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Ryder Cup Begins Today; A Look Into The Thoughts Of A Taliban Suicide Bomber; Disgraced Politician Bo Xilai Expelled From Communist Party; Rebels Push To Remove Regime Forces From Aleppo, Syria; Louis Hamilton Leaves McClaren To Join Mercedes

Aired September 28, 2012 - 8:00   ET


KRISTIE LU STOUT, HOST: I'm Kristie Lu Stout in Hong Kong. And welcome to News Stream where news and technology meet. And we begin in Syria where some reports say fighting in the commercial capital of Aleppo is at unprecedented levels.

Also ahead, plane crash in Nepal, what brought down this aircraft killing all 19 on board?

Another development in one of China's biggest scandals. Disgraced politician Bo Xilai is expelled from the Communist Party.

Plus, one of the world's most popular sporting events gets underway. We'll bring you the latest from the Ryder Cup.

Under siege for two months now, Syria's largest city is facing a new wave of heavy fighting. Now Syrian rebels say that they have launched a decisive battle to try to drive government troops out of Aleppo. Now a spokesman for the opposition Free Syrian Army says thousands of rebel fighters are involved in the offensive. And this amateur video purports to show a rebel commander announcing the battle.

Now CNN cannot confirm its authenticity. Opposition forces poured into Aleppo weeks ago, but they have had a tough time making ground against the regime's superior firepower.

And as the battle for Aleppo intensifies, opposition activists say dozens of people have been killed in violence across Syria today. Let's bring in Mohammed Jamjoom. He's following developments in Syria from neighboring Beirut Lebanon.

Mohammed, reports are saying that the fighting in Aleppo is now at unprecedented levels. What's the latest you're hearing on the violence there and across Syria?

MOHAMMED JAMJOOM, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Kristie, the activists that we're speaking with are saying that the fighting has never been as fierce in Aleppo as it is now. They're saying that, you know, as of yesterday there's been this push by the Free Syrian Army to try to finally take Aleppo to make sure that they are firmly in control of Aleppo. They are trying to push out regime forces.

But the fact of the matter is, regime forces not only have superior firepower, they also still control the air. It is effectively a stalemate there. And because the Syrian regime has air power and they control the skies there, not much more can happen at this point.

Now what we're hearing is that there's fierce shelling going on throughout Aleppo. A lot of aerial bombardment going on as well. Syrian state television has been announcing that they've been killing large numbers of what they call armed terrorist groups in different parts of Aleppo. So a very, very violent day. Already at this hour, we're hearing at least 42 people killed just in Aleppo.

Now we're also hearing about clashes going on in Damascus. Many opposition activists saying that regime tanks have entered parts of Damascus and its suburbs and that there are fierce clashes going on in Damascus between the Syrian regime and the Free Syrian Army as well - Kristie.

LU STOUT: Yeah. And as the violence spikes, so does the refugee crisis.

The UNHCR now says 700,000 Syrians may flee the country by the end of this year. Mohammed, the crisis, it is escalating to an extreme degree.

JAMJOOM: That's right. And to give our viewers some perspective on this, you know in March the UNHCR had said they estimated that there would be around 100,000 Syrian refugees by the end of the year. Now they're saying that there should be around 700,000. That is a huge spike in numbers. They reached that number of 100,000 that they had estimated for the end of the year, they surpassed that in July. Now the UNHCR is asking for almost half a billion dollars in donations to try to aid these Syrian refugees that are flooding neighboring countries like Iraq and Turkey and Lebanon.

The situation is very dire. We've heard extremely disturbing reports of refugees living in filthy conditions with no good access to medical care, women, children, men in these encampments on borders with countries and also in other countries, the situation only getting worse and the UNHCR, you know, clearly stating that by asking for so much more money yesterday. And...

LU STOUT: OK, unfortunately we lost Mohammed Jamjoom there. That was our Mohammed Jamjoom reporting live from Beirut following the very latest in Syria.

Now later today the U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, she will host a friends of Syria meeting on the sidelines of the UN General Assembly debate in New York. And the group, it includes the U.S., France, Saudi Arabia, Turkey, and other countries. Now foreign ministers and senior diplomats from some of those nations are expected to attend along with some Syrian opposition members. And the talks are expected to focus on humanitarian and transition issues.

Now the Friends of Syria Meeting, it comes just one day after the UN warned that the number of Syrian refugees could rise to 700,000 by the end of the year. And one of those refugees tells CNN's Ivan Watson about his daily life now inside a packed refugee camp in Northern Syria.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: These people coming here from one month ago. And they wait here to the government, Turkish, to all of them to go inside Turkey, inside the camp.

No bathroom, no toilet.




UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Under the olive trees.

It's not healthy also. Everything here, it's not good for the persons, for the people.



UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Every day coming the new people, every day.

WATSON: And you see sick children, you see sick people?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Yes. Sick children.


WATSON: Fever.


WATSON: She has a fever.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Head too hot. Her body's hot.

WATSON: Is there a doctor? Is...

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: There is no doctor.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Old people - no need to use the water to wash to also to play.



LU STOUT: A very dire situation there.

You're watching News Stream. And still ahead, a small plane crashes in Nepal killing everyone on board. We'll have details on this accident ahead.

Also, a closer look at cellphone use. Could it be changing who we fundamentally are? We'll bring you the latest research.

And golf's 39th Ryder Cup gets underway. All that and more, stay with us.


LU STOUT: Welcome back.

Now disgraced Chinese Politician Bo Xilai has been dismissed from the Communist Party. Now the move was widely expected and it could pave the way for him to face criminal charges. Now remember he was stripped of his office back in March. And since then, his wife has been convicted of murder. And just this week his former right-hand man was sentenced to 15 years in prison for defection and other charges.

And now we're learning more about Bo's alleged violations of party discipline. Now according to state run Xinua, Bo is accused of abusing his power and accepting huge bribes. And the report also says that Bo had and maintained inappropriate sexual relationships with numerous women. And all of this has cast a shadow on China's once in a decade power transfer.

Now before this scandal, Bo had been tipped for a promotion. Now the party leadership is trying to restore order. And Xinua has just announced that the 18th Communist Party congress is set to start on November 8. And that is when Xi Jinping is expected to become China's next president, a post some once thought Bo could hold one day.

Now 19 people headed for the Everest region of Nepal have died in a plane crash. Now authorities say that their plane hit an eagle shortly after taking off from Katmandu. Now seven British, five Chinese, and seven Nepali citizens were on board. Now journalist Manesh Shrestha says it is possible a larger accident was averted.


MANESH SHRESTHA, JOURNALIST: The accident happened 20 minutes from a squatter settlement on a river bank. There are houses around. It was still within the city limits. All this happened within a minute after takeoff, within a minute the plane was already down. So it was nearby, but luckily according to some eyewitnesses what the local reports are saying is the pilot took out his hand from the window and were waving people away, to get away from the plane, and then it hit the riverbank.


LU STOUT: Now Shrestha says authorities have recovered the plane's flight data recorder and an investigation is underway.

Now in France, the socialist government of President Francois Hollande is unveiling its 2013 budget today. Now France has a tough road ahead as it faces a stagnant economy and rising unemployment. And the government is pledging $39 billion in savings to meet deficit reduction targets and is doing so mostly by raising taxes. And there are also spending cuts.

Meanwhile, in Spain, the government announced its own budget on Thursday. It outlined new austerity cuts and tax increases in order to reduce the country's large deficit. Many Spaniards have taken to the streets this week to protest these new measures.

Now after months of speculation, there has been a major driver reshuffle in Formula One affecting both the Mercedes and McClaren teams. Let's join Alex Thomas in London for more - Alex.

ALEX THOMAS, CNN SPORTS CORRESPONDENT: Kristie, golf's Ryder Cup tees off this hour, but our lead sports story comes as you say as the world of Formula 1. The 2008 world champion Louis Hamilton will leave McClaren, the only team he's ever driven for to take up a new challenge in his motorsport career. The 27 year old Brit has signed a deal to drive for Mercedes next season until the end of 2015. Media reports claim he'll be paid up to $100 million.

In a statement, Hamilton said together we can grow and rise to this new challenge. I believe that I can help steer the Silver Arrows, the nickname for the Mercedes team, to the top and achieve our joint ambitions of winning the world championships.

Hamilton's relationship with Mercedes goes back a long way. He joined the team when he was just 13 years old and drove with Mercedes Benz engines during his two seasons in the F3 series, winning the championship in 2005. Back then, he only dreamed of driving in F1.


LOUIS HAMILTON, FORMULA 1 DRIVER: My dream to be driving for McClaren, McClaren Mercedes and sitting on the front row of (inaudible).


THOMAS: Hamilton made his F1 debut in 2007 and came second behind Kimi Raikkonen in the driver's championship before going on to take the title the following season.

The man Hamilton is replacing at Mercedes, Michael Schumacher, had this to say about the switch. "I've had three nice years with the team, which unfortunately did not go as well as all would have wanted on the sporting side. I wish Louis well and for the team to achieve the success we worked so hard for in the build-up. I would like to thank the team for their trust and all the guys for their unconditional commitments. I will now concentrate on the next races." These driver switches, of course, taking place at the end of the season. Schumacher has not confirmed if he'll definitely retire or not.

Now later this hour, the 39th Ryder Cup tees off near Chicago with the 12 best golfers from the United States trying to win back the trophy from Europe's top players. The morning session is foursomes where a pair from each side take alternate shots to hit one ball. World number one Rory McIlroy will be in the opening match. Here's a list of all the players.

There's also an intriguing showdown in the fourth match involving Tiger Woods and fiery Englishman Ian Poulter.

Shane O'Donoghue is there for CNN.


SHANE O'DONOGHUE, CNN SPORTS CORRESPONDENT: Thursday represented the final opportunity for both sides, the United States and the Europeans, to practice here on the course at Medina Country Club ahead of the opening matches in this 39th addition of the Ryder Cup. The Europeans especially look very relaxed while practicing on the back nine this afternoon, mingling with fans, signing autographs, and getting their final preparations underway before the big match begins on Friday morning.

All the gala dinners are over and the all important opening ceremony has concluded, and now the players can really concentrate on doing what they do best.

IAN POULTER, TEAM EUROPE: I just love this event more than any other event in the world. I get very excited to play. I get very proud to put this shirt on and have that crest on my chest. And I want to give it my all.

PHIL MICKELSON, TEAM USA: We've got feel the presence of the crowd here in Chicago. We need the support. We need that momentum. We need that energy that they provide for us to play our best golf. And I think that the environment here and the electricity the people bring is going to help us play well.

LEE WESTWOOD, TEAM EUROPE: If you don't get momentum going in foursomes, it's very difficult to turn it around and get going in the right direction. So you know foursomes is a tricky format and it's important to get your combinations right. And over the last few years we've been quite successful in foursomes, so maybe that's a bit of an advantage to us for it to be foursomes in the morning.

O'DONOGHUE: The foursomes matches will kickoff at 7:20 am local time here at Medina Country Club.

Chicago, of course, is renowned as being a fiercely sports mad town. So we're expecting a raucous crowd as Europe look to defend their Ryder Cup.

Shane O'Donoghue, CNN, Chicago.


THOMAS: Yes, after all the talking, we're less than five minutes away from the golf actually taking place. We're live to the course in World Sport in just under four hours time when we'll also have more analysis on today's big F1 news as well as Jose Mourinho's exclusive thoughts on Chelsea star John Terry's punishment for racist abuse.

For now, Kristie, back to you in Hong Kong.

LU STOUT: Alex Thomas there, thank you.

Now coming up next right here on News Stream, many of us don't go anywhere without our cell phones, but could they be changing the way we communicate and interact with each other when we're not plugged in? Some surprising findings about the social impact of technology when we return.


LU STOUT: Welcome back.

Now all this week on News Stream we have focused on our mobile society, taking a special look at how mobile technology has changed our lives. We've shown you the evolution of cell phones, how airlines are adapting to the technology, its impact on our health, and the power of maps on our mobile devices. But now, we want to bring your attention to the social impact of technology.

Now the mobile has changed what we can do, but does it change who we are?

Now Sherry Turkle is a professor at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and the director of MIT's initiative on technology and self for the past 15 years. She's been researching how technology redefines human connection and communication. She joins me now live from the MIT studio in Cambridge, Massachusetts. Sherry Turkle, welcome to News Stream.

SHERRY TURKLE, MIT: My pleasure.

LU STOUT: Now in your research you conclude that we're all getting used to be alone together. What do you mean by that?

TURKLE: I mean that we're used to being where we are, let's say at a corporate board meeting or in class, but also wherever else we want to be. That is we are used to moving in and out of the places we are to be all those other places where our cellphones can take us. So a corporate board member is used to being there at the board meeting, but also on his email, on his texting, checking in. He kind of behaves like he's in a tribe of one, and only he knows what's best for his tribe.

Students sit there in class, but they're also on Facebook, they're also shopping, they're also texting. And that's starting to feel comfortable to them as though that is the way we now behave in company.

So we're alone...

LU STOUT: Texting during business meetings and - that's right. And you know as you were mentioning, students they're in class, but they're doing social networking. They're on Facebook or Instagram. Why do we want to spend so much time with our mobile devices?

TURKLE: Well, it's very compelling. And what's important is that's starting to feel like the norm, the sense of being in a tribe of one and you know what's best for your tribe is starting to feel like the social norm. And people even joke with me that the new skill is to be able to make eye contact with people in such a way that they can't tell that you're texting at the same time. We're used to kind of multitasking our attention.

And it's so compelling, because what people in my interviews tell me is that the pull is not so much that you think you're getting information, but it's that feeling of being wanted, it's that feeling of knowing that you are part of something, that people want you, that you're connected, that's what we're getting hooked on, that feeling that our place is somehow not with the people we're with physically, but out there with all the people who are potentially wanting us, potentially giving us something, and that's the new addiction, that's the new craving.

LU STOUT: Yet with mobile technology we're both connected and disconnected and it is very addictive, it is very compelling. But what's the damage here? I mean, what do we actually lose when we sacrifice face- to-face communication for mobile connection?

TURKLE: Well, we lose a couple of things. I mean, first of all, when we are presenting ourselves in text in any kind of text communication, whether it's email or texting or instant message, we're constructing ourselves, we're putting forth the face we want to be and we're losing in a certain way the reality of who we are warts and all. And as a matter of fact, one younger person says to me, you know, when I say well what's wrong with real conversation? And he says to me, and many people say to me, well I'll tell you what's wrong with real conversation, you can't control what you're going to say and you don't know how the conversation is going to go.

And we're losing those skills of being willing to be vulnerable to each other as we really are and of having these open ended conversations where we don't know where it's going to go.

But those things that are wrong with conversation are exactly what's right with conversation, because learning how to pick up those social cues, those emotional cues is really the great gift of human conversation, that's how we take care of each other.

Secondly, we don't learn how to attend to each other emotionally, because it's in human conversation that we learn how to be with each other in ways where we can really take care of each other emotionally.

Perhaps most important of all for young kids growing up, it's in conversation with other people that we learn how to have conversations with ourselves, we learn the habits of self reflection. So for every time you text rather than talk you're losing an opportunity to learn how to have self reflection. And that's very important too.

And additionally...

LU STOUT: But just to counter your point....

TURKLE: ...kind of so many, there's so many we have...

LU STOUT: But just to counter your point there, I have experience, emotion and nuance in the virtual world throughout the social media or application on mobile devices. What's wrong with connecting in text and tweets and Instagrams and what have you. Doesn't that all add up to a real sense of social contact and conversation?

TURKLE: Well, it adds up. I mean, I think that there's a question of - there's nothing wrong with it as long as it doesn't take you away from the different set of skills that you learn when you're dealing face-to- face. I mean, there are wonderful new studies out, some by me, and some by other people who are using different kinds of methodologies of the things that you don't talk about when there's just a cellphone on the table that people don't make themselves vulnerable in the same ways when they think that they're sharing attention with what you might be taken away to with a cellphone.

So even the presence of the phone and the fact that your attention might go someplace else means that the conversation is shaped.

So it isn't that there's anything wrong with using these technologies, but we have to recognize that our studies are starting to show very distinctly that people - that pretty much - pretty much on Facebook, pretty much on texting, it's pretty much about the good. People want to share the good. And present themselves as they want to be. And the - when you study what's on Facebook, it's a preponderance of good.

I've had people tell me they don't even want to talk about the death of their dog, because people want to say things on Facebook that are about things that will win them friends. So we're presenting - there's even a phrase that - you know, kind of phoma , fear of missing out. And the reason people have fear of missing out when they look at Facebook is that everybody is having a great life, everybody is there on vacation, the best shots, everybody is there with their beautiful children. We're presenting the self as we want to be seen. And that's not necessarily the self as we are. We're much more likely to talk about that self when we're face-to- face.

LU STOUT: It's not a real self, but it is a much more seductive self and a much more compelling social interaction which is why we spend so much time there.

Professor, I'm afraid we're going to have to end it there, but thank you so much for joining us and sharing your thoughts with us.

Professor Sherry Turkle of MIT and author of the book "Alone Together," thank you.

Now there is so much more to explore about this subject, and you can. Go deeper on our website here - I mean, from the cultural differences affecting mobile use to how technology can influence our brains, it's all at

Or you can check out the our mobile society section on CNN mobile apps.

And staying with phones, BlackBerry maker Research in Motion posted mixed results on Thursday. Now RIM lost $235 million in its fiscal second quarter, which was better than expected.

Now RIM shipped just 7.4 million handsets. They are shipped to stores, not necessarily sold to consumers. And for an idea of how few handsets they shipped in the last three months, Apple sold 5 million iPhone 5s in just three days.

Now RIM also revealed that they sold just 130,000 BlackBerry Playbook tablets.

But it's not all bad news for RIM. Now despite selling so few handsets, RIM actually added subscribers. They say that they now have 80 million BlackBerry subscribers worldwide.

And you're watching News Stream. And up next, listen to this, a father's chilling words.


ANNA COREN, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: "If he wants to be suicide bomber when he gets older, well then no one can stop him."


LU STOUT: A CNN exclusive next. A would-be suicide bomber tells us why he would be proud if his son follows in his footsteps.


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

Now some of the heaviest fighting yet is underway in Syria's largest city. Opposition activists say rebel fighters are battling government troops in Aleppo. They say at least 42 people have been killed there today. Aleppo has been a major front of Syria's civil war for two months now.

A small plane has crashed in Katmandu, Nepal. All 19 people on board were killed. They included Nepalese, British, and Chinese nationals. Now the plane was heading for an airport near Mount Everest base camp and authorities say it caught fire and went down after colliding with an eagle.

Now leaders of the Anglican Church are nearing the end of three days of meetings to decide who will become the next spiritual head of the Church of England. Now the current Archbishop of Canterbury, Rowan Williams, is standing down at the end of the year after a decade on the job. And once a successor has been chosen, the name will be presented to Britain's Prime Minister and then the Queen for final approval.

Now last week, the U.S. surge in Afghanistan ended. It began three years ago when President Barack Obama sent in 30,000 extra forces to try to stop a Taliban resurgence. And according to new data from NATO, it seems that goal was not met.

Now this chart, it shows the number of enemy attacks each month in Afghanistan. And ISAF points out that the attacks have fallen 5 percent compared to the same period last year, but if you look at the number of attacks back in December of 2009 you can see that they are still well above that level.

Now the senior combat leader in Afghanistan, General John Allen, has admitted the decrease in attacks from 2011 is not statistically significant, but he says it is important to note that the violence has moved out of population centers.

Now in Afghanistan, suicide bombings are a common tactic of the Taliban. And now in a CNN exclusive, Anna Coren sits down with a would-be bomber whose plot was interrupted by police. And he told her what he was thinking and what he continues to believe.


COREN: Behind these high walls of Polacharki Prison among the 7,000 inmates, are several men who say they're hellbent on being terrorists. We've come here to meet a confessed would-be suicide bomber, one of hundreds now locked up behind bars.

25-year-old Ruhallah believes he was carrying out God's will when he and his friends planned an attack on American soldiers in Nangahar Province. He says he agreed to wear a suicide vest and kill as many foreigners as possible.

"It's a special feeling that comes to you when you are ready for a suicide attack," he tells me, "No one can stop you. No one could stop me."

That is, except the law when police arrested him five months ago in Jalalabad during the planning of the attack. He's now awaiting trial.

Proudly a member of the Taliban, Ruhallah says no one encouraged him to do this.

"Look at our situation. The foreigners kill our people. They insult our religion, burning the holy Koran and making cartoons of our Prophet Mohammed. If we don't defend Islam, then we are not Muslims."

Suicide bombings and other attacks are now daily occurrences in the war in Afghanistan. And the methods of the insurgents are constantly changing, according to the prison boss General Khan Mohammed Khan.

"The enemy don't use their old tactics. Now they use women, sometimes children and teenagers. They even get dressed up in military uniforms. They don't fight face to face. They're cowards.

Well, the Taliban denies recruiting children as suicide bombers. The facts tell a very different story. Authorities say just a few days ago a 10 year old orphan boy managed to escape from insurgents who were going to make him wear a suicide vest so he could blow himself up in front of coalition troops.

Ruhallah has a four year old son who he says he loves and misses very much. When I ask him how he'd feel if his child was used as a suicide bomber, he tells me, "if he wants to be a suicide bomber when he gets older, well then no one can stop him. If he follows Islam and does it for Islam, then that's a good thing."

At times he speaks with hatred in his eyes. And then there are moments when he smiles explaining this is all a test from god.

"Our real life starts after doomsday, so this is not our real life. This world is a paradise for pagans and a hell for Muslims. We just need to be patient."

The Afghan intelligence service and armed forces say they have foiled dozens of attacks in recent months. And while that's an encouraging sign, Ruhallah says there are thousands of others just like him ready to put on a suicide vest and die for their country and their religion.

Anna Coren, CNN, Kabul.


LU STOUT: You're watching News Stream. And here is a visual rundown of some of the stories we're covering today. Now we've told you about the violence in Syria and the start of the Ryder Cup in the U.S., but now let's look at a story from the world of technology, the use of apps as tools for education.

Now the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation has teamed up with Facebook to crowd source college success. The goal here: develop a web app to help high schoolers, especially low income student, get a college education. Now Dan Simon has details from Facebook headquarters.


DAN SIMON, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, you know, Brooke, Facebook is known for these so-called "Hack-a-thons" where engineers sort of spend the day, trying to come up with innovative ideas for the site, But imagine taking those same principles and applying it to education, specifically, and trying to help students get into college.

About 100 entrepreneurs from the Bay area and around the country are here trying to come up with some Web-based tools, some social tools to help these students. and think about this, I mean, this is a pretty daunting task where you have basically a few hours to come up with some great idea, present it to a panel of judges and, you know, get it sold and, if you're successful, you could get anywhere from $50,000 to $100,000.

And trying to get a piece of that cash is -- are these three. These are students from Arizona State University. Now, they're up against seasoned professionals who do this kind of thing for a living. They're just students and they're trying to make an impact here.

This is T.J.

So, you don't want to give away your idea here on national television, but just kind of tell me what you're trying to go after. What are you trying to do?

T.J., STUDENT COMPETING IN "HACK-A-THON": So, what we're really trying to do is take the shared interests of all of the user's friends and then match those interests to education-related topics, such as a major or a club on campus at their local college.

SIMON: You know, Brooke, that sounds pretty good to me. You know, what they're ultimately trying to do here is specifically help low-income students, students that may not have an opportunity go to college, maybe even try to, you know, help them get through the financial maze of getting into college.

SIMON: So you don't have to be here to try to get in on some of this cash. Say you have an idea. You're a budding engineer at home and you want to participate. Well, you can go to and get all the details from there.

Dan Simon, CNN, Menlo Park, California.


LU STOUT: Now, many parts of the world the new school year has just begun. And that got us thinking about ways technology can enhance learning. Now you may be familiar with the Khan Academy. Its mission statement is to provide a free worldclass education for anyone, anywhere. Now the Khan Academy started with a few online videos back in 2006. It now offers more than 3,300 videos on subjects ranging from finance to physics, astronomy to art.

Now higher education went high tech with EdX. It was founded by Harvard University and MIT. And more than 150,000 students from over 160 countries registered for the first free course last spring.

Now this semester, EdX is offering more classes and has taken on a new partner, UC Berkeley. EdX president Anant Agarwal joins me now live from Cambridge, Massachusetts.

And welcome to News Stream.

And first, why do this? Why launch a free online learning platform for university courses?

ANANT AGARWAL, EDX PRESIDENT: So a large number of students around the world don't really have access to high quality education. So lanching EdX allows students all over the world to have much better access to a high quality education from a university such as Harvard, MIT, Berkeley and others as we add more universities. This really expands the mission of our universities in providing very high quality education.

And this also allows us to apply high technology, apply computing technologies to education in a way that we can dramatically increase the scale, the quality, and the efficiency of education for students worldwide.

We also want to reinvent campus education. And so by doing these experiments in online learning worldwide, we also hope to reinvent our campus education as well.

LU STOUT: So nuts and bolts here, how does it work? I mean, how much work do you have to put in as a student. And in the end, what do you earn? Do you get a grade? Do you get a degree?

AGARWAL: So as a student your experience is going to be a little bit different from that of a traditional campus class. In a campus class, you sit down at lectures, you know, you're dragged out of your bed at 8:00 in the morning. I remember that myself. I tried not to go to lectures that early in the morning.

So here the experience is different. Lectures are replaced by sequences of interactive videos. You have videos interleaved with exercises and you can do them at your own pace at your own time. As your watching the video you can even mute the lecture. You can pause. You can fast forward. You can rewind and watch things again and again.

So experience is quite a bit different. You have online game-like technologies to do online laboratories and so on. You have discussion forums. And you bring in the whole new modern slew of technologies that students have become very comfortable using such as, you know, texting and tweeting and discussion forums and social networking and bring all of that into education to create a much more meaningful community forum based education - sort of online education system.

LU STOUT: Now you're a champion of online learning. You believe that it's effective. But how, how do you test whether this approach is really working?

AGARWAL: So there are number of ways of - number of ways of doing that. First of all, you know, we give our certificates at the end of our courses so that students have taken the course can get a certificate of mastery. If they pass the course, they'll get a certificate. If it's an MIT course, a certificate from MIT X or Berkeley course from Berkeley X and Harvard X.

We've also launched going ahead a major platform where students working with our partner Pearson can take a proctored exam anywhere in the world. And by doing so, they'll be able to show that the certificate truly reflects their own work.

Now to the question of how do we know this is working? Well, we do take surveys. Both of our students on campus who are experiencing the blended form of learning or worldwide students and the surveys indicate some very good results. In a survey of our 155,000 student class, towards the end of the class we had 10,000 students take the final exam. And we took a survey of those students.

6,100 students responded and compared to a - compared with university class, 99 percent said that the experience was equal or better than a campus class, only 1 percent said that it was worse.

These were staggeringly good results and truly surprised us as to the effectiveness of online learning.

LU STOUT: And a final question for you. Do you think an online diploma could ever replace the traditional version?

AGARWAL: So the online credential, the online certificate is very different from an on campus certificate. And we really believe that online learning and the EdX platform and the EdX portal, these are ways in which - you can think of them as a rising tide that's going to lift all boats whether for students worldwide or on our campuses.

So really the two credentials are both going to be better. Students have more access and students on campus will also have a better education.

So I think one won't replace the other, I think both are going to be improved.

LU STOUT: Anand Agarwal of EdX, thank you very much for joining us here on News Stream. And good luck.

AGARWAL: All my pleasure.

LU STOUT: You're watching News Stream and still ahead the recent attack on a U.S. consulate in Libya has caused tensions to escalate and sparked fears of a wave of extremism in parts of the country.

We'll have more after this.


LU STOUT: Now the man believed to have produced an anti-Islam film that sparked outrage across the Muslim world is now in a California jail. Nakoula Basseley Kaoula seen here earlier this month, was convicted two years ago of bank fraud. And U.S. prosecutors allege that he has since violated the terms of his probation by using false names. On Thursday, a judge denied him bail, calling him a flight risk.

Now the United States is pulling out more staff from its embassy in the Libyan capital citing security reasons. And that follows this month's deadly attack on the U.S. consulate in Benghazi. Now the attack came as a group of people outside the consulate were protesting against the anti- Islam film.

Now Islamists groups and militias and even al Qaeda appear to be gaining a foothold in post-Gaddafi Libya. As Arwa Damon reports, their activities are threatening the country's already fragile security and raising fears among many.


ARWA DAMON, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): It may look like a sleepy beach front town, but (INAUDIBLE) has a reputation as a home to Islamist extremist militia. Some of them with links to al Qaeda. These militia had allegedly left their bases but continue to haunt the streets. We tried to get access to one of these bases, saw a handful of gunmen there and were told to leave.

(on camera): A pickup truck just swerved in front of us forcing us to stop. Three men got out wanting to talk. I'm assuming about what it is that we're doing here and they seem quite agitated.

(voice-over): One of our escorts was warned that quote "since the extremists no longer control security, they couldn't ensure ours." They were advising us to leave town. In the market most eyed us rarely . Residents say a general strike and demonstration forced the militia to abandon their bases.


DAMON: But this man tells us it's far from clear they will fade away.

(on camera): While we were filming here a man came over to speak to us, but he was too afraid to go on camera. He wanted us to know that the majority of people here are sick and tired of being in the spotlight because the minority he says is affiliated with al Qaeda.


DAMON (voice-over): Hussein Misouri, a local journalist says radical Islam has always had a place in (inaudible). Men from here fought in Afghanistan and estimates are that more than 50 traveled to Iraq to become suicide bombers, the highest number from any town outside of Iraq.


DAMON: The city and its surroundings were sympathetic to these groups because they had a common enemy, which was Gadhafi, Misouri explains. They were all trying to bring down Gadhafi. From the onset of the revolution it was the extremists that provided security.


DAMON: After liberation was announced says Misouri, there was increasing pressure on al Qaeda in Yemen and other places. Coming to Libya was easy. Among those setting up camp, Saffron bin Gamal , once bin Laden's driver and held in Guantanamo Bay for five years, established the (inaudible) unit in (inaudible).


DAMON: And Abided Basit Azures , alleged to have been sent here by al Qaeda's leader Ayman al Zawahiri . According to security sources these Islamist militia have a common goal, weakening and then infiltrating Libya's security apparatus. In Benghazi there have been more than a dozen assassinations of former military officers. Sources tell CNN that many of them were reportedly on an Islamist hit list to eliminate qualified individuals that could pose a threat. Colonel Hamed Bel Kher of the Libyan Army was recently kidnapped. He says he doesn't know by whom or exactly why.

He got a call from a man who spoke as if he knew him and said he had urgent information to pass on. Outside his home in broad daylight two masked men forced him into their car.


DAMON: When I got into the car they put a black hood on my head and began saying things like, you're going to see, threatening me, he tells us. Later he says he was forced to his knees and told to repent and renew his faith in Islam.


DAMON: He thought he was going to die when the phone rang.


DAMON: I could hear someone say, he's alive. We haven't killed him yet. You could hear his voice, he recalls. And then he was free. The influence of these radical groups has emerged in the capital. Last month they destroyed Sufi shrines including this one right in the heart of Tripoli. A move typical of Salafist intolerance of other branches of Islam.

(on camera): As the shrine was being demolished, eyewitnesses say that Libyan security forces facilitated the act by blocking off the street. The Ministry of Interior says that it's investigating these charges while also acknowledging that it cannot go after these groups claiming it wants to avoid shedding Libyan blood.

(voice-over): And that is the problem. The government's currently not strong enough to facedown these groups. And they always thrive amid weakness.

Arwa Damon, CNN, Tripoli.


LU STOUT: You're watching News Stream. We're back after the break.


LU STOUT: Welcome back.

Now there's a typhoon east of Taiwan that could threaten Japan this weekend. Let's get more now with Mari Ramos. She joins us from the World Weather Center - Mari.

MARI RAMOS, CNN WEATHER CORRESPONDENT: Hey, Kristie. Those islands already just off the coast of Taiwan, the Ryukyu Islands moving all the way up into mainland Japan, those areas are already feeling the impact of this powerful typhoon Jelawat. You know, the storm has weakened and you can see it almost elongated a little bit more, but you can see how the clouds are already reaching parts of western Japan here and stretch all the way down even into the northern Philippines, that's how widespread the impacts from the storm is. And because it was a super typhoon, this is a huge wave making machine that we're looking at. And it is continuing to bring very high seas along Taiwan, also northern parts of Luzon and through the islands here all the way up the chain up through mainland Japan.

Winds down to 213 kilometers per hour. We're expecting the storm to continually gradually weakening as it moves over the island and then possibly still have some power in it as a minimal typhoon as it crosses here mainland Japan, close to Tokyo as we head into Sunday. So be extra careful and be aware that this storm is out there and headed in your general direction. Of course tune in throughout the weekend to see where the storm is actually headed to. It could, as you can see from this margin of error, head more to the west or more to the east, but it is moving in this general direction and it could still be a typhoon by the time it hits mainland Japan. So this will continue to be one of our top stories.

I want to switch gears and talk about something a little bit different. And Kristie, you know I was going to talk about this, right. These finding - finding water on Mars, that's the new - the latest thing that's come in from NASA. Well, the way they do this is the Curiosity rover found these rocks. And the way they analyze this is by looking at things here on Earth and how they look on Mars. This is what's called an alluvial fan. We're looking at an outcrop of rocks here in Death Valley in California. And you see this right over here? This is the - there's no water there now, but this geologists here on Earth know that it used to be water and it caused a lot of that debris to float down into the rest of the desert. Well, a similar situation happened on Mars where that debris flows very quickly downslope, probably carried by water.

So this is Mars. We zoom into this area right in here and this is what we have. At the Gale crater, there's where the Curiosity rover landed. And it is precisely in this area where they have found similar features. There you see the canyon and the canyon walls where the water would have flowed. And then you have that river fan in those rocks - and I'll show you a quick picture of the rocks, we have it in the video - those rocks right there they say are the result of fast moving water on Mars, amazing pictures coming from the Curiosity rover.

I love this story.

Back to you, Kristie.

LU STOUT: Of course. And it's incredible the amount of data and knowledge that they're getting from the Curiosity rover. Great stuff and do keep us updated. Thank you very much. Mari Ramos, take care.

And before we go, take a look at these two paintings. Now on your left is what we know as the original Mona Lisa painted by Leonardo Di Vinci, but a Swiss Art Foundation claims that this painting on the right is another Mona Lisa, painted by Di Vinci only that she's younger.

Now the Mona Lisa Foundation claims it was completed by the artist 10 years before the Mona Lisa that hangs in the Louvre museum in Paris, but many experts say it's unlikely.

Now there have been many replicas of the original Mona Lisa.

And that is News Stream. World Business Today is next.