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Afghan Government Condemns Video of U.S. Marines; French Journalist Killed in Syria; Iranian Scientists Targeted; Haiti Still Cleaning Up Two Years After Earthquake; Companies Show Off Technology For Cars At CES

Aired January 12, 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 with a shocking video which appears to show U.S. Marines urinating on dead bodies.

And how did this French journalist die in Syria?

And Haiti rebuilds two years after a devastating earthquake.

Now, the Afghan government says it is deeply disturbed by a video that appears to show four U.S. Marines urinating on the body of three dead men. And this is the video. It first surfaced online. We do not know who shot it or where it was taken, but a U.S. official says judging by the combat gear you see here, it's reasonable to conclude this video was shot in Afghanistan. The U.S. military says it is investigating.

And for the latest on the story, let's go straight to CNN's Nick Paton Walsh. He is live in the Afghan capital.

And Nick, how is the Taliban reacting to the video?

NICK PATON WALSH, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, Taliban wasting very little time to come out with their own statement, text messaging as to the effect that they consider the video to be barbaric, and saying how many other things have happened in the past decade of war that have not been revealed by the media in a similar way, saying that no religion that follows a holy text would accept such conduct and that this inhuman act reveals the true face of U.S. forces here.

Of course, that actually -- it's quite similar to the things we've been hearing from the U.S. military, who equally say this has nothing to do -- if it's authentic, has nothing to do with the standards that they follow here. They are investigating. One U.S. official saying to me it's reasonable to conclude from what you see in the video, which is quite distressing to watch, that this occurred in Afghanistan. But still, they're at the investigation stage.

There are suggestions for how the video was posted online, that it might have been a unit posted in northern Helmand. And an ISAF statement has subsequently said that if that was the case, those soldiers have now apparently left Afghanistan. So, bits of information coming out now, but also a very strong reaction from the Afghan presidential palace that put out a statement saying, quite simply, "The government of Afghanistan is deeply disturbed by the video of American soldiers desecrating the bodies of three Afghans," also saying they consider it to be inhuman and condemn them in the strongest terms. And also advocating that the U.S. government punishes those responsible, as severely as possible -- Kristie.

STOUT: So, strong reactions from Kabul, the Taliban, as well as the U.S. military and ISAF.

What is the general reaction in Afghanistan to the video? Is it stirring up anger about the U.S. and foreign military presence in the country?

WALSH: I'll just put some context really on how you see public reaction form here.

We've seen the social media sphere, Twitterati, political circles, ISAF, people involved in opinion-forming here react very quickly with their own statements in turn, but it takes a little longer in a country where television isn't always that widespread, where the Internet is a pretty rare phenomenon for people to learn about this. Clearly, if the insurgency is condemning it, they may and try and make use of it. We do have Friday, and it's prayers tomorrow, which often is a hotbed for protests. But we have in the past seen it take a number of days for virulent reaction to something like this to take afoot and to be seen across the country.

We've yet to see protests. I think we've seen yet to see ordinary Afghans realize what's really been going on here. It has appeared on Afghan television. We may expect this to worsen in the coming days, but we haven't seen signs of that just yet -- Kristie.

STOUT: And your thoughts on the political repercussions here? What impact could the video have on peace talks to end the conflict there in Afghanistan?

WALSH: Well, the peace talks are certainly at an embryonic stage. And I don't think -- the Taliban have indicated in some reports that they won't really be affecting those very embryonic talks that may be happening in the Gulf at the moment.

What you've got to bear in mind though is this is hugely going to impact that whole feeling of building confidence in the Afghan people for the presence of foreign and U.S. forces in this country. America, right in the middle of negotiating with the Afghan presidential palace here. A longer- term military presence in the country, things like this, simply aren't going to help that happen. And, in fact, it may significantly worsen Afghan public opinion against NATO forces.

Remember what images like this did in Iraq, Abu Ghraib, things like that, significantly changing public opinion. And I should point out, too, that desecrating the corpse of a dead Muslim is pretty much one of the most deplorable things you could do in the Islamic faith. They have great regard for dead bodies of any religion, burying them very swiftly, bathing them, and even actually banning postmortem.

So the images that have been released will certainly strike a chord of deep revulsion amongst many Muslims here and globally -- Kristie.

STOUT: Nick Paton Walsh, thank you very much indeed for that.

Nick Paton Walsh, reporting for us live from Kabul.

Thank you, Nick.

Now, Arab League monitors are investigating the death of a French journalist in Syria. A mortar attack on Wednesday killed Gilles Jacquier and eight Syrians in Homs. The state-run Syrian Arab news agency blames armed terrorists put (ph) an opposition group, but Syrian security forces says that forces fired the shells.

Now, the presence of Arab League observers has not ended the violence, and one monitor has withdrawn from the mission and Reuters reports that another may soon follow. Jacquier is the first Western journalist to die in Syria's 10-month uprising.

And Senior International Correspondent Nic Robertson shows us what happened.


NIC ROBERTSON, CNN SR. INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): These are the seconds before tragedy strikes journalists on a roof after a mortar hits. I had been with them minutes earlier but decided to leave.

Then, another mortar and chaos. People at a pro-government rally in the street below wounded, not moving. A woman, her face bloodied and bleeding. European journalists among them.

French journalist Gilles Jacquier, a reporter with French national channel France 2, is down. A taxi door opens. He's bundled in.

His partner, a photographer, looks in the taxi, realizes the man she loves is lying there. People are telling her to get in the car fast. A Dutch journalist, also among the wounded, rushed off to hospital.

This eyewitness said he heard an explosion, says the journalists came running to film the impact. Then another explosion right between them, he said.

Jacquier died from the blast. This same street, less than an hour earlier.

(on camera): Government officials say these streets are busy. Just like normal, is how they describe it. They've driven us around several areas of Homs, a city normally perhaps 1.25 million people. But they haven't take us to Baba Amr or other neighborhoods they describe as hot areas, areas where the opposition is strong. They say it's just too dangerous.

(voice-over): Even so, minutes later we witness this at the same location. We are minutes from the front lines.

(on camera): We're told that these soldiers have just been injured. They've just been loaded in here to be taken away for medical treatment at the army hospital.

(voice-over): This city is ringed with checkpoints. In some areas, gun- toting soldiers ride around in open-top civilian trucks. It feels like a city under siege. Suffering hidden down its side streets.

Gilles Jacquier had come to tell the world what was happening. He paid the ultimate price.

Several of his colleagues wounded. Civilians, too. At least one killed in the city that's become known as the cradle of the uprising.

Nic Robertson, CNN, Homs, Syria.


STOUT: Nic is now back in Damascus. He joins us now on the line.

And Nic, Arab League talks are under way. And after the killing of the first Western journalist in Syria and reports of at least one monitor leaving, what is the future of the observer mission there?

ROBERTSON: There's no indication that the observer mission is going to change and sort of pack its bags and leave. Indeed, we actually saw more monitors arriving here this morning.

We spoke with the head of the Arab League monitoring mission here, General Dabi. He had been briefing European diplomats on what the mission is here to do, and he gave no indication that the monitors are going to change what they're doing. In fact, indeed, he said that the monitors aren't facing any difficulties here, which rather flies in the face of some of the evidence that we've seen that's on YouTube and the physical damage to some of the monitors' cars.

But it does seem that the death of Gilles Jacquier, that the very dangerous situation that the monitors find themselves in sometimes, is going to put a lot more scrutiny on the security of the monitors and, indeed, journalists here in the country. And the head of the Arab League mission here has said he holds the government responsible for providing that security.

So while the investigation continues right now into the death of Gilles Jacquier -- there's a mortar right there impacted on the ground from that incident yesterday -- while that investigation continues, the Arab League in Cairo says that it will have preliminary results from that investigation later today. But at the same time, the head of the Arab League mission here says they're not involved in the investigation. So, really, I think getting to the bottom of what happened in that incident in Homs yesterday is probably never going to happen, no one is going to get to the bottom of it. There are going to be a lot of questions that remain and certainly a lot of confusion about exactly what's happening around the investigation right now -- Kristie.

STOUT: You've been able to keep watch on the Arab League monitors and to gauge their work. And what are your thoughts about how willing they are to criticize and be tough on all parties? And in the end, will they release a negative report?

ROBERTSON: The Arab League mission here is headed by General Dabi, and he seems to be very, very cautious in his statements that we've witnessed, playing down some of the evidence that is very plain to see, that his monitors have been put in harm's way. Indeed, at least 11 of them injured so far.

But we find the monitors -- generally, they want to do their job here. They realize they're in a very difficult position. They come from wide and varied backgrounds.

I was speaking to some monitors this morning. They told me they -- what's happened so far isn't going to stop them, isn't going to change their minds. But some of them, they said they're all free to act individually. If people want to leave, they can leave. Some will follow, obviously, the instructions of their own government, and some will follow their conscience.

It is a very mixed bag of representatives here that's gathered from the different Arab League countries. Some of them are more senior ambassadorial types, and some of them from some of the Gulf states are clearly younger men from different types of backgrounds.

STOUT: And also, as the uprising has become increasingly violent there, Bashar al-Assad, he has remained defiant and he refuses to step down. Why does he refuse to back down?

ROBERTSON: Because -- it would be supposition on my part to guess why he refuses to back down, but the indications are that he feels that he has enough support, support military and support on the streets, to continue to say that, essentially, he's not going to meet the requests and the demands of the opposition, A, that he steps down, or that he really puts forward a plan, a compromised plan, that might appeal to him. He's talked about a government of national unity, he's talked about changes in the constitution. These are all things that the Arab League has asked Syria to do, as well as pulling its armed forces off the streets of civilian neighborhoods. But it appears that the gestures that he's made go nowhere near far enough to meet the expectations of the opposition.

But it does appear he sort of feels on a rebound at the moment. He had a two-hour speech two days ago. He appeared live at a rally, very rare here. Perhaps a sign, certainly an indication, that for him, at least, something in the dynamic of what's happening in Syria is changing.

Does it mean he's slipping on to his back foot? I think it rather gives the impression that he's feeling more confident than he has in the past.

There's certainly a lot of security on the streets here in the capital and around the country. And he still seems to have the support of the vast majority of the military. That's going to embolden him.

STOUT: All right. Nic Robertson, thank you very much indeed for calling in, and thank you very much for your reporting.

Nic joining us live from Damascus.

And coming next on NEWS STREAM, it has become Iran's most dangerous job. Who is killing the country's nuclear scientists?

Plus, people in Taiwan get ready to vote in a competitive presidential election, and the outcome will be felt far beyond the island.

And political ads are nearly inescapable in South Carolina. It's clear the U.S. Republican presidential race is heading there next.


STOUT: Now, there is growing pressure on Iran to scale back its nuclear program. The U.S. is leading the charge by targeting one of the country's most lucrative commodities, oil.

On Thursday, the U.S. treasury secretary met with Japan's finance minister. Timothy Geithner is in Asia seeking support for a plan to reduce Iran's oil revenues. After the meeting, Japan said it was prepared to cut back the amount of oil it imports from Iran.

But in December, Tehran said it might retaliate if sanctions are imposed on its oil exports. It threatened to block the Strait of Hormuz, a vital waterway for oil shipments.

And Iran is blaming Israel for a deadly attack targeting a nuclear scientist. Mostafa Ahmadi Roshan was killed in Tehran on Wednesday when a magnetic bomb was placed under his car. And there have been two similar attacks on Iranian scientists in recent years.

Iran's ambassador to the U.N. says that there is a clear pattern of foul play.


MOHAMMAD KHAZAEE, IRAN'S AMBASSADOR TO THE U.N.: It has happened before in 2010, 2011, as you know, and we believe based on the firm evidence that such terrorist attacks are supported by certain quarters. And it has been said by even the Israeli regime that they are trying to assassinate the Iranian scientists to deprive Iranians from their right of using peaceful nuclear energy. So, therefore, we believe that these terrorist attacks are supported by some elements officially within the Israeli regime, as well as some quarters around the world.


STOUT: Iran wants the United Nations to condemn the acts of violence. And Barbara Starr takes a look at the recent killings and who might be behind them.


BARBARA STARR, CNN PENTAGON CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Assassination 101. A motorcycle speeds up alongside a car in Tehran. An assassin bends down and attaches a bomb underneath. And another Iranian nuclear scientist is dead.

This is no movie. Working on Iran's nuclear program is now one of the world world's most dangerous jobs.

This time, the dead man worked at the Natanz uranium enrichment plant, a facility the CIA believes is key to Iran's efforts to develop nuclear weapons. The number one suspect in the killings? Israel.

JOSEPH CIRINCIONE, PLOUGHSHARES FUND: All the evidence points to an Israeli operation. This has got the professionalism, the persistence, and the effectiveness that has marked Israeli assassination campaigns in the past.

STARR: In January, 2010, a hit squad widely believed to be Israeli Mossad agents was caught on surveillance cameras at a Dubai hotel where a top Hamas official turned up dead.

Cirincione watches rouge nuclear weapons programs and warns the latest assassinations could spin out of control.

CIRINCIONE: It is likely that these -- this assassination and others are going to increase the paranoia in the Iranian regime. It might backfire. It might convince them they have to accelerate their nuclear efforts, not negotiate them.

STARR: The killings are all similar.

In January, 2010, a bomb placed under a car killed a nuclear scientist. November, 2010, another scientist killed when a motorcycle assailant placed a bomb under his car.

A top Iranian official said Wednesday, "Iranian scientists become more determined to take steps in line with the aspirations of the Islamic republic in spite of terrorist operations." Iran has long blamed Israel and the U.S. for the killings.

HILLARY CLINTON, SECRETARY OF STATE: I want to categorically deny any United States involvement in any kind of act violence inside Iran.

STARR: What does Israel say? On his Facebook page, the spokesman for Israel's defense forces said, "I have no idea who targeted the Iranian scientists, but I certainly don't shed a tear."

(on camera): Defense Secretary Leon Panetta continues to say there is a red line that Iran cannot have a nuclear weapon. The question now, of course, is whether Israel or someone else out there is trying to make sure Iran doesn't cross that line.

Barbara Starr, CNN, the Pentagon.


STOUT: Now, ahead on NEWS STREAM, the world rushed to help Haiti after it was devastated by an earthquake two years ago. But how much progress really has been made? We'll have an update on the two-year anniversary.


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

Now, Microsoft says it is committed to the fair treatment of staff at its contractors and says it is investigating a report that dozens of Chinese factory workers who make Xbox games have threatened to commit suicide over a pay dispute. The plant in Wuhan is run by Foxconn.

Suicide is a sensitive subject for Foxconn. The company came under intense media scrutiny in 2010 on reports that a number of employees were killing themselves at a factory in Shenzhen. More than 300,000 employees, they live on the complex in dorms like this. And while the number of suicides remain below the national average, the company took steps to improve conditions. It opened counseling centers, even calling in Buddhist monks to offer spiritual consultation.

Foxconn also recognized the need for more recreational facilities such as swimming pools and computer rooms. And the company gave workers two pay raises. Employees reportedly make about $300 a month.

Voters in Taiwan, they go to the polls on Saturday in a closely-fought presidential election that could have a huge impact on relations with China and the U.S. The incumbent president, Ma Ying-jeou, is slightly ahead in the polls, but opposition leader Tsai Ing-wen is close behind.

Stan Grant reports.


STAN GRANT, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Questions don't come much more sensitive than this: Taiwanese or Chinese?



GRANT (on camera): You're very careful.

TSENG: Yes, I know.

GRANT (voice-over): Will Tseng knows the official answer. There is only one China. But politics is one thing. Identity is personal.

(on camera): Would you like to be able to say, "I'm Taiwanese, from Taiwan, I'm not Chinese"?


GRANT (voice-over): And that is a ticking bomb to the Chinese Communist Party. Independence is a red line. Crossing it brings the threat of war.

PROF. YAN XUETONG, TSINGHUA UNIVERSITY: If Taiwan loses their identity as (ph) the Chinese, so I think there is no way for peaceful unification.

GRANT: China keeps hundreds of missiles aimed at Taiwan, an ominous threat to the island to stay in the fog. War in Taiwan Strait would trigger a China/United States superpower standoff.

The U.S. sells billions of dollars in arms each year and is bound to defend Taiwan. That delicate balance lurks at the heart of this weekend's Taiwan elections. The ruling Kuomintang Party led by President Ma Ying-jeou maintains the status quo. Senior Communist Party figures say China is wary of the rival Democratic People's Party, suspecting its leader, Tsai Ing- wen, of pushing an independence agenda.

"If we deny the status quo," says Ja Ching-ling (ph), "there is no way to carry on any further negotiations, and what we've achieved so far would be in vain. We would go back to the days of chaos and uncertainty."

But analysts in Beijing like Yan Swetong (ph) doubt any worst-case scenarios.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Even if Tsai Ing-wen wins the election, (INAUDIBLE) China and for the current status.

GRANT: There are good reasons not to rock the boat. Mostly money. Mainland figures show two-way trade last year topped $160 billion.

TSENG: It's not about military threats. It's more about, like, how do we get a better life in the future?

GRANT (on camera): Money is more important than military?

TSENG: True.

GRANT: That's the Chinese way.

TSENG: Yes. True.


GRANT: And this job must be like a dream job for you.

TSENG: It is.

GRANT (voice-over): Will Tseng is cashing in on the economic ties. He works in PR for this ritzy new hotel in Beijing.

(on camera): This hotel is owned by a family originally from Taiwan. There are about 15 staff members here also from Taiwan. Most of them going back for the election.

(voice-over): For Will Tseng and others, voting is indeed their greatest show of independence, a rarity in this one China.

Stan Grant, CNN, Beijing.


STOUT: Now, North Korea's state media report that the body of late North Korean leader Kim Jong-il will lie in state in the same Pyongyang palace that houses the body of his father, Kim Il-sung. The regime also plans to build a statue of Kim Jong-il in his memory and to put up towers across the country to symbolize what it calls the leader immortality. And it says Kim Jong-il's birthday will now be called "The Day of the Shining Star."

Kim Jong-il will join a host of state leaders whose bodies have remained available for the public to see for decades after their deaths, and that list includes Kim's father, North Korea's founder, Kim Il-sung, who lies in state in Pyongyang. And this waxy looking corpse is what remains of the founding father of the Soviet Union, Vladimir Lenin. His body is on permanent display in a mausoleum in Moscow's Red Square.

Now, ahead here on NEWS STREAM, the ugly side of politics. Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney is under attack for his life before public office. We'll tell you what is causing all the fuss.

And driving into the future. The latest technology for cars is on display at the Consumer Electronics Show, and you can be a part of it right ahead.


LU STOUT: I'm Kristie Lu Stout in Hong Kong. You're watching News Stream. And these are your world headlines.

Now the Afghan government says it is deeply disturbed by this 39 second video that has surfaced online. It appears to show four U.S. Marines urinating on the dead bodies of three Afghans. It is unclear exactly where the clip was shot or who the men are. NATO led forces in Afghanistan issued a statement saying the video appear to show a small group of U.S. individuals. And the U.S. Marine Corps says it is investigating.

Arab League observers in Syria have visited the scene of Wednesday's mortar attack in Homs where nine people, including a French journalist, were killed. Activists have blamed government forces for the deaths. And CNN's Nic Robertson is in Syria and says Arab League monitors are preparing a report on the attack.

And for a fourth straight day a strike is paralyzing much of Nigeria. Thousands of people continue to protest against soaring fuel prices. Now trade unions are threatening to disrupt oil production. They are angry at the government for getting rid of fuel subsidies and letting the price of petrol double.

Japan's finance minister says his country is prepared to reduce the amount of oil it buys from Iran. The announcement came during a visit by U.S. Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner. He just wants to squeeze Iran economically to apply pressure over its nuclear program.

And two years ago today a magnitude 7 earthquake struck Haiti sending the already poverty stricken island nation into chaos. We want to remind you of the devastation the quake left behind.


ANDERSON COOPER, CNN ANCHOR: We've heard there maybe somebody who is alive buried in there. People on the street say there's a 15-year-old who is buried alive there and that they're talking, but we're going to go ahead and try and see if that's the case and if there's anything we can do. But the street, I've never seen anything like this, look at this, it is just complete devastation. This is downtown Port au Prince just a few blocks from the presidential palace, about a block from the national cathedral which itself is pretty much destroyed.


LU STOUT: Now USAID says that around 316,000 people died, around the same number we injured. And nearly 5,000 schools were damaged or destroyed.


GARY TUCHMAN, CNN CORRESPONDENT: This is third floor of a school. It's for small children during the day, continuing education for adults in the late afternoon and evening. Adults were in this classroom when the earthquake happened. You could see just by looking at the chairs and the handbags and the books how quickly people had to escape.

The people inside this room survived, but the people in the other section of the school just on this side, many of them did not. You can see the rubble, the open wall right here. And we see several bodies that are down there right now.


LU STOUT: Now take a look at this photograph, a man sells shoes in Port au Prince is surrounded by earthquake rubble. And what may surprise you about this picture is that it was just taken three days ago. The United Nations says nearly 5 million cubic meters of debris has been removed since 2010, but that seen, it bear a startling similarity to this one, showing earthquake damage two years ago.

And USAID reports that 1.5 million Haitians were left homeless by the natural disaster. Many fled to temporary camps like this one seen in a Port au Prince suburb January 2010. And this tent city, this one is still standing near the Haitian capital today.

And earlier, relief (INAUDIBLE) Jean-Claude Fignole told CNN that aid organizations need to engage with local people more on the reconstruction effort.


JEAN-CLAUDE FIGNOLE, ACTIONAID HAITI: The main problem is bringing a Haitian perspective into what the reconstruction has been all about. The processes in which the national plan, reconstruction plan were elaborated, the institutions that were set like the interim Haiti recovery mission as well as the Haiti recovery fund were done with very little participation and very little input from civil society organizations in Haiti, grass roots movements, social movements who have an idea a real -- not just an idea, but very long background and strong experience in working on poverty in Haiti and understanding the complex nature of what it means to deal with the poverty crisis in Haiti historically and contextually and in current times.

So we believe that that needs to change. We believe that that's what needs to happen in order for any hope of success in the reconstruction effort in Haiti going forward.


LU STOUT: Now the American Red Cross says it received about $486 million in donations after the earthquake. And a new Pew Research Center report says that there was an uptick in cell phone users making donations by text message. It says Americans contributed more than $43 million in that method.

Now time now for a world weather update. Comes at a good time, because I'm going to cough. Mari Ramos take it away. I'm going to go get a sip of water.


You know what, I want to start you off talking a little bit about this earthquake situation in Haiti as well. You know, two years ago we were of course in breaking news as to what was happening in Haiti and it went on for quite a long time. It's almost as if the perfect storm situation happened to just make it so, so bad and have such a high death toll.

Let's go ahead and take a look over here. Justin Jones our weather producer is helping me out. What you are looking at here is called the shake map. So it shows the area where the shaking was most intense. And of course it was near that epicenter. Let's go ahead and zoom in a little bit and you can see all of these areas in red had what is called either violent or extreme shaking. And that extended back over here toward Port au Prince, the most densely populated area of Haiti.

Now the shaking here was extreme and that caused quite a bit of damage of course. The buildings, of course, unreinforced masonry just fell down like dominoes -- like dominoes just across that entire area and it was just so devastating. And we saw from those images from Anderson and from Gary how much devastation of course happened back then.

There were also some other factors, the population density, of course. And the poverty in the country that were also contributing factors. It's another geological factor here at play and that is something called liquefaction. So let's go ahead and talk a little bit about that. Liquefaction happens when the sediment, in other words the ground temporarily loses its strength and it begins to act as a fluid. And it tends to happen in areas that are close to bays or water like who we had, of course, here in Port au Prince.

So when you have -- it happened in Christchurch as well. It's almost as if the sand or the areas -- these areas that are close to the water get mixed in with the water a little bit. And during the Earthquake it almost feels as if the ground turns into just like a moving river. And that causes a lot more damage as well.

So these are some of the contributing factors that made it worse, of course, for Haiti. You had an intense quake, close to the ground, in other words close to the surface, had extreme shaking, and of course you had also the liquefaction factor and the poverty. So a lot of different things here in play, of course, when it comes to this earthquake in Haiti.

And two years on, well this time of year is actually the best time of year weatherwise across the Caribbean. You're looking at generally quiet conditions across this entire area.

We have been lucky that we haven't had a major hurricane or a major storm actually affect the Caribbean significantly here. We had some storms last year that came close, Kristie, but Haiti and the for most part -- for the last two years since the quake happened has been spared from a direct hit from a tropical cyclone. Let's hope that this year that happens as well with so many people still in tent cities.

Back to you.

LU STOUT: That's right. Fingers crossed for that. Mari Ramos, many thanks indeed for that.

And let's go now to Iraq with thousands of Shiite pilgrims are walking on foot to the holy city of Karbala. Now the practice, it was forbidden under Saddam Hussein. And now many of the Shiite pilgrims are routinely targeted in attacks.

Jomana Karadsheh has more from Bagdhad.


JOMANA KARADSHEH, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDNET: We are on the southern outskirts of Baghdad and for days this has been the seen here. Tens of thousands of Shia pilgrims are making their way on foot to the holy city of Karbala that is more than 100 kilometers, or 60 miles down this road.

The pilgrims are commemorating Arbari (ph), one of the holiest days in the Shia calendar, marking the end of a 40 day mourning period for the death of Imam Hossein, the grandson of Prophet Mohammed and one of Shia Islam's most revered figures. He was killed in a 7th Century battle in Karbala.

Stations like these providing free food, drinks, and a resting area for the pilgrims have been set up along the road. The journey that takes more than three days for those walking from Baghdad and many more days from other parts of the country is not only a lengthy journey, but a very dangerous one.

Shia pilgrims have been frequently targeted by attacks believed to be the work of insurgent groups. Security forces are on high alert. Many roads have been sealed off with thousands of troops deployed to secure the pilgrimage. But still, pilgrims have been attacked on a daily basis. The faithful say the threats and bombs will not deter them.

"We are going to mourn Imam Hossein," this man says. "Even if the terrorists bomb us and kill us, we are still going (inaudible)."

"...we are ready to step on the bombs," this pilgrim tells us.

There is growing anxiety here. Following the U.S. military departure, Iraq has been facing one of its worst political crises since 2003. The deep ethnic and sectarian divisions within the government are resurfacing. And with the recent persistent attacks on Iraq's Shia community being blamed on Sunni extremists, many are worried that Iraq is being pushed toward a sectarian war like the one that gripped the country for years.

Jomana Karadsheh, CNN, Baghdad.


LU STOUT: Now up next here on News Stream, the race for the Republican nomination continues. And the next step, it's all eyes on South Carolina. We break down the main GOP campaign strategies when we come back.


LU STOUT: Now it is the bane of Mitt Romney's campaign: the Republican presidential candidate has been forced to turn his focus from America's future to his corporate past. Now Romney ran a private equity firm called Bain Capital. He made the company millions of dollars by acquiring other businesses and then selling them at a profit. And along the way, several of those companies failed and some employees lost their jobs and now Romney's fellow nominees are using that knowledge against him. They say he made money by preying on the vulnerable.

Now here is Rick Perry and Newt Gingrich.


RICK PERRY, REPUBLICAN PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: There is a real difference between a venture capitalist and a vulture capitalist. And venture capitalists are good, they go in, they inject their capital, they create jobs. Bain Capital on the other hand, it appears to me, were vulture capitalists all too often. And I don't get confused for a minute that Barack Obama and his team wouldn't attack Mitt Romney on that during a general election if he makes it that way.

So if nothing else we're doing Mitt a favor by exposing him early on so that he can either figure out how to defend that, or more importantly and better from my perspective, he's not the nominee to begin with.

NEWT GINGRICH, REPUBLICAN PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: It's not about capitalism in general, it's not even about venture capitalism, or entrepreneurial capitalism, it's about Mitt Romney and his record. He's the one who said this was a key part of understanding him. Fine. So we began looking at it. And it turns out that immediately, they didn't defend it, they immediately threw up this smoke screen and saying you're not aloud to ask any questions or you're against capitalism. That's nonsense.


LU STOUT: Now it is not a new line of rhetoric against Mitt Romney. Now his corporate history has been in the spotlight throughout his political career. And here's how Romney responded to the latest attacks.


MITT ROMNEY, REPUBLICAN PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: It's been brought up every time I've run, whether by Shannon O'Brien in my race for governor that I won. Last time around, four years ago, it was brought up. And everybody from the New York Times to the Wall Street Journal have taken a look.

And I understand that President Obama is going to try and put free enterprise on trial. But, you know, Rick Perry and Newt Gingrich are going to be the witnesses for the prosecution. I'm not worried about that. They can take it as they'd like. But you saw last night that that approach didn't work very well for either Rick Perry or Newt Gingrich.

And so we'll take it to the next level. They'll find new attacks. And I think in the final analysis people want someone who can lead the country back to strength with good jobs and rising incomes. And all these attacks I think will fall entirely flat as they did last night.


LU STOUT: Now the battle is set to intensify in the next stage in the Republican race. In nine days South Carolina will hold its primary. As Tom Foreman reports, it is hard to escape the campaign blitz.


TOM FOREMAN, CNN CORRESPONDENT: South Carolina is under attack.

GINGRICH: Yes. Working together.

FOREMAN: Campaign ads from Republican contenders are being fired around the clock now.

ROMNEY: It is a moral imperative for...

FOREMAN: All aimed squarely at undecided voters like Cam Spencer in Charleston.

CAM SPENCER, SOUTH CAROLINA VOTER: Thank goodness for the mute button.

FOREMAN: And it's not just the TV, she started receiving robocalls before she can even make her morning coffee.

It's 8:30.

SPENCER: It's 8:30.

FOREMAN: And the phone is ringing.

SPENCER: And the phone is ringing.

GINGRICH: I have a jobs and economic vote plan...

SPENCER: I don't feel like it's more than it is in '08 or in '10.

FOREMAN: Yeah, but it's still not down to the wire.

SPENCER: Well, that's true too. I hate to see what it's going to be like once we get down to the wire.

ANNOUNCER: Santorum has been a...

FOREMAN: Already, she and many others here are finding the onslaught almost inescapable. During her commute to work as a medical researcher, the radio rattles with more.

ANNOUNCER: Gingrich attacks Romney because...

FOREMAN: There are also print ads, emails, fliers, yard signs -- by lunchtime she's already had her fill.

Between the ads that you see on TV and hear on the radio and read and get in emails, how many of these are you getting a day?

SPENCER: At least 20 or more.

FOREMAN: And what do you expect next week?

SPENCER: Double that.

FOREMAN: Really?

SPENCER: At least.

FOREMAN: Will any of these change your mind?



SPENCER: None. None of the ads.

FOREMAN: Are they wasting their money?

SPENCER: Yes. I believe they are.

ANNOUNCER: organizer...

FOREMAN: She may be on to something. This focus group of undecided voters organized by CNN and Southern Methodist University watched several ads. Liked some, disliked others, but generally agreed voters are just being hit with way too many.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Seeing a very large increase in ads on YouTube.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Matter of fact, I changed the channel three times and there were different ads, but all political on every channel at the same time.

FOREMAN: Do all these ads make a difference to you?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Actually they don't make a difference to me. They somewhat annoy me.

FOREMAN: Cam Spencer is still making up her mind whom to vote for, but of one thing she is certain.

Are you tired of the ads yet?

SPENCER: Oh, I've been tired of the ads.


FOREMAN: But she knows from sun up to sun down...

ROMNEY: Something the government...

FOREMAN: Until primary day, it will only get worse.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: He seems like a more honest candidate.

FOREMAN: Tom Foreman, CNN, Charleston, South Carolina.


LU STOUT: Again, nine days to go.

Now still to come here on News Stream, we'll show you the latest technology that tells your car how to avoid traffic jam, and helps you speed up your errands.


LU STOUT: Welcome back.

Now after some controversial comments before and after their Carling Cup semi-final, Liverpool Football Club seem to be building as big a rivalry with Manchester City as they have with Manchester United. Let's turn to Alex Thomas to find out why -- Alex.

ALEX THOMAS, CNN SPORTS CORRESPONDENT: Yeah, Kristie, fair to say relations between Manchester City and Liverpool Football Club are decidedly frosty right now. On the eve of their Carling Cup semi-final City boss Roberto Mancini criticized Liverpool's handling of the Luis Suarez racism controversy. And now the manager has a war of words on his hands with Red skipper Steven Gerrard. Their disagreement coming after City's Vincent Kompany was sent of and then banned for a two-footed tackle last Sunday.

Kompany's replacement, Stefan Savic played a mark on the first leg of this semi-final at the Etihad Stadium fouling Daniel Agger from the corner kick and conceding a penalty in the 10th minute. The replay suggests it was a half decision from the referee, but nonetheless Gerrard stepped up and converted the spot kick, tucking the ball into the bottom left-hand corner.

City had chances to pull a goal back, but Sergio Aguero was unable to take advantage of that weak back pass. His shot misses. And Liverpool stay ahead.

Aguero had another opportunity later in the game, but his header was too high and Liverpool would defend a 1-nil lead in the second leg at Anfield in a fortnight's time.

But it was this challenge in the dying second by Liverpool's Glenn Johnson on City's Jolean Lescott which infuriated Mancini. The Italian coach thought it was far worse than Kompany's tackle last week, yet Johnson wasn't even booked while Gerrard said there was no way it was a red card.

Now their form was as hot as their name at the start of the season, but Miami's star studded NBA side is struggling right now. On Wednesday night, the Heat were facing the Los Angeles Clippers. And the home side's new signing Chris Paul was outstanding throughout. Throwing the alley-oop to Blake Griffin for the dunk early in the first here. Although they were out scored by Miami in this quarter.

Mario Chalmers now with the lob to LeBron for the slam, part of King James' 23 points on the night.

On to the third, which was dominated by the Clippers. And here's Paul taking charge with a lay-in and the foul and his team takes the lead.

But it was still close in the fourth when with five seconds remaining, Paul makes the nice fake move and just misses the winning shot. So 86- apiece and we're into over-time.

The Clippers were better in the extra period. And here's one of Paul's 11 assists setting up DeAndre Jordan for the dunk as Miami are beaten for the second night running 95-89, the surprise final score.

Now to Kobe Bryant coming off a 48 point game against the Suns and trying to hit the same note against the Jazz.

Straight to the fourth, score is tied at 76, less than a minute left. Kobe pulls up and knocks down the jumper.

Now Utah's next possession, Josh Howard to Al Jefferson. The shot is no good, but the paper boy Paul Millsap is there for the putback lay-up.

In the dying seconds, Kobe would have a chance to win it. He pulls up, but the shot is not even close. And at 78-apiece we go to over-time in this one as well.

And as the extra period draws to a close, Devon Harris' attempt to win it is blocked by Kobe Bryant . 40 points for the Lakers' star. The final score 90-87 in L.A.'s favor.

And that, Kristie, is all your sport for now.

LU STOUT: All right. Alex, thank you and take care.

Now, the last decade has seen huge advances in how we can stay connected while on the go. An at this year's Consumer Electronic Show, one of the major themes is getting your car online. Let's check it out.


MARIO ARMSTRONG, CNN CONTRIBUTOR: I'm Mario Armstrong. On the show floor, walking around here at CES. And it's as much an automotive show as anything else. Really impressive technology happening in our vehicles, things like vehicle to vehicle to communication, cars actually being able to talk to one another to prevent accidents and incidents on the road.

Plus, apps -- apps customizing your experience in the car. Cool stuff happening.

Let's go talk to some experts in the automotive tech space right now.

Talk to me about connected cars. What's happening.

JULIUS MARCHWICKI, FORD MOTOR COMPANY: Absolutely. We're standing in front of this 2013 Ford Mustang. And it's equipped with sync app link. And it's a way for customers to integrate and use the applications on their smartphones in the car.

ARMSTRONG: OK, so one of the key things is going to be safety. Number one thing I'm sure consumers will ask, how are you addressing safety in the car?

MARCHWICKI: Absolutely. All of our technology is voice powered. So instead of fumbling with your phone and like trying to figure out whether you want to thumbs up a song or listen to a particular news feed, right, everything is voice powered, don't have to touch the phone. You keep your hands on the steering wheel, your eyes on the road.

ARMSTRONG: How can people talk to each other?

JIM BUCZKOWSKI, FORD MOTOR COMPANY: Well, each vehicle will have the ability to have a transmitter, a way to connect to other vehicles. They'll share information on position, location, current conditions and so on...

ARMSTRONG: Walk me through an example of how this could potentially work in an emergency situation.

BUCZKOWSKI: The drivers ahead of you -- may be a lane is cut off suddenly, maybe there's an accident and that lane is being cut off. You can know well ahead of time.

LINDSEY SECH, INTEL: So picture this, you're out driving with your family. You drop your child off at school. You need to go run some errands. It knows your to-do list from your mobile device and it routes you in the most efficient way to your stores.

VOICE: I have calculated the shortest route for you to run all your errands.

ARMSTRONG: Technology is really coming to the automobile in a big way. And it's really going to -- should enhance our lives and make us more connected, make us more productive. And it just said I'm almost home. So, let's go now.


LU STOUT: And we'll have much more from News Stream tomorrow from CES, including what some call the worst gadget at the show. What is it? You'll have to wait until tomorrow to find out.

Now time to go over and out there. We want to show you an amazing find. Now dwarfed by a U.S. dime coin, this is the world's tiniest frog and the world's smallest vertebrate. Now just 7.7 millimeters long, it's perhaps not surprising that scientists in the Pacific nation of Papua New Guinea have only just discovered it.

And that is News Stream, but the news continues at CNN. World Business Today is next.