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Barack Obama Addresses Joint Session of Congress; Egypt: One Year On; Funerals Target for Security Forces in Syria; Egyptians Gather In Tahrir Square On Anniversary Of Mubarak's Fall; Top Four Men Advance To Australian Open Semifinal

Aired January 25, 2012 - 00:08:00   ET

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


ANNA COREN, HOST: Welcome to NEWS STREAM, where news and technology meet.

Hello. I'm Anna Coren, in Hong Kong.

We start with the State of the Union Address, where Barack Obama laid out his platform for reelection.

We take a first-hand look inside the exclusion zone that still exists around the crippled Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant in Japan.

And one year after the start of the revolution, Egyptians gather once more in Cairo's Tahrir Square.

The U.S. presidential election campaign moves into high gear today. President Barack Obama is heading out on a three-day, five-state trip as he tries to convince Americans to give him another four years in the White House.

Well, last night, he defended his trademark policies in his State of the Union Address to a joint session of Congress. Collaboration and common sense were some of the dominant themes. But even without that, Mr. Obama is vowing to move forward.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

BARACK OBAMA, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: The point is we should all want a smarter, more effective government. And while we may not be able to bridge our biggest philosophical differences this year, we can make real progress.

With or without this Congress, I will keep taking actions that help the economy grow. But I can do a whole lot more with your help, because when we act together, there's nothing the United States of America can't achieve.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

COREN: Let's get more on that address now with Brianna Keilar, who joins us from the White House.

Brianna, this was very much a reelection bid, with his focus squarely on the economy and the middle class. Did this strike a chord with the public?

BRIANNA KEILAR, CNN WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: You know, it's still pretty early to tell, because this finished up at about 10:30 p.m. Eastern last night, and it's still pretty early in the morning here. So we'll really come to see. And part of the reason the president is heading out on his travels for the next few days is to sell this and make his message -- at least try to make his message -- resonate.

What I can tell you is the White House was happy with the speech that he gave. The state of the union literally is a bit of a status check. It's the president's check-in every year with Congress. But, yes, this is an election year. The president will be facing a tough battle for reelection, and so this also served as a bit of a kickoff to his campaign that we'll be seeing here in the next several months.

One of the big issues that he has, Anna -- and this is no surprise -- is the unemployment rate, 8.5 percent in December. It's not really expected to budge much before the election. This is a big vulnerability, something that would never have happened before, if President Obama is able to be reelected with an unemployment rate so high.

And so you heard him kind of saying, you know, we're not there yet, but we're making progress. He was seizing on some of the modest gains the economy has made. And then one of the big things he's been doing is kind of selling this vision of the future, reclaiming the American dream, this idea that if you work hard, if you're responsible, you will get ahead. The idea that there's a place for everyone kind of in the middle class, or that the middle class should be growing and that it shouldn't be so hard for people in the middle class.

The big line that he drew in the sand having to do with this idea of fairness and having a fair shot had to do with taxes, the idea that if you make $1 million or more, you should be taxed at a rate of 30 percent or more. This is something called the Buffett Rule, named so after the billionaire Warren Buffett. And this also, Anna, drew some contrast between him and who his presumed opponent is, Mitt Romney, a millionaire, who we just learned yesterday, as he released his tax returns from recent years -- or I should say a tax return for the past year and looking ahead - - that he pays only 14 percent in taxes -- Anna.

COREN: Brianna, as you said, the president is off on a three-day trip to sell his message. The opinion polls, the approval rate is hovering around 50 percent.

What does this mean some 10 months out from the election.

KEILAR: You know, it's hard to tell, but certainly I think looking at the trip that he has planned and where he's going, you see the Obama campaign strategy already very much up and running.

Where is he going? Well, he'll be going to Iowa. But he's also going to western states like Nevada, Arizona, Colorado. And then he'll also be going to Michigan.

Why is that important? Well, because the Hispanic vote is very significant in those states. When congressional Democrats were very much facing a drubbing in the last midterm election, it was those states and really the Hispanic vote that helped some of them survive. The president is hoping to have that same support for his presidential race come November.

And the other thing to notice, Anna, is most of the states he's going to have an unemployment rate lower than the national average. So perhaps he'll be talking to some audiences that are more sort of amenable, maybe aren't hurting as much as the rest of the country.

COREN: All right.

Brianna Keilar, joining us from the White House.

We appreciate that. Thank you.

Well, Mr. Obama reasserted America's dominance in global affairs. He also took time to challenge practices in the one economy that's on track to topple it. That being China.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

OBAMA: I will go anywhere in the world to open new markets for American products. And I will not stand by when our competitors don't play by the rules. We've brought trade cases against China at nearly twice the rate as the last administration, and it's made a difference.

(APPLAUSE)

OBAMA: Over 1,000 Americans are working today because we stopped a surge in Chinese tires. But we need to do more.

It's not right when another country lets our movies, music and software be pirated. It's not fair when foreign manufacturers have a leg up on ours, only because they're heavily subsidized.

Tonight, I'm announcing the creation of a trade enforcement unit that will be charged with investigating unfair trading practices in countries like China. There will be more inspections --

(APPLAUSE)

OBAMA: There will be more inspections to prevent counterfeit or unsafe goods from crossing our borders.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

COREN: Well, the man poised to take power in China -- that being Vice President Xi Jinping -- has previously warned foreigners not to mettle in Chinese affairs. And he's due to visit the White House next month. On Valentine's Day, in fact.

Stan Grant joins us now from Beijing with Obama's speech and how it's being received in China.

Stan, these attacks on China's trade practices are nothing new, but I can't imagine that the Chinese government would take too kindly to being singled out in the State of the Union Address.

STAN GRANT, CNN SR. INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, it hasn't in the past, Anna. No official reaction. Of course, this is Chinese New Year, and most government departments are shut and things are very quiet here. But you can draw a line on what China has said in the past. Just take the currency issue.

We know that the United States and Europe as well, to a lesser degree, have been pressuring China to allow its currency to rise. They say that by keeping it artificially low, China has an export advantage.

Well, really, that hasn't happened. In fact, China has pointed a finger back at the United States in saying the U.S. is keeping its currency low.

And now we have this debate about piracy and claims from Barack Obama that the U.S. is going to do more and even bring more cases against China for the protection of intellectual property. Well, China, in the past, has tried to crack down on this, but clearly not enough. You can go anywhere in this country and see pirated DVDs, pirated music selling for $1, $2 a movie. And these are often movies that are still not officially released in cinemas just yet. You can go to the market and see big-name brands that have been counterfeited as well.

You mentioned Xi Jinping as the likely successor to Hu Jintao. Of course, a leadership transition later in the year here. He's preparing to go to the United States. He'll be there in February.

And remember, we don't know a lot about him, Anna. You might recall the comment that he made offhand when he was in Mexico, and he said, "Westerners with full stomachs should not be pointing the finger at China and telling China what to do." I'd like to be a fly on the wall when he gets to the U.S. -- Anna.

COREN: It will be an interesting conversation, won't it?

Stan, it was only a few months ago that Obama was really shining the light on Asia. And it's important to the U.S. and its growth. I mean, he's really walking a fine line, because at the end of the day, the U.S. needs China.

GRANT: The U.S. needs China. China needs the U.S. as well.

Of course, the U.S. is a big holder of treasury bonds in -- China is a big holder of U.S. treasury bonds. China needs to get a return on that investment as well, so it needs a strong U.S. economy. And one of the two biggest markets for China, they are Europe and the United States.

But, yes, they're going to butt heads. We knew that the line in the sand, an election year in the United States, high unemployment, an economy still in the doldrums. And China makes an inviting target.

China is well having its problems, as I said before -- leadership transition here, set against a backdrop of a slowing economy. Exports are slowing down. China doesn't have an alternative growth model.

It's continued to supply the country with stimulus. It's continuing to rely on internal investment because it doesn't have consumption, domestic consumption, at a level yet that can fill the bridge. So, China is also entering uncharted territory.

You touched there on Barack Obama's comments about the Asia-Pacific region. Well, China has seen some of the moves by the U.S. to increase its position here, to bolster its military in the region, put troops on the ground in Australia, for example, as efforts to contain China.

So, yes, two emerging superpowers and an emerging super rivalry as well. We're going to see this played out throughout the next 12 months -- Anna.

COREN: Senior International Correspondent Stan Grant.

As always, good to speak to you. Thank you.

Well, now it's not just the content of the speech that we've been paying attention to. A lot can be read into Obama's priorities in other ways.

For example, who was invited to the first lady's box is rather telling. Obama hailed Steve Jobs as an American innovator, and his widow Laurene was there. She is the woman in the middle.

Well, in his address, Obama asked whether wealthy people should benefit from tax cuts that allow them to pay a lesser tax rate. Well, that rule is named after Warren Buffett, who asked, why is it that he should pay less than, for instance, his secretary? And sure enough, his secretary of nearly two decades, Debbie Bosanek, was right there in Michelle Obama's box.

Well, the other person, Gabby Giffords' husband. Retired Navy captain and former astronaut Mark Kelly was also invited.

And here's the president, as you can see, stopping to give Giffords a hug on the eve of her resignation. She, of course, is stepping down to concentrate on her recovery after being shot in the head in January of last year.

Well, among the others who were in Michelle Obama's box, if we can move the screen along, is Admiral William McRaven, the commander credited with organizing the raid that killed Osama bin Laden.

You are watching NEWS STREAM.

Still ahead, people in Cairo mark the first anniversary of Egypt's uprising with a familiar sight in Tahrir Square.

Plus, more than six years after the fact, a U.S. military judge has sentenced a U.S. Marine for his role in the deaths of 24 Iraqi civilians. We'll have details of that sentence just ahead.

And we'll take you inside some Japanese towns that once housed tens of thousands of people, but now most of them look something like this.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

COREN: Well, you are looking at live pictures of Tahrir Square in Cairo as thousands of Egyptians are gathering to mark one year since the start of the revolution that ousted longtime leader Hosni Mubarak.

Well, some protesters are holding banners and chanting slogans against the country's military. No violence has been reported.

We want to remind you of the events in Egypt this past year.

On January 25, 2011, these images were beamed around the world. It was the start of a people's revolution. Thousands united in protest against a regime they saw as oppressive and corrupt.

Three days later, the protests intensified. Huge crowds took to the streets for the so-called "Day of Rage." Riot police ran for cover as people power gripped the country.

And the protesters achieved their goal. In February, Hosni Mubarak stepped down. And shortly after, the Armed Forces Supreme Council dissolved Egypt's parliament and took control of the country.

Well, Mr. Mubarak has been put on trial, accused of ordering the killings of protesters and of corruption. In the meantime, the Egyptian people have voted in parliamentary elections, and just this week parliament convened for the first time since the end of Mr. Mubarak's rule.

So, progress would seem apparent, and yet there are still people protesting in Tahrir Square, and many still frustrated by what they view as the slow pace of reform in the country.

Well, the mood in Tahrir Square is being described as somber and intense.

Our senior international corespondent Ben Wedeman joins us from Cairo.

Ben, you have been down in the square. Tell us, what's it like on the ground?

BEN WEDEMAN, CNN SR. INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: It's certainly not somber and intense. In fact, it's more like a celebration than anything else.

As you mentioned, there's been no violence reported. I haven't seen Tahrir this crowded in quite some time, and there are still more and more people coming from around the city.

What does seem to unite most of the people in the square is a call for the Supreme Council for the Armed Forces, universally known as SCAF, to step down, hand over power to a civilian body. This seems to be the one rallying cry in a square where there's otherwise a cacophony of confusing and conflicting voices.

You have a variety of political parties who have set up different stages down there. And we're hearing speeches from one party or another coming from different directions. But the mood is actually quite upbeat, quite positive. This is a true show of strength to the military that there is a significant proportion of the population that is willing to go out on the streets and call for them to hand over power to civilians -- Anna.

COREN: Ben, tell us about the presence of security and also the number of women. Are there a large number of women in the square?

WEDEMAN: There are lots of women in the square, women with headscarves, women without. There are Christians and Muslims.

What there aren't, of course, is security. The security has been pulled back by order of the government. They are protecting government buildings, but the actual responsibility for security in and around Tahrir Square has been handed over to the organizers, the various organizers who have put this event together. So there's very little security in evidence in this part of town -- Anna.

COREN: Ben, the Egyptian revolution was really sparked by young people who were rebelling against the regime. One year on, how are they feeling about the progress being made? Are any of them satisfied with the pace of change?

WEDEMAN: Well, there are different schools of thought in Egypt. There are many people here who feel that great change has been achieved with the downfall of Hosni Mubarak, with the fact that elections have taken place.

Parliament went into session for the first time the day before yesterday. In June, there should be presidential elections. And after that, the military should hand over power to a civilian president.

Some people are satisfied with that. Others feel that change has not been fast enough, that Hosni Mubarak should be put on trial in the square rather than in a civilian court. They want to see the government purged of officials from the old regime because, basically, just a few people have actually been removed from their positions. Many of the top figures in the bureaucracy are the same ones who were there before.

Many people would like to see, for instance, the Interior Ministry, which is, in many respects, a state within a state, to be dismantled or reformed. And to have many of the officers who were guilty of committing human rights abuses under Hosni Mubarak, they would like to see them taken out and also put on trial.

So, it's a mixed picture. And there are many Egyptians who are very worried about not the transition to a democracy, but the fact that the economy has really been in free-fall since the revolution -- 4,500 factories have closed, tourists are very rare these days, there's very little foreign investment, the stock market is down, and Egypt's foreign reserves are half of what they were a year ago. So there's lots to worry about for many Egyptians, despite the fact, as you can see, many Egyptians feel the revolution still has a long way to go -- Anna.

COREN: Senior International Correspondent Ben Wedeman.

Thank you.

Well, meantime, Syria has agreed to extend the Arab League's monitoring mission for another month, but more than a third of the observers dropped out on Tuesday. Well, the Gulf Cooperation Council withdrew support for the mission, citing the continuing bloodshed.

The continuing violence in Syria is making funerals a common sight, but opposition activists say the ceremonies are becoming a target for the security forces, as Arwa Damon reports.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

ARWA DAMON, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): We're heading to a central Damascus neighborhood. But shortly after we arrive, we find ourselves down a alleyway and in the middle of a standoff.

(on camera): We got information from an activist that there was going to be a funeral taking place. There have been groups of young men scattered throughout, and they said that, yes, there was going to be a funeral. But then, all of a sudden, we saw the security forces show up. There was a huge group of them that came down one alleyway and they darted around the corner. We went in an opposite direction.

The activists are now all holed up in a mosque.

(voice-over): One of the activists who got away signals to us to come into his home.

(on camera): They're saying that the security forces usually stay around for about two hours. We saw them. We saw them carrying batons. We saw rifles slung over some of their shoulders.

(voice-over): "What you're seeing now, it's normal. It's what we go through daily," Mohammed (ph) says. "The last time we had a funeral here," he recalls, "the procession was shot at."

We're not identifying him for his own safety.

"For us, leaving at this stage isn't an option," Mohammed explains. He's worried the forces will come down his street if we're spotted leaving it.

In a bizarre turn of events, we end up watching the Syrian foreign minister's news conference on an activist's television. Walid Moallem slammed the Arab League proposal for President Bashar al-Assad to transfer power to his vice president and the formation of a national unity government.

WALID MOALLEM, SYRIAN FOREIGN MINISTER (through translator): There is no other country in the world that has the entire world blocking it and using Arab elements to fulfill this conspiracy.

DAMON: But he also said that Syria is not without friends in Tehran and Moscow.

MOALLEM: Russia will not accept the foreign intervention in Syria. This is a red line.

DAMON: Even so, the Foreign Ministry agreed to extend the League's monitoring mission for another month.

(MUSIC)

DAMON: And sizeable pro-government rallies in the capital and elsewhere suggest Assad still has a power base. To the regime opponents, the regime's defiance is troubling.

(on camera): The group that we're with has been watching this press conference, and they've been expressing their dismay and their horror at what the foreign minister is saying. And they're also talking about how they also lost hope in any sort of potential Arab League initiative that anyone is going to save them except for themselves.

(voice-over): Finally, the group we're with say it's safe enough for us to leave. There was no funeral on this day, and they don't know when it will take place.

Arwa Damon, CNN, Damascus.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

COREN: Well, coming up on NEWS STREAM, we take you back to the exclusion zone around the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant in northern Japan.

That's next here on CNN.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

COREN: Well, houses and shops are empty, belongings are left behind. A 20-kilometer exclusion zone still surrounds the Fukushima Daiichi power plant almost a year after a catastrophic earthquake and tsunami caused a nuclear crisis there.

Well, no one lives in the area that once housed 78,000 people. CNN learned conditioned there are still serious, and we wanted to see the situation first hand.

So our Kyung Lah accompanied a group that is allowed to work in the zone, and here's part of what she learned.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

KYUNG LAH, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: We're a couple of miles now into the exclusion zone, and I'm carrying a couple of radiation meters with me. This actually reads radiation on surfaces, and this one will keep track of how much radiation our bodies have been exposed to. This you keep right next to your body. And the radiation did spike once we passed the exclusion zone.

So we're in the center of town here, and just to give you an idea of how evacuated this area is, how people had to leave everything behind, take a look inside this convenient store and you can see everything is as it was almost a year ago. This is all earthquake damage. But no one has been able to come in to clean any of this up. It says that time stops and has stood still ever since the March 11th earthquake.

So this is a neighborhood in Tomioka. And if you look over my shoulder, you can see there are all these houses, but there are no people. You can't even really hear any dogs. There's no neighborhood sounds. It's very eerie, it's very quiet.

(voice-over): We check the radiation on the ground. Much higher than in the air, at a level that's not harmful in the short amount of time we're here, but the challenge for the government is the cumulative effect of the radiation on the people of this community.

Around the corner, the first signs of cleaning up the worst nuclear disaster in 25 years.

(on camera): What you're seeing here is the decontamination process that's begun in the no-go zone. This, what you're seeing under these new tarps, is contaminated soil. The government is trying to basically push it aside, try to contain it, in order to make this place livable again.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

COREN: That was our Kyung Lah there reporting from Fukushima.

Well, still to come on NEWS STREAM, a dramatic rescue in the Horn of Africa. U.S. Special Forces free two aide workers who had been held hostage in Somalia since October.

I now want to show you these remarkable pictures from Egypt one year after the country's revolution. Cairo's Tahrir Square is packed with people. Our Ben Wedeman says he hasn't seen it this full in months.

We'll have much more after the break.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

COREN: Welcome back. I'm Anna Coren in Hong Kong. You are watching NEWS STREAM. These are your world headlines.

The founder of the file sharing web site Megaupload will stay in jail for at least another month after being denied bail in a New Zealand court. The judge said the German millionaire Kim Dotcom poses a significant flight risk. Megaupload was shut down last week. And Dotcom was arrested in Aukland as part of an FBI investigation into internet piracy in the United States.

Well, thousands of people are gathering in Cairo's Tahrir Square to mark the first anniversary of the Egyptian uprising which led to the removal of President Hosni Mubarak. But there are mixed feelings in the square. Alongside the celebrations there is anger. Many say it's taking too long to push through democratic reforms.

Well, Syria has agreed to extend the Arab League mission for another month. The Gulf states have withdrawn their observers citing the failure of the Syrian government to stop the killing. Opposition activists say at least 68 people were killed on Tuesday. Many of them in Homs.

A U.S. raid in Somalia has rescued two foreign aid workers who'd been kidnapped there three months ago one is American, the other is Danish. Well, both were working for a Danish aid group as part of the group's demining (ph) program. Our Pentagon correspondent Chris Lawrence is following the story from Washington and joins us now.

Chris, what can you tell us you have?

CHRIS LAWRENCE, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Yeah, Anna, we got some new details on exactly how all this went down. Apparently the U.S. Justice Department asked for help from the Department of Defense. They then put a military plan in motion to try to rescue these two hostages.

There had been some reports that one of the hostages, Jessica Buchanan was in failing health and that contributed to the decision to go in overnight to try to rescue them.

Take a look at this -- some of this video from YouTube which shows the two hostages in custody by these militants. They were being held since late October. We're now learning from military sources that an elite special operations team flew in by helicopter, landed near the compound where the hostages were being held and then a team, which included U.S. Navy SEALs stormed the compound. They took fire. They were being held by nine kidnappers. All nine, I'm told, have been killed in that raid.

Now the first hint we got that this was underway was sort of innocuous. At the State of the Union last night President Barack Obama looked at his Defense Secretary Leon Panetta and said good job tonight. Good job tonight. At the time no one could figure out what specifically he was referring to. Now, of course, we do know.

And this morning, President Obama put out a statement saying basically that the U.S. will not stand for its citizens being kidnapped. In it he said Jessica Buchanan was selflessly serving her fellow human beings when she was taken hostage by criminals and pirates who showed no regard for her health and well being.

Last night I spoke with Jessica Buchanan's father and told him that all Americans have Jessica in our thoughts and prayers and give thanks that she will soon be reunited with her family -- Anna.

COREN: Yeah, Chris, quite an amazing operation. You mentioned Jessica Buchanan, that 32-year-old U.S. citizen, the other being a 60-year- old Danish man.

Jessica was in poor health. Do we know how both of them are holding up at the moment?

LAWRENCE: From the reports that we've been hearing, they appear to be doing OK right now. No major injuries. The question now will be how much, if any, deterrence this is to future pirate attacks or future kidnappings in that area. There's been a lot of attention on the seize, an international task force that is patrolling the seas around Somalia. We've seen a number of rescues over the last year or two, ships that have been hijacked by pirates at sea and may have pushed some of the pirates efforts inland on the ground trying to take hostage some of these aid workers to get a ransom.

It will have to remain to be seen if this raid does anything at all to actually deter those kidnappings.

COREN: Chris Lawrence at the Pentagon, thank you for that update.

Well, the U.S. Marine who led a squad that killed 24 unarmed civilians in Iraq will not be going to jail. Instead, a U.S. military judge has ruled that Staff Sergeant Frank Wuterich should be demoted to the rank of private, which also means a cut in pay. Well, prosecutors had argued that Wuterich ordered the 2005 killings in the city of Haditha after a friend had been killed by a roadside bomb.

He was facing charges of manslaughter, but under a deal with prosecutors he plead guilty to dereliction of duty. Several Iraqi officials have called the plea deal unjust.

Well, the killings happened at the midpoint and the height of the U.S. war in Iraq. The killings were condemned in that country, of course, but the seeming senselessness of the attack resonated around the world and brought condemnation from human rights groups and investigation in the U.S. congress.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

DUNCAN LEE HUNTER, HOUSE COMMITTEE ON ARMED SERVICES: If there were problems in the chain of command, if there was a coverup, if anything wasn't reported let the chips fall where they may, but don't presume anything. Those reports aren't finished yet. But the reports and the investigations are being pursued with great integrity.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

COREN: Well, the U.S. released aerial drone footage from just before the attack which for some painted a clearer picture of the seconds leading up to the killing. Well, CNN's Shawn Caleb (ph) has reported on the attack around the time that it happened. Let's take a look back.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: All I saw was the first one and he also had an AK- 47. So I shot him. And then the two males that were behind him, because the first two guys had guns, you know, the last two must have something.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The last two turned out to be unarmed, but a shared and the other Marines left the scene at 10:30 that night. They thought the incident was over. Then months later this videotape emerged from the Iraqi community showing the aftermath of all the gunfire in another house in Haditha during the same search.

Time magazine broke the story of a possible coverup. A military investigation followed. And widespread condemnation too.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

COREN: Well, let's get more now from Iraq. Frederik Pleitgen joins me from Baghdad. And Fred, tell us how are Iraqis reacting?

FREDERIK PLEITGEN, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, I would say outrage is the right word to use when describing how Iraqis are reacting. And one of the things that you have to keep in mind that apparently Sergeant Wuterich before this raid of him and his other marines in Haditha on those houses apparently told the men that he was with to shoot first and ask questions later. This apparently was something that he admitted to in this trial.

We've been speaking to Iraqi politicians in Anbar Province where, of course, Haditha is and they were no less than outraged as well. One politician telling us that he felt these people had killed 24 innocent civilians and all they got was punishment that would be something for something like a traffic violation.

Another Iraqi politician telling us he believed that this verdict showed that to Americans Iraqi blood is, quote, cheap.

So there is a lot of outrage here. But is really an ongoing process where from a standpoint of many Iraqis there have been a lot of disappointments, because as you recall there were several marines who were on trial. In most cases, the charges were dismissed. One was acquitted of the charges. So this was the final one. And certainly it has lead to a lot of disappointment and indeed anger not just here in Baghdad and Haditha, but certainly something that is nationwide among a lot of Iraqis - - Anna.

COREN: And Fred, this did occur seven years ago. But does this incident have implications for Iraq today?

PLEITGEN: Well, it has very wide implications and certainly ones where you could almost call it a game changer, at least when it happened at the time, it certainly did change the perception that many Iraqis had of the American troops who are on the ground here. And one of the things that you have to keep in mind that of course the American forces that were operating here in Iraq had the longest time had immunity from Iraqi law. So after this incident, many people here in this country saw the American troops as being a trigger happy and doing these things with impunity from Iraqi law. So that was something that built up among the Iraqi public.

And if you recall when American forces left this country in 2011 one of the reasons why the forces left was because the Iraqi government no longer wanted to grant the U.S. troops immunity from Iraqi law and that is something that still carries over to contractors who are now working in Iraq today who of course don't have immunity from Iraqi law who are under Iraqi law. So it is certainly something while not the only reason why all of this happened, it certainly was on incident that made a major contribution to the sentiment towards the U.S. forces, to the sentiment generally of Americans, of foreigners operating with weapons here in this country, Anna.

COREN: Fred Pleitgen in Baghdad, we appreciate that. Thank you.

Well, still to come on NEWS STREAM, Mitt Romney tries to push ahead in the race for the U.S. Republican nomination, but will his tax returns hold him back? Find out here on CNN.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

COREN: Well, you are looking at live pictures of Tahrir Square in Cairo. Thousands of Egyptians are gathering to mark one year since the start of the revolution that ousted long time leader Hosni Mubarak. Well, there's plenty of chanting, but no violence has been reported as yet.

Our Ben Wedeman says the square is much fuller than he's seen in months.

Well, there is a 70 percent chance that Tokyo could be hit by a major earthquake within the next four years, that's according to researchers at the University of Tokyo. Well, the same seismologists say it's nearly certain the Japanese capital will be hit by a magnitude 7 quake in the next 30 years.

They are basing their predictions on something called the Gutenberg- Richter law. It stats that an increase in small tremors will likely increase the number of larger earthquakes. Well, tremors have continued to shake Tokyo since the devastating 9 quake off Japan's coast last March.

So, should the city be concerned? Well, Gary Gibson is a seismologist at Australia's Seismology Research Center.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

GARY GIBSON, SEISMOLOGY RESEARCH CENTER: And one of the most important things after magnitude is location. There very important how close you are to an earthquake. And a magnitude 7 earthquake is much, much smaller than a magnitude 9. The energy in a magnitude 7, you need about 1,000 magnitude 7 earthquakes to get the energy of a magnitude 9 that they had last year. And the size of the rupture is only tens of kilometers instead of hundreds.

So a magnitude 7 is much smaller and it will affect things within a couple of tens of kilometers, but if you have a shallow magnitude 7 it can be very devastating. But if you're more than 50 kilometers away the damage will be much less.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

COREN: That was seismology Gary Gibson there.

Well, if the researchers' predictions come true, the impact on the 42 million people who call metropolitan Tokyo home would be huge. The Japanese government estimates that a large-scale earthquake in the coming decades could result in 11,000 deaths. Well, their figures predict the quake would also amount to a $1 trillion loss for the country's economy.

Quite staggering statistics indeed.

Well, let's now get an update of the weather with our Mari Ramos. And Mari, I believe that another cyclone hit Mozambique.

MARI RAMOS, CNN WEATHER CORRESPONDENT: Yeah, this is the third one already this month. We've had three storms that have moved across the Mozambique Channel since the beginning of January. And here we are the third week of January and the third storm has been pretty much sitting over the same are for the last week. It's in the Mozambique Channel, the storm has stayed mostly over the water, but it has been pumping in some very heavy rain across parts of Mozambique as we head into other areas in Botswana, for example, and then back over here toward Madagascar.

We have some pictures to show you from Mozambique. And you'll see there's just water everywhere. Authorities struggling to bring food, water, shelter, medicine to people that need it the most. Rivers are swollen. There have been significant damage to homes, to infrastructure, to also to crops which could take a long time to actually recover from this.

The water is still high in many areas. And authorities are urging people to be extra careful on roadways. Don't go out. It's very difficult to move around as many areas, like I said, are still covered in water.

Come back over to the weather map. The storm itself is actually expected to weaken now that's it's starting to move, finally, into some cooler water. Expected to stay over the water, but the same situation will still be true. Some of that moisture will make it to coastal areas, not as bad as before. And other areas across south parts of Mozambique. Maputo, for example, I think should stay dry. That's an area that has been hard hit by the other two cyclones that affected the region before. And Madagascar will continue to see some rain. But of course any amount of rain that falls here could be a significant problem.

Staying in the southern hemisphere I want to take you to Australia. There are two potential tropical cyclone formations. This one right here is something worth monitoring. And this one right here over the north coast of Australia, this one is starting to move inland so it probably won't develop. But the problem is that it's coming into an area that is already saturated with water. And the forecast predictions are that it will eventually move here into parts of Queensland. And Queensland is getting hammered again with some extremely heavy rainfall.

Look at these rainfall totals. In Brisbane they've had 177 millimeters of rain just in the last 24 hours. So that's pretty spectacular. And now more moisture is expected. You have a double whammy here. First, strong onshore flow that will continue. And also a lot of tropical moisture that will also be affecting this region. So definitely something to consider and worry about.

Not as cold today in Beijing as it was yesterday. Not as cold in Tokyo today as it was yesterday. But wow look at these temperatures in Hong Kong, 8 degrees, very, very cold indeed. 1 degree right now in Shanghai. And you know what, in Tokyo they went from icy conditions to snow and they had about 4 centimeters of snow and that caused some problems. But now the snow is finally over.

Back to you.

COREN: Mari, I didn't realize it was 8 degrees outside. That is a little bit chilly for us here in Hong Kong. I'm going to have to (inaudible) out.

All right, Mari, great to see you.

There's been a tough few weeks for U.S. Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney, he lost the South Carolina primary and released his tax returns after mounting public pressure. Well, Romney's campaign is now focused on regaining the momentum it once had.

Jim Acosta has more.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

JIM ACOSTA, CNN CORRESPONDENT: With no campaign music and just a short walk to the teleprompters, Mitt Romney played the role of candidate in chief delivering a blistering prebuttal to the president's State of the Union Address.

MITT ROMNEY, REPUBLICAN PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: High unemployment, record home foreclosures, debt that's too high, opportunities too few, this is the real state of our union.

ACOSTA: It was also an attempt to escape his campaign's state of disarray. After weeks of mounting pressure, Romney released his 2010 and estimated 2011 tax returns. They show over the last two years he made nearly $43 million almost entirely on investment income and paid an effective tax rate of 14 percent, lower than what many middle class Americans pay.

The disclosure was welcomed at the White House which announced the secretary to billionaire investor Warren Buffett, Debbie Bosenek, would sit in the first lady's box at the State of the Union as a reminder of Buffett's well known beef that he pays a smaller percentage of his income in taxes than his secretary.

But Team Romney was ready for that one.

ROMNEY: The unemployed don't get tickets to sit next to the first lady.

ACOSTA: As Romney focused on the president, his advisers were throwing punches at Newt Gingrich, demanding that the former speaker reveal more than just a year's worth of documents from his days advising mortgage lender Freddie Mac.

STUART STEVENS, ROMNEY ADVISER: We've released more tax returns than he's released. And his -- his question here is what is his relationship with Freddie Mac all during those years people here in Florida are getting crunched by the housing crisis. What advice was he giving Freddie Mac?

ACOSTA: But Gingrich has already moved on to his next line of attack, tying Romney to Florida's unpopular former Governor Charlie Crist who left the Republican party to run as an independent for the senate against rising GOP star Marco Rubio. Some of Crist's former staffers now work for Romney. Gingrich joked that explain's Romney's past positions on social issues like abortion and gay rights.

NEWT GINGRICH, REPUBLICAN PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: Now, that makes him a moderate in Massachusetts, but it makes him pretty liberal in Republican primary which probably explains why he hired Charlie Crist's staff.

ACOSTA: Team Romney was too busy resurrecting this image of Gingrich as a crybaby over his threat to skip upcoming debates if the audiences are asked to keep quiet as the crowd was told at Mondays' debate. Romney's advisers say Gingrich sounds like he's running for pouter in chief.

While, the Romney campaign may be getting back to its preferred gameplan, it may have lost some of its swagger. A top Romney adviser told reporters Florida is not a must win state, a sign polls may soon show Newt Gingrich with a sizable lead in this state. Jim Acosta, CNN, Lehigh Acres, Florida.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

COREN: Well, next up in CNN's extensive coverage of the 2012 U.S. presidential campaign, the Florida Republican presidnetial debate. CNN's Wolf Blitzer moderates as Republican hopefuls go at it again days before the Florida primary.

Well, who will win this round? Find out live Friday morning 9:00 am in Hong Kong. That's America's Choice 2012 right here on CNN.

Well, the Australian Open, that would be tennis' first grand slam event of the year is well under way. This man, the world's number one has just played in the quarterfinals. Did he make it through to the next round? Find out just ahead.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

COREN: Well, there are just four men left at the Aussie Open. Our Don Riddell is here to tell us who has made it to the semis -- Don.

DON RIDDELL, CNN SPORTS CORRESPONDENT: Thanks very much, Anna. It has actually gone to form in the men's draw. The top four players are the last four standing in Melbourne. Novak Djokovic was the last on court today and he was a straight sets winner against David Ferrer. The world number one and defending champion had to work for it, though. The Spaniard pushed him really hard, particularly in the second set tiebreak. And at times Djokovic was miserably struggling with a troublesome leg. But Djokovic eventually pulled through taking the third set by 6-1 in just half an hour.

Andy Murray is on course for a third consecutive final in Melbourne thanks to a comfortable win against Kei Nishikori earlier today. But his Japanese opponent briefly stole the show with a brilliant shot between his legs. But he couldn't do much else to trouble Murray who advanced in straight sets. The Scotsman is still looking for his first grand slam title. And he's got to play the defending champion Djokovic next.

So this is what we can look forward to in the men's semis. The great rivals Rafael Nadal and Roger Federer play in the first men's semifinal on Thursday. Djokovic takes on Murray on Friday. And that is a repeat of last year's final here.

The women's semis are both going to be played on Thursday. The reigning champion Kim Cljisters is up first against the third seed Victoria Azarenka. After that it's Petra Kvitova against Maria Sharapova, a repeat of last year's Wimbledon final.

Now I'm sure LeBron James doesn't regret leaving the Cleveland Caveliers for the Miami Heat. And their head to head record since his controversial switch suggests that he made the right move. Five games played. Miami have won four of them.

The Heat's latest victory came in Miami last night. And James put 18 points past his former team. With just second left in the first quarter he nailed a jumper here to cut the Cavs' lead to just a point.

Cleveland had the edge at halftime thanks in part to Samardo Samuels. He came off the bench to score 15, including that monster jam. Cavs up by 39-37.

Here's James again in the third driving through the lane and finishing with the slam. Miami now in the lead.

And in the fourth quarter it was just a Chris Bosh show. The power forward matched his best ever Miami score with 35 points, half of which came in the final quarter as Miami closed out the win by 92-85. They and the Orlando Magic are half a game behind Atlanta in the Southeast division.

And we'll have those stories and much more for you in World Sport in three hours time.

COREN: OK, Don, good to see you. Thank you.

Well, tech giant Apple has revealed record sales in the last quarter - - iPad sales hit a record at 15.4 million. It sold the number of iPods too. And 37 million iPhones in the three month period, twice as many in the same period in 2010. And that's boosted its bank balance. Well Apple also revealed its sitting on a pot worth just shy of $100 billion. Well, it has a whopping $97.6 billion in cash. And that's a serious stash and is well in excess of the total value of some of its rivals.

Well, take a look at this, Amazon, the maker of the Kindle eReader has a market cap of around $85 billion. Dell, about a third of that. Hewlett- Packer is worth about half of what Apple has in the bank. And then there's Nokia and Blackberry maker Research in Motion. Well, the latter has experienced a spectacular fall from grace, now worth less than $8 billion.

Now let me show you why we haven't included Apple's own market cap on this graph. As you can see there, it dwarfs so many of its rivals so completely with a market cap of $391 billion. That's a lot of dough.

There's NEWS STREAM, but the news certainly continues here at CNN. "WORLD BUSINESS TODAY" is coming up next.

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