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Grand Central Turns 100; Suicide Blast Kills Two At U.S. Embassy In Turkey; Blast Rocks Pemex Facility In Mexico City; Bridge Collapses In Henan Province, China

Aired February 1, 2013 - 08:00:00   ET


MONITA RAJPAL, HOST: Hello, I'm Monita Rajpal in Hong Kong. Welcome to News Stream where news and technology meet. A blast kills at least one person outside the U.S. embassy in Ankara. We'll bring you all the latest. We'll also be live in Mexico City after a massive explosion collapses two floors of a building next to one of the city's tallest buildings.

About an hour ago a suicide bomber blew himself up outside the U.S. embassy in the Turkish capital of Ankara. Turkish police say that the attacker died along with one other person. Two people were wounded.

Let's get you more on this breaking story. Ivan Watson joins us now live from Jerusalem. Ivan, you're normally based in Istanbul. You know this area very well in Ankara. Give us an idea as to what you know right now. Put this into context for us?

IVAN WATSON, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Some of the first images we've seen are damaged to the outer wall of the U.S. embassy compound, a heavily fortified U.S. embassy compound in Ankara. And you can see that some of the damage was able to shatter concrete and stone, but unable to shatter those reinforced, very thick windows that are used at the guard posts around the embassy. Now I've been through some of these through the main guard posts there. And it is very well reinforced and protected by shatter proof glass.

Now the U.S. ambassador to Ankara has reportedly appeared on Turkish state television with the last few minutes with the governor of Ankara and indicated that this was a suicide bombing and that the bomber appears to have been killed in the blast. Turkish police and medical workers have been telling CNN Turk, our sister organization inside Turkey, that at least two people were killed and two people wounded by this explosion.

It is very important to point out that this is in the heart of the Turkish capital near the Turkish parliament, Monita. And that this is an area with a very significant presence of Turkish security forces such that even trying to bring a car up to the entrance of the U.S. and to try to get out to go into the embassy as a visitor, very quickly security guards both Turkish police and embassy security guards, will waive that vehicle on.

So that just gives you a sense of the security presence that is normally in place there.

One U.S. official I've talked to has confirmed to me that the U.S. ambassador and the spokesman to the embassy are both unhurt in the wake of what one U.S. official in Washington has also told CNN appears to be, according to preliminary reports, to have been a suicide bombing -- Monita.

RAJPAL: Ivan, thank you. Ivan Watson reporting to us there.

Well, let's take you now to the scene and CNN Turk that Deniz Kilislioglo now on the phone from Ankara. Denise, we know that as we've been hearing from Ivan Watson, this is a heavily fortified part of Ankara. And it is the U.S. embassy, so one knows that it is indeed extremely secured. Any more information as to what may have happened?

DENIZ KILISLIOGLO, CNN TURK CORRESPONDENT: OK. Let us start with the first official statement from the governor of Ankara, the capital of Turkey. The governor of Ankara said this is a suicide bomb attack. And there is two dead and one injured. But let's repeat it again, there is two dead and one injured in this suicide attack -- bomb attack.

The -- out of two, the first dead is the suicide bomber, of course, and other person is a staff of U.S. embassy. He's originally from Turkey. It's a Turkish nationality man had been killed in this suicide attack. The governor of Ankara told this information to the press and also he mentioned that the suicide bomb attack has occurred inside the U.S. embassy. And the press asked the governor was it in the territory of U.S.? And the governor said that, yes, it was inside the U.S. embassy, probably was trying to get into the gate. So at that time, he blew himself.

And after the governor, the ambassador of U.S., Francis Ricciardone, told -- also talked to the press and he said that we are so sorry to have lost our Turkish staff. There is too much details, he mentioned, and needs to be investigated. So we have to wait. We have to investigate all the details. And we will make a full-fledged statement after all these investigation. And he thanked to the Turkish officials Mr. Francis Ricciardone, the ambassador of U.S. to Turkey. And he said that we are where we going to fight against terrorism with Turkey.

That's all the information that we have right now. Again, we are (inaudible).

RAJPAL: All right. Denise, thank you very much for that. We appreciate that.

And do stay with CNN for all the very latest. We'll take you back live to Turkey as soon as we have more information for you.

We want to take you now to Mexico City where crews searched through the night for possible survivors of a massive explosion. It happened at the headquarters of Pemex, which is Mexico's state oil company. Mexico's interior minister says at least 25 people have been killed and more than 100 have been injured. The blast shook the basement of one building late Thursday sending fear throughout the complex and trapping workers inside.

It is unclear if there are still people stuck under the rubble at this hour. Thousands of people were at work -- at Pemex headquarters. And the complex has one of the city's tallest skyscrapers. It stands at 54 stories, or 200 meters high. Officials say the explosion happened in the annex building next to the tower.

Again, the cause of the explosion is still under investigation. CNN's Nick Parker is in Mexico City. He joins us now live. Nick, we understand that search and rescue mission, the crews have been working throughout the night to try and find any survivors still trapped under the rubble. Has there been any more success?

NICK PARKER, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Monita, that's correct. At this stage, we have not seen any -- any stretchers coming out with any of the more survivors or injured, but certainly that is the anticipation. There are large numbers of ambulances lined up on both sides of the road with stretchers. And the scene right now is really a scene of intense activity for search and rescue.

Dawn has just broken here. The blast took place about 15 hours ago or so now. But there's a huge amount of resources that have been poured into this area. There's a significant military presence. The army has trucks all around the area. There are helicopters overhead. The federal police just about five minutes ago, a convoy of pick-up trucks came into the area to bring in more sniffer dogs.

So they're really sort of intensifying all efforts to try and find any survivors that may still be in that rubble. Last night, President Pena Nieto visited the scene here flanked by some of his major and main security officials. He was asked whether there was an explanation for the blast yet. And he declined to give one. So far, there is no official conclusion about what actually caused this blast.

But he did maintain that if anybody is negligent and would have been the cause of this that he would bring the full weight of the law down on them.

So today we're really just keeping a lookout for any activity in the area. Search and rescue workers at the moment have a very laborious job trying to clear the disaster area of rubble and of files and plaster and paper. And they're basically doing it by wheely bins, one coming out and dumping his contents in the foreground and then going back in again to continue the almost like an excavation process of the disaster area.

So we'll certainly be watching what does happen here in the hours ahead -- Monita.

RAJPAL: We understand that one official had described the damage done to one of the buildings is that it was torn from the inside out. Give us an idea about the kind of damage, the extensive damage that you're seeing right now, the light of day, and the area, this office complex that you're in?

PARKER: Right.

Yeah, basically the blast did take place in the inside. The leading period at the moment is it was a gas explosion in the depths of one of adjacent buildings to one of Mexico City's biggest skyscrapers. And the blast took place in the basement of this building and collapsed two stories in this area.

At the moment what you're seeing, from what we can see -- and obviously the main area is cordoned off from the press, is an entrance where the glass is shattered and there's a significant amount of rubble that has now been piled up as search and rescue teams continue their efforts -- Monita.

RAJPAL: All right -- Nick, thank you. Nick Parker there reporting just live from Mexico City.

Another explosion rocked China's Henan Province where this was the scene on Friday. Part of an expressway bridge collapsed after a truck carrying fireworks exploded. Chinese state broadcaster CCTV released this footage showing the large gap on the bridged caused by the explosion. And below you can see the crashed vehicles that were sent plunging off the edge.

Well, there have been conflicting reports about the number of those killed in that explosion. Earlier on their official microblog, Henan police said 11 people had died. Later, that post was deleted with one saying five people were killed. That's the same death toll reported earlier by state run Xinua news agency. The number has since climbed to eight.

Now some Sino Weibo users have posted messages calling the conflicting numbers unbelievable. One user said this, "first, they said it was 11 people, now just five. By tonight, they will say that the explosion didn't kill anyone."

Xinua also reports 13 people were injured in the incident.

Still to come here on News Stream, more protests planned against Egyptian president Mohamed Morsy as rival political factions call for national dialogue. We'll bring you a live report from Cairo.

Also, Syria's allies joined in condemning an Israeli air strike on Syrian soil as tensions rise in the region.

Plus, breaking into the New York Times, an update on how hackers, said to be from China, got into the newspaper's computer system.


RAJPAL: Welcome back. We want to recap the breaking news we're following for you here at CNN. A suicide bomber blew himself up outside the U.S. embassy in the Turkish capital Ankara. Turkish police say that the attacker died along with one other person. Two people were wounded. Of course we'll bring you a live report from Turkey in just about 15 minutes from now.

French President Francois Hollande will visit Mali on Saturday. French troops are helping Mali's army push rebels out of their last stronghold in the country's north. Mr. Hollande's office says he'll visit Bamako, Timbuktu and other cities. He'll be accompanied by France's foreign and defense ministers.

CNN's Vlamidir Duthiers is following events in west Africa from Lagos, Nigeria. He joins us now.

Vladimir, what more do we know about what Mr. Hollande is expected to do and see?

VLADIMIR DUTHIERS, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, I think, Monita the idea for this visit is to essentially see the end of the struggle that France has carried out against these Islamists over the past couple of weeks. Now, the French defense minister Jean-Yves Le Drian has said that this operation has, quote, "been a success." He said that on French radio.

Now that doesn't mean that the French are leaving any time soon, but what they are saying now is that they expect that the African troops, there are about 1,000 already on the ground, more on the way, that will come in and take the lead in clean-up operations.

But as you mentioned in your lead, what the French have done just recently is capture the strategic town of Kidal where there was an airport there, vital interests to both the French and the Islamists that were controlling it. So now essentially what you have is you have the French army in control of an area from Gao straight to Bamako, which for the last year had been in control of the Islamists. So I think the president, French President Francois Hollande is going there to see what the French troops have been so far successful in achieving, Monita.

RAJPAL: How confident are they that these rebels, these Islamist rebels indeed have been pushed out and that they won't come back?

DUTHIERS: Well, that's a big question, right? I think at the end of the day what we are hearing is many of the Islamists have actually blended into the population. It's very easy for them to shave their beards, remove some of their -- the clothing that would identify them as militants, and blend in to the local population in an area that is very vast, almost as big as France itself.

What's more, we've heard -- there was a report released just today on -- from Amnesty International that criticizes both the Malian military and the Islamists for crimes -- for crimes against humanity. They say that on both sides there have been -- on the Malian army side there have been extrajudicial killings. And clearly on the Islamist side since March of 2012 when they took control of the country, they have implemented their strict interpretation of Sharia law and have carried out amputations, beheadings, floggings, stonings. So both sides have been accused by Amnesty International of committing crimes against humanity.

Now, the danger clearly is that the Malian army is sometimes unable to tell who is an Islamist and who isn't, because of the very fact that they are able to blend into the local population. And, what's more, we know that it has happened time and time again, once a western military force pulls out of a country, that gives an opportunity for Islamists from neighboring countries to sort of seep back into the country. So we'll be watching to see if that actually happens, Monita.

RAJPAL: And the tragedy in all of this, Vlad, has been including the loss of life, but also the extensive damage to Mali's history as well, some very important and historic sites and valuable manuscripts been destroyed in Timbuktu.

DUTHIERS: That's right. It's tragic, it's horrible, it's sad that this had to happen and it actually happened because of what the Islamists said was forbidden. These relics and these historic documents were not permitted under their strict interpretation of Sharia law. And so they went about destroying them.

And finally I think once Konna, the strategic city that sort of was the last sort of gateway -- entryway for the Malian military, they had to hold that city at all costs to prevent themselves from being overrun, once that city was in danger of falling, they made that desperate plea to France.

But going back to March of 2012 when this started happening, the world sort of watched as the Islamists basically destroyed 1,000 year old shrines and very, very historical documents that we'll never, ever see again, Monita.

RAJPAL: All right, Vlad, thank you very much for that. Vladimir Duthiers reporting to us there from Lagos.

Coming up here on News Stream, first the New York Times, now another prominent U.S. Newspaper says it has been attacked, or hit by Chinese hackers. We'll bring you details plus a response from Beijing.


RAJPAL: Egypt's opposition calls for large, but peaceful protests Friday against the rule of President Mohamed Morsy. And thousands of Egyptians are taking part in Cairo, Alexandria and elsewhere. On Thursday, the opposition joined other political, religious and youth groups in a statement condemning violence and calling for a national dialogue. It remains to be seen whether the violence of the past week continues today.

Well, CNN's senior international correspondent Ben Wedeman has been following the unfolding drama in Egypt's capital. Ben, in recent times, Friday has been a big day for protests in that part of the world. What are you seeing today in terms of turnout?

All right, we do apologies, we seem to have lost contact and communication there with Ben Wedeman. We will try to bring him back if we can.

Now Syria is threatening to retaliate for an Israeli air strike. Syria's military says Israeli fighter jets attacked a defense research facility near Damascus on Wednesday. But there is some dispute about the actual target. And Israel is not commenting.

Sara Sidner reports the incident is turning up tensions in the region.


BEN WEDEMAN, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: In Israel's north along the border, citizens are gathering their gas masks to prepare for the worst. That's not unusual, but reports of an air strike by Israel inside Syria have heightened awareness.

A U.S. official told CNN that indeed Israel did strike inside Syria. Its aim, to knock out a convoy carrying parts of SA-17 missiles, modern surface-to-air missiles capable of shooting down planes at high altitudes.

The U.S. assessment is the battered Syrian regime may be trying to move weaponry over the border into Lebanon away from Syrian rebels and into the hands of Hezbollah, its ally and sworn enemy of Israel.

Syria has its own version of events. On Syrian TV, officials blamed Israel for an airstrike on a research facility outside of Damascus. Raanan Gissin who was an adviser to former prime minister Ariel Sharon says the site is well known to the Israelis.

RAANAN GISSIN, FRM. ADVISER TO ARIEL SHARON: This facility is part of, I would say, the whole system that is built in Syria to support the development and the operations of weapons of mass destruction, which include chemical weapons, long range missiles. And Syria has been developing this in order to achieve strategic parity if you want, or strategic balance vis-a-vis Israel.

WEDEMAN: However, U.S. sources say Israel has only struck once and targeted a convoy. Questions remain as to who is responsible for hitting the facility and killing two people inside. Analysts say no matter where the strike was, it is a clear message to Syria.

GISSIN: Whether Israel made the strike or someone else, I think it was a wakeup call, a warning signal to -- a wakeup call to the world and a warning signal to the Syrians, a warning signal to all those groups who are now trying to seize those weapons, that this issue is not going to go on -- without a response.

WEDEMAN: The Syrian government has summoned the head of the United Nation's mission in the disputed Golan Heights to deliver an official complaint. The Israeli government, for its part, saying nothing. But Iran, Israel's regional nemesis, has jumped into the fray. According to a semi-official Iranian news agency, Iran's deputy foreign minister says Israel's attack will have dire consequences on Tel Aviv.

Syria's implosion raising the temperature across the region.

Sara Sidner, CNN, Jerusalem.


RAJPAL: We have reestablished contact with our Ben Wedeman. Let's go take you back now to Cairo.

And Ben, we were just saying before that on Friday it's usually typically a big day for protests in the part of the world. What are you seeing in terms of turnout today?

BEN WEDEMAN, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, there's a variety of protests around Cairo today, in fact around Egypt. Here in Cairo, however, it rained earlier in the day and I think that sort of put a damper on things. I'm just up the street from (inaudible) palace, one of the presidential palaces here in Cairo. And I'd say there may be 300 people there.

We are expecting the numbers to increase during the day. Also, another one of the focuses of the protests today will be, of course, Tahrir Square which itself is not as crowded as we've seen in recent Fridays.

Now this has been called deliverance Friday. This is the protests are being organized by the opposition to Mohamed Morsy and his Muslim Brotherhood led government. They're hoping that Egypt will be delivered from Brotherhood rule, but as we've seen before, these protests flare up, but there doesn't seem to be much momentum.

Yesterday, some of the leaders of the opposition met with the Muslim Brotherhood and signed on to an initiative by the (inaudible), the most senior Islamic official here in Egypt, where they pledge to put an end to violence and lower the heat of the rhetoric.

But the problem is, of course, that many of the protesters, certainly those involved in the clashes that we've seen around Egypt recently, don't pay much attention to the old men who run the opposition or run the government, Monita.

RAJPAL: Ben, thank you for that. Ben Wedeman reporting to us there from Cairo.

Still to come here on News Stream, we'll update you on the situation in Turkey after a bombing outside the U.S. embassy in Ankara.

Also ahead, how is the U.S. economy doing? We'll have one key measure in just a few minutes. Monthly unemployed numbers are due out.


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

A suicide bomber blew himself up outside the U.S. embassy in the Turkish capital on Ankara. Authorities say the attacker and at least one other person was killed in the explosion. Several people were also injured. U.S. officials say no Americans were injured in the attack.

Egypt has seen a wave of recent protests and violence, but the opposition is hoping today's protests against President Mohamed Morsy will be peaceful. The opposition has joined other political, religious and youth groups in a statement condemning violence and calling for national dialogue.

A truck hauling fireworks exploded on a bridge in central China. The blast caused an 80 meter stretch of the bridge to collapse, sending several vehicles plunging to the ground. There have been conflicting reports on the death toll, but the state run news agency Xinua now says eight people were killed.

Let's take you back now to our top story where a suicide bomber blew himself up outside teh U.S. embassy in Ankara, Turkey. Let's get you more now on the story. We're joined by journalist Andrew Finkel in Instanbul.

Andrew, what more do we know about what happened? Has it been confirmed now that it has indeed been -- it is indeed a suicide bombing?

ANDREW FINKEL, JOURNALIST: Well, this is what the Turkish authorities are saying. They're saying that two people have died, one of them was the perpetrator of the act, the other a guard inside this little building at the entrance to the embassy which is a security checkpoint.

It appears that the person set off the bomb, or perhaps the bomb was set off while the package was going through, but they are saying that the perpetrator has died along in the attack, Monita.

RAJPAL: Any more -- I understand that it is still early right now, because it happened a little over an hour ago, but is there any more indication into the identity of this apparent suicide bombing?

FINKEL: No. We have no idea who he was. We do know that one of the people who died, the other person who died was a Turkish member of staff in the embassy security guard. We believe that one of those badly injured was a diplomatic correspondent, a very respected woman for NTV news station, but we don't actually know who perpetrated this act and why they did it -- Monita.

RAJPAL: It certainly raises a lot of questions, Andrew. Does it in terms of how this explosion could have taken place in the first place or how someone would have been able to breach this kind of heavy security at the U.S. embassy at the capital?

FINKEL: Well, this is a very well guarded embassy. The American embassy in Ankara is a very large building. There's a very large staff there. And it is very well protected.

What appears to have happened -- the street in which this incident occurred is a side street. It -- there's a side street and there's a little building on the side street which anyone -- any foreign visitor, any outside visitor trying to visit the embassy has to go through these rigorous security procedures.

So what appears to have happened is that this person set off the device or the device exploded while they were going through the security clearance.

So, in a way, how does one protect entirely against this sort of incident. Though this street is already barricaded, it's already closed to traffic, it's almost impossible to think what more that the embassy could have done.

Now you may recall in 2008 there was a similar incident in the American consulate in Istanbul, which is very fortified, it's almost like a castle in Istanbul, very difficult to get into. What happened was that some attackers came and they shot the guard in his guard kiosk. And so in that incident three people died, including -- and three of the attackers died.

So this is the -- you know, this is the first line of defense. It worked, but of course there was this terrible tragedy.

RAJPAL: All right, Andrew, thank you. Andrew Finkel there in Istanbul.

Now it's still too soon to know who was behind the attack on the U.S. embassy in Ankara. Last year terrorists stormed a U.S. consulate in Libya. Four Americans were killed in that attack. And that took place in Benghazi, including U.S. ambassador Christopher Stevens.

Barbara Starr examines the threat from extremists in North Africa.


BARBARA STARR, CNN PENTAGON CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): With the success of the attack on a gas plant in Algeria, extremists are growing more daring. A senior U.S. intelligence official tells CNN, quote, "What we have seen is intelligence suggesting the desire to carry out more attacks against Western and U.S. interests in the region."

Though there are no specific targets yet that the U.S. knows of, one of those plotting, Mokhtar Belmokhtar, was the mastermind of the Algeria attack.

But threats are now coming from multiple al Qaeda groups in Africa.

GEN. CARTER HAM, COMMANDER, U.S. AFRICA COMMAND: We're starting to see increasing collaboration, sharing of funding, sharing recruiting efforts, sharing of weapons and explosives, and certainly a sharing of ideology that is expanding and connecting these various organizations.

STARR: If Chuck Hagel becomes the next secretary of Defense, he already knows what he's facing.

CHUCK HAGEL, DEFENSE SECRETARY NOMINEE: I will ensure we stay vigilant and keep up the pressure on terrorist organizations as they try to expand their affiliates around the world in places like Yemen, Somalia and North Africa.

STARR: But when it comes to North Africa, U.S. intelligence agencies may be of limited use to him. That senior U.S. intelligence official tells CNN, quote, "We do not have the level of resources, the footprint or the capabilities we have in other theaters."

After years of focusing on Pakistan and Afghanistan, the map has changed. From Mali to Algeria, Niger, Libya and Egypt, the Obama administration is struggling to catch up. U.S. intelligence is now working with France, whose own spy networks are more established in the former French colonies in Africa. And the U.S. will set up a drone base in Niger to fly over safe havens, hoping to catch terrorists before there is a direct threat to the U.S. homeland.

GEORGE LITTLE, PENTAGON PRESS SECRETARY: I'm not ruling it out. We take Al Qaeda wherever they are very seriously. And we are not going to rest on our laurels until we find that kind of specific and credible information.

STARR: But if there is a threat that requires U.S. military force, the options for the president may be very difficult. al Qaeda in Africa has no central headquarters, no Osama bin Laden, and potentially thousands of fighters spread out over thousands of miles of remote desert.

Barbara Starr, CNN, the Pentagon.


RAJPAL: The U.S. economy added 157,000 jobs in January, that's less than economists expected. Also, the unemployment rate rose to 7.9 percent. Earlier in the week, the Federal Reserve said economic growth in the U.S. had paused. We'll have much more on this story on World Business Today in just about 20 minutes from now.

On Thursday, we told you about the cyber attack on the New York Times. Now the Wall Street Journal says Chinese hackers have also infiltrated its computer systems. The paper says major U.S. media companies have been targeted for years, so why didn't they speak out sooner? Well, the article says western companies, including media organizations, are reluctant to comment about possible Chinese hacking because they could lose customer confidence in their network security.

Going public also risks antagonizing the Chinese government. Beijing has denied the hacking allegations.


HONG LEI, CHINESE FOREIGN MINISTRY SPOKESMAN (through translator): Tracing the origin of hackers based on limited information and speculations is unprofessional and irresponsible. Linking such attacks to the Chinese government and military is even more absurd. Chinese laws clearly prohibit computer hacking. And the Chinese authorities have been firmly cracking down on such activities.


RAJPAL: But a recent report by internet services company Akamai Technologies says it is the single largest source of attack traffic. It says one in three cyber attacks originate in China. The head of the security firm that worked with the New York Times says companies come under constant attack, but they just don't talk about it.


KEVIN MANDIA, MANDIANT CEO: There's nothing unique about the actual cyber security issue that happened here. The folks that perpetrated this intrusion have done it to hundreds of other organizations. And usually they are very successful when they target an organization. So what's really unique here is the fact that the victim organization, the New York Times, has decided to share this information with the public so folks can be more aware of this problem. Because it's a very pervasive problem and the majority of victims, well over 90 percent of the victims that we've responded to, really don't disclose that these types attack occur.


RAJPAL: The New York Times chief information officer says the paper will not let its guard down after dealing with this problem.


MARC FRONS, CHIEF INFORMATION OFFICER, NEW YORK TIMES: Obviously, we have hardened our network and worked with Mandiant and others to really make our network and our individual computers much more secure. And we've also worked hard to raise the awareness of our employees to make sure that they are taking responsibility for their security as well, because the primary way hackers get into your network is send somebody an email with a link to a website that downloads a malicious piece of code onto your PC.

So, just as we all have to be aware of physical security, we have to be aware of cyber security as well.


RAJPAL: The Wall Street Journal says it completed an overhaul of its network security on Thursday.

Well, let's take you now to Beijing. And there was a rare blue sky day in the Chinese capital. Mari Ramos is at the world weather center with some of that -- Mari.

MARI RAMOS, CNN WEATHER CORRESPONDENT: What a difference a day makes, right Monita? But, you know, getting that rare blue sky day is a good thing. And people can breath a little easier if only for a short time.

But, you know, one blue sky day every couple of weeks, I guess, is really not enough for people that have been dealing with this problem for such a long time.

I want to show you an air quality here. Still, we're looking at the numbers. And you see them all the way up here. That's where we've had them over the last 24 -- few hours or so. And then, all of a sudden the front comes through and you see those numbers start to dip. And those lower numbers are better numbers. And what we have right now is moderate air quality. It's gone up just about 10 points in the last hour or so.

Actually earlier today, it went up all the way to good. So, pretty good, huh?

And then you see those moderate -- but remember we were looking at very unhealthy or hazardous levels in the last few days. That was January was a terrible month when it came to air quality in this area. Beijing not alone, this is a problem that affects much of eastern China. Shanghai had pretty bad air quality today. That will improve I think for you as well as that tail end of that front begins to bring a little bit of mixing in the air that we need, a change in wind direction. And even though you're not really going to get any kind of significant precipitation out of this, I think it really will help your air quality as we head into the daylight hours tomorrow.

Temperature wise, you see it, most of the moisture now is moving across central parts of Japan, a little cloud cover here back over northeastern China. Beijing generally reporting clear skies right now. And it stays pretty quiet as we head over into parts of southeast Asia.

So that improved air quality that we've been talking about may not last long, because behind this weather system we have again settling weather condition, because that could bring a problem to this entire area as we head into the weekend yet again. And I think Monday and Tuesday will probably be the worst ones.

Take you to Jakarta, Indonesia. Look at this picture of a market. Do you remember the flooding, Monita, that we were talking about a couple of weeks ago, that significant flooding that happened in Jakarta. That has helped raise food prices as another example of how the weather affects your pocketbook, you know, what you pay for things. This is a widespread problem of more than 1 percent rated inflation in the last couple of weeks of January alone. And economists are attributing that to the flooding, the massive flooding that happened in Jakarta.

You can see right over here that they're still getting some heavy rain. The flooding not as bad, but there are still several hundred people that are living in shelters in areas that are still water logged across this region. And notice as we head into the next 24 hours again, some more heavy rain is expected this January and February, now that we are in February, are the wettest months of the year in this part of the world.

Moving on now over to Europe. It had been very mild and not too bad - - actually we're going to head to the Middle East, excuse me. I want to show you a video from the Middle East before I go, because this is pretty important stuff. Look at the flooding. A lot of water that was moving across the region with the latest weather system, some areas getting in excess of 50 millimeters of rain. That's a lot, because remember this is a very dry area so the flooding mostly happened in desert regions, but it did cause some problems with traffic and cooler temperatures also moving through. No snow this time around, but definitely plenty of rainfall.

And the thing is that we are going to get even more rain here over the next 24 hours with moisture coming in. And you can see that right over here in areas to the south. Not as much as before, but just enough to cause some flooding, I think.

Back to you, Monita.

RAJPAL: Well, yesterday we told you where David Beckham said he'd play next. So why did he pick Paris? We'll hear from the man himself and much more in a World Sport update.


RAJPAL: Welcome back.

We told you where Beckham was going. Now we can hear why he's going there. Amanda Davies joins us from CNN London. And Amanda it's not like you ever need a reason to go to Paris.

AMANDA DAVIES, CNN SPORTS CORRESPONDENT: It' not -- it's not like you ever need a reason to talk about David Beckham either, it is really?


DAVIES: ...transfer window has slammed shut again. The show stopped on deadline day was undoubtedly David Beckham's move to Paris Saint- Germain. The 37 year old agreed to a five month deal. And he's going to play for free, donating his $4.7 million salary to a children's charity. Beckham is understood to have received 12 different offers for his services, that's more than any other point in his career. And there was a level of interest, as well, that you'd expect at his news conference in Paris that he admitted that he's honored by the number of options.


DAVID BECKHAM, FOOTBALLER: I'm very lucky. I'm 37 years old. And I got offered a lot of offers, more offers now than I've probably had in my career at my age. So I'm very honored by that.

I chose Paris was -- I chose Paris because I can see what the club are trying to do. I can see the players that are bringing in. You know, it's an exciting city. It always has been and always will be. But now there is a club that is going to have a lot of success over the next 10, 15, 20 years.


DAVIES: We're a couple of weeks away from seeing David Beckham on the pitch in Paris, though.

Well, now to a story of so close, yet so far. Four time major winner Phil Mickelson says he was mortified to fall agonizingly short in his bid to become just the sixth player to card under 60 on the PGA tour, professional golfer's dream of a magical round of 59. And Mickelson so nearly did it at the Pheonix Open is Scottsdale, Arizona. Have a look at this, from 25 feet on his final hole, his putt did everything but go in. Even just left with a tap-in for a round of 60. Still a pretty good day at the office, but just painfully close there. There is some comfort from his four shot lead after round two.

Now the countdown continues to Super Bowl 47. Friday, will see a somewhat unusual press conference of the coaches with brothers Jim and John Harbaugh sitting down going head to head as the bosses of the two teams, the San Francisco 49ers and the Baltimore Ravens. But that is just one of many interesting subplots this weekend. Here's Mark McKay from New Orleans.


MARK MCKAY, CNN SPORTS CORRESPONDENT: Super Bowl 47 at the Superdome here in New Orleans. It will be about the Baltimore Ravens and the San Francisco 49ers, but it'll also be about Beyonce. The Grammy Award winning performer will perform at halftime of the Super Bowl game. And as is with tradition, she went before the lights and cameras at the Super Bowl media center on Thursday. And you talk about making a first impression.

That was Beyonce opening her Super Bowl press conference with a rousing performance of the U.S. National Anthem, a live rendition, followed by an admission that she indeed had used a recorded track during President Barack Obama's inauguration about two weeks ago.

BEYONCE, SINGER: I am a perfectionist. And one thing about me, I practice until my feet bleed. And I did not have time to rehearse with the orchestra. It was a live television show in a very, very important emotional show for me, one of my proudest moments. And due to the weather, due to the delay, due to no proper sound check, I did not feel comfortable taking a risk. It was about the president and the inauguration and I wanted to make him and my country proud. So I decided to sing along with my prerecorded track.

MCKAY: As for Sunday, Beyonce said I will be performing live. This is what I was born to do.

On Friday, there's going to be a unique press conference here in New Orleans between the coaching brothers, Jim and John Harbaugh, as they stand beside the Lombardi trophy, one of the two brothers will be taking that home come Sunday.

At Super Bowl 47, Mark McKay, CNN, New Orleans.


DAVIES: Monita, we'll be live to New Orleans speaking to Mark in World Sport in about three hours time as well. But frankly, I think you can forgive Beyonce when she looks and sounds like that.

RAJPAL: I know. I know. How can you not like her?

DAVIES: I know.

RAJPAL: All right, Amanda, thank you very much for that. We have the same problem, I understand that.

Now all week, we've been looking at the smartphone market and how the BlackBerry's slice of the market has fallen dramatically in recent years. One of the chief beneficiaries of the BlackBerry's fall is Samsung. But as Matthew Chance reports, Samsung has much more on their mind.


MATTHEW CHANCE, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: In some ways for Samsung, smartphones are just the sideline.

Give us an idea of how many fingers it's got in how many pies in this country?


Well, Samsung obviously they sell you your telephone. Everyone knows about that. But you can also buy, you know, stocks and shares through Samsung Securities, Samsung sells military hardware through a company called Samsung Techwin (ph).

CHANCE: Little tanks and artillery.

TUDOR: There's construction, you can buy a Samsung apartment.

CHANCE: They're also huge ship builders, aren't they?

TUDOR: Right, absolutely.

CHANCE: There are Samsung hospitals and hotels, too, even a Samsung amusement park outside Seoul. Economists says revenue for this one company accounts for nearly a fifth of the entire South Korean economy.

How proud are South Koreans of these (inaudible) and of Samsung particularly as being this, you know, extremely successful multi-national?

TUDOR: I think it's really quite mixed. I mean, there's a certain amount of pride that, OK, one of our companies has really, you know, really done something. But also they do have such ginormous power within this market -- any market that's worth having, they have it, and that leads to all kinds of problems. So...

CHANCE: They've got every market covered.

TUDOR: Pretty much.

CHANCE: That must stifle entrepreneurship and...

TUDOR: Yeah, I would say so.

CHANCE: But that conservative image at home doesn't appear to have held it back elsewhere. Like Korean popular culture, Korean movies and K- pop, Samsung is increasingly cool.

Samsung has tagged onto that ride.

TUDOR: I think they feed off each other. I mean Samsung -- you know, in making cool phones -- these two trends are really tied together. I think there's this emerging sort of Korean dream, like not an American dream, but a Korean dream among less wealthy Asian countries, people aspiring to having a fancy LG fridge and a Samsung TV and a Samsung phone, and to look like their favorite K-pop idol.

CHANCE: And that's a marketing dream for Samsung's road ahead.

Matthew Chance, CNN, Seoul.


RAJPAL: Coming up in just a moment here on News Stream, one of New York City's most loved landmarks has reached a special anniversary. We'll bring you some of Grand Central Station's secrets next.


RAJPAL: Welcome back.

This was the iconic Grand Central Station in its earlier day than today. The landmark celebrates its centennial, its 100th year. The icon remains one of the busiest train stations in the world, but nothing turns a century old without its share of secrets. Richard Roth has more on that.


CARY GRANT, ACTOR: What time is the next train?

RICHARD ROTH, CNN CORRESPONDENT: In North by Northwest Cary Grant asked the question millions of passengers have posed since the majestic Grand Central Terminal opened 100 years ago.

Each day, 750,000 people pour through Grand Centra.

What do you think, Grand Central, 100 years old?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I think it's fantastic.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: We love Grand Central. It has never looked better.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: There is poetry in this place. It is a warm, inviting place for something as large and cathedral like.

ROTH: The construction of Grand Central paved the way for multi- levels of track service. And soon the era of luxury train travel arrived. But as plane travel soared and the railways rain into bankruptcy, Grand Central was nearly demolished. A civic fight, led by a former U.S. first lady helped save Grand Central.

JACKIE KENNEDY, FRM. FIRST LADY: If you destroy your past something in people dies.

ROTH: Now, in a New York minute, you can spot a wedding, modeling shoot...

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: It's absolutely stunning.

ROTH: And a squash tournament.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: You know, with these mysteries and thinks.

ROTH: Tour guide Dan Brucker revealed the secrets of Grand Central. Look up, people don't even noticed a ceiling to mirror the constellation.

DAN BRUCKER, TOUR GUIDE: Move, move. Chop, chop. In the corner, let's go.

ROTH: Another secret is the whispering gallery on a lower level.

BRUCKER: Even though I am standing 30 feet away from you, speaking in a low voice. You can probably hear every word I'm saying.

ROTH: We are now descending into the deepest basement in New York City.

This sub-basement is not even on Grand Central map. And it hums with history.

This is the most top secret location inside Grand Central Terminal, the M42.

More than decades ago, troops stood guard to prevent attacks on the power system.

BRUCKER: During the second World War, there was a great fear, well founded, that saboteurs, that Nazi spies, Nazi agents, would make their way down here.

ROTH: Out front, the clock face has the world's largest example of Tiffany glass, though people throughout history have told loved ones meet me at the clock indoor above the information booth.

During the last 100 years, what's the most frequent question you get from passengers?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Oh, my god. Where's the Apple store?

ROTH: The terminal can't run without train engineers?


ROTH: A smaller celebration for a veteran railman who guided his last train, concluding 36 years of service.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Today is my last day, but, yes, 100 years is really something.

ROTH: Richard Roth, CNN, New York.


RAJPAL: Well, while New Yorkers celebrate one icon, they are bidding farewell to another. Former New York City Mayor Ed Koch has died of congestive heart failure. He was 88. Koch was a colorful figure who served three terms as New York's mayor from the late 1970s through most of the 80s. Many remember his enthusiastic personalities, nasal voice and ongoing personal opinion poll often greeting New Yorkers with the question how am I doing?

A funeral for Ed Koch will be held on Monday.

And that is New Stream for this Friday. But CNN will continue to follow the situation in Turkey where an apparent suicide blast at the U.S. embassy has killed at least one person. We'll bring you much more on that in the hours ahead.

I'm Monita Rajpal, World Business Today is next.