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Police Testing Suspected Charred Remains of Christopher Dorner; Heat Wave Grips Western Australia; NASA's Mohawk Guy Invited To State of the Union; Egyptian Mother Seeks Justice For Dead Son

Aired February 13, 2013 - 08:00:00   ET


MONITA RAJPAL, HOST: I'm Monita Rajpal in Hong Kong. Welcome to News Stream where news and technology meet.

A manhunt mystery: police find charred human remains in a burnt out cabin in California, but do they belong to a fugitive ex-cop?

Also ahead, in what will be one of his last official appearances, the pope speaks out about his health and his faith.

And almost over: thousands of people stranded on a cruise ship are preparing to return to shore.

Law enforcement officials in South California are working to identify charred human remains found in a burned out cabin near Big Bear Lake. It's believed they are the remains of murder suspect and former Los Angeles police officer Christopher Dorner. Police say Dorner barricaded himself in the cabin on Tuesday after a shootout with police that killed one officer and wounded another.

Well, Christopher Dorner is also suspected in the killings of three other people this month. Police say he had issued an online manifesto threatening to revenge on police for his dismissal from the force in 2008.

We want to bring you up to date on the timeline of just how this story has developed. It began with two killings in Irvine, Calfornia on February 3. Police suspect Dorner shot Monica Quan and her fiance while they were sitting in a parked vehicle. She was the daughter of an LAPD officer Dorner blames for bungling the appeal of his termination.

Well, last Thursday police say Dorner opened fire on two LAPD officers in Corona, wounding one. Then, he allegedly fired on two other officers in Riverside, killing one. Later that day, police found Dorner's pick-up truck burning on a roadside near Big Bear Lake east of Los Angeles. The manhunt continued to focus on that ski resort area.

And that brings us to Tuesday when police say the suspect barricaded himself inside a cabin and engaged them in a shootout.

Well, Casey Wian has been following the story from Los Angeles. He joins us now live. Casey, is there now official word as to whether or not it was indeed Dorner in that cabin?

CASEY WIAN, CNN CORRESPONDENT: There is not official word, Monita. Investigators are operating under the assumption that the charred remains of a human being inside that burned out cabin are Christopher Dorner, but they have not been able to confirm it yet. They say they need to do forensic examination of those remains. They have not told us what condition those remains are in, so that could mean anything from DNA testing, dental records, or x-rays. We don't know when they'll have that identification.

As for the rest of the investigation, it is continuing to proceed, because one of the unanswered questions about this whole case is whether Dorner had any help. Here's what the Los Angeles Police Department had to say about that part of the investigation.


COMMANDER ANDREW SMITH, LOS ANGELES POLICE DEPARTMENT: Anybody who has assisted him, assisted him in hiding from the police department, assisted him in avoiding capture, or assisted him in any way, is criminally culpable. And I can assure you that the Los Angeles Police Department and the district attorney's office will leave no stone unturned to find out if, in fact, someone was assisting this man in his -- in his terrible crimes and his eluding capture.


WIAN: Also continuing as part of this investigation, an operation that has stretched throughout Southern California. The protection of 50 families of Los Angeles police officers and others who could be targets or could have been targets of Christopher Dorner. That, the LAPD says, will continue around the clock until those remains are positively identified as Dorners -- Monita.

RAJPAL: Casey, put this in perspective for us for those of us in the international audience as to how massive of a story this has been in the United States.

WIAN: It's been a very big story in the United States. We had President Obama giving his State of the Union Address last night. That normally would have been the big news event. The news networks, including our own, did carry that address live. But the runup to that State of the Union Address was completely dominated by the Dorner story, that manhunt that was ongoing, the dramatic shooting audio of that was broadcast throughout the United States. And then the fire was being broadcast live throughout the United States.

Also want to say that throughout Southern California this has been a very big story. Many people staying away from that ski resort in Big Bear because of fears that Dorner might be on the loose there.

The biggest fear, though, was amongst the law enforcement community who Dorner was targeting in this online manifesto that he posted before he went on this killing spree.

The very people who are tasked with protecting the public and finding criminals like Dorner were the ones who were in the most danger throughout this whole ordeal.

RAJPAL: Casey, thank you for that. Casey Wian reporting to us there from Los Angeles.

Let's stay in the United States. Jobs, immigration, gun control: last night President Obama focused much of his State of the Union Address on domestic policy. In his annual speech to a joint session of congress, Mr. Obama also called on law makers to work together.

Here's more now from Brianna Keilar.


BARACK OBAMA, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: We can say with renewed confidence that the state of our union is strong.

BRIANNA KEILAR, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): In the first State of the Union address of his second term, President Obama unveiled a slate of new proposals aimed at improving the lives of the middle class, taking on everything from universal preschool education, to repairing the nation's aging infrastructure, to addressing the threat of climate change.

He urged Congress to put partisan differences aside on the issue of immigration and to stay focused on a plan to jump-start the nation's lethargic economy.

OBAMA: The American people have worked too hard for too long rebuilding from one crisis to see their elected officials cause another.

KEILAR: Renewing an unfulfilled promise from his first presidential campaign, Obama asked Congress to increase the federal minimum wage to $9 an hour.

OBAMA: Let's declare that in the wealthiest nation on Earth, no one who works full-time should have to live in poverty. Let's tie the minimum wage to the cost of living so that it finally becomes a wage you can live on.

KEILAR: In the moment of the night, the president called on Congress to vote for tougher gun legislation, stepped up background checks, and an assault weapons ban.

OBAMA: Gabby Giffords deserves a vote.


The families of Newtown deserve a vote.


The families of Aurora deserve a vote.

KEILAR: On national security, the president warned of the threats posed by enemy hackers, announcing new measures to increase information sharing, and adding long south details on the case of the drawdown in Afghanistan, he announced plans to bring home nearly half the troops serving there by this time next year.

OBAMA: Another 34,000 American troops will come home from Afghanistan, this drawdown will continue. And by the end of next year, our war in Afghanistan will be over.


KEILAR: How will all of this be paid for? The president vowed...

OBAMA: Nothing I'm proposing tonight should increase our deficit by a single dime.

KEILAR: But the dollars and cents won't be released until President Obama unveils his budget next month.

Brianna Keilar, CNN, Washington.


RAJPAL: And while domestic issues top his agenda, Mr. Obama also spoke about U.S. foreign policy. As you heard there in Briann's report he announced that by this time next year 34,000 more U.S. troops will have returned home from Afghanistan. Mr. Obama and NATO said previously that Afghan troops would be leading combat missions there this year.

The U.S. president also had tough words for North Korea. Last night he called Pyongyang's underground nuclear test on Tuesday a provocation that will, quote, "only further isolate them."

And as Mr. Obama takes a hard stance on North Korea's nuclear ambition, scientists have been taking a closer look at Pyongyang's latest nuclear test.

Anna Coren reports.


ANNA COREN, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, the international community continues to condemn North Korea for conducting its third nuclear test. Pyongyang is celebrating what appears to be a success for the isolated regime. Scientists at New York's Columbia University have confirmed that the explosion detected was far larger than previous tests, at least three or four times bigger, concluding the North Korea is making progress to developing a bomb.

Pyongyang says this atomic bomb was smaller, lighter and more powerful than previous tests, suggesting it may have made a breakthrough in miniaturizing a nuclear warhead to fit on a ballistic missile.

Well, this is an alarming development for the region and the international community. As a result, South Korea's defense ministry came out saying it had ballistic and cruise missiles in place that could hit North Korea at any time. Well, this action is highly unlikely, considering it would lead to full-scale war. It's a strong warning from Seoul backed by its powerful ally the United States.

In his State of the Union Address, President Barack Obama said the United States would lead the world in taking firm action against North Korea. No details as to what that action entails, but many here in South Korea feel that it is time Pyongyang is punished for its provocative and aggressive behavior.

Anna Coren, CNN, Seoul.


RAJPAL: Coming up on News Stream, the pope tells the faithful why he is resigning in his first appearance since his surprise announcement. More on Europe's growing horse meat scandal as EU ministers (inaudible).

And leaking sewage and a lack of food: we talk to passengers on board the cruise ship that became stranded in the Gulf of Mexico.


RAJPAL: Pope Benedict XVI has spoken publicly for the first time since announcing his shock resignation on Monday. He told huge crowds at the Vatican that he no longer has the strength to continue in his role.


POPE BENEDICT XVI (through translator): I have done these in full freedom for the benefit of the church, but I have prayed for a long time. And I have examined before god my conscience fully aware of the gravity and seriousness of such acts, but also aware that it is not adequate for me to continue if I don't have the strength that is required.


RAJPAL: In just a few hours time, the pope will preside over a service to mark Ash Wednesday. The mass was moved from a smaller church to St. Peters Basilica to enable more worshipers to see him before he steps down.

Now the pope will hold a final audience in St. Peters Square the day before his resignation comes into effect February 28. And there is already mounting speculation about who his successor might be.

Let's bring you the latest now from Jim Bittermann who joins us now live from Rome.

So what's the chatter about who the successor might be, Jim.

JIM BITTERMANN, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, Monita, I think there's all sorts of names being mentioned. The fact is, though, that until the cardinals actually get into town here and start sizing each other up, it probably -- all of it, sort of meaningless at this point. Frankly, this process is a very secretive one. It's a vote that takes place among the cardinals themselves. And they have lots of opinions about who should be selected as pope.

One of the things that I think we've been talking about is the fact that Benedict XVI has named 67 of these 117 cardinal electors and as a consequence since he's personally hand selected them, they're likely to follow his political and doctrinal lines, and I think we'll see something - - in terms of a political pope to be something similar to what we have seen with Pope Benedict XVI.

But that's all speculation at this point. Anything can happen once the cardinals get into town. That's going to be in a couple of weeks time. And this far advance, it's really fairly meaningless to speculate.

A couple of things that we have heard, though, from the papal spokesman just a few minutes ago, is sort of what's going to happen over the next few days and how Pope Benedict XVI is going to spend his last days in office. And basically fulfilling the duties that he had already committed himself to as well as adding a couple of other things.

One thing is, he is going to meet with political leaders here in Italy. There's an election campaign on. And of course that issue could give some support, that meeting could give some support to the politicians he meets with.

Another thing that's going to happen is that that final papal audience that you mention on the 27th. And they're making plans for big crowds. At that point, that audience will be held outside in St. Peters Square, because they believe a lot of people will want to be here for that.

And then on the 28th itself, the day the pope resigns, he'll have a final lunch with his College of Cardinals. They'll meet for a few hours over lunch. That will be private. And then at 5:00 in the afternoon on that day, he'll get into helicopter and fly off to Castel Gandolfo, which is the papal summer residence. He'll be there for a period of time that's so far as undefined while they prepare what will be his longer term residence which is a monastery within the Vatican grounds itself, Monita.

RAJPAL: It's interesting to note, also, while -- obviously there's been a lot of chatter as to who might take on the role of pope after Pope Benedict XVI officially resigns, the reality is whoever takes over and wherever they come from, they will certainly have their work cut out for them.

BITTERMANN: Well, I think so. The church is facing a good many challenges in all corners of the planet. And I think that that's going to -- the pope's agenda, the new pope's agenda is going to be full.

I mean, there are questions about the church governance inside the church, but there's also a couple of questions about the public role of the church. There's questions about recruitment of priests. There's questions about -- still lingering questions about sexual abuse. There's just any number of questions out there, challenges that the church faces. So it's not going to be easy for the person who takes over. And, you know, I think there will be also a fair amount of thought given towards exactly what the public role of the pope should be going forward.

So, there's just no -- there will be no shortage of work for the new pope, Monita.

RAJPAL: All right, Jim, thank you for that. Jim Bittermann live for us from Rome.

Well, with the pontiff's imminent departure, some are taking a new look at the Catholic Church as an institution and asking whether it has kept up with changing times. Ben Wedeman has more on that.


BEN WEDEMAN, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: The Basicilica of Santa Maria in Trastevere is one of Rome's oldest churches, but today tourists seemed to outnumber the faithful. In this age of uncertainty, buildings such as these are more monuments of art and architecture rather than a bridge between mortals and the almighty.

18 year old student Ava Bertelli (ph) walks by the church, but doesn't enter.

"I don't need a contact to reach god," she says. "I don't need an intermediary on earth to resolve my problems."

Pope Benedict's surprise announcement that he's about to resign has once more brought the crisis in the Catholic Church into sharp focus, a church in which the gap between the shepherd and his flock seems to be growing ever wider torn asunder by pedophile scandals, financial controversy, a crisis of faith.

Reginald Segar, a doctor from Louisiana visiting Rome, says it's time for change.

REGINALD SEGAR, TOURIST FROM LOUISIANA: You know, somebody who can bring in new idea with maybe a little bit more liberal idea -- liberal plan for the church, something like John XXIII did where he opened up the windows of the church to let the spirit come in and help guide us.

WEDEMAN: With Rome in the grip of winter, the windows of the pope's offices overlooking St. Peters Square are closed. The winds buffeting the church come from outside Europe.

The Vatican City may be based in Rome, but in many respect the Catholic Church is no longer a European institution. Only one in four Catholics lives in Europe. And now that it's time to elect a new pope, many say it's time that the pope reflect that new reality.

The flock may be shrinking here and in North America, but it's growing in Africa, Latin America and Asia. Pope Benedict tried shoring up Catholicism on his native continent, a mistake perhaps, says Father Carmine Curci who spent years in Africa and Latin America.

CARMINE CURCI,MISNA NEWS AGENCY: This life was more European. He didn't like to travel a lot. Even though he liked to talk with African people, to talk with the Latin-American people, maybe now it's too late.

WEDEMAN: Too late for this pope, but not for the next.

REV. BERNADO CERVELLERA,ASIA NEWS: A missionary pope towards Europe.

WEDEMAN: Father Bernado Cervellera runs a Catholic news service specializing in Asia. He believes it's not the birthplace of the next pope that matter, but rather a focus on social justice.

CERVELLERA: Focused on human being and not on profit. All these things, which are terribly modern because we have an economic crisis in which the need of the people are forgotten. The need of finance are immediately answered.

WEDEMAN: Then perhaps the Catholic Church can be a light unto all nations.

Ben Wedeman, CNN, Rome.


RAJPAL: Well, one of the names touted as a possible frontrunner to succeed Pope Benedict is Cardinal Peter Turkson from Ghana. The 64 year old is the head of the Vatican's justice and peace bureau. He told CNN's Christiane Amanour that there's a very real chance for a non-European pope.


CARDINAL PETER TURKSON, VATICAN JUSTICE AND PEACE BUREAU: It is. It is certainly possible to have a cardinal come from a certain part of the globe, from Latin America, from Africa or from Asia. I mean, in several places -- Latin America is (inaudible) well over 500 to 700 years.

In several places in Africa and Asia, we've had a chance to celebrate 50th anniversaries and centenaries. So we begin to see from all of this in our young churches mature prelates, mature churchmen, who are capable of exercising leadership in their church.

So the possibility that a candidate or any of the guys (ph), any of the cardinals to be elected pope can come from the certain parts of the globe is very real.


RAJPAL: Well, the Vatican spokesman says a new pope should be elected by Easter, which falls on March 31. The final decision will be made by more than 100 voting members of the College of Cardinals.

Stil ahead here on News Stream, will Ronaldo still be smiling later today? The Champion's League preview is next.


RAJPAL: The round of 16 continues as Spanish Champion Real Madrid get ready to host Manchester United. Amanda Davies joins us now from London with more on that -- Amanda.

AMANDA DAVIES, CNN SPORTS CORRESPONDENT: Hi, Monita. Yes, it really is the tie of the round in the last 16 later on Wednesday. And while Shaktar Donetsk against Borussia Dortmund does have plenty of its own stories to tell, it really is Real Madrid against Manchester United that is grabbing all the headlines. It's a match that the United manager Sir Alex Ferguson has said should be the final at Wembley in May. He says his side are ready for the acid test that the nine-time European champions will provide, though it's Ferguson pitting his wits against the two-time winner Jose Mourinho once again. And whilst United are 12 points clear in the race for the English Premier League title, they've been beaten by the Spanish giants in their last two knockout meetings in this competition.

Real Madrid also now have the services of the former United star Christiano Ronaldo who Ferguson says is even better than when he left Old Trafford three years ago.


SIR ALEX FERGUSON, MANCHESTER UNITED MANAGER: He's a -- I think he's at the peak of his career now. The next three years will also be that way for him. But he was still a young man when he left me. And I think you see how he's flourished in Madrid. And his record is -- I never thought he'd ever get that total, to be honest with you.

I knew he would improve. I knew he was one of the best players in the world, probably he and Messi are the best players in the world, but to score the goals he has scored is phenomenal.

JOSE MOURINHO, REAL MADRID MANAGER (through translator): There are big teams who have never won the Champion's League. There are great coaches who have never won it. Real Madrid has won nine and I've won two. Both Real Madrid and me are privileged. Real Madrid wants to win its 10th Champion's League title. And I would like to win my third. I'm going to fight for my third until it comes my way. I don't know if it will happen this year or the next year, but I do believe in my work. And I don't plan on ending my career with just two Champion's Leagues.


DAVIES: So that game later on Wednesday. But after Tuesday night's action, Juventus have one foot in the quarter finals after a comprehensive 3-0 win over Celtic. Goals from Alessandro Matri, Claudio Marchisio, and Mirko Vucinic gave the Serie A leaders the victory. But the Scottish manager Neil Lennon was left fuming with the officials for what he considered to be some pretty aggressive manhandling from Juve at set pieces.

He also defended Nigeria's Efe Ambrose for his performance after he'd rushed back from action at the African Cup of Nations to play.


NEIL LENNON, CELTIC MANAGER: He was caught for the first goal. It was not due to tiredness. I thought once, you know, he got over that he was fine. And then there was no sign of tiredness when he goes in -- should score, really. I mean, that's just down to a badness (ph).


DAVIES: And Adil Ramy's stoppage time goal gives Valencia hope going into their second leg of their Champion's League tie at Paris Saint Germain. It finished 2-1 to the visitors in Spain. And France are watching David Beckham. The French side will be disappointed to have Zlatan Ibrahimovic missing for the return leg, though. He was sent off for stamping.

And we've got more reflection on Tuesday night's games and a look ahead to the big one in Madrid coming up in World Sport in a couple of hours time, Monita.

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

And there's much more still to come here on News Stream. Police raids in the UK reveal more in the unfolding investigation of horse meat sold as beef in Europe.

And Britain's royal family is again crying foul over photos. We'll tell you what the new pictures of the Duchess of Cambridge show.


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

A desperate nine day manhunt appears to have ended near Los Angeles, California. Authorities say they found human remains in the smoldering ruins of a cabin. Tests are underway to confirm whether they belong to Christopher Dorner. The former LA police officer is suspected of killing four people.

Police in London say they've made six new arrests in their investigation into phone hacking at the News of the World newspaper. These arrests are part of a new line of inquiry into the illegal interception of phone messages by journalists at Rupert Murdoch's News International.

The British royal family says it is disappointed that an Italian magazine plans to publish photos showing an obviously pregnant Duchess of Cambridge. The spokesman for the duke and duchess says the photos of Kate in a bikini are a violation of her privacy. The photos apparently were taken while the royal couple was vacationing in the Caribbean. They are expecting their first child in July.

European ministers are in Brussels to discuss the implications of the horse meat scandal. This comes a day after British officials raided a slaughter house in the north of the country as part of an ongoing investigation into horse meat found in products sold as beef.

Well, the investigation has highlighted the complexity of Europe's meat supply chain. Many of the allegations so far have been largely focused on Romania. Now according to the Telegraph Newspaper, Romania used to export live horses to countries with an appetite for horse meat. But the EU banned that practice two years ago. The paper says Romania now exports slaughtered horses instead.

Now, in this case, the press association reports Comigel's Luxemburg subsidiary placed an order with French meat supplier Spanghero in the south of France. Spanghero then contacted a Cypriot trader who then subcontracted the deal to a trader in the Netherlands. Well, that firm, then, placed an order with the abattoirs in Romania. They sent the meat on to France where it was butchered. That happened at the Spanghero factory. And from there, it was sent to Luxembourg to the Comigel factory.

Comigel says it was fooled by a subsupplier and that it was a victim.

Supermarket giant Tesco frozen food from Findus and budget store Aldi were all supplied with products from this firm.

And a probe is widening. UK police and health officials have raided a slaughterhouse there.

Nic Robertson joins us now live in London. And Nic, as we see here, it is a very complicated and convoluted story that spans much of the continent.

Brussels had a meeting today with ministers. What did they come up with?

NIC ROBERTSON, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, they've really sort of, if you like, defended the position of the European Union. We heard from the health minister saying that the European Union health minister saying the decision isn't a health issue, it's a labeling issue. And he was at great pains to point out that there is legislation in place to stop this sort of thing happening, but he said people are breaking the laws.


TONIO BORG, EC HEALTH MINISTER: The indications are that somewhere down the line there has been fraudulent, possibly negligent labeling of meat products. If anyone distributes and circulates meat products as beef when it is not beef, then that is in violation of legislation.

So this issue, which has arisen, is not the result of lack of legislation, because you can only break the law if there is a law, and there is a law.


ROBERTSON: We're expecting another press conference in about five or six hours time after a late afternoon meeting by more ministers: environment, agriculture ministers in Brussels. And perhaps we'll get more details on what they've been discussing, how to tackle this, indications they may look at the issue of labeling on the food, where the item has come from, and where it has traveled through to get there so at least consumers can make a better informed decision about what it is they're going to eat - - Monita.

RAJPAL: It certainly begs the question, Nic, of how consumers can be better protected by something like this. I mean, short of becoming a vegetarian, consumers are trusting their supermarkets or their butchers as to where their meat comes from. And I remember living in London, there was a big deal made about where meat was come from. So how are consumers protected after this/

ROBERTSON: Well, trust is easily lost. And I think it has been lost. The consumers have lost that trust now in the meat processing industry. And it's hard to -- it's hard to rebuild.

How governments and industry itself are going to rebuild that really isn't clear. If you look at the situation in the UK today, those two premises that were raided by police and the Food Standards Agency, one was an abattoir processing horse meat, the other receiving meat from that abattoir and selling it, packaging it and selling what the food agency -- or the standards agency say is what was purported to be beef was in fact something else in beef burgers and in kabobs.

So how do you rebuild even in that simple chain now -- we've looked at the complicated chains in Europe, but this appears to be a very simple chain where that -- where essentially the trust of the consumer has been broken. How do you rebuild that?

I mean, it certainly looks as if we're likely to see more legislation and more enforcement of legislation that exists. That trust has meant that operators haven't had many consumers will say haven't had the oversight that is clearly necessary. Left to themselves, they've taken shortcuts and now they're going to pay the price, it appears.

RAJPAL: All right, Nic, thank you. Nic Robertson there in London.

More than 4,000 people stranded on a crippled cruise ship are getting -- they're getting, or close to getting back home. The ship lost propulsion after a fire broke out in its engine room on Sunday. Passengers say sewage has leaked into hallways and there's not enough to eat. But they are expecting to be towed into port in Mobile, Alabama on Thursday.

Sandra Endo has more.


SANDRA ENDO, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Crowding the upper deck for some fresh air, more than 4,000 people on board the Carnival "Triumph" are trapped in horrid conditions.

ANN BARLOW, CRUISE SHIP PASSENGER (via telephone): The smells are -- I can't describe them. Our room is flooded. There's sewage, raw sewage, pretty bad. When you walk in the hallways, you have to cover your face.

ENDO: Intermittent power, overflowing toilets, and a three-hour wait for food.

DONNA GUTZMAN, CRUISE SHIP PASSENGER (via telephone): There's times when the ship is leaning pretty hard, and you're worried if you're going to flip over. ENDO: Carnival blames that on 25-mile-per-hour winds, but a maritime expert says the ship's stabilization system is likely disabled and although there's an emergency generator, it's not enough to run an entirely electric ship.

RICHARD BURKE, STATE UNIVERSITY OF NEW YORK MARITIME COLLEGE: They have to make sure there's adequate power to keep the ship from sinking or burning further and usually emergency power is dedicated to activities like that.

ENDO: And moving more than 4,000 people to another ship could be dangerous out at sea and in unpredictable weather. Lifeboats are a last resort. The "Triumph" experienced an electrical problem with one of its alternators about a week ago, but Carnival says it was fixed, passed inspection and had nothing to do with the recent engine fire.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: And, again, we still have no power, so we're unable to cook any hot food, provide hot drinks, et cetera.

ENDO: Two years ago, an engine fire on Carnival "Splendor" left thousands in similar conditions for two days in the Pacific Ocean.

BURKE: Unfortunately, I think with Carnival, this is a -- just a bad coincidence for them that it's happened on two of their ships in this market. I -- I've no reason to believe that Carnival is any way not a first-class operator.

ENDO: The Coast Guard and the NTSB have not yet determined the cause of the fire on the Splendor, so it will take some time to figure out what happened in this case. But they have launched an investigation.

Sandra Endo, CNN, Washington.


RAJPAL: A woman whose daughter is stranded on the cruise ship has spoken to CNN about what she's heard.


MARY PORET, PASSENGER'S MOTHER: She called me hysterical screaming and crying and she was scared not only for what was happening onboard, but she's afraid she'd never to get to see her mama again. And for me to be at work, to hear that from my 12-year-old daughter, I was devastated and there was nothing I could do, nothing I could do. I got her to calm down. I talked to her as long as she would stay on the phone as long as she could. And that last -- when we say good-bye, it was very hard. I didn't know if I'd ever see her or talk to her again. It's very hard.


RAJPAL: And progress is slow for the two tugboats towing the vessel. The ship is 275 meters long and 14 stories tall.

Still to come here on News Stream, one woman's quest for justice for her son. Up next, a look at alleged police brutality in Egypt. You're watching CNN.


RAJPAL: 16 insurgents were killed when they attacked a military base in southern Thailand. Officials say up to 60 militants tried to storm a navy base in Narathiwat province in the early hours of Wednesday morning. The Thai military spokesman says they received a tip about the attack and were on full alert when it happened.

This is the latest incident in a growing conflict between government forces and Muslim separatists in southern Thailand.

Anger in Egypt against brutal police crackdowns has intensified after a number of demonstrators died in custody. Amnesty International says the government is turning a blind eye to torture allegations, insisting they are isolated attacks.

Reza Sayah meets one Egyptian mother who is demanding justice from the government after police allegedly tortured her only son to death.


REZA SAYAH, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDNET: Omohammed (ph) is bearing the pain of losing her only son. But we never saw her shed a tear. What we did see, a mother's raging determination to punish the police officers who she said tortured her son to death.

"I want to see whoever tortured my son be tortured in front of me," she says, "retribution. Only god knows who beat my son, but I know he was tortured at a police camp. She knows, she says, because of the scars on her son's tongue and what looked like rope marks around his neck. His father shows us Mohammed's (ph) death certificate listing injuries to his head, chest and back.


SAYAH: All his body...

"Do you know when someone gets crushed by a train," Mohammed's (ph) mother asks? "He was like that. His face was swollen. His neck where he was pulled by a rope. He paid a high price to dream his country could be the best in the world."

Mohammed (ph) was 28, a world traveler, a human rights activist. His parents beamed with pride when they showed us certificates he'd won for helping those less fortunate. His family says last month Mohammed (ph) disappeared after an anti-government protest in Cairo. Days later, his battered and comatose body was brought to a hospital where he passed away.

Police have not confirmed he was detained. But Mohammed's (ph) case is adding to fears that police abuse and torture is rife, just as it was during the regime of former President Hosni Mubarak.

This month, cameras caught police stripping and beating a defenseless man. Rights groups say hundreds of people have been illegally detained by police and dozens tortured since the 2011 revolution.

So, I went to see Hussein Fikri, Egypt's deputy interior minister for human rights. He says Mohammed's (ph) case is being investigated, but Fikri claims he died after being hit by a vehicle.

Do you feel responsible for answering his mother's question who has lost her only son?

HUSSAIN FIKRI, EGYPTIAN DEPUTY INTERIOR MINISTER (through translator): Not everything that people say is true. So we don't talk about something we're not sure of. We have to wait until the investigation is finished.

SAYAH: Does the interior ministry, do police officials go and give simple directions to police officers you can't hit people, defenseless people, you can't detain them illegally?

FIKRI (through translator): Yes, that happens. Even interior minister himself goes down to speak with the officers before the protests start. And he reminds them that these protesters are citizens just like us.

SAYAH: Do you understand that in order to prove to Egyptians that you're not going back to the brutal police tactics that we saw under the Mubarak regime, that the interior ministry has to take action?

FIKRI (through translator): When incidents like this happened in the past, we denied it. Since the human rights department opened, we're trying to admit our mistakes and show that people will be held accountable.

SAYAH: For now, no one has been held accountable for Mohammed's (ph) death. And it's stoking the anger of a mother who doesn't believe a car accident killed her son.

"Does a car accident give you lines on your neck," she asks? "Does it make your tongue swollen from electrocution?" Omommad (ph) says she won't stop until she gets the truth.

Reza Sayah, CNN, Tanta, Egypt.



RAJPAL: One of the world's greatest sports stars has retired. Esther Vergeer is a renounced wheelchair tennis champion who is coming off an incredible winning streak. Get this, she has won 470 straight matches, this includes seven Paralympic gold medals, 13 world titles, and 34 grand slams, which include both singles and doubles events.

Vergeeer sat down with CNN's Erin McLaughlin last year to discuss her amazing accomplishments.


ERIN MCLAUGHLIN, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Other tennis players when you talk to them, wheelchair tennis players, they talk about how intimidating you are. Do you find yourself intimidating?

ETHER VERGEER, DUTCH PARALYMPIC TENNIS PLAYER: I don't find myself intimidating. No, no. I hope I'm not intimidating, because I hope, you know, we all -- I don't know, challenge each other, push each other, or motivate each other to get better.

Yeah, I don't know. I hope they're like -- I've nothing to lose and I'm going to kick Esther's butt. But I don't know. I would like to know.

MCLAUGHLIN: If you had to give them advice as to how to...

VERGEER: I'm not going to.


VERGEER: Maybe when I retire I'll give them advice, because I probably know a game that would beat me, but I'm not going to tell them now.

MCLAUGHLIN: Do you think this streak is a good thing for your sport?

VERGEER: I don't think it's good for the sport. One hand, it's not good for the sport, because of course more competition and more countries and more women involved would be better. But then again with my streak and with all the media attention I get from that, wheelchair tennis gets publicity. so that's good on the other hand .

I'm hoping that I'm not scaring new girls from, you know, getting involved into sports, because maybe they think they -- you know, it's impossible to do or -- but, well, let's all hope for more opponents, more girls involved.


RAJPAL: That was Dutch wheelchair tennis champ Esther Vergeer with our Erin McLaughlin last September. Vergeer is retiring from the sport at just 31 years old. Her closing record, pretty impressive, 700 wins and just 25 losses.

Let's go check now of some of the weather conditions where you are. Mari Ramos is at the world weather center. And Mari, we're hearing there is a bit of a heat wave in parts of Australia.

MARI RAMOS, CNN WEATHER CORRESPONDENT: Yeah, you know it is summer, of course, as you know here. Those of us in the northern hemisphere shivering in the cold in so many places, well in much of Australia, of course, right now during the summer months the temperature does heat up.

But we are dealing with conditions that are a little bit out of the ordinary. Even right now, if you look at some of these current temperatures. It's still pretty warm and it's, you know, past midnight, really. It's 20 in Sydney, 21 in Melbourne, 30 in Alice Spring and 27 in Perth.

Let's go ahead and start here in the west, because that's the area that has been let's say more affected over the last couple of days.

Look at here, as we head over to the west, there you have it, Perth has been in a situation where the temperature again on Wednesday topped 40 degrees. That makes it five days in a row where the temperature has been at above 100 degrees Fahrenheit, over 38 degrees Celsius. This is only the fifth time in the last 20 years that that has happened. And that is a pretty significant thing in itself. And because Wednesday did go over that 38 degree mark, it makes it the longest streak of hot weather in the last 27 years. So, yes, if you are complaining about the heat in this part of the world, it's true, it is hot. It is hotter than usual.

The other thing is it's supposed to be the rainy season. And you haven't really had anything significant as far as rain. And that goes for areas here across the east as well.

We're going to see that area of high pressure kind of shifting a little bit more toward the east, those hot winds from the interior kind of shift for you here, so relatively cooler there in the west. But here in the east, we begin to see that sinking air, those interior hot winds that will start to affect some of these areas and that will bring you temperatures that are going to be pretty hot even in Melbourne, I think, will start to see a long streak of temperatures over the average for this time of year. So that's going to be something to watch.

Switching gears, take you to another part of the world. Let's talk about what's happening across Asia. And of course here we are dealing with winter. I want to show you some of the visibility reports that we have right now.

Beijing not reporting, and I'll tell you why in just a moment, but look at Tianjin, less than 2 kilometers, Wuhan less than 3. These are areas that are being affected by low clouds, poor visilibity, and yes, you guessed it again, smog. If you're watching from Beijing this evening you know how bad it's been. It's already at 343, that's in the hazardous level. It's when it comes to the air quality index, visibility reduced to less than 2 or 3 kilometers in many cases. So it is -- this is a problem.

We got up to over 400 earlier today. And that is going to be a problem, of course, for those of you that are any kind of respiratory illnesses. This is a pretty bad conditions, this would be like being in the smokers lounge at an airport, for example, except you can't get out. You have to be there no matter what.

Not reporting temperature either right now, but temperatures have been right around freezing here. Minus 2 in Seoul, 3 in Tokyo. So we have that cold air continuing to filter across this entire region.

As far as anything that will help clean out the air a little bit, we don't have anything in the forecast right now for you. We had one weather system move through. The other one is way back here, that probably will not be affecting you until we head into the later part of the weekend.

Last but not least, the weather across Europe. We have one weather system bringing snow here across the UK, another one still causing some travel delays here across the south and east. And a warmup for western Europe is in the cards as we head into the later part of the week.

Back to you.

RAJPAL: Mari, thank you very much for that.

Now earlier we told you about U.S. President Barack Obama's State of the Union. On the guest list last night, everyone you'd expect from First Lady Michelle Obama to the new Secretary of State John Kerry, but apparently if you help send a rover to Mars and rock a cool hairstyle, you'll also get an invitation. Jeanne Moos reports on the return of this man, NASA's Mohawk guy.


JEANNE MOOS, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Hi Mohawk blasts her bangs right out of this world. Remember Mohawk guy? The Mars rover flight director who cried when Curiosity landed on Mars.

BOBAK FERDOWSI, MARS ROVER FLIGHT DIRECTOR: Touchdown confirmed. We're safe on Mars.


MOOS: Bobak Ferdowsi gave a high five and ever since at least his hair has been high.

Leaning forward so we can see the top?


MOOS: He is definitely no showoff, though he will show off sides. This is his State of the Union look.

Since the rover landing, he's changed his Mohawk to note accomplishments on Mars. The dots symbolize chloromethane, which an instrument found on Mars. And these symbols are morse code for the Jet Propulsion Laboratory.

When President Obama's science adviser called to tell Bobak the first lady was inviting him to the State of the Union.

FERDOWSI: I told him I needed a minute to breathe.

MOOS: It's been a whirlwind from being mentioned by the president in a phone conversation with the Mars rover team.

OBAMA: I understand there's a special Mohawk guy that's working on the mission.

MOOS: Fans have painted him, turned him into a yarn doll, and used a lookalike to create a parody music video to the tune of sexy and I know it.

Bobak thinks it's all great, though he gets shy about the marriage proposals and fan love.

One tweet, I'd let that Mohawk dude land his rover on my red planet any time.

His hairstyle, by the way, is not some do it yourself Mohawk, it's done by a salon.

Don't worry, I'm not going to ask how much it costs.

FERDOWSI: No, that's all right.

MOOS: But how much does it cost?


MOOS: Of all the tributes floating around the internet, this is one of Bobak's favorites.

You'll never get a good job with a haircut like that, but you might get to the State of the Union.

Jeanne Moos, CNN, New York.


RAJPAL: And NASA's Mohawk guy is not the only man making headlines after the State of the Union, U.S. Senator Marco Rubio has been lighting up the Twitterverse after his appearance on TV last night. It's not his words that have caught people's attention, it's this.


SEN. MARCO RUBIO, (R) FLORIDA: And false choices like the one the president laid out tonight. The choice isn't just between big government or big business.


RAJPAL: The senator took a quick water break while he was giving the Republican response to Mr. Obama's State of the Union speech. Rubio later posted this picture onto his Twitter page, that is of course the water bottle he was drinking from during his rebuttal.

We've all been there my friend.

That is News Stream. I'm Monita Rajpal. The news continues here at CNN. World Business Today is next.