview, "I like to think of Planned Parenthood as the LensCrafters of family planning." He was talking about making planning services more accessible.

But you'd think Bachmann knew that, because she had said this in that House floor speech in 2008 --

BACHMANN: And he said, "I'd like to think of Planned Parenthood as the LensCrafters of family planning."

TODD: When she mistranslated that this past April, LensCrafters hit back at Bachmann, telling a newspaper she was using the company's name without its knowledge or permission.

(on camera): A company official said LensCrafters contacted Bachmann's office and asked that she stop making that comparison. A Bachmann spokeswoman at the time she would stop. No word now on whether she'll stop referring to Wal-Mart.

Brian Todd, CNN, Washington.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

TANK: Coming up here on NEWS STREAM, we'll take you to a border town in China where some North Koreans live and work. They're outside the country, but not out of reach of the regime. Find out why one North Korean says he could face death just for speaking out.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

TANK: Hello again and welcome back. I'm Manisha Tank in Hong Kong. You're watching News Stream and these are your world headlines.

Officials in Baghdad say at least 63 people have been killed and 185 wounded in a wave of attacks. Nine car bombs and six roadside bombs exploded across the Iraqi capital within a period of two hours. U.S. troops completed their withdrawal only days ago. And the country is in the midst of a political crisis that is raising sectarian tensions.

And advanced team from the Arab League is due to arrive in Syria to pave the way for an observer mission there. Opposition groups accuse the government of increasing violence against protesters. The graphic images from Idlib came from YouTube and can't be independently verified by CNN.

England football captain John Terry is being charged with racially -- racial abuse -- racially abusing a fellow player on the pitch. Terry denies the accusation saying in a statement, "I've never aimed a racist remark at anyone." He says he'll fight tooth and nail to prove his innocence.

Now some North Koreans live and work just across the border from their homeland in Dandong, China. But even across the border, some fear what happen to them if they say anything that displeases Pyongyang.

Our Stan Grant is in Dandong and got rare access to a North Korean citizen to talk about life in North Korea's shadow.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

STAN GRANT, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORREPSONDENT: This man does not want to be identified. He's afraid even to talk.

"There are many North Korean spies here," he says, "many, many. There are hundreds of spies."

We'll call him Mr. Lee, a North Korean living on the China side of the border in Dandong. He says he risks death just being seen talking to us.

"North Koreans don't speak openly," he says. "If anyone knows I'm talking I would be sent to prison and there's no mercy there. I'd be shot dead."

As we persevere, he opens up a little more, painting a picture of a harsh life across the border where people are starving, aid is scarce, and the only factories operating are for making military weapons.

Right now, he says, he fears a desperate country with a potential power vacuum that could so easily lash out.

"Before Kim Jong-il died, he was prepared the country for war and death," he says, "and to have power to Kim Jong-un."

Other North Koreans here are in mourning, weeping openly for the death of the Dear Leader. Flowers continue to be delivered to the North Korean consulate building. Korean businesses, restaurants normally flourishing, have closed their doors.

It's closed.

Dandong is separated from North Korea by the Yalu River about a kilometer, less than a mile, across. Cross border trade flourishes here. China props up the destitute North Korean economy.

Dandong is a bustling small Chinese city. Tall buildings, noise and traffic. On the other side, emptiness and silence. A lone, disused ferris wheel, a symbol of a colorless world.

From this pedestrian bridge, we can walk right to the edge of the border, so close yet so utterly different.

This is the end of the line. This is about as far as the bridge goes. It stops right here where this side of the line, if you step out from this bridge here I enter North Korea.

Mr. Lee knows too well what happens there, a regime obsessed with pumping money into its military while desperately poor people go hungry, he says.

"Pig feed, that's all we can eat -- corn. No one could get full on that," he says. "There is no food, not even food from China. It's been blocked for three years."

Even if you had money, he says, there is nothing to buy. Any goods are traded for what little food remains.

Mr. Lee is well off by his countryman's standards. He has relatives on the China side who run businesses. It's a lifeline for his family back home. Mr. Lee is able to work here on a limited visa. But he crosses back and forward just to keep his family alive.

"I can't not go back. I have to. I have a son and daughter," he says. "If I don't go back, they can't survive."

He has shed no tears for Kim Jong-il and harbors no great hope for the so-called Great Successor Kim Jong-un. But still he lives in fear of what the North Korean regime can do. Spied upon, afraid to speak out, as much a prisoner of the Hermit Kingdom as those whose lives are trapped in its borders.

Stan Grant, CNN, Dandong on the China-North Korea border.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

TANK: We want to bring you an update now on a developing story coming from France. A short time ago, the lower house of parliament there passed a measure that makes it a crime to deny that a 1916 genocide took place against Armenians. According to the Reuters News Agency, the Turkish government has now responded by recalling its ambassador to France. Other governments has also accused Turkey's Ottoman rulers of genocide for the mass killing of Armenians back in 1915. And Turkey says what happened was the result of clashes on both sides.

Just ahead here on News Stream, as the Philippines recovers from the impact of a tropical storm that left many dead, we'll check the forecast to see if there's any respite ahead for the country.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

TANK: Now many in the tech world look to apple for signs of what the next big trends in technology will be. And Apple has reportedly bought Anobit, which is an Israeli company that makes memory chips. Neither of the companies have actually confirmed the purchase yet, but here's something interesting. Israel's prime minister may have actually confirmed the acquisition with this tweet right here welcoming Apple to Israel.

So, why would Apple even be interested in a flash memory company? I know a guy who can tell us. Well, let's bring in our regular contributor Nick Thompson of the New Yorker.

What's special about Anobit, huh?

NICK THOMPSON, NEW YORKER: Well, there are two kinds of memory, there's flash memory and then there's the traditional memory which is what we're used to, those big boxes with spinning wheels. And what flash memory does is it's much smaller, it uses less power, it's faster, it's more efficient. So it would be fantastic if we could switch all of our devices to flash memory. The smaller devices right now are flash memory, but if we could switch all of our large devices too.

The problem, it's very expensive. So what this Israeli company Anobit has done is it made flash memory more efficient. It's made it last longer, it's made it quicker, it's made it cheaper. So Apple is making a huge investment in this transition into a new kind of memory which will make our devices lighter, better, and will require -- mean they'll require less power.

TANK: I worry whether these memory devices get lost in my pocket one day (inaudible) these days.

Some people may not actually realize, though, Nick how many tech companies are actually based in Israel in the first place. There are 58 Israeli companies, I believe, listed on the NASDAQ second only to China outside North America. So why don't you tell us, what is it about Israel the breeds so many technology companies?

THOMPSON: Well, I mean, it's a highly educated society. They have a very prominent institute of technology, so much like MIT or Stanford in the United States there are a lot of companies that spread around there. I think a lot of the military and technical training is then transferred into -- or people who do the military training in Israel then go and invent companies and work on technological stuff.

So all of those factors -- and then also once a country develops a culture of innovation and a culture of building technologies and building startups, then the financial structures start to exist to bring them along. So I think that's happened.

TANK: All right. Technological stuff. I'm going to remember that one day (inaudible) technical phrases.

Let's talk about Apple again, though. You know, Apple is interesting. It usually doesn't make these big acquisitions. I wonder whether this is a sign that Apple might be, you know, going for something new -- a new change under Tim Cook.

THOMPSON: And it's very interesting what exactly this signals, right. It could signal that they want to -- not only do they want to design all of their products, they want to build and manufacture them completely themselves too. Apple has always wanted to keep as much in house as they could and rely on partners as little as possible.

So this acquisition could be a signal of what their production process will be like. It also may be a signal that the philosophy of the company is changing. A lot of the other big companies with lots of cash make huge investments and buy lots of small companies all the time. Apple does it sometimes, but fairly rarely. So this may be a change in strategy under the new leadership. We'll see.

TANK: All right. Nick, it's always very, very good to talk to you.

Do they call you Mr. T? I like that. Good to see you.

Now, three Apple related items topped this year's Google Zeitgeist. The search giant annually ranks the fastest rising queries. Globally iPad 2, the late Steve Jobs and the non-existent iPhone filled out the top 10 search items.

And meanwhile, Google's own social network came in second.

But if you look at the data, those searches for Google+ peaked shortly after it launched, which was in June. They've declined ever since.

Searches for Tech Co. (ph), the operator of Japan's crippled nuclear plant spiked two days after the March 11 earthquake and tsunami. Google says it's notable that the term made the fastest rising list, because Japanese language internet users actually make up less than 5 percent of the global web population.

But actually it is the teen songstress Rebecca Black who tops Google's search list. She became an internet sensation with her Ode to Friday on YouTube. Jeanne Moos finds out who else set YouTube all abuzz.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

JEANNE MOOS, CNN CORRESPONDENT: The thing about YouTube videos is that some you get and some seem like gibberish. For instance, in this year's top 10 most viewed videos.

The number five spot went to a very annoying cat.

The number 10 spot went to a very adorable cat.

A mother cat hugging its kitten while the two of them take a cat nap.

The number nine video was Volkswagon's Super Bowl commercial called "The Force."

Number eight was a cute 11-year-old Canadian singing Lady Gaga's hit. Lady Gaga was so impressed she invited Maria Aragon (ph) to sing a duet in concert.

Number seven was a dance comedy video.

YouTube is the place if you want people to -- at least 56 million people looked at the twin talking babies who seemed to understand each other perfectly. Adults adding subtitles and nominating them for best foreign language film.

Comedy music videos were popular. And we might acknowledge the number one video that got over 180 million views. OK, that's enough acknowledgment.

But it's the video that came in at number two that's number one in my hearts. And since it's my story that's the one we're going to concentrate on.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: You know what the meat drawer is, right?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Yes. What was in there?

MOOS: There is just something riveting about the talking dog being teased.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: You know that bacon that's like maple -- got maple flavoring?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The maple kind, yeah?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Yeah, so I took that out and I thought. I know who would like that. Me. So I age it.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Aw!

UNIDENTIIFED MALE: Looks like he's getting his hopes up and then their dashed. And then he gets his hopes up again and then their dashed again.

MOOS: Clark the dog now has a Facebook fan page with a joke bacon tree and a bacon t-shirt. And if you're wondering.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: You're kidding me?

MOOS: What he really said in dog speak.

Jeanne Moos, CNN, New York.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

TANK: It is not fair to tease Clark the dog. That was just mean.

Now coming up on News Stream. Who says fish can't fly? We'll show you some great gift ideas for the geeks in your life this Christmas. That's just ahead right here on CNN.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

TANK: Well we should check up now on the situation in the Philippines. We know that Typhoon Washi came through the country, a devastating storm but that relief effort continues. Mari Ramos is standing by at the world weather center. Mari, how is the weather looking there? And can we expect that those relief efforts can continue without the threat of rain?

MARI RAMOS, CNN WEATHER CORRESPONDENT: Yeah, unfortunately the threat of rain is definitely there, Manisha.

We were talking over the last couple of days how that threat has kind of diminished a little bit and it was generally drier, but I think starting today, and as we head through the next couple of days you start to see a little bit of increase in the coverage, let's say of rain showers. We're not expecting very heavy rainfall, but any amount of rain really could impact the relief efforts there, because the situation is just so trying.

Here's a picture of some of the missing. You can see those posters there in different areas. People still trying to find their loved ones. Hundreds of people still missing after that tropical storm moved through that area. And the death toll already topping a thousand. The survivors, many of them, over 200,000 actually, over 300,000 are in need of aid already across the Philippines. And some of them are crowded into shelters like this one.

Here you can very uncomfortable situation. The temperature is very hot of course this time of year. We're talking about a tropical country anyway. And then into the lower 30s easily. And then the heat and the humidity -- that's the wrong picture. That's not supposed to be there.

But anyway we are definitely continuing to monitor the situation in the Philippines.

Look, here you see the moisture that I'm talking about. You begin to see a little bit more in the way of moisture coming in here off the Philippine sea. This is fairly typical for this time of year for this part of the world, but the rain has been a little bit more persistent, let's say. And I think we're going to stay on that pattern as we head through the next couple of days.

When we look closely here at Minanao (ph) you'll notice that the coverage of moisture is a little bit more widespread. Rainfall totals will probably not top out over 1 centimeter maybe overall. In some isolated spots, you may get about 3 centimeters, but overall I think this could really pose a problem for some of those rescue efforts that are ongoing.

And the official forecast we're still looking at some scattered rain showers. It's not going to be everybody getting rain, but some areas will definitely see a little bit more rain than they had over the last couple of days since that storm actually went through.

So have about 30 seconds. And I do want to talk about winter weather. That's probably why that other picture snuck in here just a minute ago. This is from Germany. That other picture that you saw, that was from Sophia in Bulgaria.

We continue to see a lot of snow that's coming across particularly for Germany and across the Alps. But we're starting to see a storm system develop farther to the south? This one is going to bring you definitely a white Christmas for this area because the snow is not going to melt on time. This is a pretty strong weather system that's coming across. In some cases we could see, what, maybe an additional 13, 14 centimeters of snow fall for this area. So definitely messy.

Let's go ahead and check out your forecast.

So many of you asking about what my weather is going to be like for this Christmas holiday coming up? Well, let me tell you if you're in London about 10 degrees. You will not be expecting a white Christmas here at all. Or in New York City where the high temperature -- even though it should be drier than what we have now moving across the northeast the high should be around 7 degrees with partly or mostly cloudy skies.

Manisha in Hong Kong, a high of only 16. Not necessarily North Pole weather, but definitely the coldest temperatures we've had so far this entire season. A low only about 10.

TANK: Believe me, Mari, I'll be wearing my hat and scarf. Thank you very much.

Now for a moment where Christmas and technology meet. The team here at News Stream has been very busy these past few weeks. We've been looking for some stocking fillers that you might not find in your regular toy store. Our very own Kristie Lu Stout has the scoop.

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KRISTIE LU STOUT, CNN ANCHOR: The Christmas countdown is upon us. So ahead of Sunday, we're bringing you a gallery of gifts that the geeks in your life, young and old, will love to find under the tree.

Now, if you are a Mario fan, you might well be admiring the scene behind me. It was created using Nintendo Wall Graphics, essentially re- stickable vinyl wall stickers. You can get a Donkey Version too priced at $40 on ThinkGeek.com.

And if your geekling has ever wonder about how light sabers work? This kit may be for them. It comes with four crystals which teach Star Wars trivia like which Jedi and Sith use which colors. But it also has a more important lesson to offer, in optics. After building the light saber, you can experiment with the kit's convex and concave lenses. And the Star Wars Mini Light Saber Tech Lab, it costs $15 from UncleMiltonStore.com. Sure to be a hit with aspiring Jedi knights and their science teachers.

And these little dolls right here are a modern twist on a traditional gift -- Russian Matryoshka dolls, they may not be geeky, but Russian nesting ninja and robot dolls definitely are. ThinkGeek is selling them at $14 for a set of six.

Now our next toy really knows how to make an entrance. Now this is the air swimmer. It's a remote controlled helium balloon that floats through the air with very uncanny fishlike motion. It's a refillable helium balloon that is controlled by an infrared remote. And with it you can control its speed and direction. And just when you thought it was safe to get out of the water, it comes in a shark version as well. And to fire up the air swimmers you'll also need fresh AAA batteries. The total price tag is some $40 bucks a pop. Pricey for a balloon, but with this kit your kid will have shark week every week.

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TANK: Yeah, so that's where Kristie has been, huh?

Now if you're looking for a gift that actually gives back then you can start by logging on to CNN.com/impact. You don't have to spend a lot for a present that really counts. A flock of 10 chickens to feed a family costs $30. It's even less to put a child through an entire year of primary school in Chad, just $26.

For more ideas to help make someone's season bright check out CNN.com/impact.

And that's it from us here at News Stream. But the news continues at CNN as ever. World Business Today is up next.

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