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Human Rights Groups Advocate Use Of Drones In Violent Areas; China Cracks Down On Free Tibet Activists; Afghan Families Struggle With Bitter Cold; Violence In Syria Spreads

Aired February 10, 2012 - 08:00:00   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 Syria where violence has spread to the town of Aleppo as government forces continue to attack Homs.

Greeks brace for violence as protests show their opposition to more austerity measures for the country.

And a winter chill descends over Afghanistan and it is taking its toll on the country's children.

"Everyone is waiting for their turn to die," now those desperate words from an activist in the Syrian city of Homs where an opposition group says more than 100 people were killed on Thursday.

This footage, it appears to show a rocket attack on the neighborhood of Baba Amr (ph) in Homs. And in the same area, the poster of this YouTube video says a mosque was attacked, although CNN can't verify the authenticity of the footage. There are also reports that the opposition is fighting back.

And here, a government checkpoint is apparently blown up before a barrage of gunfire. And further north in Aleppo Syrian state television reports that terrorists caused two explosions that killed several soldiers and civilians.

Now tens of thousands of people are taking to the streets across Syria today. And protesters are calling the march, quote, Russia is killing our children. It's in response to Russia's veto of the UN resolution on Syria last weekend. And the activists are calling for help from the international community, including Danny who posted this video online.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

"DANNY", SYRIAN ACTIVIST: This is one of the houses in Baba Amr (ph). Look at these children. Is this how the Assad regime is supposed to treat our children? Now you see what Assad regime is killing children. What is the UN going to do about this? What is the UN going to do about this? Nothing. They're going to sit and discuss and see what they're going to do -- going to do this peacefully, they don't solve peacefully with this murderer after what he did to these children.

They've been hitting us from 6:00 am until -- it's 2:00 pm now. We have over 100 bodies, over 200 under (INAUDIBLE). We don't even know who they are.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

LU STOUT: Now let's step back and look at how we got to this stage in Syria. The uprising, it began 11 months ago in the wake of similar movements in Tunisia, Egypt and Libya. Last March, in the city of Daraa protesters called for the release of children detained for writing political graffiti and the government clamped down on the demonstrations immediately.

And then soon after, President Bashar al Assad announced reforms and promised to lift a 48-year-old state of emergency law, but the violence continued. And the momentum grew. And protesters demands became unequivocal calls for the president to step down. Eventually defecting soldiers formed the Free Syrian Army, but opposition groups now appear to be increasingly fractured.

Media coverage has been difficult as journalists are only allowed rare and controlled visits to Syria. And CNN and other news organizations have relied in part on amateur video posted online to tell the story.

Now UN officials say at least 6,000 people have been killed in the violence. An opposition puts that number at more than 7,000.

And as we have reported, western journalists are severely restricted in Syria, but we can get the latest from Ivan Watson who is covering events for us from Istanbul. He joins us now.

And Ivan, what is your read on the state media reports of bomb attacks in Aleppo. What's really happening there?

IVAN WATSON, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, it's clear that from residents there that we've spoken to that there were at least two major explosions in Aleppo. That is the second city of Syria, a city that has largely been spared the violence that is destroying other opposition bastion cities like Homs, that violence that they are facing. In Aleppo two explosions this morning outside of security headquarters there.

State media is saying that at least 25 people were killed and 175 wounded. They are calling these terrorist attacks.

We're also seeing violence in other parts of Syria as well. Take a look at some footage that was shot by amateurs posted online. They're describing this as a suburb outside of the capital Damascus where you hear a volley of furious gunfire being exchanged. Residents of Damascus, Kristie, have been telling me about Syria military offensives in some of these suburbs and in the surrounding countryside in recent days. And this video seems to back up those accounts -- Kristie.

LU STOUT: You know, attacks are intensifying across Syria, including of course, Homs. What is the humanitarian situation there as residents, they remain trapped after a week of fighting?

WATSON: Well, once again the activists are telling us that the morning began at dawn with more rockets, more artillery being fired into this densely populated city of some one million people. Residential neighborhoods with shelling apparently going indiscriminately against for the better part of a week.

Another video has emerged, this from a doctor in a makeshift clinic making an appeal to the international community. Take a listen to what he had to say.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: All the cases are gunshot wounds and in critical condition, most of the wounded are in a coma. We are waiting for God's mercy. Look my brother, look at him and him. This man is in a complete coma. This is man is in very bad shape. This man has a complete gash and torn. Come here and see. This man was shot in the stomach. We cannot offer him any treament, except keeping watch. We wait for God's help for us.

I appeal to all human rights organizations. I call upon the Red Crescent to enter Bab Amr immediately to stop this genocide.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

WATSON: Desperate pleas for help. Meanwhile if diplomats we're talking to from a number of different governments around the world are indicating that it appears there shall be some kind of a meeting, an international conference of a group that is being proposed, something called the Friends of Syria group that may gather in about two weeks to discuss further measures to try to deal with this crisis, that's proposed perhaps two weeks from now. That leaves a lot more time for killing in the days ahead -- Kristie.

LU STOUT: That's right. Meanwhile, a very dire situation there in Homs and elsewhere.

Also wanted to ask you a question, Ivan, about the Free Syrian Army. What is their status? Can they handle an even more drawn out fight against Damascus? And I also understand that there's this debate underway on whether or not they should be armed.

WATSON: The Free Syrian Army is not a monolithic structure. I mean, I think the name is a little bit misleading. These are pockets, groups, bands of defecting soldiers, in some cases joined by volunteers, who are trying to organize, defense and sometimes offensive operations against Syrian security forces.

Today, we've had conflicting accounts from men claiming to be spokesman for the Free Syrian Army as to whether or not they were in the vicinity of the bomb attacks in that city of Aleppo.

There are calls for members of the Syrian opposition in addition asking for medicine and blankets and basic supplies, heating oil -- it's winter in Syria -- also calling for weapons. And we do know that there is some smuggling going across borders: Jordan, Turkey, Lebanon, to try to arm some of these volunteer fighters and defector soldiers.

But the Free Syrian Army, I think, it's not clear to us that it is lead by one official, that it has a hierarchical structure, rather it is described to me by one Syria analyst as a group of franchise operations that have sprung up somewhat in parallel to the beginning of the uprising movement itself -- cells, revolutionary groups that spring up and protest against the government. And by its very nature, because there's not a hierarchical structure, it's hard for a police state like Syria to circle up and grab all the leaders in one fell swoop -- Kristie.

LU STOUT: Some valuable context there, the FSA is a franchise movement, as you put it.

Ivan Watson joining us live from Istanbul, thank you very much indeed for that.

Now let's take a look right here at just a few of the most powerful images taken in Homs just over the last week. This one, it's an unforgettable image, it shows a wounded girl recovering with her family. This took place on Sunday.

And here, blood on the streets is visible in the Khaladia (ph) neighborhood. This photo taken on Saturday.

And you can see the rest of those pictures in an online gallery. Go to cnn.com.

Now Tibetan and human rights groups say that Chinese security forces are brutally putting down protests. Now that is reportedly happening in these two provinces bordering the Tibetan autonomous region. And several ethnic Tibetans have set themselves on fire in a desperate act against Chinese rule. But the violence has been mostly hidden from the outside world.

Now China is restricting media access to these remote Tibetan communities. And that comes ahead of two important dates. Now February 22 is the Tibetan New Year. And March 14 will mark the fourth anniversary of deadly riots in Lhasa.

Now Chinese authorities blamed trained separatists for instigating the violence. They've also disputed recent reports of self immolations.

Now Eunice Yoon has more from Beijing.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

EUNICE YOON, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Seven officials in Tibet have been fired after a bout of unrest in Tibetan parts of China. The Communist Party boss in the autonomous region has reportedly sacked the security personnel for leaving their posts during the lunar New Year holiday. According to the state run Tibet daily newspaper, the officers were dismissed for neglecting their duties and endangering stability.

The firings come amidst and upsurge in violence in the region. Human rights groups who are holding vigils, say another Tibetan monk has set himself on fire in western Sichuan province to protest China's policies, possibly the 20th self immolation in the past year.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: This a very difficult situation to (INAUDIBLE) like -- I mean, we're really, really sad to hear this. And in this 21st Century we can't think that people are self immolating themselves, you know, and for -- and I pray that the 21st Century should be a century for peace and dialogue as is always the line (INAUDIBLE) that religion is timeless, religion is compassion.

YOON: A U.S. broadcaster reports that two Tibetan brothers have been shot dead by Chinese security forces in the same area for taking part in anti-government protests.

The reports are difficult to confirm, because foreigners, especially journalists, have been blocked from traveling to Tibetan populated parts of China, which Tibetan activists say are now seeing their worst protests in four years.

Chinese authorities say the protesters are separatists, encouraged by the Tibetan spiritual leader the Dalai Lama. The Tibet government in exile says it supports the Tibetan people.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: (INAUDIBLE) support from the international community and Chinese people, because (INAUDIBLE). There are more Chinese than Tibetans. There are more. (INAUDIBLE). And instead there are more civilian cameras than (INAUDIBLE). If I may add, there are more guns than (INAUDIBLE).

YOON: Regional authorities have been warned that they need to maintain stability in the area, especially ahead of the Tibetan New Year, or face dismissal or criminal charges.

Eunice Yoon, CNN, Beijing.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

LU STOUT: And ahead on NEWS STREAM, Greece comes up with a budget plan, but the EU says it is not tough enough. Right now, violence is breaking out on the streets.

And in Afghanistan, displaced by war, killed by the cold, parents in refugee camps say that they are afraid of losing their children, and many already have.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

LU STOUT: Welcome back.

And let's go to Greece now where protesters have taken to the streets of Athens to protest more austerity measures. On Thursday the government failed to bring speedy EuroZone approval for its budget saving austerity deal. And these are pictures of police clashing with protesters. And officers there say around 13,000 people are taking part in demonstrations currently underway across the capital.

And these are live pictures. These are from outside the Greek parliament in Athens.

Earlier we saw a large crowd gathered there, now we're seeing far more riot police on the scene.

Now protesters, they've been rallying as part of a two day general strike. And lawmakers, they are said to vote on the austerity scheme this weekend on Sunday.

And meanwhile, investors across the world have been paying very close attention to the developments in Greece. And this is how the news ins playing out in the European stock markets, they fell in early trading on Friday, but at the moment we can see that the exception of the FTSE trading higher, the Xetra DAX, Zurich SMI, the Paris CAC 40 all trading lower.

Now for more on the situation, let's bring in Jim Boulden who has been following this story for us from London. And Jim, given all the very palpable anger on the streets of Greece, is the political will there for Greek leaders to come together and come up with a revised austerity plan?

JIM BOULDEN, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, when you look at what happened yesterday, it's very interesting. Two of the three parties within this national unity government seem to have agreed to the austerity measures that were taken to Brussels last night, though they weren't enough for the EuroZone leaders. Those two parties have enough votes in the parliament if everyone were to stay within the party ranks, to vote this through come Sunday night.

So that may not become an issue. You would have to actually see huge amounts of parliamentarians actually reject what their own government -- their own leaders in their own parties are doing. So that's one of the issues.

The other issue is how do they come up with more austerity than has already been agreed to by the national unity government, that's what the EuroZone wants to see. That's something that will play out over the weekend as well.

Kristie, we see these strikes on the streets of Athens often. There are not as many people on the streets as we saw maybe a year ago. So the parliamentarians do have to deal with that, but at the same time if they want to show they're worthy to get the money, to get the bailout money from the EuroZone and from the IMF, then they need to meet these tough criteria. And they know they have to do that. So that's what they're trying to deal with today in Athens, Kristie.

LU STOUT: And Jim, let's assume best case scenario here, that they do reach an agreement there in Athens and it's something that EuroZone ministers accept. And if there is another Greek bailout, I mean how much does it really change on the ground? Greece is deep in recession, unemployment is already so high. I mean, what difference would another bailout for Greece make?

BOULDEN: It's $170 billion that they would get over a periods of time. The first would come in March to help defer the payout that Greece is supposed to make to bond holders. Frankly, it's not about saving the economy at the moment, it's about being able to pay its bills that it already owes. So it wouldn't in the short-term cut the unemployment rate, it wouldn't change anything to do with the tough measures that the Greek people are facing themselves, but over time that money should filter into the economy in various ways. But it's hardly debatable that that would make a difference. It's really the bailout money is to solve Greece's previous problems that's led up to the current crisis.

What the EuroZone wants to see, what the IMF wants to see is long-term structural reform, privatizations that may be have less people working for the public sector in order for the government, the economy to grow in the long-term. But it's a very painful process.

LU STOUT: All right. And the clock is ticking. Jim Boulden joining us live. Thank you.

Now coming up right here on NEWS STREAM, it is a country ravaged by years of war, but now the people of Afghanistan are coping with another threat to their lives. That next here on CNN.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

LU STOUT: Welcome back.

Now Afghan civilians are often caught in the crossfire of war, but this winter families living in refugee camps near Kabul are dealing with another threat: blistering cold. Nick Paton-Walsh reports that the weather is taking a deadly toll on the young.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

NICK PATON-WALSH, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: When the snow finally melts on these hills, it'll reveal 17 fresh and tiny graves, all children aged under five from a nearby refugee camp who perished in the last month in the coldest weather Kabul has seen in 15 years.

Walid Khan (ph) fled airstrikes in the south of Kandahar to here, but could not protect two of his children from the lethal chill of night.

"In the morning, they were lying cold under the blanket," he says. "And we tried to wake them, but they were dead. The ground here was hard. And without (INAUDIBLE) no one came to help, so I did the funeral prayers myself."

His 5-year-old 10 days ago. And 28 days ago his 5-month-old.

Eight survive still, but the snow remains and night always comes.

Surrounded by mountains, Kabul is in a kind of bowl and that can often trap moisture making the record low temperatures they've had over the past few weeks feel even colder.

On Wednesday, that made Said Mohammed's (ph) already cruel world already sadder. 4-month-year-old Khan (ph) succumbed to a chest inveftion and lies here. Said sadly knew how hard the ground would be to dig up. His daughter died from the cold here last year.

But for him, hideously, that's not been the worst of it.

"I lost another child last year from the cold," he says, "but six more were in Helmand for the bombardment. We ran away from there."

That comes to eight in total.

Two of the 10 Said has fathered survive in this tiny mud hut.

"The water freezes inside here overnight," he says. "So in the morning we put it next to the fire to melt it. God help my other two children. I know what could happen to them in this cold."

Since the snow set in and 17 children died here, America has spent about $5 billion on the war, money that means these men have cell phones and live near a coca-cola factory, but sickeningly still don't know each morning if their children will wake up again.

Nick Paton-Walsh, CNN, Kabul.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

LU STOUT: That's a heartbreaking story in the ravages of the severe cold. And this is a story that our Mari Ramos has been closely watching. She joins us now from the world weather center -- Mari.

MARI RAMOS, CNN WEATHER CORRESPONDENT: Kristie, it breaks my heart to see those children, you know, barely wearing any clothes in some cases, not wearing a hat or gloves, things that, you know, so many of us really just take for granted.

When we're talking about temperatures this cold and we're dealing with temperatures that in the day-time barely even make it out of freezing -- you add the wind and then you add the living conditions, the nutritional problems that they may have as well, all of those things continue to add up in this area and just make it so very difficult.

I want to show you some of the temperatures right now. I Kabul proper, we're looking at a temperature of about 4 degrees. As we head through the overnight hours -- this has been one of the warmer evenings, I can tell you, in Kabul -- as we head through the overnight hours those temperatures will plummet. In some cases to 10 degrees below freezing.

There's a little bit of a weather system that's coming through here. And that is going to bring some snow not so much to Kabul we think, but in the areas into southern Afghanistan and maybe possibly into central portions of Pakistan.

In Pakistan, the bitter cold continues here as well. And there's some cold advisories in place for Pakistan and also for portions of India. Icy conditions expected as well into some of these areas as we head into the weekend. So that's something that we'll be monitoring closely.

But you can see from this map, just look at the colors. This is Afghanistan over here, this is Pakistan and this is India. And look at that plunge of cold air, these blues indicate the colder air, this plunge of cold air that goes all the way to the central part of Pakistan. As we head into Kabul, as you can see, those temperatures are even colder.

The other thing is, is that we don't have very good records, of course, of the amount of snow that is falling there or the temperatures of what it was, you know, even 10 years ago. And (INAUDIBLE) though I can tell you that the belief is that they had been in a drought for a very long time, and it's only been in these last couple of years, Kristie, where we began to see a bit more in the way of snow falling across these areas. So this is somewhat new. And some of these people haven't had this in quite a long time.

Let's go ahead and move on. I want to take you to east Asia, the snow making machine continues for the Korean peninsula, and particularly for Japan, so still bitterly cold -- minus 8 right now. Cold air moving across this region will eventually reach you here in Japan. And that, picking up that moisture from the sea that's going to be more snowfall across these areas. That could be significant.

And notice back over here, a gradual warm-up as this area of high pressure moves off the Korean peninsula, very cold there, but slightly warmer as we head over into mainland China.

Very quickly across Europe, another very cold, cold day. Beachfront skiing sounds like fun, right? This is in Croatia. Pretty interestingly, though, because it's snowing so much and because it's been so icy and cold, doctors are saying that they have spent a two year's supply of plaster in just the last few weeks, that's because there are so many broken bones, so many slip and falls on the icy conditions. And guess what, there's more about to come.

Let's go ahead and check out your forecast real quick.

And look at this, Kristie, you're looking at the frozen canals of Venice, Italy. Yeah, that's right. This (INAUDIBLE) too, temperatures in the daytime barely making it out of freezing here as well. And there's another snow storm that's coming through.

It used to be a rare thing when you would see something like this, but lately it seems over and over across Europe we're seeing more and more of this kind of stuff. We're expecting more snowfall across this area and more temperatures that are going to be bitterly cold as we head into the weekend so not much of a change there.

I do want to show you one more thing from Italy, if you come back over here to the weather map. Check this out. These are pictures from Mount Etna, amazing images of the volcano covered in snow. Of course, this is along the Mediterranean. And it had an eruption earlier this week.

Now I just wanted to give you a quick update while we look at these amazing picture, the volcanic ash advisory for aviation has been canceled because the eruption has subsided, but I really can't even take my eyes off these images, absolutely beautiful, that lava coming down the mountainside completely covered in snow. And there were no injuries, by the way.

Back to you.

LU STOUT: That's good to here. But fire and ice, what an image. Mari Ramos, thank you, take care.

And coming up next here on NEWS STREAM, could drones like this one help stop the bloodshed in Syria? We'll tell you why one human rights group is pushing the controversial idea.

And some accuse Myanmar of taking two steps forward and one step back as the freed leader of the Saffron Revolution has now been detained again.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

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

Now Syria's state news agency says 25 people are dead and 175 wounded after two explosions went off in the northern city of Aleppo. The news agency says the attacks targeted security and law enforcement buildings. Elsewhere, thousands have taken to the streets to protest Russia's veto of a UN resolution condemning Syria's crackdown.

Now there have been skirmishes and police and protesters in Athens on the first day of a two day general strike to protest another round of austerity measures. EuroZone finance ministers are not signing off on an austerity deal agreed to by most of Greece's political chiefs. Ministers want even deeper cuts before they'll OK a new $170 billion bailout.

Now authorities in Mexico say more than 15 tons of the drug methamphetamine have been seized by the army in a remote area west of the capital Mexico City. Now officials say a tip from a member of the public led the army to a secret laboratory in Jalisco State where the drugs were stashed. Now it brings to seven the number of seizures made in the region this year.

Now we're used to talking about drones like these when we report on attacks in Pakistan's tribal areas, or surveillance in Iraq, but now there are calls for the pilotless aircraft to be used in other hotspots. Now amateur videos like this one of an injured man from Zabadani, Syria have provided a glimpse of the violence unfolding in that country. Now the footage is largely captured on average cell phones.

And while the video quality isn't great, it is often our only window on what is happening there since the Syrian government has restricted the international media.

But what if high definition aerial images of unrest could be recorded in places like Syria? Now in a recent opinion piece that they wrote for the New York Times, the co-founders of the genocide intervention network has suggested the drones could be used for that purpose. Now they argue that other organizations have already reported using drones to monitor alleged wrongdoing, for example, the environmental group the Sea Shepherd Conservation society says it relies on drones to keep track of Japan's whaling fleet.

And recent YouTube video showed a miniature helicopter filming protesters and Polish riot police in Warsaw in November.

The co-founders of the Genocide Intervention Network say, quote, if human rights organizations can spy on evil they should.

Let's bring in one of the authors of that New York Times piece Andrew Stobo Sniderman. He joins me now live from Toronto, Canada. And thank you very much indeed for joining us here on NEWS STREAM.

And we have to talk about Syria. Are humanitarian drones worth considering when options for action there in Syria seem to be so limited?

ANDREW STOBO SNIDERMAN, GENOCIDE INTERVENTION NEWTORK: Thanks for having me.

Well, what really what we're talking about is a fancy flying camera. And what we're suggesting is that in some cases human rights groups should seriously think about using drones to better document atrocities as they happen.

LU STOUT: You call it a fancy flying camera. What would it pick up? Exactly what kind of information or data would a humanitarian drone be able to capture?

SNIDERMAN: Well, from literally thousands of feet in the air you could read a license plate. And so you'd have high resolution, aerial photography, and the first job of human rights groups is to document human rights abuses to monitor it exactly as it's happening.

And the argument we're making is that this may be helpful for Syria, but it may even be more useful in other places where it's even harder to get information out -- where massacres are happening. So if you think about, for example, Darfur back in 2003, you couldn't get a CNN news crew out there. There were no Twitter accounts. There was no YouTube coverage of the violence that was happening there. And so if you had drones, potentially, you could have had a lot more information coming out of Darfur.

And it took very many months to get coverage of that story.

So this could be a gamechanger of getting information out about massacres happening when it's hard to figure out exactly what's going on.

LU STOUT: Is it a gamechanger in terms of cost? How much would a drone cost? And is it a price point that a human rights organization would be able to afford?

SNIDERMAN: We think so. And we think it's only a matter of time before this happens. And we're asking for a responsible, serious debate about how this should happen. And so we're looking at hundreds of thousands of dollars. And they're getting smaller and they're getting cheaper.

And it's a technology like any other. You can use it for bad and you can use it for good. And so we're just saying human rights organizations have always monitored human rights abuses and we should consider using drones to help do this work.

LU STOUT: And since your op-ed was published, what kind of high level reaction have you been getting? Is it your sense that the will is out there among government leaders and NGO leaders to use these humanitarian drones, especially in Syria?

SNIDERMAN: Yes, I do think so. We've had a number of extremely positive reactions from senior levels of the human rights community. And as I said, I think it's a matter of time before we figure out how to do this responsibly.

Of course, there have been a number of accusations that we're the latest neo-imperialists to come on the scene, but I think where in certain cases where it's extremely hard to get footage and high resolution photographs of massacres happening, we absolutely see a place for this and we see it happening in the future in certain circumstances.

LU STOUT: You know, the idea of a drone doing humanitarian work, it sounds ideal, but there are concerns out there, ethical concerns that the drones could be misused as tools for surveillance. So how do you answer that?

SNIDERMAN: Well, I think there's a big difference between government spying, which is secret, and what we're talking about doing which would be open, transparent -- basically what we're talking about is live streaming footage of human rights abuses.

So our agenda, we have one of course, it's documenting human rights abuses. But this would be transparent. And the idea is to release the information publicly.

And of course...

LU STOUT: ...should be used for good afterall...

SNIDERMAN: A -- yeah.

I mean, we see it hopefully to be useful to galvanize even more action and further down the line we see this being useful potentially for prosecuting war crimes at The Hague.

LU STOUT: Yeah, you talk about galvanizing action, that's what is needed in Syria at the moment.

Andrew Sniderman at the Genocide Intervention Network. Thank you so much for making yourself available here on CNN NEWS STREAM. Take care.

Now western nations have praised Myanmar for its recent reforms. And right now, the pro-democracy activist Aung San Suu Kyi is campaigning across the country for April's election. Now that would have been unheard of last year.

Now the government has pardoned hundreds of political prisoners, but the nation formerly known as Burma, it may be taking a step back from those reforms. Now authorities, they have detained an activist monk just weeks after his release.

Now Paula Hancocks searches for answers in Yangong.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

PAULA HANCOCKS, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: These gates have not been legally open for four-and-a-half years, ordered closed after an uprising led by monks.

State officials in Yangon allow monks recently released from prison back into their monastery, a sign they say, of improved relations.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I am very, very happy.

HANCOCKS: However, it is a bittersweet day for these monks. Even if they are allowed back into their monastery, one of their members has been re-arrested by authorities. And they haven't been told why.

Ashin Gambira is well known around the world as he lead activist monks in the 2007 Saffron Revolution against the military Hunta. He was jailed for four years before being released last month along with other political prisoners, a move by the new nominally civilian government towards reforms.

After his release, Gambira broke the lock on his monastery so he could move back in. I asked the official who opened the gate why he was detained again.

He tells me, "I don't know about that yet. Maybe ask someone from a different department."

Who Gambira was staying in a neighboring monastery was taken. This monk was with him. He says about 10 plain clothed policemen came here in the middle of the night and asked to talk to him.

The monks say damage was done when authorities closed the monastery in 2007, but believe relations are improving with them. Although, with Gambira's detention it is a sense of two steps forward, one step back.

Paula Hancocks, CNN, Yangon.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

LU STOUT: Now this is North Korea's Ryongyang hotel. Now it is remarkable in many ways. For one, it is finally set to partially open for business this spring some 23 years behind schedule, that's according to the South Korean Yunhap News Agency. Now work began on the 105 story building back in 1987. And Pyongyang had hoped it would showcase the country's prosperity, but when the money ran out the building was left unfinished.

Washington Post reports financial support has since come from the Egyptian telecoms company Orascom. The paper say is working on a mobile network in North Korean.

Now still to come on NEWS STREAM, battle lines are drawn as Mitt Romney's campaign finds a new target in the race for the U.S. Republican nomination. That, after the break right here on CNN.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

LU STOUT: Welcome back.

Now this week's developments in the U.S. Republican presidential race have made one thing very clear: votes from the more conservative wing of the party matter. Rick Santorum, he won three state contests on Tuesday. So it's no surprise that Mitt Romney's campaign has shifted its attention to Santorum. It is now attacking his spending record during his time as a U.S. senator.

Jim Acosta has more.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

JIM ACOSTA, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Rick Santorum doesn't need anybody to tell him who let the dogs out.

RICK SANTORUM, REPUBLICAN PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: I just think it's interesting that you're asking that question about Governor Romney and his attack dogs. I mean, that just tells you a little bit about what his campaign is all about.

ACOSTA: Ever since Santorum's surprising sweep on Tuesday, those dogs have been on the hunt, sinking their teeth into the former Pennsylvania senator's support for pet projects in congress. As one Romney campaign email put it, Santorum never met an earmark he didn't like.

Santorum's spending record has been the subject of Team Romney conference calls.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We need an executive, somebody that has experience to managing things and...

ACOSTA: Even Romney has been getting in on the act.

MITT ROMNEY, REPUBLICAN PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: I believe that while Senator Santorum was serving in congress and the Senate, government spending increased by some 80 percent.

He didn't have any problem in spending those earmarks...

ACOSTA: Santorum defends his support for earmarks, even ones for controversial projects like the V-22 Osprey, a plane-helicopter hybrid that was plagued with safety problems, including two crashes in 2000 that killed 23 marines.

SANTORUM: Well, one of the earmarks I had was for the V-22 Osprey which Dick Cheney in the first Bush administration wanted to shut down, but the congress said no. The V-22 was an important project and we overruled the administration with an earmark.

ACOSTA: Santorum points out, Romney has an earmark record too.

SANTORUM: Look at his requests to Ted Kennedy and John Kerry and to all the congressional offices. He was very forthright about seeking and supporting earmarks when they were coming to Massachusetts.

ROMNEY: If you look at this, you'll note that...

ACOSTA: Romney also presided over the Salt Lake Cty Olympic Games which received millions of dollars in federal funding. Those projects caught the attention of a certain earmark critic who now backs Romney.

SEN. JOHN MCCAIN, (R) ARIZONA: And if you look at the upcoming 2002 winter Olympics on Salt Lake City that bill to American taxpayers is estimated to be $1.3 billion. That's outrageous, Mr. President and it's a disgrace.

ACOSTA: A Romney campaign spokesman insists there's no comparison, saying Senator Santorum is like a shopaholic who wants to blame department stores for his spending obsession.

As for Romney's record seeking earmarks as governor, a congressional source tells CNN he did coordinate with Democrats on Capitol Hill when it came to federal money for roads projects. Romney now supports a ban on earmarks in congress. Santorum says he wants a moratorium.

Jim Acosta, CNN, Washington.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

LU STOUT: Now time now for a sports update as England's Football Association begins its search for a new manager. The leading candidate, Harry Redknapp, has issued a mixed message.

Alex Thomas is in London. He joins us now -- Alex.

ALEX THOMAS, CNN SPORTS CORRESPONDENT: Yes, Kristie.

Harry Redknapp says he's flattered to be talked about as the favorite to become England's next football manager, but doesn't want to do the job part-time. It's been a turbulent week for the Tottenham coach. He was cleared of tax evasion charges on Wednesday and then just hours later became the leading candidate to replace Fabio Capello following the Italian's shock resignation from the England job.

Speaking at his weekly news conference, Redknapp says he still has a lot to achieve with Spurs this season.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

HARRY REKDNAPP, TOTTENHAM HOTSPURS MANAGER: (INAUDIBLE) lead club. Managing your country is two very difficult jobs, certainly. And you've got to focus, really, on -- your focus have got to be on one job. I think you can't be going home thinking, well, who is playing well in this situation. And my focus really, I can't take my eye off the ball at Tottenham at the moment, because we're looking to get Champion's League football. We're still in the FA Cup. And I owe it to them to continue to complete -- keep completely focused on the job I'm doing here.

THOMAS: Did you agree with the FA's decision to...

REDKNAPP: Trying to get me out of the job before I get in it.

(LAUGHTER)

(END VIDEO CLIP)

THOMAS: Typical (INAUDIBLE).

And after a strong in Abu Dhabi, Tiger Woods is back in the United States playing his first tournament of the new PGA Tour season. And he says he feels much more confident with his game following a solid opening round at the Pebble Beach National Pro Am.

Ideal conditions greeting the pros and their famous amateur playing partners on Thursday. And a large part of Tiger's recent improvements come on the greens.

Here he is holding a lengthy putt on the third during an opening round of four under par.

The shot of the day, though, came on the 16th. Ken Duke with a pinpoint approach. Ball landing on the green, bouncing forward and rolling into the cup for an eagle. And it was all dance and delight. The Duke, he finished the day eight under par.

But it was Dustin Johnson setting the pace at the top of the leaderboard. This testing curling put coming at the last, almost went in. The American still had a round of nine under par. He's tied for first with Danny Lee and Charlie Wie.

Now facing Doc Rivers and the Boston Celtics, the Los Angeles Lakers were back to winning ways in the NBA on Thursday night, although this one was almost too close to call.

Here's Kobe Bryant missing late in the fourth quarter, but Pau Gasol follows up to tie the scores at 82-apiece.

Then with 6.5 seconds on the clock, Paul Pierce tries to win it for the Celtics. No way through for him. He gets the ball to Pietrus whose desperate 3-point attempt doesn't go in. So Doc and his players plan for over-time.

And during that extra period Kobe drives right, pulls up, comes up short, but Andrew Bynum is there for the tip-in. He'd get a thank you kiss from coach Mike Brown. So deja vu for Pirece then with 6 seconds on the clock again he drives right, pulls up. The shot is no good. Ray Allen is spoiled by Gasol. The Lakers hang on for a narrow 88-87 win.

Much more on World Sport later in the day, Kristie. For now, back to you in Hong Kong.

LU STOUT: All right. Alex thank you. Have a great weekend.

Now let's stay with the NBA. And it's a tradition to have the starting line-ups of each team announced before the game. What's a little less traditional is to have comedian Will Ferrell announce the line-ups. So let's listen to how he introduced the Chicago Bulls.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

WILL FERRELL, ACTOR: At forward, number 5. He still with his mother. Carlos Boozer.

At center, number 13. He's a Scorpio. And a horrible dancer. Joakim Noah.

At guard, number 11. He once ate 20 hot dogs in an hour. Ronny Brewer.

At guard, number 1. His favorite movie is The Notebook. Derrick Rose.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

LU STOUT: Now Ferrell also cracked jokes about their opponents, but we thought the Bulls' introduction was funnier.

Now ahead here on News St ream -- she is the world's best known virtual assistant, but the internet is revealing a much darker side to Siri. We'll meet her evil alter ego next.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

LU STOUT: Welcome back.

Now for the first time, an FBI file on the late Apple founder Steve Jobs has been released to the public. At 191 pages, it's a lot of read. So we wanted to give you what we think are a few highlights.

Now the routine background check, it was run by the Federal Bureau of Investigation back in 1991. And that was when Jobs was being considered for a position with the White House export council. Now the FBI interviewed co-workers, and even Steve Jobs himself for the report. And the picture it paints of Jobs is not necessarily a flattering one.

Now the Bureau noted that he graduated from high school with a grad point average of 2.65, that's out of a possible 4.0. And indicates that he was average a C grade in his classes.

And the document repeatedly refers to the Apple founder's past drug use. And there are some strong statements ab out his personality in there as well.

Now several of the interviewees at the FBI questioned about Steve Jobs described him as someone who would, quote, "twist the truth and distort reality in order to achieve his goals." But that didn't stop them from recommending him for a position with the U.S. government.

Now she is an unlikely villain for a slasher movie, but Siri, the siren voice of the iPhone has caught the imagination of budding film makers. As Jeanne Moos reports, sparked a craze of creating homemade horror videos.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

JEANNE MOOS, CNN CORRESPONDENT: You know we have a love-hate relationship with high tech when our phones start killing us.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Go to hell you stupid phone.

SIRI: You first. Die you stupid (INAUDIBLE)

MOOS: And the most bloodthirsty of them all...

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We'll get that...

MOOS: Is Apple's virtual personal assistant...

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Does anybody have a knife.

SIRI: There's an app for that.

MOOS: Siri.

Siri, are you capable of murder?

SIRI: No comment.

MOOS: Siri has spawned a spat of mini-horror flicks on YouTube with titles like Siri Tried To Kill Me.

SIRI: Continue driving straight.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Straight?

MOOS: And Psycho Siri.

Psycho Siri creeps around a house firing an AK-47 and dropping granades.

The creator of the four-and-a-half minute movie gets blown away by Siri early on.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Why does the phone know my name?

MOOS: But Siri didn't blow a hole in the budget.

ANDREW MCMURRY, FILMMAKER: My budget was zero dollars.

MOOS: Budding film maker Andrew McMurry asked his brother to star in the mini movie shot in seven hours.

MCMURRY: I always thought it would be scary if a piece of technology would turn on you.

SIRI: I overheard you saying something about selling me. I'm afraid I cannot let that happen.

MOOS: Siri, I'd like you to meet HAL. He's 44 years older than you, but I think you're going to like him.

SIRI: If you insist.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Open the pod bay doors, HAL.

HAL 9000: I'm sorry, Dave. I'm afraid I can't do that.

MOOS: Back in 1968, 2001: A Space Odyssey starred a murderous computer.

HAL 9000: I know that you and Frank were planning to disconnect me. And I'm afraid that's something I cannot allow to happen.

MOOS: Four decades later, we've shrunk the technology and our monsters are now mobile.

SIRI: What would your blood look like on these bed sheets?

MOOS: Siri, do you have blood on your keyboard.

SIRI: This blood bank looks pretty close to you.

MOOS: There's only one thing that could stop her from running amok.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: You killed it?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: No. I forgot to plug it in last night.

MOOS: Siri may be a serial killer, but at least she has decency to clean up after.

SIRI: I found five funeral homes nearby. Where would you like me to send your body?

MOOS: Jeanne Moos, CNN, New York.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

LU STOUT: Now Siri is not commenting on the rise in Apple stock on Thursday. At the end of the trading day, Apple clocked in a market cap of around $460 billion. That makes Apple worth more than Goldman Sachs, General Motors, Google, Ford, Starbucks, and Boeing combined. And it's also worth more than twice as much as General Electric, IBM, or Wal-Mart.

But this is the ultimate comparison. Apple is now worth more than Google and Microsoft combined. It's an equation likely to rattle its rivals.

And that is NEWS STREAM, but the news continues at CNN. And you can expect more graphs, charts, and big numbers on the other side of the break. "WORLD BUSINESS TODAY" is next.

END