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British Prime Minister Calls For Referendum On EU Membership; Hillary Clinton Testifies Today On Benghazi Attacks; Smog Shrouds Beijing; UN World Food Program Feeds 1.5 Million Syrians; Serena Williams Upset At Australian Open

Aired January 23, 2013 - 08:00:00   ET


KRISTIE LU STOUT, HOST: I'm Kristie Lu Stout in Hong Kong. And welcome to News Stream where news and technology meet.

Preparing to testify: the U.S. secretary of state is heading to Capitol Hill to talk about the deadly attack on the U.S. consulate in Benghazi.

Also, Syria's refugee crisis. We speak live to the executive director of the UN's world foot program.

And teen spirit. The rising tennis star who has knocked Serena Williams out of the Australian Open.

Now less than one hour from now, U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton is scheduled to appear on Capitol Hill. Now she is testifying about the deadly attack on the U.S. consulate in Benghazi, Libya. The September 11 assault killed four Americans, including U.S. ambassador Christopher Stevens.

Now Mrs. Clinton had been scheduled to testify in December, but that appearance was postponed due to illness.

Now Jill Dougherty reports lawmakers have a lot of questions they want answered.


JILL DOUGHERTY, CNN CORREPSONDENT: On the eve of long awaited testimony by Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, new State Department cables, sources telling CNN's Jack Tapper, that ambassador Chris Stevens killed in the attack once proposed moving the mission where he died to a more secure location near a CIA compound. But the department refused.

SEN. JOHN MCCAIN, (D) ARIZONA: What did the secretary of state know before, during and after, because the American people were clearly deceived.

DOUGHERTY: Aids say she's likely to repeat what she told CNN in October.

HILLARY CLINTON, U.S. SECRETARY OF STATE: I take responsibility. I'm in charge of the State Department, 60,000 plus people all over the world, 275 posts.

DOUGHERTY: Nine days after the attack, she was the first top official to brief the full Senate in closed session. Since there, there have been more than 30 hearings and closed door briefings with State Department officials present. But Clinton's testimony was delayed by travel and then by illness.

SEN. LINDSEY GRAHAM, (R) SOUTH CAROLINA: She needs to be asked about what she knew about the deteriorating circumstances in Benghazi. Did she see the 16 August cable? Was she informed of the rise of al Qaeda militia?

DOUGHERTY: That cable warned the U.S. mission in Benghazi was not secure enough to survive a coordinated attack.

Other senator claim Clinton's State Department has not handed over all communications on Benghazi.

SEN. JIM RISCH, (R) WISCONSIN: The texting, the instant messaging, we really need to have a look at that, which we haven't seen yet.

DOUGHERTY: Others want to know what Clinton knows about those misleading talking points that UN ambassador Susan Rice used in those September 16 Sunday talk shows. And why Clinton herself didn't appear instead.

Clinton is likely to tell congress how she already has ordered implementation of recommendations from an independent review, tighten security at diplomatic posts worldwide and sent threat analysts to over a dozen high risk posts.

Will congress give the outgoing secretary of state a hard time?

RISCH: I'm sure she's not going to be beaten up. She's highly respected by everyone on the committee.


LU STOUT: Jill Dougherty reporting there.

And we will have live coverage of her testimony before the U.S. Senate Foreign Relations committee in the next hour on World Business Today.

Now we move now to Syria where 22 months after the initial uprising the violence and the killing go on unabated. On Tuesday, 164 people were killed throughout the country, that's according to opposition activists. And their deaths add to a toll that now exceeds 60,000 by UN estimates. And for every person killed in Syria, another 10 have fled across the country's borders to escape a war with no end in sight.

In Turkey, Jordan, Lebanon, Iraq and further afield in Egypt tens of thousands of sought shelter.

And on Tuesday, 71 people were killed in the Syrian capital of Damacus in its outskirts alone.

Our Nick Paton Walsh is covering the story for us from CNN Istanbul. He joins us now live. And Nick, the fighting and all the violence is sending more Syrians out of the country. What is the latest on the refugee crisis?

NICK PATON WALSH, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, mostly on the Jordanian border, quite remarkable numbers in the past three days. The Jordanian government saying 20,000 Syrians have crossed into Jordan in the past three days, that's about over 6,000 in the last 24 hours and the 24 hours before that 5,800, remarkable numbers. And one particular camp, Zatari (ph) near that border filling up at a remarkable rate. The UNHCR just telling me that they received 2,800 new people in that camp in the last 24 hours. About 3,000 in the 24 hours before that. And that increases the camp's population by about 10 to 15 percent.

We were there about two weeks ago to see how rains have come in, flooded many tents, made life frankly that was already unbearable for many, even harder. And we had just heard from the UNHCR confirming the deaths of two children in that camp in the past 48 hours. The cause of those deaths unknown, but they're saying they don't believe at this point it was related to camp conditions, but still the anger growing inside people inside that camp. They see the conditions they're in. They see no real obvious sight in the future of being able to return back to their homes inside Syria. And of course many of them fleeing the violence, which in Daraa just on the other side of the Syrian-Jordanian border in which many of them flee overnight, there has been intense violence in the past week, Kristie.

LU STOUT: That's a lot of anger about the conditions at the camps. And now an influx in the number of refugees crossing the border into Jordan. And also, you're monitoring this new video that's emerged of last week's deadly attack on the University of Aleppo and its casting doubt about who was really behind that attack. What can you tell us?

PATON WALSH: Well, let's just -- you're seeing the pictures now of significant explosion around the university compound. I think as this video plays on you'll see and you'll hear a whooshing noise as the explosion finally happens.

Let me give you a recap. This was a blast early last week, 87 dead, 150 injured, one of the most significant, most deadly singular explosions and attacks of this 22 month long conflict. It's always been unclear what exactly caused this. The government initially saying it was a car bomb, which the whoosh and noise in this particular video tends to undermine as an explanation. The government then said maybe it was a surface to surface missile mistakenly fired by rebels. The sheer force of this blast and the whooshing noise would suggest perhaps a weapon slightly more sophisticated than the rebels are known to have in their arsenal.

So there are many bloggers saying this is more conclusive proof of what rebels and the United States government, in fact, have been saying that the real cause of these two deadly blasts was in fact jet fighters, regime jet fighters flying overhead who dropped bombs -- Kristie.

LU STOUT: And of course it's online video like that that helps us to get a better understanding of what's happening inside the country. And Nick Paton Walsh reporting for us, thank you.

And as Nick mentioned, Syria's civilians, they are bearing the brunt of this war. Inside the country, people simply crossing the street can be caught in the crossfire. They put their lives on the line just for basic necessities.

Now this man is running from snipers as he carries his groceries.

Now shelling has hit the bread lines. Car bombs have also claimed victims. Half a million Syrians have fled the violence and they're seeking safety in neighboring countries highlighted here in yellow.

And the United Nations says that the number of refugees could grow to more than 1 million this year.

Now a cruel, cold winter is just increasing their misery. And more shelter, more supplies are needed.

Now the UN's world food program is trying to help. And we are now joined by WFP executive director Ertharin Cousin. She recently visited Syrian refugees in Turkey. She joins me now live from Davos, Switzerland. Thank you so much for joining us here on CNN International. And you are there at Davos to put food security on the agenda and to draw attention to the food crisis in Syria. So how many people are you feeding inside Syria and at neighboring refugee camps?

ERTHARIN COUSIN, WFP EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR: Inside Syria today we're feeding about 1.5 million people per month. Our goal, however, is a phased approach to move up to 2.5 million people. Until very recently, we only had one partner, the Syrian-Arab Red Crescent. We are now expanding the number of partners that we're working with inside Syria so that we can accomplish that goal of reaching 2.5 million.

So many of those that we are reaching are internally displaced persons, people who have been forced from their homes inside the country and are living in mosques and churches as well as schools to seek shelter during this tough time. Not only are we delivering food to them, but we're working with the other UN agencies to deliver non-food items like blankets to them.

Outside Syria, we're now reaching approximately 250,000 refugees in the five neighboring countries who are -- require our food assistance.

I was just in Turkey. What was exciting about what we're doing in Turkey, but challenging, is that we're providing an electronic payment to those refugees which gives them the opportunity to purchase food, give them some sense of dignity in this very difficult time.

I'm headed on Friday back to the region to go to the Zatari (ph) camp that you just showed so that we can ensure that we have the resources that are available to meet those who are seeking asylum in the neighboring countries.

LU STOUT: You know the scale of your effort is just simply amazing. You're feeding 1.5 million Syrian a month. You want to ramp that up to 2.5 million. You're also feeding 250,000 Syrians who are living outside the country as refugees.

I wanted to ask you about the logistical challenge of feeding Syrians inside the country, because the shelling and fighting goes on. Is the violence getting in the way of your food delivery?

COUSIN: This is an evolving conflict situation. Every day is a challenge to reach each of the governance where people are in need. Some days, because of the ongoing conflict, we cannot reach people who need our support and assistance. One of the tools that we require is the humanitarian space. We don't get involved in the politics. We can't solve that. But we can bring the food assistance that is necessary to meet the needs of those who are impacted by this conflict. If those who are working on the politics ensure that there's a humanitarian space so that we can reach those in need.

LU STOUT: Have your food trucks been attacked inside Syria? And have these attacks escalated in recent months?

COUSIN: Our food trucks have been attacked. We have seen rising numbers of attacks on the trucks in various areas around the country. The reality of it is we have conversations with everyone. The opposition side, the regime side, to ensure that everyone recognizes that we are not favoring one community over another, that our goal is to ensure that we get assistance into every community. And when we have those conversations we've had situations where we've actually had the food returned to us after our trucks had been attacked.

But we will continue to do what is necessary to reach those in need.

LU STOUT: Also, to reach those in need given the weather there, it has been a brutal, cold winter there in Syria. Has that affected your group's ability to deliver food?

COUSIN: Yes, it has. We have areas -- you saw the camp in Jordan where when the rains came part of the camp was flooded. We, unfortunate for us, it impacted our delivery for only one day. After that, we were able to against distribute food to those in need inside the camp.

Inside Syria itself, where roads have been impacted by weather as well as by conflict, we have challenges getting into those areas.

LU STOUT: Now at the beginning of our conversations...

COUSIN: I have a staff, however...

LU STOUT: Yeah, go ahead.

COUSIN: I was saying, I have a staff that is committed, however, to working both an international staff and a national staff, inside Syria to ensure that despite every obstacle they work for ways to overcome those obstacles so that we can ensure that we continue to get that necessary assistance to those who are being affected by the conflict.

LU STOUT: That's right. And despite the fighting, the attacks on your food trucks and the cold weather, you still have this bold goal to ramp up your food operation to reach eventually $2.5 million Syrians inside the country.

Now you're there in Davos, Switzerland. Are the executives there listening to you? Are they willing to help at all?

COUSIN: People are listening to us. They are asking what they can do to help. The reality -- we need the public will to ensure that the right conversations are happening that will provide us with the humanitarian space that we need, and also the financial assistance that we need. An operation of this scale is depleting the resources of 100 percent voluntarily funding program like WFP. And so we're looking for additional resources to ensure that while we have the capacity, that we don't run out of the financial support that is required to meet the needs of those who we serve.

LU STOUT: For the sake of the people in Syria who have been suffering, we wish you and your team the very best. Ertharin cousin, executive director of the World Food Program, thank you.

And you, too, can help Syria's refugees. You can find links to reputable charities at You could also hear from some young Syrians. They share their stories of survival and of loss.

Now you are watching News Stream. And coming up, Japan's deputy prime minister is in the hot seat after an insensitive remark he made about the country's elderly.

Also, Israel's national elections -- prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu's party won the most seats, but another party is on the rise.

Also, the Algerian hostage crisis sheds light on a new generation of terrorists across North Africa. Stick around.


LU STOUT: Welcome back.

You're watching News Stream. And right here is a visual rundown of all the stories we're covering. And we have told you about Hillary Clinton's long awaited testimony and the crisis in Syria. But now to Japan and that is where there is fury after the deputy prime minister suggested that some of the elderly should, quote, hurry up and die. Now Taro Aso was talking about ways to reduce costs for caring for the elderly.

Now he has since back tracked, but in Japan where family values are front and center, his remarks have sparked a huge outcry.

Alex Zolbert has more.


ALEX ZOLBERT, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: In a country that's home to more than 30 million elderly residents, Japan's deputy prime minister Taro Aso has offended more than his fair share this week. It happened in a meeting about social security reform and the high cost of health care.

When speaking about the idea of being on life support, the gaffe prone politician has suggested it would be best to die quickly. Also referring to those on life support as, quote, tube people.

Needless to say, in this shopping mecca for Tokyo's older set, Aso isn't winning rave reviews.

"It's ridiculous. I don't trust him anymore," this woman tells us.

"I understand what he's getting at," this man says, "but as a national leader he should not say such things."

Aso, who was once prime minister, has tried to clarify the remarks, saying he was expressing his personal views, that he himself would feel guilty if his life was prolonged for many years at the government's expense.

Some say while it is a bad case of Aso catching foot in mouth disease, it does generate an interesting discussion.

JEFFREY KINGSTON, TEMPLE UNIVERSITY: The way he brought up off the cuff isn't the way to maybe launch this debate, but I think perhaps this would be an opportunity for society, for the government, for doctors to launch a conversation nationally about what to do about people who do want to end their lives.

This nursing student tells us, "when I see people unconscious and on life support, I wonder if that's what they really want."

Her grandmother says the comments are offensive. "But my husband passed away recently without much suffering. And that did make things easier."

Either way, in a country where more than 25 percent of the population is over the age of 65, most would agree the 72-year-old deputy prime minister needs to choose his words a bit more carefully.

Alex Zolbert, CNN, Tokyo.


LU STOUT: Now it is the upset of the tournament so far. Sloan Stevens reaches the semifinals of the Australian Open by beating her hero Serena Williams. We'll have more from the Australian Open next.


LU STOUT: All right, coming to you live from Hong Kong, you're back watching News Stream.

And the top men's players are proving impossible to beat at the Australian tennis open, but there has been a massive upset in the women's singles. And world sport's Alex Thomas can join us now to bring us up to date -- Alex.

ALEX THOMAS, CNN SPORTS CORRESPONDENT: Yeah, hi, Kristie. Well, the world number one and defending champion Victoria Azarenka swept through to the women's semifinals in straight sets. Her much anticipated showdown with Serena Williams won't happen. The 15-time grand slam winner has been knocked out of the Australian Open by one of the leading lights of the game's next generation, fellow American Sloan Stevens. Even though Williams won the opening set by 6-3, her teenage opponent battled back to win the next two sets 7-5, 6-4 and reach a major semifinal for the first time in her career.

Our own Amanda Davies was watching in Melbourne.


AMANDA DAVIES, CNN SPORTS CORRESPONDENT: It's probably too early to talk about a changing of the guard, but undoubtedly Sloan Stevens has made the tennis world stand to attention. On paper, there was only ever going to be one winner of this contest, a 19 year old with no titles to her name playing in her first grand slam quarterfinal, up against a 15-time Grand Slam champion in Serena Williams.

It's probably doing Stevens something of a disservice, though, to make too much of Serena Williams back injury, although it did undoubtedly affect the 31 year old performance. Although when Eric Clapton's "Knocking on Heaven's Door" starting ringing out inside the Rod Lever Arena, you did think they were taking it just a little bit too far. Stevens chased every ball, hit big and certainly didn't let the occasion get the better of her.

So it's into the semifinals, having beaten in three sets the player she grew up idolizing, who adorns her bedroom walls. But the big question, is Sloan Stevens the poster girl for the next generation?

Amanda Davies, CNN, Melbourne.


THOMAS: In the men's singles, Andy Murray and Roger Federer will play each other in a grand slam semifinal for the first time. They played three times in a final, Federer winning them all. Murray breezed through to the last four in Melbourne with a straight sets win over France's Jeremy Chardy. It took the U.S. Open champion less than two hours and he'll now face Federer for the 20th time, the Brit holding a 10-9 winning record against the Swiss legend. And Federer needed all his famous skills to beat an inspired Jo-Wilfried Tsonga in the last of the men's quarterfinals.

Twice the Frechman came from a set down to level the match before the second seed won in a fifth and deciding set. The contest lasting more than three-and-a-half hours.

Now one of global football's most senior figures has called match fixing in football a disease. And he's repeated UEFA president Michel Platini's claim that it's the biggest problem facing the sport.

Jerome Valcke, the general secretary of world governing body FIFA, told CNN earlier that football bosses needed to be vigilant about an issue that reaches every corner of the planet.


JEROME VALCKE, FIFA GENERAL SECRETARY: I really think that it's a -- if I may say, a disease, a threat which is on the worldwide basis. It's not just about Africa. It is in Asia, it is in Europe, it is in North America, it is in Canada, it is in South America. It's all around the world that this match fixing, or match manipulation is active.

PEDRO PINTO, CNN SPORTS CORRESPONDENT: You heard what UEFA president Michel Platini had to say in an interview with a French radio station in which he said about match fixing if tomorrow we go watch a game already knowing the outcome, football is dead. When you heard him say that, what were you thinking, what was your reaction?

VALCKE: I would say that he's perfectly right. I mean, the beauty of football is that, yes, it's a bit of theater where you play in one place, you have a defined time, 90 minutes, you know exactly what will happen except the result. So if you would know what the end of the party -- of the game, I mean definitely football is dead.


THOMAS: And you can hear much more of that exclusive interview with one of FIFA's most high profile administrators in our World Sport show in just over five hours time.

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

LU STOUT: All right. Big interview, big story. Thank you very much indeed Alex Thomas.

You're watching News Stream. And still ahead, Israel's prime minister looks set for another term in office, but there is still some surprising results in the country's election.

And is this the face of a new threat? A look at what could be al Qaeda's next generation in North Africa.


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

In around half an hour the U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton is due to testify before U.S. lawmakers about the raid at the U.S. consulate in Benghazi, Libya. Now U.S. ambassador Christopher Stevens and three other Americans were killed. And lawmakers are expected to ask her about security before the attack and about documents in which Ambassador Stevens is said to have expressed concerns about safety.

Now Britain's prime minister has pledged to give voters a referendum on whether to stay in the European Union. Now that's if his party wins the next election in 2015. David Cameron says he does not want Britain to turn its back on Europe, but he's promising to negotiate better membership terms. Now we will have a full report on that coming up right here on News Stream.

And one of world football's most senior figures has called match fixing in the game a disease. And he has repeated UEFA President Michel Platini's claim that is the biggest problem facing the sport. Now Jerome Valcke, the general secretary of football's world governing body FIFA told CNN in an exclusive interview that football bosses need to be vigilant about an issue that reaches every corner of the planet.

Now Israel's election has resulted in some surprises. Exit polls indicate that there's almost an even split between right wing and center left parties. But Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu's Liku Beiteinu bloc won the most Knesset seats giving right-wing parties a slight edge. Now Mr. Netanyahu now must form a coalition, but some of his critics say that is not a sure thing.

And Sara Sidner joins us now live from CNN Jerusalem. And Sara, to form that coalition will Netanyahu call on the surprise second place finisher in this vote?

SARA SIDNER, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: You can almost bet that he is the most wanted man in that party, the most wanted party when it comes to trying to figure out how it's going to form this coalition.

His name is Yair Lapid. He is the head of the party called Yesh Atid. And the issues that he touched upon really seem to touch to the heart of the middle class here in Israel. They seem to go out to vote to say, look, we are concerned about security issues, but we also want you to look at our issues that we have to deal with day to day. And that is economic issues, the high cost of living, the high cost of housing, school, and also wanting the ultra orthodox to participate in the military as everyone else does.

So this is sort of a mandate. And what we expect to see is a lot of horse trading, but that Mr. Netanyahu himself said that he is going to have to widen his coalition, indicating he may have to go after some of those center and center-left parties.

This wasn't the kind of victory prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu was hoping for. His victory speech wasn't grand and hawkish, but short and conciliatory.

BENJAMIN NETANYAHU, ISREALI PRIME MINISTER (through translator): I believe that the results of the election are a chance to make changes that the citizens of Israel are looking for, that serve the general population of the country. I intend to lead these changes. And for this, I've got to make wide government. I've already begun that.

SIDNER: A sitting prime minister with a second chance acknowledging voters want to see change. His coalition had more than 40 seats combined before the vote. After the vote, 30 something. Israelis showed their desire to change in a way that surprised the pollsters and pundits. They gave the second highest number of votes to a new party just formed last year called Yesh Atid which beat out the established Labor Party by a couple of seats.

Its leader, Yair Lapid, is a former TV news anchor who called attention to the high cost of living and social injustice and has demanded that ultra orthodox Jews be required to enlist in the armed forces like everybody else in Israel.

YAIR LAPID, YESH ATID LEADER (through translator): The state of Israel is standing in front of uneasy challenges. We're facing economic crises that threaten to destroy the Israeli middle class, facing a world that will boycott us because of the diplomatic freeze and facing the breakdown of social equality. There is only one way that we can face those challenges together.

SIDNER: If the exit polls prove accurate, there's only a slim gap between the center left parties and the right-wing bloc which was expected to form the government with Netanyahu's coalition. That mean's Netanyahu may have to reach out to centrist parties while still courting the settler based party Jewish Home. Jewis Home vehemently opposes a Palestinian state while the Centrist parties support the concept. That is one of the underlying fundamentals of the now dormant peace process.

And if not, what will this new government look like in the end?


SIDNER: Now we don't have the exact official results, but so far preliminary results are showing that the center-left bloc and the right bloc are in a dead heat with 60 to 60 seats. And there are total of 120 seats in the Knesset. So this ought to get interesting when it's time to start forming the coalition -- Kristie.

LU STOUT: So a dead heat in the ballot count, but what is your gauge on the overall tone of Israeli politics after this vote? I mean, who has the upper hand? Is it the left, or the right? And what does it mean for the peace process?

SIDNER: Well, I think the peace process clearly voters said, look, we want that to be given another look. We want that to be up there on the agenda. It has basically died. We have not had any sort of peace negotiations with the Palestinians over the past two plus years. I think that needs to be revived is what voters are saying. But there is also the issue of the economy. And clearly voters were very concerned about their pocket books, about their children's lives, and about being able to lift themselves up when it comes to the economy and their own economic situation.

So those issues are clearly very important to voters here as is security, because they wouldn't have given Likud Beiteinu that many more votes if they didn't care about security, which is what they ran on. But they're saying, clearly, you're going to have to involve more people and you're going to have to look at these issues inside the country as well as the security issues outside of the country -- Kristie.

LU STOUT: All right. Sara Sidner reporting live from Jerusalem for us. Thank you.

Now turning now to Mali as government and French troops advance into the north. Their offensive is getting more international support. Now U.S. military aircraft have begun flying French troops and supplies into the west African nation, dropping off cargo in the capital Bamako.

Now a spokesperson for U.S. Africa command says the mission started this week and is said to continue for several days.

And Italy is joining several other countries in providing logistical support to back French force there. It has agreed to send instructors to train Mali's military.

And in neighboring Algeria, it has been a week since Islamic militants seized a gas plant in In Amenas. And many are still waiting for answers from the government. Now that four day crisis left at least 37 foreign hostages dead. And authorities say five workers are still missing.

Algerian officials say that the attackers had drawn from the expertise of a driver that once worked at the plant. And the news agency AFP quotes a security source who says the driver resigned one year ago.

And this man, Mokhtar Belmokhtar, he has claimed responsibility for that attack. And experts say the siege there has shown just how well organized Islamic militants in North Africa are. Clear evidence that another generation of al Qaeda leaders is taking hold.

Now Barbara Starr has more.


STARR (voice-over): Mokhtar Belmokhtar is the veteran jihadist claiming responsibility for the Algerian gas plant attack. U.S. officials say he's part of a generation of terrorists rising across North Africa, tied to al Qaeda, but operating in very different ways.

REP. MIKE ROGERS (R-MI), CHAIRMAN, HOUSE INTELLIGENCE COMMITTEE: I argue they are more dangerous to both the United States and our allies.

PAUL CRUICKSHANK, CNN TERRORISM ANALYST: This is an era of a new threat, a threat to western interests across the region.

STARR: The challenge for the CIA? UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We can't keep saying, well, it's just Yemen, it's just Mali, it's just Benghazi, it's just Tunisia. Can't do that.

SETH JONES, RAND TERRORISM EXPERT: What we're seeing is a blending of different types of operatives and groups coming together at different times.

STARR : Africa-based groups don't seem to need central leadership and Osama bin Laden. Militants have made advances. The attack against the U.S. compound in Benghazi, Libya, taking over large areas of northern Mali. And now the attack against the gas plant in Algeria.

Algerian authorities say those attackers came from Egypt, Libya, Mali, Niger, Mauritania, Tunisia, from within Algeria, and as far away as Canada. The U.S. is falling behind, experts say.

CRUICKSHANK: When they painstakingly built up an intelligence network in the Afghanistan/Pakistan border region and also in Yemen, they're flying more blind in North Africa and in western Africa.

STARR: The militant Africa advantage? They can act fast with well- planned attacks carried out on very short notice. For now, Belmokhtar and others have their new strategy.

JONES: It makes it actually very difficult to monitor and very difficult for intelligence organizations to understand and act against, because there is no head of this organization. There are multiple heads. So you can't just eliminate them through strikes.

STARR: The challenge now, what to do about all of this. Defense Secretary Leon Panetta promises the U.S. will continue to go after al Qaeda, but the new spread out movement in Africa may be tough to target and even tougher to hunt down.

Barbara Starr, CNN, the Pentagon.


LU STOUT: North Korea's foreign ministry says it plans to strengthen its military and nuclear deterrence capabilities in response to United Nations Security Council resolution that was adopted on Tuesday. The council voted unanimously to expand sanctions against Pyongyang, condemning the country for last month's controversial rocket launch that appeared to put a satellite into space.

Now the west says it was a cover for ballistic missile testing. U.S. ambassador to the UN, Susan Rice, says Tuesday's resolution is clear proof that, quote, there will be an increasingly steep price to pay if North Korea continues to violate UN resolutions.

Now this is the third time that China, North Korea's closest ally has voted in favor of imposing sanctions.

Now a U.S. Defense Department official tells CNN that this man, General John Allen, he has been cleared of all allegations in the scandal that led to the resignation of then CIA director David Petraeus. Now the Pentagon's inspector general found the allegations against the U.S. commander in Afghanistan to be unsubstantiated.

Now last year, the general was accused of writing potentially inappropriate emails to the Florida socialite Jill Kelly, the woman who claimed that she was being threatened by Petraeus's biographer Paula Broadwell.

Now Allen is currently completing his post in Afghanistan. It is not clear how the inspector general's review will impact his nomination to be the next surpeme allied commander in Europe. Now that nomination has been on hold pending the outcome of the Pentagon review.

Now still ahead right here on News Stream, making a promise: Prime Minister David Cameron warns Britain could drift towards the exit of the EU if there is not change. But he says that question is for the voters to decide.


LU STOUT: You're watching News Stream.

And let's return to our visual rundown. We have told you about Hillary Clinton and Serena's shock exit from the Australian Open, but now to the European Union.

Now are you in, or are you out? That's the question British Prime Minister David Cameron is prepared to ask his electorate on the thorny issue of Europe, but only if his party wins the next general election in 2015.

Now the UK's relationship with the EU has been a delicate dance since the country declined to join the single currency. It could soon get the chance to decide whether it wants any ties at all.


DAVID CAMERON, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Simply asking the British people to carry on accepting a European settlement over which they've had little choice is a path to ensuring that when the question is finally put, and at some stage it will have to be, it is much more likely that the British people will reject the European Union. That is why I am in favor of having a referendum. I believe in confronting this issue, shaping it, leading the debate, not simply hoping that a difficult situation will go away.


LU STOUT: Mr. Cameron has stressed that if the British public decides to leave the EU there's no going back.

Now the PM says that he personally wants to stay, but he also wants to reevaluate the terms of Britain's relationship with the Union. And the latest research suggests that the public, it's currently on his side, if only just.

Now for the first time since Mr. Cameron took power, a (inaudible) poll conducted just last week showed that 40 percent would vote in favor of the Union while just 34 percent would vote to exist. Now less than two months ago, 51 percent said that they'd choose to leave and only 30 percent would stay.

Now the fate of the UK is largely dependent on two key matters. Firstly, the performance of the European economy over the next couple of years. And secondly, the ability of Mr. Cameron to get reelected.

Now several European leaders have had their say on the prime minister's announcement. And most have stressed their desire to see Britain stay put.

Now Matthew Chance joins us now live from London. And Matthew, that was a major speech earlier today on Europe from David Cameron.

MATTHEW CHANCE, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Yeah, Kristie, I think it was. I actually think it was extraordinary that a British prime minister should go out and offer the opportunity, open the door on the possibility of Britain actually leaving the European Union. It's sort of an unprecedented thing for a leader of Britain to do. It's been such a fundamental centerpiece of British foreign policy for so long, of course.

The referendum he said that he's in favor of would not be right now. He made it very clear that now was not the right time to be voting on whether or not Britain should stay inside the European Union. It would be probably at the latest around about 2017. So halfway into the next term of the conservative government, that of course depends on the conservatives winning the next general election in Britain in 2015.

And so all sorts of, you know, possible variables in that. But nevertheless, the conservative party, now the party that is offering the people of Britain, a vote on whether or not to stay in or whether or not to leave the European Union, which is obviously a very risky strategy in a country that's been so traditionally hesitant when it comes to European integration, and traditionally suspicious of European institutions.

And so it's not necessarily an easy victory for David Cameron who says he wants Britain to stay in the European Union to achieve.

LU STOUT: And Matthew, David Cameron's opponents and supporters are both asking the question what does Cameron really want? Does he want an updated European Union achieved through renegotiation, or does he want out?

CHANCE: Well, David Cameron himself I think -- I think has pretty much answered that. He said that in his speech today he wants Britain to stay inside the European Union, but not the European Union as it currently stands. Over the years between now and when the referendum is held, if it is to be held, he says that his government is going to try hard to renegotiate what he would call a new settlement with Europe to try and repatriate powers that are currently held in -- at a European level -- things like environmental policy, employment policy, crime and justice policy and things like that -- bring those kinds of legislation, those kinds of powers, back in-house.

If he can achieve that, if he can achieve the various opt-outs from closer integration politically and economically, which is what many European countries want, then I think he's made it quite clear he does support that membership for Britain inside that European Union. And that's the basis on which he'll be campaigning for a yes vote to stay in the European Union in that referendum.

What he hasn't made clear is that if he doesn't get those concessions that he's looking for, what his position will be then, Kristie.

LU STOUT: All right. Matthew Chance reporting for us live from London, thank you.

Now meanwhile here in this region, namely in China, thick fog -- or some would say smog -- and poor air quality is affecting millions of people in China. Mari Ramos has more from the world weather center -- Mari.

MARI RAMOS, CNN WEATHER CORRESPONDENT: Kristie, it seems like this is a recurring problem. And it's been worse than other times. Just this prolonged problem with the air quality. And again we're looking at some pretty harsh numbers, particularly for Beijing.

I want to show you some pictures that we have from the region. Look at this picture. And, yeah, that's Tiananmen Square. Could you even tell what's in the background there? That's how bad, how thick the air actually is there. And it is dirty air, the air quality just so poor. People wearing those masks, visibility reduced significantly. There are flight delays. There are travel delays. There are road closures and even problems with shipping.

Before we get into the video from other areas, I want to stay on Beijing for a moment. And again we're looking at hazardous levels. It stayed like this. It's actually gotten worse. I expected it to improve overnight. But it's actually gone up a little bit. The current reading at 433. So that's pretty significant.

And just to give you an example, if it's at 100, it's considered unhealthy, anything above that. And we've stayed closer to those 500 levels, not off the charts as we had a couple of weeks ago, but it's still a pretty significant number that we're looking at there when it comes to the air quality. It's pretty cold, too. A combination of the very still air is giving us these problems. And of course all of the industry and pollution that goes on across some of these areas.

And it's not an isolated problem for Beijing. I want to show you some pictures from other regions. And it's a similar situation. Those factories ongoing. What we're looking at here is towns after towns, cities after cities that are just covered, shrouded in this mist, which is called mist sometimes. It's very humid. It's very cold. And visibility is near zero. Traffic accidents are a huge concern. Rail services are suspended in many cases. And roads, highways, have to be shut down because of the problems with visibility. This is becoming a huge problem for commerce as well.

In the Wu Han (ph) reservoir, there are more than 400 ships that are stuck in that area because of the poor air quality.

So we're looking at an ongoing problem here. And with the weather pattern that we're in, with those very still winds, we're not seeing any kind of significant improvement.

And come back over to the weather map, I want to take you up to you on another story. I told you about this yesterday, too, the struggling -- 30, more than 30,000 people still in shelters, thousands more are living in situations like this. This is in Jakarta where the water levels have receded in some areas, but they had a lot of heavy rain against yesterday. So this is also a problem and something that I want to make sure we continue to highlight across the region. More rain is expected here. And there's a long way to go before those people actually get into a situation where it's really stable and are out of those dumps filled with garbage, as you can see, and now filled with water in places that used to be their homes.

Very quickly, I want to update you on the weather in Europe. We have a big area of low pressure right here swirling along the western Mediterranean. And this is bringing some windy conditions from Portugal, Spain, France, bringing moisture all the way up even into northern parts of Europe, most of the moisture coming down across southern France and Italy and even across North Africa. Some very strong winds, Kristie. We could see winds maybe gusting as high as 80, 90 kilometers per hour before all is said and done. So definitely something we'll continue to monitor.

Back to you.

LU STOUT: Yeah, and something else I know you're watching is what's going on in New Zealand. Scientists, they've been monitoring a volcano in New Zealand. I've been looking at the video earlier today just puffing away, very dramatic shots. But what sort of threat is it posing?

RAMOS: You know, this is on an offshore area, about 50 kilometers from the North Island of New Zealand, so it is a little bit farther away. And I want to go ahead and take you there before I show you the pictures. It's called White Island. So about 50 kilometers offshore.

The important thing that scientists are saying that if there is a large eruption with this volcano that it would not have a direct impact on the land.

Right in the middle of this volcanic island there is a crater, a very -- there you go, a very common, or very popular I should say with tourists.

Let's go ahead and roll the pictures and show you what it looks like in here right now. Look at that, it's so dramatic. Scientists are saying that it's been bubbling and acting up, so to speak, since December. And they've been monitoring it closely.

Some of the things that they watch is gas emissions like what you're seeing there, an increase in explosion, and also the amount of tremors that they've been having, the amount of earthquakes that have been recorded in that area.

So they are saying that this could mean that the volcano is getting ready for a larger eruption. There's just really no way to tell. So they're going to be watching it closely, but like I said, no immediate threat to land, because it is an outlying island.

Back to you.

LU STOUT: Got it. No immediate threat, but one to watch. Mari Ramos there, thank you.

Now whether or not you are creeped out by creepy crawlies, be warned there's a lot of buzz about our next report. News Stream continues after the break.


LU STOUT: Welcome back.

Now drones buzz and bees buzz and when the two collide you'd better take cover. Now Jeanne Moos brings us close encounters of the creepy crawlie kind.


JEANNE MOOS, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): We've seen a bug make a cameo...

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Whoa! It's a giant invasion of a giant bug!

MOOS: ... on the Weather Channel. And a spider that seemed ready to try and hitch a ride on the space shuttle.

But what happens when a bee meets a drone? Make that a lot of bees, swarming the drone equipped with a camera.


MOOS: They ended up being put to music. "The Flight of the Bumblebees," naturally.

It happened when WPEC's operations manager, Carl PUGLIESE, sent up one of his station's drones to get video of a West Palm Beach mall being demolished. Instead, the drone got attacked by bees. Carl was on the ground swatting, watching the video streamed live over his iPhone.

PUGLIESE: I'm sitting here going like this with the bees, I'm looking up and there's a bunch of bees. And I looked at my iPhone and, I mean, when you see the video, it looked like, you know, "Star Wars." I had all these bees coming at the mother ship.

MOOS (on camera): If you think of the press as being sort of pests you'd like to swat, imagine how bees would react to a news drone.

(voice-over): After all, a drone buzzes. To bees it must be...

PUGLIESE: The mother bee of all bees, basically. MOOS: One even landed directly on the lens.

PUGLIESE: He's sitting there, trying to sting the lens at the same time.

MOOS: As Carl started to bring the drone in for a landing, he got buzzed so he jumped in his vehicle. The bees followed him in, and he had to open the door to get them out. Carl and his photographer, Chad Allison, each got stung a couple of times, but the drone got it worse.

PUGLIESE: There's all kinds of scuff marks on all the blades.

MOOS: Blades chopped up the bees, so that Carl had to clean the drone with alcohol.

PUGLIESE: Bee guts.

MOOS (on camera): While Carl was in his car dealing with bees, a homeless guy came up to the window.

PUGLIESE: He goes, "You know, bees sense your fear, and if you just sit still, they won't bother you."

And as he's telling me this, the bees started attacking him. So I was yelling through the window, "Sit still!"

MOOS: The guy ran.

Carl ended up landing the drone from inside the SUV.

We've seen lots of stories about swarms that cluster on cars, but we could drone on forever about the time the bees went after a drone, calling a SWAT team.

Jeanne Moos, CNN, New York.


LU STOUT: And finally, visitors to the White House on Tuesday, they got a surprise greeting. President Obama and First Lady Michelle where they were shaking hands as the tourists arrived. Mr. Obama even sharing a fist bump with one visitor.

And the first dog, Bo, he was there as well. And this is not the first time Mrs. Obama has made a surprise visit. A year ago, she turned up in the blue room out of the blue, so to speak.

And that is News Stream, but the news continues at CNN. World Business Today is next.