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Double Agent Responsible For Foiling Al Qaeda Bomb Plot; Greek Syriza Party Has Three Days to Form Government; Russian Aircraft Disappears over Indonesia; Yahoo! CEO Scott Thompson Fabricated Computer Science Degree
Aired May 9, 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.
A Russian made jet disappears over Indonesia. We're following this developing story.
Plus, Kofi Annan's warning. Special envoy to Syria says his faltering peace plan is the last chance to avoid all-out civil war.
And going to great lengths to get ready for a test. What are these students in China doing?
Now this time yesterday U.S. officials were celebrating their success in foiling an al Qaeda bomb plot. And now celebration has turned to indignation after the secret to that success was leaked. A source familiar with the operation tells CNN that a double agent infiltrated the terror group and volunteered as a suicide bomber. Neither his origins nor his identity has been revealed.
Now the source tells CNN the the agent managed to thwart al Qaeda's attempt to blow up a U.S. bound plane, handing both the bomb and vital insider information to the CIA. He was also said to be instrumental in guiding Sunday's U.S. drone strike in Yemen which killed a senior al Qaeda operative.
Nic Robertson joins us now live from London with these latest revelations. And Nic, just tell us more about the double agent and how this operation took place.
NIC ROBERTSON, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, still much of it remains incredibly murky. What we do know is that this agent was inside the cell that was working on this bomb plot and that he was going to, you know, be part of that mission. And because he was working and being handled by Saudi intelligence officials who were working in conjunction with the CIA the -- he was able to sort of take the bomb and pass it off to them.
Quite how and when he was placed in the al Qaeda cell is unclear. His nationality is unclear. Where he may be right now is unclear. But what we know about how this works is that Saudi Arabia, because al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula includes a lot of recruits from Saudi Arabia, Saudi Arabia has the opportunity and has used the opportunity to develop sources inside al Qaeda, Saudis who are willing to work with Saudi intelligence officials. And that's really the thrust of what's happened here.
What is troublesome by U.S. government officials is that the information is out and this perhaps then closes down other avenues for further intelligence gathering, perhaps this operation or other people who may still be in place. That's what will be behind this concern, Kristie.
LU STOUT: And that's why they are condemning this leak.
Now meanwhile AQAP's bomb maker remains at-large. Where is al-Asiri? And why is he so difficult to apprehend?
ROBERSON: One of the reasons that Ibrahim al-Asiri is hard to apprehend is because he is hugely valued by al Qaeda. He is their top bomb maker. He is somebody that they will protect at very, very high costs which means that he's probably only has a small cadre of people around him, certainly they will not be allowing strangers to meet with him or know where he is.
And the other thing that makes this tough is that Yemen is a very unstable country. There are many difficult alliances in that country that around him and -- you know his precise whereabouts may have been kept secret from this very cell that was penetrated and providing information to Saudi intelligence and the CIA.
But al Qaeda in Yemen has control, effective control over three provinces over last summer. The government there is battling to try and take back control of some of those areas. So the government doesn't really have influence. And really in a situation like that you are down to agents who just sort of have to leave out there who may not be able to communicate with you in a very, very timely fashion. So all of these things make it hard to catch Ibrahim al-Asiri.
LU STOUT: And how worried should we be, how alarmed should be be that AQAP has taken control of so many parts of Yemen, al-Asiri is at large. Their bomb making techniques are getting more sophisticated. Nic, what is the threat level here?
ROBERTSON: Well, we know that Ibrahim al-Asiri has trained up to five, we are told, up to five other bomb makers. And that's a concern. The concern is that with this territory and al Qaeda just last week boasted about their laboratories, about their access to chemicals to make bombs in Yemen, the concern is that they have the space.
How concerned should we be? Intelligence officials say it is not impossible that al Qaeda will develop some kind of bomb that will be able to get through airport security. So we -- as a public, you know, the advice from counterterrorism officials is that we need to be vigilant. What they rely on is intelligence assets and sources to feed them and provide them information. And that's why they cannot be sure that they're going to get tips every time they need tips.
So I don't think people need to be hugely afraid. But what we need to be as a general population is aware that al Qaeda's intent remains the same. And if they can perpetrate and get through with a plot, then that's what they will do.
LU STOUT: We must remain aware. Nic Robertson on the story. Thank you so much for that, Nic.
Now news of the double agent's role in this operation could have repercussions for U.S. security going forward. The chairman of the U.S. House Homeland Security Committee Peter King made his frustration clear to CNN earlier.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
REP. PETER KING, (R) NEW YORK: It's really to me unfortunate that this has gotten out, because this could really interfere with operations overseas. And I'm sorry to do this, I really cannot comment on any of those details. I know it's out there. I know it's been reported. And I also was at a briefing this afternoon with top officials and there's a really great concern that this got out.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
LU STOUT: Now whether or not the leaked information impacts the tactics of terrorists, one thing is certain the minds of U.S. officials there are other would-be bombers out there who are determined to succeed.
Barbara Starr joins us now live from the Pentagon. And Barbara, the U.S. is on alert for other bomb plots. Tell us more.
BARBARA STARR, CNN PENTAGON CORRESPONDENT: Well, you know, Kristie a lot of people say this: why do government officials indicate that they would be looking to see if there's other would-be bombers out there. The reason is al Qaeda's traditional tactics in these kinds of situations are that they don't just make one bomb with one bomb maker. As we've heard from Nic, al-Asiri has trained several other people to make these types of weapons. And they typically make multiple bombs. The hallmark of an al Qaeda attack is multiple simultaneous attack.
So there's every reason to think that the intelligence community know would be looking to see what else is out there, because of course what concerns them the most is what they don't know -- Kristie.
LU STOUT: And what is the Pentagon doing? What is the U.S. military effort against al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula look like?
STARR: Well, it has been quite active in recent months. What we do know and have confirmed is that the administration has stepped up the type of drone attacks or aircraft attacks against al Qaeda in Yemen. The White House approved new measures that would allow these attacks to take place even if they don't know exactly the name and identity of those they're attacking if they have reason to believe, and good reason to believe, that these targets on the ground are al Qaeda targets, they can go ahead and strike them either with drones or manned aircraft over Yemen. So that's one piece of it, stepping up those attacks.
But what we also know is that now with a new government in place in Yemen with an effort to achieve some political stability in that very troubled country, U.S. military trainers are back in. The Pentagon has said very quietly that yes several dozen U.S. military trainers are back in Yemen, getting to work again, trying to train the many military in counterterrorism and other assault techniques -- Kristie.
LU STOUT: And we also know that U.S. drone strike that took place in Yemen on Sunday. Barbara Starr, we'll leave it at that, but thank you very much indeed for the update. Barbara Starr joining us live from the Pentagon.
Now coming up next here on NEWS STREAM, a disturbing story out of Afghanistan. A teenage girl tells CNN how she was subjected to torture allegedly by her own in-laws.
And the scramble for Greece's next government. Pressure is on the leader of the Syriza party to come up with a solution.
And slow and steady, a woman who was told she would never walk again finishes the London marathon. And we're with her at the finish line.
LU STOUT: Welcome back.
Now a Russian plane carrying 44 passengers has gone missing during a demonstration flight over Indonesia. Now a government spokes person says the plane was meant to land in Jakarta. And the aircraft is one of Russia's newest civilian airliners.
Now Phil Black joins me now live from Moscow for an update. And Phil, any more details on this missing flight?
PHIL BLACK, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Not a great deal, Kristie, I'm afraid. This aircraft that you mentioned, it is a new passenger aircraft, a Sukhoi Superjet 100. Most of the details that we have are coming from Indonesian and Russian media reports. And as you say it was on a demonstration flight out of Jakarta's Hatta airport. About 44 people on board. It was only supposed to be in the air 30 minutes, but it went off radar and there's been no radio contact and it has not returned to that airport.
We understand it conducted a number of two other demonstration flights that day. And in fact it is on a demonstration tour of the region trying to drum up business. This is a new jet, a new passenger aircraft. It seats about 100 people or so. And it has been considered a new hope for Russia's civil aviation industry. It is designed and assembled here, but it is also very much an international project in cooperation with an Italian company, a French company, Boeing, the U.S. company was a consultant on various parts and systems have been made around the world. And delivery to early customers in Russia and overseas was due to start this year.
This is obviously not good publicity for a new project like this. The key question, of course, what happened. Well first they have to find it or what's left of it. And the Indonesian authorities are still look, Kristie.
LU STOUT: Can you tell us more about the safety record of this new civilian airline Sukhoi? And what is the general safety record for Russian civilian planes/
BLACK: Well, recent -- or new Russian civilian aircraft such as this one have relatively good, strong safety records. But looking back at Russia in particular, its air space is considered to be among if not the most dangerous in the world, but that's largely because of much older Soviet era aircraft that are still being flown.
In this case, this was a brand new plane, the latest technology, in consultation with the most advanced producers of aviation systems and so forth around the world. And there was a great deal of hope, a great deal of optimism surrounding this project. And that obviously I'm going to tell you, a bit of a (inaudible) now -- Kristie.
LU STOUT: All right. Phil Black live on this story, ever developing for us. Thank you very much for that, Phil.
And now we turn to Afghanistan and the plight of the 14-year-old girl there caused international outrage when she was found tortured allegedly at the hands of her in-laws. The young woman is now speaking out.
Now CNN does not usually reveal the identities of rape victims, but this teenage girl wanted to share her story. And she told it to Nick Paton-Walsh.
NICK PATON-WALSH: Sahar Gul only plays with the girl doll and hates the male one. That, along with a terrible shyness is the most obvious trace of her unimaginable past. Married off age just 13 she says she was drugged by her mother-in-law then raped by her adult husband.
Her in-laws locked her in a basement, she says, burned her with a hot poker and pulled out her nails.
SAHAR GUL (through translator): They told me to go to the basement because there are some guests coming to the house. When I went there, they came in and tied my hands and feet and pulled me upwards from above. They brought very little food for me. While going to the bathroom, they used to beat me a lot. I was crying all this time.
When they put electric shocks on my feet, I felt like I was going to die at that moment. I screamed. And that's how our neighbors realized there was something happening. For one day and night I was unconscious, feeling dead.
PATON-WALSH: The neighbors alerted the authorities who found her like this in December after five months of torture. She's safe in a shelter now, but last week she trembled when she saw three of her five in-laws, her attackers, again. Now, they were in court. But she was again horrified, this time by the sentences for abuse the judge gave.
SAHAR GUL (through translator): 10 years is not enough. They should be given 50 years. They should be punished in the prison. They hurt my eyes and pulled out my nail and hair. And the same should be done to them. Whatever they did to me, the same should be done to them.
PATON-WALSH: It's not only daily that she has to think about the trauma she has endured. She is still technically married to her attacker and fears it may not be safe to carry on living in Afghanistan.
SAHAR GUL (through translator): I think the punishment given by the court to these people worries me. The government is trying its best to find my husband, committed by on the run. But if tomorrow he finds me, it's possible he could kill me. I want to go abroad. If I sit here, they will find me. I want to go to the school and study to become a doctor or a prosecutor so I can give punishment by myself to these sort of people.
PATON-WALSH: Her lawyer said she was abused because she didn't do house chores or bear children. But she's just one case and there are many abused Afghan women whose stories are never told. And still she feels she has no future in the country where she was born and then brutalized.
Nick Paton-Walsh, CNN, Kabul.
LU STOUT: Live from Hong Kong, you're back watching NEWS STREAM.
Now 16 days after the London marathon started, Claire Lomas crossed the finish line. It is a remarkable achievement for a woman who was told that she would never walk again. As you can see, Lomas was able to carry out the feat with the help of a bionic suit. And Becky Anderson joined her as she completed an incredible journey.
ANDERSON (voice-over): Claire Lomas is paralyzed from the waist down. Five years ago, a horse riding accident left her unable to walk. But today, with the help of a special bionic suit, she completed the toughest of physical challenges: a marathon.
CLAIRE LOMAS, PARALYZED MARATHON WALKER: I can't feel my legs. And even just standing and balancing is difficult. You have to trust your legs are there. When you can't feel them, it's like you're floating on nothing. It's a really strange feeling.
ANDERSON: Claire has walked two miles a day since the London marathon started.
ANDERSON (on camera): And you are less than a mile away.
LOMAS: Actually, I'm...
ANDERSON: How does it feel?
LOMAS: -- half a mile point was just back there, so we're getting very close. It feels pretty cool, actually.
ANDERSON: What have the biggest challenges been, Claire?
LOMAS: The pavement's been quite difficult. The slopes, the pots in the roads, all adds to it, whereas when you're in the clinic environment, you're on a wooden flat surface. So, all those take that bit more out of you. It's quite nice to be on a good bit to finish.
ANDERSON: As soon as you get towards Buckingham Palace the pavement smoothed out --
LOMAS: Yes, exactly.
ANDERSON: -- you'll notice.
LOMAS: Yes. No, exactly.
ANDERSON: What would you say to people who will be celebrating your triumph with you today? What will you say?
LOMAS: I'd say, "Get a drink."
ANDERSON: You've had a lot of support along the way, haven't you?
LOMAS: Amazing, yes. It's incredible.
ANDERSON: Claire Lomas, crossing the finishing line 16 days after she started the London Marathon. She won't be receiving an official medal. The organizers here say you have to start and finish the course on the same day.
But the Pearly King and Queens of London are here to greet her, as are hundreds of people here in Hyde Park. I guess she'll just want a good cup of tea. Becky Anderson, CNN, London.
LU STOUT: As you heard Becky say race organizers did not give Lomas a medal, but she got one anyway as you can see. In fact, many people donated their medals to her. Olympic rowing champ Matthew Pinsent organized the effort to recognize Lomas' achievement.
Now it's becoming a common trend in mobile gaming. You can download a game for free, but to keep playing or to get better items you have to pay. And the charges can add up fast.
Now Kyung Lah tells us how Japan's government is cracking down on those games.
KYUNG LAH, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: In Tokyo's mobile phone world it's not conversation that Akinori Sato (ph) loves, it's the games on the social networks.
"When I won the rare character in my game," he says, "I was so happy."
But to keep winning the rare prize, which is the game's equivalent of a royal flush he had to spend more money.
"I know what I was doing," he says, "but I couldn't stop."
Racking up a bill of $120 a month.
Sato's games are produced by a hip young tech company called GREE, a company built on Japan's love of social network games, led by a 35-year-old CEO who is bucking the stodgy model of corporate Japan. DNA is another major mobile company who produces similar video games where you pay to play. Both companies are now targets of Japan's government who say their game charges may be illegal.
HIROHIKO FUKUSHIMA, SECRETARY GENERAL, CONSUMER AFFAIRS AGENCY (through translator): There are cases where children got billed hundreds of thousands of yen in an effort to get these rare cards. We need regulations in order to avoid this.
LAH: That warning sent GREE and DNA's stock tumbling. Now a surprise to Macquarie Capital Securities David Gibson who warned a month ago that the social gaming companies were highly over valued and regulation was inevitable.
DAVID GIBSON, MACQUARIE CAPITAL SECURITIES: Even though regulation might be small what it does is effectively can I say prick the bubble of games consumption in Japan. I think they're going to rise and improve mobile games, but they're not going to have the success internationally that otherwise would hope -- they want to achieve.
LAH: GREE CEO lost approximately $700 million in stock value over two days this week as word of possible regulations hit. Yoshikazu Tanaka traded in his usual jeans and hoodie for a suit and tie as he faced investors. And promised his company is ready to listen to any opinions from the authorities.
Akinori Sato (ph) isn't playing anymore.
Why did you stop paying into this game?
"My parents got mad at me," he says, "when they got the bill."
The government says it could decide whether companies like GREE and DNA are subject to regulations as early as next week. Meanwhile, both companies released earnings this week and posted record profits.
Kyung Lah, CNN, Tokyo.
LU STOUT: Now up next here on NEWS STREAM, Vladimir Putin takes center stage as Russia's president. We'll have a live report on victory day celebrations in Red Square.
Plus, is it mission impossible? This man has just two days to form Greece's next government. And we'll let you in on Alexis Tsipras' plan 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 a major intelligence investigation may be held in the U.S. after information about an apparent double agent was leaked to reporters. The source tells CNN the double agent worked for Saudi intelligence and infiltrated al Qaeda in Yemen thwarting a plot to blow up a U.S. bound airliner.
Now these activists are bringing flowers to a Thai jail where an elderly man known as Uncle SMS is dying. The 62-year-old was serving a 20 year sentence after being convicted of sending text messages disrespecting the royal family. He denied the charges. Now Thailand's lese-majesty laws have been criticized as among the harshest in the world.
Now a spokeswoman says former Ukrainian prime minister Yulia Tymoshenko has been taken to a hospital in Kharkiv after agreeing to end a nearly three week old hunger strike. The opposition leader is serving a seven year prison sentence after she was convicted of abusing her authority. She recently alleged she had been beaten in jail. Ukrainian authorities deny Tymoshenko is being mistreated.
Now Syrian opposition activists say at least three people have died in early morning violence in Homs. That comes on top of 23 deaths reported across Syria on Tuesday. Now it has been nearly a month since a UN brokered ceasefire was implemented, but the violence is still raging. Now U.S. special envoy Kofi Annan is worried that if nothing changes, Syria will plunge into civil war.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
KOFI ANNAN, UN SPECIAL ENVOY: The UN supervision mission is possibly the only remaining chance to stabilize the country.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
LU STOUT: Now also today a bomb exploded in Daraa near a convoy carrying UN observers, but they were not hurt. But several Syrian security personnel were injury. Now Arwa Damon has been monitoring the situation from Beirut. She joins us now. And Arwa, is this warning from Kofi Annan making any difference on the ground in Syria?
ARWA DAMON, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: And that convoy, Kristie, was carrying the head of the UN observer mission who following the attack said that this was an example of what the Syrian people were suffering on a daily basis and that all forms of violence absolutely must stop.
Now the (inaudible) opposition activist network came out and said that, yes, there was an attack that took place by members of the Free Syrian Army in the city of Daraa. They said that they targeted a Syrian government vehicle and blew it up wounding a number of Syrian soldiers, but they're claiming that there were no UN personnel and vehicles in the vicinity when that attack did in fact take place.
Either way it is quite clear that violence is still continuing on a fairly regular basis on the ground in Syria despite the UN mission's ongoing presence there. We are expecting the numbers to reach 100 by the end of the week, 300 by the end of the month.
But at this stage the outlook for Syria is incredibly bleak. Kofi Annan himself issuing that dire, though not entirely surprising warning, saying that this effort by the UN was pretty much the last chance for any sort of resolution for Syria. The country does greatly risk sliding towards a full scale civil war. Mr. Annan saying quite simply, quote, we cannot allow that to happen. But of course the ever elusive issue remains how is the international community going to prevent that outcome, because at this stage, Kristie, there is no plan B if this so-called Kofi Annan peace plan does in fact fail.
LU STOUT: Arwa Damon on the story for us. Thank you very much indeed, Arwa.
Now three days after their parliamentary election, Greece remains without a government. Now no party received a clear majority and there's been a scramble to create a coalition government. Now the first place finisher, the center-right New Democracy here with 108 seats gave up trying to form a government on Monday.
And now the second place finisher, the leftist Syriza with 52 seats has been meeting with other parties in hopes of working something out.
Now the leader of Syriza, Alexis Tsipras says that if he becomes prime minister he would scrap austerity measures.
Now Jim Boulden joins us now with all this means. And Jim, we have the scramble to form a government underway. Can it be done?
JIM BOULDEN, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, it's unlikely that Syriza can form a left government. There just simply isn't enough seats if you were to put all the left parties, except for the far left, into it. That's why he's speaking with New Democracy this afternoon in Greece and talking to Pasok.
But of course since he says he would scrap the austerity packages, it's hard to see how New Democracy or Pasok would agree to that, because they've already signed up to it in a legally binding agreement with the European Union.
So for the last 24 hours or so a lot of people have been talking about the likelihood of a second election probably June 7. And as of now, yes, these talks will be going on in Athens unless there is a big shock that one of these parties backs down and decides to join in this coalition. You can see this scenario eventually getting to the fact where they would need to be a second election, Kristie.
LU STOUT: We're looking at the possibility of a second election, a perilous power vacuum. How strong now is the call in Greece and across Europe for the so-called Grexit (ph) for Greece to leave the EuroZone?
BOULDEN: Well, more and more people have been talking about it, obviously, since this election. And you've had some of the big banks, in fact, say that it's more than 50 percent chance that eventually Greece would leave the euro. No one is saying anything about that now or in the next few weeks.
The bottom line is you have a lot of steps to get to until that were to happen. And of course there is no legal way to leave the euro, so there would have to be some massive changes on the part of Brussels and in fact on course with Germany. So the issue of them leaving is hanging over everything and that's why you saw a little bit of a wobble in the euro yesterday, though to be fair, the markets haven't reacted that much outside of Greece to what's happening in Greece, just a bit of wobbling.
The theory is that, you know, the markets go so used to Greece being a problem that if we were to get to that stage of them leaving the euro, would that be better for the euro, that's what some people are speculating. But if it were an untidy and a mess that Greece decided that it was just going to stop agreeing to the austerity and they simply ran out of money at the end of June, that's the worst case scenario, because then you're talking about Greece going bankrupt a la Argentina.
LU STOUT: And given the speculation that is out there for Greece to be leaving the EuroZone. Are preparations being made if that happens if Greece decides that it's better off on its own with its own currency?
BOULDEN: Yeah. You would like to talk to some of the Brussels people to see whether they are doing anything quietly behind the scenes. I've never had any official tell me on or off the record frankly that they are planning or even have a contingency of Greece leaving the euro.
It's a very complicated process. I mean, what we kept hearing when we were in Athens is that most people said is they want to stay in the euro. Most of these parties, all of the major parties in Greece have fact have said they want to stay in the EU and stay within the euro. It's a popular currency in Greece, because this is the currency many people only know if they're sort of under the age of 20 for instance.
To leave it you're talking about recalibrating everything from the phone booths all the way down to taxis, you're talking about people losing maybe 80 percent of the value of their savings. You're talking about banks not being able to do business. It is a hugely dangerous step if it were to get to that if it wasn't planned orderly.
And unless somebody in Brussels tells us that they are now making contingency plans to do that, then we're talking about something that would be down the road. Some of the U.S. banks say that maybe by the end of this year there would be an orderly exit for Greece.
LU STOUT: Yeah. Thanks for the context there. Such speculation should not be taken lightly.
Jim Boulden joining us live from CNN London. Thank you.
Now the backlash against austerity is not limited to Greece, it is also alive and well in other countries in Europe. Now Frederik Pleitgen looks at how the growing divide could threaten the growing core of the European Union.
FRED PLEITGEN, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: The Francois Hollande road to victory in France on an anti-austerity platform, preaching growth instead of staunch cuts, Germany is standing fast. Even with a new government in Paris, says German Chancellor Merkel, Europe's fiscal discipline pact is not up for negotiation.
ANGELA MERKEL, GERMAN CHANCELLOR (through translator): It is a basic approach in Europe that we do not change everything we have decided upon already after election whether in big or small countries. If that was the case, then we could not work in Europe.
PLEITGEN: The spat, a possible sign, experts say, of turbulent times ahead for the EU.
ALMUT MOELLER, GERMAN COUNCIL OF FOREIGN RELATIONS: We certainly have an agreement between Berlin and other capitals in the European Union. And this clearly will be battled out to an extent between Paris and Berlin now whether there's a new president in place.
PLEITGEN: But some believe the whole idea of European integration is being called into question. The so-called European Consensus, a consensus that was born in the post-World War II ear as Europe began trying to bury the divisions and distrust that embroiled the continent for centuries. The only answer, leaders felt, was integration.
Over the decades, this model evolved into today's European Union with the euro a nearly universal currency serving as the standard of unity. But with the currency in trouble and countries like Greece having to implement massive cuts in government services and programs to stay in the monetary zone there is popular backlash against the EU.
MOELLER: But of course we also see a huge dissatisfaction in countries like in Greece and France and probably other countries as well -- Spain will be amongst them -- where people, citizens say, well, this is not the social Europe that we wanted.
PLEITGEN: Add to that what some experts call a perceived democracy deficit in the EU. In Greece, Lucas Papadamos was made prime minister last year without a popular vote. The same happened in Italy, where Mario Monti took over from Silvio Berlusconi.
Although some analysts warn of reading too much into these cases.
CHARLES GRANT, CENTER FOR EUROPEAN REFORM: There is not a democratic deficit in Europe as far as I can see, because all power is accountable.
PLEITGEN: With so many EU countries in transition, the shape of European integration is up for debate. How this will affect the shape of the EU will depend in large part on the answers leaders find to the current crisis.
Fred Pleitgen, CNN, Berlin.
LU STOUT: Now how far would you go to secure a place at the college of your dreams? We'll tell you why Chinese students are getting an extreme form of liquid refreshment designed to keep their eyes and their options open.
LU STOUT: Live from Hong Kong, you're back watching NEWS STREAM.
Now it was a spectacular display and return to the helm. Now two days after he was sworn in as Russia's president, Vladimir Putin delivered a rousing speech to a crowd of thousands to mark victory day.
The anniversary of the defeat of Nazi Germany during World War II, it included a traditional parade featuring more than 14,000 troops and a military display of tanks and missile launchers. Now it is the first national celebration since Putin returned to the Kremlin on Monday. He held the post before Dimtry Medvedev until term limits forced him to step down in 2008. And a job swap scheme of sorts, Medvedev has replaced Putin as prime minister.
And Phil Black is Moscow. He joins us now live. And Phil, first, let's talk about victory day. It's a historic event for Russia. What happened.
PHIL BLACK, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: It is always a spectacular annual marking of Russia's victory over Nazi Germany, an event that still has great historical resonance here in this country. And so every year we see an event like that today with all of those troops, as you mentioned, and convoys of military hardware rolling across Red Square. It's a very impressive setting. And watching on this year as we've mentioned is Vladimir Putin just two days after he returned to the presidency.
Increasing Russia's military might is something that Putin is very much committed to doing. During a recent election campaign he said that he will spend over the next 10 years more than $760 billion investing and reforming Russia's military. It is a huge sum of money, but Putin says it is necessary because of years of under investment.
Today, during Putin's remarks, he largely focused on the anniversary of the Second World War. The event itself, the triumph and the glory as he described it, the sorrow that it has brought to Russia.
But he also made a few comments that resonate in a more current and recent way. He said that he believes that a conflict like that could be avoided in the future if all nations respect international law and respect the sovereignty of independent nations. That is relevant today because Vladimir Putin believes very strongly that is not what happened during the recent Libyan conflict. And he also believes that other nations are not respecting international law or sovereignty in the way that they want to deal with the current crisis in Syria, Kristie.
LU STOUT: So Putin today marking the past while also marking or commenting on Russia's position today.
Now Putin is now president yet again. Medvedev has been installed as prime mininster. How is this job swap going down with the people of Russia?
BLACK: Well, Dmitry Medvedev was approved to be the new prime minister yesterday by the Duma, Russia's parliament. President Putin put forward Medvedev's candidacy for that position. It was one of the first things that he did upon reassuming the presidency. It was no surprise. He said that he would do so back when this job swap was first announced.
A little surprising, I think, and it's being interpreted as being quite disappointing for Vladimir Putin was the fact that Medvedev did not pass this approval in the parliament quite as easily as he had hoped. Around a third of the members of that parliament voted against his candidacy.
So he still won quite comfortably, because Putin's United Russia and other allied parties hold a clear majority in that body, but not as clear as we understand President Putin would have liked. And perhaps a sign that amid all the opposition, the vocal opposition that is has been taking place here on the streets, a number of them are organized what they call a systemic opposition parties, are perhaps getting a little braver in their willingness to stand up to the Kremlin and do just what -- and not necessarily do just what President Putin may wish -- Kristie.
LU STOUT: All right. Phil Black, live for us again from Moscow. Thank you very much for that Phil.
Now parts of China and Thailand are seeing some heavy rainfall. And meteorologist Tom Sater, he's at the world weather center with more on that -- Tom.
TOM SATER, CNN WEATHER CORRESPONDENT: Yeah, that's right, Kristie.
And there is a lot of rainfall. And this is the time of year, you know, we make seasonal transitions and that temperature pendulum really starts swinging in the other direction.
Here's a large picture. We're going to get into Thailand in just a moment, and China as well.
I do want to start with Japan here. We had a system that continues to move through. Westward Japan clearing up nicely. Tokyo is still shrouded in cloud cover with a chance of a passing shower. And that's over the damage site, which by the way the tornado that occurred on Sunday at 1:00 pm in the afternoon was registered as an F2 on a scale of zero to F5. And a lot of damage.
So it goes to show us, we don't need the F3s, F4s, F5s that get that kind of death rate too with one fatality there. Just terrible circumstance.
But now we're watching the threat for rainfall in parts of China. We have blue alerts here. We'll focus on that in a moment as well.
Here's an influx of moisture. This is an areas where back in November we talked about the worst flooding in 50 years. Northern portions of Thailand into Laos, Cambodia had their fare of issues. And then it was just a week or two ago we had the pictures of extreme drought. They need the rainfall.
Well, that inflow of moisture here now just has been feeding day after day these late day storms. And even at this hour to see the potency and the number of these thunderstorms fire up really tells us that we're going to have more issues like this.
This is a picture, of course, out of Cambodia. Now reasonably -- it's reasonable to assume, I should say, that there are areas, sure, that do flood before other spots, poor drainage areas, but this much water sometimes can even occur by a single thunderstorm.
We had numerous reports the terrible flooding just a little bit further to the north in China -- Hebei (ph) province -- well now that funnel system as it drapes southward, is doing this again in the last 24 hours. Notice where our greened out here. This is a 24 hour period. Well, the current radar showing the explosion of thunderstorms, the convective outlook, is now sliding even further to the south.
So this is an area of concern. Gale winds. We're looking at the possibility of again torrential downpours. Flooding could be a problem. There could be some damaging winds. But as it slides a little bit further to the south we're still trying to find out where that cold air mass is. Typically we have a frontal system with a difference in colder air and warmer air. Well, we've got two hot areas.
Beijing, your average high is 25 degrees. You've been up to around 31, 32. You're expecting 33. Hong Kong, you've seen it as well at your end of the extreme heat, look about 31 later on Thursday.
But Tokyo 19. There's the warmth. Look at that, Beijing, 33 degrees that far to the north.
I want to head well to the south, about 400 kilometers north, northwest of Darwin, Australia on the top end here. Joint Typhoon Warning Center saying there's a high risk that this environment could produce a significant cyclone. The Joint Typhoon Warning Center wants to take that band and move it northward. Our computer models here at the CNN World Weather Center take it more in a westerly fashion, which makes sense, Kristie, because it's been drifting a little to the southwest. But that would put it right around East Timor and heavy amounts of rainfall could be in excess of 100 to 250 millimeters.
So again, we're hitting another tropical season in some areas, but almost too much rain and too much heat where you are. I'm sure you could use a break.
LU STOUT: Yeah, I would love that. A bit of air conditioning, right?
Tom Sater joining us live. Thank you.
Now it is that time of year where millions of students around the world gear for exams that could help determine their academic future. And let's face it, most of us have overdosed on coffee to keep us awake on all- nighters, but in the famously competitive classrooms of China things have gone one step further.
Now these pictures, they were captured in Xiaogan City in Hubei province. And reports say that high school students were hooked up to IV drips supplying them with amino acids in an effort to boost their energy levels. They are preparing for the so-called Gaokao, the National College Entrance Exam.
And in case you're wondering pushy parents were not to blame for their stimulated study. According to reports, a school administrator says amino acids are actually subsidized by the state.
Now if you have ever embellished your resume, you can only hope that your boss doesn't find out. But what if you are the boss and you're heading up one of the biggest internet companies with what is said to be a fabricated computer science degree. We'll have all the details on the latest to do at Yahoo! in just a moment.
LU STOUT: Welcome back.
Now it's probably one search too many for the company that made its name in the field. Yahoo! is in trouble again after one shareholder group found fault with CEO Scott Thompson's resume. Now Thompson claimed to have a joint degree in accounting and computer science, that turned out to be computer science fiction as the major wasn't even offered by his college when he graduated.
And the woman responsible for hiring Thompson, Yahoo! director Patti Hart is stepping down from the board. But the CEO is holding on as Dan Simon reports.
DAN SIMON, CNN CORRESPONDENT: One of his first big moves as Yahoo! CEO, Scott Thompson eliminated 2,000 jobs, part of an effort to fix the ailing company. Now his own job appears to be at risk just four months after replacing his previously embattled CEO Carol Barts.
It all began with this, a reference to a college degree in accounting and computer science on his official bio. The problem is, Thompson only earned a degree in accounting. Yahoo! called it an inadvertent error. But was it?
Thompson's previous online biography, when he was president of PayPal, the eBay subsidiary, also listed the same false degree. And then there was an interview Thompson gave back in 2009 when he was asked by the host of a technology podcast about his background.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Your Bachelor's degree is in accounting and computer science. Now from both of those, I mean, that is pretty obvious that's PayPal. What are the most important things you learned.
SCOTT THOMPSON, YAHOO! CEO: Yeah. You know, I think -- and I mention this to young kids when I'm on campus, and my son who I was just talking about at Santa Clara, what I'm happiest about in my background is if you work in technology you're trained to solve problems.
SIMON: What's noteworthy, Thompson never corrected the host.
All of this probably would not have come to light if it hadn't have been for this man: Daniel Loeb, the CEO of the New York hedge fund Third Point, which has a large stake in Yahoo! Loeb has a history of launching proxy fights with companies. And Yahoo! appears to be the latest in his crosshairs.
DAVID SACKS, YAMMER CEO: The ironic thing is that nobody in Silicon Valley cares about your resume. You know, but a lot of the guys here, a lot of the founders here are college drop out. So no one really cares about your resume unless you fabricate it.
SIMON: David Sacks is an experienced Silicon Valley executive. Currently the CEO of the business social network Yammer. He says Yahoo! faces a more difficult long-term problem: an identity crisis that would be hard for any CEO to address.
SACKS: I think the fundamental problem with Yahoo! is that nobody knows what it is anymore. And so they missed searched. They missed social. What is it that holds that property together, is it simply browsing?
SIMON: That's exactly why investors like Loeb seemingly have no tolerance for more missteps. On Monday, Thompson sent out a letter to employees saying in part, "I want you to know how deeply I regret how this issue has affected the company and all of you. We have all been working very hard to move the company forward, that this has had the opposite effect. For that, I take full responsibility, and I want to apologize to you."
But absent was any direct reference to the false biography.
Not surprisingly the resume scandal has quickly become the dominant story in Silicon Valley. One senior Yahoo! executive who didn't want to be identified said Thompson has lost the confidence of many of his employees. And unless he fixes his credibility fast there's no way he can remain the CEO.
Dan Simon, CNN, San Francisco.
LU STOUT: Now Marvel's superhero team continues its domination at the box office. The Avengers has now crossed the $700 million mark worldwide and days after posting the biggest opening weekend of all time in the United States. Now Disney CEO Bob Iger spokes to CNN about the film's success.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
BOB IGER, CEO, DISNEY: When you invest that much money in a film of course there's a lot of risk involved. Fortunately, we have an interesting marketplace in that there's been a great expansion in the number of film screens worldwide, particularly in emerging markets -- China a great example of that. And so while it's always risky to spend this much money on a film, there are more opportunities to monetize it.
But it also says a lot about quality. This film is a film that was rated by moviegoers an A+, created a huge word of mouth buzz. People like the film, told other people and so on and so on. And that became a global phenomenon. And that's why we crossed $700 million in such a short time.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
LU STOUT: Bob Iger there.
Now the Avengers puts the super hero team in charge of defending our planet against alien invaders. So where was the military? Well, they decided to sit this one out.
You see, the U.S. military has a department dedicated to helping Hollywood. And that department is the reason you saw real military jets in the first Iron Man movie. They provided airmen to serve as experts for Transformers. They even let the makers of the futuristic Terminator: Salvation some modern-day military hardware.
But when it came to the Avengers, well, they had a problem. See, the Avengers, they work with the security organization called S.H.I.E.L.D. and you may recognize your agent on the right of the screen here. But the U.S. military couldn't figure out where the fictional organization fit into the chain of command.
Now Phil Straub of the Defense Department told Wired, quote, "to whom did S.H.I.E.L.D. Answer? Did we work for S.H.I.E.L.D?" In the end he said "it just got to the point where it didnt' make any sense."
And that is NEWS STREAM. But the news continues at CNN. World Business Today is next.