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Massive Spending Cuts Set to Take Effect; Police Brutality Caught on Camera in South Africa; Secretary of State Kerry Announces $60 Million in Non-Lethal Aid to Syrian Rebels
Aired March 1, 2013 - 08:00:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
MONITA RAJPAL, CNN ANCHOR: I'm Monita Rajpal in Hong Kong. Welcome to NEWS STREAM, where news and technology meet.
Washington goes down to the wire again. It's deadline day for massive spending cuts, and a deal is nowhere in sight.
Horrific and unacceptable. South Africa's present condemns an apparent act of police brutality caught on camera.
And we'll tell you about the latest in genius (ph) technique Mexican drug cartels are using to smuggle marijuana into the U.S.
The clock is ticking down to automatic across the board spending cuts in the U.S. government. President Barack Obama is requited by law to sign an order this Friday to force the cut totaling $85 billion. They will come in a wide range of areas, from education to the military. Leading lawmakers are scheduled to speak with Mr. Obama this Friday morning, but there is little hope of a last minute agreement to prevent the cuts.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
JAY CARNEY, WHITE HOUSE PRESS SECRETARY: The Republican proposal is the worst of all worlds. It explicitly protects pork barrels projects, and every single tax loophole that benefits the wealthy.
REP. JOHN BOEHNER, (R ), (R -OH), SPEAKER OF THE HOUSE: We've done our work. They've not done theirs. The House shouldn't have to pass a third bill to replace the sequester before the Senate passes one.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
RAJPAL: Although the White House has issued dire warnings about the potential impact of the spending cuts, others are not so sure. Jonathan Mann tells us how the U.S. got into this predicament in the first place, and looks at the possible fallout.
JONATHAN MANN, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Look for longer lines at U.S. airports, because there will be less money for security screeners' salaries and fewer of them to process passengers. Illegal travelers may notice that security is lighter along the border, because money for patrols is slated to be cut, too. And 70,000 children will loose access to the head start preschool program. The Defense Department is already cutting its presence in the Persian Gulf and Indian Ocean, where there are normally two aircraft carrier groups. The reason - the latest budget crisis in Washington and drastic spending cuts scheduled to start on Friday.
BARACK OBAMA, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES OF AMERICA: These cuts are not smart. They are not fair. They will hurt our economy. They will add hundreds of thousands of Americans to the unemployment rolls. This is not an abstraction. People will lose their jobs. The unemployment rate might tick up again.
MANN: The cuts are known as sequestration. $85 billion in salaries and spending that Washington will have to go without this year. Total spending will still rise, but by less than the government expected. If the threat of something big and bad for the U.S. budget sounds familiar, it should. The ongoing battle between Democratic and Republican lawmakers has brought budget negotiators to dramatic deadlines several times already. Sequestration was originally President Obama's own idea to break the budget standoff and force Democrats and Republicans to agree. It was written into law as the penalty for failure, but negotiations failed anyway. Now, many Republicans are blaming Obama for creating the problem and exaggerating its impact.
SEN. RAND PAUL (R-KENTUCKY): You know, he proposed the sequester. It was his idea. He signed it into law and now he's going to tell us that oh, it's all our fault? I voted against the sequester, because I didn't think it was enough. The sequester cuts the rate of growth of spending, but the sequester doesn't even really begin to cut spending, which we have to do.
MANN: Congress still has time to finally come to an agreement. If not, Democrats will blame Republicans, Republicans will blame Democrats, but Washington will have unwittingly find away to finally cut its budget, because doing so any other way proved essentially impossible.
Jonathan Mann, CNN.
RAJPAL: Well, the next few weeks, maybe months could be messy in Washington. One analyst puts it this way: "The sequester is a slow bleed that gets worse as it goes on. Remember, the planned reductions won't all happen overnight, and federal agencies have already slowed hiring, limited contracts and reduced costs, but April is said to be more painful for millions of federal workers than March. That's when many will likely face furloughs, forced unpaid leave.
Speaking of leave, U.S. lawmakers have a scheduled two-week break from March 25th to April 7th, but funding for the federal government is set to expire on March, 27th, unless Congress acts. Policy observers expect Congress will be forced to agree on a temporary plan by that day, or Washington will close on March 28th, but as we've seen, threats are really no guarantee.
So, imagine, you're a member of Congress the day before those multibillion dollar cuts begin to take effect, what's your next move? Well, as Dana Bash reports, many lawmakers decided it was best to just get out of town.
DANA BASH, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Lawmakers racing down the Capitol steps, bolting out of town for a long weekend.
This was before noon, a full day before the hammer comes down on forced budget cut they voted for.
(on camera): Is there a concern that you all are going to leave town while these cuts kick in, and you won't even be here?
REP. TIM GRIFFIN, R-ARKANSAS: Well, speaker and the leadership will be here and I'm a quick flight away. I go home every weekend to see my family.
BASH: You are on your way out. Are you on your way home?
UM: Yes, Madam.
BASH: So, you're not going to be here in town when this cuts kick in.
UM: If they call me back, I'll be back.
BASH: But what do you think about the idea that Congress and you all won't even be here when these cuts kick in?
UF: We've got to go to the airport
BASH: Go to go to the airport? OK.
UF: Thank you.
(voice over): Some Republicans, whose party runs the House, were unapologetic about leaving Washington until Monday.
REP. RICHARD HUDSON, R-NORTH CAROLINA: Well, I think it's actually better when we're home working, because the work we do there in my opinion is more important than the work we do here, especially if we're going to keep spending money.
REP. JIM RENACCI, R-OHIO: This was his idea, the president's idea.
BASH (on camera): But as you all know, most Republicans voted for it.
RENACCI: Well, I voted for it, too, because I think we have to get our spending in line, so, you know, these are the things that a two percent, most families, most businesses back home have had to do the same thing.
BASH (voice over): Yet, some lawmakers in both parties are as fed up as their constituents.
REP. ADAM SMITH, D-CALIFORNIA: I mean we can stay here, and if we're staying here and not passing a bill, that's not any better.
BASH (on camera): You're heading to your car. I assume you're going home to New York.
REP. PETER KING, R-NEW YORK: Yeah, (inaudible) business here. Yeah, actually, listen, I think the sequester is crazy. I think the president had to show more leadership, Congress to do more, but just to sit here by myself serves no purpose.
BASH (voice over): Most House Democrats whacked Republican leaders for going out of session.
REP. ELIOT ENGEL, D-NEW YORK: It's absolute disgrace that we're going home. We should stay here until the sequester is ended. This is a stupid way to do it.
But Democrats do run the Senate, and their last votes this week were only a few hours later.
UF: The motion is not agreed to.
BASH: Two proposals to alleviate the forced cuts, one Democratic and one Republican. Partisan show votes. Neither passed, and neither was expected to.
(on camera): Will you keep the Senate in session or have you decided not to be here just like the House won't be here the day that these cuts kick in?
SEN. HARRY REID (D-NEV.), SENATE MAJORITY LEADER: We're in session. We are not going any place. We're ready to work, but at the stage, we don't have a partner.
BASH: The Senate may technically still be in session, but with no more votes, most senators are on their own way out of town until next week. And leaders in both parties make the point that they are still going to be here for Friday morning's meeting with the president. But I haven't found a source in either party who thinks that that meeting is going to produce anything to stop these arbitrary cuts from going into effect, at least for the near future.
Dana Bash, CNN, Capitol Hill.
RAJPAL: And we will have much more on this story in the next hour. Tune into "World Business Today" for expert analysis from our team of business correspondents and a panel of executives from top wealth management firms. That's at 9 a.m. in Washington, 2 p.m. in London, and 10 p.m. here, in Hong Kong.
South African authorities have suspended police officers allegedly involved in an extremely disturbing incident that was captured on video. The video shows the man handcuffed to a police van and then dragged along the road. The man later died from head injuries. An independent government body is now investigating. Nkepile Mabuse reports from Johannesburg, and we do warn you, the report does contain graphic video that some of you may find disturbing.
NKEPILE MABUSE, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Brutal police tactics captured on camera. A taxi driver believed to be Mozambiqan is handcuffed to the back of a South African police van near Johannesburg. He was apparently illegally parked. Police say they tried to get him to remove his car, but he attacked them and took one of their guns. The officers at the scene called for backup, and then this - in broad daylight, dozens of witnesses looking on, including the person who recorded this, the man is dragged for several hundred meters. He's injured, but isn't taken to hospital. A few hours later on Tuesday, he dies in a police cell from suspected head wounds.
MOSES DLAMINI, POLICE INVESTIGATIVE DIRECTORATE: We are shocked by this incident.
MABUSE: The Police Investigative Directorate is an independent government body that probes criminal offenses committed by the police.
DLAMINI: And we deal with many other incidents which don't make it to the media, but the important thing, I think, is that they are investigated.
MABUSE: Dlamini says the Directorate received more than 6,000 complaints accusing police officers of everything from murder to torture last year.
This dramatic shootout shocked the world when police killed 34 platinum miners on a (inaudible) strike in August. The president ordered a judicial investigation into the event.
The year before that, this man was shot at during a protest in full view of the media. He died at the scene. Amnesty International says this incident is the latest in an increasingly disturbing pattern of brutal police conduct in South Africa.
(on camera): And what does this say about the South Africans police?
DLAMINI: It's not a reflection on the police as a whole, because we know, for instance, of many other officers who are dedicated, who do their job, who uphold the law, and who catch criminals all the time.
MABUSE: The South African National Police Commissioner has strongly condemned the incident and has pledged to cooperate with the probe. The police refused to be interviewed by CNN.
Nkepile Mabuse, CNN, Johannesburg.
RAJPAL: We have this report just in. Media reports are saying two explosions have been heard in Somalia's capital, Mogadishu. The attack is said to have struck a popular beach. Reuters is quoting a senior police official who says the explosions were caused by suicide bombers. The number of casualties is yet unknown. And, of course, CNN is working to learn more on the story, and we'll bring you more as we get it.
Still to come here on NEWS STREAM, Kenya is getting ready to elect a new president in just a few days, but memories of violence have many people on edge. We'll bring you a live report. John Kerry visits Turkey for the first time as U.S. secretary of state, but the war in neighboring Syria is likely to dominate those talks. And courtside diplomacy: a retired U.S. basketball start Dennis Rodman gets chummy with North Korean leader.
RAJPAL: The U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry is in Turkey on the latest stop of a nine-nation diplomatic tour. A U.S. State Department spokesman says Kerry will express strong concerns over the Turkish prime minister's recent comments comparing Zionism in Israel with crimes against humanity. The civil war raging across Turkey's southern neighbor, Syria, will be high on the agenda. In Rome on Thursday, Kerry promised food and medical supplies for Syrian rebel fighters, and an additional $60 million in U.S. aid to Syria's opposition coalition. CNN's Nick Paton Walsh is keeping an eye on Kerry's trip and Syria's developments. He joins us now from Beirut in Lebanon with more on that. And Nick, $60 million in what they are describing as non-lethal aid, it's good, but it's not what the rebels and the opposition necessarily want.
NICK PATON WALSH, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, it is far from what the rebels have been requesting for months, which is heavy weaponry to change the military odds in the fight there. But what John Kerry, I think, is doing, is trying to keep a relationship going with the Syrian opposition. He promised greater assistance just to get the opposition to turn up at this meeting in Rome. And this does symbolically mark the first time the U.S. is prepared to directly arm the Syrian rebel armed fighters. Until now, their assistance has been to opposition (inaudible). So it's key for them, it's food, it's medical supplies on the ground. It may begin a relationship which some in the rebels are hoping could lead to military assistance, but that has long been off the White House's agenda. A plan late last year by the Pentagon was shot down by Barack Obama for that. So there are, perhaps, hopes amongst rebels that this week in the E.U. sanctions against Syria may permit the U.K. and France to supply them with body armor, night vision or armored cars, but at the end of the day, the key comment yesterday we heard from John Kerry was his belief that this assistance may perhaps lead Assad to seek a political negotiation. Let's see what he had to say.
JOHN KERRY, U.S. SECRETARY OF STATE: The single fact is, Assad cannot shoot his way out of this. And as he deludes himself in pursuit of a military solution, the United States, our partners, now the Syrian opposition coalition make a different choice. Our choice is a political solution.
WALSH: This is key point here. While yesterday's announcement in the eyes of some marks a sea change in the Americans' desire to getting greater assistance with the rebels, it is far from that large military assistance they need. From those remarks, you hear John Kerry really wants a political, negotiated way to end this conflict, but both the rebels and the Assad regime thinking they need a military victory. Monita.
RAJPAL: So, Nick, if the rebels aren't getting the hardware that they need from the United States, is there a concern that they may turn to some others, and that relationship might be - might be difficult?
WALSH: Well, certainly this has been an issue for many months now. The ascendant Islamist groups like Jaffar al Nosra (ph), described by the United States as a terrorist organization, is in many ways, you can put that down to the inability for secular parts of the rebels to get the arms they need, to gain the military victories. Jaffar al Nosra, many of them from Iraq, with experience there fighting the Americans. And better armed, better disciplined have risen through the ranks of the rebels as the result of that.
Rebels are, from many reports, and you can see it from blogs and videos on the ground, getting heavy weapons, some of Balkan origin, perhaps supplied by Gulf states, but each time we see the rebels getting slightly better weaponry, even some taken away from regime air bases or military supplies that they loot as they achieve these victories, the regime steps up the kind of weaponry that it uses. We're now seeing Scud weapons used in the north and the south, large ballistic missiles have flattened whole areas, causing certainly in the north substantial civilian casualties. So the fear really is here that we're getting to a far too late stage in the conflict.
The U.S. is trying to salvage its relationship with the Syrian opposition rather than necessarily give them the military assistance they've long required, and I think here though there's this still huge gulf of expectations between what the rebels really want to see from the United States, and what Barack Obama is prepared to do. He just does not want to involve the U.S. in another complicated Middle Eastern war. Monita.
RAJPAL: All right, Nick, thank you. Nick Paton Walsh there in Beirut.
Chinese state media reports that four men were executed in the southwestern city of Kunming on Friday. The men were convicted or murdering 13 Chinese sailors in the Mekong River in the northern Thailand in 2011. State broadcaster, CTTV, aired live footage of the moments leading up to their execution. Many Chinese people have taken to micro blogs and social media to debate whether these images are appropriate to broadcast. Some people are questioning their legality. Chinese authorities have identified one of the four men as Myanmar drug lord Naw Kham. In an interview with Chinese state television, Naw Kham said the lure of drugs in the Mekong River region, quote, "turns good people bad."
The U.S. Army private who gave classified documents to Wikileaks has pleaded guilty to 10 of the 22 charges against him. Private 1st Class Bradley Manning told the court he leaked the files because he wanted to start a public debate about the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq. He could face 20 years in prison for those crimes, but he has not admitted to the most serious charge of aiding the enemy. Military prosecutors have vowed to take him to trial on the remaining 12 charges.
Still to come here on NEWS STREAM, drug traffickers come up with an inventive way to move their illegal cargo. They are literally shooting illegal drugs across the border into the United States. We'll bring you that story next.
RAJPAL: Welcome back to NEWS STREAM. These videos make up a visual rundown of all the stories that we're covering for you here on this show this Friday. Now, earlier, we told you about the $85 billion in U.S. government spending cuts that look certain to go into effect today. Later, we'll show you the moment basketball star Dennis Rodman met North Korea's leader, but now we take you to Mexico and a unique way of smuggling drugs across the border. Now in the past, Mexican smugglers have used tunnels, cars, and even the human body to sneak illegal drugs into the United States, but now they are literally firing them across the border. Our senior Latin American editor, Rafael Romo, explains.
RAFAEL ROMO, CNN SR. LATIN AMERICAN EDITOR: It's a rather unusual method to smuggle drugs into the United States. Authorities in Mexico seized a truck equipped with a cannon that allegedly was used to launch packages of marijuana, weighing a few pounds each, across the border. The orange Dodge Ram was fitted with a makeshift cannon powered by a compressor connected to the truck. The truck was confiscated last week, in the city of Mexicali, across the border from Calexico, California.
There was a similar incident in December at the border with Arizona. Authorities in Yuma found 33 cans containing a total of 85 pounds of marijuana scattered around the field. U.S. Border Patrol officials say a cannon was used to fire the drugs across the border from Mexico. The drugs had an estimated value of more than $42,000.
Over the years, the drug traffickers have come up with all sorts of ingenious ways to smuggle illegal drugs across the border. Take a look at this surveillance video from the U.S. Department of Homeland Security. It shows smugglers using a medieval -style catapult to launch marijuana across the border near the town of Naco, Arizona. The video led to a joint U.S.- Mexican operation that resulted in a confiscation of marijuana and the catapult.
From the catapult to the cannon to the hail Mary pass. Officials in Mexicali, Mexico, told CNN of one creative drug smuggling method that relies primarily on athletic ability. Somebody with a good arm tosses a football sized package to an accomplice waiting on the American side, who then makes a run for it.
Rafael Romo, CNN, Atlanta.
RAJPAL: Well, we want to talk about a different kind of launch right now. A private spacecraft is waiting to lift off from Cape Canaveral, Florida. It will be the second cargo delivery mission by Space-X. Mari Ramos is at the World Weather Center with an outlook at the kind of weather they can expect. Mari.
MARI RAMOS, METEOROLOGIST: Oh, yes, this is very exciting. I remember when it seems like yesterday when they had their first - their first mission, remember? They didn't carry any actual supplies, and then they landed back in the Pacific Ocean. And then they had their first successful one where they were carrying actually more important stuff, and this is like you said, the second mission to resupply the International Space Station, and it is expected to happen, probably within what, less than two hours now, at 10:10 in the morning Eastern Time, right here from the Florida space coast.
Now, mission managers are saying that the possibility that weather could have an impact on this is still very minimal, but it's up from 10 percent overnight to about 20 percent now. The main concern, temperature is not a problem right now at 17 degrees Celsius. The concern could be cloud cover. We'll have to see, because there we are expecting the clouds to be on the increase, and then also the winds. Right now, they are variable, about 5 to 10 kilometers per hour, but if they become a little bit more gusty winds, they could maybe delay that launch a little bit. So we'll have to see what actually they decide, but right now, 80 percent chance of a go for launch. As you can see, conditions are generally not anything in the way of rain that you can pick up on the radar, but when I show you the satellite, you can see a little bit more in the way, or a lot more I should say in the way of clouds. This is a cold front that's coming through here, and with it you're going to see not only the low clouds, but also the stronger winds coming in. And then after that, really cold temperatures, even across parts of Florida, and all the way back over here into northern Mexico.
We're looking at temperatures across this eastern half of the U.S. and into northern Mexico. We are going to be some 10 degrees Celsius below average, and that's pretty significant, and this is going to last even as we head into the weekend. So now again, here we are, this eastern half of the U.S. dealing with these extremely cold conditions, and winter just refuses to go away.
I want to kind of switch gears a little bit, but keep you in the U.S. state of Florida. We're going to head to the other side of the space coast, near the city of Tampa. Something very strange happened there. It's not unusual to see sink holes develop in this part of Florida, but what's unusual about this one is that it happened underneath that home that you see right there. The sink hole opened up, and literally swallowed a man that was sleeping in his own bed. Authorities estimate the sink hole in this case to be about 100 meters - about 100 feet wide. That's about 33 meters wide. And about maybe 50 feet deep - that's about 15 meters deep. A very scary situation, all happening in the middle of the night. Just a little while ago, CNN spoke to the man's brother. Listen.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
JEREMY BUSH, VICTIM'S BROTHER: I heard a loud crash, like a car coming through the house, and I heard my brother screaming. So I ran back there, and tried to go inside his room, but my old lady turned the light on, and all I see was this big hole, real big hole, and all I see was his mattress, and basically that was it, that's all I'd seen.
Um: You tried jumping in after him?
BUSH: Yes, I jumped in the hole and was trying to dig him out, but I couldn't find him. I heard - I thought I could hear him holler for me, to help him.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
RAMOS: Quite a scary situation there for that man, really dramatic.
Now, when we're talking about sink holes, they can happen when the rocks dissolve very quickly just below the surface, and it's not visible to the naked eye, Monita. In this case, of course, something happened on that limestone subfloor there in Florida. Eroded away probably by groundwater. It collapsed suddenly. Authorities so far think that it was caused naturally and not by any sort of man-made situation. We'll keep following this story, of course, as they keep looking for this gentleman. Back to you.
RAJPAL: Yes, it's a sad story indeed. All right, Mari, thank you very much for that.
Election day is nearing in Kenya. With the last polls having triggered a wave of violence, many people are hoping for the best this time around, but some are preparing for the worst. And Benedict the XVI has left the Vatican. Now 115 cardinals are gathering their thoughts before they are asked to vote on who should be the next pope. We'll have those and other stories straight ahead. Stay with us.
RAJPAL: Hello, I'm Monita Rajpal in Hong Kong. You're watching NEWS STREAM, and these are the headlines. The U.S. government is poised to tighten its belt by force as wide-ranging spending cuts are about to begin. President Barack Obama is required by law to sign an order on Friday to cut $85 billion in federal spending. He will speak with lawmakers soon, but a last-minute agreement to prevent the cuts is unlikely.
A group of South African police officers was accused of handcuffing a man to the back of a police van before driving through the streets of a town near Johannesburg. Amnesty International says the taxi driver died in custody of head injuries a few hours after the incident. South Africa's police commissioner has suspended the officers allegedly involved in the brutal assault.
Media reports say two bombs have gone off on the beach front of Somalia's capital. It happened outside a restaurant. The AP quotes a witness who says the attack killed at least two people. (inaudible) police says - who say two police - two suicide bombers were behind the attack. No group has claimed responsibility yet.
Chinese state media reports that four men, including a Myanmar drug lord, were executed in the city of Kunming on Friday. The men were convicted of murdering 13 Chinese sailors in the Mekong River in northern Thailand in 2011. This video aired on China's state television sparked outrage among some human rights activists who called the live broadcast a violation of Chinese law.
Kenyans head to the polls on Monday in the country's first general elections since December 2007, when disputed results set off a wave of violence that left more than 1,000 people dead. To stop that fighting, the two men contesting the presidency agreed to share power under a coalition. Now, President Mwai Kibaki is stepping down, and the post of prime minister will no longer exist. That leaves this man, Prime Minister Raila Odinga, hoping to become Kenya's next president. His main rival is the man you see on the right, current deputy prime minister, Uhuru Kenyatta. He faces trial in the ICC over post-election violence in 2007.
Now, the U.S.-based monitoring group, the Carter Center, says it is optimistic that these elections will be peaceful. Nevertheless, some Kenyans are preparing for the worst. Nima Elbagir joins us now live from CNN Nairobi with more on that. Nima.
NIMA ELBAGIR, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Monita, we traveled up to the Rift Valley ...
ELBAGIR: ... guns fashioned from iron piping, homemade swords and bullets bought on the black market. They say from the very policemen tasked with protecting them.
Up in the hills of Kenya's Rift Valley, the local Kukui tribal militia is getting ready for election day.
UM: If you need peace, you must prepare for war, Madam. If you don't know. It's - so the peace does not just come automatically.
ELBAGIR: James Maina (ph) is a farmer who lives off the land he inherited from his father and grandfather. But now he returns only to tend to his crop. During the violence following the 2007 election, he fled his home, and came back to find it stripped of everything he owned, leaving only a shell.
(on camera): Some of the people that we've been speaking to say that they're going to start fighting back. Do you ever think about doing that?
"I don't have nothing left worth fighting for," he says. "I will never, ever live here again."
Maina (ph) is only one of the thousands of displaced Kenyans who are still, five years on, too scared to return home.
Driving through these fields and farms, its hard to believe that this was the epicenter of the ethnic violence that swept through Kenya after the disputed 2007 elections. This time, they are not taking any chances.
(on camera): What happened to you last election?
UM: People died so much depending on the police. So our community came together, and we said that no more, no more, we must have our own - we must arm ourselves.
ELBAGIR (voice over): And they are not alone. Human Rights Watch says communities across Kenya are taking up arms. A Kenyan government's spokesperson calls these reports rumors intended to cause confusion. About the possible violence, he says, the government is on top of it.
But in a country that has for decades known violence following elections, tribal leaders say preparing for the worst is their mission.
UM: It was very (inaudible). Most of our people died, other were got - got permanent disability. And because we are not ready for - for it. It is very bad, we saw that it was very bad, and we cannot accept (inaudible) institution again.
ELBAGIR: As the March 4th polling day nears, the divisions that enflamed Kenya more than five years ago feel uncomfortably alive and well. As people here brace themselves for what they fear this election will bring.
RAJPAL: And Nima Elbagir joins us again live now from CNN, Nairobi, and we do apologize for those technical glitches earlier. And Nima as we heard there from your report, people are indeed preparing for the worst. We see that in the towns and cities in Kenya. What about in Nairobi, in the capital? What kind of - what are people - what kind of preventative measures are you seeing?
ELBAGIR: Well, there has been an awful lot of work done here, in Nairobi and across Kenya on the peace initiatives, Monita. A lot of the Red Cross, actually, has an incredibly popular one on Twitter, where they are asking people to publicly commit to not engage in any violent acts. And they've also asked all of the candidates that this time around, they have to publicly commit to accept whatever the polls bring come Monday, and that's being - you know, that's been a huge movement here, but as we saw, there is still an awful lot of concerns about what's going to happen. And one of the issues that human rights organizations that I've been talking to have been raising is their concern that many of the perpetrators have not been brought in front of justice. And their worry is that this time around, that that might create an atmosphere of impunity. But, you know, a lot of the Kenyans I've been speaking to, they've been telling me, we are embracing for the worst, but, you know, we are praying and hoping for the best this time, Monita.
RAJPAL: How much credibility does Mr. Uhuru Kenyatta have now? He is facing trial at the ICC. Do people really want him as their next leader?
ELBAGIR: Well, this election has actually been described here repeatedly as in fact a referendum on the ICC and on how people are reflecting on and on viewing what many Kenyans, to be frank, view as intervention in their domestic affairs. And that wasn't helped by the U.S. assistant secretary of state coming out and saying, you know, people can choose their choices, but there are consequences for choices. People here really read that as interference. Many here read it as a colonial arrogance, in fact.
The reality is that if Kenyatta becomes president, especially with the ICC prosecutor consenting to a delay of the trial to August, Kenyatta could be ruling as an indictee for five months before his case could even come to trial. That's going to have huge ramifications, but in a way, many here feel it might actually have boosted his popularity, Monita.
RAJPAL: Nima, thank you for that. Nima Elbagir reporting to us there from CNN, Nairobi.
Sources close to the French military command in Mali say one of al-Qaeda's most influential figures in North Africa has been killed. Deputy leader Abdelhamid Abou Zeid is believed to have died in a French air strike in northern Mali. So far, however, the French Defense Ministry has not confirmed those reports.
On Thursday, the French Defense Ministry said it has carried out almost 100 air sorties this week in north-eastern Mali near the Algerian border. 1,200 French soldiers and 800 Chadian troops are patrolling there in support of the Malian army.
Catholics are waiting for the church to pick the next pope. They waved good-bye to Benedict XVI on Thursday, saying farewell to a living pope for the first time in six centuries. Cardinals will start meeting on Monday to lay the groundwork for a conclave. Many of the faithful are feeling a sense of loss, though. Jim Bittermann has more.
JIM BITTERMANN, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Seldom has anyone shed absolute power in the way Benedict XVI did. Boarding the papal helicopter, the pope - now the pope emeritus - flew away from the trappings of his sacred office, away from the total authority and spiritual infallibility. Away from the devotion of 1.2 billion Catholics to an austere life of reflection and prayer.
With the Vatican bells tolling a last good-bye to Benedict, there were mixed feelings in St. Peter's Square. Sour, to be sure, but admiration and prays for the courage of the departing pope. And a few minutes later, when Benedict XVI arrived at this temporary home at Castel Gandolfo, there were again crowds of well-wishers and tears shed as he appeared at a window to bid the faithful farewell with his last public speech.
BENEDICT XVI (through translator): You know that this is a different day for me than earlier days. I am no longer the pope, but I'm still in the church. I'm just a pilgrim who is starting the last part of his pilgrimage on this earth.
BITTERMANN: Beyond the emotions as he gave his final papal blessing, before disappearing from view, there was a sense of loss and even emptiness at his sudden resignation.
But earlier, when he met with the cardinals, the men who had been his electors and his collaborators, he had reassured them about the continuity of the church, one thought truly getting their attention.
UM: And - I (inaudible) from my obedience and respect for the next pope.
BITTERMANN: And he urged them to be sensitive to the will of the Holy Spirit, the force Catholics believe points the cardinals in the right direction when they all enter the conclave in coming day to pick Benedict's successor.
Thursday night, at precisely 8 p.m. local time in Castel Gandolfo, finding a new pope became the new reality. The Swiss guards who protect the pope hung up their halberds, symbolic that the power of the office had now passed from Benedict's hands.
The throne at Saint Peter's is now vacant, and the cardinals now face the most important task they will ever have, selecting the pope to lead the church after Benedict's sudden resignation. A break with tradition which could redefine the papacy.
Jim Bittermann, CNN, Rome.
RAJPAL: Well, in another sign of the times, Benedict XVI also bid farewell on Twitter. He wrote "Thank you for your love and support." But the account @pontifex is now empty. The Vatican scrubbed it shortly after Benedict's formal departure. It even replaced his signature with the words Sede Vacante, or "empty seat," and his space has no longer the profile picture. Commentators call it the digital equivalent of smashing the ring of the fisherman. But Pope Benedict's tweets are not totally gone. The Vatican archived 20 of them here, and now keep in mind, the account only launched in December. And since it was scrubbed, it has gained nearly 10,000 new followers. The Vatican says @pontifex will stay silent until the next pope decides to use it.
Still ahead here on NEWS STREAM, bonding over basketball. We'll tell you about retired superstar Dennis Rodman's trip to North Korea. And who he is calling his new friend for life.
RAJPAL: Let's return now to our visual rundown of the stories we are covering in this Friday's program. Earlier, we showed you some of these disturbing images of police violence in South Africa, and then we told you about the mood in Kenya ahead of elections there. And now we take you to North Korea for some basketball diplomacy and a little bit of an odd couple, shall we say. North Korea increased tensions with the U.S. by conducting an underground nuclear test last month. You remember that. But the government is playing friendly with at least one American. Retired basketball start Dennis Rodman is visiting the hermit kingdom, and he even cozied up with North Korean leader, Kim Jong-un. David McKenzie tells us more about this bromance.
DAVID MCKENZIE, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Surrounded by fans, dressed in regulation black, Dennis Rodman catches an exhibition game with his new friend for life, supreme leader of North Korea, Kim Jong-un. To many, the pairing of Rodman and the youthful dictator couldn't be more bizarre.
VICTOR CHA, SENIOR ADVISER FOR ASIA, CSIS: I think it's sort of reality TV meets sports, meets diplomacy. Which is you couldn't get a more bizarre figure going into a more bizarre country under the most difficult diplomatic circumstances at the official level. So, it's about as bizarre as you can get.
MCKENZIE: In North Korea, dress, haircuts, travel and all other aspects of life are tightly restricted. Compare that to Rodman. The freewheeling former NBA bad boy isn't too fazed by conventions. Rodman arrived earlier this week, with (inaudible) film crew on an unofficial basketball diplomacy trip to an official welcome. Quickly tweeting, "I come in peace. I love the people of North Korea." The real-time, or surreal time tweets made possible only days before, when the government allowed 3g connections for foreigners.
The question is, why did famously closed off North Korea let in Dennis Rodman and his entourage at all? One reason makes a bit of sense - basketball.
Friends of the teenage future dictator say Kim Jong-un was obsessed with the game, in particular the Chicago Bulls. It turns out the Bulls were something of a family team. Kim's eccentric father, supreme leader Kim- Jong Il, was a fan, apparently.
Basketball diplomacy has been tried before. Then Secretary of State Madeleine Albright gave elder Kim a ball signed by Michael Jordan to try and warm ties.
It didn't work. Kim-Jong Il continued building up North Korea's nuclear weapons plan before he died. And younger Kim took up the mantle, ordering a third nuclear test earlier this year.
It only served to increase North Korea's isolation. So a trip by a larger- than-life Rodman makes sense in another way.
CHA: The North Koreans try to use opportunities like this to congratulate themselves on their accomplishments, as they see them, as well as congratulate this new leadership and try to give him legitimacy on the world stage.
MCKENZIE: Just days ago, Pyongyang called for the miserable destruction of the United States. Whether basketball diplomacy can warm relations with another leader famously obsessed with the game? Well, that's a hail Mary at best.
David McKenzie, CNN, Beijing.
RAJPAL: Well, from basketball to tennis, and the top two men's players on the planet are on a collision course at the Dubai tennis championships. Pedro Pinto has more on that and the rest of the sport headlines from CNN, London. Hello, Pedro.
PEDRO PINTO, CNN ANCHOR: I do indeed, Monita. Novak Djokovic and Roger Federer could meet in the final in Dubai this weekend, but first they need to win their respective semifinals, and that's easier said than done, considering the top four seeds are still all in contention. This is how world number one Djokovic advanced to the final four. He beat Andreas Seppi of Italy in straight sets, improving his season record to 16 and 0. As the matter of fact, the Serbian star has not lost a match on tour since November of last year. Nole was on court for just a little over an hour, as he sets up a high profile class with Juan Martin del Potro in the next round, and I can tell you it's a match that he is very much looking forward to.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
NOVAK DJOKOVIC, TENNIS NO. 1: (inaudible) major title, established top 10 players, so we all know everything about each other, and it's going to be a tough one, and I need to be on top of my game.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
PINTO: As far as Federer is concerned, this Swiss star remains on course to win his sixth Dubai championship title, after being Nikolai Davydenko in straight sets on Thursday. Federer has only lost twice to the Russian in 21 matches in his career, and there weren't any problems on this day either, as he won comfortably 2 and 2. Next for Federer, Tomas Berdych in a semifinal match later on Friday.
Tennis legend Yannick Noah would have been proud of his son Joakim on Thursday as he did something only five other players had ever done in the history of the NBA. He got over 20 points, 20 rebounds and ten blocks in a single game.
There was more good news for the Bulls on Thursday, as Derrick Rose worked out before Chicago's game against the Philadelphia. He is closer to returning to action. Once the contest started, it was all about Noah, though, as he did it all. The French International had 23 points, 21 rebounds, and 11 blocks. The blocks totaled a franchise record. The Bulls beat the Sixers comfortably on the night by double digits, 93 to 82.
There is a lot of pressure on the world's No. 1 golfer to get his act together right now. Since Rory McIlroy signed a multi-million dollar deal with Nike, he hasn't played up to his regular standards, missing the cut in Abu Dhabi and being knocked out in the first round of the World Matchplay Championship. Rory is in Florida right now as he began the defense of his Honda Classic title, and I have to tell you, he didn't have a great day over there either in the first round. Finished at even par, and is in a tie for 61st place. He's on the same score as Tiger Woods, would you believe it. The American has also been far from impressive. He was in a pickle here on the sixth hole after he hit his key shot into the hazard. Decided to play it out instead of taking the drop, takes his shoes and socks off, puts on his wading pants, and manages to hit the ball back into the fairway. Then after he dries off and get his shoes and socks back on, he hits a pit (ph) shot up onto the green, and ends up managing to safe par. Quite a sequence of events from Tiger. He's still a long way off the lead, though, after round one. A lot to play there still in that tournament in Florida.
That will do it for me for now. Back to you, Monita.
RAJPAL: All right, Pedro, thank you very much for that. Still to come here on NEWS STREAM, those of us in front of the camera in the news business, we generally try to keep our emotions in check regardless of the story, but what happens when you don't? We'll show you just ahead.
CHRIS MOZINGO, CNN CORRESPONDENT: It's a big weekend in movie theaters. You can even say giant.
Um: Fee, fi, fo fum!
MOZINGO: "Jack the Giant Slayer" is the latest fairy tale to get the big budget Hollywood treatment, landing in a handful of countries including India, South Korea and Indonesia.
NICOLE KIDMAN, ACTRESS: Come and say hello to your uncle Charlie.
MOZINGO: In "Stoker," Nicole Kidman stars as mother of a very disturbed family. The creepy thriller debuts in Hong Kong, Ireland, UK.
Um: Oh my God.
MOZINGO: "21 & Over" is a beer-soaked comedy from the writers of "The Hangover." Opening first in Iceland, then the U.S. Also, hot off Jennifer Lawrence's Oscar win for best actress, "Silver Linings Playbook" extends to Belgium, Sweden and a handful of other international markets.
And next week, get ready for "Oz: The Great and Powerful."
I'm Chris Mozingo, and that's your "New Movie Minute."
RAJPAL: From the big screen to the small screen. That was a rare TV moment. A reporter in the U.S. got cheers and applause from her colleagues for being flat out honest about what she thought of her assignment, and it happened live. CNN's Jeanne Moos tuned in.
BILL O'REILLY, INSIDE EDITION: From his new album.
JEANNE MOOS, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Sometimes the television veil is momentarily lifted, and the ever-present, ever-pleasant smiles come off.
O'REILLY: We'll do it live! (EXPLETIVE DELETED) it.
MOOS: And TV people act like they're not on TV.
Uf: The (EXPLETIVE DELETED) are you doing?
MOOS: But those outbursts were uttered by anchors who thought they were safely off the air. Those were bloopers.
What happened in the middle of a Wisconsin snowstorm falls in the category of blurted out truth.
OK, maybe it's not the profound kind of truth shouted by the anchorman in "Network."
PETER FINCH, ACTOR: I'm as mad as hell and I'm not going to take this anymore!
MOOS: Angelica Duria didn't mind taking it. The 26-year-old reporter for CNN affiliate WITI in Milwaukee had been standing out in the snowstorm for hours doing live shot after live shot.
ANGELICA DURIA, REPORTER, WITI-TV FOX 6 NEWS: I have been here since what, 3:30 this morning. It is now, I don't even know what time it is. 9:45. I'm exhausted. I've run out of things to say. It is snowing and it sucks here.
Uf: Angelica, welcome to (inaudible)!
MOOS: Most viewers loved it. The station's general manager loved it. Angelica's mother loved it. A TV critic wrote that this apparently famous weather instrument, the WITI Snow Stick, probably blushed.
Maybe Angelica wasn't as posh as say, Prince Charles the time he did the weather.
CHARLES, PRINCE OF WALES: Cold, wet and windy across most of Scotland.
MOOS: But at least Angelica's not getting teased like the "Today Show's" Al Roker did when he had was he described as a brain freeze, to which some YouTuber added a soundtrack.
UM: You unlock this door with the key of imagination.
MOOS: Angelica was in her own twilight zone of ambivalence when she tweeted, "Not sure if I should be proud or embarrassed of that moment. LOL."
Be proud, Angelica. They say the truth shall set you free, even if it doesn't free you from freezing your butt off doing live shots.
FINCH: I'm as mad as hell.
DURIA: And it sucks here.
MOOS: Jeanne Moos, CNN, New York.
RAJPAL: Oh, I've been there. While we're on the subject of honesty, Groupon's former CEO has plenty to say about being fired from the daily deals company. In a note sent to employees, Andrew Mason wrote, "I decided that I'd like to spend more time with my family. Just kidding - I was fired today. If you're wondering why, you haven't been paying attention." That's a reference to Groupon's struggling financial fortunes. The company's stock price is worth less than a quarter of its price when the company first went public in 2011. And under Mason's leadership, Groupon infamously spurned a reported $6 billion buyout offer from Google.
Yes. Well, that is NEWS STREAM for this Friday. I am Monita Rajpal. The news continues here on CNN. "World Business Today" is next.