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South Carolina GOP Debate; Spotlight on Captain of Costa Concordia; Deadly 24 Hours for NATO Forces in Afghanistan; Arab League Monitors Face Pressure In Syria; Nadal, Federer On Collision Course at Australian Open

Aired January 20, 2012 - 00:08:00   ET

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


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

I'm Kristie Lu Stout in Hong Kong.

And we begin in the U.S. state of South Carolina, where it didn't take long to rile Newt Gingrich at the CNN Southern Republican Debate.

And further doubts are cast on the captain of the Costa Concordia. Was he ordering dinner as the cruise ship went down?

And activist group Anonymous strikes back after the file-sharing site Megaupload is shut down over piracy claims.

Four men, one debate, and nothing off limits. The U.S. Republican presidential candidates had their last chance to convince voters in South Carolina on Thursday night, ahead of that state's primary on Saturday. They spoke about the economy and health care, they argued over who could beat Barack Obama. But the most heated response came from something much more personal.

CNN's John King, who moderated the debate, began by asking Newt Gingrich about a question about open marriage. Hours earlier, two interviews were released in which Gingrich's ex-wife Marianne claimed he wanted an open relationship in the late 1990s before their divorce. And this was his response.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

NEWT GINGRICH (R), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: I think the destructive, vicious, negative nature of much of the news media makes it harder to govern this country, harder to attract decent people to run for public office. My two daughters wrote the head of ABC and made the point that it was wrong, that they should pull it. And I am frankly astounded that CNN would take trash like that and use it to open a presidential debate.

You chose to start the debate with it. Don't try to blame somebody else. You and your staff chose to start this debate with it.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

STOUT: From cheers to jeers.

Now, the audience was also very vocal when Mitt Romney was asked about his tax returns. He has promised to release some of them in April, but couldn't be pinned down on the exact number.

Let's take a listen.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

MITT ROMNEY (R), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: I don't know how many years I'll release. I'll take a look at what our documents are and I'll release multiple years. I don't know how many years, but I'll be happy to do that.

Well, for more, let's bring in CNN's political editor, Paul Steinhauser, who was there at the debate. He joins us now live.

And Paul, so John King, we heard it just then. He opened with a question, Gingrich responded with a fiery tirade against the media. And if you listen to the clip online, that's your applause.

So, was Gingrich successful at batting away the whole open marriage issue?

PAUL STEINHAUSER, CNN POLITICAL EDITOR: Well, at least at the moment he was. He got a lot of applause. The crowd was very, very receptive to his response.

Kristie, listen, ever since Newt Gingrich jumped into this race for the Republican presidential nomination here in the United States, he's done very well at these debates. He's often gone after the media at these debates, did so again at our debate about 12 hours ago. And yes, very successful but, still, this issue, not going away yet.

He denied the allegations from his ex-wife that he did ask for an open marriage but, still, it could be troublesome, especially with women voters. And if you look at the polling here in South Carolina, Newt Gingrich does not do as well with women Republicans as he does with male Republicans.

So, yes, it can be a problem for Newt Gingrich, even though he performed very, very well, especially on that answer last night -- Kristie.

STOUT: Politics getting very personal for Gingrich and also for someone else. Another revealing moment of the debate was Mitt Romney's reaction to the issue of his tax returns.

How well is Romney managing the negative impression out there that he is the one percent?

STEINHAUSER: Well, you heard that sound. You just played it a moment ago. And he got booed. Never a good thing for a candidate to get booed at a debate.

This has been a troubling issue for Mitt Romney over the last couple of days. Remember, there was a previous debate here in South Carolina at the beginning of the week, on Monday night, and he really was on the defensive over his taxes.

He had a better debate with us, at the CNN debate. No doubt about that. He had a much more even performance. But on that one issue, when it came up, he was attacked and he did stumble on that answer.

Trouble for him. Why? Because he is perceived as somebody who is extremely wealthy. He's a multimillionaire, and that is troubling for him when he can't answer that question and get the crowd behind him on that.

It is a problem, and if he doesn't resolve it soon, it could continue to dog him for quite some time. And if he wins the nomination, Kristie, be sure, no doubt about it, the Democrats, the president's reelection team, will go after him on taxes.

STOUT: We also have to talk about Rick Santorum. He was on fire during the debate. He was very combative toward Newt Gingrich about his time as House Speaker.

How do you think Santorum performed?

STEINHAUSER: I saw Santorum after the debate. He came to the spin room. That's where a lot of the candidates and their campaign staffers come to talk about how well they did. And Rick Santorum was very, very happy.

Listen, I think a lot of people are saying that the former senator from Pennsylvania had his best performance at any of these debates, and I think this was number 17. We've had about 17 debates now in this election cycle.

He went after Gingrich, as you mentioned. He went after Romney. He was very forceful.

And remember, it was just a few hours before this debate happened that we found out that, guess what? It was actually Rick Santorum, not Mitt Romney, that won those Iowa caucuses two-and-a-half weeks ago. So he got a boost from the debate, he got a boost from that news in Iowa, no doubt about it -- Kristie.

STOUT: Paul Steinhauser, joining us live from South Carolina.

Thank you very much indeed.

Now, South Carolina has a history of picking the candidate who eventually wins the Republican nomination, and Jonathan Mann tells us what is at stake in the southern state.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

JONATHAN MANN, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): As its name suggests, South Carolina was part of the old South: rural, conservative and racially divided. It's one of the poorest states in the country, with unemployment hovering around 10 percent.

There is a new South, and South Carolina is part of it as well. Still farming, but turning high tech, too.

South Carolina Republicans tend to be mindful both of their own state's instincts and the party's prospects nationally to win the presidency.

CANDY CROWLEY, CNN CHIEF POLITICAL CORRESPONDENT: There's always kind of this tug-of-war. Will they vote their hearts in South Carolina, which is primarily very conservative, particularly on the social issues, or will they vote their head, which is, who has the best chance of winning?

MANN: And when it comes to winning, South Carolina is famous as a place where politics can get dirty.

SEN. JOHN MCCAIN (R-AZ), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: How are you? Nice to see you.

MANN: When John McCain first ran for president, a rumor went around the state that he had an illegitimate black child.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Nikki Haley!

MANN: When current Governor Nikki Haley was running for office, she faced allegations she was unfaithful to her husband.

Something else about South Carolina makes it an intriguing place to watch. For decades, the winner here has gone on to win the Republican nomination.

SCOTT HUFFMON, POLITICAL SCIENTIST: If you can appeal to the conservatives in South Carolina, if you can win in the heat and the occasional dirty politicking in South Carolina, then you're the type of candidate who has the mettle to move on.

MANN: Even Newt Gingrich has said that if Mitt Romney wins South Carolina, Romney will get the presidential nomination.

Gingrich is surging in the most recent polls. Romney is still ahead. And their respective supporters have been spending millions on advertising that isn't dirty, but isn't entirely dignified either.

GINGRICH: Can we drop a little bit of the pious baloney?

MANN: A Gingrich video ridicules Romney's rhetoric to the tune of "Pop Goes the Weasel."

Romney's supporters respond.

NARRATOR (voice-over): Newt Gingrich's attacks are called "foolish," "out of bounds," and "disgusting."

MANN (on camera): To many Republicans, the race boils down to Mitt Romney, a relative moderate, against the conservatives, which is to say Romney against almost everybody else. This week we've seen two candidates, Jon Huntsman and Rick Perry, drop out of the race. But it still looks like Romney versus the others. Newt Gingrich says he's the only one of the others who can stop him.

Back to you.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

STOUT: Now, CNN will have extensive live coverage and analysis of the results from the South Carolina primary as they come in. It all begins with a special edition of "THE SITUATION ROOM," followed by four hours of election coverage after the polls have closed in South Carolina. Plus, there's a special edition of "PIERS MORGAN TONIGHT."

And viewers in Asia can catch it all Sunday morning, starting at 7:00 a.m. in Hong Kong. It's all part of CNN's "America's Choice 2012" coverage, right here on CNN.

Now, just days after an online uproar prompted by U.S. anti-piracy bills, U.S. authorities have shut down file-sharing site Megaupload. The operation, it spanned eight countries, from the United States, where some of the servers are located, to New Zealand. And that's where four people were arrested, including the site's founder, Kim Schmitz, otherwise known as "Kim Dotcom."

Now, Megaupload is an online file-sharing site with up to 180 million users, but it had become well known for hosting pirated content. Megaupload is one of many file-sharing sites, but there are many differences between it and services like Dropbox. That resulted in it being targeted.

Authorities allege that Megaupload discouraged people from using it for long-term or personal use by automatically deleting content that was downloaded regularly. And they also allege that when Megaupload was notified that it was hosting pirated content, the site would only delete a single link to the content, not the content itself, meaning it could still be accessed by different links.

An apparent retaliation for taking down Megaupload, the hacker group Anonymous attacked the U.S. Department of Justice site. But as you can see, the site is back up now.

You're watching NEWS STREAM. And coming up, what exactly was the captain of the Costa Concordia up to as water poured into his sinking ship?

And two incidents, 10 troops dead, all in 24 hours. We'll get you the latest live from Afghanistan.

Plus, the violence escalates in Syria. Will the Arab League observers' mandate be renewed?

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

STOUT: The search and rescue mission aboard the Costa Concordia has been suspended and could be called off for good. These are live pictures of the scene near Italy's Giglio Island. The cruise ship, which is resting on rocks, it shifted again today, making it too dangerous for search teams to operate. And authorities are now considering when to call off the search for survivors and start the recovery operation. That would allow salvage workers to begin emptying the ship's huge fuel tanks.

At least 11 people were killed when the Costa Concordia capsized, and 21 people, including a 5-year-old girl, are still missing. And her mother urged rescuers not to give up the search.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

SUSY ALBERTINI, DAUGHTER IS MISSING IN DISASTER (through translator): I would like the rescuers to not stop looking and continue looking. My little girl, they need to bring her back home as soon as possible.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

STOUT: Passengers who did make it off the ship have begun describing the harrowing end to their holiday. Let's take a listen.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

KEIKO GUEST, COSTA CONCORDIA DISASTER SURVIVOR: We managed to get to a lifeboat was not being overrun, and the crew tried to keep us back, but we felt all this pressure coming from behind.

SUZANNE MALVEAUX, CNN ANCHOR: People pushing, you mean?

GUEST: Yes.

JUSTIN EVANS, COSTA CONCORDIA DISASTER SURVIVOR: Stampeding.

GUEST: Stampeding, trying desperately to save their lives.

EVANS: Babies crying.

GUEST: The siren was unbelievable. It was so piercing, that the children and babies were screaming at the top of their lungs while everybody else was screaming to try to be heard. It was so chaotic. It was like the disaster movies.

EVANS: Knowing that the staff -- I mean, they seemed younger than me. They did not know what to do. They got on their lifeboats, and they could not even drive the lifeboat. There was someone that jumped into the water, climbed on to the lifeboat, and began to maneuver it to drive off.

That saved us. He was a hero.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

STOUT: Now, the ship's captain, Francesco Schettino, he's under house arrest and facing possible charges of manslaughter, shipwreck, and abandoning ship. And now claims have emerged that he ordered dinner less than an hour after the liner ran aground.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

ROGELIO BARISTA, COSTA CONCORDIA COOK (through translator): The captain insisted on having a meal at around 10:30. He arrived with a woman who I didn't recognize.

At that time, I was with a colleague, another cook, Jason Valasco (ph). And we wondered what was going on.

At that time, we really felt something was wrong. The stuff in the kitchen was falling off shelves and we realized how grave the situation was. You would not believe it.

I have had 12 years of experience as a cook on a cruise ship. I have even witnessed fires. So I wasn't that scared, but I did wonder though what the captain was doing. Why was he still there?

Anyway, we gave him his drink. After that, he was also still waiting for the dessert to be served to the woman he was with.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

STOUT: Schettino has been widely criticized for his actions, but as Matthew Chance found out, in one small corner of Italy he has plenty of support.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

MATTHEW CHANCE, CNN SR. INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): A dramatic coastline steeped in maritime tradition. The town where Captain Francesco Schettino is under house arrest has produced generations of sea captains, and it's not about to turn on one of its own.

PAOLO TRAPANI, MAYOR OF META DI SORRENTO (through translator): It looks like the only one responsible is the captain. That's what everyone on the outside thinks. But in this village people know he cannot be responsible for everything. It's not like journalists want to portray it.

CHANCE (on camera): It says "Stampa ETV infamita," which means the press and the television are infamous. It was scrawled on the wall here in this narrow street where Captain Schettino is still under house arrest, and it sort of sums up what the local attitude is here. People feel that this captain has received very bad judgments in the media.

I can tell you, he's holed up there on the third floor. He's under house arrest, as I mentioned. He hasn't set foot outside these doors or uttered a word since he was released from police custody.

What has happened is this. You can see there are some journalists who have gathered here. Some locals have painted on a sheet and hung it outside his front door. And it says, "Comandante non mollare," which means, "Captain, don't give up."

And so even though this guy is being vilified elsewhere in Italy, elsewhere around the world, it seems people in his hometown are standing very much behind him.

(voice-over): That, despite the damaging revelations that Captain Schettino made a catastrophic navigation error, abandoned his ship, and otherwise failed his passengers.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE (through translator): He's a good father, a good husband, of course. As a captain, I haven't had the pleasure to sail with him.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE (through translator): They are a great family. He's a great person. They have a great daughter. Great people.

CHANCE (on camera): Do you think the people of Meta di Sorrento are ashamed that somebody who is from their village, somebody who is from their town may be responsible for one of the biggest maritime disasters of recent years?

TRAPANI (through translator): No, I don't think so. This is a village that has deep maritime tradition. And being sailors, they understand how navigation works. They don't need to follow the media, but just want to understand better what happened.

CHANCE (voice-over): And how a successful captain they respected so much here could have been to blame.

Matthew Chance, CNN, Meta di Sorrento.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

STOUT: It's been a deadly 24 hours for NATO forces in Afghanistan. Six U.S. Marines were killed when their helicopter crashed late Thursday night.

In a separate instant, four French soldiers were shot and killed. And now French President Nicolas Sarkozy is threatening to pull troops out of the country early if the security situation does not improve.

Nick Paton Walsh joins us now live from CNN Kabul with the latest.

And Nick, more information here. How did the four French soldiers die?

NICK PATON WALSH, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, as far as we understand, this happened on a base in Kapisa, to the east of Kabul, where the French troops are engaged in training Afghan soldiers. One of them has now been arrested, turning his gun upon his French trainers, killing four of them, injuring 15, I understand from one French official.

It's also thought that these French soldiers, because they were on their base, engaged in training operations with friendly allied Afghan forces. They were not armed, which may explain the high casualty count in this particular incident.

Eight of these injured, apparently. Amongst the injured, also, the captain of that particular command, we're led to understand.

The French defense minister, Gerard Longuet, dispatched here very quickly to lead the investigation into this. And French President Nicolas Sarkozy, in an election due in April, facing great French popular dissatisfaction with this war, issuing a statement suggesting that this instant, the second in just under a month, in fact, in which French soldiers have been killed by the Afghans they're supposed to be training, could result in an early withdrawal from here.

There are 4,000 French troops, mostly training security in one province near Kabul, and also providing some air support. Some air fighter jets here as well.

Important to the mission not necessarily so much in their number, but because of the symbolism. They're one of the countries here providing moral support and physical, financial support to the U.S. presence here, enabling the U.S. to talk about this as being a coalition rather than purely an American effort -- Kristie.

STOUT: And Nick, the other deadly development, a NATO helicopter crashed killing six troops. Do we know the nationalities of the soldiers? And what was the cause of the crash?

WALSH: Well, two things here. The Taliban leaping forward to claim responsibility for this, saying that they shot the helicopter down. That's immediately denied by ISAF, who -- one official telling me on background this is basically a mechanical issue causing the hard landing.

We understand from a source here and now a Pentagon team that, yes, all the six dead were in fact U.S. Marines. U.S. Marines engaged all over Helmand, really, pushing back the Taliban in this key heartland. For them, also a key part of the opium industry in this particular country.

This actual act reminiscent, of course, of the one which killed over 30 NATO soldiers and the worst loss of life for the entire war late last year. But it does appear to have been a mechanical failure, according to NATO. This particular point with the Taliban, always keen to leap forward and trying and make political (INAUDIBLE) of incidences like this -- Kristie.

STOUT: All right.

Nick Paton Walsh, joining us live from Kabul.

Thank you very much indeed for that.

And ahead here on NEWS STREAM, 10 months after Japan's earthquake and tsunami, the damage is still being assessed. And we take you to the depths of the Fukushima nuclear plant. In fact, we go inside one of the crippled reactors.

Stay with us.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

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

Now, it has been 10 months since the earthquake and tsunami in Japan triggered a disaster at the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant, but only now are we seeing the first pictures from inside one of the plant's crippled reactors. And here are those images.

This is reactor number 2, and the footage is somewhat obscured by the water and steam. Three reactors went into meltdown after the earthquake. Around 80,000 people had to be evacuated from areas around the plant.

(WEATHER REPORT)

STOUT: Now, still to come here on NEWS STREAM, protesters, they pour into the streets in Syria this Friday as the Arab League monitoring mission goes into a holding pattern. We'll bring you the very latest from inside Syria.

And we've got more on the reunion between a young woman and the mother who sold her into slavery some 20 years ago.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

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

Now the four remaining U.S. Republican candidates squared off in a debate ahead of tomorrow's primary vote in South Carolina, answered questions on jobs, tax returns, and health care. But things got heated when Newt Gingrich was quizzed about open marriage after his ex-wife claimed that Gingrich had sought an open relationship. Now the audience applauded after Gingrich blasted the media over the question.

Now the U.S. Justice Department is claiming a victory in its fight against online piracy. After executing search warrants in eight countries, it shut down the web site Megaupload a popular online spot for pirated TV shows, movies and games. Authorities say it generated more than $175 million off the stolen copyrighted material.

As the violence continues in Syria, the Arab League is negotiating with the government about extending its mission there. Observers have been in the country since December 26, are now preparing their long awaited report on the crackdown against anti-government protesters. The United Nations says more than 5,000 people have been killed since the unrest began in March.

And we can go live to Syria now to get all the latest from our Arwa Damon. She joins us from the capital Damascus. And Arwa, will the Arab League extend its mission in Syria?

ARWA DAMON, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, we're going to have to wait and see what transpires after the meetings over the weekend. We are hearing that there is some sort of negotiation underway. We're expecting meetings to take place on Saturday, the report to come out on Sunday after all 22 member states of the Arab League do convene once again.

It must be said that when it comes to those individuals who support the government and those who want to see President Bashar al Assad removed, there's very little faith in this Arab League mission. Those who support the government firmly believe that the Arab League is part of this gross international conspiracy against them. And the opposition believe that the Arab League mission is quite simply provided the government with even more time to carry out its policy of trying to ruthlessly clamp down on them.

There's one thing that both sides do agree on, though, is the uncertainty of the future. And there is great fear, Kristie, it must be said on both sides that if the issue that the country is going through right now are not resolved it could begin to fall apart along sectarian lines. People saying that they fear becoming another Iraq. And they fear, perhaps, even becoming another Libya some sort of bombing campaign. So there's a lot of fear on both sides, Kristie, here.

LU STOUT: Are there more protests, more clashes in Syria today? What's the latest?

DAMON: We've been hearing reports from some of the activists that yes there are clashes taking place in some areas. But there have been crackdowns in some areas, there have been demonstrations. Certainly this is Friday. The opposition says that it is incredibly difficult for (inaudible) to go out and demonstrate (inaudible) activists earlier saying it's time to get to a mosque where they want to go out and demonstrate to (inaudible) themselves because there were government thugs, they said, right in front of the mosque.

There were just any pro-government demonstrations -- very different. You hear people chanting, singing their support for the president, but they were also at the same time feeling as if the world is not listening to them, that the world is by and large against them.

And again the sense that we get here -- and Kristie the last time I was allowed back into the country was some six months ago -- is that there is something of a heaviness in the air. This has lagged on for so long. The country is so polarized. The two different narratives, opinions, the sentiments are so starkly different it's very difficult to see how this is going to be resolved.

And there is that growing realization (inaudible) amongst the population and the dread, this genuine dread of what the future is going to bring.

LU STOUT: You know, and all this dread, the tension is putting a strain on the Syrian economy. And I want to ask you about the currency there. The government is planning to introduce a managed float of its exchange rate that would devalue the Syrian pound. So with all this economic turmoil does this mean that the sanctions are working?

DAMON: Well, the sanctions most certainly are having an impact. The country, according to the government, has lost billions -- $2 billion because of the U.S. and EU sanctions on the oil sector. And people are feeling the economic pinch. They will tell you that by and large prices have gone up 35 percent. Some imported goods you can't find anymore, some things that normally would have normally been easily available on the market are no longer here. There have been power cuts from the capital.

People are saying, though, that no does not mean the sanctions are working, because they'll argue that at the end of the day, and especially those who support the government argue, that at the end of the day sanctions are not going to bring about change, because they say it is the people that end up paying the price for it. It is the people who are ending up having to somehow try to navigate their way through these rising prices. (inaudible) very challenges that they're now facing because of the sanctions.

When it comes to what the opposition feels towards the sanctions, they want to see more. They want to see more economic pressure being put on the government. But at the same time, they also believe that that's not going to be enough. The opposition firmly believe that there has to be some sort of international intervention that is going to come in the form of military aid that (inaudible) them or at least is going to come in the form of true pressure that is going to force the government to somehow change its tactics when it comes to how its dealing with them.

LU STOUT: All right, Arwa, thank you. Arwa Damon there with some valuable perspective from inside Syria on the line from Damascus.

Now Syria has very tight restrictions on international journalists reporting inside the country, but our senior international correspondent Nic Robertson has been allowed to follow the Arab League observers and has witnessed the unrest firsthand.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

NIC ROBERTSON, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: They come under gunfire, being attacked by regime loyalists and anti-government opposition alike. The Arab League monitors who arrived barely four weeks ago were supposed to calm the situation, but the reality is they've been thrown into the middle of a crisis beyond their control.

Both sides demanding their views be validated by the orange jacketed monitors.

The monitor's aim here is to be seen to be impartial, to be neutral in everything that's going on. But the longer they're here, the harder it seems to be for them to maintain that position. Here, carried aloft by the crowds of anti-government supporters. For pro-government factions, this looks like the monitors are taking sides.

It's not the only challenge they face. Here, President Bashar al Assad's army blocks monitors for an hour-and-a-half, a delaying tactic they suspect so Assad soldiers can hide heavy weapons the monitors are supposed to verify have been pulled back to base. In front of those very same monitors, this senior government official, the governor of Damascus, denies any restrictions.

He tells me whatever they need, whatever access they want, we give them.

Privately, in less than a month here, the monitors admit they face any number of government obfuscations, but the one we see them witness at a Damascus jail was prisoners were released in accordance with Arab League demands has to be one of the boldest.

This young man hugging his mother. 80 days in detention he says just for having a Facebook account. It looks like government compliance until this.

There's a bus full of men here behind in cages behind wire bars inside these buses here. Three buses going in. We're not being allowed to talk to these men on the buses here. These soldiers are preventing us from doing it. It's not clear if they're new prisoners going in, but it certainly has every appearance of being more prisoners going into the jail.

We see the bus leave empty and later learn when the men arrived they were calling out there's no amnesty. We are security prisoners.

Across town, these aspiring politicians are trying to make an assessment of another government commitment to the Arab League: reforms to legalize opposition parties.

"The last time the government said this in 2005," he says, "we were arrested not long after forming a party."

Even now for them Assad's promise ring hollow. They are struggling to find people brave enough to join them publicly.

"We need 1,000 signatures to register," he says. "We wanted intellectual -- doctors, lawyers -- but we've had to look elsewhere."

And all the while as the monitors struggle to verify compliance, the killings have continued even escalated on both sides. Hundreds more dead since the Arab League observer mission began.

I asked the Damascus governor if the Arab League is helping. His answer less than clear.

"They are our Arab brothers," he explains. "And we hope they convey the true message, because the message you see in the media is one thing and reality is something else."

In the past four weeks 11 monitors have been reported injured, their damaged vehicles speak volumes about the threat.

This one here has had the wind screen smashed in. You can see pictures of President Assad being stuck on the side. If you look along here it reads here we love you Assad.

This is what the monitors face when they go out in the field. They don't have anyone to protect them.

Staying out of danger, nevermind stopping Syria's apparently inevitable slide to war may be their biggest challenge.

Nic Robertson, CNN, Damascus, Syria.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

LU STOUT: You're watching News Stream. And coming up, see a side of the chocolate industry that may leave a bitter taste in your mouth. That just ahead on News Stream.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

LU STOUT: Welcome back.

Now back in November we first introduced you to Isabel. At just 7- years-old she was sold into domestic servitude. And if that wasn't bad enough, she was sold by her own mother.

Now Pauline Chiou now reports from Taiwan on her emotional reunion with her family 20 years in the making.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

PAULINE CHIOU, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: We're in the town of Dawu in southeastern Taiwan where the woman we've been calling Isabel is spending the second day reunited with her family. They live in the green house over my shoulder. And they've asked the press to keep their distance to give the family members time to get to know each other.

Now Isabel is the woman that CNN has been profiling who was sold into domestic servitude at the age of seven. And this has been a reunion 20 years in the making.

Early Friday morning Isabel paid her respects to her late father at his grave site. She made the traditional offerings to him. And it was a very deeply emotional moment. She was comforted by her three sisters who she never got the chance to grow up with. This comes a day after another emotional reunion with her mother who she hadn't seen in more than 20 years.

In a previous interview with CNN Isabel had told us that even though it was her mother who sold her into slavery, she very much wanted to see her again to tell her how much she loved her.

Isabel plans to spend the next couple of days for Lunar New Year with her family members and also to attend her sister's wedding on Tuesday before returning to the United States.

In Dawu in southeastern Taiwan, Pauline Chiou, CNN.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

LU STOUT: And we should add that no criminal charges were brought against the family who brought Isabel to the U.S. from Taiwan, but she has settled a civil lawsuit with that family and is no longer in touch with them.

Now the CNN Freedom Project is also exposing the use of child labor on West African cocoa plantations. Now chocolate production is a global industry worth $83 billion a year, but not everyone involved gets an equal share of the spoils. Now David McKenzie has been investigating and he joins me now from Kenya's capital Nairobi -- David.

DAVID MCKENZIE, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: That's right, Kristie.

Now there's a real imbalance in this industry. And every person we met, the farmers felt that they were getting short (inaudible) from the chocolate companies. And we've been talking all this week about child trafficking and child slavery. But you can't look at that without looking at the systemic problems in the chocolate industry.

And here's one farmer that really touched us with his story.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

MCKENZIE: Another day of visiting the bush we find farmer Rouamba Moussa. He says he's heard the government's promises before.

Like many cocoa farmers, he survives just above the poverty line. He says he doesn't use child labor. His alternative, he relies only on himself. And at 70, he's a bitter man.

ROUAMBA MOUSSA, COCOA FARMER (through translator): I've already been here for 26 years. I've already been here for 26. You see there, my roof? If it rains, we will get water inside. You can go inside and you'll see the water. If you have five acres, you want something for your child's future. I don't have anything. I'm telling you, I have nothing.

MCKENZIE: The government sets the price for his cocoa. And until reforms are put in place, many farmers will use children to cut costs and increase profits.

SANGAFOWA COULIBALY, AGRICULTURE MINISTRY, IVORY COAST (through translator): This syndrome of child labor is the result of the production cost that the farmer must bare. He tries to minimize the production cost of his harvest by using unfortunately child labor which our law now condemns. As long as he will benefit from it, he will do it.

MOUSSA: If I die right now, what have I done for my children? Zero. Zero. They say they want to help us, but help doesn't get to us.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

MCKENZIE: Well Kristie, Rouamba Moussa told us that he only can afford to give his family one meal a day. And he's 70-years-old, Kristie, but he's never tasted chocolate either like the kids that we profile in our documentary. And he doesn't even know really where it ends up. So he's very much isolated from this billion dollar industry -- Kristie.

LU STOUT: You know, the cocoa farmers there are clearly struggling. The government has promised reforms, but nothing has been delivered. So what can be done to fix this?

MCKENZIE: Well, the government even this week promise that they would put in those reforms they said by the end of this month, in fact.

Now the problem is that reforms and promises have come before. This could be a good time, really, to push through reforms because there is a new government in place. They want to consolidate all the variety of government groups that help set up the cocoa system into one group and basically fix the price for cocoa farmers. But many of the farmers we met said that even though the government fixes the price at a certain level even before these reforms, the middle men that come will undercut those prices. And because the farmers bare all the risk, but hold none of the power they really are kind of just making ends meet and often using child labor to try and cut costs.

It's all about economics, but ultimately individual people are bearing the brunt of this extremely lucrative industry -- Kristie.

LU STOUT: So because the bottom line so many people are getting hurt.

David McKenzie there, thank you so much for your investigation and for your reporting. You can learn more about David's travels in Ivory Coast and what he discovered about the world's largest cocoa producer. Just watch our CNN Freedom Project investigation Chocolate's Child Slaves. It's times shown on your screen.

Now Apple unveiled their latest target on Thursday: education. Now textbooks, they were one of three areas that Steve Jobs said he wanted to work on before he died. Now Apple is showing off an update to its iBooks application that enables textbooks on the iPad.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

ROGER ROSNER, APPLE: I just tap on a page thumbnail and there it goes. And then of course I can swipe to get to the next page.

And I think you can see immediately these are gorgeous, gorgeous books. They're really in a class by themselves in terms of rich, engaging layouts. And they have some real cool, rich, engaging interactive experiences.

And this is one here. I'm going to pinch it up to full screen so you can see it better. And now when I tap we zoom in and we see animated 3D models of the structures inside of a cell.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

LU STOUT: Now the new text books cost up to $15. It sounds like a good deal, but don't forget a few things. You can't share iBooks between iPads, you have to buy your own copy. And you can't sell your iBook or buy one secondhand. Again, each iPad needs its own copy of the book.

Now Apple also released a tool to create your own iBook. So we decided to try it out. And after an hour my producer came up with this brief three page book. Now the app is still a little bit buggy and some things were frustrating. But dropping in movies and images were pretty easy. And you can even create image galleries and even a multiple choice quiz.

Creating this book was easy, but publishing it is harder. If you want to sell it, you'll need an account with Apple. And we haven't published this so you won't find it on iBooks. Sorry about that.

Now still to come here on News Stream, we head Down Under to catch up on the day's tennis at the Australian Open. Stick around for that.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

LU STOUT: Time now for a sports update. And Rafael Nadal and Roger Federer are on a collision course at the Australian Open. Pedro Pinto joins us with the latest from Melbourne and the rest of the top sports stories.

PEDRO PINTO, CNN SPORTS CORRESPONDENT: Hey, Kristie.

Rafa and Roger moved a step closer to a semifinal clash on Friday. Nadal and Federer both advanced to the round of 16. The world number two didn't skip a beat. He won his match 6-2, 6-4, 6-2.

Federer, meanwhile, had to work a little harder than Nadal in his third round match. He saved a set point here in a tight first set tiebreak against big serving Ivo Karlovic before taking control of the match and advancing in straight sets. Roger won 7-6, 7-5, and 6-3. And described the contest as a good day at the office.

Next up for the four-time Aussie Open champion, a battle with home favorite Bernard Tomic who continued to defy the odds at Melbourne Park. After beating Fernando Velasco in the first round, the 19-year-old Australian knocked out 13th seed Alexandre Delvopolov (ph) in the third after a five set battle which lasted 3 hours and 49 minutes.

Caroline Wozniacki is one win away from earning enough points to retain her world number one ranking. The Dane knows she needs to get to the quarterfinals to hold on to the top spot in the WTA tour rankings. And she moved to the round of 16 on Friday with an easy win over Romania's Monica Niculescu 6-2, 6-2 the score. It was all over in an hour and 16 minutes.

Wozniacki now faces former world number one Jelena Jankovic on Sunday.

In the United States two of the best basketball players on the planet went head to head -- LeBron James and the Miami Heat hosted Kobe Bryant and the L.A. Lakers. James had flu like symptoms but he still suited up and was in the starting line-up. His physical condition didn't affect his will to attack the rim. Check out James here going to the basket, get the hard foul from Josh McRoberts who picked up a technical foul for that.

LeBron knew exactly how to get some revenge. He scored basket after basket. With the Heat up by 11 he knocked down a 3-pointer.

Kobe tried to keep his team in the game, but he connected on only 8 of 21 field goal attempts and his 24 points weren't good enough on the night.

LeBron meanwhile made sure the Heat stayed in control. He had 31 points, 8 rebounds and 8 assists. The Heat improved to 5-0 without Dwayne Wade this season. He continues to recover from an ankle injury.

But no rush to get him back as the Heat are looking good, beating the Lakers 98-87.

That is a quick look at sports for now. Kristie, back to you.

LU STOUT: Pedro, thank you. Take care.

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

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