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Quest Means Business
Ukraine Bailout; Protests Outside Ukraine Parliament; Ukraine Bailed Out; IMF Bailout; European Markets Down; Search for Flight 370 Resumes; Weather in Search Area; Make, Create, Innovate: Domestic Robots
Aired March 27, 2014 - 17:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
(NEW YORK STOCK EXCHANGE CLOSING BELL)
RICHARD QUEST, HOST: Now, these are the men and women who keep companies in touch with their investors, the leading investor appreciation group. They rang the closing bell, where the Dow and the NASDAQ were barely changed when all was said and done at the end of the day. Go on, hit it! Oh, dear, how very timid. It was Thursday, it was March the 27th.
So tonight, the bailout begins. Tonight, Ukraine's parliament approved the first austerity measures. It's all part of the IMF rescue package that was announced today.
When also tonight, Microsoft's new boss says, "Step into my office." Satya Nadella brings his software to the iPad.
And from bad boy pop star to promoter of peace. I will be sitting down with Akon, absolutely.
I'm Richard Quest. I mean business.
Good evening. I'll have an update for you on the latest in the search for Malaysia Airlines 370. It is 5:00 AM in western Australia. We'll be taking you there before the program's over.
We'll begin, though, tonight with Ukraine's financial health, went from critical to merely grave today. The IMF has agreed to lend enough money to stave off imminent bankruptcy. Even so, the prospect of a sharp recession looms large on the horizon.
The IMF says Ukraine will get $18 billion over the next two years. The government had to promise to make some painful economic reforms to reassure the Fund that they're not throwing good money after bad.
A short time ago, the parliament in Kiev approved a whole raft of austerity measures, but it was only the second -- it was the second vote upon which it was passed. The prime minister told lawmakers bluntly, we either suffer now or suffer later.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
ARSENIY YATSENYUK, PRIME MINISTER OF UKRAINE (through translator): If these laws are not accepted, we predict default and we predict a 10 percent decrease in GDP.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
QUEST: It's a rather unpalatable prospect. A decrease now of some 3 percent or a larger decrease and bankruptcy and default. To underscore the fragility of the situation in Kiev tonight, this is the scene outside parliament a short time ago.
Right-wing nationalist protesters have gathered to demand the resignation of the interior ministry. Now, it's not explicitly a protest over the bailout. They're accusing the minister of ordering the killing of an ultra-nationalist leader this week.
It gives you a very good idea of just the situation and how bad things are. CNN's Jim Boulden is in London tonight.
JIM BOULDEN, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Tough measures are coming for Ukraine, firstly just for Ukrainians to heat their homes. Natural gas prices are about to soar. Up to now, the government heavily subsidized fuel prices, ballooning the budget deficit. The prime minister had this warning in parliament Thursday.
YATSENYUK (through translator): The first risk is a so-called energy problem. Raising the price for gas twofold will lead to very different consequences for the whole Ukrainian economy and Ukrainian population. That's the price for Ukrainian independence.
BOULDEN: Then there will be other price rises, higher taxes, government job cuts.
BOULDEN: It's all eerily reminiscent of what Greeks have faced over the past four years: a massive recession after international lenders insisted on massive economic reforms. But Ukraine also has to add promises to fight corruption. It's one of the biggest challenges facing any government there. The IMF wants to see tangible efforts to crack down on crony capitalism there.
If Ukraine does all that, a total of $27 billion in aid could flow from the IMF, the United States, the World Bank, and the European Union.
ANDRIY MELESCHEVYCH, TRANSPARENCY INTERNATIONAL: I hope very much that the new government will be able to move closer to the European Union, to European standards, to European democracy, and European values. We do not have any other choice.
BOULDEN: The IMF still has to give final approval to the massive loan sometime in April once details are finalized.
WILLIAM MURRAY, INTERNATIONAL MONETARY FUND: That information, in terms of the nuts and bolts of the program, will follow in the coming weeks. We're still working on the program. We have an agreement, we have a staff level agreement still subject to approval by our management and the executive board.
BOULDEN: Some analysts predict Ukraine needs $12 to $13 billion just this year alone to stave off bankruptcy. It needs to pay for imports. It needs to pay a bond due in June. And ironically, it has to pay Russia for natural gas already supplied and not paid for.
The prime minister says the only alternative to international loans with strings attached is default.
QUEST: Jim Boulden joins me now. Jim, the quote of the day, isn't it, really? The economy shrinks 3 percent this year with these measures if you vote for it. It shrinks 10 percent and we default if you don't.
BOULDEN: Yes. And that's just this year, so you can image what next year's going to be like, Richard. Because as I said there in the piece, if you look at what happened with Greece, it got worse year after year after year, only now stabilizing. So, Ukraine could be in for years of falling economies.
But the problem is, there is no solution. Ukraine -- the previous government looked at Russia for a loan. Of course, that loan was pulled, so if you're going to look to the West, you're going to have to take the tough medicine.
And the IMF, of course, were still in this process going through this, but it's not just promises by parliament, as we know in Greece and other countries, they actually have to see the fulfillment of these promises and for the money to be released a little bit at a time. So, this time around, Ukraine will have to follow the rules of the West if they want this money, Richard.
QUEST: Right. So, let's just go through that. Gas prices are the most immediate one. They will go up, not only because subsidies are being cut --
QUEST: -- but also because Gazprom is going to hike the price next month. Taxes are going up. There'll be job cuts in the public sector. The currency has to be allowed to float, and therefore, there will be an effective depreciation, which should in time work its wonders. And there's got to be deregulation. All of this happening quite quickly, Jim, could be very, very painful. Well, not could be. Will be.
BOULDEN: Yes. It will be painful, exactly. Because even in the Greece example, the privatization hasn't happened, and we're, what, four or five years into the process? So, Ukraine has to do something other countries have said they would do but haven't been willing to do.
But the prime minister said, it's the independence of Ukraine that's at stake here. The independence of the country. That's how strong he has put it. But as you said earlier, the first vote in parliament didn't happen, it didn't go successfully. So they had to vote again --
BOULEN: -- on this raft of measures.
QUEST: Why did -- why did that first vote fail?
BOULDEN: Yes, I think some people want to be able to show symbolically that they're not happy that these steps are coming. But even when this government came into power a month ago, it said that the bad times are about to hit. Most people don't say that when they take office. And then we have an election in May. So we have to be careful here --
QUEST: OK --
BOULDEN: -- because the IMF has got to be able to see that the next government, if there is a next government, will also follow the rules.
QUEST: There's one big difference, though, between this and Greece, and it is, of course, Crimea. In the sense that those who do not choose to go with this IMF/World Bank/EU/US bailout package, they don't have an option elsewhere because Russia's on the doorstep.
BOULDEN: And I saw one analyst who said the last thing that Ukraine needs, the last thing that Europe needs is the eastern side of Ukraine to have massive unemployment and to have that unemployment get worse through austerity, because that's a pro-Russian part of the country.
Imagine what will happen if they -- if that part of the country simply says we're not going to follow those rules. It is not clear-cut that this is going to solve Ukraine's problem anytime soon, Richard.
QUEST: Jim Boulden in London. Keep an eye on that, Jim, and when there's more to report, of course, come straight back.
I spoke to Bob Parker, senior advisor at Credit Suisse, and I asked if the IMF bailout was too much money or not enough.
BOB PARKER, SENIOR ADVISOR, CREDIT SUISSE: This IMF lifeline is absolutely critical for the economic and viability of Ukraine and their short-term -- addressing their short-term liquidity problems.
But no, the answer as to whether it is enough is whether this IMF program will act as a catalyst for encouraging private sector funds, and particularly funds within the banking system back into Ukraine.
Because there are two problems in Ukraine. Obviously, there is the issue of government financing. And that actually is quite complicated with respect to their gas bills for Russia. But the other problem, which is less talked about, is actually the lack of funds in the Ukrainian banking system and their reliance on both Russian banks and Western banks.
And hopefully, this IMF program will encourage particularly Western banks to maintain their inter-bank lines to the Ukrainian banks. Because without that, the Ukrainian economy has a serious problem.
QUEST: What does Ukraine do with the money? Do they pay bills at Gazprom and pay pensions to old-age pensioners? Is this a standby arrangement -- it's called a standby agreement -- which allows Ukraine to borrow internationally, backed by the IMF? Explain physically what they do with the money.
PARKER: Well, I think the first point is that there are bills with respect to their trade position, and an important part of their trade position, as you correctly mention, is their gas bill to Gazprom. And that's very significant.
And I think given the very poor political relationship between Russia and the current or new Ukrainian government, I don't think Gazprom is going to be particularly lenient in terms of allowing any relief in paying their gas bill. So, the payment of those gas bills, that's going to be a very tough negotiation.
Let's also not forget that the Russian banks have lent over $30 billion US to Ukrainian companies, to Ukrainian banks. And I would assume that the Russian banks will be progressively trying to pull that money back. So, that provision of liquidity from Russia to Ukraine clearly is not going to be there.
QUEST: Bob Parker. The European stock markets closed mostly lower. The IMF with the lifeline to Ukraine. London's FTSE --
QUEST: -- down a quarter of a percent. Frankfurt's DAX just about flat. Now, when we come back, we will update you on what's been happening with Malaysia Airlines 370. There's certainly more satellite images. They certainly show more objects spotted. The issue, of course, is whether those objects can be recovered physically so they can be identified to see if they are part of the doomed plane.
QUEST: Now, we just got information from our correspondents and our team in Perth that the search for debris from Malaysia Airlines 370 will resume this Thursday. The debris -- on Friday, I beg your pardon. It's already Friday in Australia.
Daylight brings improved weather conditions. The planes will take off from Pearce Royal Australian Air Base near Perth. We'll be talking to our correspondent there in just a moment. First, though, what are they going to be focusing on when they actually get there?
The big search now is really to find the hundreds of objects that have been spotted, and the search planes will take off in the next few hours. So, you're looking at -- let's just go through logically.
You have satellite imagery from March the 16th with a whole load of debris. Then you go to the 18th, where you have more. Now, that's the Chinese. We've had French, we've had Chinese.
Then, of course, in the last few hours, we've had the Thai -- Thailand says one of its satellites captured images of 300 objects floating in the southern Indian Ocean. It's close to the region where the French satellite made similar sightings, and we've also got photographs from the Chinese and the US satellites also in the area.
Look how -- it looks close, and it's relatively close, but you do get a vision of exactly how everything has coalesced in this particular area. Let's go straight to Perth and our correspondent, Kyung Lah.
Kyung, you would have just heard me describing, first of all, that the search is going to take place today. The weather has improved. And I'm gathering from that, that this will be the locus where they've seen previous debris.
KYUNG LAH, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Yes, certainly all these satellite images that we're getting, that we're hearing about from the various governments, Richard, are the bread crumbs as to where this debris may be.
Of course, we don't know if this satellite imagery is, in fact, any of the debris from the plane. But this is certainly giving everyone an indication of where to look.
And the search, as you were indicating, we are hearing in just the last hour or so that AMSA is directing planes to take to the air again. So, what we are anticipating today is that the very first search planes will start to leave this particular airport, this air force base, start to take the long flight, the four-hour flight down to the search area.
And it is very touch-and-go. I was actually with the US military, the navy, waiting to board the P-8, and it was suddenly scrubbed at the last minute.
LAH: The conditions out there yesterday were extremely tough, zero visibility. So, it is very much touch-and-go, Richard.
QUEST: Here's the question for you, Kyung. Bearing in mind that we're talking about 300 images or potential objects from the Thai, and there was 130 from the previous, I know that the area is vast, but we're now talking about potentially several hundred pieces or objects, which even in this area, with the amount of searches going on, they will -- somebody, somewhere will see something over the next few days.
LAH: That's the hope. And I emphasize the word "hope," because if you actually talk to the people who are going into the planes, who are looking out at this vast area, the way the waters are, they're extremely deep, there is no land mass to stop the waves. It's like a giant washing machine. It's very tough to spot anything.
And there's an enormous amount of ocean garbage out there. This is a giant gyre. So it's always swirling and twirling. It is difficult to spot. And given the weather conditions, it is a challenge.
So yes, you're absolutely right, they know where to look. It's just a matter of spotting it and getting a ship out there to pick it up.
QUEST: Kyung Lah, thank you. We'll talk to you in the hours ahead. By my reckoning, the first plane leaves in just over an hour and 15 minutes.
The weather -- Jenny Harrison is at the World Weather Center. Jenny, an update on what they're going to find when they get to that zone we've been talking about.
JENNY HARRISION, CNN METEOROLOGIST: Richard, the next two days really should give the best weather conditions they have had, certainly, for the last several days. So, in the last few hours -- this, of course, the search area.
Then all of this cloud, this is what gave those awful conditions on Thursday, exactly as we were saying, they were going to be facing these very high winds and these very, very choppy seas. Of course, low cloud, poor visibility.
So, all of that was what we were talking about yesterday. Here's just another way of showing you that cold front sliding out of the region. So, it really should be pretty good as we go Friday into Saturday. The sea should really come down.
There is some rain in the vicinity, but not really in the immediate search area. And again, using this special computer model we have here, you can see as we go through Friday into Saturday, there's the time frame there, a little bit of low cloud, but really hardly anything across most of this area.
And then, as I say, the rain that comes down, that stays pretty much to the east of this search area. And when it comes to the winds, they do start out quite brisk. But then look at this. We've got these blue areas. And so that really indicating the calmest conditions in terms of wind on top of the waves that we have had for several days.
So, that is the forecast for the next couple of days. It really does, as I say, give them the best chance they've had so far to actually see anything that, as we know, is out there.
And then, this is the conditions right now at Pearce Air Force Base, a really good visibility, light winds from the southeast. And so, hopefully, as I say, Richard, the next couple of days, good conditions throughout the timeframe.
Nothing to stop them getting out there, coming back, and doing -- and having really good, long periods of searching whilst they're out, with good, clear skies, a little bit of cloud, and much, much calmer winds.
QUEST: Jenny, thank you. We'll see you later in the program for a forecast a little closer to home. Jenny Harrison, we thank you for that.
Coming up on QUEST MEANS BUSINESS, now, this is a spinning wheel. It's made a huge difference in millions of people's lives. What's it doing and why? I'll tell you in a moment.
QUEST: Technology is a marvelous thing. This is --
QUEST: -- the Roomba.
(ROOMBA SWEEPING FLOOR)
QUEST: Which I'm told will make cleaning and doing chores absolutely a delight.
QUEST: Not everybody enjoys chores, so if you can get something like this and get it to do it for you instead, well, it's a new vacuum cleaner that will go off on its own and clean the room basically on its own. If you push the button and push "clean" --
QUEST: -- it will just go and find all the dirt and dust on its own. Doesn't matter what it hits. Why should such technology be so significant? Tonight's Make, Create, Innovate explains the Roomba.
ROBBY THE ROBOT, "FORBIDDEN PLANET": Welcome to Altair IV, gentlemen.
NICK GLASS, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): We've had the Hollywood version since the 1950s, like Robby the Robot in the movie "Forbidden Planet."
LESLIE NIELSEN AS COMMANDER ADAMS, "FORBIDDEN PLANET": You are a robot, aren't you?
ROBBY THE ROBOT: That is correct, sir.
GLASS (on camera): But real domestic robots are a relatively new phenomenon. And their story begins here in Boston, Massachusetts, with this little machine.
COLIN ANGLE, CEO, IROBOT: The iRobot Roomba is the world's first practical home robot.
GLASS (voice-over): Colin Angle has 24 years' experience in robotics and is widely considered to be the pioneer in the field.
ANGLE: We're solving these amazing technical problems about navigation, about mapping indoors so the robots can do more and more high- level things.
GLASS: With two fellow roboticists, he founded a company, iRobot, fresh out of MIT in 1990. But it wasn't until 2002 that the first Roomba was let loose on a floor near you. Thirteen inches across, two and a half inches deep, Roombas are a long way from the robots we first encountered in the movies and on kids' TV.
PENNY SINGLETON AS JANE JETSON, "THE JETSONS": Now, just make yourself at home, Rosie.
JEAN VANDER PYL AS ROSIE THE ROBOT, "THE JETSONS": Yes, ma'am.
ANGLE: What did everyone think robot vacuuming was going to be? Well, they thought Rosie the Robot from "The Jetsons," right? The -- a humanoid robot that pushed an upright vacuum, right? That was robot vacuuming. Well, that was never going to happen, but the idea of robot vacuuming was a great idea.
GLASS (on camera): How did you name your machine, first of all?
ANGLE: OK. The first -- the winning name, the best we brilliant engineers could come up with was the cyber-suck.
GLASS: The marketing men did rather better. The hint of the dance, the Rumba, and a hint of the room to be cleaned, the Roomba was born. Ten million units have been sold since manufacturing began 14 years ago, the most successful domestic robot ever.
GLASS (on camera): So, we're at home.
GLASS: And we want our floor cleaned.
ANGLE: Right. And so, what we should do is absolutely nothing.
GLASS (voice-over): The Roomba has more than 50 sensors to help it get around the furniture and anything else and just clean.
ANGLE: You'll see a gold patch here. That's a dirt sensor.
GLASS (on camera): That's a chip, isn't it?
ANGLE: It's actually a microphone, because what it's listening for is debris being picked up and thrown into the dirt bin, so that any hard debris that is being picked up by the robot is sensed, and the robot says, I'm in a dirty area. I'm going to stay until that area is clean.
GLASS (voice-over): iRobot now has some 500 employees and a turnover approaching half billion dollars a year. And don't be surprised what you find wandering the corridors: military robots used by American forces in Iraq and Afghanistan for surveillance and bomb disposal.
GLASS (on camera): And a brand-new line, the Ava. With this robot, you can virtually be anywhere in the world and be a remote presence via this telescreen in a chosen room. You can attend a business conference, or if you're a doctor, you can make a medical examination.
GLASS (voice-over): But the Roomba, accounting for 80 percent of turnover remains the real star, and as seen on YouTube, an irresistible ride for all those pets it has to clear up after.
QUEST: You've got to like it. You've just got to. Now, when we come back after the break, a different type of mobile, this time, it's all to do with Microsoft and it has nothing to do with keeping the kitchen clean.
QUEST: Hello, I'm Richard Quest. There's more QUEST MEANS BUSINESS in just a moment. This is CNN, and on this network, the news always comes first.
Lawmakers in Ukraine's parliament have approved austerity measures that pave the way for an $18 billion bailout from the IMF. The bill was passed on the second time of asking. Later on Thursday evening, right-wing protesters surrounded the parliament to protest against the killing of a nationalist leader.
The United Nations has condemned Russia's annexation of Crimea. The General Assembly approved a resolution that declares Crimea's referendum to secede from Ukraine invalid. The resolution isn't binding and cannot be legally enforced.
Search planes are to be taking off in the next few hours as the continue looking for Malaysia 370. They had a new lead to chase. Satellite images show what appears to be about 300 objects floating in the southern Indian Ocean. Search teams have yet to recover any wreckage.
In Turkey, the government of the prime minister has blocked access to YouTube. It comes after someone posted a video purportedly showing top officials discussing military strategies for Syria. Mr. Erdogan said the release of the video was a "villainous act."
President Barack Obama has met Pope Francis for the first time. They exchanged gifts and spoke privately for nearly an hour. The president and the pope talked about the need to tackle income inequality around the world and discussed conflicts, including Syria.
Better late than never, Microsoft Office is finally on the iPad. The most basic version of Office for iPad is now free to download from the iTunes App Store. With that you can only read documents. If you want to create or edit, you have to pay for a subscription and that starts at $70 a year. Microsoft's new chief announced the news at his first public appearance since he got the job. Satya Nadella says customers are mobile so the software needs to be too.
SATYA NADELLA, CEO, MICROSOFT: There's no holding back over anything. It is about being able to excel everywhere our customers are. One of the questions is is this a massive tradeoff for you? There is no tradeoff, it's a reality for us. It's not a competitive reality - that's not what motivates us. What motivates us is the realities of our customers.
QUEST: Dan Ackerman the senior editor of the tech magazine "SeenIt.com." Dan joins me now. I'm trying to download it. It's not that I can't - I can't work out whatever it is.
DAN ACKERMAN, SENIOR EDITOR, CNET: You've had to fight Microsoft for years to get it and now you have to fight the app search function on the iPad, which is equally terrible.
QUEST: Is it there yet?
ACKERMAN: It should be there already. You might have to look in the most popular apps or most popular free apps, it'll probably pop up there at some point tonight.
QUEST: Tonight, but not now, right. Why have they done this? Because I mean obviously they want to build an inroads, but also Microsoft is cannibalizing its own service by putting it into iPad and other on other tablets.
ACKERMAN: Well that was the argument they made for years -- they were going to cannibalize their own products. For a long time, Microsoft's two big things were you had to buy a computer that ran on Microsoft Operating System that you bought from them, and that you use Office which you also bought from them on that Microsoft system you got from them. But it turns out a couple of years ago people started to branch out. They would get MacBooks at work. The IT guys didn't like for a long time, but then they slowly came around.
QUEST: But we still want to use some of their popular software that we know and like.
ACKERMAN: That's right, and they call it kind of 'bring your own device,' and people use iPads now for work. They have little keyboards that go with them, but they couldn't get on Office, so instead of switching back to Microsoft, they just found other programs to use to make their documents.
QUEST: Is this too little too late?
ACKERMAN: That is the conventional wisdom --
QUEST: What's your opinion?
ACKERMAN: -- that it is too little, too late, I have switched years ago to Google Docs because it was so universal and easy to access. I know a lot of other people did too or they used Apple's versions like Keynote and Pages because that's what you've got on your iPad when you've got it in front of you.
QUEST: How come Microsoft continues to manage to miss the boat?
ACKERMAN: You know, I think it's such a big company and they had such success early on for so many years, they didn't change with the times. They didn't realize that they were not the monolithic company they used to be. People wanted choice, they wanted options and Microsoft was in the Microsoft-only business.
QUEST: Now I'll give you a good example on this - one thing. I'd been using SkyDrive which then became OneDrive -
QUEST: -- which is frankly not particularly good because you can't create a folder structure.
ACKERMAN: That's right.
QUEST: They seem to want to - they seem to want to defeat and offend even the people who like to use their products.
ACKERMAN: And they take things like SkyDrive which everyone else had a version of years ago, and they put it out late and it doesn't have all the features you want. The one thing I like about that SkyDrive/OneDrive is it works with the Xbox console. You could put movies on them and watch them on your Xbox. That's the one clever thing they did.
QUEST: Oh please, movies, Xbox - what - I'm too old for that.
ACKERMAN: You have an iPad.
QUEST: Well, but it's vintage. All right, so on Nadella -- let's get to the - let's get to the big stuff never mind. Under Nadella - he's been - he's barely got his feet wet, but he's been there a long time. So he knows where the bodies are buried and he knows what needs to be done. What's your gut - what's your opinion in this early stage?
ACKERMAN: You know, I think that things like this are very important. This was probably stuck in work for years and years and years - they had this Office for iPad, but you needed somebody new to come in and say, that's it, we're finally -
QUEST: Is he the man?
ACKERMAN: -- putting it out now.
QUEST: Is he the man?
ACKERMAN: So far this is a good first step because it's something they needed a long time. I think maybe you do need, however, some fresh blood to get rid of note (ph) of that Microsoft, you know, huge monolith they've labored under for years and years and years.
QUEST: Fascinating. Thank you so much for coming in --
ACKERMAN: Thank you.
QUEST: -- and talking to us. Now, still to come, it's round two of Turkey versus the World Wide Web. It's an extraordinary story. First they don't like Twitter, now they don't like YouTube. Who's next? Google? We'll be back (RINGS BELL) after the break.
QUEST: Turkey's government has blocked access to YouTube exactly a week after it forbid people from using Twitter. The prime minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan was enraged after an audio recording was posted that appeared to reveal top officials discussing Turkish military strategies regarding Syria. He described this and said this was "villainous leaks." Strong words, particularly coming from a man who had banned Twitter, provoking a storm of criticism when Mr. Erdogan promised to eradicate. He said, "We will eradicate it all." And then he went on - you remember when you heard on this program from last speech in which he said, "We will show the world that Turkey does not bow to these international companies." Then that case it was documents that were posted that critics said pointed to government corruption. CNN's senior international correspondent in Istanbul is Ivan Watson, and he discusses what it all means. First Twitter, now YouTube.
IVAN WATSON, SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: The Turkish government is expanding its crackdown on the internet, announcing on Thursday that the popular video-sharing site YouTube would be blocked. And this comes just days after the Turkish government similarly blocked the popular social networking site, Twitter, to receive enormous criticism both from within Turkey and from outside of Turkey as well from groups that include the European Union and media and Press Freedom's watchdog groups. Now, unlike the Twitter ban, the Turkish government justified the YouTube crackdown by arguing that this was a matter of national security. And this came after the leak of a recording that appears to be a conversation that took place in the office of the top diplomat of Turkey, the foreign minister. A conversation between him, the head of the National Intelligence Agency and a top army general discussing the possibility of sending tanks into neighboring Syria to intervene in the civil war there. Of course Turkey has backed Syrian rebels there throughout the long civil war taking place in that country. The Turkish Foreign Ministry called the leak of that conversation an act of espionage and a very serious crime against Turkey's national security.
All of this comes just days before Turks go to the polls in hotly- contested national elections for mayor of Turkey's cities and towns. These are local elections but they're seen as a referendum on the government of Turkey's prime minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan. He's been in office for more than ten years. He's come under increasing criticism for his crackdown on the media here and for what critics claim is his increasingly authoritarian rule with violent police crackdowns on opposition protests starting last summer as well. And the Turkish Prime Ministry has warned that it will shut down other parts of the internet as well if it sees other threats to Turkish national security emerging in the days ahead. Ivan Watson, CNN Istanbul.
QUEST: We've already heard from Jenny Harrison on the situation in the South Indian Ocean. Jenny's back with me now for our own weather forecast where you are.
JENNY HARRISON, WEATHER ANCHOR FOR CNN INTERNATIONAL: Yes or in Europe, Richard. That's where I thought we'd focus. We seem to have been missing looking at Europe for the last few days. Now, first of all, we've had this very, very slow-moving system across the central Mediterranean and it's continuing to move its way very slowly you can see here off to the southeast. But it has been producing some rather heavy amounts of rain, some strong winds at times as well. It's a very unsettled picture generally across Europe at the moment. But you can see from the totals that have come down in the last 24 hours - in fact there's a wind gust in Montenegro of 119 kilometers an hour. Meanwhile, over in Italy there was hail of 5 centimeters that was reported. So, some fairly stormy conditions with this system. Some very choppy seas here as well as the storm system continues to work its way eastward. You can see the rain moving along with it. So eventually by sort of Saturday evening it does come to an end, then you'll notice another storm system coming in to the far southwest bringing mostly rain at that point. But this is what we've got right now, and as we head through the next couple of days, there's a system moving eastwards. And then those two systems out across the west don't really move very far so continuing to produce the rain. But what we've got in between is a very mild airflow coming up from the northwest from Northern Africa, and then this high pressure across central and northern regions it means we've actually got this very, very cold air filtering down across the east. So where we've had temperatures above average, they're now going to be dipping a few degrees below. But we will see a bit of a warm-up across much of the west of Europe, not really making it across and into the U.K., but what you will notice here looking at the winds is the direction they're coming in from. Remember usually we see systems coming in from the Atlantic, so the winds are really coming in from this direction. But with the position of those two systems and high pressure, we've actually got these winds coming in from the southeast. But they're quite mild in nature but still fairly strong and certainly at time we could see some gusts close to about 60 or 65 kilometers an hour certainly across into Glasgow for example. This is showing you the temperature trend over the next couple of days. So the blue is below average and that gets pushed out as that high pressure comes in from the south and then this - that's the green color so back to average, then look at this cold air coming down across more eastern areas of Europe. So that, as I say, is the result of the position of the high pressure and those systems of low pressure. But you can see the temperatures - Berlin feeling pretty good still. It's been very mild here. The average is ten for this time of year - 18 and 17 Saturday and Sunday in Bucharest which should be about 13. It's not far off, a little bit milder certainly by Sunday. I know you'll notice in Warsaw as well double figures when the average is just 8 Celsius. Quite unsettled, quite a bit of rain, still some snow as well coming in with that cold air into western areas of Russia. One or two delays at the major airports. Not long delays, mostly cloudy and here are your temperatures for Friday - 17 in Paris and a nice 18 in Rome once that rain has cleared. Richard.
QUEST: Good grief, Ms. Harrison. So much going on! Winds from the wrong direction -
HARRISON: I know.
QUEST: -- and average temperatures that are more than average.
HARRISON: Yes, I know, but there you go. It's the winds I think. Nothing unusual but I can see those strong winds coming in from the east, -
QUEST: You, yes, yes, got to be careful with the winds.
HARRISON: -- at least they're a bit milder.
QUEST: Thank you very much, Jenny Harrison. Look - 17 degrees, 17 degrees she's telling us in Paris. We thank you for that. Now, in Paris, if you happen to be there, when the - not having to put up with the winds and the 17 degrees, some love struck couples are leaving behind a padlock on city bridges. They've been doing it for years. It's a symbol of love that they hope will remain for decades. Now there's a campaign to put a stop to it as Isha Sesay reports.
ISHA SESAY, ANCHOR AND CORRESPONDENT FOR CNN: Paris, often called the city of love. And one of its most romantic spots is the Pont des Arts Bridge. Couples come from all over the world to visit the local landmark. Many leave behind padlocks attached to the bridge as a symbol of their passion. Now two American women who live in Paris believe the locks have become an eyesore and a danger.
LISA TAYLOR HUFF, "NO LOVE LOCKS" CAMPAIGNER: The bridges are actually being physically damaged by the weight of the locks, by the rust that passes from the locks onto the mesh and the griage (ph), by the environmental damage to the river from the keys that are thrown in and rusting.
SESAY: Since the tradition started in 2008, thousands upon thousands of padlocks now cover the bridge and others along the Seine River.
HUFF: The Pont des Arts right now is covered with 93 metric tons of metal. That is about the equivalent of three very large trucks being parked on the bridge at all times. I have a very hard time believing that this bridge, which is a pedestrian bridge not made of stone, was built to withstand that kind of constant pressure and weight.
SESAY: Lisa Taylor Huff and her friend launched "No Love Locks," a campaign seeking to free the bridges from the tourists' tokens. Her online petition has garnered more than 1,600 signatures since early March despite a concern several love-struck tourists say they prefer to keep the locks in place.
Male: No, I think it's acceptable balance where certain things are illegal or there are things that you shouldn't do but they're accepted.
Male, VIA TRANSLATOR: When it comes to pollution there are other problems to deal with than padlocks on the Pont des Arts.
SESAY: But romantics may soon have to find a different way to display their affection if the heartache over the locks continues to grow. Isha Sesay, CNN Atlanta.
QUEST: I don't know where I stand on that. I mean, it seems harmless enough, but then you think 93 metric tons, the equivalent of three large trucks all on the bridge at the same time (RINGS BELL) - makes you think. When we come back, it could be one of his toughest concerts yet. After the break I talk to the R&B star Akon who has chosen to play one of the most violent parts of the world. When you hear why and you hear his eloquence in explaining the situation, you'll understand.
QUEST: When International Peace Day comes 'round later this year, it'll be the 14th annual attempt to stop global violence for one single day. Now this year's organizers want to bring peace to the Democratic Republic of Congo. It's over 15 years it's feared as many as five million people have died there. Yes, I did say five million. It's also been described by the U.N. as the rape capital of the world. International Peace Day is supported by some of the major brands - the global brands like Coca-Cola and Unilever. Even so, you could argue it needs more than just boring CEOs a bit of corporate muscle for such a worldwide event. What you really need is someone cool. You need someone hip. You need someone who's going to get them in, which is not surprising then that this year they have brought Akon, who is the R&B musician, songwriter and producer. Now, this is his latest track.
(SONG EXCERPT): "-- no 'cause I, I can see that you're lonely, baby you're one and only, he ain't giving you attention" --
(SONG EXCERPT PLAYS IN BACKGROUND)
QUEST: It's called So Blue. He's also been a collaborator, recording with the likes of Eminem and Whitney Houston. In September Akon will headline a special concert in the Congolese city of Goma.
Now, the singer is both African and American. He grew up - he was born in 1973 - and he grew up in Senegal but moved to New Jersey where he says he discovered hip-hop music and, incidentally, crime. Now his lyrics are heavy on violence and isolation like his breakthrough hit Locked Up in an album entitled "Konvicted" which got him one of his five Grammy Awards. Akon has fans all over the place. Sometimes his behavior onstage has got him into trouble. Take a look at this concert that you can have a look at -
QUEST: -- when he pulled a member of the audience up on stage thinking the teenager had thrown something at him. Today there's a different narrative for Akon. He's an international ambassador and a role model. And if you think we've been talking about - until now - if you think we've been talking about boring CEOs and corporates, think again. This is the man who's going to put the peace into Peace Day.
AKON, PERFORMER, PEACE ONE DAY: My main focus really was getting to the youth, and I think if we can get to the youth, that kind of helps the future of what this is. And I think the youth has also been the most actually impactful place when you can get started because they grow with that mind state, and then it just - it flows further for the future. If you try to stop it everything in one day, it's going to be impossible. Everyone has their own minds, they've been through certain things and of course our differences won't change in a day or an hour or even in one concert. So if you could empower the youth to understand what that is going forward, we can change the future that way.
QUEST: What is it you're trying to empower them to understand? Because you're right, if you can get them to understand and move the agenda forward, you stand some chance of success --
QUEST: -- providing you know what it is you want them to understand.
AKON: One hundred percent.
QUEST: And what is it?
AKON: Well, mainly there's not a conflict that can't be solved with a basic conversation - just talk. Like, you can prevent it before it even gets big. But sometimes egos get in the way, other opinions get in the way, and before you know it, you can't even find a solution because there's so many opinions clashing and egos clashing. So, ultimately if you can just put that aside early and understand that before there's a issue, let's work that out before you take it to secondary measures, you know.
QUEST: I can hear someone saying good idea - a bit naive, but good idea. What would you say.
AKON: I mean, it's a great idea. (LAUGHTER).
QUEST: It's naive.
AKON: I mean, it's only naive to those that don't understand the concept of peace, honestly. If you can react, I mean, that's all it takes. Some people just don't want to take that step forward to react because they don't want to seem the weaker opponent. And it all boils down to egos at the end of the day. You just got to be able to put it aside.
QUEST: It's very difficult to put an ego aside.
AKON: It depends. For males, yes. Women, they can do it a little bit better. Children, they can do it a lot easier. So that's why I said with the youth, starting with them is a lot easier to make that happen.
QUEST: How aware are you that when somebody like you gets involved, of course the entire event takes on a lot of hoopla and circus and importance -
QUEST: -- but your reputation goes with it.
AKON: No, 100 percent. That's just, I guess, a chance I have to take, you know?
QUEST: Did you debate it with yourself and with colleagues first.
AKON: Well, I mean, it's more of a self-debate. I would definitely (LAUGH).
QUEST: Tell me the debate - go, show me the debate - 'well on the one hand, well on the other.'
AKON: What if something goes wrong? How does that reflect on me in the past? How will they bring up my past on how that came of what - or maybe my past music might influence something that happened earlier or later. Because, but - you know in life everyone --
QUEST: Are they right?
AKON: No, absolutely now. I mean, but in - to a degree - they have the right to think that way because a lot of people, honestly, their past definitely determine how their future moves forward and the actions they take in the future and also influence others in what actions they may personally take because they may look up to you or you may be a figure that they may admire for instance. Like a lot of entertainers won't take the responsibilities of being a role model, but in actuality we are. We are. I mean, that's a responsibility that comes with the program.
QUEST: Right. So which role model is it? Is it the former Akon or is it the Akon sitting here in a nice cut suit?
AKON: Oh it's definitely the one sitting here in a nice cut suit.
QUEST: Next week?
AKON: Next week I'll still be in a nice cut suit. (LAUGHTER).
QUEST: You talk about role models. I mean it's all very interesting but if we look at Justin Bieber at the moment. I mean, I've seen legal problems and I've seen legal problems mushroom and multiply. But I don't think I've everything quite as - like this.
JUSTIN BIEBER, RECORDING ARTIST VIA VIDEOCLIP AT DEPOSITION: Remind me of the answer.
QUEST: What's your advice to a - somebody like yourself who's been through hard times -
QUEST: Who's made it, who's now enormously respected - what would you say to him? What do you say to him?
AKON: Well, I've been in the situation that Justin's been in. Even in my earlier career, I ran through a lot of controversy. And a lot of times it was because I didn't understand the impact that I brought to people - people's lives more than anything. I didn't realize how my smaller action effected such a big environment. Because, you really forget that you're an artist. Like you forget you're an artist, you forget that you're a superstar, you forget that you're actually a figure that people actually look up to. So, ordinarily you want to live the normal life that your friends are living, and you just can't. The things that you used to do with them, you just can't because of who you are. The small little thing that you do is going to magnify a million times compared to when they do it. They're not someone that's widely - you know - respected or even recognized, so it wouldn't matter if they did it, but it matters when you do it.
QUEST: So how do you get that message across to him?
AKON: Well, ultimately it's something that he has to learn.
QUEST: That's a train wreck on its way.
AKON: No, but sometime a train has to wreck to be rebuilt. And it sounds crazy -- I know it - and I wouldn't be the one to say, OK, touch that fire to know that it's hot. But if you're constantly being told you got to slow down, you got to - Justin, you got to be easy. You can't do this, you can't do that. But your mind is telling you yes I can. Sometime you got to allow that mind to say yes, you can and you know from experience you just can't do it.
QUEST: The way it's going at the moment, it doesn't look like it's going to have a very happy outcome.
AKON: Well, I think with Justin it has a lot to do with him actually growing as man as well too. Because you got to understand he kind of experienced stardom at a young age. So, he wanted to be his own man, and to this day as he's growing he's trying to be his own man.
QUEST: Fascinating. An insight not only for the corporate world, the peace world but the celebrity world. Akon on "Quest Means Business." Don't get that on other business programs (RINGS BELL). "Profitable Moment" is next (RINGS BELL).
QUEST: Meeting Akon was a privilege and an honor. Not only is he one of the world's biggest stars, but also the views he expressed, he put so eloquently. Here we have a man who could stand on the sidelines and not get involved. He admitted that getting involved with Peace Day could be damaging to his reputation, but he doesn't care. There is something to be said and he is prepared to say it. If only more celebrities were prepared to be just that little bit more involved, that little bit more controversial and be more concerned about what good they do and not what their PR says. And that's "Quest Means Business" for tonight. I'm Richard Quest in New York. Whatever you're up to in the hours ahead, (RINGS BELL) I hope it's profitable. I'll see you tomorrow.