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Pakistani Supreme Court Hears Case Against Chief Justice; Iran, Britain Lower Tensions Over Standoff; Strong Reaction From White House to Nancy Pelosi's Trip to Syria; Talibanization of Pakistan; France's New Bullet Train

Aired April 3, 2007 - 12:00   ET


JIM CLANCY, CNN INTERNATIONAL ANCHOR: Protests in Pakistan. President Musharraf facing demonstrations over the suspension of the country's chief justice.
HALA GORANI, CNN INTERNATIONAL ANCHOR: Trip to Syria. A powerful U.S. politician stops in Damascus. But the White House is not very happy with the visit.

CLANCY: Devastation in the Solomons. Thousands need help a day after a tsunami flattens much of the island.

GORANI: And a train faster than most planes. There's jubilation in France after the world speed record for rail is shattered.

It is 9:00 p.m. in Islamabad, 7:00 p.m. in Damascus, Syria.

Hello and welcome to our report broadcast around the globe.

I'm Hala Gorani.

CLANCY: I'm Jim Clancy.

From Paris to Washington, wherever you are watching, this is YOUR WORLD TODAY.

GORANI: Welcome, everyone.

We begin with the political crisis in Pakistan, where a growing tide of dissent is developing into a real challenge to President Pervez Musharraf's leadership there.

CLANCY: Now, to make it clear, there are no massive street demonstrations. Instead, they are relatively small and controlled protests.

GORANI: But, the stakes are huge, with the opposition this time coming from the country's elite.

From Islamabad, Nic Robertson explains what's going on.


NIC ROBERTSON, CNN SR. INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT (voice over): Amid chants for the overthrow of President Pervez Musharraf, and surrounded by a phalanx of black-suited lawyers, Pakistan's embattled chief justice inches towards the supreme court to challenge his suspension. His defense team confident their unprecedented challenge of presidential power can be successful.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The chief justice believes quite clearly that he is innocent, he's done nothing wrong, the judges are spurious. He seeks an open trial. And if he is -- doesn't get an open trial, this public will grow and grow.

ROBERTSON (on camera): The charges against the chief justice are raising passions here in a way that they haven't been raised before. Not just with these intellectual lawyers, but across a broad spectrum of the population here, already, they say, fed up with President Musharraf.

(voice over): Swelling the crowd significantly, members of many different political parties finding themselves united against Pakistan's leader. The mood of the thousand or so demonstrators loud but restrained.

At the gates to the court, an impasse, police blocking the crowds. Lawyers for the chief justice eventually surging through into the supreme court garden. Then, suddenly turning angry, chasing down and then beating a few fingered as imposters.

(on camera): What the crowd is saying here is these men that they are beating up are not actually lawyers. They are here impersonating lawyers representing, they say, President Musharraf.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: They were chanting slogans in favor of General Musharraf which provoked the mob. And the mob, the lawyers forcibly removed them from there.

ROBERTSON (voice over): In some cases, turned over to the crowds outside. Every bit as vicious as the lawyers. An indication of the deep divisions this case is opening up.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We will lock (ph) all the courts. No judges perform his duty, because they are illegal. Our (INAUDIBLE) is illegal. Our judiciary is illegal. Musharraf himself is illegal.

ROBERTSON: Not everyone opposed to Musharraf, however.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I am saying that General Pervez Musharraf, his lifetime (ph) presidentship (ph) is needed for Pakistan, and the majority of the people like him.

ROBERTSON: As we talk, other lawyers approach. He gets worried.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: People are coming.

ROBERTSON: Our conversation ends there. He fears attack.

Most lawyers we talked to say they shun party politics and only support this case for the sake of an independent judiciary. UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The lawyers are all united for a cause, for a purpose. That is, the rule of law, the supremacy of the parliament of the constitution.

ROBERTSON: Inside the court, little progress. The chief justice getting a 10-day adjournment. For his supporters, the battle lines are drawn. There can only be one winner -- Musharraf or the judiciary.

Nic Robertson, CNN, Islamabad, Pakistan.


CLANCY: Some pretty amazing pictures there. And it's important to put it in perspective.

What is it really all about? President Musharraf, a key ally of the United States, is believed to be looking at another term as president and doesn't want the supreme court to stand in his way. He's trying to intimidate them. That's what the people on the streets are saying.

GORANI: And the big question is, what impact will these demonstrations have? As we mentioned, they are not massive, popular demonstrations, but lawyers and judges saying that President Musharraf is overstepping his authority here.

CLANCY: All right. We'll continue to follow that.

GORANI: Absolutely. But now we turn our attention to Britain, where Prime Minister Tony Blair says the next 48 hours will be fairly critical, in his words, in efforts to end the crisis over those 15 British detainees in Iran. Both sides are now softening the rhetoric, saying the door is open for diplomacy.

Robin Oakley joins us now live with the latest on that.

And what are the chances at this point, Robin Oakley, that there will be a solution to this crisis very soon?

ROBIN OAKLEY, CNN EUROPEAN POLITICAL EDITOR: There's confidence among diplomats that things are moving along in the right direction towards a solution of this crisis now, Hala, and I think probably for the captives -- we've seen new pictures of them today released by Iranian news agency -- for them, probably less news is better news. And we are getting back to straightforward diplomatic exchanges between Britain and Iran, with, as you say, the rhetoric softening, really.

They have stopped shouting at each other through the media, and they have begun negotiating again. And softer words yesterday from Dr. Ali Larijani, the head of the National Security Council in Iran, were matched today by a softer tone from Tony Blair.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) TONY BLAIR, BRITISH PRIME MINISTER: All the way through, we have had, if you like, two very clear tracks on this. One is to try and settle this by way of peaceful and calm negotiation to get our people back as quickly as possible. The other is to make that clear that, if that's not possible, then we have to take an increasingly tougher position.


OAKLEY: The focus is going to be very much on the technicalities of exactly who was in whose waters at what particular time. And although that's been the problem all along with both sides taking a totally different view, that may be the route to the solution, as well, Hala, because that allows a face-saving opportunity for both sides to agree that, well, perhaps the boundaries are a bit imprecise in territorial waters in that part of the world -- Hala.

GORANI: Now, let's talk quickly about a report in "The Independent" newspaper in the U.K. now that is saying that a failed attempt at seizing two senior Iranian diplomats in northern Iraq just a few months ago is really at the heart of what happened then in the Persian Gulf, and the seizure of these 15 British marines and sailors.

What can you tell us about that report, and has there been any reaction to it?

OAKLEY: Well, Patrick Coburn (ph), the author of that report, says it ought to have alerted -- that incident ought to have alerted the British to the possibility of their sailors being captured by the Iranians, because, he said, the attempt to seize two senior security officials from Iran, when they were on an official visit to Iraqi Kurdistan, was the start of a series of tit-for-tat episodes between Iran and the U.S. and coalition forces.

The suggestion in "The Independent" is that there was a very definite linkage here. But from the very start, the Iranians have said that the question of the capture of the sailors doesn't have any linkage, either to the bigger dispute about their uranium enrichment program, or to any issue, like the five Iranians who are being held by the U.S. in Iraq. So, it's very difficult to tell at this stage whether there was a linkage or not, but often there's a kind of informal linkage, even if there's not a formal demand for something like a prisoner swap -- hala.

GORANI: All right. Thank you very much.

Robin Oakley, at 10 Downing Street in London -- Jim.

CLANCY: Now, one of those men that we just heard Robin talking about, one of them was a general for the Revolutionary Guard that was involved, of course, in seizing those 15 royal sailors and marines. Now, the target of the raid in Iraq back in January, they may have been included, but five Iranians were nabbed. They are still in custody.

Another Iranian diplomat seized in Baghdad, though, Iran says has been released. Jalal Sharafi, deputy secretary of Iran's embassy in Baghdad, captured by gunmen in Iraqi uniforms two months ago. Iran had accused the U.S. of ordering his kidnapping. Now, that's a charge that Washington is denying.

GORANI: All right. Let's check some other news we're following closely for you today.



GORANI: Welcome back to CNN International and YOUR WORLD TODAY.

CLANCY: Covering the news the world wants to know, and giving you a little bit of perspective that goes deeper into the stories of the day.

U.S. President George W. Bush responding to a proposed congressional funding bill, one that includes a timetable for withdrawal from Iraq. Mr. Bush, very clear, says Congress must finance the war in Iraq without issuing deadlines or putting strings attached to the measures.

Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid has warned President Bush not to veto the proposal, or else Congress will move to stop funding the war. A short while ago at the White House, the president repeated that the war in Iraq is an integral part of the war on terror.


GEORGE W. BUSH, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: My main job is to protect the people. And I firmly believe that if we were to leave before the job is done, the enemy would follow us here. And what makes Iraq different from previous struggles is that September the 11th showed that chaos in another part of the world, and/or save haven for killers, for radicals, affects the security of the United States.


CLANCY: Now, a lot of this is a political exercise. While the House and the Senate are working on a compromise bill, the reality is that they cannot overcome a presidential veto. That is, the Democrats can't overcome that. And President Bush said, no doubt about it, he will veto any measure that contains a deadline for withdrawal -- Hala.

GORANI: Well, the U.S. House speaker who supports that deadline for withdrawal has arrived in Syria, much to the displeasure of the White House. President George Bush says Nancy Pelosi's visit sends mixed signals to the region and to the government of President Bashar al-Assad. Pelosi is set to meet with Bashar al-Assad on Wednesday.

Earlier, she talked about her agenda for that meeting. It includes the formation of a U.N. tribunal to try suspects in the killing of Lebanon's former prime minister.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) REP. NANCY PELOSI (D-CA), HOUSE SPEAKER: ... the fight against terrorism, and the role that Syria can play to help or to hinder that goal. So, we'll be talking, of course, then, about the tribunal, which is very important to establish the truth so we can go forward. That's one of the issues we'll bring up with him. Of course, the role of Syria in Iraq, the role of Syria supporting Hamas and Hezbollah, the role of Syria in so many respects that we think there could be a vast improvement.


GORANI: So, what kind of power does Nancy Pelosi have? Not in setting U.S. foreign policy, of course, but setting a certain tone as speaker of the House? Why is her trip getting such strong reaction from the White House?

Our U.S. affairs editor, Jill Dougherty, joins us live now from the U.S. Capital to put it in perspective for us.

So, that is the question, Jill. Why such a strong reaction from the White House?

JILL DOUGHERTY, CNN U.S. AFFAIRS EDITOR: Well, you know, it is true that there have been other visits to Syria by other U.S. politicians. But this one really has struck a nerve with the Bush administration, and it's raising fears in the Bush administration that the opposition Democrats may be trying to structure their own foreign policy.


DOUGHERTY (voice over): Nancy Pelosi thinks it's a good idea -- talk with Syria, even if it's a country the United States claims supports terrorism.

PELOSI: We have no illusions, but we have great hope.

DOUGHERTY: The White House thinks it's anything but a good idea.

DANA PERINO, DEPUTY WHITE HOUSE PRESS SECRETARY: We think that the best thing to do is to keep them -- to show that they are isolated and that their behavior is unacceptable.

DOUGHERTY: So, why doesn't Pelosi, speaker of the U.S. House of Representatives, listen to the White House and skip the trip to Syria? Because, as speaker, she is a power unto herself, and it's not just because she wields a gavel.

By law, the speaker is second in the line of succession to the presidency. If President Bush were incapacitated, and so was Vice President Cheney, Nancy Pelosi would be living in the White House.

As speaker, she controls all legislation being considered by the House of Representatives. And, by the way, she's the first woman to ever hold the job. The president may define the United States foreign policy, but the legislative branch, headed in this case by Nancy Pelosi, holds the purse strings, approving or denying funding for that policy. But just the idea of Nancy Pelosi going to Syria gets one former U.S. diplomat's blood boiling.

JOHN BOLTON, FMR. U.S. AMB. TO U.N.: I think it's naive at best, and possibly quite counterproductive. I'm at a loss to understand why Speaker Pelosi wants to do something like this.

DOUGHERTY: The speaker says she's just following recommendations of the bipartisan Iraq Study Group, which calls for constructive engagement with Syria.

So, whether the White House likes it or not, Nancy Pelosi is going to Syria. She's likely to keep her comments careful and diplomatic, at least until she gets back to Washington.


DOUGHERTY: So, Pelosi says that she wants to open a dialogue. The White House says visits like this, and especially this one, they would argue, haven't succeeded in making any type of change in Syria's behavior, and Syria's behavior, the most egregious part, the White House would argue, is supporting terrorism -- Hala.

GORANI: All right. What do the American people think then? Do -- I mean, according to polls. Do they think that the U.S. should be negotiating with an adversary like Syria, or ignoring it?

DOUGHERTY: Well, you certainly had the Iraq Study Group which came out, a bipartisan group -- came out and said that there should be a new type of dialogue not only with Syria, but with Iran. That was basically downplayed by the Bush administration, who said that they did not believe that was necessary. And I guess you would have to poll the U.S. population, but based on that Iraq Study Group, there is a belief that there should be some type of opening up.

Nancy Pelosi, of course, really will be very careful when she's there. She cannot negotiate. She's not on an official, you know, representation for the U.S. government to do anything, other than just begin some type of dialogue.

GORANI: OK. Jill Dougherty, live in Washington, D.C.

And for our viewers, of course, Jim, just reminding them that our Brent Sadler is in Syria. We are all over the world, and in Syria, as well, covering this story.

CLANCY: All right. This is YOUR WORLD TODAY, where we try to go beyond the headlines as we cover the day's news.

GORANI: Coming up, we'll head to New York for the latest on the financial markets.

The later, speed demons rejoice. A look at a French passenger train's record-breaking run.

CLANCY: And we'll visit a Muslim school in Pakistan where girls choose to follow a strict interpretation of Islam with surprising results.

You're watching CNN.



CLANCY: Hello, everyone. And welcome back to all of our viewers, joining us from more than 200 countries or territories around the world, including here in the United States.

GORANI: Now, this is YOUR WORLD TODAY. I'm Hala Gorani.

CLANCY: I'm Jim Clancy. And these are the stories that are making headlines.

Hundreds of lawyers and their supporters protested outside Pakistan's Supreme Court Tuesday. They were doing so in support of the country's chief judge. He's been suspended by President Pervez Musharraf on unspecified charges. Lawyers see the move as a challenge to the independence of Pakistan's judiciary. They are calling for Mr. Musharraf to step down.

GORANI: British Prime Minister Tony Blair says the next 48 hours will be fairly critical in efforts to end the crisis over those British detainees in Iran. Both sides are now softening the rhetoric, saying the door is open for diplomacy. Iran also says there is no need to put the 15 marines and sailors on trial.

CLANCY: The U.S. House speaker arrived in Syria, much to the displeasure of the White House. President George W. Bush says Nancy Pelosi visit sends mixed signals to the region and to the government of Bashar al Assad. Pelosi is set to meet with Mr. Assad on Wednesday.

GORANI: All right. Let's take you now to Pakistan. And some critics are worried about what they are calling the Talibanization of that country. And it's coming from an unusual source.

CLANCY: Students at a Muslim school in Islamabad have appointed themselves the teachers in the strict ways of Islam. Kylie Morris visited the school where the girls are teaching a few lessons of their own.


KYLIE MORRIS, CHANNEL 4 CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): They start young at Pakistan's largest girls' madrassa. In the most junior classes, children as young as four begin their religious instruction. None of the girls normally cover their faces inside.

But as our camera ventures into the halls, students are told to cover up. There's no access to computers, but these students are learning the names of basic technology in English.

Teachers make sure they keep themselves obscured. With more than 4,000 students, some classrooms are packed full.

There are a number of assistants, but the head teacher sits outside.

(on camera): The teacher for this class of older girls is, in fact, a male. But he's not allowed to enter the same room as them. He actually comes up a separate entrance into the school and transmits or broadcasts his classes via a hi-fi system, and he's seated here, behind the curtain.

(voice-over): Men linger elsewhere on the fringes of the school. In reception, family members can deliver supplies for their daughters and sisters through a revolving door.

The girls don't get out much. Except when they decide it's time to do what they describe agitation. Last week, they called themselves vice and virtue police, and armed with sticks, kidnapped a woman from her home who they said was a brothel owner.

They called a press conference and forced her to make a public confession, which she withdrew when she and her daughters were released.

They kidnapped the police officers who came to arrest their teachers. All were released unharmed. At the same time, male students from their brother madrassa have begun attacking video shops in the capital.

Some Pakistani commentators are talking about the Talibanization of Pakistan. Is that what's going on here?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Well, I would say about this that, Rudy Giuliani, of the New York mayor, he closed down all these brothels. That was also Talibanization? You never said that. Nobody said that.

MORRIS: Mr. Khazi actually hasn't much in common with Rudy Giuliani. After the post-9/11 invasion of Afghanistan, he was on the streets of Islamabad declaring jihad.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We are saying that if they are coming here, we will make this place the graveyard of American army.

MORRIS: Now, his followers at the girls maddrassas are challenging forces closer to home. Namely, the government of Pervez Musharraf.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE (through translator): Our government, poor thing, is like a passenger train that keeps taking down. It is unable to take care of the people. The prices of basic goods are going up, and the government doesn't care. When a poor man's daughter is married, he may as well give her a donkey cart, that way she won't need to buy petrol. MORRIS: They say they chose a more radical path when their madrassa was raided in the wake of the 7/7 bombings. The girls have now occupied a public library next to their madrassa. They have made some changes. Like erasing pictures they deem un-Islamic.

They say they are no plans to leave, although the president would like them to. He's asked them nicely, or. At least, he's asked religion leaders on TV to ask them nicely.

PERVEZ MUSHARRAF, PAKISTANI PRESIDENT (through translator): Speak to the women. Ask them what are they doing? They are imposing the abuse on others. They are trying to spread their ideas across Pakistan. It will not happen. It will harm Pakistan, it will harm yourselves. There will be no results.

MORRIS: Fine words but it's not playing well for President Musharraf. Five years after he promised a crackdown on madrassas, he's unable to swat away jihadi playtime in his own neighborhood.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I think it's very obvious that the government doesn't have the will, and clearly not even the intent to take action against the jihadi madrassas. This happened in the federal capital. Now think of all the ones out there where you don't see this visible challenge being posed to the government, and yet, no action whatsoever.

MORRIS: For now, the schoolgirl army is making the most of its victories and vowing to continue its campaign. Moderate Muslims in the majority here are watching anxiously for how this critical moment for General Musharraf might end.

Kylie Morris, Channel 4 News, Islamabad.


GORANI: This, of course, coming just as, meantime, we saw there in the lead story this hour, that there's a challenge coming from the judiciary, as well, to President Pervez Musharraf, so, we are going to see what happens on that front.

CLANCY: And if you look at that, I mean, what it really is, they talk about closing down brothels, things like that. But these are the students, and they are really being motivated and pushed on by individuals ...

GORANI: These are religious vigilantes, essentially. They are going out with their interpretation of the text, imposing the kind of rules that the feel should be imposed.

CLANCY: And in some ways many think students are the victims, as well, because this is where they recruit. At these madrassas, they recruit the suicide bombers. Big shoot-up over that.

GORANI: And the moderates are worried. They are worried.

CLANCY: Very worried. GORANI: All right, let's move on to something else now.

CLANCY: That's right. The U.S. House speaker's trip to Syria. Senior international correspondent Brent Sadler joins us live now by broadband from Damascus. Brent, this is a major story today. Is there any hint from the Pelosi camp what she expects to get out of this visit?

BRENT SADLER, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, the Pelosi delegation first and foremost is here to talk directly to the very top of Syria's leadership, with President Bashar al Assad going to be meeting her Wednesday for head-to-head talks and indeed a lunch.

She will also have top level meetings with Syria's Foreign Minister Walid Mualin (ph), as well as the Vice President Farouk Ashara (ph), who previously was Syria's long-serving foreign minister.

Now, what does all this mean? It means, really, that this is the first time the Assad regime has been able to have such high level talks with the likes of the rank of the speaker of the House of Representatives. There have been an array of both Republicans and Democrats coming through the Syrian capital, at least the Republican delegation on Sunday. That drew no rebuke from the White House.

But because of Nancy Pelosi's high stature in the United States, this mission she's undertaken here, it's already begun in the Syrian capital, has drawn a great deal of fire from the George Bush administration.

The president himself, George Bush, saying that photo opportunities and meetings with the President Assad, said President Bush, really lead Syria to believe it is part of the mainstream of the international community, when in fact, said President Bush, it is a state sponsor of terror.

Against that, Pelosi went on a walk about in the ancient city of Old Damascus today. She met a number of ordinary Syrians before she started to engage with top Syrian officials, who told her very much what the leadership will want to say to her, that is that Syria gets a bad deal from the united states, that Israel gets all its own way, and if the United States wants to improve its stature in the Middle East, vis-a-vis the war in Iraq, vis-a-vis peace in the Middle East, following up on last week's Arab peace initiative, then the United States needs to rebalance, in the words of Syrian officials, its relationships in this part of the world, notably Syria.

CLANCY: Brent Sadler, going to be watching the trip by Nancy Pelosi here in the hours and the day ahead. Could be very interesting to see how all of this shapes up. We'll hear from Brent.

GORANI: Still ahead on YOU WORLD TODAY, "Paradise Lost."

CLANCY: The search is on now for survivors and for shelter a day after an earthquake an tsunami battered the western coast of the Solomon Islands.

GORANI: And, sacre bleu, the French train is tres rapide. We go onboard for a record run when we return.


CLANCY: Hello, everyone. Welcome back. You're watching YOUR WORLD TODAY right here on CNN International.

GORANI: All right, we're seen in more than 200 countries around the globe, including this hour, the United States. Welcome to those viewers, as well and everyone else.

Thousands are searching for shelter in the Solomon Islands, a day after a tsunami flattened scores of villages along the island nation's west coast. At least 28 people confirmed dead. And officials say it may be days before the extent of the damage is known. Sean Dorney has more.


SEAN DORNEY, AUSTRALIAN BROADCASTING CORPORATION CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): The fishing and diving center of Bizo (ph) has been smashed. Houses shops and government buildings were shaken by the powerful earthquake, and then some were flattened by the wall of water it triggered.

Traditionally built homes along the coast of several islands remain under water. Some people were swept out to sea, with the force of the three meter wave. Those who survived retreated to higher ground. This woman managed to old onto her children as the wave crashed through her house.

Thousands who were left homeless are now living in makeshift shelters the hills. They say they are in desperate need of aid. The Australian led regional assistance mission is helping the Solomon Islands authorities with aerial reconnaissance to study the damage, and help get aid where it's needed most.

(on camera): The Solomon Islands National Disaster Council is still struggling to come to grips with how big a tragedy this is. One of their problems is that they haven't heard from perhaps dozens of villages that would have been hit by the tsunami.

(voice-over): The official death toll has risen to at least 24, but it could go further. There are reports that villages along the south and west coasts of Choicel (ph) have been swept away.

The remoteness of the region, and virtually no modern communications are hampering relief efforts. Australian and New Zealand have pledged extra support.

JOHN HOWARD, AUSTRALIAN PRIME MINISTER: If there is further assistance that reasonably can be provided, we will be willing to do so. It's quite a strain on a small country, and the prime minister obviously welcomed our gesture and that of New Zealand, and I've agreed with him that we will continue to work very closely.

DORNEY: Many locals are still worried their ordeal is not over. There have been almost 40 aftershocks since yesterday's quake, several measuring more than six on the Richter scale. Sean Dorney, ABC News, Haniara (ph).


CLANCY: Now, the tsunami that struck the Solomon Islands has some experts questioning the value of an early warning system. Rosemary Church joins us now with some insight. Rosemary?

ROSEMARY CHURCH, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, critics say it's not much work when an underwater earthquake strikes so close to home, and Monday's earthquake was just 30 miles or 48 kilometers from the Solomon Islands. Supporters, of course, say, better safe than sorry.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: What you have to understand, if you get an earthquake of that magnitude, 8.1, it is possible to generate a tsunami. And you really don't know for about an hour or so if it has or not.

CHURCH: Now after the 2004 tsunami in the Indian Ocean, the United Nations and six other governments started work on a $130 million tsunami warning system for the Indian Ocean.

Indonesia is working on its own early warning system of tidal gauges and deep ocean buoys or buoys as they call them in the U.S.. The UN says it should give most people about 10 minutes warning after an underwater earthquake hits.

But Monday's quake shows that might not be enough. The magnitude 8.0 earthquake struck six miles beneath the sea floor. Now within just five minutes, it triggers a 16 foot high tsunami, hitting the Solomon Islands shortly after 7:39 in the morning and plowing inland for about half a mile.

Now the impact was immediate, setting off tsunami alarms from Tokyo to Hawaii. You see how this wave plows all the way over to the west coast of the U.S. And you can see how far afield that impact was. It was felt in Australia, closing beaches there, schools and businesses on its northeastern coastline, more than 1,000 miles from the epicenter.


COSTAS SYNOLAKIS, TSUNAMI RESEARCH CENTER, USC: The warning is not, you know, the end of it. You need to have communities that are, you know, educated, they know to self evacuate. The warning itself, would have had some benefit, in the sense if there were sirens, and they had actually, you know, been able to act activate, but on the other hand, the other part of the warning system is to do public outreach, and educate all of the communities around the Pacific, the Indian Ocean, the entire world, for that matter, that if you are near the coastline, and you feel the ground shake, you must evacuate at once.


CHURCH: Good advice there. And there's already some fallout, in Australia, on the tsunami response. With federal government officials there dismissing suggestions they overreacted to the tsunami threat, saying it was an appropriate reaction. Difficult to win in this sort of situation, Jim.

CLANCY: All right, we look at this, you have to ask, what are the lessons then, what do we get out of the early warning systems?

CHURCH: I think overall, we find that early warning system is necessary. But it's difficult, when you look at the Solomon Islands situation, they only had -- they had less than five minutes to really evacuate the area. And that's impossible in that instance.

So, really, a lot of people are saying, a lot of critics are suggesting that what needs to occur here is relocation of some of these vulnerable communities, and of course education, too. We heard from the professor there, educate these communities how to respond in the short minutes that they have to get to higher ground.

But on the whole, those early warning systems are valuable for those people who are not living right on the coastline, Jim.

CLANCY: And if you are on the coastline, you feel the earthquake, move out, evacuate now. Don't even wait to find out whether they are going to declare a tsunami. It will be too late.

CHURCH: Right. That's the clue.

CLANCY: All right. Thank you very much, Rosemary Church there with some insight for us.

GORANI: Now, coming up on YOUR WORLD TODAY, the need for speed.

CLANCY: Yes. And if you've got it, France has a new train that will send your heart rate racing as it races along the tracks.

Our Jim Bitterman was on that train. He'll tell us about it next.


GORANI: Well, don't blink or you just might miss it. Well, that expression could be applied literally to spectators gathered in the French countryside today.

CLANCY: 574.8 kilometers an hour. Look at the way things are going past this train. If you are in a hurry this is the one to catch. Actually if that train had wings, it's literal laws of physics, it would have taken off.

GORANI: Could fly. Three-hundred-fifty-seven miles an hour for a train. Not bad. Our Jim Bitterman did one better than the spectators. He was actually on the train, and joins us now with his record run. What was it like in there, Jim? CLANCY: Look, he's smiling.

JIM BITTERMAN, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well -- yeah, my hair's not standing out, Jim, Hala, in fact -- made it into the office in record time today, I can say that. But no, it was -- it was one great ride, I mean, it was very interesting, when -- it took about 15 minutes for the run, in about 100 kilometers of French countryside, about 60 miles in order to get up to speed.

Just to give you an idea how fast this train is moving when it hit the record, it would cover the distance of three football fields in two seconds. So, we were really moving along, and I must say that there was, I think, a little bit of tension in the coach, as we were coming up to speed. Mostly journalists on board with a lot of the executives from both the train company and from the company that makes the trains, and as you can see the countryside just flashing by. And we were getting constant readouts on the speed.

And as we started approaching 500 kilometers an hour, the car was kind of silent. But then when they went over the top, they beat the old record, which was 515 kilometers and hour and when on to 574 kilometers an hour, you can see, there was quite a reaction among the technicians.

About 60 technicians were there on board the train, monitoring everything. And they had to keep careful track, because there's a lot of variables they had to keep an eye on, including the wheels on the tracks, and, the overhead pantograph, that's the device that hits the overhead wire and collects energy for the train.

This train was a special train, specially modified. Basically the coaches are the same design, and whatnot, but the wheels are larger on this train, and the motors are more powerful. Got 25,000 horsepower on this train to make it go that fast. So it's going a lot faster than normal.

There's a shot of the wheels there, you can see. They had to do a -- of course, we were going through champagne country, so, when they hit the record, we had to have a little champagne.

GORANI: Drinking. And train driving.

CLANCY: Jim, what did it feel like? Was it a comfortable ride? You are going pretty fast there how did the track vibration real little relate to your ride?

BITTERMAN: Well, I expected a lot more vibration. I expected a lot more noise. In fact, I ride TGVs fairly often, and I don't think it was too much different than the kind of ride you get on a normal TGV. I suppose maybe a little bit more vibration as we hit the top speeds.

Now the engineer told us afterwards, the train driver told us afterwards, that the fact is, he thought he could have done a little bit better. He had the pedal to the medal, as they say. He was really going about as fast as he could. But he thought if they had more favorable winds, they might have even gone a little faster, because they had problems with cross winds today, and that leads to a little bit of instability, and since they had so many press and so many executives on board, they didn't want to take any chances at all.

CLANCY: All right, Jim Bitterman there, live from Paris, the man that was aboard the high speed train as it set its world record.

GORANI: All right. Thanks very much, our Jim Bitterman in Paris. I'm Hala Gorani, for or viewers in the USA, CNN NEWSROOM with Brianna Keilar and Don Lemon is next.

I'm Jim Clancy. And Hala and I will be right back for our viewers elsewhere around the world. Stay with CNN.



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