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NEWS STREAM

Egyptian Opposition To Vote Against Constitutional Referendum; Ill- equipped Syrian Refugees Face Winter; Serbian FA Fined $105,000 For Racist Fan Behavior; U.S. Defense Secretary Signs Order To Send PATRIOT Missile Batteries, Soldiers To Turkey

Aired December 14, 2012 - 08:00:00   ET

THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.


MONITA RAJPAL, HOST: Hello, I'm Monita Rajpal. And welcome to News Stream where news and technology meet.

Protecting Turkey from potential Syrian threats, the U.S. defense secretary signs an order to deploy 400 troops and send two PATRIOT defense systems to Turkey.

A massive rally in North Korea to celebrate the country's satellite launch. A very different picture from the condemnation the launch provoked around the globe.

And the end of the world as they knew it. Some people believe the Mayans predicted the end of the world is near, but we'll tell you why that's sending tourists to Mexico.

PATRIOT missiles are heading to the Turkish-Syrian border. U.S. Defense Secretary Leon Panetta has signed an order sending two PATRIOT missile batteries to Turkey along with 400 American troops. The move has been expected since Ankara requested NATO's help to defend itself from potential Syrian threats.

Meanwhile, Russia is backtracking from comments about Syrian President Bashar al-Assad. On Thursday, a top diplomat suggested the Assad regime could fall.

Well, fighting in Damascus has escalated. Now this map is supplied by a U.S. think tank. And they say they got it from a Syrian Republican Guard source. The areas in red are said to be under rebel control, green indicates government control.

Now as you can see areas shown here in the east appear to be largely held by rebels, but it is important to remember they don't have complete control over the region. The same goes through the center of Damascus. Even though it is held by the rebels, the regime I should say, the rebels are still attacking.

And one rebel brigade is vowing to step up the fight for the capital. Nick Paton-Walsh joins us now live from CNN Beirut.

Nick, tell us a little bit about, first of all, the U.S. PATRIOT missiles and personnel bound for Turkey. How does this change the dynamics of this war?

NICK PATON-WALSH, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: As you said earlier, this has long been expected, but the U.S. would be one of three nations including Germany and The Netherlands to contribute batteries. Each other nation expected to contribute two PATRIOT batteries as well.

This is of course because of about over a month ago now that exchange of fire that happened over about 10 days between Syrian forces and the Turkish army as well. And the Syrians attacked, it appears to be, certain Turkish villages around there.

They requested NATO help for their protection. This is the form that its taken expected to arrive in the weeks ahead. And at that point you will then have substantial NATO firepower on that border normally poised to take out missiles. We understand that's the kind of technology they've sent there, potentially could be used against aircraft as well, but fundamentally you don't have the world's biggest military machine veritably sat there on the border on the edge of this very volatile area on the edge of a 21 month long revolt now -- Monita.

RAJPAL: Talk to us, Nick, about the battle for Damascus. We're getting closer now to the seat of power. How much control does the regime have? And how much control do the rebels have?

PATON-WALSH: It is incredibly hard to get a clear picture of exactly the changing front lines inside the capital. It is fundamentally the absolute ultimate battleground where this will be decided. Talk of loyalists digging in and of rebels increasingly able to project their power in and out.

We spoke to one individual from one of the brigades working in the east and south who are trying to give us their version of events about how that fight is proceeding.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

PATON-WALSH: The battle is now final and it's for Damascus. Even Russia, President Bashar al-Assad's staunch ally, admits the rebels are in the ascendent. Yet details of the bitter fighting around the capital where reporters are restricted are scarce. But a key Islamist brigade fighting here in the south and east gave their version of events to CNN.

They claim a grip on the regime's inner workings that's tightening.

"The FSA now has the capability," he says, "to know the movements and meetings of Assad gang leaders who plan on killing our people in Syria. The FSA were able to target meeting places that lead to the killing of a number of heads of operation."

"God willing. In the coming days they'll be surprises the regime did not expect through communication with high level officers within the regime who have now come to the realization that the regime is eventually going to fall and decided to mutiny."

This map of Damascus was, rebel's say, taken from Syrian elite troops. It shows just how much of the city loyalists may think they've lost. Rebels insist they hold areas about two miles away from Assad's palace.

"Damascus now is a mass of flame," he says, "in southern Damascus, eastern Gouta (ph), and the western area, surrounding the regime from all sides. Bashar al-Assad is in the center of the city to secure himself and the Republican palace. We now say we're now on the way, more than people imagine to get to the center of the city. He will not be able to defend his palace."

But their focus with new weaponry has become the skies. Pushing towards the airport, these snipers hitting the access road, the outside world has failed them, he says, so they must make a no-fly zone themselves.

"The international airport," he says, "is the lung of this regime. And the regime breathes through it and is able to bring gangs from Iran to Syria to fight our people. We decided to cut off this lung and cut this vein just in the same way FSA have seized other airports in Syria so the regime loses its capabilities to control the sky. The FSA's strategy is to focus on a no-fly area with its limited capabilities that the western world and the United Nations were not able to provide for the Syrian people and give people the security and safety of a no-fly zone."

Growing in impetus, potency and number, they say, their claims hard to verify. They're growing competence not.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

PATON-WALSH: Monita, what you mentioned earlier about the deputy Russian foreign minister Mikhail Bogdanov saying that unfortunately he thought an opposition victory was possible. The foreign ministry tried to roll back a little bit on that today suggesting that those weren't necessarily on the record and didn't mark a change in position, but frankly the damage is done. Damascus' most stalwart military and diplomatic ally seeming to back away a little bit whilst as you just saw the capital increasingly under siege -- Monita.

RAJPAL: All right. Nick, thank you. Nick Paton-Walsh joining us live from Beirut.

Well, Egyptians are preparing to vote in a national referendum on their country's future. At issue, a draft constitution which has carved a bitter divide across the country. Supporters of President Mohamed Morsy gathered for a final push ahead of the vote which starts Saturday. And these are live pictures that you're seeing there right now of Cairo.

Mr. Morsy believes a constitution will help drive Egypt's transition to democracy, but his opponents say it was rushed through and will degrade the rights of religious minorities and women.

Well, they are planning rallies as we're seeing now for Friday. Our international correspondent Reza Sayah is in Cairo for us. And it looks like the gathering momentum there, Reza.

REZA SAYAH, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, momentum for the supporters of the president, not so much momentum for the opposition, Monita. We've been out here at Tahrir Square four Fridays in a row and by far this is the quietest Friday here in Tahrir Square. The three previous Fridays intense mass demonstrations. The opposition yelling and screaming against the government.

But take a look at Tahrir Square at this hour, not too many people out there, a few hundred diehards. And many say the small crowd is a sign that the president has won this battle against the opposition. The opposition will tell you the president hasn't won the war. But when it comes to this battle, the president's wish to vote on a draft constitution beginning tomorrow, he did it for three weeks. The president made a lot of maneuvers to overcome obstacles, the biggest obstacle was the opposition.

But earlier this week when leaders of the opposition decided to vote on the referendum on Saturday, the protests died down. However, opposition leaders, including Mohamed ElBaradei still defiant. He still doesn't want this draft constitution to happen.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

MOHAMED ELBARADEI, EGYPTIAN OPPOSITION LEADER (through translator): No matter the outcome of the referendum, so I can be clear, the referendum is void. The constitution is void. We will continue to work toward the downfall of this constitution before the referendum and after in every legal, peaceful and democratic method available.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

SAYAH: Opposition leader Mohamed ElBaradei still defiant. But Monita, all indications are that this nationwide referendum on the draft constitution is going to take place beginning tomorrow. Two separate rounds. The first round tomorrow, the second round the follow Saturday December 22, Monita.

RAJPAL: It's evidently, Reza, a hugely divisive issue there in Egypt. The judges there are saying they're not going to monitor this referendum. Now, but what about the military leaders in the country? In the past they have had a very strong stance and a vocal stance in whatever happens to the country. Where have they been in all of this?

SAYAH: This time around all indications are that they're remaining on the sidelines and not injecting themselves into domestic politics. Of course, earlier this week President Morsy announced that he's giving the military powers to arrest civilians. But they haven't made any moves to step into this conflict. It looks like at this point they're going to keep a close eye on things.

If things get out of hand they could play a larger role, but right now indications are that just as a precaution they're going to be out on the streets near the polling stations making sure that nothing gets out of hand.

RAJPAL: Reza, thank you. Reza Sayah live there for us from Cairo.

You are watching News Stream. Coming up, celebrations in Pyongyang as North Korea marks a rocket launch that was widely criticized around the world.

Also ahead, Japan prepares to elect a new prime minister, but that may be the last thing on the minds of those still struggling to recover from last year's tsunami.

And defending its borders, we'll take you live to Istanbul as the U.S. Defense Secretary signs an order to deploy troops and missile batteries to Turkey.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

RAJPAL: Welcome back. You're watching News Stream. And here is a visual rundown of the stories that we are covering. Take a look at the top row there. We updated you on the latest in the Syrian crisis and then of course in the situation in Egypt. Now let's take you to North Korea.

Outside the country, North Korea's rocket launch this week was met with widespread condemnation, but inside the secretive nation different story. This was the scene. State TV showed crowds cheering what they view as a momentous event in the nation's history.

In Pyongyang, a massive rally stretches as far as the eye can see. North Korean officials gave speeches praising leader Kim Jong Un. And Wednesday's successful launch, one praised Mr. Kim's, quote, "unique will, courage, and boldness." North Korean media have released these photos of the young leader apparently watching the launch unfold. We've got a long range rocket put a satellite into orbit.

But many nations say it was actually a disguised ballistic missile test.

We turn now to Japan which is preparing to elect a new prime minister this weekend. The nation is still struggling to recover from last year's earthquake and tsunami. And for residents in one small town the election feels like a world away.

Alex Zolbert reports.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

ALEX ZOLBERT, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Coastal areas in Ishinomaki still show the scars from the tsunami of March 2011. What was once a neighborhood is now eerily quiet, destroyed homes long abandoned.

Like everyone here, Kanichi Kirosawa (ph) remembers the day well. He was driving down this road to try to meet his wife when the waves moved in.

"I knew I had to get to higher ground fast," he tells me. "I climbed this tree to get to safety."

This is some of the video he shot in the hours that followed perched above the destruction.

Kanichi spent the entire night, more than 12 hours, sitting in the tree in sub-zero temperatures, soaked and freezing.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: (SPEAKING IN FOREIGN LANGUAGE)

ZOLBERT: Today, he brings us to the sign that he erected in the weeks that followed. It's become a memorial of sorts here in Ishinomaki.

It says Gamba Ro Ishinomaki (ph). What does Gamba Ro (ph) mean?

"It means hang in there, do not give up," he tells me. "I wanted to do something to encourage the people here."

His message for Japan's next prime minister?

"I know it was a huge disaster and things would take time, but I'm frustrated," he says. "The reaction has been too slow for too long."

67-year-old Katsuge Ogata (ph) lost his wife in the tsunami. He used to run a small restaurant here. Now it's a simple food truck. And he isn't afraid to say what he thinks about the government.

"The government hasn't done a thing for us. They've only cleared the debris," he says. "They want to build a park here, but what will that do? We need homes."

As you can see, there is still a great deal of work to be done, but many people here are very frustrated with the government. Billions of dollars in reconstruction money has been siphoned off to totally unrelated projects in other parts of the country. And according to the government itself, roughly 115,000 people in this prefecture alone remain in temporary housing.

This is just one complex, more than 500 units scattered across what are essentially parking lots just outside Ishinomaki. The people here are getting by. They've set up a basic convenience store. And they hold a small Sunday market as well, despite the freezing temperatures. Today, they're selling radishes.

There's also a barber shop where we meet Satoshi Sakurai (ph) who is passing time reading the paper.

"I'm filled with frustration," he tell us. "Another prime minister, a new cabinet. The reconstruction will be delayed again."

It's a sentiment shared by Junko Hino (ph) who lost her father-in-law on March 11 as well as her home. Today she lives here with her husband and three children.

"Nothing has changed here, but the prime minister has changed many times," she says. "I don't understand the meaning of any of it."

Caught in the middle of a massive recovery effort and so much political change.

"Yes, we are working hard and trying to move forward," Kanichi (ph) says, "but there are many people here who are really struggling and need some help."

Alex Zolbert, CNN, Ishinomaki, Japan.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

RAJPAL: Still ahead here on News Stream, it seems the end of the world is great for business: the tourism business that is. With some people believing the world will end on December 21, tourists are making their way to Mexico in droves. We'll explain why next.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

RAJPAL: We want to bring you the very latest now on cyclone in Samoa and its aftermath. Tom Sater brings us the latest from the world weather center -- Tom.

TOM SATER, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: This is devastating, Monita. This is the time of year, the end of the year, where our focus of tropical systems shifts from the northern hemisphere to the southern hemisphere and the forecast calls for an average to above average season from the northeastern areas of Australia across Vanuatu and Fiji, Samoa, and of course the Cook Islands. Satellite derived rainfall already a little bull's eye right over Samoa, over 200 millimeters of rainfall.

It has devastated the area. In fact, this is Apia, this is the capital of Samoa. This storm, Evan is its name, pretty much developed near Fiji, made its way towards Samoa, moved over to American Samoa, it's now moving back toward Fiji, but the system is only 400 kilometers across. Remember, Bopha, a super typhoon, 500 kilometers across, but this storm Evan is going to produce just as much rainfall as it did in Mendenau, possibly more. Not to mention that when it was moving in. Reports of a storm surge with a circulation and the push of the ocean water, three-and- a-half to four-and-a-half meters. That's equivalent to super storm Sandy and what it did to areas of New York City.

So the system continues to sit and spin. Now that it's going to make its way back to the south.

Rainfall totals just 12 hours ago wanted to drop another 680 millimeters. Thank goodness the bulk of the rain now will be north of the islands.

But let me show you the devastation. Power is out. Look at this raging water. Could we see more rainfall from Tropical Cyclone Evan than Mendenau had from Bopha? It's very possible.

When we're looking at the communications systems are down, electricity is out. There is need of water. There was a plea now for the international community as you see there to help. The system is stalling and it looks as if, Monita, we're going to watch it for another 24 hours with gusts 232 kilometers per hour. This is the very first of the season and the season has just begun. Not the best of news.

RAJPAL: All right. Yeah, devastating pictures there indeed.

Tom, thank you very much for that update. We appreciate that.

Now switching gears, you may have heard from less trustworthy sources that the world will end on December 21, 2012. That probably won't happen, folks, but over the next few days we wanted to take a look at why some people believe the end of the world is near. They cite the ancient Mayan calendar. Well, a NASA scientist explains the theory and explains why you'll still be around on December 22.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

MITZI ADAMS, NASA SCIENTIST: The Maya believe in cycles. And the current calendar is actually one of several cycles that last for thousands of years. The current calendar probably began in somewhere around 3114 Before the Current Era. And these cycles have gone on, and the idea of the cycles have been passed down through some of the mythology of the Maya. And this current one simply ends on December 21, or 23 depending on who is doing the translation of this year.

There is no other Maya calendar is because the Spanish arrived and the Maya civilization was essentially destroyed. They would have done essentially the same thing that we do and just create a new calendar after this cycle ended.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

RAJPAL: So NASA believes the Mayans were wrong, but people are still using their prediction to make some money. Nick Parker introduces us to doomsday tourism in Mexico.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

NICK PARKER, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Surging crowds of tourists, calendar memorabilia and countdown clocks in airports around the country, all part of an international marketing campaign geared around one date.

This is one of the most iconic sites in Mayan culture. Chichen Itza was built more than a thousand years ago, but today has helped attract more than 50 million tourists to southeast Mexico in the last year alone.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: You're here near to a date that's going to be huge for a lot of people, so I think it's very interesting.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Before we came we thought that according to the Mayans that it is the end of the world.

PARKER: Films like 2012 have helped spread the idea of an apocalypse. Mexico launched a teaser campaign to capitalize on global speculation. It was the brainchild of Gloria Guevara who has just left office as tourism minister.

GLORIA GUEVARA, FORMER TOURISM MINISTER: We say film people believe it's the end of the world, 21/12/12. We believe, and the Mayas believe is the beginning of a new era. You have to come to Mexico to discover what it is.

PARKER: Mel Gonzalez (ph) also saw the calendar as an opportunity. He opened a boutique hotel in Merida the closest city to Chichen Itza.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Judging by the number of hotels being built in town and tour operators being created, we can tell there is a lot of expectation. A few hotels in town are giving discounts because it's the end of the world.

PARKER: Some Mayans have complained about the exploitation of their culture, but Guevara says they are in the minority.

GUEVARA: What I have seen is that they are very happy. They see the benefit, becuase the nice thing about the tourism is that it shares the benefit with everyone.

PARKER: Others disagree. Alfonso Escovito (ph) runs tourist to Mayan communities and says the tourist dollars are going elsewhere.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Most of the money is spent in transportation. And they don't own taxis, hotels, restaurants. Here they don't have those services yet.

PARKER: Yet may be the word. Hotels across the five Mayan states are nearly sold out ahead of the big date. The hope is that interest in the culture is long-term, assuming everybody survives December 21.

Nick Parker, CNN, Yucatan, Mexico.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

RAJPAL: Still ahead on News Stream, plunged from the heat of war into the cold of winter, the appalling human cost in the battle for Syria. We meet the refugees stranded in tent cities or in exile.

Plus, out of the running, why this woman won't be the next U.S. Secretary of State. So who could replace Hillary Clinton?

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

RAJPAL: Hello. I'm Monita Rajpal in Hong Kong. You're watching News Stream. And these are your world headlines.

U.S. defense secretary Leon Panetta has signed an order to send two PATRIOT missile batteries to Turkey. He visited a military base there today. 400 U.S. troops will also be sent in the coming weeks to operate the missile batteries. Germany's parliament has also just approved the deployment of PATRIOT missiles. The move is designed to protect the NATO ally from any rounds coming from across the border from Syria.

Well, in Egypt supporters of President Mohamed Morsy are holding a rally ahead of a referendum on a proposed new constitution. Voting begins in Saturday. Mr. Morsy's supporters say a yes vote is imperative for the country's stability. However, his opponents fear the rights of religious minorities and women will be overlooked.

North Korea's government held a massive rally in the capital Pyongyang on Friday to celebrate the rocket launch that it says has put a satellite into orbit. The head of North Korea's academy of sciences spoke to the crowds crediting the successful launch to leader Kim Jong Un's, quote, "unique will, courage, and boldness." Wednesday's launch was met with international condemnation.

Well, more and more countries are saying time is running out for Syrian president Bashar al-Assad. On Thursday, NATO's secretary general said the collapse of the Assad regime appears imminent. And earlier Friday, French president Francois Hollande urged the European Union to push to make Mr. al-Assad leave as quickly as possible. And British Prime Minister David Cameron says every option is on the table to help the opposition.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

DAVID CAMERON, BRITISH PRIME MINISTER: The situation in Syria is truly dreadful and getting worse. 40,000 people are dead already. There's a hard winter coming. There an extreme humanitarian situation on the ground. This is a desperate crisis that's taking place and it is taking place, as I said, the meeting of the European council this morning on our watch. And people will ask in future years and generations what did you do, what action did you take in order to help deal with the situation...

(END VIDEO CLIP)

RAJPAL: Well, some action is being taken. As we mentioned, the U.S. is taking up a new roll in the Syrian conflict. Washington will send troops and equipment to neighboring Turkey. And the German parliament has also approved sending PATRIOTs.

Ivan Watson joins us now from Istanbul with the latest. And Ivan, this is what Turkey wanted.

IVAN WATSON, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Monita, we're having some audio problems, but yes Leon Panetta announcing -- the U.S. Defense Secretary -- that two PATRIOT missile batteries and at least 400 U.S. troops. He has signed into effect for them to be deployed in Turkey to defend itself, its border with Syria. The German parliament within the last hour or so voted overwhelmingly to also deploy German PATRIOT missile batteries. And Netherlands has indicated that it is prepared to do this, but it is going to have to wait for a parliamentary vote that is likely to take place in January.

Turkey requested these PATRIOT anti-missile batteries to protect itself from the possible threat of Syrian long range missiles. And just this week, we've gotten statements from the U.S. government, from the Turkish government, indicating that their technology has detected at least a half dozen Scud missiles being fired by the Syrian regime in the direction of northern Syria which tends to lend credibility to Turkey's concerns that it needs this kind of protection.

Those are accusations that the Syrian government denies. Turkey very concerned about the chemical weapons arsenals that Syria has and worried that as the situation deteriorates across the border that some of these weapons could be used against Turkish populations centers. And NATO seems to be willing to step in to help protect its NATO ally in Turkey -- Monita.

RAJPAL: Ivan, hopefully you can hear me now. Meanwhile, all of this, there's an increasing humanitarian crisis, refugees as we get into the winter months now in Syria and across the border into Turkey. How are they coping?

WATSON: It's bad, Monita. According to United Nations estimates, roughly one in ten Syrians now, one in ten, have been displaced by the conflict that has been raging for more than 20 months. The majority of those people have been displaced inside Syria. This week, the numbers of those who fled across borders and who have officially registered with the UN has hit more than half a million. The UN says another 3,200 a day since November have been registering with the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees.

This is, Monita, a population on the run.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

WATSON: Taganime (ph) performed in exile. Not long ago, Ali Maroly rehearsed at his home in Damascus, sometimes accompanied by the sound of combat.

ALI MORALY, VIOLINIST: I used to practice the violin while hearing gunshots just go by my window.

WATSON: But three months ago the 32 year old left his home in Syria and ran away to Turkey.

What ultimately made you decide that it was time to leave home?

MORALY: Feeling insecure and feeling hopeless and useless at the same time.

WATSON: Safety in Istanbul is bittersweet.

MORALY: The moment when you know that this time if you just pack and leave you might not be able to decide the time when you come back. That's, itself, is a very painful experience.

WATSON: That's a feeling shared by more and more Syrians every day.

There are around 7,000 refugees living in freezing tents like this on the edge of Syria waiting to be allowed into Turkey. And they are but a fraction of the hundreds of thousands of refugees living outside Syria as well as many more displaced inside Syria itself.

Winter is coming. And the shelters here are unheated. Since his family fled the fighting in Aleppo, nine year old Mohamed has spent the last two months here because Turkey says it doesn't have room for any more refugees.

"It's bad. It's very cold," he says. "When it rains, a lot of water gets into the tent."

Unwelcome in Turkey, unsafe in Syria, these people are stuck in limbo.

24-year-old Adam Ismail (ph) opened up a makeshift barber shop in his tent.

"I have a message for the rest of the world," he tells me, "I want people to feel our pain. We are Arabs. We are humans."

An appeal for empathy from a population on the run.

MORALY: Each one of us should know that he one day might be finding himself in the same position.

WATSON: Compared to so many of his countrymen, this exiled violinist knows he's living in relative comfort. And he feels powerless to help.

MORALY: Music cannot help. It cannot resolve the conflict. It's not going to bring warmth and stability to those who are living in the camps now. This is not the time for music.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

WATSON: Now, Monita, part of why there's been this recent spike in the number of refugees the United Nations estimates is because hundreds of thousands of people have been living outside of refugee camps, surviving on their own meager reserves and savings. And now that this conflict is in its 20th, 21st month those savings are running out and that's pushing these desperate people who now have nothing left to start to reach out to international agencies like the United Nations and just expect those numbers to get worse in the freezing winter months ahead -- Monita.

RAJPAL: Ivan, thank you. Ivan Watson there in Istanbul.

The next U.S. Secretary of State will not be this woman, Susan Rice. The U.S. ambassador to the United Nations has taken her name out of the running to replace Hillary Clinton. In an op-ed piece for the Washington Post Rice writes, "as it became clear that my potential nomination would spark and enduring partisan battle, I concluded that it would be wrong to allow this debate to continue distracting from urgent national priorities.

Well, later on Friday Rice will meet with U.S. President Barack Obama who has repeatedly come to her defense. We want to bring in Elise Labott from CNN Washington with more on this.

Elise, it's interesting, a columnist for the Washington Post had described her withdrawal of the nomination as admirably blunt.

ELISE LABOTT, CNN CORRESPONDENT: That's right, Monita. She didn't parse any words on why she thought that it was necessary for her to withdraw her name. I was talking to her -- some of her aids in the last several hours and they said, listen, she was up for that fight. She thought ultimately she could be confirmed, but it was a distraction and it was just something that the president didn't need and was also distracting from the important work she was doing at the United Nations.

If you saw -- if you remember, she had helped create very tight sanctions on Iran, the toughest ever from the United Nations. And she was really instrumental in pushing the United States to get involved militarily in Libya. And she also has done a lot of work on Israel. And this was all just a distraction.

So let's take a listen to what Ambassador Rice told NBC News in an interview about why she felt she had to withdraw her name.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

SUSAN RICE, U.S. AMBASSADOR TO THE UN: I didn't want to see a confirmation process that was very prolonged, very politicized, very distracting, and very disruptive because there are so many things we need to get done as a country.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

LABOTT: And so what happens for Ambassador Rice now? Well, the president said she'll still be a very close adviser and member of his national security team. She's going to remain at the United Nations for the foreseeable future, but nobody is ruling out a possible role for her later on, maybe as National Security Adviser at some point, Monita.

RAJPAL: Elise, one name that seems to be now pushed up to the top of the list for Secretary of State is John Kerry. What is being said about what kind of a secretary of state he'll make?

LABOTT: Well, really Senator John Kerry is really the only name on this short list now. And he's made no secret that he would like the job.

You know, Senator Kerry is the chairman of the Senate foreign relations committee. He has a lot of world stature. He has a lot of relationships with world leaders that would be seen as being very beneficial. And he's also someone that has done a lot of troubleshooting for the administration in the past going to Afghanistan to meet with President Karzai, going to Pakistan, even at one point talking to the Syrian regime when the administration was trying to look an engagement with them. So Senator Kerry is really seen as someone who has a lot of stature and would certainly be up to the job and the most attractive for the administration, Monita, is that many senators have said that he would be easily confirmed.

RAJPAL: All right. Elise, thank you very much for that. Elise Labott there in Washington.

Still ahead here on News Stream, a different insight into the Gulf region. We step away from Dubai's five star lifestyle to explore its unique art scene.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

RAJPAL: Welcome back.

Well, Dubai is probably best known for scenes like this: palm trees, luxury hotels and lots of sun, but it is also becoming a focal point for artists in the Middle East, but some, like artist Zaineb al-Hashemi (ph) believe more needs to be done to showcase local works. She is this week's human to hero.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

UNIDENFIFIED FEMALE: Dubai has always been open to new ideas. 40 years ago it was a nomad desert, today it's like the tallest building in the world.

Us artists, we have a voice, we have a mark. We have to create regional identity for Dubai or Abu Dhabi (inaudible).

Art has existed in every era and every century. The only difference here is that in our religion we don't really draw figures. People had more interest in architecture and in Islamic art which is very geometric. So I think we have to create a new art.

I'm interested in certain materials that is quite traditional and just redesigning it or rearranging it in a new way. And I'm very much interested about craftsman and artisans in the region, because very few of them exist.

I always want to reenergize with my work like the crafts and importance of the man like these amazing skills.

This is where the creativity, I think, or the passion comes out for me.

I remember the scene of the textile shops from my childhood. My mom would always go into the shops and get the fabric and I think this is where maybe the interest of art and colors it all started. There is a cardboard tube that they fasten on the fabric. I ended up collecting around 50 a day. I was also very much interested in the hand barrell that used to take these fabrics from one shop to another. At the end of the day we would go and get some of -- we would go to the grocery shop, there was always those men which are the owners of the hand barrel laying down on it and napping. And this is how I ended up shaping these modular object to actually look somehow, you know, like a sand bed.

Recently I want to explore the different material of the fish trap. I'm using the fish trap to create like a very modular geometric shape that would lead into different unexpected forms. We're just trying different sketches (inaudible) to the craftsmen, because I always like to know their feedback. I created multiple layers of the fish trap, of course with the head of the craftsmen. And we combined them to create a full sphere which is like a first perfect circle.

All the present, perfect continuous. Defining that this tool of fishing that was in the past can still be used in the present and might continue to be used in the future. I am telling a story with my work. I'm telling the story of the history of that material or I'm telling the story of the men that helped me work on it or even something about me as an artist.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

RAJPAL: And beginning next week you can catch human to hero on World Sport, that starts Wednesday December 19.

And speaking of sport, fined for fan behavior, the verdict is out for the Serbian Football Association after an October match that ended in a brawl.

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RAJPAL: Welcome back.

European Football's governing body is under fire after handing out what many consider was a lenient penalty for racist abuse. Alex Thomas joins us now from London to explain the controversy -- Alex.

ALEX THOMAS, CNN SPORTS CORRESPONDENT: Monita, English football officials have criticized UEFA for what they believe are weak sanctions handed out to the Serbia Football Association for the improper behavior of their fans. European football's governing body fined the Serbian FA $105,000 and ordered its under 21 national team to play their next competitive match behind closed doors.

The ruling came after UEFA investigated an under 21 game between Serbia and England in October. Tempers flaring at the end of a tumultuous match which saw England's black players suffer racial abuse from local supporters. These are the scenes at the end of the game with players and coaches from both sides involved in a brawl.

UEFA's control and disciplinary body also suspended two Serbian coaches, four Serbian players, and two English players. In a statement, the general secretary of the English FA said we're disappointed with the sanctions levied by UEFA with regards to the racist behavior displayed towards England's players. Let's be clear, racism is unacceptable in any form and should play no part in Football.

The Serbian FA said the punishment is not as harsh as we thought it might be, but the verdict and the incident that caused it should come as a last warning to everyone representing Serbian football, that means the coaches, the players, and of course the fans, because even the slightest trouble in the future could result in the most rigorous measures.

That's all the time we've got for this sport's bulletin, but Pedro will be back with world sport in just over three hours time, Monita. Back to you.

RAJPAL: All right, Alex, thank you very much for that.

Well, he invented so common that you probably don't even notice it any more. The inventor of the bar code has died. Normon Joseph Woodland invented the universal product code all the way back in 1949, but the technology to read the code didn't exist for another two decades and that's when Woodland worked with IBM to make a laser scanner to read bar codes. And in 1974, the first ever product containing a bar code was scanned at a supermarket in Ohio, a packet of Juicy Fruit chewing gum.

But bar codes aren't just used for speeding up supermarket check out, they're on concert tickets, some airports use them to sort out suitcases, they're even used on hospital bracelets to access patient information, all because of the work of Norman Joseph Woodland who died on Sunday. He was 91.

And that is News Stream for this Friday. But the news continues at CNN. World Business Today is next.

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