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American Drone Base Uncovered; Obama to Visit Israel; Acapulco Rape Victims Knew Attackers; Millions of Chinese Travel for Lunar New Year; Turning Bacteria Into Gold; Journalist Faces Constant Threats

Aired February 6, 2013 - 12:30   ET



SUZANNE MALVEAUX, ANCHOR, "CNN NEWSROOM": Welcome back to "Newsroom International." We take you around the world in 60 minutes. Here's what's going on.

In Saudi Arabia, a secret American drone base may not be a secret any longer.

Both "The New York Times" and "The Washington Post" disclose that the base exists, saying questions about the drone program will probably come up during this week's confirmation hearings for John Brennan as CIA director.

Brennan used to run the CIA station in Saudi Arabia.

In Washington, the White House confirms that President Obama is going to visit Israel in the spring. During the final presidential debate you might remember it was Mitt Romney who criticized the president for not going to Israel during a trip to the Middle East, when he was candidate Obama.

The president was quick to fire back.


BARACK OBAMA, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: If we are going to talk about trips that we have taken, when I was a candidate for office, first trip I took was to visit our troops.

And when I went to Israel, as a candidate, I didn't take donors. I didn't attend fundraisers. I went to Yad Vashem, the Holocaust Museum there, to remind myself the nature of evil and why our bond with Israel will be unbreakable.


MALVEAUX: The president visibly annoyed.

The relationship between the president and Israeli Prime Minister Netanyahu has been tense at times. The trip to Israel will be the president's first visit as commander-in-chief.

In Tunisia, angry demonstrators facing off with police after a critic of the government was shot and killed. Police fired tear gas to break up the protest.

And the demonstrations broke out after a gunman shot Chokri Beliad outside his house as he was leaving for work.

His supporters, even some opponents, are calling this a political assassination.

Acapulco, Mexico, attracting millions of tourists every year, right? But this horrifying crime, it really has put folks there on edge, particularly visitors.

Miguel Marquez, he is in Acapulco with some very recent, new developments. What do we know?

MIGUEL MARQUEZ, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Suzanne, this is the beautiful area just south of Acapulco where this crime occurred. This is the house where those victims were. Police tape now surrounds it as well as many, many police.

And CNN has learned from the lead investigator of this investigation that the victims knew their attackers. He says they bought drugs from them.


MARQUEZ: Masked gunmen entered this seafront vacation bungalow from the beach around 2:00 a.m. What happened next, horrific.

Six women in their 20s and their male companions tied up with their own cell phone cords and bikinis, the women raped, the men helpless to stop it from happening.

It's a delicate situation, he says, but we will apply the full weight of the law against those responsible.

All of the victims, tourists from Spain. One woman from Mexico was left unharmed. Some neighbors say they heard music coming from the beach house late that night, suggesting there may have been a party.

With no gate, fence or security, the house easily entered, invaded from the beach.

The shocking crime has struck worry and fear in those who know and love this popular vacation destination.

KATHY CHARELTON, VACATIONING IN MEXICO: I'm excited to be here, but at the same time, a little nervous.

MARQUEZ: The attack comes as tens of thousands of teens and 20 something Americans, spring breakers, prepare to descend on Acapulco for the annual rite of sun, beaches and parties.

The city of Acapulco has been an oasis of relative calm in the Mexican state of Guerrero. A place hard hit by drug-related violence, the U.S. State Department recommends deferring nonessential travel to the northwestern and southern portions of the state. And even in Acapulco itself, the best advice, exercise caution and stay within tourist areas.


MALVEAUX: So, Miguel, give us a sense about the new information we have on the number of attackers, and whether or not the victims are even still there.

MARQUEZ: Investigators say that there were seven attackers, total. They say they know who they are, that they're even watching them at the moment. They expect arrests to be made by the end of the week.

They're between 20 and 30 years old, all of them. And all of the Spanish tourists are still in the country, presumably assisting investigators and being taken care of, though, by Spanish officials, as well, Suzanne.

MALVEAUX: Do we have a sense of this new information that you have about them actually knowing, allegedly knowing these attackers, allegedly buying drugs, whether or not that is changing in any way the way people think about what took place?

MARQUEZ: Well, look, we have only learned that. Investigators are only coming to these details. It is hard to understand whether or not that will -- how it will change things.

I will say we've talked to a lot of people in this area. They've never heard anything like this before.

The attackers came in from the beach. The supposition is, of investigators, that they purchased drugs a day or two or three days before that, so they knew them. They opened the door to it is the problem.

Not that that takes away from the crime whatsoever, but it's a little nugget of information that, when you're in an environment like this, best to be as cautious as possible.


MALVEAUX: Yeah. Do people feel safe there still, or they're kind of nervous, I imagine?

MARQUEZ: There's a lot of nerves. People are watching this.

Things had died off here for years after 2008, 2009, when the drug war really kicked off here.

In 2008, for instance, there were over 100,000 U.S. spring breakers here. It's dropped down precipitously to the hundreds, maybe thousands of people.

This year, bookings were way up. Officials here are hoping it stays that way, but they want to put these people behind bars, they want to try them, and they want to make sure people know this will never happen again.


MALVEAUX: Absolutely.

Miguel, thank you.

MALVEAUX: In China, 200 million folks are heading home for a special holiday, what is being called the biggest annual human migration the world has ever seen.


MALVEAUX: In China, millions of migrant workers are boarding buses trains, boats, making their way home to celebrate the lunar new year. For many, it is their only chance every year to see their families.

Matthew Chance, he caught up with some of them who are traveling just outside of Beijing.


MATTHEW CHANCE, CNN CORRESPONDENT: It's hard to describe the sheer scale of this annual migration across China, hundreds of millions of workers hauling their bags with them heading home for the lunar new year.

The numbers are staggering. Chinese officials estimate nearly 3.5 billion journeys will be made over this period.

Buses, boats, planes, and, of course, trains, all running flat out to get these people home.

I was just speaking to Lee Hua (ph) here. It's interesting because, for millions of Chinese people, this is a very rare opportunity for them to go back to there home villages.

Lee Hua (ph) was telling me he's got a girlfriend back home in his village, but only sees her once a year, and that time is right now.

Lee Hua (ph), you must be very happy to be going home?

Very happy. Very happy, yeah. Only once a year, but it's now.

We are aboard one of the trains right now heading to the northeast out of Beijing. It's 17 carriages long and, as you can see, it's absolutely crammed with people.

These are China's migrant workers who left their families in the countryside to work in the city, fuelling decades of economic boom, but prosperity for many here has come at a very high personal cost.

Mr. Joe (ph) here is in a position, which is similar to millions, hundreds of millions of people just like him. He's left his family in a province in China in the northeast of the country, in fact, but he's come to Beijing because he gets more money. This is the one opportunity he gets every year to go home.

And I'm interested, Mr. Joe (ph), is your sacrifice worth it?

What he is saying is that, if he didn't take that job in Beijing, he simply wouldn't be able to support his family. And that's the main reason why so many people around China do what they do.

But we've gotten to the end of our short journey. Hundreds of millions of Chinese around the country, preparing to celebrate the lunar new year, will also be coming to the end of there's.

And then, in a few weeks time, China goes back to work and this whole huge human annual migration starts over again.

Matthew Chance, CNN, outside Beijing.


MALVEAUX: It may be the world's oldest get rich quick scheme. We're talking about (INAUDIBLE). The century's old search for a way to make gold. Well now somebody might actually have pulled this off. We'll explain.


MALVEAUX: In Pakistan, about an hour drive from the town where Osama bin Laden was killed, a $30 million amusement park is going up. Officials say this park is going to include a zoo, water sports, rock climbing. The hope is that it's going to boost the local economy there. Some officials say the money would be better spent on housing.

And Felix Baumgartner, he broke the record -- record after record, when he jumped from space over New Mexico. That was back in October. Well now it seems that there is another record. He fell at a rate of more than 843 miles per hour. Check it out. Ten miles faster than they originally thought. The jump made him the first person to break the sound barrier outside a vehicle. Cool stuff there.

And, of course, another cool story. For centuries, right, people have been trying to create gold (INAUDIBLE). Well, we might actually be a little bit closer than we ever imagined. People are trying to make gold from sea water and bacteria.

Chad, where -- you know, I'm digging. I'm going on vacation. I'm going to the beach. I'm going to find some bacteria. You and I are going to get rich real quick.

CHAD MYERS, AMS METEOROLOGIST: Might be harder than that.

MALVEAUX: How does this work? I don't get it.

MYERS: OK. We -- for centuries we've known that there's gold ions floating in sea water. And also gold ions floating through the rivers of the Yukon. About 13 parts per trillion in the ocean. That's not very much. But, researchers now have found a way to take those ions, make them precipitate out onto this little bacteria. They can come out and almost like just shoot it out as real gold. So, if you make -- now, don't sell your gold stocks just yet. I don't think gold's going to $20. But there is a lot of gold in the ocean. They have now found a way to get some of those ions into real gold.

MALVEAUX: All right, so who can do this? Are these like, you know, the sophisticated scientists that are going out and doing this or could you and I go out there and, you know, make a little gold?

MYERS: If we tried to do it, we could make a piece of gold that's probably smaller than the size of a pin.

MALVEAUX: Yes, but that's OK. That's something, right?

MYERS: They wouldn't give you $50 for it at the local we buy gold store. It's a great theory. It's a great promise. But we think that there's probably more promise in the river water, because it can be 1,000 parts per trillion in the rivers coming down than in the ocean. There's just a lot more ocean out there.

MALVEAUX: All right. So don't go to the beach -- don't head to the beach yet with digging for bacteria.

MYERS: Not just yet.

MALVEAUX: Not yet.

MYERS: This is going to be a couple years or more.

MALVEAUX: All right, we'll wait. I'm willing to wait.

MYERS: All right. Fair enough.

MALVEAUX: Thank you, Chad.

MYERS: Sure.

MALVEAUX: All right, so imagine this. You're, you know, taking a canoe trip. You're in Maui. And this is what happens. Yep, you got to see this video. We're going to have more of that after the break.


MALVEAUX: In Pakistan, journalists are threatened daily. It is one of the deadliest countries for journalists. We take you inside with one prominent reporter about the threats that he faces and the friends that he's lost.


MALVEAUX (voice-over): As one of the youngest bureau chiefs in Pakistan's largest and most dangerous provinces, Balochistan, Malik Akbar's future looked bright. By gaining access to the region's most influential politicians and tribal leaders, Malik began to made a name for himself in Pakistan's journalism community.

MALIK SIRAJ AKBAR, PAKISTANI JOURNALIST: Through all my life, I've always wanted to become a journalist, so -- but in the childhood, I had a dream to become a journalist. I started my career at a time when the, you know, the conflict in Balochistan was on its peak (ph).

MALVEAUX: But like many other Pakistani journalists covering Balochistan's prolonged insurgency, Akbar quickly learned that reporting daily on bomb blasts and assassinations could bring dire consequences.

AKBAR: When you report from Balochistan, there are a number of stake holders. Everyone tries to influence you as a reporter. But when I, you know, started my career, I was very ambitious, very young, and I did not know how, you know, bad things could get. At least 10 of my journalist friends have been killed in Balochistan, either by the government or by the rebels, by the Balochin (ph) nationalists, by underground groups.

MALVEAUX: It didn't take long for Akbar to realize that his reporting had also made him a target, and he soon began to fear for his life.

AKBAR: It was personal (INAUDIBLE) threats. And you would get, you know, phone calls outside the local press club and you would be told time and again that you were being followed. I was caught by the military intelligence twice, and they asked me to follow a certain line of opinion and to report on their support. And when I refused to do that, they tried to threaten me. They said they would kill me if I did not follow their line of reporting.

MALVEAUX: Consistently ranked among the deadliest countries in the world for journalists. Pakistan is home to a wide range of threats that, according to the committee to protect journalists, led to the deaths of nine media workers in 2012. That's down from 11 the year before.

AKBAR: It's not as if that 2012 was a better year for journalists in Pakistan. It was only because problems escalated in countries like Syria. But in Pakistan, you know, circumstances were equally terrible for journalists.

MALVEAUX: In the first two weeks of 2013, three journalists were killed in a bomb blast in the city of Queta (ph). At this pace, it could shape up to be the deadliest year yet for media workers in Pakistan. They are left with few choices -- self censorship, death, or to permanently flee their homes, as Akbar did when he was granted political asylum by the U.S. in 2011.

AKBAR: I was lucky among many journalists in -- among few journalists in Balochistan who managed to get a fellowship and come out of Balochistan or of Pakistan. But a lot of my friends have been killed since I've been in the United States in the last three years. So all these things and combined (ph), you know, always motivated me because I think, you know, journalism is just like boxing, you have to fight every day to get your word out.


MALVEAUX: Well, he went to -- he went from the thrown of England to the bottom of a parking lot. We are digging deeper on an incredible archeological find.


MALVEAUX: Everybody is talking about this. Even late night comedians. The skeletal remains of King Richard III found beneath a parking lot. Yes, that's right, in England. He died some 500 years ago. Well, here is how Stephen Colbert explains it.


STEPHEN COLBERT, "THE COLBERT REPORT": That's right, King Richard III has been found underneath the parking lot of a supermarket, which explains why his famous last words were, my kingdom for a Hot Pocket.

How did the scientists know that this was the hunchback king and not some poor 15th century Britain who starved to death waiting for a grocery store parking space?


MALVEAUX: That's awesome. All right, you can learn more about it -- it's an amazing discovery -- on