Return to Transcripts main page
Olympian Oscar Pistorius Charged with Murder; Disabled Cruise Ship Headed to Port; Examining the California Manhunt Case; Artist Continues to Display Banned Paintings; More on Horse Meat Scandal
Aired February 14, 2013 - 08:00:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
KRISTIE LU STOUT, CNN ANCHOR: I'm Kristie Lu Stout in Hong Kong and welcome to NEWS STREAM, where news and technology meet.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
STOUT (voice-over): Now a shooting at the home of South Africa's Blade Runner leaves the girlfriend of Olympian Oscar Pistorius dead. The sport star was taken to the police station. We are live with the latest.
Also a not-so-triumphant return: the Carnival cruise ship prepares to make its way back to shore.
And a close encounter: the news from space just hitting close to home.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
STOUT: And we start with a dramatic developing story in South Africa. Now authorities say the girlfriend of Olympic athlete Oscar Pistorius has been shot dead at his home in Pretoria and a 26-year-old man has been charged with murder. Now we are waiting for him to make a court appearance in Pretoria.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
STOUT (voice-over): Now this was Pistorius, leaving a police station in Pretoria earlier. Police, they have not yet confirmed the name of the suspect, but they gave this statement from the scene.
We can confirm that there was a shooting incident this morning at the home of the well-known Paralympic athlete Oscar Pistorius. At this stage, we can confirm that a young woman, (inaudible) woman did die on the scene of gunshot wounds. A 26-year-old man has been arrested and has been charged with murder.
STOUT (voice-over): Now the authorities, they also say that the victim is the girlfriend of Oscar Pistorius, seen here, the model Reeva Steenkamp. Now Oscar Pistorius, he shot to fame last year when he became the first double amputee to compete in the able-bodied Olympics in London. He made it to the semifinals in the 400-meter race and became a poster boy for people with disabilities.
Now he also smashed a Paralympic record to win the men's 400-meter T44 race that brought his total number of Paralympic medals to eight, including six golds. Now the athlete, he runs using carbon fiber blades as prosthetic limbs, which inspired the nickname Blade Runner.
Pistorius was initially denied entry to the Olympics, but his legal team managed to prove that his blades did not give him an unfair advantage. And in recognition of his sporting success, late last year he was awarded an honorary doctorate from Glasgow's university.
Now let's get more now on the sporting career of Oscar Pistorius. Amanda Davies joins us now live in London.
Amanda, just tell us, I mean, he is such a superstar, a legend.
How big a star is Pistorius?
AMANDA DAVIES, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Hi, Kristie, yes. Oscar Pistorius is a star that is somebody who has graced the front cover of "GQ" magazine. He's featured in the "Time" 100 list. He's been given a laureate for sports awards. He appears on TV talk shows across the globe, the likes of Jay Leno, the likes of "PIERS MORGAN TONIGHT".
And he's somebody who's been on the radar for quite some time now. He tried to compete in the Beijing Olympics in 2008, but failed in that bid to be selected to be allowed to compete against able-bodied athletes.
He then went to the world championships in 2011, but really transcended the boundaries between Paralympians and Olympians right here in London last summer at the Olympics. As you said, he competed in the -- in the 400 meters and the 4x400 meters as well. He is such a star, he carried the South African flag at the closing ceremony.
He still has some way to go in terms of sporting prowess to compete with the top level athletes in the able-bodied sprinting, but he made it to the semifinals. I was lucky enough to be in the stadium at the 400 meters when that happened.
But what he doesn't bring in terms of sporting excellence, he's certainly given a real boost to disabled sport and disabled sportspeople in terms of breaking down barriers for them.
STOUT: And what has happened earlier today at his home in Pretoria? It is just so shocking. How is the sporting world reacting to the news of the shooting?
DAVIES: Yes, it's incredibly shocked, I think, is how you would sum it up. As I said, I was in the stadium at the Olympics when he was there and you had a crowd of 80,000 people chanting, "Oscar Pistorius," his name.
Other athletes are -- speak incredibly fondly of him. Kirani James, one of his fellow competitors, swapped numbers with him at the Olympics, at their 400-meters race. And journalists, on the whole, would speak of him as a very well-spoken, very respectable, respectful individual. He's always very polite.
I was lucky enough to speak to him a couple of times during the Olympics as well. He's very respectful, but he can get his point across. I have to stress that. As you said, he's fought this long battle to be allowed to compete against able-bodied athletes.
He's had a hard life. He was born without the lower portion of his legs. He had the double amputation before his first birthday and then lost his mother at the age of 15 and then has had this battle to be able to compete. So there's certainly that -- the determination that it takes to become an elite athlete.
But people are just incredibly shocked. And there's still a lot of questions to be answered, of course.
STOUT: Fascinating insight there as Oscar Pistorius, the athlete, as well as the man himself. Amanda Davies there, joining us live from CNN London, thank you, Amanda.
Now South African police say that there had been previous incidents of a domestic nature at Oscar Pistorius' home. Nkepile Mabuse joins now live from Pretoria.
Nkepile, we have been awaiting first confirmation about the identity of the suspect. Any word yet?
NKEPILE MABUSE, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, Kristie, the police are still not confirming that the 26-year-old man that they arrested this morning in Pretoria is Oscar Pistorius.
What we know is that he left his home in the morning hours there. They brought him to the police station. They confirmed that, that they brought Oscar Pistorius to the police station. But they're not saying whether he was here as a witness or whether he was here as a suspect.
After this, the 26-year-old suspect was taken to a district surgeon for a full medical examination to be conducted. We then expected him to appear in court for a bail application. But we've been told by the police that that bail application will only happen tomorrow because there are still investigations underway, forensic teams are still at Oscar Pistorius' house where this actually happened.
And also the public prosecutor is preparing him, wants to prepare himself, obviously, thoroughly to hear possibly a bail application. The police have made it very clear that they're going to oppose any bail application from the suspect. So not confirming that the suspect is Oscar Pistorius, Kristie.
STOUT: OK. So the hearing has been postponed and we'll get confirmation then.
You've been reporting all day from the scene there in Pretoria. And the police on the scene earlier said that there had been previous incidents at the home of a domestic nature. Now, Nkepile, of course, we don't know what led to the shooting. But is the investigation already revealing another side of Oscar Pistorius?
MABUSE: You know, it does seem that there is more to the story than meets the eye. I mean, when it broke in the morning, local media were reporting that Oscar Pistorius may have mistook his girlfriend, who came in the morning -- listen, these are the reports from local media -- for an intruder.
And it was not an odd story in South Africa. We have high levels of crime in this country. And people do carry guns to protect themselves. And we have had cases of people shooting family members, mistaking them for intruders.
So -- and there was an outpouring of sadness and grief that this had happened to somebody that is admired, not only in South Africa, but around the world. But of course, the police saying that there were incidents of a domestic nature. Now more questions are being asked about what exactly happened.
So I think what also has very high levels of domestic violence and the police say they have witnesses who heard what happened before the shooting, who also heard the shooting.
So, really, what everybody (inaudible) what the police will put forward in this court case, because everybody wants more information, what exactly did happen at Oscar Pistorius' house in the early hours of Thursday morning, Kristie.
STOUT: Nkepile, we've been screening video of the 30-year-old victim of the shooting that took place earlier today. What can you tell us about her?
And as you tell us about her, we'll also return to that live video feed from outside the estate of the home of Oscar Pistorius, where the shooting death took place. Tell us about the victim.
MABUSE: The PR agency basically confirmed a few hours ago that it is Reeve Steenkamp, who is a celebrated model here in South Africa. She's graced the covers of very high-profile magazines and has endorsed products. And we understand that they have been dating for a couple of months.
And local media have said initially that Oscar Pistorius and Steenkamp had said that, you know, their relationship was a rumor. But then it was later confirmed that they are -- that they were a couple.
And there's just an outpouring of sadness in South Africa because this is somebody who was also admired for what he had achieved in the short space of time that she has been on this Earth. So a lot of people on social media really feeling for the Steenkamp family as well as the Pistorius family, as you can imagine.
It's a really, really tragic incident involving two young lives that really were seen as icons here in South Africa.
STOUT: All right. Nkepile Mabuse, joining us live from Pretoria, thank you very much indeed for that.
And do stay with us here on NEWS STREAM for all the latest on this developing story. In fact, I'll be talking live with Robyn Curnow in Johannesburg later on in the show.
You're watching NEWS STREAM. And coming up next, the end is in sight. We'll have a live report from near where passengers are expected to escape a crippled cruise ship later today.
And we'll meet an artist who's keeping alive the memory of Tibetan protesters who have set themselves on fire.
Plus women in Mozambique are getting an unusual weapon in the war against sex trafficking. A look at people who are fighting against modern- day slavery.
STOUT: Now it is a slow and miserable trip back to shore for the thousands of passengers still stranded on the cruise ship Carnival Triumph. Towed by three tugboats, the ship is expected to arrive at port in Mobile, Alabama, later today.
An engine room fire on Sunday knocked out electrical systems on board and since then passengers say that they've had to wait in line for hours for food while sewage, raw sewage floods hallways.
One doctor says the warm weather in the Gulf has helped make the craft (ph), quote, "a floating Petri dish."
Workers on the ground in Alabama are getting ready for the ship's arrival. And this is the hall in Mobile, Alabama, where the passengers and the crew will be processed. And there will be many questions about what went wrong. This is what we know so far.
Now when fire broke out in the engine room over the weekend, automatic sprinklers put out the blaze. Still, much of the ship's electrical power went out. And the flames also shut down the propulsion system, leaving the crews and more than 4,000 people stranded in the Gulf of Mexico.
And this is the latest in a string of incidents that has plagued the cruise industry in recent times. Last year, 32 people died after the Costa Concordia ran aground off the coast of Italy and partially sank. And Dan Rivers takes a look at cruise safety.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
DAN RIVERS, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): As the Carnival Triumph limps back to the U.S. coast after a catastrophic engine failure, the cruise industry is once again in the spotlight. Passengers aboard have been recounting disgusting conditions as toilets overflow and food becomes scarce.
RIVERS: But this isn't the only disaster to have sent shock waves through the cruise line industry. There have been a space of mishaps which have left many passengers asking just how safe these enormous ships really are.
RIVERS (voice-over): Last Sunday, five crew died on this liner before it even set sail from the Canary Islands. During a drill eight crew were lowered in a lifeboat into the water. As the vessel was winched back up, a cable broke and five of the drowned in the capsized lifeboat.
In a statement, the cruise liner operator Thompson said, "All of the lifeboats and their launching apparatus are in the process of being checked by ship staff and by investigators. We will not sail unless the investigators confirm that they are safe."
Allan Graveson speaks through a union which represents 23,000 crew in Europe, a union that's warned of this specific danger for seven years.
ALLAN GRAVESON, SR. SECURITY OFFICER, NAUTILUS: It's a damning indictment of the industry, an industry that has really not adopted a true safety culture.
RIVERS (voice-over): The Costa Concordia disaster last year put cruise liner safety on the front pages. Thirty-two people died after the ship hit rocks off the coast of Italy and capsized. Less than months later, its sister ship, Costa Allegra, suffered an engine fire and was left drifting for three days without power.
Both Costa ships are owned by Carnival, which is apologizing for the latest incident with the Triumph and compensating passengers for the inconvenience. The association which represents cruise companies worldwide denies there is a safety crisis in the industry.
BUD DARR, CRUISE LINES INTERNATIONAL ASSOCIATION: Safety is absolutely essential to our business. And our guests and crew members need to feel safe and secure on our ships. And they should. I do. And I have no hesitation about myself or my family members going on a cruise.
RIVERS (voice-over): Reassuring words to those who are planning the holiday of a lifetime, but who are worried it could rapidly turn into a nightmare at sea -- Dan Rivers, CNN, London.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
STOUT: And as the Carnival Triumph is taken back to dry land, watch CNN for full coverage of the story. You could also go to CNN.com to follow its journey to shore.
Now it is a mega-airline merger. US Airways and bankrupt American Airlines are joining forces in an $11 billion deal, creating the biggest carrier in the world. Now the merged airline will use the American Airlines name.
US Airways is expected to leave the Star Alliance program and move to the oneworld alliance which American Airlines is part of. Most experts don't expect the deal to cause a surge in ticket prices. Airfares in the U.S. have risen less than 2 percent a year over the past decade, even though competition has dwindled.
However, passengers can expect problems such as lost luggage and flight delays. Now that is typical when two airlines combine their systems. The deal, it still needs approval by the U.S. Bankruptcy Court and federal regulators. And that will take months to complete.
Now still to come right here on NEWS STREAM, since 2009, 100 Tibetans have set themselves on fire to protest Beijing's rule. Up next, we meet an artist who's giving a fact to those protesters. Stay with us.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
STOUT (voice-over): Coming to you live from Hong Kong, you're back watching NEWS STREAM.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
STOUT: Now in the past three years, 100 Tibetans in China have set themselves on fire to protest Beijing's rule. That is according to a Tibetan advocacy group which says the grim milestone was reached earlier this month when a former monk set himself on fire in Aba prefecture. Now several other Tibetans have carried out self-immolations in other countries.
On Wednesday, a man died after he set himself on fire in the Nepalese capital of Katmandu. Chinese authorities insist the self-immolations are isolated incidents and that most Tibetans do not sympathize with or support such actions. Echoing other leaders, one senior official from Sichuan, a province with a large Tibetan population, had this to say back in December.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
LI CHANGPING, SR. SICHUAN PROVINCE OFFICIAL (through translator): They plot, incite and instigate. The root cause for such acts is the Dalai Lama clique. Its loyalists have called those who committed self-immolation national heroes or freedom fighters.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
STOUT: Blame being placed on the Dalai Lama clique. Now meanwhile, a spokesman for the Dalai Lama repeated a call from the Tibetan spiritual leader to end the protests. But it is a sensitive issue and here is what the Dalai Lama said when asked about the events while visiting London last year.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
DALAI LAMA, EXILED TIBETAN SPIRITUAL LEADER: I think that is quite sensitive political issue. I think my answer should be zero.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
STOUT: Now the Dalai Lama clarified his position a few months later. In an interview with a Hindu newspaper, he said it is best for him to remain neutral.
Now an artist in Beijing has created portraits that put a face to those who have set themselves on fire in protest. He sympathizes with their cause. Steven Jiang takes us inside his studio.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
STEVEN JIANG, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Removing the tape the authorities used to seal his paintings, Liu Yi defies latest banned artwork on the ground at the studio to create a powerful montage.
LIU YI, CHINESE ARTIST (through translator): If you don't care about them, you should feel ashamed for being numb to their cries for freedom.
JIANG (voice-over): The 40 men and women in Liu's stark portraits have one thing in common: they're Tibetans who have set themselves on fire to protest what they call increasing repression by the Chinese government.
As seen in horrifying videos like these smuggled out by human rights groups, although the videos cannot be independently verified, state broadcaster CCTV has aired reports showing similar scenes.
JIANG: More than 90 percent of China's population has Han Chinese, an ethnic group distinctively different from the Tibetans. Although the Communist government often boasts ethnic harmony, observers say divisions run deep.
JIANG (voice-over): Pro-Tibet groups like Free Tibet estimate since 2009 around 100 or more Tibetans have set themselves ablaze. But the topic remains taboo in China, and most Han Chinese seem indifferent to the plight of Tibetans.
Liu is among the exceptions. The 50-year-old Han Chinese artist has never met any of his subjects. His portraits are based on their photographs. But he says they're all like family. And despite repeated warnings from officials, he continues to speak out.
LIU (through translator): The current government policy on Tibet is hurting the Tibetan people too much, especially on the religious front. I feel their struggle is also our struggle because we all want more freedom.
JIANG (voice-over): Prominent Tibetan writer Woeser has known Liu for years. She says many Tibetans feel touched by his portraits and message.
WOESER, TIBETAN WRITER (through translator): (Inaudible) should -- he should (inaudible) many times and knows what's going on. That's why he paints with such sympathy and humanity. I hope more Han Chinese will be like him.
JIANG (voice-over): But for now, activists like Woeser see darker days ahead under a new leadership in Beijing, the Chinese authorities have made self-immolation a crime, offered rewards for tipsters and arrested and tried Tibetans who officials say are instigators of such horrific acts.
WOESER (through translator): (Inaudible). This kind of policy has only created more backlash, pushing more Tibetans to fight for their rights.
JIANG (voice-over): As the disturbing trend of Tibetan self- immolation continues, Liu is defying government orders and preparing to create more portraits.
LIU (through translator): Those Han Chinese people's understanding of Tibet is still in line with government propaganda. I feel very lonely when I paint these portraits.
JIANG (voice-over): But solitude, says the artist, has its benefit. It will allow him to keep drawing from the heart -- Steven Jiang, CNN, Beijing.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
STOUT: Now police in California say that they are reasonably sure that the charred body found in a burned-out cabin is that of Christopher Dorner. Forensic experts are working to confirm that. And Dorner is suspected of killing four people in a revenge spree over his 2009 dismissal from the L.A. police force.
Now Dan Simon reports that Dorner's case is generating support in some quarters and a lot of conspiracy theories.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
WOLF BLITZER, CNN HOST: Sheriff McMahon (ph) has asked that all the helicopters pull back, relieve the area of the barricaded suspect.
DAN SIMON, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): As police asked news helicopters to back off --
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We have shots fired, four or five shots fired.
SIMON (voice-over): -- and as the cabin went up in flames, social media also lit up with users like this one, crying conspiracy.
"So U.S. authorities have apparently burned someone to death in a cabin and let it burn through the basement so no body is left."
Another user, referring to reports that Dorner's ID was found, "Come on, people. How in the world is Dorner body burned beyond recognition but they found his license he just so happened to be carrying?"
Another pervasive theory: "I think Dorner probably killed someone and left their body in that fire while he escaped."
Others blasted the police --
LINCOLN: We're going to go -- we're going to go forward with the plan, with the -- with the burn.
SIMON (voice-over): -- blaming them for the cabin fire.
"LAPD was prosecutor, judge, jury and executioner yesterday. They burned him alive."
"Apparently burning people alive is now considered appropriate behavior for the police."
From the very beginning, Dorner had found plenty of sympathizers.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I just want to start off by saying that I perfectly support 100 percent what Chris Dorner is doing.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I read this manifesto and I basically -- I believe him.
SIMON (voice-over): On Facebook, more than 18,000 likes for a page titled, "We Stand with Christopher Dorner." On Instagram, the rapper Ab- Soul spoke for many when he said this about Dorner's rampage, "This was a necessary evil. God bless you, sir."
KAREN NORTH, UNIVERSITY OF SOUTHERN CALIFORNIA: People like antiheroes, and we have a history of rooting for everybody from Bonnie and Clyde and Butch Cassidy.
SIMON (voice-over): USC Professor Karen North studies the intersection of psychology and social media.
NORTH: One of the things that social media has allowed us to do is to join conversations and not be as accountable for our opinion.
SIMON (voice-over): In other words, people may express things online they wouldn't necessarily say to their friends in public. Others just like to be provocative. Still, this user poses a question many today are asking.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Why is America showing so much support for him?
SIMON (voice-over): Dan Simon, CNN, San Francisco.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
STOUT: Still to come here on NEWS STREAM, more of our coverage of the shooting death in the home of South Africa's Olympic star Oscar Pistorius. The details continue to emerge about the death of his girlfriend. We'll keep you on top of all the latest developments. Keep it here.
STOUT: I'm Kristie Lu Stout in Hong Kong. You're watching NEWS STREAM, and these are your world headlines.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
STOUT (voice-over): Now police in South Africa will only say a 26- year-old man has been charged with murder after the girlfriend of Oscar Pistorius was shot dead at the athlete's home. A spokesman confirms that Pistorius was taken to the police station in Pretoria after the death of Reeva Steenkamp. The unidentified suspect is to appear in court on Friday.
A nightmare cruise is set to come to an end for thousands of passengers stuck on a ship in the Gulf of Mexico. On Sunday, a fire took out the ship's power and sanitary systems. And passengers have reported sewage spilling into living areas. The ship is now being towed to Mobile, Alabama.
American Airlines and US Airways say that they have agreed to merge. The new airline, it will fly under the American Airlines name. And today's announcement paves the way for the creation of the world's biggest airline, worth $11 billion.
And there is more bad news for Japan's economy. The country's latest output figures show that it contracted for the third straight quarter. That means the world's third biggest economy remains in recession with sluggish exports and a ballooning trade deficit.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
Now let's return to our top story now, a fatal shooting at the home of Olympic athlete Oscar Pistorius, which left his girlfriend dead. A 26- year-old man has been charged with her murder. Robyn Curnow is live in Johannesburg for us.
And Robyn, we are still awaiting word whether that 26-year-old man, the suspect, is indeed Oscar Pistorius.
ROBYN CURNOW, CNN HOST: You know what, even as I just sat down at this table here now and put my earpiece in, we're still actually quite confused as to what exactly is happening with this case, ever since this morning, when we heard that there had been a shooting at Oscar Pistorius' house and that a 30-year-old woman we now understand to be his girlfriend was found dead.
We still haven't had any confirmation from police that this 26-year- old man they've had in custody and charged with murder is, in fact, the Blade Runner, Oscar Pistorius. Beyond that, the police are keeping their information tight to their chest. We understand they've told reporters that they will be opposing any bail and they haven't said why that'll happen.
But what we do know according to speculation, rumors within the local media here is that Oscar Pistorius allegedly shot his girlfriend thinking that she was an intruder coming into his house in the early -- in the early stages of this morning. Since then, we know that police have said that line of thought surprised them.
They say that there have been previous domestic incidences at his home, and that's why they were treating this particularly seriously. All in all, a very fluid situation, still no real facts on if this is the Blade Runner. But whatever happened, there was a tragic, tragic accident or murder this morning at Oscar Pistorius' house.
STOUT: You know, it is interesting to hear directly from the police on the scene that domestic violence is an element, a factor in this investigation. I want to ask you, Robyn, about the man himself, because you interviewed Oscar Pistorius at his home. So what was your read on him as a sporting superstar, living legend, but also as a man?
CURNOW: You know, I interviewed him many years ago at his home. And ever since then, Oscar has gone out of his way, as I think he's done, with many journalists, with many of his sponsors, with many people he's come into contact with to give them time, to give them access.
He -- you know, he always responds back to a text message, even ones sent near -- a Merry Christmas text message after I just had my first baby. I mean, he's a very caring person for someone who really doesn't need to be kind of giving you that personal touch, you know, that he understands the media.
But at the same time, he came across as a very gracious, a very giving human being. And this is something, I think, that is repeated by all journalists who've come in contact with him. I've just spoken to one of his major sponsors who also felt like he was a friend. He had very intimate relationships with the people he did business with.
So I think that is why, for many people, either in the media world or in the -- you know, dealing with him on a sponsorship level, all, of course, though, is in the athletics world. You know, absolute shocked by this, you know, what exactly happened? What could have prompted such a -- such an outburst of violence?
You know, these questions are going to be answered. But I think the initial emotional reaction by all those people who have known him and have got to know him because Oscar was such a friendly, open, giving human being and still is, of course, but I mean, he's now facing something that really, whichever way you look at it, is going to have a severe impact on his career.
STOUT: And this just -- this is breaking news, Robyn. We have confirmed here at CNN that the 26-year-old man in custody is the man who has been charged with the murder of his girlfriend, of the girlfriend of Oscar Pistorius is, in fact, Oscar Pistorius himself.
So we have confirmed that Oscar Pistorius is the man in police custody, that Oscar Pistorius is the man who has been charged with the murder, the shooting death of his girlfriend. You -- your reaction and your fellow South Africans, you must be shocked by the news. What has been the reaction there?
CURNOW: And I think that is. I mean, I think the word, you know, at times like this, you know, the word "shocked" probably doesn't give you a sense of what people are thinking. I think when you understand what Oscar Pistorius means to this country, he's not just a sporting legend. He's a hero and he's an inspirational role model for people here.
You know, we mustn't forget that this is a kid who had his legs amputated below the knee before he -- before he was 1 years old, and over the years, he had a number of (inaudible) put on and he became an Olympic champion, the kind of dedication, the kind of discipline, the kind of steely will, the kind of sacrifices he's made to get to that position, to compete in the Olympics last year in the able-bodied Olympics and to run in those semifinals, you know, we -- I don't think anybody understands that.
So that is why many South Africans will be very, very supportive of him as this trial continues. And of course, let's not forget the young woman who died this morning, Reeve Steenkamp, a model, a law graduate, his girlfriend.
And I think, you know, that there's a whole another family out there, grieving and friends grieving for a woman that was also dearly loved by them. So all in all, no matter which way you look at it, this is a very, very tragic event.
STOUT: And again, just to remind our viewers, that CNN has confirmed that it is Oscar Pistorius who has been charged with murder, with the shooting death of his girlfriend.
Robyn, one more question for you, because earlier today, we were expecting a hearing to take place. That hearing has been postponed till tomorrow. Can you tell us what's next in this process?
CURNOW: It's a little bit shaky. I can't give you the exact times. We were expecting him to appear before a magistrate at around 2 pm. So in the last sort of hour or two, this hasn't happened. We understand that this is now going to happen tomorrow. What is unclear is where Oscar is at the moment.
Some reports saying he's left the police station; others say that he might be spending the night in jail. I can't confirm for you right now what that situation is. Obviously, the wheels of justice now sort of turn. But we do know the police are saying that they will oppose any bail and they're not giving reasons for it.
But they did allude to it in a statement made to media earlier this day, that they -- that they were looking at keeping him in jail because there had alternative or further domestic incidences at his house before. They were hinting at perhaps this being a domestic violence incident rather than somebody being surprised by what he thought was an intruder.
Either way, it's still very confusing. And these facts will really take place or come out over the next days, the next months.
STOUT: All right. Robyn Curnow, joining us live from CNN Johannesburg, thank you very much indeed for that.
Now let's remind you that Oscar Pistorius, he shot to fame last year when he became the first double amputee to compete in the able-bodied Olympics in London. He made it to the semifinals of the 400-meter race. And he became an icon for people with disabilities.
He also smashed a Paralympic record to win the men's 400-meter T44 race. That brought his total number of Paralympic medals to eight, including six golds. Now the athlete, he runs using carbon fiber blades as prosthetic limbs, which inspired the nickname Blade Runner.
Now Pistorius, who was initially denied entry to the Olympics, but his legal team managed to prove that his blades did not give him an unfair advantage. And in recognition of his sporting success, late last year he was awarded an honorary doctorate from a university in Glasgow.
Now the former editor of "FHM" magazine, Hagen Engler, is live for us in Johannesburg.
And thank you for joining us. Again, we have received confirmation that the man in police custody, the man who has been charged with the murder of the girlfriend of Oscar Pistorius is, in fact, Oscar Pistorius himself. Your reaction to the news?
HAGEN ENGLER, FORMER EDITOR, "FHM" MAGAZINE: Crushed. It's a shock; obviously comes out of nowhere.
Initially it starts as a general -- as a South African news item and then after about two minutes' discussion, you realize that someone you know personally. So it's like a personal blow that comes on top of the general shock as a South African, when one of your icons is involved in something like this.
STOUT: You said that you knew him personally. In what capacity? Was he a personal friend of yours? Did you interview him?
ENGLER: No, I was not a personal friend of Oscar. I knew -- I knew Oscar as a South African icon more than personally. I just -- I'd been in his company. My relationships was more with Reeva and that's the personal -- that's the personal blow that I felt.
STOUT: What have you heard in the last year about his girlfriend, the victim who was shot dead, allegedly by Oscar Pistorius earlier this morning in Pretoria? What do you know about her?
ENGLER: Well, I worked with her over several years. She was a very ambitious, initially a young model, who was transitioning towards a TV career and she was very charismatic. I wouldn't have been surprised if she got into acting. So she was very much someone at the beginning of what was likely to be a very successful career.
And as these things happen, she got involved in what seemed to be some kind of a celebrity relationship with Oscar. And it made a certain amount of sense of to high-profile people like that. So one wished them well. But.
STOUT: Now her name is Reeva Steenkamp. She was a 30-year-old model. As you were mentioning, she was quite a celebrity there in South Africa. What have you heard about her relationship with Oscar Pistorius?
ENGLER: It had just begun, as far as I can tell. They were on-and- off; it hadn't even been confirmed that they were going out. So I was as - - I was as shocked as anybody to hear about something as extreme as this happening.
STOUT: And now that we know that Oscar Pistorius has been charged with murder, the murder of this young model who he had been dating, even though you didn't know him personally, you covered him as a reporter. You followed him as a fellow South African.
How do you think he is taking this all in? I mean, he has overcome and accomplished so much. How do you think he's bearing this burden, I mean, this tragedy, the charges, this crime that took place inside his home?
ENGLER: Well, the circumstances would have so much to do with how one would take it. And those are completely up in the air at the moment. I don't know what happened. One imagines only Oscar does.
But I mean, this is just so -- such a catastrophic thing to happen in someone's life. It can only, you know, fundamentally rock your world. I don't know what happened. So I'm waiting to find out as much as everybody else is.
But you know, it -- one needs fortitude, strength of character to get -- to get through something like this. But at the moment, my thoughts are with Reeva and her family, you know, because that's what happened. A young woman has been killed.
STOUT: And as he was such -- not only a living legend, recognized worldwide, but a national icon there in South Africa.
I was wondering if you could speak on behalf of your fellow South Africans about what this news of Oscar Pistorius, about the shooting death that took place at his home, he's being charged with the murder of his girlfriend. How is it shaking the national fabric there in South Africa?
ENGLER: Well, South Africans -- you know, it -- we tend to just get these blows. They come in waves. And they recede for a couple of months and then something that really shakes the national psyche will happen.
The last time something like this, you know, there was a cricket captain who was caught involved in match fixing, you know, there's elements of that in this.
Of course, it's (inaudible) tragic. The Marikana massacre, in the mine, you know, there's things that just shake your faith in your -- in your national confidence, you know. And this may be one of those, because whatever happened, it's sympathetic of gun violence in the country, you know, and that's -- that reflects on the national integrity as a country.
STOUT: The faith of a nation, shaken to its core in the back of the news there, Oscar Pistorius has been charged with murder. Hagen Engler, joining us live from Johannesburg, thank you very much indeed for sharing your insight with us.
Now you're watching NEWS STREAM. We'll be back right after this break. Don't go away.
STOUT: Welcome back. And the horsemeat scandal continues to spread across Europe. Now British food inspectors say horse carcasses contaminated with a veterinary painkiller harmful to humans may have entered the food chain in France.
Now eight out of 206 horse carcasses checked between January the 30th and February the 7th tested positive for the drug widely known as bute. Now of these six went to France, raising concerns that it may have entered the food chain there. Joining us live from London is Professional Sally Davies. She is the U.K.'s chief medical officer.
And, Ms. Davies, thank you very much for joining us here on CNN. Just how significant is this finding?
PROF. SALLY DAVIES, BRITISH CHIEF MEDICAL OFFICER: Well, it is significant because it's illegal. But phenylbutazone, which is the name of the human drug, is used in patients. Its broad use was withdrawn in the U.K. in the early '80s but was continued to use it in severe forms of arthritis, severe forms of ankylosing spondylitis because it can be effective.
The reason we reduced its use was because in a small number of patient, at therapeutic doses, it can be toxic.
Now the doses that our food standards agency has found in horsemeat means that the amount coming through potentially into the food chain is so low that for a human to get a therapeutic dose we -- you or I -- would need to eat 500 or 600 big 250-gram 100 percent horse burgers in one day to get to that dose. So the risk to human health is very low, but this is illegal.
STOUT: OK, it's illegal; the risk to human health is very low. So bottom line, this really is just another headline to add to the horsemeat scandal. It -- we really shouldn't be that worried, especially those in Europe, i.e. in France, where this has been discovered.
DAVIES: Absolutely. I don't want people worrying; they should continue to eat as they do at the moment. But we have two criminal issues, one, the labeling of food in Britain, where horsemeat was found, and the second that some bute may be in the food chain. But we already know from two of our suppliers in the U.K. they've tested their contaminated food, and there was no bute there.
STOUT: OK. And if someone had consumed enough bute for some dangerous symptoms to manifest themselves, what would those symptoms look like?
DAVIES: They would have had to consume vast amounts. And the most common symptoms are mild skin rashes or perhaps some nausea. So I think it is very unlikely that anyone will suffer from that related to eating horsemeat.
STOUT: So what's next? I mean, how do you prevent this drug, bute, from getting into the horsemeat supply, from getting into the food that people consume in Europe?
DAVIES: Well, our food standards agency has this week moved to testing every horse carcass and only releasing it into the food chain if there is no evidence of bute. The European Union has started across Europe extra testing. So I think that by raising the awareness and the testing rate, we will eliminate it from the food chain.
STOUT: All right. Dame Sally Davies, the chief medical officer of the U.K., thank you so much for joining us and shedding light on this case for us.
Now you're watching NEWS STREAM. And coming up next on the program, we're going to fix our attention to outer space. We know that Earth is due for a very close encounter on Friday. An asteroid is due to pass within satellite distance of our planet, but do not worry. Scientists say that we are safe. We'll get the details, next.
STOUT: Welcome back. Now NASA says an asteroid half the size of a football field will whiz by close to the Earth on Friday. And scientists say while there is no cause for concern, it will pass by at a remarkably close distance, around 17,000 miles or 27,000 kilometers.
Now the famous science educator, Bill Nye, he puts it in a different way. He says it will miss us by just 15 minutes. Tom Foreman explains the close call.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
TOM FOREMAN, CNN CORRESPONDENT: In cosmic terms, this is a very close encounter, the closest one that NASA has ever seen for something this big.
Let's get some reference points here. When we talk about the Earth many of us like to think the moon is close to us. But the moon is really not as close as you think. It's almost a quarter million miles away.
So what is close in space? Satellites. We've been launching these for many decades now. We filled the sky with them. Some of them are fairly low. Others are quite high. The highest once out there are communications and GDP satellites which are about 22,000 miles up in the air.
So where is this asteroid going to be? It is going to shoot out of the sky and cut right through the top of the satellite belt at about 17,000 miles. Is that dangerous? No, not really, in part because of the size of this thing.
The official name, by the way, is 2012DA14. It's only about 50 yards long or wide no matter how you want to talk about it, it will be traveling 18,000 miles an hour, almost. That's fast. If it were to hit Earth, it would have a huge explosion equal to more than 2 million tons of dynamite.
But that wouldn't really be enough to harm the Earth unless it hit a populated place. Yes, it would knock down trees and destroy an area of several hundred miles, but that would be all. And most importantly, scientists who have been tracking there thing for more than 2 million miles already say it's just not going to hit the Earth. It is going to miss even though this is a very close call.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
STOUT: Oh. Let's get more on the asteroid flyby. Again, quoting Bill Nye, the science guy, it will miss us by just 15 minutes, which is just too close for comfort for me.
Let's go to Mari Ramos. She joins us from the World Weather Center.
MARI RAMOS, AMS METEOROLOGIST: Hey, Kristie, wait till I tell you the rest of this story, though, because there is a branch of NASA called the Near Earth Object Office. And they actually study all of these objects. And there's more than 9,000 of them out there in space right now. Those are the ones that have been discovered so far.
This is from the jet propulsion lab at NASA. So they're really looking at all of these things and say, OK. Which one of these are actually going to be dangerous? So think about this. So we're talking about comets that (inaudible). Those are comets, asteroids or meteoroids.
And you know, we get asteroids that actually come into the Earth's atmosphere all the time, but they're actually very small and they burn up and, you know, you look up, you see a shooting star. That's what that was, it burned up before entering the atmosphere.
Comets, of course, are much larger. They're less common, in a way. But all of these things are considered near Earth objects. And these are the ones so far that have been discovered. And more than 1,300 of those are considered potentially hazardous asteroids. And that's something to kind of keep in the back of your mind.
However, NASA does say that none of them have a high -- the ones discovered so far -- have a high probability of impacting Earth, like this one that we're looking at right now, that has no probability of impacting Earth.
Why are people looking at this so closely? Well, it's actually a gold mine here. There's something called asteroid mining. Asteroids are mostly rock. And they are chock-full of minerals -- iron, nickel, gold and silver -- things that would be very valuable here on Earth.
The thought is that one day maybe they're able to go to these asteroids and bring some of that material either back to Earth or use it for space exploration. Comets, on the other hand, are mostly made out of water and ice and so that would be particularly important for deep space exploration if they're able to mine those kinds of things. But asteroids do have some water as well.
This particularly asteroid that we're talking about is estimated to be worth $195 billion. Yes, but that's money that's way up there. They really can't get it right now. But this is an excellent chance for scientists and these asteroid mining type people to actually look at this.
There are actually several companies already that are considered asteroid mining companies. And they're looking at this very, very carefully to analyze this and take a good look and see if they're able to maybe in the future be able to do this kind of work.
So it's kind of like a double thing, people very excited about it and some people kind of scared. But you know what, they're looking at it and there are, like I said, thousands of these kinds of objects up in space.
Where can you see it? It will not be visible to the naked eye, Kristie. That's something very important. The closest flyby will be tomorrow.
If you are in Asia, East Asia, Central Asia, if you are in Australia or maybe parts of Eastern Europe and Central Asia might be able to see this asteroid fly by which, I think, is actually pretty cool stuff. You will need a telescope and you will be able to see a very small object moving across the sky, weather permitting, as usual. Back to you.
STOUT: That is very cool. So we've got to keep our eye on the asteroids because you can plunder them for resources and we've got to avoid them for the next flyby.
Got it. Mari Ramos there, thank you. Take care.
That is NEWS STREAM. But the news continues at CNN. "WORLD BUSINESS TODAY" is next.