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Japan's Nuclear Disaster Now on Par With Chernobyl; Ivory Coast's Future; Libyan Rebels Reject any Plan That Keeps Moammar Gadhafi in Power

Aired April 12, 2011 - 08:00:00   ET

THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.


KRISTIE LU STOUT, HOST: Welcome to NEWS STREAM, where news and technology meet.

I'm Kristie Lu Stout, in Hong Kong.

Now, the scale of Japan's nuclear crisis grows as officials declare the disaster at the Fukushima plant is at the same level as the Chernobyl disaster.

Now, taking the fight against modern-day slavery, mobile. We'll look at apps raising awareness about human trafficking.

And 50 years ago today, mankind reached for the stars as Yuri Gagarin became the first person to travel into space.

More than one month after an earthquake and tsunami rocked and ravaged northeastern Japan, the resulting nuclear crisis has been upgraded to its highest level yet. Officials say the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear plant has released more radiation than first thought, and it's forced them to declare the crisis a top-scale event. On the global system for rating nuclear accidents, at level 7, it's grading matches the one given to Chernobyl in 1986, but it should be taken in context.

Now, scientists in Japan say radiation levels there are just one-tenth of those released 25 years ago. Now, the new rating is only provisional, but it comes one day after the plant experienced another evacuation amid a spate of aftershocks.

Let's go live to CNN's Paula Hancocks in Tokyo.

And Paula, Japan's nuclear disaster no on par with Chernobyl. Why did the government wait until now to acknowledge that?

PAULA HANCOCKS, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, Kristie, what the government itself is saying is that they had a lot of information to go through, they had a lot of data to try and read and assess. And that's when they decided that it did need to be put to a level 7.

But certainly, for many Japanese people, it is puzzling, because early this morning, this Tuesday morning, we were at a level 5. So they completely bypassed level 6 and went straight to level 7. So, certainly, that would have been a shock for many people.

Now, what we're hearing from the chief cabinet secretary of the government is that there aren't any direct health risks or effects that we saw during Chernobyl, so in that case, it is slightly better than what we saw in Chernobyl. And also, we heard from Japan's nuclear watchdog, saying that the reactors aren't in such a bad state as the ones in Chernobyl were as well. But certainly, it is a concern by man people.

And, of course, we have heard as well from Greenpeace in Germany saying that they already warned the government that 5 was too low.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We had already collected data we had three weeks ago to calculate what on a scale accident it would be, and we came to the conclusion that this is already in the scale 7 three weeks ago. So the government has even more and better data than we have, so they should have done that three weeks ago.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

HANCOCKS: But the government has said that this isn't a sudden deterioration. That's not the reason that that has jumped two points. It's basically a reassessment of the data they already had -- Kristie.

STOUT: Thank you for the context there.

And more aftershocks today in Japan. In fact, I read there were 18 in all. How is that affecting the situation at the damaged nuclear plant, as well as the nerves of the people of Japan?

HANCOCKS: Well, talking about the plant to start with, certainly those larger earthquakes do mean that the workers do have to stop whatever they're doing, and they do have to go to a protected area. At this point, we understand that with the shocks we've had today, there's been at least two that have been above 6.0 magnitude. So there hasn't been any specific damage as far as the plant workers can actually tell.

But the number of aftershocks really is quite staggering, those above 6.0 magnitude. Now, this is a significant quake. There's more than 400 that have actually taken place since March 11th. So obviously the nerves of the Japanese people who are close to the epicenter -- and, of course, many of them felt here in Tokyo as well -- really are afraid at a time when they would like to get on with rebuilding, they would like to get on with their lives.

Obviously, they have this constant reminder. And they also know that there will be aftershocks for a long time to come -- Kristie.

STOUT: Paula Hancocks, joining us live from Tokyo.

Thank you, Paula.

Now, every aspect of Japan's recovery -- nuclear, economic, social and psychological -- is under threat, because one month after that crippling disaster, the aftershocks, they just keep on coming. And Tuesday has been no exception, with quakes measuring 6.3 and 6.4, affecting some highly- vulnerable regions and killing at least six people. In all, about 50 aftershocks of 6.0 or higher have been recorded in the past month.

Now, an uptick over the past week has so far peaked, with that fatal 7.1 quake hitting Miyagi prefecture on Thursday of last week.

(WEATHER REPORT)

STOUT: Now, in Ivory Coast, a call for healing after months of bloodshed. Now, in a televised address to the nation, President Alassane Ouattara says it is time for a new era of peace. His formal rival, Laurent Gbagbo, is in custody.

Now, Mr. Ouattara says Gbagbo is being protected and says he has asked his justice minister to begin legal proceedings against him. International groups have made dueling calls for accountability and amnesty. Well, President Ouattara's immediate task is reconciliation.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

ALASSANE OUATTARA, IVORY COAST PRESIDENT (through translator): Men and women of Ivory Coast, at this historic moment I invite and ask you to remain calm. I ask all citizens to do as much as possible to ensure that peace returns definitively in our country.

Today, as I say, we have turned over the page to a new white page. White like the white of our flag, a symbol of hope and peace.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

STOUT: Alassane Ouattara there.

Now, the United Nations says more than 500 people have been killed in the fighting over the last two weeks alone, and that figure could still climb. Now, scars from the lengthy power struggle can be clearly seen in the streets of Abidjan.

Our senior international correspondent Dan Rivers is there. He joins us now.

And Dan, the situation in Abidjan, has the fighting come to an end? Or, with pockets of resistance believed to be out there, could the violence come back?

DAN RIVERS, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: At the moment, Kristie, it's pretty quiet here where we are in Abidjan. There is clear evidence there's been lots of looting of lots of buildings that have been burnt and attacked, including parts (ph) a couple of charred (ph) four days in the streets. There is no evidence where we are of any sort of central authority such as soldiers or U.N. checkpoints or anything like that.

I think that's all further to the north of where we are. So it's a pretty sort of lawless situation across large parts of Abidjan today, but it is quiet. There's no sound of fighting.

There is a big black plume of smoke billowing across the horizon, but at the moment it seems quiet. And as I say, there's lots of evidence of many shops and business that have been looted and smashed.

STOUT: OK. So quiet, but a lawless situation, as you put it, which is quite alarming.

What is next for Laurent Gbagbo? He is under arrest, but what's next for him? Could he be brought to trial?

RIVERS: Well, potentially, yes. I mean, Alassane Ouattara was talking about the potential of some sort of prosecution involving the Justice Ministry here. That's going to be an incredibly sensitive issue.

You know, Laurent Gbagbo still commands lots of support here in the country. By November's election, he got some 46 percent. So there are still large swathes of the countryside that feels that he is their man and they want him to enter the prosecution or, if they're perceived as sort of victimized Laurent Gbagbo, then that could inflame the situation further. So it's going to be a very delicate balancing act that Alassane Ouattara will be engaged with going forward from here.

But the immediate concern, I would think, before anyone gets into sort of prosecutions or anything, is dealing with the immediate humanitarian situation here, where, you know, food and water are scarce. There's concerns about cholera outbreaks, about bodies in the streets and so on. So that's going to be the immediate issue, is getting this country or this city, particularly, functioning again just on a very basic level.

And then, after that, I suppose they send their attention to the politics of this. But for now, I think it's really going to be a question of trying simply to get this city living again.

There are people out on the streets. It's quiet, I'd say, and definitely tense. But there's no evidence of fighting at the moment.

STOUT: All right, Dan. Well, thank you for giving us an update on the situation there, as well as the humanitarian catastrophe that has happened in Ivory Coast.

Dan Rivers, joining us on the line there in Abidjan.

Now, in Libya, deadly fighting there goes on. And we'll take you inside Ajdabiya, where rebel forces are making gains with help from above.

And in Bahrain, a crackdown on journalists and others.

And coming up, CNN's Amber Lyon tells her own story of being detained while on assignment in Bahrain.

And then, how can you tell if your cupboards contain the products of slavery? We'll bring you the latest apps for calculating your slavery footprint.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

STOUT: Welcome back.

Now, in Libya, the deadly violence continues. This YouTube video is said to be of residential damage in the city of Misrata. Now, witnesses say at least five civilians were killed in mortar attacks on Monday.

Now, meanwhile, African Union efforts to end the civil war hit a roadblock on Monday. The mediators say that Libyan leader Moammar Gadhafi has agreed in principle to a deal that would end fighting and allow political reforms. But rebel leaders say they won't agree to any plan that keeps Colonel Gadhafi in power.

Now, CNN's Frederik Pleitgen is in Tripoli. He joins us now live.

And Fred, the rebels, they have rejected the African Union plan. Can a peace deal be reached at this point?

FREDERIK PLEITGEN, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, it certainly seems very difficult, because the main sticking point seems to be one that both sides are not willing to negotiate now, and that is, of course, the fate of Moammar Gadhafi himself. Now, the government here says of course Gadhafi is going to stay in power, and the rebels say there is really no peace deal worth negotiating unless Gadhafi leaves. So that certainly is a very, very difficult sort of state, if there were any negotiations at all to overcome that.

Now, that, of course, is making a lot of people very worried, not the least of them appears to be Moussa Koussa, the former foreign minister of this country who, of course, allegedly defected a couple of weeks ago. He has now given an interview, and there he said he fears for the rest for this country. Have a listen.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

MOUSSA KOUSSA, FMR. LIBYAN FOREIGN MINISTER (through translator): Today, as a Libyan, I'm the same as all the Libyans. I ask everybody, all the parties, to work to avoid taking Libya into a civil war. This will lead to so many blood, and Libya will be a new Somalia.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

PLEITGEN: Now, those, of course, are very, very strong words, Kristie. And, of course, this country is still very far away from being a second Somalia, but those worries certainly are there.

And Moussa Koussa himself has also said that he's going to travel to a meeting in Doha by the Libya Contact Group, which is of course a group of the coalition forces that are enforcing that no-fly zone, as well as the Libyan leaders. He says he wants to see whether or not there could be some role for him in a new Libya. But just to give you a sense of the state of denial that the government here in Tripoli is in, last night there was a press conference here by Libya's social minister where he said that Moussa Koussa most probably did not defect to the U.K., but was kidnapped by the U.K. -- Kristie.

STOUT: Extraordinary reaction there from Tripoli, but not surprising.

Fred, can you give us an update on the fighting there. Are you seeing signs of a stalemate between government and rebel forces? Because that is what we're hearing from one senior official.

PLEITGEN: Well, certainly, that seems to be the case. I mean, it appears as though the fighting in Ajdabiya is very, very difficult, and that's also something that even the government here is willing to acknowledge. They, of course, say that this is all due to the NATO air strikes. And they, of course, say that their forces are moving forward in a very responsible fashion and trying to minimize civilian casualties, which is, of course, something that our folks on the ground have seen the opposite of, quite frankly.

But yes, I mean, there's no secret that it is not moving forward or back for any side, really, or that it's a tit-for-tat kind of situation, not just on the eastern front, but also, of course, in the city of Misrata. And that, it appears at least somewhat, that that is sort of seeping in and people are starting to realize at this point in time, movement on the battlefield is not what is going to solve this conflict. During the long term, maybe that could be something that could open the road for some sort of negotiations. However, as we're seeing, it's still a very difficult and long road -- Kristie.

STOUT: All right.

Frederik Pleitgen, giving us a picture on the ground there in Libya.

Thank you, Fred.

Now, pro-Gadhafi forces, they are still positioned just beyond Ajdabiya's borders. And as CNN's Ben Wedeman reports, any gains made for the rebel cause there depend on outside help.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

BEN WEDEMAN, CNN SR. INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): A salvo A salvo of Katyusha rockets to send the enemy on its way. Gadhafi's troops entered Ajdabiya over the weekend. They didn't stay long. Their objective, perhaps to show that, despite the no-fly zone, they can keep the opposition on the defensive. But NATO air strikes, not these fighters, stopped them in their tracks.

The curious have come to see the aftermath, around a dozen now charred and mangled pickup trucks and other cars that had carried Gadhafi forces to Ajdabiya. Others are here to scavenge for spare parts. Prematurely, the fighters insist the tide is turning.

"We wouldn't have come here if we weren't optimistic," says Ramzi (ph), who left his shop in Benghazi to join the fight. "Gadhafi is now weak," says Omar (ph), a resident of Ajdabiya. "He depends on gangs to stay in power."

Abdeh Salam (ph) fled his home in Brega, now in the hands of pro- Gadhafi forces. If NATO keeps up the strikes, he's hoping to go back soon. "Maybe today," he says. "We're hearing planes almost every hour."

But that's unlikely. Gadhafi's troops are still just a few minutes' drive outside the town. And without even more air strikes, these men seem in no rush to move forward. After NATO planes mistakenly struck rebel convoys, they're taking measures to avoid a repeat, marking their vehicles with a big "N" to alert NATO to their presence, though at the height the planes fly, it's doubtful such markings will be visible. While others daub their pickups with motor oil, soon the sand and desert will cake the car in natural camouflage.

A delegation from the Red Cross came to Ajdabiya on Monday, handing out medical kits to the fighters and literature.

(on camera): Once again, planes from abroad -- in this case, NATO -- saved the day, driving Gadhafi's forces away from the city. But it only goes to underscore that these fighters are helpless without help from above.

Ben Wedeman, Ajdabiya, Eastern Libya.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

STOUT: Now, silenced in Bahrain -- a crackdown on dissenting voices in the kingdom. And we'll tell you what happened to a CNN crew investigating the fates of those who have vanished.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

STOUT: Coming to you live from Hong Kong, you are back watching NEWS STREAM.

And in Bahrain, the former editor of an opposition newspaper is facing questioning, along with two of his colleagues. Now, they were accused of making up reports about recent protests. They say they are victims of a smear campaign.

Bahrain's Center for Human Rights says that nearly 500 people are missing or have been detained in the past three weeks. A CNN crew recently went to Bahrain for a story about bloggers, activists and social change. But when they arrived, most of the sources who had agreed to talk could not be found, and the CNN crew was detained.

Amber Lyon tells the story.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

AMBER LYON, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Flying into Bahrain, our plane was largely empty.

(on camera): You definitely know you're heading into an area of unrest when you are one of the only people on the plane headed to that country.

(voice-over): On the streets, we discover an eerie silence; almost no tourists in the hotels; a strict curfew and military checkpoints; no signs of protests, but we were to find out that the unrest here has not ended. It's just been silenced.

(on camera): We've come across a lot of military checkpoints just driving around here. And you see the guys standing there with their guns, and they're all wearing masks covering their face.

(voice-over): We had arranged a series of interviews, but most of the sources who had agreed to talk to us disappeared. Family members or others close to them say they had been arrested or gone into hiding after masked machinegun-toting security forces raided their homes and threatened them. The Bahrain Center for Human Rights says more than 460 people have been detained in recent week -- nurses, who treated wounded protesters; doctors; bloggers; a poet.

Nabeel Rajab of the Bahrain Center for Human Rights says that there's fear these people are being tortured.

NABEEL RAJAB, BAHRAIN CENTER FOR HUMAN RIGHTS: There are people who were hanged for a month, and they were electrocuted and sexually harassed and assaulted. And this is the way they are treated inside Bahrain prisons.

LYON: We tried to investigate these arrests ourselves, but our second day in Bahrain, helicopters hovered overhead as we stood in the street outside Nabeel Rajab's home. Suddenly, half a dozen military and police vehicles surrounded us.

About 20 men in black ski masks, some wearing civilian clothing, pointed machineguns at us. They forced us to get on the ground at gunpoint.

They erased al the video they found. Then we were taken to a police station and interrogated for nearly six hours before being released.

Bahrain's foreign minister couldn't tell us why we were arrested.

SHEIKH KHALID BIN AHMED BIN MOHAMMED AL KHALIFA: To scare somebody not to say anything, or to scare someone not to express his views. This is not a government policy.

LYON: We asked him about the missing.

AL KHALIFA: There were many who I know personally who have been called in for questioning and arrested, but for a short period of time. It was for questioning. But I didn't hear that any one of them being harmed in any way, just for blogging or being active online.

LYON: From this point on, government minders were attached to our team at all times. They would not allow us to film any of the tanks or military.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: What's that?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: No.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: There's a tanker down there.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: There's a tanker where?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: A tank.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I don't want it to come to you.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Come on. How can we shot shoot this stuff?

LYON: And our minders told us that there were no protests.

(on camera): If there's a protest today, can we go to the protest.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: What protest? There's no protest (INAUDIBLE).

LYON (voice-over): Instead, our minders brought us to see the nice things in Bahrain. They brought us to the shopping mall to look at the fine selection of Bahraini shoes.

Meanwhile, while we were being minded, human rights workers told us security forces continued to raid homes late at night, taking the opposition away, one by one, at gunpoint. But we were warned by government officials not to press any further or we would again be arrested.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Are those guys following us all day?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Who?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The police.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: No, they're not following us.

LYON: And this time we might not get out.

Amber Lyon, CNN, Bahrain.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

STOUT: And coming up next here on NEWS STREAM, we'll be calculating your slavery footprint. We'll bring you the latest apps to make sure that the products you buy were no produced by slave labor.

And 50 years ago today, the first human rocketed into space. Still ahead, we're celebrating the launch into the outer limits.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

STOUT: I'm Kristie Lu Stout in Hong Kong. You're watching News Stream. And these are the world headlines.

Now Japanese Prime Minister Naoto Kan says the nuclear crisis at the Fukushima Dai-chi plant will be resolved at all costs. His remarks come after officials in Japan raised their accident rating to the highest level on the nuclear industry's international scale. It is now level 7, the same designation given to the 1986 Chernobyl disaster.

Now the president of Ivory Coast Alassane Ouattara has called for calm after Laurent Gbagbo was arrested on Monday. The former president was captured after months of civil war. Mr. Ouattara says his country is entering a new era of hope. And he is urging fighters on all sides to lay down their weapons.

In Libya, deadly violence continues as diplomats attempt to negotiate a cease-fire. Now rebel leaders are rejecting an African Union proposal to end the violence saying Gadhafi must leave power first. AU leader said that Gadhafi had earlier agreed in principle to the plan to end the fighting and bring about reform.

According to estimates by activists, scholars, and policymakers the number of modern day slaves ranges from about 10 million to 30 million people. With a problem that widespread it is easy to feel that individuals like you and I can't do anything to stop it. But we can. And the right apps can go a long way to help.

Say you want to make sure that the products you buy are not the product of slave labor. I'm talking about both the materials used to make them and their manufacture. Now that is where this app comes in. It is called Free to Work. It was developed by the Not for Sale initiative. It's a handy guide to help consumer make ethical choices.

And the app, it shows how companies around the world rate according to the labor practices. As you can see, there's a whole list of companies to chose from. For example, you could bring up Addidas. It scores an A minus for it's code of conduct. Or, we could bring up the chocolate maker Godiva which scores a D minus, because it has no known policies or practices with respect to child labor.

Now tap into one of these. As you can see, you can get in depth rating on the company. And there's also information about what the company does or does not do to cut slave labor out of its supply chain.

Now, what if you want to do this: you want to call on the company to take action? Well, the next app allows you to do that. That is called Call and Response. As you can see from its homepage, you can check in with the latest news on the initiative and check out videos.

But what's really cool is this, it's something called Demand the Brand. You can basically call your favorite companies to go slave free. And this is how you do it. You take a picture of a product. For example, I'm just taking a picture of a globe that we have here in the studio. Inside you use it. And then you can apply the slave free labor logo on top and then upload that onto the internet.

You can even see where other people from around the world are sending in their Demand the Brand call by bringing up what is called the impact map.

Now, you can download these from the App Store, but on more the campaign (ph) web site at notforsale.org, or callandresponse.com

Now let's bring in the man behind the Call and Response campaign, Justin Dylan is a musician and activist and joins us now from San Francisco. Justin, good to see you. And what has been the reaction to your Call and Response app?

JUSTIN DYLAN, MUSICIAN: It's been very positive. I think people have been looking for a way that they can get involved in very practical and low shelf ways of spending time and their energy on this. I think this is an issue where people really, really want to get involved. And leveraging your consumption is probably the best way that you can start.

STOUT: Now in a video that you produced for the Slave Free web site, you mention a whole range of products that may have originated from slave labor. It could be shirts made from cotton that was harvested by slave labor, by even children in Uzbekistan, or it could be cell phones or video game consoles containing coltan, which is mined in the Democratic Republic of Congo.

Now Justin, what else is out there? Just how prevalent are slave made goods?

DYLAN : Well, right now our team is doing just a huge deep dive on the commodities sector and manufacturing sector around slave made goods. And we're finding that it's in just about everything that you use every day from the automobiles you drive in to the cell phones you talk on, the clothes you wear, the food you eat. This is a global problem. And the good news is that every day when we purchase, we purchase globally.

So one of the -- one of the mottoes that we have in our office is we ask ourselves, you know, how big is our plantation staff? Reality is everyone has a plantation staff, we just don't know who they are and we can't see them. And so it's our job as consumers and as human beings to push into that, find out who they are, what they're doing and take steps to eradicate it.

STOUT: Do you feel like companies are listening to you? That they're taking notice of the issue and learning out to source responsibly and buy slave free?

DYLAN: I think companies are listening. I think they're engaging in ways that they can. There's ways that they can step up further. And they have a huge, huge role to play here. But we can't diminish the role that the consumers need to play. That's why Demand the Brand and some of our other applications on slavefree.com give consumers a way to let businesses know that this is important to us.

We just believe that until this is a consumer choice this isn't going to move forward.

STOUT: You are a musician. I understand -- and Justin, just a little bit more about you, I understand that you're a rocker, so what inspired you to do this and to build this app and to join the fight to end modern day slavery? What's your story?

DYLAN: You know, I came upon the issue while I was playing music around the world. I saw it -- I not only read about it in magazines, but then I started to see it. And it was just one of those things when something two dimensional becomes three dimensional you realize this isn't just another sad story in the world, these are human beings that are being exploited for profit. And in some ways I'm complicit.

Maybe I'm not directly complicit, but if I omit myself from the process and realize that I am a global citizen and I'm adding to this every day, that's -- I'm diminishing my impact. And so I need to be involved.

And so for me as a musician, I just started figuring out ways that I can get involved. And the first way I can do it was make a film called Call and Response that involved musicians and politicians and journalists and celebrities just getting people in and starting to make some noise.

But once I started that I realized that people don't just want to be aware, they really want to have things to do. So -- and that's really what Call and Response is about, it's not only the call letting people know, it's not just information, but it's the response, action. You can't have one without the other.

STOUT: Well Justin, thank you for doing such important work and for sharing your story with us here today. Justin Dylan there live in San Francisco -- Call and Response.

And you can learn more about the call and response campaign and many others like it on the CNN Freedom Project web site. Just look on cnn.com/freedom to find out how you can make a difference.

Now still ahead here on News Stream, 108 minutes that changed the world. Now 50 years ago today the Russian cosmonaut Yuri Gagarin blazed a path for future space travelers. And we look back at his legacy.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

STOUT: Welcome back.

Now 50 years ago today humans reached new heights. On April 12, 1961 Russian cosmonaut Yuri Gagarin became the first person in space. Gagarin had no idea what would happen as he boarded Vostok I. What would he see? And would he come back alive? And still he seemed eager to attempt the trip.

Now his last words before liftoff were said to be "let's go."

As you now, Gagarin's successful journey ended with a safe parachute landing. But the 108 minute flight did more than carry him once around the Earth, it launched a new era of human spaceflight.

Now Gagarin naturally became an instant hero. So let's find out how Russia is celebrating his historic achievement. Our senior international correspondent Matthew Chance is standing by in Moscow.

And Matthew, how is Russia marking this anniversary?

MATTHEW CHANCE, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, it's marking it much more intensely, I think, than other countries around the world, although of course this is a global commemoration, this 50th anniversary. But you're right, it's been marked in Russia by almost blanket television coverage on Russian state media, at various events that have been staged around the country, award ceremonies to surviving cosmonauts and astronauts from other countries as well. It's been a 50 gun salute, in fact, in Moscow as well. As well as the Russian leader giving a keynote speech on the future of space travel in this country. So it's being marked very intensively, as I say.

And for good reason. Because this wasn't just a technological achievement. Of course, it made enormous advances in space travel technology, but it dispelled all sorts of myths as well 50 years ago about the dangers of traveling as a human outside the Earth's atmosphere. So it really was an incredible journey.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

CHANCE: It was perhaps the greatest journey one man had ever taken. Propelled 50 years ago into space on a Soviet rocket, Yuri Gagarin made the first ever orbit of the Earth. For 108 minutes, he was crammed inside this tiny capsule, giving the world a vivid (inaudible) of the planet far below.

YURI GAGARIN, SOVIET COSMONAUT (through translator): I am continuing the flight. The overload is somewhat increasing as well as the vibration. But I am feeling well. And I'm in great spirits. I can see the Earth and can distinguish the features of its terrain.

CHANCE: Well this is just a replica of the actual Vostok capsule in which Yuri Gagarin made that first historic flight. For some reason the original is kept in the museum of a state corporation and isn't on general public view.

But this space exhibition in Moscow is filled with originals, including a number of contemporaries of Yuri Gagarin himself.

Men like Alexei Leonov, the first Soviet cosmonaut to conduct a spacewalk here to celebrate the achievements of 50 years ago.

ALEXEI LEONOV, RUSSIAN COSMONAUT (through translator): We used to make a point of whoever he or she was an American or a Russian or whatnot. In my view, if we don't remember what happened 50 years ago, we will forget everything in 100 years.

CHANCE: At the height of the Cold War Gagarin's success was a high profile victory over the United States, seen as evidence of Soviet domination in the space race. It was dispatched overseas in what the Kremlin called missions of peace. It made him a global icon. And his flight on April 12, 1961 also led president John F. Kennedy to declare that America would put a man on the moon by 1970.

Today, American astronauts are ready to acknowledge Gagarin's pioneering mission.

THOMAS STAFFORD, U.S. ASTRONAUT: Well, there always has to be a first (inaudible) at the time, you know, there was a big competition (inaudible).

CHANCE: Everybody's friends now.

STAFFORD: Oh, yeah.

CHANCE: Gagarin didn't live to witness the 100 (inaudible) journey to space since his first flight. He was killed in 1968 in a plane crash.

But an untimely death has only added to the mythical status of the first man in space.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

CHANCE: One of the key events, Kristie, today has been a speech by the president of Russia, Dmitry Medvedev outlining the country's commitment to the future of space travel. He made some remarks again broadcast on state television saying that we were the first into space. We have a huge number of achievements. And we don't want to lose that advantage. So he's been pledging more funds for the future of space travel by Russia -- Kristie.

STOUT: So space still much a priority for Russia.

Matthew Chance joining us live from Moscow, thank you for that.

Now a group of astronauts is marking this milestone while in space. It is an ideal setting for reflection. Just a short time ago, Italian Paolo Nespoli shared his thoughts with our partner network CNN USA.

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PAOLO NESPOLI, EXPEDITION 27 FLIGHT ENGINEER: Fifty years ago, the humankind kind of leaped forward outside of this world. And the journey, the exploration has continued then and keep bringing us and pushes us forward. It is one of our things that we do and we do best.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

STOUT: And earlier his crew-mate Cady Coleman gave a musical tribute to Gagarin. Let's listen to a little bit of it.

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(MUSIC)

(END VIDEO CLIP)

STOUT: Now Coleman is playing the first ever Earth-Space flute duet with musician Ian Anderson. She says it also celebrates the role of humans past, present and future in exploring the universe.

Got to love her hair there.

Now Coleman is not the only musical astronaut. Now this is Carl Walz -- or rather right here. He's playing the keyboard. And he also brought up a guitar when he went up to the space station 2001. Now Walz says his instruments were linked to his home during his six month stay.

Now one Japanese astronaut, now she brought a taste of home to the space station last year. Now the trip for Naoko Yamazaki marked the first time for two Japanese astronauts to orbit together. Without Soichi Naguchi also enjoyed the first ever space sushi party. Now food posed a bit of a different problem for this astronaut here. Malaysia's first astronaut, Sheikh Muszaphar Shukor. He went into space during Ramadan and wanted to fast. And ahead of the trip, and Islamic council came up with specific guidelines on Muslim obligations in the international space station. Among other things, they covered how to handle praying toward Mecca in zero gravity.

Now other astronauts also observed their religion in space. Now this is Buzz Aldrin. And he prepared communion shortly after the moon landing.

Now space travelers have come from dozens of countries -- France to Syria, Vietnam to Cuba, but the big question is where will they go next? Astronaut Ron Garan weighed in with this.

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RON GARAN, NASA ASTRONAUT: Hopefully very soon going to low Earth orbit will be no different than getting on an airplane and flying to a different country or you know flying somewhere else in the world. It'll be commonplace. And so hopefully when that happens, you know, we will see further and further exploration. And we'll always have room -- you know, the universe is a really big place, so we'll always have someplace to explore.

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STOUT: Now John Zarrella joins us from the Kennedy Space Center now in Florida. And John, 50 years after Gagarin's flight, what is the reality of space exploration today, especially as the U.S. space shuttle fleet is about to retire?

JOHN ZARRELLA, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Yeah, that's right. And we're here at the Kennedy Space Center visitor complex, because today the NASA administrator Charlie Bolden is going to announce what museums, what sites around the country will be getting one of the retiring orbiters. It's believed that right here -- and that's a mock shuttle behind me -- it's believed that one of those orbiters will end up landing here at the visitor complex, perhaps the shuttle Endeavor.

But I think the point you're making is this -- that what happened 50 years ago when you talk to -- it really generated and started the space race. It was from that point that the United States and Russia got into this competition of who was going to land a human on the moon first. And I think if you talk to a lot of the older astronauts, and I do, the Apollo folks, they will all tell you that they thought that the humankind would be on Mars by now.

But NASA took that little turn and decided after Apollo 17, Kristie, that they were going to build a space shuttle that was going to orbit the Earth and put satellites into space and do all kinds of things, you know, like that in low Earth orbit -- build a space station, which they've accomplished. But they weren't going to go outward toward Mars.

So a lot of the Apollo guys will tell you, look, that was a big, big mistake, because many people believe the humankind should be, and would have been on Mars by now, if NASA had continued pushing outward instead of building the space shuttle.

STOUT: Now John, you've covered the speech so closely. What are your thoughts about America's space leadership today 50 years after the first manned spaceflight in comparison to Russia and China and even India, what is the U.S. leadership role today?

ZARRELLA: Well here's where it stands. You know, 30 years ago, the very first flight -- April 12, a big day --- Gagarin 50 years ago, astronauts John Young and Bob Crippen on Colombia STS 1 30 years ago today. And I think that what you're looking at is the Chinese are making a big push to perhaps, at least they say, put humans on the moon.

The United States is talking about going outward now. And turning over low Earth orbit, ferrying back and forth to the space station, turning that over to private companies.

Now does the United States still retain its leadership in space? Maybe not. You know, for the next several years before the U.S. has its own vehicle built again to replace space shuttles going to rely on the Russians to put astronauts on the space station. And then they will be relying on those private companies like Elon Musk's SpaceX to bring humans to the space station.

It may be a dozen years or more before the U.S. has a new big heavy lift rocket that will be able to take humans out to an asteroid perhaps by 2019 they're saying, or perhaps go to Mars. The question is, does the U.S. get caught up in going back to the moon if China does in some sort of a race with the Chinese?

Experts I've talked to say they hope that doesn't happen, because the United States has been there, done that. The Chinese want to go to the moon, let them go to the moon is what I've been told. And let the United States continue outward.

The question is commitment and money. The United States has always had that issue about we start something -- Apollo. When Apollo was done, they switched gears, waited for four or five years, built the shuttle. Now they're stopping the shuttle program. So it's fits and starts.

So the question is, does the United States have the money, the willpower, the resilience to go ahead and do what they're saying now and build that big rocket and eventually in 25 or 30 years perhaps land humans on Mars.

So we will see in the next decade or so -- perhaps shorter than that, Kristie, exactly whether the U.S. will continue its role in leadership or abdicate that role to other nations.

STOUT: Yeah, one can only wonder where we will be 50 years from today.

John Zarrella joining us live. Thank you very much indeed, John.

Now April the 12th is also known for the world's space party. It's called Yuri's Night. And the premise is this. You don't have to be a rocket scientist to be part of the next phase of human history. It's an idea that took off 10 years ago. And events are scheduled in 66 countries on six continents. So we'll expect to see some ireports of the festivities from you wherever you are.

While others celebrate Yuri's Night, one Russian has his eyes on football matters on Tuesday night. Chelsea owner Roman Abromovic's Champion's League dreams could come to an end in a few hours. Don Riddell will join us to preview the big match in just a minute.

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STOUT: Welcome back.

Now the Champion's League, it takes center stage on Tuesday. Two teams can book their places in the semifinals of the competition. Don Riddell joins us from London with all the details -- Don.

DON RIDDELL, CNN SPORTS CORRESPONDENT: Hi there, Kristie. It is do or die for Chelsea as they get ready to battle Manchester United at Old Trafford later this Tuesday. After losing the first leg at home, the Blues need to beat their English Premier League rivals at Old Trafford in order to stay in the Champion's League, a competition has eluded them for so many years.

Sir Alex Ferguson is taking nothing for granted, Chelsea actually won 2-1 on their last visit to Manchester United just over a year ago. And Ferguson believes home advantage is actually less important in a European game against another Premier League team.

Wayne Rooney is expected to return to the starting line-up after being suspended for the Premier League Win over Fulham at the weekend.

As far as Chelsea are concerned, they will be at full strength with Carlo Ancelloti expected to field Fernando Torres up front even though the Spanish striker has yet to score since moving to Stamford Bridge from Liverpool.

The Italian manager is confident his side can handle the pressure at Manchester and book their place in the final four of the competition. That should be an intense match.

You would expect, by the way, that Tuesday's other game to be a foregone conclusion. Barcelona head to Shaktar Donetsk in the Ukraine with a 5-1 aggregate lead in their tie. It is hard to imagine that one of the best teams ever assembled will blow a four goal lead.

And Kristie, before I hand it back to you I just want to draw your attention to a web site that has gone viral at the moment. It's called HasTorresscoredforChelsea.com. You click on it. Up it comes. The answer is pretty emphatic. There you go. A lot of people logging on to that web site at the moment. But everybody already knows the answer.

STOUT: That's pretty harsh there.

But yeah, the message is clear. Don Riddell thank you so much for that.

And that is News Stream. But the news continues at CNN. World Business Today is next.

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