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French, Mali Forces Fight Back Islamist Militants; Northern Irelanders Host Peace Rally Following Riots Over Union Jack Decree; Pakistani Reformists March On Capital
Aired January 14, 2013 - 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: I'm Kristie Lu Stout in Hong Kong. And welcome to News Stream where news and technology meet.
We begin in Mali where French forces are launching air strikes against Islamist militants, but will the situation escalate?
Also ahead, beyond the highest level: emergency levels in Beijing as pollution blanks the city.
And the stars of screen, small and silver, turn out for the Golden Globes. So who won what? We've got the full details straight ahead.
We will strike at the heart of France: Islamist insurgents in Mali have told the French news agency AFP that they will avenge air strikes by French jets and launch attacks on French soil. And France has vowed to eradicate terrorism from its former colony.
It has been assisting the government of Mali and its forces by launching bombing raids from nearby Chad for the last four days. And hundreds of troops from neighboring African countries could be set to join the offensive in the coming days.
Islamist rebels took control of northern Mali in April and recently have begun to push south triggering French intervention.
The UK has offered logistical support and the U.S. is considering its options. And the UN security council is discussing the conflict later today.
Now Islamist rebels have acknowledged heavy losses in battles with French and government forces. And much of the north of the country is desert. And we're going to focus on the regions near the middle of the country.
Now very roughly, the town of Konna marks the government line of control. And to the north, insurgents and rebels. Insurgents, they took Konna on Thursday, but then they retreated after a combined air and ground assault. But in the past half an hour, we've had confirmation that Islamist rebels have gained ground, taking control of the central town of Diabaly.
Now on Friday, a French helicopter pilot died near the town of Mopti. And on Sunday, residents in the town of Gao said that they heard fighter jets and bomb blasts at a nearby Islamist rebel base.
Now the rebel fighters, they accuse France of terrorism and of attacking the people of Mali, but French and military officials there say the assaults are against rebel strongholds and not civilians.
Now Jim Bittermann, he's in Paris. And he joins us now. And Jim, what is the latest that France is saying about this military operation in Mali?
JIM BITTERMANN, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, the very latest is what you just mentioned. It was confirmed by defense minister just awhile ago that this town of Diabaly in northwestern Mali was in fact taken over by the rebels. And I think you're sure the French will turn their attention now to that area.
They basically were able to set the rebels on the run in that vast area of northern Mali, that's an area on its own that's larger than the entire country of France. It's a huge area with very sparsely populated, a lot of desert, and in some says can make targets easy to find, but in some ways not. One of the things the French had been calling for as you mention is some American help with particularly logistics, and by that they mean intelligence, aerial intelligence, satellite photos and whatnot, to give them real time information about where these rebels may exactly be so that they can target them more efficiently with their French fighter jets -- Kristie.
LU STOUT: Jim, so much has happened in the last two days, but take us back to why France decided to get involved in the first place, taking the international lead in this fight against rebels in Mali.
BITTERMANN: Well, they got a direct appeal from the president of Mali who said he was in trouble, basically. The capital Bamako was under threat. As the rebels moved south, they were moving very quickly. And when they crossed that red line midway through the country, headed towards the south, there was seemed to be no way to stop them before they would get to Bamako. So he appealed for French help.
The French have about the most assets of any western power in Africa. They have thousands of soldiers and airmen scattered around the region. And they were able to bring military force to bear quite quickly in response to the president's request. And as you mentioned, they've been bombing for four days now various rebel targets. So they were able to respond quickly and they did.
Now, of course, they are going to the United Nations and they're also appealing to their allies the United States and Great Britain for help in fighting this threat. There's also a possibility, at least it's being talked about, the possibility that Germany might be involved.
In any case, the thought is that this is a threat to western countries as well as African countries in the region. They don't want Mali becoming as some of the analysts here are putting it a Malistan, kind of Afghanistan with a lot of rebel groups able to operate out of the region and attack countries in the surrounding area -- Kristie.
LU STOUT: Yeah, and because of that threat, that's why international commitment could be growing.
Now let's talk about that AFP report. It's reporting that an Islamist rebel leader is vowing to strike back, to strike at the heart of France in response to this military offensive. What's the reaction to that there in France?
BITTERMANN: Well, they're taking it seriously here. The president himself said when he was on television over the weekend about 48 hours ago that the terrorist alert level here would be raised. And in fact this morning there were more police and troops on the streets. They were in very visible positions.
I'm not sure that the terrorist threat is as real as some people think, though. I mean, one of the things we heard from terrorist experts is that these groups, these armed groups in Mali don't seem to have any kind of logistical connection to groups in France. So they're not particularly worried about it, but they say it can be a threat nonetheless.
And I think of more concern would be French installations, embassies and that sort of thing in countries in Africa and other parts of the world where they might be attacked by people that have relations with these rebels -- Kristie.
LU STOUT: All right. Jim Bittermann framing the story for us. Thank you, Jim.
Now France also led a military assault in eastern Africa on Friday. But French forces failed in their bid to rescue an intelligence agent taken hostage in Somalia three-and-a-half years ago. One French soldier and 17 Islamist fighters were killed in a fierce gun battle northwest of the capital Mogadishu. And France's defense minister says another French soldier is also believed to be dead. He says the hostage has also apparently been killed by his captors. But Al Shabaab militants say that the hostage is still alive.
Now let's turn to Pakistan. And thousands of people are now marching to Islamabad. They are demanding an end to political corruption. Now the protesters, they set off from the eastern city of Lahore on Sunday. And they're hoping to reach the capital later on Monday and to demonstrate outside Parliament.
And this is the man behind the march, Tahrir al Qadri. He's a controversial Islamist scholar. And he returned to Pakistan last month from self imposed exile in Canada. And during his eight years abroad, he gained attention by issuing a fatwa on terrorism. Now his decree stated that Islam never justified violence against innocent victims.
But his sudden fame since coming home has raised a lot of questions about where his resources may be coming from. He has drawn large crowds with his broad demands to clean up politics. And some Pakistanis have suggested that Qadri is working on behalf of the military. And he denies the allegations.
Now Qadri has vowed to turn Islamabad into the world's largest Tahrir Square. Now Saima Mohsin joins us now live from the Pakistani capital. And Saima, you've been tracking the protesters all day. What have you seen?
SAIMA MOHSIN, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, so far let me show you the crowds that have gathered here, just a kilometer down the road from the parliament building here. They're all waving the national flag, the Pakistan flag, that's what Tahrir al Qadri told me is the only flag they should be following, not a political flag of any party.
He's calling for change. Hopefully you can hear me over this music.
This is a song that's calling for change in Pakistan. That is his motto, calling for change for a free and fair upcoming election.
You mentioned he has become a controversial figure because he is saying that the government should actually step down immediately. And that's why the people here are gathered. He's saying they're not going to move until that happens.
I've been speaking to some of the ladies. This is the ladies section on this side. They're observing segregation. On the other side there are men. And on this side, many of the women have turned up with suitcases saying they brought their children. They're here to stay.
One of them here is with me now. Why are you here? And what do you want to see happen?
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Actually, we are here -- why, because we demand from this country to make a caretaker government from the educationists, from the doctors, from the engineers. And after that, in Salaa, our demand from the caretaker government is to conduct fair elections. Why? Because these -- the election system is just going, going, that is (inaudible) election system.
MOHSIN: How long are you here to stay?
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: In Salaa until, unless, when the government will (inaudible) our demands we will stay here in Salaa.
MOHSIN: And that's very much the motto of everyone I've been talking to. As you can see, those children here as well.
There's a couple of thousand people here, not quite the million man march that he was promising, but certainly he's been also joined en route as they set off from Lahore on Sunday at 6:00 local time here in Pakistan. It's going to be a few hours before they get here to the center of the city -- Kristie.
LU STOUT: It was fascinating hearing the woman talk about what she is protesting against, election corruption and also to hear that there are children in the scene behind you.
Can you tell us more about who is taking part, just how representative are these protesters who are protesting against corruption in Pakistan?
MOHSIN: I just about heard you, Kristie. People from all up and down the country are here. I've been speaking to people mainly from the Punjab Province, but also from right up and down the country from various provinces. And as I said, men, women, children of all ages are here. They're here to stay.
One woman said, well, why should the president have electricity and water when he opens his tap or switches his lights on? I want that in my home too.
Another -- I met a university graduate who said that she's unable to find a job because the economy is so bad. There aren't any jobs in Pakistan. She wants to see change. She wants to be able to see equal rights, equal opportunities, that's what these men and women are calling for.
LU STOUT: So it's a march for equal rights, equal opportunities, a march against corruption. Saima Mohsin reporting for us live from the Pakistani capital. Thank you.
And you are watching News Stream. And coming up next, another brutal gang rape reported in India, and one eerily similar to last months attack in New Delhi.
Also ahead, violent unrest in Belfast, Northern Ireland. Protests continue over restrictions on the official flying of the Union Flag.
And Beijing blanked by smog so severe emergency measures are implemented in the Chinese capital.
LU STOUT: Now last month's fatal gang rape of a 23 year old woman in New Delhi, it sent shock waves around the world. And now police have arrested seven men in the alleged gang rape of another woman in Northern India.
Now police say that this attack occurred on Friday in the (inaudible) district in the state of Punjab. And like that deadly assault in New Delhi, it happened after the woman boarded a bus. And police say that instead of dropping her off at her village, the attackers took the woman elsewhere and raped her repeatedly throughout the night.
Now Sumnima Udas joins us now live at CNN New Delhi with more. And Sumnima, unbelievable, this is another case of gang rape again on a passenger bus in India. What more can you tell us?
SUMNIMA UDAS, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Kristie, it's just another grim reminder of exactly how common rape unfortunately is in this country. This time, a 29 year old married woman was allegedly raped by a group of seven men in the state of Punjab. According to the police, she was allegedly on a bus traveling to her village when the bus driver did not stop at her bus stop, continued on, and with the help of the bus conductor they took her to an undisclosed location and raped her repeatedly. Five other men joined them as well.
Now the police say they have arrested all seven of the accused men. They are still waiting for the medical reports before they can officially press charges against those seven men -- Kristie.
LU STOUT: And Sumnima, is this new brutal case just fueling the demands for more legal and security reforms for women there in India?
UDAS: Well, there have been several calls for reforms, legal and policing reforms really, ever since that Delhi gang rape. But just over the weekend, we were actually out with the Delhi police to really see what new steps are being taken, what initiatives are being taken by the Delhi police to make this city at least, to make Delhi more secure for women. And what we saw is that there has been a huge increase in the patrolling, night patrolling, every 100 or couple hundred meters across the city barricades were put up. They were stopping almost every single car, checking for mischievous activity inside those cars and also removing those black screens.
A lot of the cars in India have black screens for privacy reasons. And the police is really telling us -- and this we saw for ourselves as well -- that it's next to impossible to check every single car, every single street, in a city like Delhi with such a massive population. And so while they are trying to do their best to meet the expectations of the people, it's really also the mindsets of the people themselves that actually also need to change -- Kristie.
LU STOUT: And also, the level of media attention on sexual violence against women in India, are incidents that wouldn't have been reported on in the past now finally getting coverage in Indian media?
UDAS: Kristie, ever since that Delhi gang rape almost every single day a new rape case is being reported in the media now. And it's almost impossible to tell whether these women, these rape victims feel more emboldened now and are coming out more and reporting these cases more or simply that the Indian media is covering these cases more, covering cases that would never have been noticed or reported in the past -- Kristie.
LU STOUT: All right. Sumnima Udas joining us live from CNN New Delhi, thank you very much indeed for that.
Now take a look at this image, now this was the scene over the weekend in Belfast, Northern Ireland. 29 police officers were injured on Saturday. And that made it the worst day of violence in more than a month of unrest over the British flag. And protesters are angry over a ruling by the city council that limits the flying of the Union flag to 18 days a year.
But of course this is about much more than a flag. Our senior international correspondent Nic Robertson is in Belfast. He joins us now. And Nic, what is this all about? What sparked the latest unrest there?
NIC ROBERTSON, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, it's about the flag, but it's about much more than the flag. When you talk to many people in the Protestant community here, they feel that since the Good Friday peace agreement 15 years ago that ended those three decades of sectarian violence that their community has been the losers, their community has given up too much. The Catholic community is winning too much, if you will, and that they feel that their ties to Britain are being diminished, that they're being pushed towards connecting and uniting with the Republic of Ireland and the flag, really, they say was the last straw.
However, despite these violent protests, the police commissioner coming out today saying he won't tolerate so many officers being injured, that this cannot continue. There are people here that are willing to come out on the streets and show the world a different face, a face for peace of Belfast.
ROBERTSON: Braving bitter cold, several thousand came to stop Northern Ireland's slide to violence. A peace rally against riots triggered by new limits on flying Britain's union flag, a cherished symbol for many Protestants, their ties to mainland UK.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Hopefully people will see that we're not all people in Union Jacks throwing stones, that some of us can listen and some of us can hopefully make compromises.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The people of Northern Ireland, they don't want what's been happening over the past five weeks. And just want the democratic process to continue.
ROBERTSON: By far the majority here in Northern Ireland want an end to the riots, want the prosperity, the 1998 Good Friday peace agreement that ended three decades of sectarian violence was expected to bring. But the undercurrents that propel the violence here flow directly from the wider, peaceful Protestant communities, unease with that very peace agreement.
Billy Hutchinson, a Protestant and former paramilitary member, convicted in the killing of two Catholics nearly 40 years ago and now a politician has been at the heart of helping contain the riots. He blames Catholic leaders for tensions.
BILLY HUTCHINSON, PROGRESSIVE UNIONIST PARTY: (inaudible) up their settlement and now they're talking about a better process. They send up the settlement, that's what they signed up to. And the Good Friday Agreement is not about territory, it's about how we live together and how we share. And they've done that about living together or sharing.
ROBERTSON: To see how deep the divide, listen to former IRA paramilitary commander Gerry Adams, now the province's most powerful Catholic politician who led Catholics into the peace agreement 15 years ago, seeing it as a step toward uniting Northern Ireland with the Republic of Ireland.
GERRY ADAMS, PRESIDENT, SINN FEIN: What we never said it was a settlement. We saw it as an accord. We saw it as an agreement on a journey without any actual agreement about the destination. We're a (inaudible) Irelanders. You know -- what the Union is asleep. Do they not recognize that we believe that the people of this small island should be united?
ROBERTSON: In Hutchingson's Union flag waving community, Protestants appear little prepared for that path. So when Belfast City Council, at the behest of Adams' Sinn Fein party called for the Union flag to come down, reaction was bitter.
HUTCHINSON: The reason for that is that Sinn Fein have been involved in what's called a (inaudible), in other words trying to do away with everything that's British in Northern Ireland.
ROBERTSON: The Union flag, the tip of an iceberg of discontent, below the surface the same old issues, the province's future as part of Britain or the Republic of Ireland.
ADAMS: There's a lesson in any of this, and there are a number of lessons, is that a peace process cannot be taken for granted. It has to be continuously worked at.
ROBERTSON: 29 police officers injured Saturday, the worst violence since the protests began six weeks ago. The stakes could not be higher.
Sunday's peace rally, a glimpse for the world of what could be as politicians are, in effect, putting London and Dublin on notice, it's time to help.
ROBERTSON: Well, there are more protests planned for today and the chief constable has said that there will be knocks on doors for all those rioters that have been throwing rocks and they will be taken to court and some of them sent to jail is something he said that those rioters should consider very carefully.
But there is a very real concern here that there could be an incident in one of these riots, perhaps between the two communities, perhaps between the police and the Protestant protesters, that could trigger even wider violence as somebody was killed or badly injured. And as every day continues, and as every protest goes ahead, many of them peaceful, but those turning violent really have the potential at the moment with the current tensions to trigger much worse or more widespread violence, Kristie.
LU STOUT: All right. Nic Robertson reporting live from Belfast, Northern Ireland on the deep divide there. Thank you, Nic.
Now you're watching News Stream. And still ahead, a World Sport update. Maria Sharapova is one of the stars who was in action on day one of the year's first tennis grand slam. And Pedro Pinto will have all the results from the Australian Open next.
LU STOUT: Live from Hong Kong, you're back watching News Stream.
And the first tennis grand slam tournament of the year is underway. So what's been happening at the Australian Open? That's a question for World Sport's Pedro Pinto who joins us now -- Pedro.
PEDRO PINTO, CNN SPORTS CORRESPONDENT: Hey, Kristie. I've got the answers. I can tell you the men's world number one Novak Djokovic has started the defense of his title in impressive fashion. The Serbian star who is looking for a third straight crown in Melbourne recorded an easy victory over Frenchman Paul-Henri Mathieu. He didn't lose a single service game to his opponent and advanced in an hour and 42 minutes.
Djokovic's compatriot Janko Tipsarevic also won in three sets eliminating crowd favorite Lleyton Hewitt. The Aussie made a record 17 successive appearance at the Australian Open.
On the women's side, Maria Sharapova wasted no time advancing into the second round. The Russian looked to be in great form as she beat compatriot Olga Puchkova comfortably in a match that took just 55 minutes.
You know, Sharapova could face Venus Williams in the third round and the American won on Monday as well. You know, she hasn't won a grand slam single's title since 2008 at Wimbledon, but she looked solid in her victory over 28 year old Russian Galina Voskoboeva.
Super Sunday in the English Premier League lived up to expectations. There was plenty of drama as four of the nation's top teams squared off.
At Old Trafford, Manchester United edged out Liverpool. The home side dominated the first half, took the lead thanks to the inevitable Robin Van Persie. It was his 21st goal in all competitions this season. United grabbed a second goal in the second half. Patrice Evra's header went of Nemania Vidic (ph) and past the Liverpool keeper. A late goal from Daniel Sturic (ph) served as little consolation for the visitors.
A couple of hours later, Manchester City managed to keep pace with the leaders by beating Arsenal in London. James Milner's finish put the citizens up 1-0 at the Emirates Stadium. Edin Dzeko made it 2-0 later in the first half, atoning for an earlier penalty miss. City would add a third goal. And they managed to secure their first away win at Arsenal since 1975, would you believe it?
So seven points still separate the top two teams in the Barclay's Premier League. It does look very much like it is a two horse race considering Chelsea are 14 points behind the leaders at the moment.
NFL fans must be still trying to get their breath back after what was an exciting Sunday in the playoffs. There was a crazy game in Atlanta where the Falcons hosted Seattle. Matt Ryan and the Falcons were looking to shake their reputation of postseason chokers and he did incredibly well in the first half as did the Falcons overall. Here, he connects with Roddy White for 47 yard touchdown. 20-0. So you'd think the game was over, right? Wrong.
The Seahawks clawed all the way back. Russell Wilson connecting with Zack Miller for an easy score. Six point game at that period.
Wilson later manages to avoid a sack and then finds Marshawn Lynch who takes it up the sidelines setting up another touchdown. Lynch would go up the middle. He loses the ball, but not before he broke the plain, so he got the touchdown. And all of a sudden the Seahawks come back and they lead 28-27.
There was another turn in this roller coaster game with Matt Bryant becoming the hero for the Falcons scoring a field goal with just eight seconds on the clock and the Falcons move on in the playoffs. They'll now face the San Francisco 49ers.
A lot of drama in the NFL on Sunday.
More on the NFL on World Sport, but that's all the sports for now, Kristie, back to you.
LU STOUT: All right, Pedro, thank you.
Now still ahead, the sky is dangerously dirty in several Chinese cities. When will they get a breath of fresh air?
And in Kenya, some wildlife park rangers are paying the ultimate price to try to protect the animals. We'll have a disturbing report on poaching.
STOUT: I'm Kristie Lu Stout in Hong Kong. You're watching NEWS STREAM, and these are your world headlines.
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STOUT (voice-over): The news agency AFP says (inaudible) insurgents in Mali are starting to carry out attacks on French soil in response to a French military assault on its fighters. (Inaudible) press says it has spoken to the leader of a rebel group that has links to Al Qaeda, who told them, "France has attacked Islam, so we will attack France."
Thousands of protesters are marching on Islamabad, the capital of Pakistan. They are demanding an end to corruption within the country's political establishment. The preacher, Tahirul Qadri, is leading the protest which he calls a million-man march.
Police in India say that they have arrested seven men suspected of repeatedly raping a woman in the northern state of Punjab last weekend. Authorities say that the victim was kidnapped by a bus driver and another man and that they and five others carried out the attack. Five men are currently on trial in New Delhi charged with another gang rape that sparked outrage across India.
And from today, Cuban citizens will be able to leave the country without an exit permit or an invitation from someone abroad. All they need is a passport. (Inaudible) thousands of people separated from their families for years will have an easier time traveling to meet with them. It's one of several reforms implemented by President Raul Castro.
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STOUT: China has spent another day blanketed by dangerous air. Pollution levels have reached record highs in the last few days. And the (inaudible) news agency says that a rare orange warning has been issued because of low visibility. Now just take a look at this.
On the top, you see Beijing on a clear day and, below, the city's skyline just blotted out by the smog. Reports of respiratory problems and sales of face masks have skyrocketed. People have been told to stay indoors.
The latest reading by the U.S. embassy in Beijing rates the air quality as very unhealthy. But it was this, off the charts measurement on Saturday that really raised concern. The reading here is 755 on a scale that tops out at 500. China's government usually measures larger particles in the air. But that practice has drawn criticism, even from pro-Beijing newspaper, "The Beijing Global Times."
Now an opinion piece published on Monday reads, "In the future, the government should publish truthful environmental data to the public." It goes on to say that "The choice between development and environment protection should be made by genuinely democratic methods."
Let's get more now on the smog that's choking many cities in China right now. Mari Ramos joins us now at the World Weather Center with that.
MARI RAMOS, AMS METEOROLOGIST: Hi, Kristie. I was just checking the latest Twitter feed from where you got that reading there that you just showed us. And just even 18 hours ago, they had another off the chart reading. That was the last one that they literally said off the charts. After that, it's gone from that to hazardous and then to unhealthy.
So it's still a pretty serious situation there for people across this area. So let's talk a little bit about the smog. This is what it looks like from (inaudible). This is that picture from Sunday. And a lot of this is just that pollution that is sitting over the same general area. Beijing -- and actually this part of China has a very particular problem.
Not only are we talking about millions and millions of people, industry, automobiles and everything that comes with that, normally you would tend to have an air quality problem. But then they also have the problem of geography and they have the problem of weather. All of these three things combining to give us the situation that we have right now.
First of all, topography. We have mountains that are here to the north. And so when the wind is either very still or generally blowing out of the east, it just kind of gets trapped here along the mountains, and it can't go anywhere. So it just sits right over this bowl, so to speak, right in this area of lower elevation and it's pretty significant.
The other thing that we have happening is some -- is high pressure, high pressure is descending air. It's almost like putting a lid right over this area. So there's no mixing of the air. Those polluted particles can't escape anywhere. And everything is just kind of stagnant and sitting over the same place.
There's no mixing in the atmosphere and so you end up with this soup of nastiness, just kind of a -- just blanketing this entire region. Beijing is one of the cities that has the problem. But you can see that this is widespread and it affects really millions of people across northeastern China.
We're going to start to see a little bit of a change with this pollution that is trapped at the surface because there's a cold front coming through. And that is going to help mix the air up just a little bit. There's only about a 20 percent chance of rain. But that's not going to be the thing that we'll be looking for.
We'll be looking for that change in the wind direction. That could help with this problem. A hundred is considered unhealthy. We were, like you said, off the charts over the last -- since Saturday, Sunday and even earlier today on Monday. So that's a big deal. We get a lot of short- and long-term health effects that happen here. That's a huge concern long-term for the population.
The World Health Organization saying there's 1.3 million deaths related to outdoor pollution worldwide. So that's a huge thing. Transportation delays in the air, on the roadways, in the railways because of the lack of visibility, like you said, that orange warning that was in place, and infrastructure. This is not something we think about a lot.
But the more polluted the air, is you got to think about all those chemicals that are in the air that also affect corrosion on buildings, problems with bridges, overpasses. So you need more maintenance on these, spend more money, then trying to keep all of these things kind of in place.
So -3 right now in Beijing, like I was saying, we do have a cold front that's going to come in. It's going to help already we're starting to see that wind shirt direction from the east, now more toward the west. And that's going to help things out.
Something I also want to tell you about, over here across Japan, terrible, terrible blizzard. We have some pictures to show you from that area, because they've been getting just hammered with some extremely heavy snowfall. I haven't been able to confirm the snowfall totals just yet. But they are very significant.
Some people calling it the worst snowfall, the worst blizzard in at least 20 years across the city, hundreds and hundreds of flights have been canceled, not just in Tokyo but along the region and roadways, like you see right there, Kristie, not easy to get around. It doesn't snow in Tokyo all the time. It's rare.
But when you get this kind of snowfall, it is a big deal. We're going to start to see an improvement in the weather for you in Tokyo. But the snow will continue along that western side of central parts of Japan. So a lot going on weather wise. Breathe easy in Beijing. Hopefully tomorrow you'll get a little better air and dig out of the snowfall there in Tokyo.
Back to you.
STOUT: Yes, really a lot going on, blizzard in Tokyo, bad air in Beijing. Mari Ramos across it all, thank you, Mari.
Now let's go to Africa next. And with the price of ivory on the rise, poachers are becoming increasingly desperate to get their hands on it. Now in Kenya, it is the job of park rangers to do what they can to protect the animals. But as Nima Elbagir found out, in this exclusive report, it's not just elephants the poacher sights.
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NIMA ELBAGIR, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Crawling deep into the long grass, Kenyan Wildlife Service rangers painstakingly comb the scrubland for signs of intruders. But the bush is thick and the price of ivory rocketing on the black market.
ELBAGIR: We're out on patrol with one of the daily anti-poaching patrols that goes out here in Nairobi's national park. It is difficult, dangerous work. And time and time again, no matter how often the Kenyan Wildlife Service seeks to step up its deployment, they're coming up against the same obstacle.
(voice-over): The rangers number fewer than 3,000 and are responsible for the elephants and rhinos spread across Kenya, a country roughly the size of France.
Paul Mbugua has been a ranger in the Kenyan Wildlife Service's military wing for the last 20 years. He knows only too well the dangers these men face every time they go out on a patrol.
PAUL MBUGUA, KENYA WILDLIFE SERVICE: A poacher has the intent. And the intention is to kill elephants. If you stand between him and the ivory, you are sure going to be dead.
ELBAGIR: So really, for your men, it's kill or be killed?
MBUGUA: It's a war and you are fighting frivolous people. You don't know where they are. It's a guerrilla kind of war. And it's being fought from all fronts. You actually don't know where they will spring from, perhaps even where we are. They could be (inaudible) around here.
ELBAGIR (voice-over): Animal rights groups say the price of ivory has tripled in recent years, fueled by a growing appetite for ivory products in increasingly affluent Asian countries, particularly China and Thailand and the Kenyan authorities are overwhelmed.
MBUGUA: From the start of this year we had (inaudible) increase of (inaudible) in the poaching incidences. And what we did was to step up our anti-poaching operations. We deployed more resources.
We deployed more personnel. However, even with the efforts we are doing, we've noticed that the last year we lost approximately 360 elephants as opposed -- as compared to the previous year, 2011, when we lost 289 elephants.
ELBAGIR (voice-over): He says they used to know specific areas of the country where poachers could be found. But now they're everywhere.
MBUGUA: Every place where we have an elephant, we have a poacher sitting in the wings just waiting to strike.
ELBAGIR (voice-over): For safety reasons, we're not able to venture out too far on patrol with the rangers. Last year, six rangers were killed in arms confrontations with poachers. Their names were added to the commemorative plaque that guards the entrance to Nairobi Safari Park, honoring those who have given their lives in the line of duty.
Already in 2013, a herd of 12 elephants were killed and stripped of their tusks, the biggest single kill in Kenya in the last two decades. Yet in spite of all the challenged, Mbugua says it will not deter him or his rangers from protecting what he calls their heritage. He only hopes the world will find a way to stand with them and stem this deadly and illegal trade once and for all.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
STOUT: Now let's go straight to Kenya now. And Nima Elbagir is in Nairobi and, Nima, I want to get a better idea what these park rangers are up against. Who is behind the poaching in Kenya? Is it individuals or are these criminal cartels?
ELBAGIR: Well, it is an incredibly opportunistic industry, as you can imagine, Kristie. When we're talking about those kind of prices for ivory, it sounds like everyone with a gun and in a region like East Africa, which is awash with a lot of illegal weaponry, it does feel exceedingly like guns are very easy to get hold of.
Going out into the bush and poaching elephants or rhinos for their ivory seems like a very easy way to make a living. I'll actually -- I'm going to tell you a little story that perhaps will put this into context for you.
The Kenyan Wildlife Service keeps their stockpile of confiscated ivory in a strong room and so concerned are they about the length that poachers are willing to go to that they wouldn't even let us know where this ivory was held, even though it is in the Kenyan capital. That really gives you a sense of the lengths that poachers are willing to go to, Kristie.
STOUT: That's right. The location becomes a state secret.
Just how equipped are the park wardens to fight off the poachers and to protect the elephants? Do you think they need international help?
ELBAGIR: Well, what they're looking for more than any kind of international help with their anti-poaching activities, what they're looking for, really, is a unified international position. Coming up this March, the U.N. Convention on the Trade of Endangered Animals is due to meet in Thailand.
And Kenya and other countries in the elephant range in East Africa are looking for a really strong position from the international community, not just to make it more difficult to trade in illegal ivory, because there is, of course, we should say, a trade in legal ivory, which is when countries sell off their confiscated stockpiles.
They're looking for really strong positions in terms of customs control from the international community. But they're also looking for a cultural shift.
They're hoping that by holding it in Thailand on a home turf, as some activists have said to me, that Asian countries will really try -- will really begin to see the cost, that it's not just the animals that are losing their lives, but they're also (inaudible) ivory is coming at a huge human toll as well, Kristie.
STOUT: That's right. A lot of that ivory demand comes right here in Asia. Nima Elbagir joining us live from Nairobi, thank you so much for that report.
Now you're watching NEWS STREAM. And still to come, the key witness arrives to take the stand: the latest in the trial of former Italian prime minister Silvio Berlusconi. He was accused of having sex with an underage exotic dancer.
STOUT: Now you're watching NEWS STREAM and here is a visual rundown of all the stories we're covering. And you can look at the column nearest to me. And we've told you about the situation in Mali. And brought you the very latest from the Australian open.
And now to Italy, where this woman in the middle there, Karima Al Mahroug, otherwise known as "Ruby Heartbreaker" is embroiled in a sex scandal involving former prime minister Silvio Berlusconi. Now Berlusconi's accused of hiring her at least 13 times for sex in 2010 when she was just 17 years old.
Now sex with a prostitute under the age of 18 is a crime in Italy. Berlusconi's lawyers have asked for the proceedings to be suspended. Our senior international correspondent, Ben Wedeman, joins us now live from Milan, Italy.
And, Ben, the woman at the center of this trial, she's been called twice before to court but failed to show up. She arrived at court today, didn't she?
BEN WEDEMAN, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Yes, she did, and there were many journalists waiting there to see her. She didn't speak to anybody. We do have some news, however. She is a witness for the defense, for Mr. Berlusconi's defense team. And they have told the judge that they do not need her to testify in the trial; therefore, the judge dismissed her and she left the courtroom.
So at this point, it does appear she is no longer a witness in this trial. There is another trial going on involving the procurement of prostitutes where she may be called as a witness. But at this point, it does appear that she's no longer going to be called, at least by the defense, to testify in this trial here in Milan, Kristie.
STOUT: And how will this trial affect the political resurrection of Silvio Berlusconi and his bid for reelection?
WEDEMAN: Well, it's difficult to say. You know, here in Italy, people, when you ask them about Silvio Berlusconi, they either love him or hate him. And those who love him and we spoke with one woman in front of the courthouse behind me, who told us that she agrees with Mr. Berlusconi.
She feels that the Italian justice system is biased and, OK, here, I'm going to -- we're going to pan the camera over. There's a white taxi moving behind me. And that appears (inaudible) way that is carrying Karima El Mahroug, the woman at the center of this controversy. And of course now we have a bus going in front of us.
You see some journalists chasing after that car to try to get a shot. So it does appear -- and I'll step back in front of the camera now -- it does appear, Kristie, that she has left the trial.
Now back to your question. Yes, Mr. Berlusconi, he did suffer a lot in the public, in the court of public opinion here in Italy because of his many scandals, financial, personal and otherwise. But in fact, in recent days, he's been going up in the polls against the leftist (ph) coalition.
So, in fact, those who have damned him in the court of public opinion have already been there. And therefore it doesn't appear that this trial, regardless of the outcome, has severely damaged his current level of political support as Italy prepares for elections at the end of February, Kristie.
STOUT: You know, we just saw that vehicle behind you, carrying El Mahroug, taking her away from the courtroom. And if Silvio Berlusconi is found guilty in the sex trial involving her -- her nickname, of course, "Ruby Heartbreaker" -- what sentence could he be facing?
WEDEMAN: Well, it's as much as three years for sex with an underaged prostitute. And that's in addition to other sentences he's facing. He was found guilty of tax evasion late last year and sentenced to four years in prison. But the sentence is automatically reduced because he's over 70 years old.
And, in fact, he's got two more trials coming up this week alone, one involving the release of secret court papers by he (sic) and his brother. And another -- and in fact, there's going to be the appeal for that case of tax evasion that I referred to just a moment ago. So he's got plenty to keep him busy in the courts, let alone on the campaign trail, Kristie.
STOUT: Yes indeed. Ben Wedeman on the embattled Silvio Berlusconi, joining us live from Rome, thank you very much indeed for that.
Now you're watching NEWS STREAM and still ahead, stars, snubs and surprises. We've got a full roundup of all the action from this year's Golden Globes.
STOUT: Welcome back. Now in the U.K., the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge have announced a surprise for summer time. The couple says that they are expecting their first child in July. Now last month, Catherine's pregnancy was revealed earlier than planned when she was hospitalized for acute morning sickness.
Now she attended her first public appearance in recent weeks. Last Friday at London' National Portrait Gallery for the unveiling of her first official portrait.
Now to Hollywood and he may have been snubbed at the Oscars, but Ben Affleck and "Argo" were the big winners at the Golden Globe awards. Nischelle Turner wraps up the highlights from Sunday's ceremony.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
TINA FEY, COMEDIAN: Getting sloppy in here, everybody.
AMY POEHLER, COMEDIAN: Look how drunk Glenn Close is.
NISCHELLE TURNER, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): The Golden Globes are usually one big irreverent party and cohosts Amy Poehler and Tina Fey kept the zingers coming for the ceremony's 70th anniversary.
POEHLER: Kathryn Bigelow nominated tonight. And when it comes to torture, I trust the lady who spent three years married to James Cameron.
TURNER (voice-over): The drinks and jokes were flowing but there were, you know, awards to be handed out. And guess who had the best reason to celebrate?
JULIA ROBERTS, ACTRESS: "Argo."
TURNER (voice-over): The Iran hostage thriller, "Argo," earned the night's biggest prize, Best Drama. And director Ben Affleck, who didn't receive an Oscar nomination this year, was a winner as well.
BEN AFFLECK, ACTOR AND DIRECTOR: I don't care what the award is. When they put your name next to the names that she just read off, it's an extraordinary thing in your life.
TURNER (voice-over): "Lincoln"'s Daniel Day-Lewis and "Zero Dark Thirty"'s Jessica Chastain took the top acting awards. And both saluted their directors, Steve Spielberg and Kathryn Bigelow.
DANIEL DAY-LEWIS, ACTOR: And Steven Spielberg, you've given me an experience that I will treasure to the end of my life.
JESSICA CHASTAIN, ACTRESS: Kathryn Bigelow, you've done more for women in cinema that you can take credit for.
TURNER (voice-over): No misery at the "Les Miserables" table. The film won Best Musical or Comedy and earned honors for first-time Globe winner Hugh Jackman and Supporting Actress Anne Hathaway.
ANNE HATHAWAY, ACTRESS: Thank you for this lovely blunt object that I will forevermore use as a weapon against self-doubt.
TURNER (voice-over): On the TV side, Showtime's "Homeland" took top drama honors. "Girls" won Comedy Series and a Best Actress Golden Globe for its creator and star, Lena Dunham.
LENA DUNHAM, ACTRESS: This award is for everyone who's ever felt like there wasn't a space for her.
TURNER (voice-over): Speaking of women, Jodie Foster, honored with the Cecil B. DeMille Career Achievement Award, provided the night's most emotional moment.
JODIE FOSTER, ACTRESS: I will continue to tell stories. But it will be my writing on the wall. And I want to be seen, to be understood deeply and to be not so very lonely.
TURNER (voice-over): And former President Bill Clinton surprised everyone when he came out to salute "Lincoln." In the end, they laughed, they cried and, of course, the party continued.
POEHLER: Good night.
FEY: Good night. We're going home with Jodie Foster.
TURNER (voice-over): Nischelle Turner, CNN, Hollywood.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
STOUT: Now Nischelle mentioned Jodie Foster's award. But the real significance of the moment wasn't what she got, but what she said. Now she started by warming up the audience by saying she was going to put it out there, loud and proud. She knew that the audience was expecting a big coming-out speech. So instead, she delivered this.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
FOSTER: I already did my coming out about a thousand years ago back in the Stone Age, in those --
FOSTER: -- very quaint days when a fragile young girl would open up to trusted friends and family and co-workers and then gradually, proudly to everyone who knew her, to everyone she actually met.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
STOUT: Now Jodie Foster seized the moment to say that she's been out on her own terms for years. But today she's finally letting us know as well.
Now, finally, it is official: the United States will not build a Death Star. A petition on the White House site asks the Obama administration to build a real version of the planet -- the planet- destroying space station, rather, from the film "Star Wars." It has over 34,000 signatures. That's enough for an official response from the White House and here is the response.
A letter from the White House's Science and Space Chief, Paul Shawcross. And he is clearly a big fan of the series. Now the letter is full of quotes and references to the "Star Wars" films.
Sadly, it also has three reasons why the White House will not build a Death Star. There is the cost, there is the famous flaw that allowed Luke Skywalker to blow it up, and there's this, quote, " The Administration does not support blowing up planets."
An Obama policy that surely even Republicans will agree with. And that is NEWS STREAM. But the news continues at CNN. "WORLD BUSINESS TODAY" is next.