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Syria Unrest; Spotlight on Bashar al-Assad; Florida Votes; Fog, Smoke Cause Deadly Pileup in Florida; Fugitive Iraqi VP Blames Maliki For Violence

Aired January 31, 2012 - 08:00:00   ET


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

I'm Kristie Lu Stout in Hong Kong.

And we begin in Syria, where the death toll rises as the U.N. Security Council discusses a way to end the violence.

Mitt Romney eyes victory in Tuesday's Florida primary, which would put him one step closer to winning the Republican presidential nomination.

And it's already being called one of the greatest slam dunks of all time. You'll be seeing more of this play a little later in the show.

Now, it was one of Syria's bloodiest days since the uprisings began in March. One hundred people died on Monday. That's according to an opposition group, including 76 people in Homs and 15 in Daraa. Six people were also killed in the Damascus suburbs, where activists say a humanitarian crisis is developing as fighting intensifies between government forces and rebels. Syria's state-controlled media says six members of the armed forces were also killed in Monday's violence.

Dramatic footage is emerging of the conflict on YouTube, although CNN cannot independently verify its authenticity, as Western journalists face severe restrictions in Syria. The rebels in this clip, they appear to shout "God is great!" amid a street fight against government forces in Homs.

And also in Homs, these pictures. They appear to show a government tank being blown up by opposition fighters. And moving closer to the capital, in the Damascus suburb of Douma, thousands of Syrians are pouring into the streets for a funeral procession.

Syrian state TV has also released images of a gas pipeline near the Lebanese border which was blown up by what they call an armed terrorist group. No casualties were reported.

Let's hear from an eyewitness on the ground in the eastern Damascus suburb of Irbin. Abu Said from the local Revolutionary Council says he is hearing constant explosions.


ABU SAID, SPOKESMAN FOR REVOLUTIONARY COUNCIL OF IRBIN: What we are witnessing today is a heavy attack by tanks and artillery in the eastern outskirts of Irbin. That attack began, actually, at about 8:00 local time. And the regular army could reach the main square, which is about two kilometers from the starting point.

And we have massive explosions, about two, three, maybe five a minute. However, we don't know whether all of them are in the city of Irbin, because the attack is also carried on in the town of Misraba (ph), which is about two kilometers away from us.


STOUT: So, massive explosions being reported in the outskirts of Damascus.

Now, after nearly a year of unrest and thousands of deaths, President Bashar al-Assad is still holding on to power. He has ruled since he succeeded his father 12 years ago. And as Rima Maktabi reports, he was first seen as a reformer.


RIMA MAKTABI, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Before the Arab Spring came the Damascus Spring. When Bashar al-Assad succeeded his father 12 years ago, there was the promise of a modern and more democratic Syria.

BASHAR AL-ASSAD, SYRIAN PRESIDENT (through translator): I will be leading this country towards a better future where we hope that we can meet the aspirations of all of our people.

MAKTABI: And for a while that promise was kept. Assad released hundreds of political prisoners, allowed dissidents to speak out, and eased pressure on media. Free enterprise was encouraged, but hopes of real change soon began to fade.

CNN spoke with two former regime insiders, now its opponents, about the young Assad. Former vice president Abdel Halim Khaddam --

ABDEL HALIM KHADDAM, FMR. VICE PRESIDENT (through translator): His brother Basil bullied him as a child. His father never gave him as much attention as Basil.

MAKTABI: And Assad's uncle Rifaat, who left Syria in 1984 after being involved in a failed coup --

RIFAAT ASSAD, BASHAR AL-ASSAD'S UNCLE (through translator): He is very different than his father. Hafez was a leader, the head of the entire regime, while Bashar was never that close to being one and never fell within the framework. He is perceived as the leader, but he follows what the regime decides on his behalf.

MAKTABI: Assad himself said reform faltered because of unrest in neighboring states Lebanon and Iraq, telling "The Wall Street Journal" last year, "There are many things that we wanted to do in 2005 we are planning to do in the year 2012, seven years later."

But Abdel Halim Khaddam, vice president under both Bashar and his father, says the younger Assad is both brutal and indecisive.

KHADDAM (through translator): Bashar's problem is that he listens to everything, but denies and forgets quickly. You discuss an issue with him in the morning, and another person comes along and changes his mind. Politically, Bashar does not have a consistent ideology. He changes his opinion according to his interest and that of the regime's.

MAKTABI: And the regime is a family affair. Assad's younger brother, Maher, commands an elite division of the army and is accused of widespread human rights abuses. His cousin Rami Makhlouf is the richest man in Syria. The Assads belong to Syria's Alawite minority.

R. ASSAD (through translator): There is no doubt that the Alawites are a minority who are in fear of the outcome, and they are driven by that fear factor.

MAKTABI: Assad has said he's not in charge of Syria's military. He told ABC's Barbara Walters --

B. AL-ASSAD: They are not my forces. They are military forces that belong to the government. I don't own them.

MAKTABI (on camera): Who is ordering all these killings in Syria now?

KHADDAM (through translator): Bashar al-Assad and no one else. He gives out orders to use all means of force to crush the revolution. He is surrounded by close aides and security apparatus that advise him, but he decides.

MAKTABI (voice-over): Bashar al-Assad was the accidental president, taking the job destined for his brother Basil before he died in a car wreck. Now he and his close-knit regime are digging in for what could be a long war of attrition.

Rima Maktabi, CNN, Abu Dhabi.


STOUT: Now, President al-Assad is the focus of talks at the United Nations Security Council, where these leaders are discussing a draft resolution calling for him to step down. The Arab League chief, Nabil El-Arabi, will report on the group's observer mission in Syria, which was suspended due to the continuing violence. And Sheikh Hamad Al-Thani, Qatar's prime minister, is also there, as well as U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and the French foreign minister, Alain Juppe.

Syria may not have many friends left, but one of them is Russia, which opposes the U.N. draft resolution.

Let's talk to Phil Black, who is live in Moscow.

And Phil, why is Russia pushing back on a U.N. resolution on Syria?

PHIL BLACK, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, Kristie, in the face of their continuing violence, and now at the U.N., in the face of some of those very senior international figures that you just listed, Russia, it would seem, is going to continue to defy the will of much of the international community. It does not sanction the behavior of the Syrian regime. It has repeatedly called for the Syrians to stop the violence and for both sides of the conflict to sit down and begin talking. But likewise, it is not prepared to count (ph) many of the measures that the international community are calling for.

It says it will never support a U.N. resolution that embraces sanctions against Syria, it will not embrace a resolution that calls for Assad to step aside, and it will not call for any sort of resolution that does not rule out the possibility of any sort of international involvement down the track. These are the red lines for Russia. It is why they have blocked resolutions in the past, and it is why they are very likely to use their veto if they're forced to a vote at the U.N. Security Council again -- Kristie.

STOUT: Russia has continued to object to draft resolutions on Syria. And I was wondering if Russian politics, domestic politics plays a role in this.

We all know that Vladimir Putin is running for president again in over a month from now. Does he want to appear assertive foreign policy-wise?

BLACK: This is one thing that analysts have pointed to as one of the possible reasons. And there are said to be quite a few. But certainly, we're in the very tight lead-up to a presidential election. And at this time, there is certainly the perception that Vladimir Putin wants to be seen to pursuing Russia's own foreign policy, does not want to be marching to a drum the pace of which is being set by the United States or the West more generally.

So, yes, there is that factor, but there are other reasons, too. There is the historic ties between these two countries. There is the strong strategic and commercial connections between them. They trade frequently, notably, but not exclusively, in arms.

There is also the broader, pragmatic foreign policy that Russia likes to follow, where analysts say that Russia would much prefer to deal with this regime, to enjoy the close strategic and commercial ties, rather than risk on a point of value or principle the uncertainty or the chaos that could follow the collapse of this regime. And there is one point that Russia stresses over and over again, and that is that it does not want a repeat of Libya.

It did not vote. It chose to abstain in the U.N. Security Council for the resolution that endorsed the international action on that occasion. It believes that that was a mistake. It believes that that international intervention went much further than it was supposed to. And Russia repeatedly says it stands very strongly against any sort of international intervention within the domestic affairs of a sovereign state -- Kristie.

STOUT: Phil Black with the word from Moscow.

Thank you.

Now, just ahead here on NEWS STREAM, the primary color is red in Florida as Republican hopefuls battle it out for their party's presidential nomination.

Iraq's fugitive vice president says bad leadership and sectarian tensions can prompt the return of U.S. armed forces.

And the most famous face among Britain's armed forces is starting his six- week tour of duty in the Falkland Islands. But will the presence of this prince stir up old tensions with Argentina?


STOUT: Welcome back.

The men competing to take on Barack Obama in the next U.S. presidential election are going for a big prize today. Florida is holding the fourth nominating contest of the Republican presidential campaign, and so far contests in Iowa, New Hampshire and South Carolina have each had a different winner. But there's a lot at stake in Florida. The winner gets all the 50 delegates on offer.

Hala Gorani has been speaking to voters there in the Sunshine State.


HALA GORANI, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Enrique Carlo just became a U.S. citizen. This year he will vote in his first-ever presidential election.

He works in the country's oldest family-run cigar factory in Tampa. Though he came to Florida from Cuba, and the state's voting population is 13 percent Latino, immigration is not his main concern.

ENRIQUE CARLO, J.C. NEWMAN CIGAR COMPANY: Whoever is able to keep my job safe, that's the one I'm going to vote for.

GORANI (on camera): Well, what do you want to hear from a candidate?

CARLO: What do I want to hear? Not chasing (ph) the U.S. companies out of the United States.

GORANI (voice-over): Here at J.C. Newman, in business since the late 19th century, some older employees have worked for decades, like Virginia Jones. Her output, up to 5,000 cigars a day, and still working.

VIRGINIA JONES, EMPLOYEE: You can't afford really to not work anymore. You have to keep working.

GORANI (on camera): May I ask you how old you are?

JONES: Sure. I'm 80 years.

GORANI: You're what?

JONES: Eighty.

GORANI: OK. I'm sorry. What?


GORANI: She's 80 -- 80 years?

(voice-over): Maybe cigar making is good for the complexion.

In another part of town, the Town & Country Senior Center, over a game of Mahjong, Sally Hill says she's not happy with the current president, Barack Obama.

SALLY HILL, RETIREE: To send jobs to Europe, to China is horrible. We have to keep it home.


GORANI: Next door, a tai chi is under way. Older Americans here are a formidable force in any election. Seventeen percent of Floridians are over 65, and they vote in big numbers.

Naturally, there's concern about health care.

SUSAN MCKAY, VOTER: I've already picked my candidate.

GORANI: Susan McKay says she's already voted for Newt Gingrich, one of nearly 600,000 Floridians who cast early or absentee ballots.

MCKAY: I have a friend who is retiring to Poland because it will be free there, but they pay 22 cents a dollar in tax. So it goes toward their health care.

GORANI: Just a few hours before the primary in Florida, it's lunchtime at La Tropicana Cafe, and decisions have already been made by other voters as well.


GORANI (on camera): Right. And you think -- why? In a general election, he's better?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I think he'll be the only one that can beat Obama.

GORANI (voice-over): In less than 24 hours, Florida will have chosen one Republican as the recipient of all 50 of the party's primary delegates. The party one step closer to producing a challenger to Barack Obama.

Hala Gorani, CNN, Tampa.


STOUT: Now, I want to remind you how the candidates are stacking up ahead of the primary contest. We can bring up the latest research here, the polling research.

You can see, Mitt Romney standing at 43 percent support, versus Newt Gingrich, 32 percent. Newt Gingrich, he lost some momentum after South Carolina, but you can see where it stands right now. But this is when it gets interesting.

When it comes to ballots already cast, you can see that the gap is even wider. Mitt Romney with 51 percent support. Gingrich at 33 percent.

Let's get the very latest now from Florida. We're joined now by our CNN political editor, Paul Steinhauser, joining us live.

And Paul, we just saw the polling data just then. Mitt Romney has a big surge. He's pulled ahead in the polls. What's behind that?

PAUL STEINHAUSER, CNN POLITICAL EDITOR: Yes, what a different story, Kristie, it was about 10 days ago.

Remember, Newt Gingrich had won the South Carolina primary pretty convincingly, by double digits over Mitt Romney and the rest of the field. And he came here to Florida with a lot of momentum and he was climbing in the polls here. But then it all changed.

Mitt Romney, I guess he learned from his mistakes. He learned from his defeat in South Carolina, and he started going on the offense against Gingrich, really starting to attack Gingrich on the campaign trail and the Romney campaign. And that pro-Romney independent super PAC, this group that's backing Romney, really going up with a lot of ads here in Florida that were very critical of Gingrich. And Gingrich, all of a sudden, from being on the offense, was on the defense.

And we saw those two debates last week as well, Kristie, both debates here in Florida. And in both those debates, Mitt Romney did very well.

Things have changed here in Florida. As you mentioned, that poll you just cited and four others that have come out in the last 48 hours, they all indicate Romney up over Gingrich by double digits -- Kristie.

STOUT: You know, it's almost as if Gingrich has made Mitt Romney a better and stronger candidate.

Now, tell us next about the big money being spent in Florida. And it's not just the candidates. It's the super PACs again. Right?

STEINHAUSER: Exactly. You know, when we were in Iowa, New Hampshire, South Carolina, small states where you don't need a lot of money to go up with ads, a very different story here in Florida. We're talking about Miami, Orlando, Tampa/St. Pete. Very expensive media markets, and you sprinkle in all the rest around the state and you're talking about a lot of money.

And yes, the Romney campaign has spent a lot of money here. But Restore Our Future, which is a Romney super PAC -- remember, an independent group that's backing Romney -- they've spent a lot of money. So when you take the Romney campaign and the super PAC, boy, they've outspent the Gingrich campaign and its super PAC by about five to one here in Florida. We're talking about a lot of money and a lot of ads on TV. And yes, it makes a difference -- Kristie.

STOUT: Now, Florida is winner take all. So where are Ron Paul and Rick Santorum at this point, knowing that they won't get any of the delegates there?

STEINHAUSER: Yes, exactly. You showed the poll, and all the others indicate the same thing, that Paul and Santorum are pretty low down, way away from having a chance to win any of the 50 delegates, which is the largest catch so far. So, what are they doing? They've moved on.

That's why we saw Santorum yesterday. He was in Missouri and Minnesota. Today he's going to be in Colorado and Nevada. Ron Paul, also in Colorado and Nevada today.

What do all those states have in common? They've all got contests starting Saturday and then into next week.

These are smaller states with less delegates at stake, but it's proportional. It's not winner take all, and that's why Paul and Santorum are moving on, because they can spend their money more wisely in these states -- Kristie.

STOUT: And after Florida, what's next? I mean, who looks better in the upcoming contests, Romney or Gingrich?

STEINHAUSER: Well, we're moving on to Nevada next. Their caucus is on Saturday. And then the following Tuesday, you've got Missouri, Minnesota, Colorado. Maine's also got a contest. And then at the end of February, you've got two big primary states, Arizona and Michigan.

And the calendar, who does it favor in February? It favors Mitt Romney a lot more than Newt Gingrich, from Nevada, with that large Mormon population -- of course you know Romney is Mormon -- to Michigan, where Romney was born, his father was the popular governor there. So the February calendar looks much more favorable to Romney.

Gingrich, I guess he's looking ahead, Kristie, to Super Tuesday, on March 6th, where you've got a lot of southern states that vote. But that's a long way away right now -- Kristie.

STOUT: All right.

Paul Steinhauser, joining us live from Tampa.

Thank you.

And remember to stay with CNN for coverage and analysis from the Florida primary. We have our live extended broadcast. It begins at 8:00 a.m. for viewers in Hong Kong, and that is midnight on Wednesday if you're watching from London, right here on CNN.

Now, ahead on NEWS STREAM --


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It's a physical game!

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Oh, man! A monster slam by Blake Griffin!


STOUT: -- the NBA game that had fans on the edge of their seats. We'll have the details as the Clippers win over the Thunder, and the other sports headlines, next.


STOUT: Welcome back. You're watching NEWS STREAM.

And time now for a sports update.

And the basketball world is all abuzz about a thoroughly thunderous throw- down.

Don Riddell is in London. He's got more -- Don.

DON RIDDELL, CNN INTERNATIONAL SPORTS ANCHOR: Kristie, you're absolutely right. There's only one talking point in the NBA today, Blake Griffin's sensational dunk that helped the Clippers to their third consecutive win. And the L.A. team had to be good to beat the Oklahoma City Thunder, because the Thunder have the best record in the league this season.

The Thunder brought a four-game winning streak to Los Angeles, but they were well beaten at Staples Center. The Clippers came out of the blocks (ph) fast.

Griffin missed a free ball here, but DeAndre Jordan finished off with a big dunk. L.A., up by six points.

The home side built on that lead with a succession of three balls that rained down on the Thunder's net. Caron Butler, Mo Williams and Chauncey Billups all getting in on the aerial bombardment. Billups nailed this one from downtown to establish an 18-point lead. He was rightly fired up, but the best was yet to come.

Into the third quarter, and Griffin produced an instant highlight when he cut to the hoop and posterized (ph) Kendrick Perkins, and some of his teammates put it afterwards. We'll be seeing that replayed for years.

Griffin scored 22 points. Chris Paul led the Clippers with 26 and 14 assists -- 112-100 it ended, a huge win for L.A. in more ways than one.

Back to you.

STOUT: All right. Thank you, Don Riddell. Take care.

Just ahead here on NEWS STREAM, defending the drones. U.S. President Barack Obama, he makes a rare justification for America's anti-terrorism program in Pakistan.

And could William's tour of duty prove a princely exercise for Britain? We'll tell you what Argentina thinks of the duke's latest posting.

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

Now the UN security council is meeting to discuss a draft resolution on the crisis in Syria that calls on Bashar al Assad to step down. But according to Interfax Russia's deputy foreign minister says the resolution, if passed, would lead to civil war in Syria. Now activists say 100 people were killed across the country on Monday. State controlled media reports six army members were also killed.

Now two hostages rescued from captivity in Somalia by U.S. forces are on their way home to be reunited with their families. American Jessica Buchanan left Italy for the U.S. on Monday, and Dane Poul Thisted is also heading home. The two were working for a Danish charity when they were abducted in Somalia three months ago.

Now voting is now under way in the U.S. state of Florida. Republican frontrunners Mitt Romney and Newt Gingrich are duking it out in that state's Republican presidential primary. A Florida win could help determine who will take on President Barack Obama in November's presidential election.

Now Iraq's fugitive vice president Tariq al Hashimi is lashing out against Prime Minister Nouri al Maliki and the U.S. for the political turmoil in his country. He says al Maliki holds too much power and is pushing the country to the brink. He predicts that terror and violence could prompt the U.S. to send troops back into Iraq.

Fred Pleitgen brings us his exclusive interview.


FREDERIK PLEITGEN, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Escalating violence and an ongoing political deadlock, Iraq is in turmoil and much of it is linked to this man's situation: the fugitive vice president Tariq al Hashimi who is accused of turning his security detail into a death squad. We met with him in his exile in Iraqi Kurdistan.

TARIQ AL HASHIMI, VICE PRESIDENT OF IRAQ: This case is politically motivated from the beginning.

PLEITGEN: Al Hashimi says confessions by his bodyguard, aired on Iraqi TV, were extracted through torture by security forces loyal to Iraq's prime minister Nouri al Maliki. Though Maliki himself says the case is being pursued by an independent judiciary.

Are you saying that Iraq's prime minister Nouri al Maliki is becoming a dictator?

AL HASHIMI: For the prime minister to be chief in command, a minister of defense, a minister of interior, and the chief of intelligence, and the chief of security, national security, what else who could do that? And my country is in fact, because of this unbelievable, all conservation, that we are heading back, in fact, all to restore the same regime that we (inaudible) before 2003.

PLEITGEN: Human rights groups have criticized Iraq's Shia led government for a crackdown on freedom of speech and expression and a series of arrests mostly targeting Sunni lawmakers.

Al Hashimi, a Sunni, said this could lead to a civil war in the country.

AL HASHIMI: Al Maliki is pushing my country, in fact, to reach a turning point with deeply sectarian dimension of that. I'm afraid that after awhile the American will face the same problem as they face in 2003. They will think seriously that they might, need in fact, to send in troops all the way back to Iraq.

PLEITGEN: Al Hashimi who has met with Presdient Obama in the past, says the U.S. needs to do more to resolve Iraq's political crisis.

AL HASHIMI: If Iraq is not going to be stable, it's not going to affect the election campaign in the United States this year, it's going to affect the American interest in the region and just alarming, those who are behind decision maker (ph) that the future of Iraq is grim.

PLEITGEN: Al Hashimi says he's willing to speak with Iraq's prime minister, but only if a political solution is reached in his case.

Fred Pleitgen, CNN, Dukan, Iraq.


LU STOUT: At least nine people with suspected links to al Qaeda were killed in a suspected drone strike in southern Yemen on Monday night. Now security officials say that they believe the drone was from the U.S. They say missiles were fired in Abyan Province near areas that were taken over last May by the military group Ansar al Sharia.

Now meanwhile, President Barack Obama is defending the use of drones in Pakistan, saying that they are an effective way to target al Qaeda. Now the U.S. is usually tight lipped about its drone program, but Mr. Obama addressed the sensitive issue on Monday during a Google+ video chat.


BARACK OBAMA, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: We are able to pinpoint strike an al Qaeda operative in a place where the capacities of that military in that country may not be able to get them. So obviously a lot of these strikes have been in the Fatah, in going after al Qaeda suspects who are up in very tough terrain along the border between Afghanistan and Pakistan.


LU STOUT: And the U.S. president made those comments during his first video hangout on Google's social network Google+. Now more than 250,000 people visited the White House YouTube's channel to submit questions. And just five Americans were invited to take part in the hour long hangout with Barack Obama. And most of the forum, it focused on the issues of the economy and jobs.

In fact, Jennifer Wedell (ph), a mother of two from Texas, she asked the president why Washington continues to extend visas for immigrant workers when there are many, like her engineer husband, who have been out of work.

And President Obama's response, quote, "forward me his resume." And someone in that high tech field should be able to find something right away.

Now the Republican National Committee, they seized on that moment, tweeting this, quote, "Obama tells woman her husband shouldn't be unemployed according to what he sees." with the hashtag #outoftouch.

Now the questions, they were chosen by Google team members. And Google says the White House had no role in the selection of the participants. And the U.S. president, he also seemed to like the experience. He said that the hangout, make sure to remind me that I work for you guys.

Now, you can be forgiven for not putting the remote Falkland Islands at the top of your list of places to visit, but this rocky chain of south Atlantic islands is about to receive a very special visitor from the UK's royal family. Now the Duke of Cambridge is to be deployed for the islands for the final stage of his royal air force training.

Now the Falklands are a UK territory and a reminder of a violent episode in Britain's recent history. Now Britain, Argentina, they went to war over them just three decades ago. And CNN's Max Foster joins us now live from CNN London. Max, tell us more about the diplomatic tension over this deployment.

MAX FOSTER, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, it's interesting, because a serviceman in Williams' position would expect to take a post to the Falklands. It's about the timing, though, and the profile of course -- of course, this particular serviceman. So the British Prime Minister David Cameron would have had a say, would have given approval to the timing of this posting. And it comes at a very sensitive time. The anniversary, the 30th anniversary of the war comes in April. There have been demonstrations outside the UK embassy in Buenes Airies, and also you had a reaction instantly from the Argentinian government about Williams posting saying it's a provocative act.

And the British Prime Minister came back saying the future of these islands is non-negotiable. Sovereignty can only be decided by the people living on the island, accusing Argentina of acting in a colonial manner, which Argentina didn't like at all.

And then you've got this situation there where the foreign secretary, the British foreign secretary ended up in Brazil trying to convince Brazil to back the Brits. They didn't, they backed the Argentines.

So we're expecting this week Prince William to arrive in the Falklands and demonstrated in Argentina promised to escalate their demonstrations. So it's certainly escalating this war of words, this diplomatic row Kristie.

LU STOUT: Now we know that Prince William, he is a royal air force pilot, but what exactly will be his mission there in the Falkland Islands?

FOSTER: Well, it's simply a posting, so he'll there rescuing people. He's a search and rescue pilot -- co-pilot, actually. Wants to become a pilot. That's what this is all about. And he'll be there for six weeks. It's pretty rugged terrain. He'll have a very basic bedroom we're told, a single bed with very little else. And he'll be just working there. He is a serviceman. And he's very determined on going on this.

It's become a government issue, though, simply because of the timing.

We've also had an interesting reaction from the State Department in the U.S., which Britain thought was backing it, but actually they're now promoting discussions between Argentina and Britain which is a slightly different line, even though they're not calling -- or making a call on sovereignty in itself.

LU STOUT: Incredible. Now the U.S. is getting involved in this. Max Foster joining us live from CNN London. Thank you.

Now still to come here on News Stream, tragedy on the highway: what caused a pile up in Florida that claimed 10 lives? We'll try to look for answers after the break.


LU STOUT: Now in the U.S. state of Florida a stretch major highway became of scene of wreckage over the weekend. 10 people were killed in a huge pile-up. Now drivers were faced with a mixture of fog and smoke that made it difficult to see. And now it's emerged that authorities had re- opened the road just before the first collision happened. As the tragedy played out, much of it was caught on audiotape. Martin Savidge reports.


MARTIN SAVIDGE, CNN CORRESPONDENT: The still smoldering skeletons of semi trucks and mangled cars hinted at the nightmare that haunted the one mile stretch of interstate 75 and nearby U.S. 441 south of Gainesville.

It began late Saturday night when a sudden mixture of smoke and fog covered the road.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: We can't see. We cannot see. It's like impossible to see. The haze is -- the smoke is like very thick. You can probably see only your hand in front. I do hear an ambulance or a police officer coming down the road.

SAVIDGE: The desperate and panicked voices on this 911 call paint a picture of a disaster as it unfolded.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Another accident.



UNIDENTIFEID FEMALE: What just happened. Tell me happened.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Another accident. Another accident going northbound.


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Oh my goodness. That was a truck.

SAVIDGE: What followed was a series of accidents as at least a dozen passenger cars and seven semi trucks plowed into one another in the blind confusion that engulfed the north and southbound lanes. The agony went on for hours.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Here comes another one.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Oh, my god he's coming too fast.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: He's coming too fast. Here comes another one. Oh my god. See. There it goes. Oh (EXPLETIVE DELETED) that one is a bad one.

SAVIDGE: Sergeant Todd Kelly was one of the first emergency responders to arrive.

SGT. TODD KELLY, ALACUS COUNTY SHERIFF'S OFFICE: You hear tires screeching, another crash occurring, people yelling out for help, but you can't find them, don't know where they're at. It's so dark and so smoky that you're having difficulty even locating where the next crash is.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I'm hearing people crying on the other side, that is northbound.


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Please slow down. Please slow down. Please slow down.

SAVIDGE: Only daylight would reveal the scope of the tragedy.

For much of Sunday, traffic had to be diverted around the scene as authorities worked to recover the dead and try to decipher how the first wreck occurred. The highways have been closed for a time before the crashes due to low visibility, but then were reopened. Now in the aftermath, many wonder why.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: But we were aware that we had some bad conditions there. We were monitoring it, but we don't have a crystal ball. You know, as far as what we could have done, we took a proactive stance. And, you know, we're always open to taking to doing things better.

SAVIDGE: Martin Savidge, CNN, Atlanta.


LU STOUT: Now Martin's report just underscores the dangers of poor visibility. And that kind of fog, it can happen anywhere. Let's get more now with our Mari Ramos, she is standing by at the world weather center -- Mari.

MARI RAMOS, CNN WEATHER CORRESPONDENT: Hey. Yeah, the conditions in Florida just a word near perfect to see this kind of a situation develop, unfortunately Kristie. They're talking about an area there in North Florida that is very dry. They are below average as far as rainfall, so there is a lot of material, a lot of grass that can actually burn. The winds were very light. There was already fog in the area. And of course the smoke made it even worse.

And visibility problems are quite serious. And like what you said, they really can happen anywhere. And you were thinking, well that was all the way in Florida. But you know what, if you are in a situation where visibility is reduced, if you can avoid travel altogether. That may not be possible, but reducing speed is the number one thing.

You've heard in that report how she was saying please slow down, please slow down that witness that called emergency personnel. Reducing speed is very important. And what actually -- what experts are saying about that is that when you are traveling through fog, take a look at your odometer, because it gives you the illusion of going slower when you're actually moving faster because everything is surrounding you and you can't really -- you have nothing to guide you to see how fast you're actually going.

And then because you can't see, open the window at least halfway and listen, use your ears, use your other senses, to try to see what's going on, or to try to get a feel for what's going on on the roadways, and then turn on the lights, but the low lights. They say the high lights, or the high beams in your car can actually make the situation worse, because they create almost a wall where you can't see as they reflect on whatever is in front of you whether it's smoke or fog, very serious stuff there.

As we head across the weather in China right now, here are some areas of fog to worry about, mostly across the central portion here as we get into eastern China. You can see a little bit of low clouds, poor visibility could be a concern, but snow has been a problem as we head into areas inland. That snow is beginning to taper off.

We have some very cold air in place, or across much of the continent. Snow across the Korean peninsula, including Seoul. And another round of snow that will be moving through Japan as we head through the overnight tonight and as we head into tomorrow.

The problem with driving in ice and snow is the concerns that we had across Europe. This is a picture from the UK. Even in England they're having to worry about this now. Winter weather has made a comeback. So we're looking at some pretty serious, seriously cold temperatures. Only one in London, one in Paris, but the coldest air, Kristie. It's actually here farther to the east.

We're dealing with a serious situation here where temperatures when you combine them with the wind feel like minus 20-something. It's really bad. And we're seeing the snow starting to slow down here across southeastern -- portions of southeastern Europe, but very heavy snow again expected as we head into Greece in particular, into northern parts of Italy and also into France. So be prepared.

Let's go ahead and check out your city by city forecast.

LU STOUT: And Mari, while we still have you, let's talk about a story that's been getting a lot of attention online. The most popular story on on Monday is about shipwreck hunters who have stumbled upon a mysterious object in the Baltic Sea.


PETER LINDBERG, DIVER, OCEAN EXPLORER: And suddenly this thing turned up. And my first reaction was to tell the guys that, hey, we have a UFO here on the bottom.


LU STOUT: You can watch the whole story at So Mari, a UFO at the bottom of the sea, what's your read on this underwater discovery?

RAMOS: You know what, I actually did read that story. And it's pretty incredible, because they said that the object underneath the water has a 30 meter diameter. That thing is huge. It's hard to imagine. But you know what, the Baltic Sea is actually a treasure trove for shipwreck enthusiasts. If you are doing -- if you like that kind of thing.

The Baltic Sea has some special conditions that could make a shipwreck, or whatever that is, be at the bottom of the Baltic Sea for a very long time. There's a few things. The water temperature is one, it remains very cold. It has low salinity. And it's actually -- because the water doesn't mix so much, there is very low oxygen as we head to the bottom of the Baltic Sea. And these low oxygenation, or these low oxygen levels actually help preserve whatever could be down there however old it is. That's why you always have these treasure hunters actually coming out here.

One of the things that they said, Kristie, in their article in an interview is that they are waiting until the summer months to come back and actually investigate. They haven't been able to go back. We don't know the reason why they are keeping it secret where this actually is happening along the Baltic Sea, but I can tell you I could be a huge concern -- storms moving through here could be a big concern, because ice this time of year -- anywhere from 12 to 100 percent. Right now we're not at 100 percent as far as ice coverage, but I can imagine it would be very difficult for those treasure hunters, or anybody else, to be making their way through those waters right now. Back to you.

LU STOUT: That's why they're waiting right now. But still very interesting. The Baltic Sea, a perfect environment to preserve unidentified objects.

Mari Ramos, whatever it is -- thank you Mari. Take care.

Coming up next here on News Stream, this car is worth about $20,000, but it has a $1 million price tag. A hint? Well, it was once part of a presidential convoy and it could be yours. We got the details next.


LU STOUT: Welcome back.

Now yesterday we showed you a mystery clip with Matthew Broderick appearing to reprise his iconic role as Ferris Bueller. And viewers were told that we'd have to wait until the Super Bowl to find out what it was, but today Ferris and his antics are back.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I'm calling the studio, Matthew. You're not shooting today.

MATTHEW BRODERICK, ACTOR: No. People are depending on me. Movies bring so much joy.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Stop. You're done. Just get some rest.

BRODERICK: He bought it.

How can I handle...


LU STOUT: So what's all this for? Well, it's actually an ad for a new car by Honda. And there's said to be more than 2,000 references to the classic film hidden throughout the video. If you want to check it out, you just go find it on YouTube.

Now for a million dollars you can really get around in original style. You could buy a personal submarine that dives to 1,000 meters, or a Cesna airplane that flies to many thousand more. So why, then, would you op for a 2005 Chrysler that would generally fetch about $20,000 in a secondhand lot?

Jeanne Moos explains all.


JEANNE MOOS, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Ever wonder what happened to your old car after you get rid of it? Well, when it's President Obama's old car this guy is trying to sell it on eBay.

And you're asking a million bucks.

TIM O'BOYLE, RESTAURANT MANAGER: A million bucks. It's a lot of money, isn't it?

MOOS: Especially for a 2005 model that would normally sell for under $20,000. It's a top of the line Chrysler 300 C with a powerful V8 engine.

O'BOYLE: Basically what it is, it's like a luxury hot rod.

MOOS: The eBay posting includes the registration for the vehicle, then Senator Obama leased the gas guzzler. But when he ran for president, dumped it for an environmentally correct Ford Escape Hybrid.

Restaurant manager Tim O'Boyle bought the Chrysler at a Chicago area showroom.

O'BOYLE: On the way out, somebody said, hey, you better hang to that car. And I said, why is that? Well, it used belong to Mr. Obama. And I said, yeah right. And the guy said, no I'm serious.

MOOS: For Tim, this is what really brought home the Obama connection, fiddling with the radio.

He found Mr. Obama's preset favorite stations from rock 'n roll to country.

O'BOYLE: It was like, holy cow, you know, this is the real deal here, you know.

MOOS: Tim says he's absolutely an Obama supporter.

The president has said how much he misses driving. At a factory visit he got applause for steering a few yards straight ahead.

His old Chrysler has fewer than 21,000 miles on it.

You know the asking price is high when you have to write, please understand that the $1 million starting price is not a joke. The eBay ad mentions that Iranian president Mahmoud Ahmadinejad got $2.5 million for charity when his 1977 Peugeot was auctioned off. And it notes that Hitler's convertible Mercedes went for $8 million.

Tim says he looked, but nope, no Obama leftovers under the floor mats, no French fries under the seat.

Those who have pointed out that they see the check engine light is on in eBay photos, rest assured everything works. But since no million dollar bids have come in, Tim may consider lower offers. $1 million for a seven year old Chrysler is enough to make a driver lose control.

Jeanne Moos, CNN, New York.


LU STOUT: Now we wanted to give you a quick update on that eBay auction. And President Obama's old motor, it is still awaiting its first bid. And if you want to be commander-in-chief of a seven year old Chrysler you've got just 39 hours left to make an offer.

Now on this Republican primary day the U.S. state of Florida finds itself with a tough political choice. Paul, Santorum, Romney, or Gingrich. And as News Stream goes Over and Out There tonight, we find ourselves with an equally tough musical choice. Romney, or Gingrich. We could have shown you this.


ROMNEY: (singing).


LU STOUT: But we decided we didn't want to lose viewers even this late in the show. And to quote a line from the movie Rocky some people fight because they can't sing or dance. And Newt Gingrich apparently inspired by the classic Stallone character has left the singing to the band Survivor.

Unfortunately this great political survivor may finally have met his match. I'm not referring to Romney, but to Eye of the Tiger's composer who has sued the former House Speaker over its campaign use. But don't worry, Newt, given your well publicized plans for lunar living, we reckon that REM's Man on the Moon might still be available.

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