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President Sarkozy, President-elect Hollande Jointly Celebrate V-E Day; Al Jazeera English Closes Beijing Bureau; Latest Al Qaeda Bomb Plot
Aired May 8, 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. I'm Kristie Lu Stout in Hong Kong.
Now the U.S. says the plot to blow up a passenger plane using a bomb allegedly designed by this man has been foiled.
France's next leader Francois Hollande stands with his defeated opponents and prepares to form a new government.
And the murder of a Hamas leader in Dubai was compared to the plot of a spy movie and now it has actually become the plot of a movie.
A plot to blow a passenger jet out of the sky has been stopped by U.S. and other intelligence agencies. Now a source familiar with the operation tells CNN the plot was discovered two weeks ago and the public was never in danger. Now the FBI is currently analyzing an explosive device which was seized overseas. Authorities suspect it was built by this man, Ibrahim al- Asiri. Now he is considered the chief bomb maker for al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula or AQAP.
Now the devices allegedly built by him use an explosive that is hard to detect. It's known as PETN. Now just six grams of the stuff could blow a hole in an airplane's fuselage. Now this video by the U.S. Justice Department, it shows what 200 grams of PETN can do.
Now the clip was played in court during the sentence of Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab, a so-called underwear bomber was given life in prison. You'll remember Abdulmutallab tried to bring down an airliner bound for Detroit on Christmas Day 2009 with this, but it failed to go off.
Now that may not have been al-Asiri's first underwear bomb. He's thought to have fitted his brother, who you see here, with a similar device to kill a Saudi prince in August of 2009. Abdullah al-Asiri died, but the prince was only injured.
Now more recently, authorities believe Ibrahim al-Asiri built the printer bombs recovered in 2010. Now Saudi Arabia's government helped U.S. officials track them down.
And we're learning that Saudi intelligence assets also provided the tip that thwarted this most recent plot. And Nic Robertson has reported extensively on al Qaeda and global terrorism. He's following developments from London. He joins us now.
And Nic, any more details on the nature of the terror plot and how it was uncovered?
NIC ROBERTSON, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, we're being told that it was a suicide mission, but the plotter, the bomber was going to buy a ticket to board a flight to the United States. And we're told that of all the devices the Ibrahim al-Asiri has built so far, or it's implied that these -- this bomb is very, very similar to his -- officials are not saying he was the bomb maker in this particular case, but they're implying that the previous bombs -- the underpants bomb, the printer bombs, the others that have come from him are similar to this, hence the conclusion the PETN is very probably the explosive that's been used here.
But what they are saying is that this shows a development in the bomb maker's thinking and what he's done here. That he has -- that he has learned from what counterterrorism officials have learned from his bombs in the past and tried to thwart them.
So there are new developments here. We're told there are no metal parts in this bomb. There were no metal parts that we're aware of in the underpants bomber's bomb as well. What happened in that case the main charge of the explosives didn't go off. The detonator work, the chemicals mixed, the fire ensued, it triggered the detonator, the detonator didn't blow up the explosives, because it's believed the explosives have been worn by the underpants bomber for such a long period of time they may have degraded in some way.
So we're not being told what exactly and precisely the new developments are, but one can imagine that what al Qaeda has done here is learn from their past experiences. This is a trait that they always employ, that they're learning from their experiences. And that's what U.S. counterterrorism officials say is troubling about this, it shows al Qaeda's continued intent and continued ability to develop devices that are again trying to get around current counterterrorism measures.
LU STOUT: The intent, but can they actually carry it out. The U.S. again says the plot was hashed by al Qaeda's affiliate in Yemen. As he said, the group appears to be getting more sophisticated when it comes to making these bombs, but what about their capacity to succeed and carry out acts of terror?
ROBERTSON: Well, it seems certainly in this case that obviously they haven't succeeded here. That in fact they've failed spectacularly in many ways, because the United States now has the device in tact, we understand, and can learn a lot from it.
Al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula boasts about what they have. In the al Qaeda's online Inspire magazine just last week they boasted that they now have access in Yemen through the territories they've gained, access to laboratories and chemicals to make these types of devices. They have the expert bomb maker Ibrahim al-Asiri.
But what al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula lack somewhat is an advantage for counterterrorism officials is that they have a problem, al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula has a problem getting these bombs that they can make into the sort of international arena, if you will, to get them on flights to the United States. Yemen has become quite isolated. And it seems that the focus of counterterrorism efforts is to contain the problem within Yemen.
And the Saudi intelligence officials who have helped with the printer bombs and now appear to have helped in foiling this plot as well have perhaps some of the best sources on the ground in Yemen to defeat al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula. Part of the reason is, al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula wants to target Saudi Arabia as well. They share a long porous land border, so it's in Saudi Arabia's interests.
So these are some of the things that are coming to the fore right now, Kristie.
LU STOUT: What about the Yemeni government? How is it trying to contain the threat within its borders? Is it making progress or is al Qaeda and its affiliate simply gaining ground there?
ROBERTSON: Well, according to the vice -- according to the president al-Hadi in Yemen just within the past few weeks they are claiming that they are having greater successes against al Qaeda. Al Qaeda has taken advantage in Yemen since -- over the past couple of year the country has sort of come to the brink of civil war. Al Qaeda has taken control of three provinces in the country. The government is fighting al Qaeda and several other battles, if you will, on other fronts. So their forces are divided.
But what we have seen is the Yemeni government up their agreement, strengthen their agreement with the United States for drone strikes inside Yemen that broaden the scope of the number of targets within al Qaeda who can be targeted with less information than in the past.
So, yes, it does seem that Yemen is sort of stepping up and doing more here. But also we hear from Yemeni officials that they weren't informed about this particular operation before it went ahead. And that appears to be something of deep frustration for them as well.
So there are sort of silos of information here, and this is typical of counterterrrorism, but it's also perhaps going to be problematic in the future for cooperation if the Yemenis feel they're being excluded from chains of information about situations in their country, Kristie.
LU STOUT: So many threads to this story. Nic Robertson reporting live from London. Thank you very much for that.
And turning now to China where international broadcaster Al Jazeera has closed its English language bureau in Beijing. The TV news network says it had no choice after its correspondent in the city became the first foreign reporter to be forced out of China in 14 years.
Now China's ministry of foreign affairs has not specifically explained why Melissa Chan's visa is not being renewed, but the move comes at a time of great tension between Chinese authorities and international journalists heightened by the twin sagas of politician Bo Xilai and human rights activist Chen Guangcheng.
Now on Monday's NEWS STREAM, Stan Grant reported on attempts to keep journalists away from the hospital where Chen is being treated. And media rights groups say the al Jazeera issue is just the latest sign that working conditions are deteriorating for international reporters in China.
Now Stan Grant, he joins us now live from Beijing with more. And Stan, your thoughts on this. Why did Beijing not renew Chan's visa?
STAN GRANT, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Yeah, well, Kristie we're not privy to exactly what has gone on between al Jazeera and the government here. Al Jazeeera is not giving a reason as you say there as well the Chinese government as well not venturing into that. But if you set this against what we're seeing generally in the country, you can get a bit of a picture here.
This has been an extraordinarily tense time. You mentioned the Bo Xilai story. And of course the Chen Guangcheng story, these are just the two latest incidents that have captured worldwide headlines. We've also got the long running issues with Tibet protests, with rural unrest, with the leadership handover at the end of the year, fraction -- factions appear to be fighting each other within the Communist party politburo itself. So it is a very, very heightened sense of nervousness in here. In fact, one analyst I spoke to recently said this is the most nervous he's seen China since 1989 with the Tiananmen protests, that gives you an indication just how high the stakes are.
When it comes to al Jazeera, what Melissa has been reporting out here for the past five years. She's an American citizen. Her visa has not been renewed. Normally that is a fairly standard procedure that people go through here. And that's meant that the bureau itself, the English side of al Jazeera has had to close its operation. Now al Jazeera says it regrets that and is looking to try to continue negotiations to be able to reopen it some time in the future.
As far as the Chinese government is concerned, this is what the minister -- the spokesman from the ministry of foreign affairs had to say.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
HONG LEI, CHINA'S FOREIGN MINISTRY SPOKESMAN (through translator): With regard to Chinese policy on foreign journalists, I think you are very clear about this we welcome foreign journalists who report objectively in China. We have also been providing a lot of help and convenience for foreign journalists. The environment for their reporting activities in China is very open and free. At the same time, foreign journalists should abide by Chinese laws and regulations while reporting in China and follow the professional ethics.
We have been dealing with relevant media and foreign journalists in accordance with relevant laws and regulations as well as the actual performance of the journalist.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
GRANT: Now obviously there's a big difference of opinion between what the government says and what media groups are saying. While the government talks about a comfortable environment and cooperating with the media, the foreign correspondents club here in China is describing the expulsion of Melissa Chan as, quote, "appalling." Other media groups as well saying this indicates a heightened sensitivity on the part of the government here to any critical reporting. And once again increases the pressure on foreign journalists here, Kristie.
LU STOUT: Now separately, Stan, you're also watching very closely the story of how Beijing has launched a media war targeting the blind dissident Chen Guangcheng. What is being said? And how effective is this campaign?
GRANT: Yeah, ironic isn't it? On the one hand that the government is being accused of trying to stifle foreign media, it is unleashing its own state media here. There was very, very little reporting, if any reporting, at the height of the Chen Guangcheng saga. In recent days it's become apparent the Chen may receive a passport and a visa to travel to the United States there has been more of a smear campaign appearing in state media.
We've seen editorials being printed describing him as a traitor, describing him as a pawn of the United States. I've just -- we've just come back from speaking to one of the authors of one of those editorials in the Global Times, a well known mouthpiece here for the Communist Party, and he says he went to Chen's village, claims that people in the village there saw him as a traitor and an American spy.
This is all part of the backdrop of trying to blacken Chen's name, try to smear his reputation and try to take some of the gloss off him as the United States and others in the world are hailing him as a human rights icon -- Kristie.
LU STOUT: Stan Grant joining us live from Beijing. Thank you very much for that.
Now still to come here on NEWS STREAM, the U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton visits India. And we'll take you live to New Delhi and tell you why Iran is dominating her trip.
Plus, Greece's main political parties failed to get a clear mandate from voters and that's giving fringe parties a boost, including one extreme right group.
And he's not officially in office yet, but president-elect Francois Hollande is already getting a head start.
LU STOUT: Now Hillary Clinton is making no secret that her top priority in talks with India is Iran's nuclear program. In New Delhi today, the U.S. Secretary of State applauded India's record to reduce Iranian oil imports, but she is pushing for even more steps. Now India imports a significant amount of oil from Tehran. And it is crucial to U.S. efforts to keep the pressure on Iran over its nuclear program.
In another sign of the U.S. commitment, a special envoy will be deployed next week to determine what else India can do to cut its dependency on Iranian oil.
Jill Dougherty joins me now live from our bureau in New Delhi with more. And Jill, Hillary Clinton, she wants India to take this tougher line on Iran, but exactly how did she deliver that message?
JILL DOUGHERTY, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, it's really in convincing the Indian government to cut back on its oil imports. And it's a sensitive subject because India, obviously, with its growing economy, needs as much oil as it can get. And also technically it is used to the facilities that they have use Iranian oil. Iranian oil is slightly different from other oil and so you'd need some retrofitting. It gets a little complicated. But it's a big subject and it could potentially be a very big irritant.
So the message that the secretary was giving is even though we understand that there is pain involved among our friends, still it has to be done if we are going to be putting sufficient pressure on Iran.
LU STOUT: Now Jill, Hillary Clinton's trip to India, it caps off her Asian tour. And of course a dominant topic, especially when she was in China, it was about the fate of the blind dissident Chen Guangcheng. Has she been giving you any comment about him?
DOUGHERTY: Right. And that is the very first question I asked her, because absolutely. Her trip began with that. And it's ending with that, the issue of Mr. Chen. I asked her if -- does she really believe that the Chinese government will follow through on its promise to let him go to the United States to study? And here is what she said. Pay attention to how it is said, because it has to be very delicately phrased.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
HILLARY CLINTON, U.S. SECRETARY OF STATE: I think that we're looking forward to welcoming him to the United States. He is still in the hospital receiving medical treatment, some of which was recommended by the embassy doctors who examined him. We remain in close contact with him. We know that Chinese officials have visited him in the hospital in order to begin processing necessary papers. And we're doing the same in order to prepare the way so that he can come here and pursue his studies.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
DOUGHERTY: So no direct answer to the question of whether or not they really believe that the Chinese government will follow through, but that's certainly that's the hope -- Kristie.
LU STOUT: Very, as you said, delicately worded there by Hillary Clinton.
Now also while in India, she's been talking to you about the foiled bomb plot. What did she say?
DOUGHERTY: Right. Well, that story broke the evening before Secretary Clinton left. So she was briefed on it. And that came at the news conference. And she was asked essentially, you know, what is happening, what are the details and also about terrorism in general. So let's listen to what she said.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
CLINTON: The plot itself indicates that these terrorists keep trying, they keep trying to devise more and more perverse and terrible ways to kill innocent people. And it's a reminder as to why we have to remain vigilant.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
DOUGHERTY: So remaining vigilant. And that really was the subject, Kristie, throughout this trip which began in China, then went to Bangladesh. And then the secretary ended up here in India. And practically in all of those countries, that is one of the overriding issues, which is security against terrorism and trying to bring the various countries together in order to fight it collectively.
LU STOUT: A call to remain vigilant from the U.S. secretary of state. Jill Dougherty reporting. Thank you very much indeed, Jill.
Now up next, the extreme right rises in Greece. And now an ultra nationalist group moved from the fringes of politics to parliament. That story ahead on NEWS STREAM.
LU STOUT: A beautiful night here in Hong Kong. And you are back watching NEWS STREAM.
Now is the Formula 1 team that the legendary Michael Schumacher races for on the verge of leaving the sport? Amanda Davies is in London to tell us what's driving the speculation -- Amanda.
AMANDA DAVIES, CNN SPORTS CORRESPONDENT: Hi, Kristie.
Yes, thanks very much.
It's a very interesting one, this. But Mercedes have played down the reports that they're set to quit Formula 1 at the end of the season. A report in British newspaper The Times has questioned whether the team will continue because of disagreements over the make-up of the Formula 1 board when it floats on the stock exchange. It suggested that Red Bull, Ferrari, and McClaren, the big three as they're known will all get seats on the board, but Mercedes won't. But the German manufacturer has denied that they've got any intention of leaving. That's the latest as we know it.
We will, of course, bring you more if and when we get it. But Mercedes are, of course, one of the teams who have won a race so far this season. It's the first time since 1983 we've had four different winners from the first four Grand Prixes. And when I caught up with the seven time world champion Michael Schumacher last week, he criticized this season's tires for making things just too unpredictable.
DAVIES: It's been a very interesting season so far this season: four different winners in four different races. Why is that? Why is it so open this year?
MICHAEL SCHUMACHER, MERCEDES DRIVER: It's partly because the teams are much closer together due to aerodynamic restrictions and new rules that they have developed that teams don't have so much freedom to develop specific systems that allow one team to stand out. And then the other point is that I'm not so keen about is these tires. I just think they are playing a much too bigger effect, because they are so peaky and so special that we don't put the cars or ourself to the limit, we drive like on raw eggs and don't want to stretch the tires at all otherwise you just overdue it and then you go nowhere.
DAVIES: How much pride to you take with the number of German drivers on the grid now? The young guys Nico and Sebastian coming through and your role in motivating them and the younger generation of German drivers.
SCHUMACHER: Being good friends, particularly with Sebastian sort of makes it even more special, because he grew up in my Go Kart (ph) track that I grew up on. And we know each other from childhood -- his childhood mainly. I was a little bit grown up by that stage. And seeing him doing well makes me proud.
DAVIES: So what are your aims for this season?
SCHUMACHER: Aims for the season -- I mean, we have luckily got one win under our belt. We got a bit unlucky in that race. It could have been a one-two with no doubt. But it proves that we have made a huge step, because you have to consider where we come from last year that wasn't really what we were looking for starting to silver arrow new generation. For two years we had media success and finally we managed a victory. And I'm pretty sure we can have other good races this year, being on the podium, and maybe even being on top of the podium.
DAVIES: That's the view of Michael Schumacher, Kristie. It's not been a bad week for me, I also got the chance to speak to his teammate Nico Rosberg. And there will be more of that interview in World Sport in about three-and-a-half hours time.
Of course we're looking ahead to Spain this weekend.
LU STOUT: All right. Great stuff. Amanda Davies thank you and take care.
Now up next, side by side after a bitter campaign and election, France's president-elect shares the stage with outgoing president Nicolas Sarkozy. And we'll look at what lies ahead for Francois Hollande after the break.
LU STOUT: I'm Kristie Lu Stout in Hong Kong. You're watching NEWS STREAM. And these are your world headlines.
Now U.S. and other intelligence agencies have foiled an alleged plot to blow up a U.S. bound airliner. Officials say a non-metallic explosive has been confiscated by the FBI and is similar to the one used in the failed attempted by the so-called underwear bomber in 2009. U.S. officials say all signs point to al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula.
Al Jazeera has closed its English language bureau in Beijing. A TV news network says it had no choice after Chinese authorities refused to renew it correspondent's visa. Now journalists are expressing concern that Beijing's mood with threaten the ability of international reporters to work in China.
Greece's center-right New Democracy Party tried but failed to form a coalition government. It was the first place finisher in Sunday's parliamentary vote with 19 percent support. And now the second place finisher, Syriza will now give it a try. The leftist party opposes the austerity measures imposed in Greece to secure a European bailout.
And Sunday's elections in Greece all support fall for mainstream parties while extremist parties gain ground. And one of them, Golden Dawn, is described as a Neo Nazi group. Matthew Chance looks at why this party is surging in popularity.
MATTHEW CHANCE, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: They are Neo Nazis once on the fringe of Greek politics, but no more. Golden Dawn and their anti-immigration agenda has been swept into parliament. One of Europe's most extreme ultra nationalist groups is set to gain 21 seats, winning an alarming 7 percent of the national vote.
Why do you think so many Greeks, I think it was 7 percent of the Greek voters, why do you think so many voted for this extreme right-wing party?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Out of disgust of the attitude of the majority of the politicians on the problem of illegal immigration, which is too serious to be (inaudible). As far as I'm concerned, it's the most serious problem after the economy.
CHANCE: Do you think this is a long-term trend, or do you think this is a protest vote?
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Well, it's both, because right now Greece as part of this financial crisis people have a stronger sense of what it means to be Greek and they want to feel more Greek and they want to protect their interests.
CHANCE: When the results emerged, the party leader called this news conference in Athens. As he entered, journalists were ordered to stand up or be kicked out. Many left in disgust. The leaders then preceded to defend Hellenism, the pride Greeks take in their civilization.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE (through translator): We are fighting for the Greece that hasn't turned into a social jungle because of the millions of illegal immigrants that had been brought into our country without asking us. Whoever betrays this homeland, it's time for them to be afraid. We are coming. That's what I wanted to tell you and nothing else.
CHANCE: Mikhaili Yakos (ph) is no stranger to outrage. After being elected to the municipal council in Athens two years ago, he was filmed making this Nazi salute in the chamber. Now his party, which has been linked to attacks against immigrants will take to the national stage.
The emergence of Golden Dawn in Greece is perhaps more astonishing in a country which suffered so brutally at the hands of the Nazis in the Second World War. Many Greeks remember the German occupation here vividly. But analysts say it's a sign of how much economic strain austerity is placing on people here, that some are turning to the extremes for a solution.
Many hope the emergence of Golden Dawn will be short-lived, just a protest vote. But the dangers of pushing a country too hard are here to see.
Matthew Chance, CNN, Athens.
LU STOUT: Now France's president-elect Francois Hollande does not officially take office until May 15, but he is already getting a head start on his new responsibilities. And today, he stood side by side with outgoing president Nicolas Sarkozy to mark Victory in Europe Day. Jim Bittermann is in Paris with more. And he joins us now.
And Jim, we have seen the sparks fly when Sarkozy and Hollande share the stage. And yet today they stood together in a solemn event. Could you describe the significance of that moment?
JIM BITTERMANN, CNN CORREPSONDENT: Well, I think symbolically it was very significant. It was something that came at the end of a very divisive electoral campaign that at times got very bitter. You'll remember Mr. Sarkozy accused Mr. Hollande of being a liar and slanderer and it was turned very nasty at several points throughout the campaign. So the idea that Sarkozy, then extended the olive branch to Mr. Hollande, invited him to come along on this ceremony which is traditionally done by the French president each year on May 8 was in fact an attempt I think by Sarkozy to end his presidency as some people here put it with his head held high.
And people on both sides of the political isle thought it was a great idea, because it basically puts into the past the debates and the arguments during the political campaign and looks a bit towards the future.
Having said that, one of the things that both political parties are looking forward to are some pretty bitter legislative elections that are going to be coming up in June.
So this was like a moment in between those two that would -- you know, both political parties want to take advantage of. So Hollande came along with the president, kind of took instructions from him. And the two -- the outgoing president and president-elect walking along together and rekindling the flame at the tomb of the unknown soldier at the Arc De Triomphe.
Basically a day full of symbols and symbols that everyone thought were pretty beneficial to healing the kind of divisiveness that we've seen over the last few months here, Kristie.
LU STOUT: Yeah, these two men standing side by side and yet their politics, their personalities can't be any more different. One described as brash, charismatic, the other described as unassuming and mild. How would you describe Hollande's leadership style.
BITTERMANN: Well, you know what he likes to describe himself as, as a normal president. He says I'm going to be a normal president, not peripatetic the way Sarkozy was, not involving in everything. And in fact that was the headline in the newspaper yesterday after the elections is a picture of Hollande and the word normal.
In fact, he is going to be a lot calmer I think than Mr. Sarkozy, probably a lot less involving. He's known to be a person who finds -- tries to find compromises and to work things out. And so I think you'll see not so much a confrontational style, but a style of someone who wants to try to find consensus, that's what he's done all of his life, in fact. And as the head of the Socialist Party there are a lot of times there are a lot of rancorous debates and he had to resolve those because he was the head of the party and he had to try to unite the party as much as possible.
So I think that's the thing that he is trying to do. He said several times even after the election that his first job is to bring the French together. And I think that's one of his first objectives.
He's also going to make a couple of symbolic moves right away, for instance freezing the fuel taxes here -- freezing fuel prices here rather by changing the tax structure so that when gasoline prices go up and down, whatever the price at the pump will stay the same. And he's also raised the allotment that's given to families of children here when they go back to school in the fall. He's going to do a lot of things right off the bat to show that he means business and that he's going to change things for the average person on the street, Kristie.
LU STOUT: All right, Jim Bittermann joining us live from Paris. Thank you very much for that.
Now in Israel, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and his right-wing Lahud Party have joined voiced with rival faction Kadima. Now they have agreed to form a unity government with the centrist party. And the moves come just today after Netanyahu pushed for fall elections. But now with this coalition brokered, the next election will likely take place late next year. Under the deal, Kadima leader Shaul Mofaz would be named deputy prime minister.
Now coming up next on NEWS STREAM, anyone planning a wedding will likely know the name Monique Lhuillier. She's our latest Leading Woman.
LU STOUT: Live from Hong Kong, you're back watching NEWS STREAM.
So what's in a name? Well, Monique Lhuillier says she knew she made it when people started pronouncing her's correctly. Her bridal gowns are highly coveted, but that's only one part of her empire. Felicia Taylor shows us a typical day in this Leading Woman's life.
FELICIA TAYLOR, CNN CORRESPONDENT: If you're looking to buy a wedding dress then you probably know her name. Monique Lhuillier may not be easy to pronounce, but that hasn't held back the fashion designer who has come a long way in the past 15 years.
MONIQUE LHUILLIER, FASHION DESIGNER: I can tell like after the first year where people could barely say my name. They were Monique -- you know...
TAYLOR: Lhuillier dresses A-list celebrities, has a ready to wear collection, three stores that bear her name, and a line of China, crystal wear, and home fragrances.
The mother of two runs her empire with her husband Tom, the CEO. And now they plan to expand with stores in London and in her homeland in the Philippines.
A global brand, and a name everyone will know, Monique Lhuillier.
Her dresses have grazed red carpets. Hollywood stars such as Reese Witherspoon chose a Lhuillier design on her own wedding day. And even the iconic Barbie Doll has worn her gowns.
Lhuillier remembers the moment when it all seemed to fall into place.
LHUILLIER: Everything was clicking. And people were saying my name right. And they were like, Monique Lhuillier, and I want one of this brand. And the phones didn't stop ringing. And Tom and I looked at each other and said oh my gosh something is working and it's an exciting time.
TAYLOR: That was in 2004 when Lhuillier had just dressed three starlets for the Emmy awards, was working on the wedding dress for pop star Brittney Spears and her wedding collection was beginning to take off.
Often times designers get their training by working in a major design house, but no Lhuillier. For her, it was a simple twist of fate.
LHUILLIER: Then when I graduated from design school I met Tom and we got engaged shortly after that. And I started looking for a wedding dress. And when I looked at what was out there I felt that there was a lack of fashionable options for young women out there. So I said, you know, this is what I want to do.
TAYLOR: With success at her back, the petite fashionista from the Philippines chose CNN what it takes to rise to the top in the world of fashion.
LHUILLIER: Hello. How are you.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Good to see you.
TAYLOR: A typical day for Lhuillier can begin with a trip to her flagship boutique in the trendy Los Angeles neighborhood of Melrose Place. She stops here once a week to check on her window displays and to find out how customers are reacting to her collection.
LHUILLIER: I would love to also nip in the waist a little bit more. If we can put some pins and some...
TAYLOR: Satisfied, Lhuillier heads to her office, discussing business with her public relations team along the way.
LHUILLIER: Hello. Hi, Livvie, how are you?
UNIDENTIIFED FEMALE; All right. Well, here's the (inaudible). We just have a couple of things for cover (ph). I wanted to (inaudible).
LHUILLIER: We're heading to the headquarters, the factory. This is where I come to work every day. This is where all the magic happens.
TAYLOR: With her office just steps away from where her designs are made, Lhuillier is able to maintain strict quality control for the entire production process.
LHUILLIER: Good morning everybody. Hello.
A lot of people, you know, don't have the luxury of having their own factory where they can build the product and check on the quality on every step of the way.
This is all done by hand. Cut. And they are in a mold and that's how these flowers look so real.
A lot of people send it out and then it comes back done. And this way we really, you know, see the whole process from the sketch form to the draping form to the fitting to production until the product goes out.
They're all beautiful.
Hi, Catherine (ph). Good to see you.
TAYLOR: Lhuillier is meeting today with Star Works, a company that handles the celebrity side of her PR. It's important to reevaluate their strategy, where Lhuillier's desses are placed in the media, who is wearing them, and discover who they may want to pursue.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: And Kristen Stewart too in the blue and black. It's had huge coverage.
LHUILLIER: Yeah, she's hot. I mean, everybody is on her trail.
What I love about designing for celebrities is you know the platform for the world to see what my work looks like and they showcase it beautifully.
TAYLOR: Lhuillier continues to boost her global image and grow her brand as she works on the design of her new store in New York City, her latest ad campaign and does fittings for her pre-fall collection.
We'll see more of Lhuillier in the coming weeks, including what it's like to work with her husband as CEO and what it takes to design a collection from start to finish.
LU STOUT: From fashion to tech, communications to cuisine, we are highlighting women at the top of their fields. You can find all their stories at CNN.com/leadingwomen.
And now, here's a Tuesday teaser for you, why did the ostrich cross the road? Well, in fairness it didn't so much cross the road as take on the traffic in the fast lane. And we've got the thrill of the chase when NEWS STREAM returns.
LU STOUT: Welcome back.
Now it has spies, murder, and an exotic locale perfect stuff for a movie. And that is what filmmakers thought when they heard the circumstances surrounding the death of a Hamas leader at a hotel in Dubai. Kevin Flower goes to the set of this new Israeli movie.
KEVIN FLOWER, CNN CORRESPONDENT: In what are the final hours of his life, an Arab man sidles up to the bar at a luxury hotel to chat with a beautiful blonde. The meeting is observed on camera, but this is not surveillance video. And the scene playing out is not real, rather it is the set of a new Israeli film called The Javelin, a tongue-in-cheek thriller surrounding the mysterious real-life murder of Hamas leader Mahmoud Mapu (ph) in a Dubai hotel room more than two years ago.
The filmmakers say they are not producing a straight recreation of events in Dubai, but rather presenting one possible interpretation.
Writer and director Emmanuel Naccache says he was intrigues by the global attention the assassination attracted and the many questions it raised.
EMMANUEL NACCACHE, JAVELIN DIRECTOR: What really attracted me to the story is that within five minutes one morning the whole world accepted one truth, one story, which is probably true, or maybe true I don't know.
FLOWER: That generally accepted story is that a group of disguised Israeli agents traveling on stolen passports were behind the plot. So then the government in Israel has to this day denied.
It was in a hotel hallway that Dubai police say agents of the Mossad entered the room of the Hamas leader, injected him with a muscle relaxant and then proceeded to suffocate him.
Closed-circuit cameras infamously capture the last known movements of Mapu (ph) and those of his assassins and led to global criticism of the Israeli government.
In the movie, model turned actress Bar Refaeli plays a femme fatale impersonating a secret agent. She acknowledges the sensitivity of the subject matter, but works hard to avoid the politics.
BAR REFAELI, JAVELIN ACTRESS: I don't want people to think that I'm for or against. It doesn't really matter what I think. I'm just playing a role as an actress in a movie that's based on a very interesting story.
FLOWER: An interesting story that until now remains a mystery. Despite a global search, none of the suspects Dubai police identified as Mossad agents have been taken into custody. And few are holding their breath for a breakthrough in the case.
Kevin Flower, CNN, Israel.
LU STOUT: Interesting interpretation of a news event.
Now here in Asia, especially in Southeast Asia, rain is in the forecast. Mari Ramos joins us with that and more -- Mari.
MARI RAMOS, CNN WEATHER CORRESPONDENT: Hey, Kristie. Yeah, you know, rain in the forecast is a good thing, because we need it. We've been talking about drought just a couple of weeks ago across much of Southeast Asia. Remember the comparisons that we made in Thailand and particular about how much water they had a few months ago and how dry things were now.
Well, things are starting to change. The start of the rainy season has come just in time across much of Southeast Asia. In some cases, though, it's a bit too much of a good thing.
These are great iReport pictures that we've gotten in from Jim Heston in Cambodia. And you can see a lot of rain -- two days of rain already in a row, the first of the season. Yes, it causes problems as you can see here with roadways that are covered in water even right at the city center. In some cases people wading in water up to their waste, it appears.
Now a lot of this has to do because the rain comes down so quickly. And when that happens it floods very quickly. You can see this line extending all the way from Thailand all the way down here, even coming into parts of southern Vietnam even. So we're starting to see a lot more of this. It's becoming more widespread and definitely the kind of thing that we need.
Across Thailand, most of the rain has happened across this eastern side, still across the west and then back over toward Myanmar. We're still seeing only sporadic rain showers. And they really need the rain across these areas as well. Many wildfires still burning across that region.
The other thing that's happened is with the rain we start to see the cooler temperatures. Yeah, there's a lot of humidity, but when you don't get to those 40 degrees like we had earlier this month in places like Hanoi it really begins to feel a lot better.
So there's the forecast for rain yet again. The temperatures like I said slightly cooler than they had been before, but still 29 in Bangkok, 29 in Hong Kong, and a bit on the warm side.
Let's also talk about some of the heat that we've had across areas to the north. Just in the last hour or two, Beijing was still clocking in at 28 degrees. As the night falls, we'll start to see temperatures slightly cooler. We're going to see a little bit of a change happening here as we have another weather system that's coming along.
The other thing is, we're starting to see more thunderstorms form across interior parts of China. A lot of this will start pulling away here. And so we'll start to see a little bit of a cool down from that recent heat that we've had over these areas, a lot more rain and thunderstorms starting to pull in. The cloud cover really does help bring down the temperature. Of course you guys know that.
So expect more of this across east Asia over the next couple of days.
Let's go ahead and check out your city by city forecast.
Kristie, this is a story that's quite fascinating. And we've been talking about it already for a couple of weeks here at CNN world weather. I told you about it earlier as well. But we have an update on the mystery of the dead birds and the dead dolphins across parts of -- off the coast of Peru. This is very significant.
We have some picture to show you first of all of that region. And you can see a lot of the animals still here. This is in Chiclayo. And there's usually thousands of these birds there. There are still a few that are flying around as you can see, but on the bottom there's a lot of -- on the coast I should say there have been a lot of dead birds, some almost fly in here and they never leave because in some cases they appear to be starving.
Come back over to the weather map. Let me show you the areas that we're talking about. It's all this north coast of Peru. And there's a lot of theories as to why this is happening. In one occasion they counted over 1,200 dead pelicans along the coast here, the north coast of Peru. El Commercial (ph) one of the newspapers in Peru reported another sighting of dead birds farther to the south. So this is getting a bit more widespread.
The causes could be, you know, anybody's guess at this point. A lot of that has to do -- could have to do with the food supply that's affecting the birds. Some of these animals, authorities in Perus are saying, appear to have starved to death so which is very significant. And that made us look at the water, which is where they're food source comes from.
Now what you're looking here is at the water temperature. This is the area of Peru ins question. And it's pretty significant, because the sea surface temperature is showing us some pretty significant changes. This is back in March. And I want you to see the difference that happens within a month. Take a look at this.
There you go. And this is significant. So you're looking at three to four degrees changes in the water temperature within one month. This could be one of the reasons these birds or these dolphins may not have enough to eat. This is a very sensitive ecosystem, very cold current, the Homboldt current comes through here. And if they don't have enough to eat, they're going to starve en masse as we've seen across some of these areas.
And this is one of the theories. And I think something that they're going to be looking at very, very closely as they continue to follow the mystery of the thousands of pelicans that have perished in this area.
Back to you.
LU STOUT: Incredible. So a three degree temperature difference could be the culprit. Mari Ramos there, thank you very much indeed for that.
And we are also trying to figure out the answer to this question. And we may have the answer. What really killed the dinosaurs? So some say the ice age. Others blame a rogue asteroid. But a new theory put forth by British scientists in the journal called Current Biology says the dinosaurs did themselves in.
Now most dinosaurs, they were herbivores, especially the larger ones, that means like modern-day cows their digestive systems emitted methane gas and a lot it, enough perhaps to significantly affect the climate, making it too hot for the cold blooded creatures to survive. Well, that's the new theory at least.
Now you know how it goes, you're late for work. You're in a bit of a jam. And just as you think you're making progress an eight foot tall ostrich starts weaving through the traffic. Now this is the scene in the southern Saudi Arabian town of Aba (ph) when the leggy specimen got itself in a rush hour flap causing drivers to do the same. There's speculation that the bird escaped from a nearby farm and it could still be on the run. Given that it's traveling more than 50 kilometers an hour we can only speculate that our feathered fugitive could be evading a speeding ticket.
And that is NEWS STREAM, but the news continues at CNN. "WORLD BUSINESS TODAY" is next.