Return to Transcripts main page


Syria's Threat to Execute 'Terrorists'; Women March in Egypt to Protest Conduct of Police; Iraq Political Tensions; Kim Jong-un May Share Power With Military; Piers Morgan Denies Authorizing Phone Hacking At Mirror, News of the World; Berlin New Hot Spot For Tech Starups

Aired December 21, 2011 - 00:08:00   ET


MANISHA TANK, HOST: Hello. A warm welcome. This is NEWS STREAM, where news and technology meet.

I'm Manisha Tank, at CNN Hong Kong.

We being in Syria, where reports say the death toll is rising despite the government's support for an Arab League proposal to end the violence.

Also, the power of protests in China as (INAUDIBLE) local government respecting (ph) their demands.

And for the first time, NASA finds Earth-sized planets outside our solar system.

Syria's major opposition group says horrific massacres have taken place across the country this week. The Syrian National Council reports nearly 250 people have been killed since Monday. It wants international action to protect civilians.

Most of the deaths are said to be in Idlib. That is where activists say dozens of army defectors were gunned down on Monday as they tried to flee their posts. CNN cannot confirm those reports, as Syria restricts journalists' access. These deaths come after Syria agreed to an Arab League proposal to end this violence.

Well, such concessions followed by escalating violence are nothing new, and we've seen this sort of a pattern before.

On November the 2nd -- let's begin with that -- the Arab League announced that Syria agreed to end its crackdown on dissent, but the bloodshed didn't stop. Less than two weeks later, opposition groups reported at least 81 people killed in a single day.

Let's look back at April. And President al-Assad lifted the country's controversial state of emergency. The next day, Amnesty International reported at least 75 people killed during Friday protests. And shortly after that, activists reported the government sent thousands of troops into Daraa.

So the government has repeatedly denied that it's targeting civilians and blames armed ganged for the violence. So its recent pledge to execute people who commit what it calls terrorist acts is seen as a major escalation against protesters.

Rima Maktabi is monitoring developments from CNN Abu Dhabi for us.

Rima, what can you tell us?

RIMA MAKTABI, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Probably this is the highest toll we've heard of over the past nine months, in 48 hours. There are many numbers coming out of activists and opposition groups, and it's of the rare times that we do not immediately get videos from activists in Syria about what's happening on the ground. And the reason for that is the hotspot, which is Idlib, specifically Jabal al-Zawiya, is besieged and surrounded by the army, and the civilians are not able to move. And this is always according to the opposition.

This is happening just as Syria, yesterday, on Monday -- or Tuesday -- said that any group supporting terrorism or financing terrorism will be executed. And at the same time, there were military exercises and training happening, and we will see the images of these in Syria.

So, all of these are mixed messages that the regime is giving just as they sign the protocol. And the protocol here, Manisha, it's very important to understand, is just to allow observers in, but not necessarily end violence or withdraw the army from the streets.

TANK: OK. So we have to pay close attention to the language exactly.

Meanwhile, you mentioned the opposition. They certainly have had something to say. What are they telling us?

MAKTABI: The SNC, Syrian National Council, issued a statement today, and it's a very strong statement with a very strong language. It's headlined all over the Arab media. They are asking the Arab ministers to convene immediately to discuss what the SNC said -- it's a massacre, horrific massacre. They used this term. And they said in the past 48 hours, 250 people were killed.

Also, the opposition is calling the U.N. Security Council to convene immediately and help the civilians on the ground in Syria and find a way to protect them. There's a high level of frustration among opposition members in Syria because they feel that the world is not helping. Even on Twitter, as I'm monitoring all the messages coming out, they're calling what's happening now in Idlib as the "Christmas Massacre." There's a high level of anger.

TANK: Very interesting to get those -- certainly get that message from the opposition. I wonder who is going to be listening outside Syria's border.

OK, Rima. Thank you very much for bringing us to up to date on that story, the latest there from Syria and that crackdown.

Now, Egypt's military rulers are forging ahead with parliamentary elections there. Runoffs from the second round are very much under way today. But as the election process continues, protesters seem to have retaken control of the political narrative.

For days now, Cairo has been choked by violence, with running battles in and around Tahrir Square. This was the scene on Tuesday, thousands of women on the march.

Now, they were roused to anger by images like this, a female protester partially stripped and beaten by riot police. Egypt's military rulers have responded by expressing great regret for the brutal treatment meted out to women.

Let's get more now from CNN's Mohammed Jamjoom. He joins us live from Cairo.

Do you think that will be enough for the protesting women, this apology from the ministry, Mohammed?

MOHAMMED JAMJOOM, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Oh, Manisha, by all accounts so far from the female protesters that we've spoken with, no, it won't be enough. And it was remarkable yesterday to see so many Egyptian women come out not only to support the female protesters who have suffered abuse at the hands of security forces here these past few days, but also to express so much anger towards the Supreme Council of the Armed Forces here, calling for regime change and saying that they're not afraid to keep coming out until this pattern of abuse ceases.


JAMJOON (voice-over): They marched to prove they're not afraid. Over a thousand woman showing they will not be cowed, despite the escalating tensions and a growing crackdown in Cairo.

Many converged on Tahrir Square to voice extreme anger about the brutality recently faced by female protesters, holding up placards, reminders of horrific scenes like this one, an Egyptian woman being beaten by riot police, dragged, partially stripped of her clothing, even stomped on.

(on camera): The women marching today not just expressing outrage at the treatment of female protesters these past few days, also expressing extreme anger at the Supreme Council of the Armed Forces.

(voice-over): When former president Hosni Mubarak was ousted, the military took over, promising to establish a Democratic government. But protesters are calling for the council's removal, accusing them of betraying Egypt's revolution, blaming them for the brutality.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: What the army is doing to the Egyptian people right now is an international crime. They should be tried for this.

JAMJOON: Underscoring just how tense and volatile the situation here has become, a protective ring was formed around the women as they walked. As more men joined the predominantly female crowd, the numbers grew as the march went on, expressing defiance and solidarity in the face of danger.

RAGIA OMRAN, HUMAN RIGHTS ACTIVIST: I'm here to violently condemn the attacks on Egyptian men and women by the Egyptian army. We will not be quiet, we will not let this happen again, and we will continue to voice out our anger against this military junta that is killing this country.


JAMJOON: For their part, the military council here issued a statement last night. They said, "The Supreme Council expresses its great regret to the great women of Egypt for the violations that took place and reassure its respect and appreciation for Egyptian women and their right in protesting, and their active positive participation in the political light."

But that doesn't seem like it's going to be enough judging by what we're hearing from female activists here. They say that they believe the Supreme Council of the Armed Forces is lying. They believe that they are facing a systematic pattern of abuse, and they want this to stop as soon as possible -- Manisha.

TANK: OK. We'll leave it there for now.

Mohammed Jamjoom, live for us from Cairo.

Thanks very much for that.

I want to take you now to Iraq. Political tensions are escalating there. Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki is demanding regional Kurdish authorities turn over the Sunni vice president to face charges. Just yesterday, Tariq al-Hashemi called the allegations against him lies.

Arwa Damon joins us now from Baghdad.

Arwa, give us a bit more background on exactly what's going on.

ARWA DAMON, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, al-Hashemi, the Sunni vice president, also said that those allegations against him that he was involved in terrorist attacks, including bombings and assassinations, were quite simply politically motivated. He said that this was part of Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki's attempts to consolidate more power and literally take out his opponents one by one. Al-Maliki, in a press conference earlier today in Baghdad, refuted those allegations, quite simply said that the government was carrying out the rule of law.

Now, the vice president is in the semiautonomous region of Iraqi Kurdistan. The capital of that is Erbil. And the prime minister, al-Maliki, had this to say to the government in Erbil --


NOURI AL-MALIKI, IRAQI PRIME MINISTER (through translator): It is the duty of all parts of a federal state to hand over a wanted individual. Therefore, we ask our brothers in the Kurdistan regional government to take responsibility and hand over the accused to the judiciary, especially because they have seen the case. Not handing him over, or allowing him to flee to another country, could cause problems.


DAMON: The prime minister also went on to say that he would not want it to appear as if the Kurdistan regional government was allowing an individual who was wanted by central Iraq to flee the country.

Now, this is part of a growing standoff that is brewing along multiple lines. You have the standoff between al-Maliki and al-Hashemi, to include al-Hashemi's Iraqiya bloc. The Iraqiya bloc now saying that they will not negotiate with the prime minister, because they believe he is the root of all problems.

What we have transpiring here is what seems to be the complete unraveling of the Iraqi government. The danger is that many times, Iraqi politics end up translating into violence in the streets -- Manisha.

TANK: Yes. I guess that's the big worry amongst the Iraqis. How close are we to something like that?

DAMON: Well, that's very difficult to predict, although the longer this drags on, the harsher the rhetoric becomes, the more challenging it is going to be for the various parties involved to dial themselves back from the edge of this abyss. In many ways, this is the Sunni population's worst nightmare, because these moves by the Shia-dominated government are being viewed as directly targeting the Sunnis. Many of them feared that once the U.S. military withdrew, they would simply fall victims to Shia revenge. In many ways, this is, again, their worst nightmare coming true, and to try to see how the government is going to bring this all back into control, into some sort of order, is incredibly difficult at this stage, with each side refusing to talk to the other right now -- Manisha.

TANK: Well, we can hope for it, can't we?

Arwa, thank you very much for that update.

Arwa Damon there on that situation in Iraq.

Now, significant developments are unfolding in southern China's Guangdong province. Protests have flared in the region, most prominently in the fishing village of Wukan, and to its north, in Haimin (ph).

In Wukan, villagers say the local government illegally seized land to sell to developers. They're so furious, they rose up against authorities, chasing them out. And now it appears that government officials are giving way to the demands, at least for now.

Residents lined the streets as a top Communist Party official met with village leaders. That was on Wednesday. He reportedly agreed to release several villagers who were being detained and to return to the body of a protest leader who died in police custody. He also agreed to investigate land seizures.

So, let's show you exactly where all of this is happening. Wukan is far south of Beijing, and you can see that quite clearly on this map. But it is just 150 kilometers from Hong Kong, exactly where we are. A former British colony and now a special administrative region of China. Very close.

Significantly, Wukan's home province, Guangdong, is the wealthiest, most populous, and most open province in China. Its economic boom began in the 1990s, and now Guangdong is China's largest exporter and importer of goods. It's seeing a steady influx of migrant workers, and it's home to an ever- growing number of Chinese and multinational corporations.

So it's no wonder then that Beijing may be eyeing the tensions in Guangdong province with concern.

Eunice Yoon has more now from the Chinese capital.


EUNICE YOON, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Senior authorities have broken a peace deal with protest organizers in the rebellious Chinese village of Wukan. Tens of thousands of villagers have been in a public standoff with local officials for weeks over what they call unfair land grabs.

Top leaders have sent in a high-level provincial official to negotiate the deal himself. The authorities have agreed to the demands of the villagers. The villagers said that the authorities have agreed to release three imprisoned villagers. They plan to return the body of a dead protest organizer to his family, and they also said that they would recognize the villagers' own elected leaders. The government also said that it would set up a working committee to resolve the land disputes that started the protests to begin with.

China sees tens of thousands of protests every single year, but most of these incidents are isolated. And the fear among some government officials has been that these protests could spread.

In Wukan, the villagers said that they have called off their planned march. They already started to dismantle the barricades around the village, and they said that they would cooperate with the authorities, at least for now.

Eunice Yoon, CNN, Beijing.


TANK: You're watching NEWS STREAM, live from Hong Kong.

Just ahead, he's been billed as the "Great Successor" to North Korea's Kim Jong-il, but will this new leader have to share power?

Then, we look at the planet NASA says is Earth's twin, but don't start packing your bags just yet. The average temperature is about 800 degrees Fahrenheit.

Stay right there.


TANK: No, you don't need to adjust your set. It isn't 2012 yet, but those new year lights are being tested out on the IFC, that tall building in the shot, a very famous building here in Hong Kong. Definitely in that top 10 tallest buildings in the world.

Do come to Hong Kong one day and check it out. But they are testing out those lights for the new year celebrations.

It's time now though for a sports update. And a rather controversial decision in English football condemning one of the Premier League's star players to a long spell on the sidelines.

Don Riddell is in London with more details.

You know, Don, it makes me very sad that we are still witnessing stories that have anything to do with racism no matter who's involved.

DON RIDDELL, CNN INTERNATIONAL SPORTS ANCHOR: Absolutely. This one is very controversial though, Manisha. Thanks very much.

The Luis Suarez racism case is creating heated debate between two of the Premier League's biggest rivals, and it's a hot topic today in England, France and Uruguay.

Last night, the Liverpool striker was found guilty of racially abusing Manchester United's Patrice Evra and given an eight-game ban. It's an unprecedented ruling in British football, and Liverpool are deciding whether or not they're going to appeal.

In addition to the ban, Suarez has also been fined more than $62,000 after a three-man commission ruled the Uruguayan international had used insulting words towards Evra, including a reference to his ethnicity. The incident happened during a Premier League match between Liverpool and Manchester United in October. The ban and fine have been suspended while the FA waits to hear if Suarez will in fact appeal the verdict.

Liverpool has stood by their player from the very start of this case, and they released a furious statement after the verdict was reached. It read in part, "We find it extraordinary that Luis can be found guilty on the word of Patrice Evra alone, when no one else on the field of play, including Evra's own Manchester United teammates and all the match officials heard the alleged conversation between the two players. It is our strong-held belief, having gone over the facts of the case, that Luis Suarez did not commit any racist act."

Well, the case centers on a word that Suarez used to describe Evra which he claims would not be offensive in his native Uruguay. It is one of the most complex cases of the Football Association's disciplinarian unit has ever had to deal with. The anti-racism group Football Against Racism in Europe supports their verdict.


PIARA POWAR, EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR, FARE: I think it's the right message. Clearly, what's happened here is that the FA have looked very closely at the evidence that was presented to them. They've taken some soundings from Uruguay and officials, language experts, and so on. And in that context, we would welcome the punishment.

It's a significant punishment. It sends out a significant message.

Now, of course I think it's difficult to welcome any man being convicted of racial abuse. We all wish that it hadn't happened, but it has happened, and I think it throws a light on some of the interactions that we've seen over the years between players. Some of those interactions, less than (INAUDIBLE).


RIDDELL: In the midst of all this, the Crown Prosecution Service in Britain say that they will make an announcement regarding their investigation of John Terry's alleged racial abuse later today. That announcement actually is expected anytime now. The Chelsea in England captain is accused of racially abusing Queens Park Rangers defender Anton Ferdinand in a Premier League game at Lofters Road.

Meanwhile, CNN is preparing a special program about racism in football, and we've been speaking to the former Spurs of England Les Ferdinand, Anton's cousin. He says much more needs to be done to tackle the problem of racism in football.


LES FERDINAND, FMR. ENGLAND STRIKER: I saw a player miss a drugs test. All right? And he got banned from football for seven or eight months, missed a season. So, there you go. They're putting out -- in a sense, they're saying to anyone, you miss a drugs test, you see what's going to happen.

I see people get down (ph) for (INAUDIBLE) abuse, which people are saying is a major problem, or is a problem, and we want to stamp it out. And then they find them for 8,000 or 60,000 pounds.


RIDDELL: The excitement is building ahead of the new NBA season, and we're getting our first look at how the teams will look after a five-month lockout.

So stay with us on CNN in the next few hours for the latest on those stories.

TANK: Most definitely will, Don. Thank you for bringing us up to date on that very controversial case. Cheers.

Just ahead here on NEWS STREAM, heir apparent. Before his death, Kim Jong- il handpicked his son to succeed him, but will Kim Jong-un have to share power with one of the largest militaries in the world?


TANK: I'm Manisha Tank in Hong Kong. And you're watching News Stream. These are your world headlines.

Syria's main opposition group says 250 people have died in violence in the past 48 hours. It's demanding international intervention to protect civilians. CNN cannot independently confirm reports inside Syria. Arab League monitors are preparing to visit Damascus.

Egypt's ruling military council has promised to punish those responsible for recent attacks on female protesters. A crowd of mostly women demonstrators staged a protest march in Cairo on Tuesday in response to widely broadcast -- a widely broadcast video of a woman being harshly stripped and beaten by security forces there.

Russia's lower house of Parliament is meeting for the first time since a wave of protests over elections there two weeks ago that Vladimir Putin's United Russia Party won, albeit with a much smaller majority. Opposition groups say the outcome was rigged.

A memorial march has been held in Prague for the Czech dissident turned president Vaclav Havel. It's the first day of national mourning before his state funeral on Friday. The playwright helped to topple communism in Eastern Europe and went on to become Czechoslovakia's first democratically elected president. Vaclav Havel was 75 when he died in his sleep on Sunday.

We may be learning much more now about who will lead North Korea following the death of Kim Jong-il. Citing an unnamed source, Reuters news agency reports that Kim's son and heir apparent Kim Jong-un will likely share power with his uncle and the military. There's been a lot of speculation that exactly this would happen, given Kim Jong-un's youth. He's believed to be in his late 20s or early 30s and of course his inexperience in such a job. This will be the first time a ruling coalition has governed North Korea since its founding in 1948 after World War II.

The North Korean military one of the biggest in the world has pledged allegiance to Kim Jong-un. Watching all of this carefully in South Korea, Anna Coren joins me now from Seoul -- Anna.

ANNA COREN, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, Manisha today we've got a real insight into the inner workings of the North Korean regime. Today we spoke to Kim Jong-il's personal chef of some 13 years. This is the first time that he has spoken to CNN. Kenji Fujimoto kept a rather low profile since he defected to Japan back in 2001.

Now what is so interesting about Fujimoto is his access to Kim Jong- un. He spent a lot of time with him when Kimg Jong-un was a teenager and he believes that he is a true leader.


COREN: As North Korea mourns the loss of its Dear Leader, the world is anxiously waiting for his youngest son, Kim Jong-un to reveal what sort of successor he will be. One man with a personal insight is Kenji Fujimoto. For 13 years he worked as Kim Jong-il's personal chef, one of the few outsiders allowed in to this secretive and reclusive world.

He says, he was a mere sushi chef from Japan who would be invited to Kim Jong-il's private parties and drink with him. He would ask me do you like me? I would tell him I love him and kiss his cheek.

The two men shared a passion for fine food. And while many North Koreans were starving, Kim Jong-il would send Fujimoto around the world to buy ingredients for lavish dishes.

He says he traveled to Iran for caviar, Denmark for pork and Thailand for mangoes and papayas.

"On a trip to Japan I bought a whole tuna for $40,000 U.S. dollars," he tells us. "I would do this trip a few times a year."

But while in Pyongyang, Fujimoto spent time with the young Kim Jong-un who he described in his 2004 memoir after defecting to Japan as a chip off the old block, believing this teenager would one day succeed his father.

"He would always take the lead over his brothers," says Fujimoto. "He was always going to succeed his father."

Kim Jong-un has inherited a country with nuclear capabilities, a crippled economy, and a humanitarian crisis. The UN estimates a quarter of the population is facing starvation. And while many are concerned that Kim Jong-un will follow in his father's footsteps, Fujimoto believes this Swiss education leader is worldly and very aware of what his country does not have.

"I believe he is aiming at reform and open society," explains the chef. "He will look to China as an example so that the country can move forward."

While there (inaudible) Kim Jong-un and those around him may act to prove his leadership, Fujimoto is hopeful he may bring stability to the Korean Peninsula and lead his country out of the wilderness and into the international arena.


COREN: Manisha, there certain is hope that Kim Jong-un will stabilize North Korea and potentially the Korean peninsula.

Now South Korea expressed its sympathies yesterday to the Korean people. Well, today it has allowed private organizations and individuals to also send their condolences. This is seen by analysts as a way of South Korea reaching out to its northern neighbor, Manisha.

TANK: Yeah, you know, Anna, just talking about Kim Jong-un there. We talked -- well, we heard a lot about what he liked to eat, but what's the speculation -- I'm sure people are already speculating there -- on whether he's actually up to it.

COREN: That is definitely a question that no one can really answer. I mean, so much is unknown about this young man. We don't even know his exact age, let alone his views on nuclear weapons, international relations, or his crippled economy, and the humanitarian crisis that is facing North Korean.

But what we do know is that this transition does seem to be going smoothly, that is the news from analysts. They say that he seems to have the support of the Communist Party as well as the military and that he certainly has a grip on power. That is the news at this stage coming out of the Korean Peninsula, Manisha.

TANK: OK. Still so many questions. Thanks for bringing us up to day there, Anna. Anna Coren there live for us in Seoul.

Now a former newspaper reporter who was sent to jail for illegally profiting from his position is giving evidence at Britain's inquiry into press ethics. James Hipwell who was a financial journalist for the Daily Mirror was given a six month sentence in 2006 for buying shares, recommending in his newspaper column, and selling them once the value rose. Hipwell says journalists at the Mirror and other newspapers hacked into private messages left on phones.

His former editor Piers Morgan testified on Tuesday, denying any knowledge of phone hacking under his watch. Morgan now presents a talk show here on CNN. Hipwell has said, meanwhile, that Morgan was a very hands on editor.

Dan Rivers has more on Tuesday's exchanges.


DAN RIVERS, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: The British phone hacking scandal just won't go away. Each week it involves new revelations, celebrities and arrests. But while the police are deciding who has broken the law, a high court judge is probing the ethics of Britain's tabloids.

It was at this inquiry that Piers Morgan appeared to again deny accusations he'd ordered journalists to hack celebrities' phones.

The most testy exchange centered around a message left by ex-Beatle Paul McCartney on the phone of his then wife Heather Mills pleading for forgiveness after an argument.

As he has in the past, Morgan admitted listening to the message, but wouldn't say how.

PIERS MORGAN: But I'm not going to discuss where I heard it or who played it to me for the reasons I've discussed. I don't think it's right. And in fact the inquiry has already stated to me don't expect me to identify sources.

ROBERT JAY, LAWYER FOR LEVENSON INQUIRY: No. But I think we do expect you to identify what is obvious to anyone reading it is that you listened to a tape of a voice mail message. Is that correct.

MORGAN: I listened to a tape of a message, yes.

JAY: It was a voice mail message, wasn't it?

MORGAN: I believed it was, yes.

RIVERS: But still no explanation as to how he heard the message. Then Lord Justice Leveson interjected.

LORD JUSTICE LEVESON, PHONE HACKING COMMISSION CHAIRMAN: I am perfectly happy to call Lady McCartney to give evidence as to whether she authorized you to listen to her voice mails.

RIVERS: Leveson making it clear he wasn't going to let the matter drop.

And it will put further pressure on Piers Morgan to name a source he so far refused to name.

Other questions zeroed in on the Daily Mirror's scoop that former England soccer manager Sven-Goran Ericcson was having an affair with TV presenter Ulrika Jonsson. Morgan, who was editor of the paper, again denied the scoop was gleaned from phone hacking.

MORGAN: Absolute nonsense as far as I'm concerned.

JAY: None of that is true, is that right?

MORGAN: I detail in my book how I was simply told we've had a tip that Ulrika Jonsson is having an affair with Sven-Goran Erricson. I rang Ulrika's agent who I knew very well. She spoke to Ulrika. And she came back and confirmed it.

RIVERS: He said private investigators were used at The Daily Mirror, but he wasn't personally involved in engaging them and denied allegations by one former employee, James Hipwell, that hacking was routine at The Daily Mirror, a paper Morgan said, like him, had been unfairly maligned by the questioning, adding a closing shot at the inquiry.

MORGAN: This has gone how I thought it would, which is it becomes like -- almost like a rock star having an album brought out from his back catalog of all his worst ever hits. And I do feel, still, very proud of a lot of the very good stuff that both the Mirror and The News of the World did in my tenure as editor.

RIVERS: Morgan didn't get much further before being interrupted by Lord Leveson, a tough 90 minutes for a man more used to asking the questions than answering them.

Dan Rivers, CNN, London.


TANK: A reminder, you're watching News Stream.

When we come back, Berlin got that super base. We take a look at Europe's new technology hub where startups like SoundCloud are drumming up some serious business.


TANK: Now it's a city attracting the top tech minds in the business: the young, the savvy, and the highly creative. Startup companies say it's the place to be, just make sure you get in fast. CNN's Diana Magnay takes a look at why the buzz is all about Berlin.


DIANA MAGNAY, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Wherever you go, one tech startup tends to look much like another: young people, giant screens, casual clothes, general in some bright airy loft space. And Berlin's plentiful loft locations are right now full of them.

Sound sharing platform SoundCloud is the poster child of this booming startup scene. Brushed with star power after Hollywood Ashton Kutcher decided to invest.

ERIC WAHLFORSS, CO-FOUNDER SOUNDCLOUD: I think like over the past two, three years Berlin has gone totally bananas. Like there's so much going on. And we see, you know, investors opening offices here as well. We see a lot of more investors coming through.

MAGNAY: Swiss born Christophe Maire was the lead investor in SoundCloud. And was last month named financial angel of the year in Europe's annual tech startup awards.

CHRISTOPHE MAIRE, ANGEL INVESTOR: The interesting element is that we have a combination here of -- of, you know, the German ability to execute and this creativity that you can find in this city. And frankly some -- that is actually attracting capital from the traditional startup types which was long done in New York.

MAGNAY: German venture capital firm Earlybird has just opened an office in Berlin, the first major VC to do so.

HENDRIK BRANDIS, EARLYBIRD VENTURE CAPITAL: We see lots of what we called real, true innovations, originals whereas in the past I think there've been lots of examples which were more or less copy cats of basic innovations which took place in the U.S.

MAGNAY: One of those new originals in Earlybird's view is social betting platform Crowdpark.

3,000 Crowdpark credits.


MAGNAY: Big spender.

UNIDENTIIFED MALE: And now I can share it, post it to wall.

MAGNAY: Crowdpark co-found Ingo Hinterding says Berlin's created buzz means talented youngsters from all around the world are looking for opportunities here.

INGO HINTERDING, CO-FOUNDER CROWDPARK: The city is easy to acquire new talent, because the city is really exciting. It's an interesting place to live in. The cost for living is quite low compared to other big capitals in Europe. And the standards for living, especially what you offer on the cultural basis, is really, really great.

MAGNAY: At a time when jobs in Europe's traditional industries are harder and harder to come by as credit across the continent dries up, some of Europe's sharpest young minds are focused on Berlin.

Watch this space.

Diana Magnay, CNN, Berlin.


TANK: OK. We're going to take you way around the world now into the Philippines. Let's get the latest on that situation that we had with the storm (inaudible) coming in. Mari Ramos is standing by at the world weather center.

We saw some clear weather there, which was great for the rescue effort, but still it's still right there in our mind exactly what happened this week.

MARI RAMOS, CNN WEATHER CORRESPONDENT: Yeah, yeah, of course. And it is still a very dire situation for the people that are left in that area.

The weather has been cooperating in the last couple of days. We might begin to see a little bit more in the way of some scattered rain showers as we head into the weekend. But I'm going to show that in just a moment.

Let me go ahead and start you off with some pictures here. This is a picture of army personnel, military personnel I should say, doing that very difficult task of moving the victims, moving the bodies of those people who died -- some of those people who died, which by the way the death toll now topping over 1,000. So very serious situation there.

They are moving them to try to be identified so that their loved ones can have some sort of closure as to what happened there.

And these are some of the survivors. And this is -- you're looking at -- I thought this was a very amazing image here, of some children who are in line to get food. And you can see how the ground is so what kind of situation people are facing. And you're only looking at their feet. Imagine if we were looking at their faces or their bodies, you know, it would be a different -- just another -- just image of what's going on there. So pretty tragic ending.

Let's go ahead and look at the weather. Now some of you have been asking is it going to rain this weekend? We've had a little bit of moisture move through here. This time of year you still, even though it's the dryer time of the year, you will still get some scattered rain showers that will move through here. And we've had a little bit of that in the last 24 hours. I'm not expecting anything big, anything too significant.

And you can see again as we head through the next couple of days -- so because you're all the way over into Friday we are expecting some scattered rain showers here. Nothing too heavy. If we see anything heavy, it will probably be in the mountains. But again temperatures remaining in the low 30s for your daytime highs across Mingdanow (ph) in particular. So keep that in mind.

Let's go ahead and look at some of the other areas around the region. We're looking at some scattered rain showers and even snow showers as we head back over toward Japan and toward the Korean peninsula.

Also south of Beijing, nothing too much in Beijing right now. Minus 5, though, definitely cold. Cold in Hong Kong also, only 20 degrees right now for you there. 18 in Teipei. And you know you've been asking about the cold temperatures here, it will be a little bit cooler, but you know what this is actually right on the money when it comes to the average temperatures for Hong Kong. So even though it will feel chilly, especially in the overnight hours, 19 is your average high and 14 is your average low.

Do we have a pictures of the blizzard in New Mexico? I don't know if we still have (inaudible).

We've had some big winter storms across the U.S. And they have really taken quite a toll across the region. Now at the height of the storm, there were areas that were without power, at least seven people reportedly killed across the southwest. It looks like clear conditions now, but we're still having to deal with some winter storm warnings.

Most of this rain has actually been quite beneficial, though. In Texas, for example, we're still having to deal with a situation -- a situation where the drought has been tremendous in this area. They're saying that over half a million trees may have been killed by the drought, actually, in those areas. And a combination of high temperatures, strong winds, and a prolonged drought.

Come back over to the weather map, 88 percent of Texas in exceptional drought. Just last month, with the rain that we've had Manisha, actually looking a lot better, about 43 percent of the state now in drought. Back to you.

TANK: Yeah, that's -- well, there's a relief that there's been that rain. And those pictures of the blizzard absolutely incredible. You could barely see anything through that.

Mari, thank you very much for that and for the weather predictions of Hong Kong. I can't say it's bad this time of year.

Now speaking of this time of year, many people are waiting for holiday packages to arrive. Wow, some come by not so special delivery and trust me that's not the only hard landing. More of that when we come back.


TANK: Now in this busy holiday season a lot of people are sending and of course receiving gifts, but do you have any idea just how those gifts are reaching your door? Jeanne Moos finds out the journey can be a wild one.


JEANNE MOOS, CNN CORRESPONDENT: 'Tis the season for packages. And next time you open one intact, be grateful this didn't happen to it. This was a computer monitor tossed over a gate in Southern California by a FedEx delivery man. But then the surveillance camera video was delivered to YouTube and made the news.

And now FedEx is saying we have seen the video and frankly we were all shocked.

But that's not the only drop off memorialized on YouTube.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Handle with care. Oh, yeah, just like that.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Ground service. I get it. Ground. You throw the (EXPLETIVE DELTED) on the ground.

MOOS: And it's not just FedEx.

ANNOUNCER: What can Brown do for you?

MOOS: UPS Brown can toss your package underhand. It can toss it overhand.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Look at that, heavy...

MOOS: It can toss it like a horseshoe.

Fences and gates are the delivery man's nemesis, as a driver posted. From a delivery point of view, gates are hostile. Don't like it, get rid of the gate.

The guy's videoing this UPS delivery man compared his technique to loading garbage.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Do you think there's anything going to be damaged in there? Nah.

MOOS: Of course it could be worse. At least they're not Ace Ventura.

Of all the special deliveries we saw, none was more special than this by FedEx. There were sparks coming off the box said the man who was shooting.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: This guy has no idea that he is pushing an oven.

MOOS: As for the computer monitor heaved over the gate, the person who posted it says the monitor was broken. And it's sad, because he was home at the time that the delivery man had just rung the bell.

I'm sure what you're probably wondering is does this guy still have a job? FedEx tells CNN we have ID'd the employee involved. He is being handled according to our internal disciplinary policies.

ANNOUNCER: Federal Express when it absolutely positively has to be there overnight.

MOOS: They said overnight, not in one piece.

But now that everyone has a camera, it doesn't pay for the delivery elves to get sloppy.

Jeanne Moos, CNN, New York.


TANK: Overnight, not over the fence.

That's it from News Stream. World Business Today is next. Bye for now.