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Your World Today

Embattled King of Nepal Promises Political Reform After Weeks of Nationwide Protests; Shia Politicians Reconsider Choice for Prime Minister; Hamas Names Wanted Militant to Lead Security Force; Mafia Boss Caught

Aired April 21, 2006 - 12:00   ET


HALA GORANI, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: People power in Nepal. The embattled king promises political reform after weeks of nationwide protests.
JIM CLANCY, CNN INTERNATIONAL ANCHOR: Power struggle. Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas vetoing a plan by Hamas for a controversial new security force.

GORANI: And best wishes. Europe's longest-serving monarch celebrates a milestone. Her Majesty is pleased.

CLANCY: It's now 9:45 in the evening in Katmandu, Nepal; 5:00 in the afternoon in London.

I'm Jim Clancy.

GORANI: I'm Hala Gorani.

Welcome to our viewers throughout the world and the United States.


We begin this hour in the Himalayan kingdom of Nepal, known to many as a tourism paradise. Well, there's been trouble in paradise for weeks now. But a series of dramatic events have occurred there in just the last few hours.

CLANCY: That's right. King Gyanendra has addressed his nation on national television, promising to return political power to the people.

GORANI: And this after more than two weeks of demonstrations. Thousands defying a government-imposed curfew and protesting openly in Nepal.

CLANCY: Now, it has not been without bloodshed. At least 14 people have been killed during these protests, hundreds more have been wounded.

Meantime, the king has been under international pressure as well to restore the democracy that he suspended. He called on the opposition to give him the name of a potential prime minister.


KING GYANENDRA, NEPAL (through translator): We therefore call upon the seven-party alliance to recommend a name for the post of prime minister at the earliest for the constitution of the council of ministers, which will bear the responsibility of governing the country in accordance with the constitution of the kingdom of Nepal 1990. The present council of ministers will continue to function until the appointment of the prime minister.


GORANI: Well, our senior international correspondent, Satinder Bindra, has been -- has been covering developments for us. He is in Katmandu with the very latest.

We heard the promise there from the king. How have the protesters reacted so far, Satinder?

SATINDER BINDRA, CNN SR. INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Hala, I've been talking to the seven main political parties who have been leading this two-week-long agitation, and some leaders say the king's message had certain positive parts. They say the king, for the first time, publicly acknowledged that his takeover of power some 15 months ago was a clear failure. But they say it's still not clear if this new prime minister can reconvene parliament.

So, that is a still wait and see for many people here.

I've also been talking to some student leaders. They're the hard-liners in these protests. And clearly, they have been very, very disappointed.

Over the past to hours, some several thousand of them have still been in the streets. They've been burning rubber tires, they've been shouting slogans, and they've been tearing down posters of King Gyanendra and setting them on fire.

Now, of course, as we've been reporting all along, Hala, for the past two weeks, there have there have been large, large protests in these weeks. Clearly, in my eight years of covering South Asia, the largest protest that I've seen.

Today, in defiance of a curfew, about 130,000, 140,000 people coming out on the streets. There was a sea of humanity for as far as you could see. No major violence, though.

But yesterday, official counts putting the number of people at about 120,000. And the police firing at this crowd. Four people were killed. All in all, in these massive pro-democracy protests, Hala, some 14 people have been killed.

Now, along with the pressure on the street, the king was also facing a lot of international pressure. The United States and, in particular, neighboring India, telling the king he had to restore democracy. Just yesterday, a senior Indian envoy visiting Katmandu. And today, on his return to New Delhi, the envoy saying the king would make an announcement. And literally, within a few hours of that, King Gyanendra addressing his nation, as you just reported. He addressed his nation some three hours and said, he would be "restoring executive power back to the people."

So, in some sense, at least, a victory for the people.

And let's listen in to what the king had to say.


KING GYANENDRA, NEPAL (through translator): We therefore call upon the seven-party alliance to recommend a name for the post of prime minister at the earliest for the constitution of the council of ministers, which will bear the responsibility of governing the country in accordance with the constitution of the kingdom of Nepal 1990. The present council of ministers will continue to function until the appointment of the prime minister.


BINDRA: Now, Hala, the political parties will be meeting tomorrow morning, and it remains to be seen how long it will take them to find a consensus prime minister.

I must stress that this alliance of seven political parties has all sorts of members. There's communists and all sorts of political parties. So it won't be easy.

GORANI: OK. Quick and very briefly, Satinder, why does this matter regionally and even internationally? Why does it matter that Nepal remain stable?

BINDRA: Hala, Nepal, first, has a very strategic position here in South Asia. It's right in the middle of China and India. And any political instability here, say most analysts, could have given Maoist insurgents that have been fighting a 10-year-old insurgency here, these Maoist insurgency could have moved into the political space, could have tried to stage a revolution.

And, of course, they made it very clear they're revolutionaries. They want to set up a communist state. So, as long as Nepal remains unstable, neighbor India, to the south, this giant neighbor, feels very, very uncomfortable, and so is does the United States, for that matter, because the United States also would not like to see a communist state established here in Nepal.

GORANI: All right. Satinder Bindra live on the ground if Katmandu -- Jim.

CLANCY: Well, next, let's shift our focus to Iraq. That is where Shia politicians are working this day trying to decide who can best unify their deeply-divided country. They're reconsidering a nomination for prime minister just a day before a key session of parliament.

Their original choice, Ibrahim al-Jaafari, has agreed to step aside if -- if his party asks him to do so. Sunnis, Kurds and secular Iraqis alike oppose his nomination. As Arwa Damon reports, finding common ground is considered critical for stemming the insurgency in Iraq.


ARWA DAMON, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice over): Downtown Ramadi, in Iraq's Al Anbar province, is in shambles. It is one of the most dangerous cities in Iraq. Ground Zero is the area around the provincial governor's compound.

Less than two hours after this patrol returns, the compound is attacked. Many Iraqi and U.S. officials say the political stalemate in Baghdad is a big part of the troubles in Ramadi and elsewhere across the country.

The governor of Al Anbar province, Mamoun Rashid (ph), says people need to be convinced the new Iraqi government is going to work, and going to work for them. A challenge four months after elections in December, and still no sign of what they risked their lives to vote for.

Malia (ph) is sick with worry. Her 12-year-old daughter, Fatima (ph), stopped going to school. "If it stays like this, then there is no hope," she says. "What is this life?"

American officials say Iraqis need to step up in the fight against insurgents before things will change.

COL. JOHN GRONSKI, U.S. ARMY: They are starting to provide more and more information to the Iraqi army, as well as the coalition forces, on who the insurgents are because they are certainly ready to get on with the normal way of life here and to move forward with a good government, a good economy.

DAMON: A reliable government that must prove itself before most Iraqis will risk their lives to support it.

ADNAN PACHACHI, ACTING PARLIAMENTARY SPEAKER: Merely establishing a government by itself is not enough. I think this government has to do certain things in order to, you know, produce results and reduce the level of violence.

DAMON: It's up to these men to fulfill their promise, to put together a unity government that works, so that these people can start to believe they can have a better future that's worth risking their lives for.

Arwa Damon, CNN, Ramadi, Iraq.


GORANI: Now, the militant group Hamas announced the appointment of a wanted militant leader as the head of a new security force, prompting a strong condemnation from Israel.

As Paula Hancocks reports, the Palestinian Authority president, Mahmoud Abbas, says he's not going to accept it.


PAULA HANCOCKS, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice over): Jamal Abu Samhadana has two jobs. He has been head of a Palestinian militant group for several years. Now he has been appointed head of a new security force the Hamas-led government wants to create.

Samhadana sees no conflict of interest.

JAMAL ABU SAMHADANA, MILITANT LEADER (through translator): This new position, even though it is high ranking, it will not stop me from pursuing my work and my struggle by the popular resistance committees.

HANCOCKS: But the move infuriated Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas. Last month, Abbas appointed a longtime ally to head up the security forces. Hamas attempts to set up its own force, highlights an ongoing power struggle between president and prime minister.

TAYEB ABDUL RAHIM, SR. ABBAS ADVISER (through translator): The president has decided to send a letter to Prime Minister Haniyeh. The letter will say that these decisions are illegal and not legislative. Therefore, they will be nullified.

HANCOCKS: The Israeli government is also furious with the appointment. It has tried unsuccessfully to assassinate Abu Samhadana several times in the past and holds him and his militant group responsible for major attacks against Israelis in Gaza before Israel withdrew last summer.

GIDEON MEIR, SR. FOREIGN MINISTRY OFFICIAL: There cannot be a role for terrorist organization. Nothing whatsoever, not for the appointment of a terrorist as the head of their security forces. This is like allowing the fox to guard the chicken coop.

HANCOCKS (on camera): The latest move by the Hamas-led government not only exacerbates the split in Palestinian politics, it also pushes many in the international community even further from the point of accepting Hamas as legitimate and democratically elected. The U.S. State Department saying this is a demonstration of the true nature and tactics of the Hamas-led government.

Paula Hancocks, CNN, Jerusalem.


CLANCY: Well, still ahead, the long journey home.

GORANI: The first up close -- first up-close images, rather, of the U.S. government's new initiative to send illegals back home in days, not months, not years.

An emotional story coming up. (COMMERCIAL BREAK)

CLANCY: Well, she didn't get the sunshine that she really wanted, but the band did play, and the crowd did cheer. There was that ceremonial gunfire saluting her on her 80th birthday, Queen Elizabeth II.

GORANI: Shortly after noon from Windsor Castle, with her husband of 58 years, Prince Philip, she greeted thousands of well-wishers who waited in line for hours to meet the monarch.

CLANCY: And like any birthday girl, the queen received some gifts, flowers, cards, photographs. She even got some of those coffee mugs. Some were favored with royal small talk, others got to shake her hand, or, well, maybe they just had to wave from afar.

GORANI: Her eldest son, Prince Charles, he is hosting a private family dinner for Her Majesty and will also deliver a televised tribute to his mum.

That brings us to our "Question of the Day" today.

CLANCY: And it is, should royal families be heads of state?

GORANI: You can e-mail us your answer at And, you know, you can -- you can consider all countries that might have monarchies or royal families. Should they be given executive power? That's an interesting question --

CLANCY: Well, now to the dilemma and the debate over illegal immigration in the United States. A new government initiative that began last year sends illegal immigrants back to their home country shortly after they arrive in the United States.

GORANI: Yes. Rick Sanchez got exclusive access on board one of the flights and describes the long journey home.


RICK SANCHEZ, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice over): Shackles scrape against the tarmac at Williams International Airport in Mesa, Arizona. These are the first close-up images of the U.S. government's new initiative to get rid of undocumented immigrants, not within months or years anymore, but rather, within days.

From this airport alone, three full flights now leave each week bound for Central America.

(on camera): It's now 7:30 in the morning. We're about a half- hour from wheels up on this MD-83 that's going to literally remove 110 immigrants from the United States.

(voice over): The expedited removal program began last September, but because there are so many undocumented immigrants, the number of flights not just from here in Arizona, but nationally have already been increased to 12 a week. On board, one of the men who handles the new program for the Bush administration.

GARY MEAD, ICE ASST. DIRECTOR: So, I hope that these people, when they get back, will explain that there is no safe haven anymore, that when people are apprehended, they are processed quickly, and they're returned quickly.

SANCHEZ: But is the message getting through? On board we find immigrants separated by two classifications, criminal aliens, whose crimes range from heroin smuggling, murder, and petty offenses, to those whose only crime is being in the country illegally.

An hour into the flight, we find Marlin Vargas (ph), a 23-year- old with a boyish grin who says he came to the U.S. because he was hungry.

(on camera): Is this the first time you've tried to come to the United States? (SPEAKING SPANISH)?


SANCHEZ: No? (SPEAKING SPANISH)? How many times?


SANCHEZ: Seven times?

(voice over): Then there's Jose Mombrero (ph), a criminal alien who admits to a rap sheet that dates back to 1991 with crimes that include selling drugs, domestic violence, parole violations, and finally a DUI arrest that's now getting him deported. Although not a citizen, Mombrero (ph) was in the U.S. legally. He's lived in Colorado for 19 years and speaks English with hardly a trace of a Spanish accent.

(on camera): You feel like you blew it?


SANCHEZ (voice over): It's now about noon, and the flight dubbed "Con Air" is maneuvering the tricky approach to the mountains into the capital city of Tegucigalpa Once on the ground, they're welcomed by Honduran immigration officials using the plane's P.A. to tell them they're happy to have them back.

At the refugee return and welcome center, Mombrero (ph) -- remember, he's the one with the long rap sheet -- clears immigration and Interpol almost immediately. However, Marlin Vargas (ph) has a problem. Honduran officials spot his tattoos and question him about gang activity.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: MS-13 is a very dangerous gang. (SPEAKING SPANISH).

SANCHEZ: Here, as well, says the police official, who decides Vargas' tattoo is not a gang logo after all. He is free to go, as is Mombrero (ph), who tells us he won't return to the U.S. because now, as a deported ex-con, he would face a federal sentence of 20 years if caught.

However, Honduras is a country he hardly knows.


SANCHEZ (on camera): You're lost?


SANCHEZ (voice over): Vargas (ph) knows where he's going. It's now 3:00 p.m., and we follow him back to his village, a two-hour ride through the Honduran countryside. Santa Rosa is poor, but the greeting he gets from his mom is rich.

One look inside Vargas' (ph) home and you immediately understand why half the boys here have left for America. Leaving behind fathers like Vargas's (ph) dad.

(on camera): Does it bother you when he leaves? (SPEAKING SPANISH)?

(voice over): "I need him," says Tomas Vargas (ph), who tells me he only makes $3 a day, show me his empty cupboards, the holes in his roof, and his next meal, and every meal, beans and corn.

(on camera): To say life is hard here in Santa Rosa would be an understatement. For running water, for example, you have to go outside. That's if it worked.

(voice over): Like this squeaky faucet, everyone seems to agree, U.S. immigration policy is in disrepair.

Will this newest initiative fix it? That's up to Marlin Vargas (ph) and tens of thousands like him.

(on camera): If it was easier to get in, would you go back?




SANCHEZ: But they're making it harder now.



SANCHEZ (voice over): Vargas plans instead to join the Honduran military. But his is just one story, a snapshot of one family, one village where America's immigration dilemma begins.


GORANI: All right. Rick Sanchez reporting there. We're going to take a short break. When we come back, the Chinese president leaves his mark in the United States.

CLANCY: As President Hu talks education at Yale University, dueling demonstrations fill the streets near the New Haven campus.

Stay with us.


TONY HARRIS, CNN ANCHOR: And hello, everyone. I'm Tony Harris at the CNN Center in Atlanta. More of YOUR WORLD TODAY in just a few minutes. But first, a check of stories making headlines in the United States.

Oh, the pain. You're feeling it now every time you lift that gas pump nozzle. The nationwide average today is $2.85 a gallon for self- serve regular unleaded. AAA quotes $3.03 for midlevel unleaded and a whopping $3.14 for premium.

Hawaii is on the high end. Utah pays the least on average.

And look at this, out of fuel signs along the Northeast corridor. Some distribution terminals there report temporary shortages as they clean out pollutants and transition to new fuel mixtures.

Just the thought of it could send chills down your spine. Students planning another Columbine-type massacre. Police say five boys plotted to go on a shooting rampage at a Riverton, Kansas, high school yesterday, but the plot was foiled in part due to an Internet posting.

The boys are due in court today. The state attorney general reacted on CNN's "AMERICAN MORNING."


PHILL KLINE, KANSAS ATTORNEY GENERAL: Yes, this is the anniversary of Columbine, or yesterday was. And unfortunately, in the mass media society and all of the coverage that these things receive, some -- some children who are looking for a way to be relevant, unfortunately, turn the wrong direction.


HARRIS: Classes are under way as usual today at Riverton High, but some students and parents say they feel just a little bit nervous.

New video of violence in Las Vegas. You have to look closely here at the surveillance tape.

Police say it shows 10 to 15 young people beating up a Wal-Mart assistant manager who had come to kick them off the property. They also attacked a woman who pulled out her cell phone to call for help.

Police believe it's the same group of teenagers involved in this brutal assault on an MGM casino employee. Authorities blame the teens for a series of attacks and robberies last weekend. One 18-year-old man has been arrested, and police say more arrests are coming.

The sit-in is over and the protest heads to the streets this morning. Florida college students and two well-known activists rallied in Tallahassee. They're protesting the state's handling of a teenager's death at a juvenile boot camp.

The 14-year-old boy died after a surveillance camera captured guards kicking and beating him. The Reverend Jesse Jackson and the Reverend Al Sharpton echoed protesters demands for a more in-depth investigation into the death.

In many states convicted felons can't own weapons. Now, keep that in mind as we tell you this next story.

Florida lawmakers have passed a unique measure aimed at the worst sex offenders. It outlaws Viagra and other impotence drugs for sexual predators. A convict found with the drug could face 60 days in jail for the first offense and up to a year for the second. Both the House and the Senate passed it unanimously. It now goes to the governor for final approval.

Should sex offenders be put to death? Some South Carolina lawmakers think so. The measure would allow prosecutors to seek the death penalty for people twice convicted of molesting a child younger than 11.

The Senate has already passed it. The House plans to consider it. And critics are dismissing it. They say it is merely election year bluster.

A terrifying day at the track. Take a look at this.

A horse falls -- yikes -- and then rolls over the rider. This during a race in Kentucky. The jockey was rushed to the hospital where, amazingly, he is in stable condition and is expected to be released today. Unfortunately, the horse didn't fare as well. He fractured a leg in the accident and had to be put to sleep.

Now, for an update on your weather, let's go to Chad Myers in the CNN weather center.

Hi, Chad.


HARRIS: Those are the headline this is hour.

At the top of the hour, on CNN's "LIVE FROM," more on the five students accused of plotting another Columbine-type shooting rampage. Kyra Phillips will talk to the superintendent of the Riverton, Kansas, school district.

Meantime, YOUR WORLD TODAY continues after a quick break.

I'm Tony Harris.


CLANCY: Welcome back, everyone, to YOUR WORLD TODAY. I'm Jim Clancy.

GORANI: I'm Hala Gorani at the CNN Center.


CLANCY: All right, we want to update one of our top stories now, and that is what we were just telling you. Shia politicians in Iraq have agreed on a new candidate for prime minister. They have tapped Lawmaker Jawad al-Maliki to replace a previous candidate, Ibrahim Al Jaafari, the current acting prime minister. Jaafari's nomination drew intense opposition. Some considered him too weak to bring Iraq together, and to reign in some of the militia groups that are accused of sectarian killings under the cover of the security agencies. A Shia coalition is expected to present al-Maliki's nomination to the parliament. It's going to be meeting on Saturday. All of this coming out of a late night meeting by SCIRI. That is the Supreme Council for the Islam Revolution in Iraq. It held meetings late into Friday night. At least two of the members confirmed to a wire agency that Maliki was going to be their choice. It becomes official if it is presented tomorrow in that parliamentary session. All right, we'll keep you updated on that story.

Meantime, another major concern, and it goes far beyond Iraq's borders, the World Health Organization on Friday confirming yet another death from bird flu, this time again in Egypt. It was Egypt's fourth such case. The virulently H5N1 strain of bird flu spreading through Europe, and Asia, and Africa. Thus far, about 113 people are known to have died in the past three years.

Now, the figures include 42 human deaths in Vietnam out of 93 cases, 12 deaths in China out of 17 cases, 24 deaths in Indonesia out of some 32 cases. In Thailand, again, better than almost 50 percent mortality rate from H5N1 strain, 14 deaths out of 22 cases of humans infected with bird flu. More than 200 million birds now have died from the disease or been slaughtered in efforts to contain it.

Let's get some perspective now. There's a lot to consider here. We turn to United Nations avian flew envoy Dr. David Nabarro. He's just returned from a 10-day trip to Asian countries that have been affected by the disease.

We see how deadly it is when it gets to humans here, but the real issue of a pandemic only comes with human-to human transmission. Detecting that early is going to be key, isn't it?

DR. DAVID NABARRO, U.N. AVIAN FLU ENVOY: Yes. We, at the moment, as you're saying, we're looking at very small numbers of cases of human disease. Primarily, we've got a bird problem. Millions and millions of birds have been affected, and great suffering and economic losses as a result. But the real concern is, what will happen when human-to-human transmission of a pandemic virus occurs? Will we be able to pick it up quickly? Will we be able to contain it quickly? World Health Organization experts have developed plans for containment. We sometimes refer to it as the fire blanket, so that the pandemic is kept in as small an area as possible, affects as few people as possible, through very rapid action.

CLANCY: Is it a foregone conclusion that this human-to-human transmission will take place?

NABARRO: Well, we will have an influenza pandemic at some stage, Jim. But we don't know for certain whether it's going to be this virus that causes it. And if it is this virus, we don't know when it will change to be a human-to-human pandemic influenza. And this, unfortunately, means that the planning has to be done against a tremendous backdrop of uncertainty, that leaves some people wondering whether or not it's worth the trouble. I say, yes, get prepared. We'll have a pandemic some day. We don't know when. We don't know where it will start. We don't know how severe it will be. But what we do know is it will cause huge human and economic damage to our world.

CLANCY: Interestingly, only 50 percent of Americans, about half, believe that the government or anybody can really prepare for this.

NABARRO: Yes. Yes. I mean, I'm hearing this as well. People are saying, are our governments going to be able to take an issue like this seriously?

CLANCY: What's the truth?

NABARRO: Well, I would say there's been a huge change in the last six months.

CLANCY: Do we have anything that's really effective against this virus?

NABARRO: Yes, yes, yes. Yes, we do. First of all, we have also Tamivere (ph), sometimes known as Tamiflu, which if taken on in an influenza case can reduce the suffering. Now we can can't absolutely be certain if this is going to be effective if in all cases a possible pandemic virus, but it offers a start.

And secondly, we do know that if people can keep distance from other people, if they can use some protective equipment like masks and practice personal hygiene, that that reduces their risk of getting influenza in any situation, and will apply also in a pandemic. So yes, there are things we can do. There are things we as individuals can do. There are things our organizations can do. There are things our governments can do. And in the U.S., I've seen good evidence that this is starting to happen.

CLANCY: You know, there's a lot of people that look at bird flu and they wonder about the priorities. Billions of dollars have been spent. And yet you have other diseases, completely preventable, known, malaria, cholera, all of these other things that are out there, and that this doesn't pose a threat, that bird flu itself is much ado about nothing. What do you say about them?

NABARRO: Well, first of all, please let's not let up on focusing on the other challenges of malaria, tuberculosis, HIV, and also diseases due to degeneration of the cardiovascular diseases. These are terribly important. We don't spend enough on them.

But also I'm saying to people, this avian influenza is a major problem in the bird population. It has a potential to become a pandemic. If a pandemic does start, we can do something about it, if we get prepared. And so therefore, please invest a little time preparing for a pandemic. It will do us such a lot of good in the long run.

CLANCY: All right, I want to thank you very much. The U.N. special envoy for -- on avian flu, Dr. David Nabarro, I thank you very much.

NABARRO: Thank you. Thank you for having me on the program.

CLANCY: All right.

Well, coming up, we'll enter the underground world of organized crime.

GORANI: A code of silence helped Italy's most wanted criminal elude police for decades, but alleged Mafia boss Bernardo "The Tractor" Provenzano is now behind bars. We'll see how authorities finally tracked down the man from Corleone.


CLANCY: Welcome back, everyone.

GORANI: You're with YOUR WORLD TODAY. He alluded Italian police for 43 years, but in the end, it took some clean laundry to snare the man authorities say is the boss of all Mafia bosses in Italy.

CLANCY: Now it's in a quiet, little town there called Corleone. Sound familiar? Alessio Vinci looks at the entire aura surrounding Bernardo Provenzano, the real man from Corleone.


ALESSIO VINCI, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Police gathered at Palermo's police headquarters to get a glimpse of Italy's most wanted criminal, shouting "bastard and murderer." For more than 40 years, Bernardo Provenzano was a legend, a ghost. The last known photograph of his face was this mugshot taken almost 50 years ago. But police officers who spent decades looking for him had no doubt.

GIUSEPPE GUALTIERI, PALERMO POLICE (through translator): When I looked him in the eyes, I saw the old Provenzano from the early days, from his first mugshot, the days of violence and murder. The strength of his look betrayed his apparent calm. VINCI: It took a DNA test to be sure the man captured at this farm outside the town of Corleone really was the boss of all bosses.

Corleone is forever linked to the glamorous world of "The Godfather" films and the characters of Mario Puzo's novel. But the story of the real-life Mafia boss is much different. Bernardo Provenzano was born in Corleone in 1933, and after World War II, joined the Sicilian Mafia as an enforcer.

His brutality got him the nickname "Bernie the Tractor" and eventually, the job of top boss of an international empire built on illegal drugs, construction corruption, extortion, and of course, murder.

Sicily's number one Mafia boss ran a powerful criminal organization with earnings estimated at close to $6 billion a year.

In Corleone, Provenzano was protected by a large family, old friends and local residents. Today, even with the former boss behind bars, most people here refuse to discuss what they might have known about his whereabouts, or even acknowledge his existence.


VINCI: The Sicilian code of silence, omerta, helped Provenzano stay clear of police manhunts.

GUALTIERI (through translator): We had to be careful with our movements. Anything different from the ordinary was immediately noticed and reported back to him. That would have led him to change his hiding place, his habits, and for us to start all over again.

VINCI: Afraid that police could intercept phone calls or computer messages, Provenzano issued orders through hundreds of little notes, known in Sicilian dialect as pizzini. Many of the messages were in a code that investigators are now trying to decipher. The key could be in a Bible found in Provenzano's hideout that police say contained numerous annotations.

A police investigator who has seen dozens of the notes agreed to show us how the Mafia boss carefully prepared his messages, making them easy to hide and making sure they moved as fast as possible to be hard to intercept.

He needs to remain anonymous because he is working on cases linked to Provenzano. But authorities say this communications system ultimately did Provenzano in. Investigators followed a suspect they thought was a Mafia messenger to a farmhouse outside Corleone and then set up a surveillance camera from a nearby hilltop.

From a distance, police also were watching the house of Provenzano's wife a mile away in Corleone. From there, they noticed that bags of fresh laundry would travel through town, going from messenger to messenger. When they finally followed a bag all the way to the farmhouse that was now under surveillance, Provenzano made his biggest mistake. GUALTIERI (through translator): We saw a hand reaching out to pick up the bag. It was strange, because that part of the house was supposed to be empty. That's when we realized that the phantom of Corleone was no longer such, but actually a person in flesh and bones.

VINCI: They moved in on the great Mafia don, done in by clean shirts. Provenzano's arrest has hurt the Sicilian Mafia, but it hasn't destroyed it. Now there is fear that it could lead to a leadership struggle and renewed violence.

Alessio Vinci, CNN, Corleone, Sicily.


GORANI: Let's take a closer look at the world of the Mafia with the help of our next guest, Antonio Nicaso, an expert on organized crime and the Mafia, who joins us now from Toronto.

Thank you for being with us. So is this the death really of the old-style Mafia boss, "The Godfather"-type Mafia boss in Sicily?

ANTONIO NICASO, ORGANIZED CRIME EXPERT: Provenzano was the number one Mafia boss. He practically took over the Sicilian Mafia from the 1993 arrest of "Toto" Riina. He used to be one of the trusted lieutenants of Luciano Lico (ph), the boss of the Corleones in the 1950s.

GORANI: But sort of that romanticized -- when I say "Godfather," I mean, what you see in some TV series, even in the United States, "The Sopranos," that kind of thing. Is organized crime now fundamentally different from what it was a few decades ago?

NICASO: With "Toto" Riina the Sicilian Mafia in particular was involved in an internal power struggle that practically, which left hundreds of mafiosi dead. With Provenzano, the Mafia shaped the course in the sense that he managed to arbitrate between Mafia factions and also to steer away from attack on public figures. During the Riina power, the Mafia challenged the state and killed police officers and judges and magistrate.

GORANI: Well, the state fought back. The judges fought back. It wasn't just the Mafia not sending out people to kill officials, it was also the law -- the law enforcement officials in Italy and elsewhere who really got a grip on the situation.

NICASO: Of course. They realized that in Sicily and everywhere in the world, everything change -- nothing change when we're dealing with Mafia, when we're dealing with organized crime. The Mafia is a criminal organization with political and financial connections, and that's the strain of the Mafia.

GORANI: What is the new face of organized crime, not just in Sicily and in Italy with the arrest there of Bernardo Provenzano, but elsewhere? Where is the money made today?

NICASO: Narcotics trade remain the major source of income for the Mafia. But I believe now there is a new challenge, and the challenge is the strategic alliances between the Mafia and other major criminal organizations, what I like to call the criminal partnership. They work as shareholders to avoid turf -- cooperation instead of turf. And I think the Mafia, like many other criminal organizations, is a crime group capable to cope with any new situation.

GORANI: And you're intimately acquainted with that. There was an attempt on your life while you were covering the Mafia. But tell me this, has technology changed, also, organized crime? When you talk about a partnership, it's an international partnership, and it's made possible by communication.

NICASO: Of course. New technologies and the globalization, they change the face of organized crime and more opportunity. They can invest money using Internet. And, of course, they can communicate using other systems, and this new reality helped to build a criminal network around the world.

GORANI: All right. Antonio Nicaso, an expert on organized crime joining us from Toronto. Thank you very much.

NICASO: My pleasure.

GORANI: Still ahead, Queen Elizabeth II celebrates a milestone. The monarch has a birthday, but not just any birthday -- Jim.

CLANCY: That's right. She's been queen for more than half a century. A look back at her life and her times when we come back.


GORANI: Time to open our inbox now. We've been asking you about your thoughts about this question.

CLANCY: That's right. Should royal families be head of state? Here's how some of you replied.

GORANI: Amad from Jordan says, "If monarchs are benevolent, it works well. However man's nature demonstrates repeatedly that power corrupts and absolute power corrupts absolutely," he writes from the Kingdom of Jordan.

CLANCY: Brian from the United Kingdom says this, "Royals should never be the head of any state. The only reason we in Britain wish Elizabeth Windsor to live forever is the present alternative, the next in line."

Well, Elizabeth II at 80 years of age is Europe's longest serving monarch. Ten British prime ministers have been in office during her reign.

GORANI: Ten! In fact, current Prime Minister Tony Blair was born in the year she took the coronation oath, 1953.

Paula Newton reviews the long years of service.


PAULA NEWTON, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): To be a modern monarch means wielding influence not through power, but popularity. Queen Elizabeth II has always known that, even if she hasn't lived her life by it.

MARY FRANCIS, FMR. DEP. PRIVATE SECY.: I'm not sure that the queen will spend a lot of time reflecting. She's a very brisk and practical person, but she wouldn't be human if she didn't look back and feel a great sense of satisfaction.

NEWTON: Elizabeth Alexandra Mary, known as "Lillibet" to friends, was born April 21, 1926. But it was only a decade later that she knew she was truly destined to lead an empire. It was a fluke of history, really, the work of scandal. Her Uncle Edward abdicated so he could marry Wallace Simpson, the divorced American woman who was the love of his life, but a spoiler to the throne.

Elizabeth's father became king. She was the accidental heir, and it entrenched in her a sense of duty. She's been through 11 presidents and counting, shared a favorite pastimes with them.

But there is an intensely private side to this grandmother and mother. By most accounts, a devoted parent who can only now savor some stability in her family.

Paul McCartney toasted her 50 years on the throne with those family words...


NEWTON: Her children tested that anthem. Three of her four children divorced, one most famously.

And then there was the car crash. Through all of that grief, the queen learned a tough lesson, one her deceased daughter-in-law understood so well. She is queen to a people. What they think truly matters. As if to punctuate that point, she bowed to Princess Diana's coffin.

Now on her birthday, many of her royal subjects will sing "God Save the Queen" and truly mean it. Polls show almost 70 percent of Britons want her to serve until the day she dies.

She is unlike any woman on earth, and at 80, the verdict on her life is in: Queen Elizabeth II isn't just admired, she is loved.

Paula Newton, CNN, London.


GORANI: We end this hour of YOUR WORLD TODAY with the story of a man who flushed away a small fortune.

CLANCY: The man didn't believe that he could exchange his old deutsche marks for the new euros, and he dumped them all, 60,000 of them, down the toilet.

GORANI: Do you know how much that is in dollars, $37,000 down the toilet. Sewage workers recovered about half of the sodden currency from the man's plumbing.

CLANCY: The rest clogged of local sewers. They had to be fished out. I guess it's easy come, easy go.

Speaking of going, that's YOUR WORLD TODAY. I'm Jim Clancy.

GORANI: I'm Hala Gorani. For our viewers in the United States, "LIVE FROM" is next. For the rest of our viewers, YOUR WORLD TODAY continues.