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New Hampshire Primary; South Carolina Contest; Iraq: Police State?; Lionel Messie Wins Best World Player Hat Trick; A Look At CES 2012

Aired January 10, 2012 - 00:08:00   ET


PAULINE CHIOU, HOST: Welcome to NEWS STREAM, where news and technology meet.

I'm Pauline Chiou.

We begin today in New Hampshire, where voting is under way in the second round of the Republican presidential contest. Mitt Romney holds a commanding lead in the polls.

Show of defiance. Syria's president hits at what he calls an external conspiracy causing violence in his country.

And gadgets galore. We'll take a tour of new products on offer at the Consumer Electronics Show.

The polls are open in the U.S. state of New Hampshire, and that's essentially home turf for one Republican presidential candidate. Mitt Romney was governor of neighboring Massachusetts, and he's favored to win New Hampshire's Republican primary. But as Jim Acosta tells us, Romney has made comments that could hurt him down the road.


JIM ACOSTA, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Touring a metalworks factory for votes, Mitt Romney has seen the financial days before the New Hampshire primary manufacture nothing but trouble. At a breakfast event, Romney used an unfortunate choice of words in touting the health care plan he passed in Massachusetts.

MITT ROMNEY (R), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: I want individuals to have their own insurance. That means the insurance company will have an incentive to keep you healthy. It also means that if you don't like what they do, you can fire them.

I like being able to fire people who provide services to me.

ACOSTA: It didn't take long for the rivals to pounce, starting with Jon Huntsman.

JON HUNTSMAN (R), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: Governor Romney enjoys firing people. I enjoy creating jobs.

ACOSTA: Asked about his comments, Romney complained his words were being misconstrued.

ROMNEY: I was talking about insurance companies. We like to be able to get rid of insurance companies that don't give us the service that we need.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Mitt Romney, them guys, they don't care who I am.

ACOSTA: But the remarks come as a pro-Newt Gingrich super PAC is unleashing a 30-minute documentary that focuses on Romney's days as the head of the private investment firm Bain Capital, which created some companies, but also downsized others.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: That hurt so bad to leave my home because of one man that's got 15 homes.

ACOSTA: And over the weekend, Romney told a crowd he knew what it was like to fear for his job, despite his privileged upbringing, as the son of George Romney, a former car company president, governor, and one-time presidential candidate.

ROMNEY: I know what it's like to worry whether you're going to get fired. There were a couple of times I wondered whether I was going to get a pink slip.

ACOSTA: Looking ahead to the next primary down in South Carolina, Rick Perry couldn't resist.

"I have no doubt Mitt Romney was worried about pink slips," Perry said, "whether he was going to have enough of them to hand out."

Romney said he was only talking about how he worked his way up from the bottom in the business world.

ROMNEY: Like anybody that starts at the bottom of an enterprise, you wonder when you don't do so well whether you are going to be able to hang on to your job. ACOSTA: Democrats are also piling on. Back at that breakfast event a woman from the United Auto Workers union challenged Romney on his opposition to the General Motors bailout. Romney stood by his comments.

ROMNEY: I believe the market works better than a president stepping in to take care of his friends.

ACOSTA: When we tried to talk to the woman, the Romney campaign's soundman cranked up the music, cutting her off. As we tried to catch up with the soundman he threw a sheet over his head.

(on camera): The barrage of attacks has caused the attention of the pro- Romney super PAC Restore Our Future. The same PAC that took down Newt Gingrich in Iowa has plans to spend $2 million down in South Carolina pumping up Romney's accomplishments. Super PACs can do the dirty work of campaigns. It can also do the damage control.

Jim Acosta, CNN, Bedford, New Hampshire.


CHIOU: While most polling sites have only just opened in New Hampshire, the ballots have already been counted in one very tiny town. Dixville Notch traditionally votes at midnight. They have a population of nine people. And since 1968, residents have selected the eventual Republican nominee. But this year Dixville Notch did not give a clear prediction. Mitt Romney and Jon Huntsman both tied with two votes a piece.

Well, New Hampshire political insiders say it's Romney's race to lose. Let's bring in CNN political editor Paul Steinhauser, who joins us live from Manchester, New Hampshire.

Now, Paul, we see Romney getting attacked from all sides. And even though he's a clear front-runner in the polls, will some of his recent comments actually pull him down a notch in New Hampshire?

PAUL STEINHAUSER, CNN POLITICAL EDITOR: Maybe a little bit, but as you said, Pauline, he is the clear front-runner. The last two polls came out over the last 12 hours, and both indicated Romney with about a 20-point lead over everybody else in the field. And yes, those comments may hurt a little bit, but they may hurt him more down the road in South Carolina and in Florida, the next two states to hold contests after here in New Hampshire.

You know, I ran into Governor Huntsman from Utah this morning and his campaign staff. And I said to the governor, "You should probably tout that you're right now tied for first place with Mitt Romney throughout the day because of those Dixville Notch results." Huntsman, of course, and Ron Paul, the polls indicate, are tied for second place right now, with Rick Santorum and Newt Gingrich tied basically for third.

Pauline, it's not a battle for first place. There should be no drama in that. But the real story here in New Hampshire is who finishes second, who finishes third. And those candidates may get some momentum going into South Carolina, with its primary 11 days away -- Pauline.

CHIOU: Right. It does, Paul, seem like it's more of a race for number two. And we've got Jon Huntsman, who you just mentioned, who skipped Iowa and really focused on New Hampshire. We also have Ron Paul appealing to lots of libertarians and the Independents there. And then we've also seen Santorum surging since the Iowa caucuses.

So how do you think this could play out for number two?

STEINHAUSER: It could be quite a battle for two. You mentioned Paul does very well with libertarians, and also Independents. And Independents here in this state, about four out of 10 people who will be voting today in the primaries, will probably be Independent voters.

He does well with younger voters. If younger voters come out in big numbers, Ron Paul will probably lock up second place.

You mentioned Huntsman. You're right, he is placing all his chips, I guess you could say, on a strong finish in New Hampshire. If he gets it, he'll move on to South Carolina. If he does not do well here, it may be tough for his campaign to weather on.

Santorum and Gingrich, they're going to go on to South Carolina regardless of their finishes here. Sure, they would like to do well, but both of those men are looking to be the conservative alternative to Mitt Romney. South Carolina, a much more conservative state, at least when it comes to the Republican side, than here in New Hampshire. It's actually much closer to Iowa.

So, Santorum and Gingrich are going to move on regardless. And Rick Perry, the Texas governor, Pauline, he's not even here. He's been in South Carolina the last couple of days. That's where he will make his last stand, I guess you could say.

CHIOU: OK. As we look ahead to South Carolina, but for now it's going to be a very busy day.

Paul Steinhauser, our political editor.

Thank you very much for joining us there live from Manchester, New Hampshire.

And some of the candidates are not campaigning in New Hampshire. In fact, they have skipped ahead to South Carolina, as Paul just mentioned, where Romney is also actually in the lead.

David Mattingly is live from Charleston, South Carolina.

And David, what does the political picture look like down there?

DAVID MATTINGLY, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, Pauline, South Carolina is known as a true test among conservative voters about who they see could be the winner in this group of candidates. Four years ago, Mitt Romney did not do very well, and this time he is looking toward born-again Christians, conservative voters here, to help change that.


MATTINGLY (voice-over): The road to the Republican nomination runs through here, South Carolina's congregations of Evangelical Christians. This is where four years ago, Mitt Romney was buried in fourth place.

(on camera): Mormonism, is that the elephant in the room for Romney?

GREG SURRATT, SEACOAST CHURCH PASTOR: Obviously, I think it's an issue. Probably similar to Catholicism for John Kennedy 50 years ago.

MATTINGLY (voice-over): Greg Surratt is pastor of one of the state's biggest megachurches. And among these born-again Christians, there are deeply-held opinions about Romney's faith and the question, are Mormons Christians?

(on camera): A show of hands for people who think they are not? Is that going to affect how you view him as a candidate?

JERRY MCSWAIN, EVANGELICAL CHRISTIAN: We can't be one issue type of people. We have to broaden our viewpoint in some form or fashion. I do think in terms of religious issues or spiritual issues, they go to the issue of character.

MATTINGLY: In this election, Evangelical voters here say that character and conviction matter more to them than a candidate's domination. Surprisingly, social issues barely come into the conversation at all.


MCSWAIN: The budget.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Small businesses.

MATTINGLY: Does that mean that the wallet is taking the place of the bible when it comes to voting?

SURRATT: You know, that's a pretty powerful stimulus, is the wallet. I'm hoping as a believer, and a leader of believers, that it's secondary.

MATTINGLY (voice-over): Four years in a bad economy have these voters feeling vulnerable. Ray and Cindy Ferrell pray to God for relief.

CINDY FERRELL, EVANGELICAL CHRISTIAN: Without out faith, we would be toast.


MATTINGLY: Former real estate developers, the Ferrells lost their business, their salaries, their health insurance, their retirement. And the tears come easily.

R. FERRELL: It took away our livelihood. At one point I thought I lost my dignity. You know, who I am. We couldn't do the things we used to do. It was tough.

MATTINGLY: The Ferrells struggle daily with their losses, and it drives their votes. Hard times leave little room for hard questions about a candidate's faith.

(on camera): Is that enough to affect your vote when you're looking at Romney?

C. FERRELL: No, not for me.


C. FERRELL: First of all, I'm not looking at a president to be the leader of my church.

MATTINGLY (voice-over): But the Ferrells and other Evangelicals are looking for someone who will help answer their prayers, prayers for an economic recovery and a stronger future.


MATTINGLY: But not all Evangelicals are poised to vote for Romney. If you look deep into the poll results, you'll find that Evangelicals who are leaning to the very conservative side, toward fiscal policy and the economy, they are less likely to be supporting Romney. So it shows you how important economic issues will be as they size up these candidates.

CHIOU: Absolutely. David, thank you very much.

David Mattingly, live there in the next primary state of South Carolina.

And you're watching NEWS STREAM.

Just ahead, President Bashar al-Assad of Syria walks into a room of applause before he goes on to make a rare public speech. We'll tell you what he said about the violence that's killed thousands of people in his country.

Plus, we'll hear from protesters in neighboring Iraq, why they say the country is dangerously close to becoming a police state.

And a former U.S. Marine is sentenced to death in Iran for spying. Hear what a lawyer hired by his family says is the real reason for his conviction.

Don't go away. We'll be right back.


CHIOU: Instead of the democracy they've been hoping for, some activists in Iraq say they're seeing signs that their country is turning into a police state.

From Baghdad, here's Jomana Karadsheh with more.


JOMANA KARADSHEH, CNN PRODUCER (voice-over): Last month, Arday Azadi (ph) and a small group of people gathered in a Baghdad square to celebrate the U.S. military withdrawal, planning to burn the U.S. flag. But more than 200 security forces swarmed around them, banned us from filming, and stopped the protest because they said the group had not obtained a permit. But they still managed to burn the flag.

Arday (ph) and others were beaten up and detained for a day. Security officials say they assaulted policemen, something the group denies.

"Democracy in Iraq is an illusion," Arday (ph) says, "an American illusion and an American lie. Whoever wants to see that for themselves should come and see what has been happening in Iraq since February 25th."


KARADSHEH: That's when thousands of Iraqis, partly influenced by the Arab Spring, took to the streets of cities across the country, protesting against corruption and a lack of basic services. But from the start, they were met by a fierce crackdown. The government denies an orchestrated effort to put down protests, say there were just minor violations committed by individual security officers. Activist groups disagree. Human Rights Watch says the violations have been systematic and ongoing, documenting dozens of cases where protesters were beaten up, detained, and in some cases even tortured.

SAMER MUSCATI, HUMAN RIGHTS WATCH: People are afraid to go to demonstrations. They're afraid of being rounded up, of being assaulted, of being beaten up, of being followed to their homes.

KARADSHEH: And this is what has happened almost a year since the protests began here in Baghdad's own Tahrir, or Liberation Square. The scene is very different from last February.

(on camera): Activists say the crowd here has significantly dwindled over recent months, and most of those present on this Friday say they are supporters of Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki. This crowd behind me has been chanting against two of the prime minister's main political rivals, Ayad Allawi and Saleh al-Mutlaq.

(voice-over): Banners like these around the square praise "the wisdom and courage" of Mr. Maliki.

MUSCATI: I think, really, we are at a critical juncture and we are at a crossroads. And Iraq, right now, from what we see, is a budding police state. And hopefully that will change, but all indications now that things are actually going to deteriorate even more.

GEN. QASSIM ATTA, BAGHDAD OPERATIONS COMMAND SPOKESMAN (through translator): Our country is still suffering from terrorism. Security forces are highly sensitive and ready for the worst possibilities, and it is their right to protect public security. There should be no generalization. These human rights organizations can visit Tahrir Square every week to see the protests.

KARADSHEH: But those who dare venture out have a different story. As we tried to speak to this protester, we're interrupted by government supporters. Protesters say they're intelligence agents.

For now, there are still some who refuse to back down despite the intimidation campaign.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Why the republic of Iraq every time, every time, every time is dead, killed, dead, killed? Why?

KARADSHEH: As this man cries out against the government, Maliki's supporters move right in --


KARADSHEH: -- drowning out the calls for change.

Jomana Karadsheh, CNN, Baghdad.


CHIOU: And when we come back we'll have an update on the situation in Syria, with a live report from Nic Robertson.

NEWS STREAM continues after this.


CHIOU: Welcome back to NEWS STREAM.

Syrian president Bashar al-Assad today made a rare and defiant speech. In it he blamed what he called an external conspiracy for the violence in his country.

Since anti-government protests began some 10 months ago, Mr. Assad says he's never ordered a security crackdown and he will not step down.


BASHAR AL-ASSAD, SYRIAN PRESIDENT (through translator): There are many events (ph). Sometimes they say the president has fled and so many of these things. Shame on you. I am not (INAUDIBLE) run from these responsibilities.



CHIOU: And this comes amid reports that Arab League monitors were attacked by protesters.

Let's get the latest now from inside Syria. The Syrian government is now allowing CNN to report from inside the country, but there are some restrictions. Our Senior International Correspondent Nic Robertson joins me now on the phone, live from the capital of Damascus.

Nic, what more do we know about this attack on the Arab League monitors?

NIC ROBERTSON, CNN SR. INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: The Arab League believes these incidents are very serious incidents. They have complained to the Syrian government.

They say that in areas called Latakia and d'Azur, that Arab League monitors were attacked by people loyal -- pro -- loyal to the Syrian government, loyal to Bashar al-Assad, that these attacks on Arab League monitors led to damage of equipment and injuries to Arab League monitors, that the Arab League holds the Syrian government responsible for the security of the Arab League monitors while they're here. And in the past hour or so, I talked to the head of the Arab League mission here in the minutes before he was departing for a meeting with the Syrian foreign minister, and he wouldn't comment at that time on any of these incidents. But it has been clear from al the Arab League monitors sitting in the hotel where we're located, their base of operations, that very few, if any of them, have actually gone about their business today.

This has been a very, very big and dangerous development for the Arab League. It's something monitors here have told me that they've been worried about. And also, when listening the speech of President Assad earlier today, he condemned very strongly the Arab League, which many people here would interpret as opening the way for his supporters to vent their anger at the Arab League monitors. And that's what the Arab League is now holding President Bashar al-Assad accountable for.

CHIOU: We did hear that condemnation on external forces from al-Assad's speech which was just a couple of hours ago.

Nic, what else did you glean from his speech?

ROBERTSON: There was clearly an effort to rally support around him. He hasn't talked for a long time. And he blames, as he has in the past, a foreign media conspiracy, in particular singling out an interview with ABC for distorting the image of what's happening in Syria.

But this was a speech to appeal to his power base, those loyal to him already, and perhaps some of those floating a little bit in the middle. But there was nothing in the speech that reached out to the main opposition here who want to see the president pull his troops, pull his trucks, tanks out of the areas, out of the civilian areas of cities, which is what he's obligated to do under the agreement with the Arab League.

So there was nothing in the speech that would convince anyone I've met from the opposition so far that there's some middle ground emerging here for a solution. The president outlined a government of national unity, called on the opposition to work with his leadership, that there should be a government of national unity. But what the opposition have told me that they want to see -- and we met with several of them in an anti-government rally yesterday -- that they wouldn't trust the president while he said one thing, while having a gun in the other hand. That was their description.

So there's nothing in there that would seem to bridge the huge and growing differences here right now.

CHIOU: So, Nic, you are talking to the opposition there on the ground. We've been seeing these protests go on for about 10 months. We are hearing about these attacks on the Arab League monitors today.

What is your sense of how long this could actually go on for?

ROBERTSON: It's really not clear. I think that the president's speech today will certainly shore up support around his power base.

When you look around cities like Damascus, the capital, it seems much business as normal. There's heavy traffic; people are going about their jobs. There's a few shortages of electricity, and perhaps a few stores are closing, but not many. For most people, the economy is a little tougher, but there's not a huge impact on daily life.

And while the president can sustain that sort of image that the country is continuing as normal, that will seem to keep his power base strong. And he does still seem to have the support of a large part of the Syrian army. Even though there have been significant numbers of defectors to the opposition, he's still able to control vast swaths of the country.

There are only tiny areas that now the opposition control. So he does seem to be in a military position to hold out for much longer. But what's happened to the Arab League and the position the Arab League has taken now over these attacks on them really throws into question how much longer their mission here can be sustained and, therefore, how much longer the sort of diplomatic regional approach to the situation in Syria can last.

So I think although Bashar al-Assad appears to be at a holdout for longer, I would say there's a degree of uncertainty now about the amount of pressure he's going to feel from outside of the country on his leadership.

CHIOU: Nic, thank you very much for your perspective there on the ground in Damascus.

That's Nic Robertson, our senior international correspondent, live in Syria.

A former U.S. Marine sentenced to death in Iran has been given 20 days to appeal his death sentence. Amir Mirzaei Hekmati was convicted on Monday of working for an enemy country and spying for the CIA. The 28-year-old was born in Arizona, but he does have Iranian roots.

He was arrested last August while visiting his relatives. And earlier, his family's lawyer, Pierre Prosper, told CNN how he plans to handle the case.


PIERRE PROSPER, HEKMATI'S FAMILY ATTORNEY: Well, the first step, really, is to reach back out to the government. I've established some relationships based on my prior negotiations with the Tegavi (ph) case. I'll try to revive those connections and see if they're willing to have a conversation.

ZAIN VERJEE, CNN INTERNATIONAL ANCHOR: What worries you most about this case?

PROSPER: What worries me the most is the fact that this case is entrapped in an intense political environment. So we want to remove it from the political environment and establish a humanitarian corridor of communication, if you will, and see if we can just talk about Amir as a human being.


CHIOU: Meantime, Iran has begun enriching uranium at an underground facility in the country's north. The United Nations' nuclear watchdog says the plant is producing uranium enriched up to 20 percent. Tehran claims this uranium will be used for medical purposes, but the U.S. and other Western nations have ramped up sanctions, saying Tehran is actually trying to develop nuclear weapons.

Iran president Mahmoud Ahmadinejad is highlighting his nation's ties with Latin America. He's on a four-nation tour to try and strengthen relations with that region. And his first stop, Venezuela, where he pledged closer cooperation with the country's leader, Hugo Chavez.

The two countries do have plenty in common. Both are among the world's top oil exporters, and the governments are opposed to what they call the threat of U.S. imperialism.

Mr. Ahmadinejad is traveling with his ministers for foreign affairs, energy, and also economy. He's also visiting Nicaragua, Ecuador and Cuba this week.

Well, not long ago, Republican candidate Newt Gingrich tops the field of Republican presidential candidates in the U.S., but now he's fighting to stay in the race and keep his campaign alive. We'll examine his aggressive new strategy.

And it's three in a row for Lionel Messi. Some say FIFA's footballer of the year could be one of the best to ever play the game.


CHIOU: I'm Pauline Chiou in Hong Kong. You're watching News Stream. And these are your world headlines.

Syria's president Bashar al Assad has attacked his critics in a major speech from Damascus. He blames the violence in his country on what he calls external conspiracies. And says neither he nor his government has given orders to open fire on the protesters. It comes as the Arab League says its monitors were injured today in an attack by pro-government protesters. The Arab League has complained to the Syrian government, which it says is responsible for the safety of its monitors.

At least 35 people have been killed by an explosion in northwestern Pakistan. The car bomb at a market in the troubled Khyber Agency wounded more than 60 others. A government official told CNN the device was placed inside a vehicle belonging to a local militia group and was detonated remotely.

Japan is supposed to release three Australian anti-whaling activists who illegally boarded a ship to protest against Japan's whaling practices. It is the third time in five years activists have boarded Japanese ships involved in whaling. Japan annually hunts for whales in the seas near Antarctica despite a worldwide moratorium on killing them.

Voting is underway now in the U.S. state of New Hampshire's primary. It's one of many state contests to determine which Republican candidate will take on President Barack Obama in November. Mitt Romney is seen as the Republican frontrunner.

The opinion polls leading into today's presidential primary in New Hampshire don't bode well for another candidate: Newt Gingrich. So much so, his supporters are already looking ahead to the next Republican contest in the state of South Carolina. And the former U.S. House Speaker seems to be changing his tune these day. Gary Tuchman reports Gingrich is getting more aggressive.


GARY TUCHMAN, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Spend time with Newt Gingrich and you get the feeling it's now or never.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Speaker, why should New Hampshire voters vote for you tomorrow?

TUCHMAN: What do you need to have happen in New Hampshire?

NEWT GINGRICH, REPUBLICAN PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: Well, I think it's already happening. Everywhere we go, we have big crowds. Everywhere we go, people are very, very positive. And I think we'll have a pretty good night tomorrow night.

TUCHMAN: People who are very, very positive. But does that include Newt Gingrich himself?

GINGRICH: We proved in Iowa you can't survive just by being positive.

TUCHMAN: Gingrich is now in attack mode despite early promises to stay away from negative campaigning.

GINGRICH: I was having a great time just being totally positive and talking about big ideas and big solutions and I'd be glad to go back to that. But I don't think you -- I don't believe in unilateral disarmament.

ANNOUNCER: Romney took foreign seed money from Latin America.

GINGRICH: So now a big weapon is being loaded, a Super PAC called Winning Our Future, which supports Newt Gingrich is about to start airing an approximately 30 minute advocacy film ahead of the South Carolina primary blasting Romney.

ANNOUNCER: ...where you groomed, playing the system for a quick buck. A group of corporate raiders, lead by Mitt Romney, more ruthless than Wall Street.

TUCHMAN: Presidential candidates are not allowed to coordinate the actions of such Super PACs. But when Gingrich was asked on CBS News about, quote, "your Super PAC," Gingrich declared.

GINGRICH: I think there's a huge gap between where Mitt Romney is and where I am. I think that's what we hope to communicate clearly in South Carolina.

TUCHMAN: Was Gingrich acknowledging that he was directly involved in the actions of the Super PAC, which would violate the law?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Mr. Speaker, are you giving any direction or advice to Winning Our Future, the Super PAC?


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Are you affiliated with them at all?

GINGRICH: I'm not affiliated with them at all. I don't talk with them at all. I have not actually seen the film.

TUCHMAN: As Speaker of the House, Newt Gingrich was second in line for presidential succession. To get closer than that, he has to start doing much better than his fourth place finish in Iowa.

In what has become a battle to be the one and only Republican alternative to Mitt Romney. On Monday afternoon, he announced an endorsement.

GINGRICH: About 20 minutes ago I got a very nice phone call from Todd Palin, Sarah's husband. And he indicated that he was endorsing me today and was going to speak out on behalf of my candidacy.

TUCHMAN: Newt Gingrich says he's feeling momentum.

GINGRICH: I think this is still a very wide open primary.

TUCHMAN: A primary which now features a much more aggressive Newt Gingrich.

Gary Tuchman, CNN, Manchester, New Hampshire.


CHIOU: And tune in later this Tuesday for an iDesk election special. We're taking a closer look at the New Hampshire primary and the state's voters. Hala Gorani will be talking live with CNN reporters on the campaign trail, that's at 6:30 pm in London, 7:30 in Berlin, and 10:30 pm in Abu Dhabi.

Then join us a few hours later for the results and analysis and polls close in New Hampshire. That's at midnight in London and 8:00 in the morning right here in Hong Kong. America's Choice 2012 right here on CNN.

Now we're going to turn our attention to New Zealand where the stirring of a cargo ship that ran aground on a reef off New Zealand's North Island is slipping underwater. Take a look at this picture. This is all that remains visible of that end of the MV Rena.

The Maritime New Zealand Agency says about 75 percent of the vessels stern is now submerged. But it's still perched on the Astrolabe Reef, that's 12 nautical miles, or 22 kilometers, off of the resort city of Tauranga.

This graphic from Maritime New Zealand shows how the Rena is positioned on the reef. And you can see just how this corner remains above the surface and how the bridge over here is just fully submerged under water.

10 more tons of oil have spilled from the Rena this Tuesday. 21 containers holding a toxic byproduct of aluminum smelting have also slipped off the ship. But authorities say they are not thought to pose a risk to the environment there.

Well, let's get a look at the global weather forecast starting down under with Australia. And we check in with Mari Ramos who is live at the world weather center.

And Mari, it's really hard to believe it's already been one year since that historic flooding that we saw in Queensland.

MARI RAMOS, CNN WEATHER CORRESPONDENT: Yes, it has been one year. And it was for the most part a slow moving flood. It was happening very, very slowly. The waters were rising, began raining in December of 2010, but by January just a few weeks later towns had had enough. And this is what happened in one town in Australia in Toowoomba where most of the deaths occurred -- 21 people dead after 160 millimeters of rain fell in a period of just 10 hours.

That was then, and of course one year later people were remembering what happened on that terrible day. It took them all by surprise with the water rising so quickly. This is just another example of what they have to deal with there in Australia. But overall, Pauline, Toowoomba was one area affected.

When we come back over to the weather map over here, let me go ahead and show you. This is Toowoomba -- the location of Toowoomba. The creeks in the middle of the town were the ones that flooded had been raining already for three weeks. Like I said, this was just one of the places.

Let's go ahead and move on to another area that was affected. And this is Rock Hampton. Overall, about half of the state of Queensland was flooded at one time or another. And that's very significant.

This is an after picture of what the water was doing along this area. And if we get in a little bit closer -- Brandon is helping me out here with this -- look at the city of Rock Hampton completely, almost completely submerged by the Fitzroy River. Really amazing images of what happened here. These were the towns, but there were farmlands, minelands -- mines, and ever areas of agriculture that were completely covered by water.

It was a tragedy, and some people say even worse than the drought that lingered for 10 years.

Let's go ahead and move on. I want to take you to another part of the world. I want to take you and talk about other records, this time record snowfall, not in Australia, in Austria.

Let's go ahead and take a look at this iReport video that has come in. This is pretty good stuff as well.

This is in Andermatt in western Switzerland. And it looks beautiful right? But, you know what, in some cases you can not get in or out of many Austrian towns. Some of the borders are even closed between Austria and Germany because of the danger for avalanches as you go through the mountain passes.

The snowfall has been tremendous. Some areas have not seen this much snow in maybe 50 or 60 years.

Come back over to the weather map. I hate to tear you away from those pictures, because they are so pretty. Let me go ahead and show you some of the snowfall totals that we're expecting across this area. Again, you can see the snow making machines will continue to affect this region here. The snow will continue coming down, but not as heavy as what we've had in the last few days.

The snowfall records are tremendous. Let me go ahead and show you some of those. In (inaudible), for example, they began keeping records just back in 2001 and they have never had this much snow -- 216 centimeters. Another tremendous record that we set was from 1895, OK, they haven't had this much this in -- they've had this much snow five times, 122 centimeters of snow. So it's pretty significant stuff.

We are expecting the weather to start improving, but the risk for avalanches is still high as we head through the next couple of days until that snow finally settles.

Pauline, back to you.

CHIOU: Yeah, and just imagine a few weeks ago they were screaming for snow in the Alps. And then look what they got. All right, Mari, thank you very much. We'll see you soon again.

Well, we're going to turn you into a gadget geek next. New devices and games that aren't on the market yet are sure to be on display at a trade show that opens later today in the U.S. state of Nevada. We'll give you a sneak peak coming up.


CHIOU: Three years, one name: Lionel Messi is now the best footballer in the world for the third year running. He won FIFA's Ballon d'Or at a glitzy ceremony in Zurich last night. And CNN's Pedro Pinto was there.


PEDRO PINTO, CNN SPORTS CORRESPONDENT: Prized by some of the brightest stars in the world of entertainment and legends of the game, the world's top players ditched their football kit for a tuxedo for tonight's gala.

As far as the top prize on offer, the 2011 FIFA Ballon d'Or. The nominees: Lionel Messi, Xavi, and Christiano Ronaldo.

Before the ceremony, some of the brightest names in the world of football were already calling Messi one of the best players of all-time.

ALEX FERGUSON, MANAGER, MANCHESTER UNITED: He could play in the 50s, he could play in the present day as could De Stefano, Pele, Maradonna, Cruyff who could all play at any level because they're great players. And Lionel Messi, without question, comes into that category.

PEP GUARDIOLA, MANAGER, FC BARCELONA: It's a good question for Sir Alex, because he was lucky to see Pele, see Mr. De Stefano, and the rest. But seeing you, we agree with Sir Alex, now he can sit beside on them. It depends on him and the future if he continue to stay there.


PINTO: And the 24-year-old Argentine added more strength to the case that he is one of the best ever by picking up the Ballon d'Or for the third year running. As expected the Barcelona forward beat Christiano Ronaldo and Xavi in the voting by national team coaches, captains, and international journalists.

The FIFA women's player of the year award was given to the captain of Japan's World Cup winning team Homare Sawa, while Pep Guardiola was rewarded for Barcelona's phenomenal season with the coach of the year accolade.

After the ceremony, Pep's star player talked about winning the night's star prize.

GUARDIOLA (through translator): This one is just as special as the other two I have won. Team trophies are more important to me, but this is still a great prize to win.

PINTO: So that's a hat-trick for Messi. And with Barcelona's incredible title winning run showing no signs of relenting who would wager against Little Lionel making it four Ballon d'Ors in a row this time next year. Bet against it at your peril.

Pedro Pinto, CNN, Zurich.


CHIOU: So Lionel Messi has cemented his status as the best player of his generation. And here's a look at how he has achieved this feat. Messi has been the top scorer in the Champion's League for three straight years. He's now the joint top scorer for the season, which is only halfway through. Now his club, Barcelona, won trophy after trophy in 2011. Messi was their top scorer last year. And he's also Barca's second top scorer of all-time. All of this, and he's just 24-years-old.

But there's one big hole in his stellar career. He hasn't won anything for Argentina. The other players regarded as the greatest of all time have led their countries to international glory. For example, Diego Maradonna won one World Cup and reached another final. Pele won the World Cup three different times. But Messi hasn't done anything for Argentina yet. He will get his next shot when Brazil hosts the World Cup in two years.

And Messi isn't the only footballer making headlines in the sports world today. Two veteran French stars have also grabbed a share of the spotlight. And Don Riddell is live in London with more details. Don, what do you have for us?

DON RIDDELL, CNN SPORTS CORRESPONDENT: Well, I've got those stories for you. But what about Lionel Messi. I mean, just an incredible achievement as you've pointed out giving us all those fantastic statistics there. He is an absolutely brilliant player to watch. Of course the Barcelona fans love him. Neutral fans love watching him too. He's impossible to play against. He's irreplaceable for his team, Barcelona. And Pauline we're only 10 days into the new year, but already we're asking can he make it four in a row this time next year. You frankly bet on him doing exactly that. He's on his way to scoring 70 goals for Barcelona this season. They still look like a fantastic team. He's going to be very hard to shift from his position as the world's best footballer.

In other news, Arsenal's manager Arsene Wenger has described Tierry Henry's return to the Gunners as being like a dream following Monday nights FA Cup tie against Leeds United. The club's record goal scorer made an immediate impact for the Gunners at The Emirates Stadium.

Henry is back on loan from the New York Red Bulls for a six week period. His good friend David Beckham was at the stadium to witness the second coming of a player the Arsenal fans revere.

He began on the bench. And for awhile it didn't look as though the Gunners needed him. Squillaci headed wide there in one of Arsenal's numerous attacks.

Leeds, by the way, are the only team to have ever beaten Arsenal in the cup at home in the Arsene Wenger era. Certainly had their chances. Nothing doing for Luciano there, though.

But the night really was about this guy. Arsenal recently erected a statue in Henry's honor outside the stadium. That was the moment his adoring fans got to see him in the flesh once again. They needed a winner, and guess who provided it. Song passed it to Henry. And from the look of that finish, it was as if he'd never been away.

They say that form is temporary, class is permanent. That was a superb goal from the Frenchman. His club win tonight to take Arsenal in the fourth round of the cup.

And if you like numbers, he returned to Arsenal in 2012 wearing number 12 there and scoring his 12th goal in 12 games against (inaudible) all enjoy it.

And another French striker is also in the headlines today. The former Manchester United star Eric Cantona is preparing to launch a bid for the French presidential election. Cantona who helped United win four league titles in just five seasons at Old Tratford and who has since become an actor is aiming to draw attention to the plight of the poor and the homeless in France.

The 45-year-old needs to gather 500 signatures from mayors around the country to get his campaign off the ground. The election takes place in April and May. But he's not actually expected to run for office, instead to use the opportunity to highlight the housing situation in France.

We'll have more on that for you in World Sport later on. Pauline.

CHIOU: OK. Very much looking forward to that. Thank you very much, Don.

Well, it's a little piece of heaven for tech heads out there. The Consumer Electronic Show is about to open in Los Vegas. CES is an annual convention that showcases the hottest new gadgets and technology trends. Our Dan Simon has a sneak peak at what's on offer.


DAN SIMON, CNN CORRESPONDENT: We are in the heart of the convention center where you'll find more than 30 football fields of gadgetry. And here's a taste of what you'll see.

As always, televisions make the boldest statement at the show. And this year you'll see more of what are called OLED televisions. These are ultra thin and offer the best picture on the market. And pretty much every TV you see has 3D functionality and connects to the internet.

To appreciate just how difficult it is to put on this show, just come outside and check out all the crates. This is the stuff from Mitsubishi right here. Behind us are the crates from Microsoft. And this is just a tiny fraction of the overall amount of equipment here in Las Vegas.

One of the big themes for the show is seeing all the accessories for smartphones and tablets. This is one of the more unusual contraptions we've seen. This turns your iPad into a guitar. This is a product from Ion. It will retail for $99 when it comes out this summer. And it teaches you how to play the guitar.

Panasonic has tried to give us a sense as to what cars might look like in the future. This is not a video game, but a vision to make driving safer and easier.

People may think of CES really as a place to unveil TVs and computers, but it's really a lot more than that, it's really for any product that requires batteries or electricity and is available to consumers. We are at the Inada booth. And as you may have guessed, they sell massage chairs.

This is a new kind appliance from LG. It actually looks like a refrigerator, but when you open it up you're not going to see any food in there. You see clothes. They call this the styler. It will sterilize your clothes, take out some odors, do some drying, and also take out your wrinkles. No price yet. And we don't know when this will be for sale.

In computers this year, it's all about ultrabooks -- thin, powerful laptops with long battery life. Virtually every computer maker is coming out with their own version.

Companies like Google and Apple don't come to CES. Instead they hold their own events throughout the year. Microsoft has decided to go that route and says this will be its last year at the show, which has some wondering whether CES is losing its clout.

The big companies don't want to be on this show's schedule, to say OK, early January every year we have to have the big product for the year. But I haven't seen one new product that is a thing that we've never seen before, a behavior we've never seen before. And that's what everyone looks for. And this show gets a knock when it doesn't have one of those.

But for smaller companies and start-ups, CES is still perceived as a must. Xybotyx is making its debut this year. And it makes a product that turns your iPhone into a robot.

DANIEL MCSHAN, XYBOTYX: We're just interested in being here and getting exposure. And I think, you know, the less other products announcements there are, better off for us.

SIMON: Despite the changes in the industry, CES still remains a very powerful draw with more than 2,700 companies coming to the event.

Dan Simon, CNN, Las Vegas.


CHIOU: We're going to look to North Korea next. The propaganda machine in North Korea appears to have gone into overdrive with soldiers falling into line and marching on. We'll look at the myth and the man that's (inaudible) them forward just ahead.


CHIOU: North Korea is believed to be preparing a prisoner amnesty. State media reports an unspecified number of convicts will be released beginning on February 1st. The move marks the birthdays of deceased dictators Kim il-Song and Kim Jong-il. A third generation Kim now leads North Korea. And Paula Hancocks shows us the propaganda promoting Kim Jong-un.


PAULA HANCOCKS, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: A rising song with a message for the masses, a chorus of let's follow in his footsteps, Kim Jong-un's personal song says it all. It's part of the careful image building, driven into overdrive after the death of Kim Jong-il.

The first new year editorial message under Kim Jong-un was marked with a rally, 100,000 marched in support of their new leader. A new documentary marking his birthday on Sunday shows son of Kim Jong-un's many skills.

DANIEL PINKSTON, INTERNATIONAL CRISIS GROUP: They've been trying to establish this myth regarding his expertise. He speaks eight languages. He's a military genius and technical genius.

HANCOCKS: The inevitable military shots dominate his documentary, navigating a tank as the commentator speaks of the invincible general darting off at lightning speed with his strong grip on the controls. Meeting the military generals who are delighted to hold hands with him and excited to applaud him. And plenty of shots of a leader smiling and laughing, joking with his elders, even acting as a benevolent confidant.

PINKSTON: They might be trying to project a friendly image of him, a soft image to the audience. There's a lot of hardship in North Korea, a lot of people are dissatisfied with this constant mobilization and emergency type war preparation. And I think there's a lot of reminiscing about older times under his grandfather.

HANCOCKS: Kim Jong-un wears a black buttoned coat similar to the one often worn bY Kim il-Song. Experts believe his resemblance to his grandfather is one of the reasons he was picked as successor.

Kim Jong-un did not have the 20 years of grooming and image building that his father did. Any footage of him dates back no more than just three years. So the focus has been on highlighting his similar looks to his grandfather and his similar character to his father.

Paula Hancocks, CNN, Seoul.


CHIOU: The Kim Dynsasty has built up an intricate mythology around itself over the years. So Kim Jong-un has a lot to live up to.

According to Kim Jong-il's powerful propaganda machine, the birth of the former North Korean leader was supposedly marked by a double rainbow and a new star in the night sky. The new documentary that aired on Sunday notably contained images like this one of Kim Jong-un on a horse. And that's a classic slice of North Korean iconography and emphasizes his ties to his grandfather Kim il-Song.

Kim Jong-un's gray horse looks very similar to the white one seen in this North Korean propaganda poster. Kim il-Song is seen here carrying his son while riding with his wife following behind.

And then there is the family resemblance that Paula mentioned in his report. This photo of Kim il-Song taken around 1950 looks eerily like the new North Korean leader.

And that is News Stream. I'm Pauline Chiou. Thanks for joining us. "WORLD BUSINESS TODAY" is coming up next.