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Series of Bomb Attacks Kill at Least 60 Across Iraq; Crisis in Syria; U.S. Election 2012; Blue Fin Tuna Sold In Japan For $736,000; Egyptian Prosecutors Seek Death Penalty For Mubarak

Aired January 5, 2012 - 00:08:00   ET


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

I'm Kristie Lu Stout in Hong Kong.

And we begin in Iraq, where more than 50 people have been killed in a series of attacks across the country.

The U.S. campaign trail moves on to New Hampshire as Republicans try to decide on who will take on Barack Obama in November's presidential election.

And we'll tell you about an 18-year-old mother who protected her baby by shooting someone breaking into her home.

And we start in Iraq, where a series of bombs have exploded across several of the country's Shiite districts. Now, the French news agency AFP is reporting the worst of those attacks happened just outside the southern city of Nasiriyah. A roadside bomb killed 36 people and injured more than 70, and it comes just hours after several other attacks killed 24 people across Baghdad.

Now, this was the aftermath of a triple bombing in Sadr City, and the blasts come as Shiite followers gather across parts of Iraq for the start of an annual pilgrimage. It marks a bloody start to the new year and continues the trend of attacks on the Iraqi civilian population. Many Iraqis have been concerned about an increase in violence since the withdrawal of U.S. troops in the country.

Now, that happened on December the 18th, less than one month ago. On that day, the last American soldiers crossed the border into Kuwait to officially end the almost eight-year operation in Iraq.

Fast forward just four days, to December the 22nd. More than 60 Iraqis lost their lives in a spate of attacks across Baghdad. Twenty explosions ripped through residential, commercial and government areas. One device went outside a school as children were arriving. Most were car bombs or roadside bombs.

An organization called Iraq Body Count has been tracking the violence against Iraqi civilians since the start of the U.S. mission in 2003. It says more than 4,000 people were killed in 2011. And the leading cause of death was explosive weapons, including roadside bombs and suicide attacks.

And the latest attacks appear to have targeted Iraq's Shiite population, and tensions have been mounting between the country's three major religious and ethnic groups.

CNN's Jomana Karadsheh joins me now live from Baghdad.

And Jomana, any new information on today's blasts?

JOMANA KARADSHEH, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Yes, Kristie. That report that you just mentioned about the deadliest attacks, CNN can now confirm, according to two officials, one police official in the southern city of Nasiriyah, and an Interior Ministry official, at least 36 people were killed and 72 others were wounded in today's deadliest attack.

We are told it was a suicide bombing at an Iraqi army checkpoint where Shia pilgrims had stopped, leaving the city if Nasiriyah. They were west of Nasiriyah.

We will get more information as we get it on this attack.

Now, earlier, in Baghdad, the first attack this morning was early Thursday morning in the Shia slum of Sadr City. There, security officials tell us that it was two attacks that took place, both involving a motorcycle with a bomb attached to it and a roadside bomb. That attack targeted day laborers who were queuing for work.

The deadliest attack in the capital, Baghdad, was a short while after that in northern Baghdad, mostly the Shia district of Kabaniya (ph). There, we are told that it was two parked car bombs that detonated moments apart in two busy squares. In that attack alone, at least 15 people were killed and more than 30 others wounded -- Kristie.

STOUT: And Jomana, any word as to who is responsible for these attacks?

KARADSHEH: There has been no claim of responsibility yet, and Iraqi officials here, who are quick to point the finger at al Qaeda in Iraq and other Sunni extremist groups, say it is too soon to tell who is behind these attacks. But as you mentioned earlier, Iraq is in the midst of a very serious and dangerous political crisis. That involves the Shia- dominated bloc of Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki and the Sunni Arab-backed Iraqiya List.

And there have been real concerns about this political crisis driving the country back into a bloody sectarian war. And we spoke to General Qassim Atta. He is the spokesman for the Baghdad military command, and he told us that these political tensions could be used to increase the risk between Iraq's differing groups. And this is what he told us --


GEN. QASSIM ATTA, BAGHDAD OPERATIONS COMMAND SPOKESMAN (through translator): Terrorist groups choose a specific time and location to achieve certain gains, and the political situation plays a part in such incidents. These terrorist groups take every chance they get to incite sectarianism and prove their presence.


KARADSHEH: And, Kristie, in a sign of these increasing tensions between the Sunni and Shia population here in Iraq, and especially in Baghdad, residents of Sadr City earlier today, after the attacks, told CNN they blame these bombings on Sunni politicians.

STOUT: Jomana Karadsheh, joining us live from Baghdad.

Thank you very much indeed for that update.

Now, Qatar's foreign minister says Arab League monitors in Syria have made what he calls mistakes. Now, Hamad Bin Jassim Al-Thani told reporters that the Arab League is now looking to the United Nations for help with its mission. Critics, including Syrian opposition groups, say the monitors' presence in Syria has done little to stop the government's crackdown on protesters. The U.N. says at least 5,000 people have died since mid-March, and one opposition group says 26 people were killed on Wednesday.

For more on the latest developments inside Syria, let's go to CNN's Arwa Damon. She's following the situation closely from neighboring Lebanon.

And Arwa, as the Arab League mission drags on in Syria, and there are reports of more death and more violence, what is the latest you're hearing?

ARWA DAMON, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, Kristie, according to the local coordination committees, already today there have been 10 people who were killed inside Syria, seven of those casualties happening in one of the other flashpoint areas of Deir ez-Zor. That is up along the border with Iraq. Seven people killed there.

And this is exactly why so many activists will tell us that they also believe that the Arab League mission is an utter failure. Many of them who we have spoken to have tried to get in touch with members of this observer mission, or who have, in fact, managed to reach them, have expressed their utter disgust, disappointment, and anger, saying that, at best, they would perhaps get sympathetic nods from members of the mission. In other cases, members of the mission would tell them to come and meet them in their offices. The issue with that is that these offices are always surrounded by members of the Syrian security forces, and activists are therefore naturally very fearful that they will be detained or killed if they try to approach these observers.

So there's been a lot of criticism in that sense.

Added to all of that, many activists are telling us that the minute the observers leave certain neighborhoods, the Syrian military is, quite simply, moving straight back in -- Kristie.

STOUT: Very alarming to hear that.

Arwa, there's also news of a high-profile defection in Damascus. A Defense Ministry official defected on Wednesday. Just how significant is that?

DAMON: Yes, and that is Mahmoud Sleiman Hajj Hamad (ph), and he says that he was a financial inspector at the Ministry at Defense. He defected actually two weeks ago to Cairo, but only just came public with that. And he provides some chilling details that serve to corroborate a lot of what we've been hearing from the activists.

He describes how there were secret underground prisons that were underneath, in some cases, roads. He was describing how he would see truckloads of detainees being brought in, handcuffed, tortured. He was even going so far as to say that Syrian government-backed armed gangs were using vehicles marked with the Syrian Red Crescent insignia to shoot at demonstrators.

Now, his defection is the senior-most defection that we have seen thus far. However, he is not a member of Assad's inner circle. He's not necessarily a very significant player when it comes to the regime itself.

He was, however, claiming that, amongst his colleagues, there was a lot of similar discontent, but that people were facing incredible difficulties in trying to defect. For example, he was telling CNN that if one wanted to even take a vacation, and they're in a government position, they had to get specific permission from the intelligence agencies themselves. So he was really serving to give even more of an image as to exactly what is transpiring inside Syria given how difficult it is to get accurate information out of that country at this stage -- Kristie.

STOUT: Yes, valuable insight given there, including the plights of detainees inside the country.

Now, the Syrian government has announced that it released more than 550 political prisoners, but, Arwa, how many more remain in prison? And what has been the scale of the arrests since the beginning of this uprising many, many months ago?

DAMON: Well, Kristie, the arrests have been incredibly widespread. According to Avaz (ph), one of these watchdog groups that has many monitors inside Syria itself, some 69,000 people have been detained since this uprising began around 10 months ago. And around half of them have been released.

According to this organization, around 37,000 people still remain in Syrian custody. So when we look at those numbers, compared to the 500 and some that the Syrian government says has been released, it's really a drop in the bucket. And even though some may argue that this could possibly appease the opposition, there's not a single activist, a single demonstrator who is out there on the street every day who will tell you that this is acceptable.

What they want to see from the government is so much more. And, of course, at the end of the day, they also want to see the fall of the regime. And they will say that this move by the government is, quite simply, also to appease the Arab League so that they can say that they are in fact adhering to the Arab League protocol that was signed when, in reality, they still have tens of thousands of people behind bars.

STOUT: And lastly, the Free Syrian Army -- just how much contact is there between the opposition, Syrian National Council, and the FSA? Are they working together to curb the rising death toll?

DAMON: You know, Kristie, they work together on some levels, but one also has to bear in mind that when it comes to the Free Syrian Army, which is this group that is largely made up of defectors, and the Syrian National Council, which is the entity that is operating outside of Istanbul, versus the national council that's inside Syria itself, there's still a lot of very serious differences.

The Syrian National Council wants the demonstrations to remain peaceful, by and large. The Free Syrian Army, at this point, based on what we heard from its commander, Colonel Riyadh al-Assad, yesterday, is saying that it is now very obvious that peaceful demonstrators are not going to remove this regime, that violence is the only way forward. And he was saying that in the next week, we would be seeing significant attacks being carried out by the Free Syrian Army.

Of course, this is of great concern to many of the activists who we are speaking to who, yes, naturally, they do want to see the fall of the regime. But they also realize that should this uprising take an even more violent turn, it could lead the country down a very deadly and devastating path, one that could potentially polarize it, one that could potentially lead it toward a civil war -- Kristie.

STOUT: Our Arwa Damon, on the story for us.

Thank you very much indeed for that.

And this just in. Reports say that Egyptian prosecutors have asked for the death penalty for former Egyptian president Hosni Mubarak.

Now, Mubarak is facing charges that he ordered protesters killed during last year's Egyptian uprising. And again, the reports say that Egyptian prosecutors, they have now asked for the death penalty for the former Egyptian president, Hosni Mubarak.

Now, the British foreign secretary, William Hague, is in Myanmar, where he has welcomed the government's pledge to pursue more reforms. And Hague, he began a historic two-day visit to the country on Thursday in the capital, Naypyitaw. It is the first visit by a British foreign secretary in 50 years, and it comes just over a month after his U.S. counterpart, Hillary Clinton, made a similar trip.

Hague held his first meeting with Myanmar's foreign minister, and he is now due to hold talks with President Thein Sein and pro-democracy leader Aung San Suu Kyi.

Now, ahead here on NEWS STREAM, Iowa is over, but there is little rest for U.S. Republicans still hoping to secure their party's presidential nomination. And next, we look to the two states that could ultimately shape this race.

And culture has never been easy to define, and for China, it may even harder to defend. Ahead, the lengths Chinese authorities are going to keep Western influences at bay.

And we'll tell you about an emergency distress call from the U.S. state of Oklahoma that's got a lot of people talking.

Stay with us.


STOUT: Welcome back.

Now, in the race for U.S. president, a newly reshaped Republican field has turned to New Hampshire. In five days, residents will pick their preferred candidates to run against incumbent Barack Obama. And this weekend, the state hosts two debates.

Now, let's take a look at how things stand after the contest in Iowa.

First place finisher Mitt Romney has picked up an endorsement from his former rival, Senator John McCain. A top aide to Rick Santorum says his strong showing has resulted in more than $1 million of donations. And while many people expected Rick Perry to pack it up after placing fifth, the Texas governor says he is staying in the race. An adviser says Perry will adjust his strategy for South Carolina, which votes in two weeks.

And it was Michele Bachmann who bowed out. The Iowa-born congresswoman, she suspended her campaign after finishing sixth in the caucuses.

Let's go live to New Hampshire now. CNN Political Editor Paul Steinhauser is in Manchester. He joins us now.

Paul, good to see you.

First, Mitt Romney. He now has that endorsement from John McCain, but a former bitter political rival. So how big a boost does that really give him ahead of New Hampshire?

PAUL STEINHAUSER, CNN POLITICAL EDITOR: It will help him with the establishment vote here in New Hampshire. Remember, this is basically home field advantage for Mitt Romney.

He was the governor of neighboring Massachusetts. He owns a vacation home here in this state. He's been here a lot. He's been here a lot. He's been campaigning here a lot, helping out Republican officials.

He's very well known here. He's very high at all the polling so far, but all of that was done before the Iowa caucuses.

McCain, of course, won this state, the primary. As you mentioned, he beat Mitt Romney four years ago in a very bitter campaign. But soon after, Romney dropped his bid for the White House, endorsed McCain, and became one of his biggest surrogates. And I think they made up.

What it won't help Romney with, though, this endorsement from McCain, is with the very conservative voters. They had a problem with McCain four years ago, they have a problem with Romney now. The two of them continue campaigning early today here in New Hampshire, and then they go down to South Carolina, which, as you mentioned, comes right after New Hampshire 11 days later -- Kristie.

STOUT: And let's talk about Jon Huntsman. And we're finally talking about Jon Huntsman. After two weeks of political talk here on CNN, his name is finally coming up.

He will finally air his first TV spot leading up to New Hampshire. Does his campaign have much of a chance at this point?

STEINHAUSER: Well, they're hoping for a strong finish here. We'll see if it happens.

As you said, he's been spending virtually all of his time in New Hampshire. He did not campaign in Iowa. He's been here for weeks now, crisscrossing the state and trying to meet and greet just about every Republican and Independent voter in the state.

He doesn't have a lot of campaign cash. That's why he finally, as you mentioned, just now, with less than a week to go before the primaries, putting up his first advertisement on television here in the state.

For Huntsman, it's all or nothing in New Hampshire. But he may do OK here. He's only about 10 percent in the polls, but remember, Independents are a huge, huge factor in the primary's results here.

It's very different than what we saw in Iowa, and his more -- I guess you could say more moderate, more mainstream approach to politics, may ring or resonate with Independent voters here. So stay tuned.

STOUT: What about Rick Santorum? What message will he take to New Hampshire to prove that Iowa wasn't a one-off?

STEINHAUSER: Well, for Santorum, you just mentioned, $1 million, mostly online, in fund-raising just in the last 24 hours. So that victory in Iowa is definitely paying dividends, no doubt about it. That extremely close second place finish, I think you can call that a victory.

What Santorum is trying to do is prove or show that he is the alternate to Romney, he is the anti-Romney, the conservative choice. Conservative voters are basically divided between a bunch of the candidates. Now Bachmann is out, so there's one less to be divided about. He's going to try to grab votes away from Gingrich, former House Speaker Newt Gingrich, from Rick Perry, and from Ron Paul, to become the alternative, the alternate choice for conservatives against Mitt Romney -- Kristie.

STOUT: All right. Paul Steinhauser, we'll leave it at that. Always a pleasure. Thank you.

Paul Steinhauser, joining us live from New Hampshire.

And after the contest there in New Hampshire, a bigger battle for the candidates is waiting in South Carolina. Mary Snow explains why the stakes are high down South.


MARY SNOW, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Iowa created a top tier of Republican candidates. Michele Bachmann's now out, and others are fighting for momentum heading into New Hampshire.

But the head of South Carolina's Republican Party predicts his state will provide the next real make-or-break moment.

CHAD CONNELLY, SOUTH CAROLINA GOP CHAIRMAN: The Iowa winner hadn't always been the nominee. The New Hampshire winner hadn't always been the nominee. But since 1980, we have picked the eventual nominee. And so I believe this is where the race really starts, and I think this is where it's going to be decided, too.

SNOW: Case and point, the 2008 Republican primary, where Mike Huckabee won Iowa with the help of Evangelicals, but John McCain eventually became the party's nominee. Like Iowa, the Christian right has a heavy influence in South Carolina, but there are some key differences among voters there.

(on camera): In 2008, 60 percent of South Carolina's Republican primary voters were Evangelicals or born-again Christians. Of the 40 percent not in that category, they favored John McCain over Mike Huckabee, leaving McCain to win the state.

(voice-over): Political watchers say social issues are a motivating force for Evangelicals in South Carolina, but not a sole factor.

SCOTT HUFFMON, WINTHROP UNIVERSITY: Simply saying I'm an Evangelical is not enough to win them over. You have to say, I'm the Evangelical candidate, or I'm a moral candidate. I am concerned about the social issues you're concerned with, but I'm also concerned about the debt and the deficit.

SNOW: Along with fiscal conservatives, there's also a large number of active and retired military personnel living in South Carolina, and a win here is seen as key to winning the South.

HUFFMON: If you can appeal to the conservatives in South Carolina, if you can win in the heat and occasional dirty politicking in South Carolina, then you're the type of candidate who has the mettle to move on. It does often provide a firewall.

SNOW (on camera): One other thing to watch in South Carolina is the issue of jobs and the economy. Unlike Iowa and New Hampshire, where the unemployment rate is below the national average, South Carolina's unemployment rate is 9.9 percent.

Mary Snow, CNN, New York.


STOUT: And still ahead on NEWS STREAM, a look at the life of one of Britain's most controversial figures and the person of this American actress who portrays her. The Iron Lady is next.


STOUT: Coming to you live from Hong Kong, you're back watching NEWS STREAM.


STOUT: Now, coming up next here on NEWS STREAM, pick your battles. The U.S. is on the verge of announcing a military overhaul that may restrict it to fighting one major conflict at a time. We'll bring you the latest from the Pentagon.

And we meet the young mother who was faced with a life-or-death decision when armed intruders broke into her home. And police say her actions were justified. We'll tell you what happened, next.


STOUT: Back to our breaking news story. The chief prosecutor in Hosni Mubarak's trial has formally requested the death sentence for the former Egyptian president and his fellow defendants.

Let's get more details now. Journalist Ian Lee joins us live on the line from Cairo.

And Ian, why are prosecutors now seeking the death penalty for Hosni Mubarak?

IAN LEE, JOURNALIST: Well, we talked to one of the lawyers who is inside the trial, and they said that they wanted the death sentence for Mubarak.

Now it's unlikely the Mubarak will get the death penalty. And it is still -- anyone will get the death penalty, and it's unlikely. But this comes at a pivotal time in Egypt whether it's heightened tensions approaching the anniversary of the revolution. And talking to some people, some analysts are saying that the government wants to diffuse any tensions before that date. They want to show that the trial is moving forward and the prosecution is moving forward and that there will be justice.

So that's what we're looking -- right now what analysts are saying is that this is some way for the government to kind of diffuse the tension before the anniversary.

LU STOUT: So this decision could be, as you put it, politically motivated. But now saying -- the prosecution saying that it is seeking the death penalty for Hosni Mubarak. You say that it's unlikely that that will be the outcome of this case, but the fact that they are ramping up the stakes in the court room what impact does that have on the defense and its options and its strategy?

LEE: Oh, well the defense -- well is going to present -- you know, they've been presenting both sides of the cases and talking to different people who all are analysts and people who are inside the courthouse. It doesn't seem like the prosecution has the evidence to really ask for the death penalty for Mubarak, but more that Mubarak was complacent in these deaths and that's something that we're hearing is a more likely sentence which could be somewhere around three years in prison.

But the defense would be more deflect these. And a lot of people we're talking to say that really unlikely that Mubarak will be found guilty of these -- of these crimes. But we will wait and see what the judges -- the verdict.

LU STOUT: Yeah, a death sentence, as you said, the analysts are telling you that that is unlikely, but still it's quite a bombshell of a headline. What has been the reaction, if you are able to gauge it at all, because this is news just in to us, the reaction of Egypt to the support that prosecutors are seeking a death penalty -- death by hanging for Hosni Mubarak?

LEE: Well, this is a very popular -- so this would be a very popular outcome of a trial that has been going on for quite awhile. A lot of people have been wanting some sort of retribution and especially for the people who were killed during the revolution. And there's also the corruption charges he's facing. So a lot of people in Egypt would find that to be satisfactory outcome to the trial.

But that being said, it is still very unlikely that that will be the outcome.

LU STOUT: OK. Ian Lee joining us live form Cairo with the very latest on this. Thank you very much indeed for that.

And we will continue to follow that breaking news out of Egypt in the hours ahead.

Now the U.S. policy of being able to fight two major conflicts at the same time may be about to change. Now that as U.S. defense secretary is due to outline a military review this Thursday.

Now our Pentagon correspondent Chris Lawrence joins us now live from Washington. And Chris, walk us through the Pentagon's new strategy.

CHRIS LAWRENCE, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Yeah, Kristie, this basically has to do a lot with money, frankly. The Pentagon has to cut about a half trillion dollars out of the budget, so basically this plan and this new strategy is a way of saying here is what we can do and here's what we cannot do.

The two war strategy that will be going away is being replaced by what's being called sort of one war, one spoil. And what that means is the U.S. would be able to wage one major ground combat operation, but would still be able to deploy forces overseas to sort of spoil the intentions of a second adversary who might want to take advantage.

I spoke with one analyst who put it in terms of a hypothetical conflict where the U.S. was fighting in Iran and then a conflict broke out on the Korean peninsula.


ANDREW KREPINOVICH, CENTER FOR STRATEGIC BUDGETARY ASSESSMENTS: As we began to wear down the Iranians we can begin to shift forces toward Korea. And again even though we wouldn't be able to bring full combat power to that North Korean contingency from the outset of the conflict as much as we would think is needed, over time we would certainly have that ability.


LAWRENCE: And one of the big things about this strategy is the continued push to focus the future of military assets and strategy into the region of the Pacific and Asia. If you look at what's happening, a lot of the drawbacks are in ground comeback forces, predominantly in the army, but a lot of the long range ballistic missiles, a lot of that capability will still be prevalent and will be pushed more heavily, probably, into the Pacific region -- Kristie.

LU STOUT: Yeah, Chris, why the shift to Asia and the Asia-Pacific region? The Pentagon now putting Asia front and center, not the Middle East. Does it have to do with China or North Korea?

LAWRENCE: A little bit of both, actually. I mean, you have a new regime there in North Korea, but also there is uncertainty as to what China's build-up really means in the long-term. You know, China has steadily increased its military spending. And no one here really knows exactly what the end game of that is.

So you're not just planning for what you think is the immediate threat, but you're trying to plan as best as possible for all eventualities, all possibilities. And with the continuing change in technology there's a lot of people here who feel like that idea of fighting two major ground combat wars, it's just that time has passed. It's cyber warfare, limited special ops warfare, that basically there could be -- there might be a chance of fighting one major combat operation, perhaps in Asia, in the Pacific, in that region, but that things in the Middle East would be better handled by smaller special operations forces, unmanned drones rather than a large combat force going back into the Middle East.

LU STOUT: All right Chris Lawrence detailing the new changes coming to the Pentagon. Thank you very much indeed for that update.

Now you only need to glance at this map from the International Chamber of Commerce to see that the most dangerous waters in the world are those around Somalia. Now some 3,000 pirates operate off that coastline and there is no lack of targets for them. Around 28,000 ships use those waters.

Now a new British report out today is calling for, quote, decisive action to contain the growing problem of piracy in that region. And it goes as far as welcoming the use of private armed guards to protect British ships. And also asked lawmakers to provide clear guidelines on whether captains can authorize those guards to use lethal force against pirates.

And if that seems extreme, well consider the sums of money being paid out in ransoms. Now the report says that internationally more than $300 million has been paid to Somali pirates over the past four years. In 2011, the average ransom amounted to $4.7 million.

And then there's the human cost. Over the past four years, 3,500 people have been taken hostage and more than 60 have been killed.

Now the UK foreign affairs committee behind the paper criticizes the UK government's track record in prosecuting pirates. It says that in cases in which pirates are detained 90 percent are released without charge.

Now the UK government says the number of pirate attacks and the resulting cost to the shipping industry have significantly increased since 2007.

Now let's bring in CNN's Nima Elbagir. She's been following this story from CNN London. She joins us now. Nima, why did the British foreign affairs committee issue this report. Is it essentially a critique of the government's lack of action?

NIMA ELBAGIR, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, this of course comes ahead, Kristie, of the conference on Somalia that's going to be held here in London at the end of February, but there was also a sense that all of this is perhaps a little too late in coming. This had such a huge impact on the maritime industry. Lloyd's of London is of course based here in London. There is a huge impact on the British economy in fact, the European economy. When you think about it, $952 billion worth of trade goes through the Gulf of Aden every single year, 40,000 ships. So really, the foreign affairs committee feels like it has been a little late in coming.

But also they themselves seem to be accepting of the fact that it is quite a big conclusion to come to, this need for the presence of secured and armed guards on ship.

We spoke to the chairman for that committee. This is what he had to say to CNN a little earlier, Kristie.


RICHARD OTTOWAY, CHAIRMAN, UK FOREIGN AFFAIRS COMMITTEE: There are a number of ships -- the Chinese, Russians, Indians who have been using force down there. And it is effective. In fact, as far as I'm aware no ship that has been carrying armed guards has actually been hijacked and may have been attacked. And so it is -- sadly it is a necessary development for the foreseeable future.


ELBAGIR: Well, what's really interesting, Kristie is that the select committee also had some members of the Somali community in the diaspora. And really a lot of their issues with the way that international companies have been treating the Gulf of Aden -- you know the UN has spoken often about the dumping of toxic waste, they've spoken about illegal fishing. Over 700 international vessels illegally have been fishing out Somali waters. And the committee has also said that there is a need to bring Somalis into this process to give them a reason to support the anti-piracy efforts. This is, of course, a country where many people live on under a dollar a day, Kristie.

LU STOUT: Nima Elbagir joining us live on this story. Thank you very much from walking us through this report.

Now in the U.S. state of Oklahoma, a young mother took matters into her own hands when she suspected that burglars were trying to break into her home. Now she barricade one door with a couch, put a bottle in her baby's mouth, grabbed a 12 gauge shotgun and then called 911 to ask if she could shoot the intruder.

Now Sarah McKinley is just 18-years-old. And you see her here with her 3-month-old son. And she says she made the decision to protect her child. They were home alone on New Year's Eve because McKinley's husband died of cancer on Christmas Day.

Now Adam Mertz of affiliate KFOR explains how the young widow made it through this attempted break-in.


ADAM MERTZ, KFOR CORRESPONDENT: Sarah McKinley with her 3-month-old baby in her arms just days after she feared for her life.

CALLER: I've got two guns in my hand. Is it OK to shoot him if he comes in this door.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Well, you have do whatever you can do to protect yourself. I can't tell you that you can do that, but you do what you have to do to protect your baby.

DIANE GRAHAM, 911 DISPATCHER: I knew she was scared, because she was whispering. So I knew she didn't want him to know that she was on the phone with me.

MERTZ: Diane Graham was one of the dispatchers on the phone with McKinley just before an intruder entered her home. Sarah was alone with her son, no one else was there to protect her.

GRAHAM: Do you have like an alarm on your car that you can set off with your remote control that might scare him?

MERTZ: The suspect, Justin Martin, made his way into the home where McKinley shot and killed him. In the moments leading up to the shooting, 911 dispatchers from Grady County and Blanchard (ph) remained on the phone with the scared mother.

GRAHAM: Anything can be serious in a moments notice. So you need to believe what they say when they call and get the help to them as quick as you can.

SARAH MCKINLEY, KILLED INTRUDER: The 911 dispatcher was awesome. She was.

GRAHAM: Sarah is still very shaken about what happened, but says she may have not made it through this without the help of the dispatchers who never once got off the phone.

MCKINLEY: I guess she was feeding off her and she was calm so I could be calm.


LU STOUT: Wow, incredible story. And what a phone call.

Now the district attorney says that McKinley acted in self defense and will not face charges.

And another man is accused of trying to break into McKinley's home, Dustin Stuart (ph) is said to appear in court to face charges of first- degree felony murder. Now prosecutors say while Stuart (ph) did not pull the trigger he is responsible for his alleged accomplices death.

Now what is playing in Chinese movie theaters and on Chinese television is increasingly becoming a matter of state affairs. We have the details ahead.


LU STOUT: Welcome back.

Now Australia's run fest has continued in the second test against India in Sydney. Let's join Alex Thomas in London to tell us how the match stands with just two days to go -- Alex.

ALEX THOMAS, CNN SPORTS CORRESPONDENT: Yeah, Kristie, 24 hours after hitting the highest ever score at the FCG and sharing the largest ever partnership for Australia against India alongside Ricky Ponting, Michael Clarke remained a thorn in the tourists side on Thursday. India failed to dismiss the Aussie skipper and he reached 329 not out before declaring his team's first innings on 659 for four, a massive lead of 468 runs. Michael Hussy (ph) also finished unbeaten on 150.

Clarke was well within reach of Australia's highest ever individual test score, but said he decied to declare so the Aussies had a better chance of bowling out India and going 2-nil up in the series. A fairly selfless act, because Australia's captain was making such serene progress that even Brian Lara's record test total of 400 not out was under threat.

As it is, Clarke is only 14th on the list of highest individual scores in a test match. And his 329 not out is the fourth largest Australian innings as you can see here behind Matthew Hayden, Mark Taylor and the legendary Don Bradman.

Well they replied to Australia's total of 659, India are 140 for 2 in their second innings. Still 354 runs behind. And needing to bat for the best part of two days simply to save the match.


RAVI ASHWIN, INDIA BOWLER: I think I've been bowling pretty well. Though we did call (inaudible) but I'm not someone who is going to read into that. Keep going on. And there will be a spell where I can really (inaudible).


THOMAS: Luis Suarez has finally issued an apology for the racist verbal abuse he used against Patrice Evra in a Premier League match last year. The Liverpool striker was punished with an eight match ban, which he is currently serving. Both the player and the club feel (inaudible). But although the Manchester United defender wasn't mentioned by name, Suarez has finally said sorry for calling him a negro.

A statement read, I never, ever use this word in the derogatory way. And if it offends anyone than I want to apologize for that. The Uruguayan added I told the panel members that I will not use it again on a football pitch.

In England, more sport in World Sport in well just over three hours time, Kristie, including come NBA highlights between the Heat and the Pacers.

LU STOUT: All right. Sounds good. Alex, thank you.

Ahead here on News Stream, China tries to protect its culture by limited what can be seen on TV. We'll explain.

And fans in London turned out for the premier of Iron Lady. And Meryl Streep speaks about Margaret Thatcher.


LU STOUT: Welcome back.

Now in ways that are relatively easy to measure, it is safe to say that China is growing, its population, its economy, its military, and these days all these things are giving the country more clout on the international stage, and yet increasingly China's leadership is showing signs that it sees a weak spot, that is its ability to preserve its culture.

Stan Grant reports.


STAN GRANT, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: It could be called Hu Jintao's own cultural revolution -- no red books, or screaming masses, but the message is loud enough. Out with decadent wasted influence, in with Chinese culture. Prominent blogger and social commentator Jeremy Goldkorn says President Hu is motivated by fear that outside influence will bring internal revolt.

JEREMY GOLDKORN, SOCIAL MEDIA COMMENTATOR: I think he's basically using the playbook of a much older kind of Communist rhetoric. And I don't think there's a real sense that China is under attack. I think there are a lot of worries about color movements or you know Jasmine Revolution, Arab Spring, that kind of movement coming to China.

GRANT: Hu is talking culture war. On one side, Western acts like Lady Gaga, on the other more sedate nationalistic performance. Worried about Western seduction of Chinese youth, China's president wants a little more of this, and a little less of this.

GOLDKORN: My sense was that the fear is that the sense is not holding, that the party's propaganda is no longer working and that Chinese people are lost because the Communist Party isn't forcefully enough telling them what to do.

GRANT: President Hu takes aim at what he calls the infiltration of Western values in an essay published in the official Communist magazine Seeking Truth. He says the West is using ideology and culture to attempt to divide China. "We must clearly see that the international hostile forces are intensifying strategic attempts to westernize China."

China already limits the publication of western books and only 20 foreign films are allowed to be shown each year. Artists and writers have complained of being harassed and some locked up for not towing the party line. Still, the internet has made censorship harder.

Take a look around, China is surrounded by western ideas, fashion, and culture just in this popular Beijing shopping center. You've got Nike here, Starbucks over there, Puma there, all big brands side by side.

President Hu urges China to be on guard and take forceful measures to respond to western cultural reach.

Chairman Mao used the cultural revolution to help define his legacy. President Hu is not preparing to hand over power to a new generation. Leaders may change, but the old battles often remain the same.

Stan Grant, CNN, Beijing.


LU STOUT: So how does China go about preserving its culture? Well, the answer: TV regulation. You may recall the sudden end of this popular talent show Super Girl last September. And despite its high ratings, authorities axed the program for, quote, violating a cap on screen time. However, some argue the reason for the cancellation is not the time, but the content. A report from China's broadcasting watchdog says all broadcasters are encouraged to produce, quote, harmonious, healthy and mainstream programs such as culture and art appreciation, history, geography and astronomy.

And starting January 1, the report orders provincial channels to replace entertainment shows with morality building programs. And what's more, stations are often forbidden to place advertisements during TV dramas in order to ensure content quality.

Now the success of the government's attempt to raise moral standards and the effect on TV revenue and viewership are sure to be closely watched inside China and out.

Now in London, the European premier of The Iron Lady was received with much fanfare on Wednesday. And the film documents the life of the former British Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher played by American actress Meryl Streep. And CNN's Neil Curry filed this report from the blue carpet.


NEIL CURRY, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: 24 years ago this week Margaret Thatcher became the longest serving British prime minister of the 20th Century. And it's fitting that the UK premier of The Iron Lady took place on a blue carpet here at the British Film Institute just down river from the House of Commons, a stage upon which Thatcher, the daughter of a shop keeper, became known to the world as the woman who aspired to put the great back into Great Britain.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: My life must matter.

CURRY: The film reveals a frail, present day Margaret Thatcher revisiting some of the highlights of her life through flashbacks and lucent moments between the onset of dementia. This is the woman credited, or cursed depending on your political view, with privatizing state owned industry, reigning in the power of the trade unions, standing up to the Cold War Soviet super power, and defeating Argentina to recover the Falkland Islands.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: The Falkland Islands belong to Britain. And I want them back.

MERYL STREEP, ACTRESS: Well, I do think that when Churchill cried it was seen as a sign of his humanity, but if Margaret Thatcher had cried ever in public it would have been seen as a sign of her weakness and her unsuitability.

STREEP: Gentlemen, shall we join the ladies?

CURRY: The film shows her battle to be taken seriously in a political world dominated by men. Thatcher was Britain's first and so far only female prime minister. During her 11 years in power her policies and personality polarized the British people.

MARGARET THATCHER: And we're very happy United Kingdom in a very, very much better state than when we came here 11-and-a-half years ago.

CURRY: 21 years since she left Downing Street, the name Margaret Thatcher still stirs British passions.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I'm one of Thatcher's children, born in the 80s. Absolutely fantastic woman. I'm glad that she's been immortalized in a film.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Pain, anguish, horror. Simple as that, mate. Evil woman.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I think she was the prime minister that very much divided the nation. But I think people will reflect very fondly on her and feel very (inaudible) that she achieved in such a long term.

CURRY: As much younger reporter I met Margaret Thatcher twice when she was prime minister. I have to say that Meryl Streep who is behind me, her performance was uncannily convincing. It's not difficult to understand why most of the critics have got her the out right favorite to win the Best Actress Oscar at next months' Academy Awards.

Neil Curry, CNN, London.


LU STOUT: Now time to go Over and Out There with some rather swanky sushi. Japan has welcomed in the New Year with a new record for the price paid for a blue fin tuna, $736,000. The 269 kilogram fish was sold at the first auction of the year at Tokyo's famous Tsukiji market. And the winning bidder says he wanted to keep this year's top tuna in Japan. Now he paid almost double last year's record price for a blue fin tuna.

Now media reports suggest around 10,000 slices like this -- 10,000 could come from this tuna. Though I should point out that I'm holding yellow fin tuna, not blue fin. But considering the tuna cost him $2,700 a kilogram, some slices could be sold for upwards of 50 bucks a slice.

Now luckily for those with less expensive tastes, other pieces of the prized fish are expected to sell for more manageable $5.

And that is News Stream, but the news continues at CNN. "WORLD BUSINESS TODAY" is next.