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Crackdown in Daraa Intensifies; PlayStation Network Breach; Cyberattack Targets Iran; Protesters Make Plans for Demonstrations During Royal Wedding; Westminster Abbey Completes Security Preparations for Royal Wedding; Cities in Libya Still Under Siege; Souvenirs Help Remember Royal Wedding

Aired April 27, 2011 - 08:00:00   ET


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

I'm Kristie Lu Stout, in Hong Kong.

Eyewitnesses tell us the situation is getting worse in the Syrian city of Daraa, the center of a government crackdown against protesters.

Now, Sony's attackers have stolen personal information from millions of PlayStation gamers, possibly including credit card details.

And police in London engage in a massive security operation, hoping to stop troublemakers from ruining a royal wedding.

Now, we begin in Daraa, where the violence is apparently growing worse by the day. One witness tells CNN some 13 tanks have moved into the city in the past couple of hours, and there is now fighting between security forces and the military. At least five people were killed in sniper attacks on Tuesday, including a young child.

Now, CNN cannot independently confirm these reports though. And the Syrian government won't grant us access into the country.

Now, Arwa Damon is following events from nearby Lebanon, and she filed this report.


ARWA DAMON, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Since Syrian military tanks rolled into Daraa, eyewitnesses say the situation is worsening by the day. And yet, as is shown in this YouTube video, whose authenticity CNN cannot independently verify, small acts of courage and cries of defiance.

As this group of demonstrators approaches the Syrian military chanting, "The Army has sold us out!" gunfire. The crowd scatters, and then we hear another chant, "We are not afraid!"

The death toll in Syria is rising by the day.

(on camera): CNN has still not been granted to report from inside Syria. An eyewitness in Daraa we spoke to said that the death toll there continued to rise. The more recent casualties, he says, caused by sniper fire, saying that snipers had positioned themselves on rooftops and were firing indiscriminately at anyone who dared venture out. Amongst the casualties, he claimed, was a 6-year-old child. And he said that relatives continue to be unable to bury their loved ones because he claimed Syrian security forces were still occupying the cemetery.

(voice-over): Nearly halfway around the world, Syria's ambassador to the U.N. rejected calls for an independent investigation.

BASHAR JAAFARI, SYRIAN AMBASSADOR TO THE U.N.: This is too early to decide on receiving anybody. We have our national investigation commission that has ordered the undertaking, a full investigation about what happened, about all the casualties among civilians, as well as among the military. So we are doing our homework. We don't need help from anybody.

DAMON: Syrian state TV broadcast video claiming to be the confession of an individual part of an extremist terrorist cell. The government blaming foreign interference and armed gangs for the uprising.

But videos continue to emerge that depict a starkly different image. This one, said to be shot in Homs on Friday.


DAMON: Demonstrations there and throughout the country on Friday quickly turned deadly, as activists say Syrian security forces unleashed their weapons on them. The wounded are carried into what appears to be a narrow alley or walkway inside a house, trying to escape the carnage going on outside.

The Syrian regime seems immune to international condemnation and threats of sanctions. Rather than scaling back their brutal crackdown, Syrian security forces appear to be intensifying it.


STOUT: And Arwa Damon joins us now live on the story from neighboring Beirut.

And Arwa, as this crackdown drags on, what has happened to the protest movement? Are organizers still talking with each other? Do they plan to protest again?

DAMON: Well, Kristie, what we're hearing is that is becoming increasingly difficult for protesters to be able to get out onto the streets in the numbers that they used to simply because of the sheer force that they say the Syrian security forces have been using against them. We have been hearing about small gatherings. We saw some YouTube video coming out of a silent demonstration that is said to have happened over the last few days where we saw individuals carrying candles. This, taking place in northern Syria.

The demonstrators there wanting to show their support for their countrymen in the south, in Daraa, in particular. But increasingly, we're hearing that people are even afraid to hold large funerals in areas where they are able to bury their dead. We're hearing that people do so very quietly. They're trying to avoid drawing attention to themselves, because we keep hearing about Syrian security forces going out and arresting anyone who they think may remotely be involved in these demonstrations -- Kristie.

STOUT: That's sad to hear, even funerals can't even take place.

And meanwhile, what is the view from Damascus? What has been the regime's reaction to the overwhelming international condemnation of the violence and the crackdown?

DAMON: Well, it would seem that despite all of the condemnation that is coming from a number of international voices, the Syrian government has not altered its behavior. If anything, it appears to have intensified its efforts in cracking down on these demonstrations. And the Syrian government continues to be adamant in its claims that it is targeting terrorist groups that have infiltrated these various communities, that it went into Daraa, for example, at the request of citizens there whom it says wanted to be saved from terrorist groups that were wreaking havoc in those areas.

Of course, this is a very different image than the one that we're getting from demonstrators, from eyewitnesses, very different to what we're seeing appearing on that YouTube video. But it does seem as if this is a regime that is intent on clinging to power for as long as it can. And despite all of the international condemnation, despite all of the threats of sanctions, it does appear at this stage that the international community pretty much has its hands tied when it comes to putting enough pressure on the Syrian government that would then force it to alter the current course that it's on -- Kristie.

STOUT: That's right. The U.S. is considering targeted sanctions. But at the end of the day, what real impact is that going to have?

Arwa Damon, joining us live on the story from Beirut.

Thank you, Arwa.

Now, the United Nations Security Council is preparing to meet privately on Syria later today. Britain, France, Germany and Portugal have already drafted a proposed statement condemning Syria's use of violence. And the U.S. ambassador to the U.N. calls the Syrian government's actions "abhorrent and deplorable."

Now, while the U.S. is exploring targeted sanctions on Syria, it may be hesitant to take any firmer action. Jill Dougherty has that.


JILL DOUGHERTY, CNN FOREIGN AFFAIRS CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): In Syria, more than 400 people dead in a violent crackdown on demonstrators. But Syria is not Libya.

BARACK OBAMA, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Colonel Gadhafi needs to step down from power and leave.

DOUGHERTY: No call from President Obama for Syrian President Bashar al- Assad to leave office.

JAY CARNEY, WHITE HOUSE PRESS SECRETARY: We call on President Assad to change course now and heed the calls of his own people.

DOUGHERTY: That's the closest the White House will come. Travel bans, asset freezes -- that's the latest plan. But Syria has few assets in the U.S. and an administration official tells CNN: "There isn't a lot we can do with Syria. We're pretty maxed out with sanctions."

The U.S. ambassador to Great Britain is blunt in an interview airing Wednesday on CNN's "AMERICAN MORNING."

LOUIS SUSMAN, U.S. AMBASSADOR TO BRITAIN: And then you've also got to balance your values and your security and what your national interests are. And I think that we're doing that. And we have condemned the violence in Syria. We have not been in favor of any regime change.

DOUGHERTY: Unlike Libyan leader Moammar Gadhafi, who many leaders despise, with the Syrian president, officials tell CNN U.S. allies like Israel and Saudi Arabia are pressuring the U.S. to go slow, fearing Bashar al-Assad's departure could make way for a more regime. The U.S. has not severed diplomatic ties -- a move that would make it harder to talk to the Syrians when you want to get them to do something. And trying to tell Syria what to do could backfire.

JONATHAN ALTERMAN, CENTER FOR STRATEGIC & INTERNATIONAL STUDIES: You don't want the president to calling for something that then doesn't happen. You don't want to have the president demanding something happen and not doing anything to follow up, because then people say, well, you demanded it happened. What have you done to meet your demand?

DOUGHERTY (on camera): The bitter truth about Syria for the U.S. is that Washington actually has very little influence in Damascus. Privately, U.S. officials say they're pessimistic that anything can be done directly to stop the violence anytime soon. And one U.S. official tells CNN it could get worse.

Jill Dougherty, CNN, the State Department.


STOUT: Now, Sony says that hackers have stolen data from millions of PlayStation users. That may include credit card information.

It has been a week now since Sony took the PlayStation network offline after a security breach. Now, that is the free service that allows PS3 and PSP users to play against each other online, buy games, and update their systems. But on Tuesday, Sony admitted to the true scope of the problem, and experts say it is far worse than expected.


JOHNNY MINKLEY, EDITOR, EUROGAMER.NET: This is very, very serious. I think it's very hard to overstate how bad this is at the moment for Sony and potentially for consumers, because in the space of a week we've moved from just not being able to play games via an online service to days where no one has really known what's going on. And finally, in admission last night, that personal details have been compromised, and potentially credit card details.

And it's a very worrying state of affairs. And there's still many, many questions that Sony needs to answer.


STOUT: Now, this affects both the PlayStation network and Qriocity. That's Sony's music and movie-streaming service.

It is not clear who was behind the attack, but Sony has told us what they have taken. They have taken your name, address, e-mail address, your birth date, username, and also your password. Now, Sony also said that other information may have been taken, including your credit card number, expiration date, billing address. And if you had any security question to help recover your password, the answers to those questions may have been taken as well.

So, what can you do about it? Well, Sony recommends changing your password and watching your credit card statements, and perhaps placing a fraud alert with credit bureaus. But some experts are going further, suggesting that you cancel any credit card you have on file with the PlayStation network.

Now, understandably, users are not happy about the situation.


MINKLEY: Well, the reaction, I think, has gone from just extreme disappointment and frustration about not being able to play games, to now it's just understandable anger that personal details and potentially banking details have been stolen and could be being sold on the black market, being distributed. And I think as well, anger that Sony has done, so far, a very bad job at keeping consumers up to date with what's happening. And questions on why it's taken them so long to come out and say that these details are at risk.


STOUT: Now, this comment on Sony's blog just sums up all that anger. One user said this: "You waited a week to tell us our information was compromised? How much longer will this last?"

Now, Sony hasn't said anything specific, and the company said they expect to restore some services within one week. But it is not clear what those services are.

Now, Iran has been hit with another cyberattack, and Tehran claims it is a case of sabotage to stall the country's nuclear program.

Our Brian Todd reports this is not the first time a computer worm has targeted Iran's nuclear facilities.


BRIAN TODD, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): The race between Iranian officials trying to build their nuclear program and outside forces trying to stop it looks like it's getting more intense. An Iranian facility has been targeted for cyberattack, the second time it's happened in less than a year. That, from the official in charge of defending Iran's nuclear sites, who spoke to the country's semi-official news agency.

(on camera): This worm is called Stars, and it follows a destructive cyberattack last year on Iran called Stuxnet.

I'm now with Sam Visner.

He's a former NSA signals intelligence official.

He's now a cybersecurity expert with the firm CSC.

Sam, could this particular virus disable any kind of a nuclear program?

SAM VISNER, CYBERSECURITY EXPERT, CSC: We don't know at this point. I don't know anyone who has done real forensics on this, Brian.

Here's what I would say. It probably speaks to an emerging class of problem that we call industrial control system problems, the ability to get into an embedded system that controls a turbine, that controls a centrifuge, that controls an engine.

TODD (voice-over): Visner and other experts say this attack, like the Stuxnet virus that hit the Iranians last year, may be a so-called zero day exploit. Like a patient zero case, it means the Iranians may not have had any warning, hadn't seen anything like it before, and didn't know what to look for.

The Iranian officials haven't said exactly what was hit this time. But last year, the Stuxnet worm infected centrifuges at a key nuclear energy facility.

I asked nuclear weapons expert David Albright about that.

(on camera): Here's a satellite photo of the Natanz nuclear energy facility. How badly did the Stuxnet virus affect that facility?

DAVID ALBRIGHT, INSTITUTE FOR SCIENCE AND INTERNATIONAL SECURITY: Well, the idea was to get -- take control of the computer systems inside this facility. And the parts you worry about is here, underground. About 25 feet underground are two very large structures or buildings. And in those buildings or sites were the centrifuges that were targeted by Stuxnet. And about 10 percent of the centrifuges were destroyed by Stuxnet.

TODD (voice-over): Albright explains how the worm gets into a centrifuge where uranium is refined.

ALBRIGHT: Inside this aluminum cylinder is a rapidly-rotating rotor, spinning very fast. And the ides of Stuxnet was, in a sense, to take control of a motor that's down in this part of the centrifuge and just make it spin faster and faster and faster, essentially until it breaks.

TODD: Experts say it's a way of crippling Iran's nuclear sites without bombing them.

Iran blames the U.S. and Israel for the Stuxnet attacks. Officials from both countries haven't commented on those accusations, and we couldn't get comment from them on this latest attack.

Brian Todd, CNN, Washington.


STOUT: Now, still ahead on NEWS STREAM, some say there is a spiritual war under way in China. We'll bring you the latest on the government's crackdown on unregistered Christian churches.

And as the royal family prepares for the big day, protesters are making a few procession plans of their own.

And in sports, Real Madrid and Barcelona get ready to battle it out in the El Clasico, but already it is a war of words.


STOUT: Welcome back.

Now, a group of former world leaders is working to break the long impasse of Pyongyang's nuclear program. Now, members of the so-called "Elders" hope to meet with the North Korean leader, Kim Jong-Il. This is their second day in the country, but it is still unclear if that has happened. Now, the ex-leaders hope to diffuse tensions on the peninsula, and they will meet with South Korean officials on Thursday.

Australian Prime Minister Julia Gillard has wrapped up a delicate balancing act in Beijing. Now, Ms. Gillard met with President Hu Jintao earlier on Wednesday, and she had indicated they would discuss human rights. It's a concern she also raised with Premier Wen Jiabao.

It is an especially sensitive subject, because China is Australia's biggest trading partner. China buys more than a quarter of Australian exports. Ms. Gillard says her counterpart believes Beijing has not taken a step backward on human rights.

And acitivists hope that U.S. officials will take a tougher stand on the issue. Now, Washington says a two-day dialogue is under way and will address the current crackdown on dissent.

Now, Stan Grant met one woman in China who was feeling the pressure.


STAN GRANT, CNN SR. INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): It helps to keep your eyes peeled in China right now. The hard gaze of the state is fixed on anyone deemed a troublemaker. The young woman in our car is in their sights.

WATER, SHOUWANG CHURCH MEMBER: I might be in trouble.

GRANT: She's being followed, detained, has just emerged from house arrest.

(on camera): Which way do you think I should go?

(voice-over): We're trying to find a secure location for an interview. This slightly built 28-year--old doesn't feel safe revealing her identity. She calls herself "Water," based on Chinese characters in her name. As an underground Christian deemed an enemy of the state, Water's life is one of suspicion and fear.

WATER: I'm really afraid of torture.

GRANT (on camera): You're afraid of being tortured?

WATER: Of being tortured. And I heard many stories like that.

GRANT (voice-over): This is video posted on YouTube of Water's church. The Shouwang Protestant Congregation is the largest so-called home church in Beijing. The Chinese government says Shouwang operates outside the law, it must officially register like other state-sanctioned churches.

(on camera): You clearly see those right there.

(voice-over): Police were out in force to block the church's Easter Sunday service. Our efforts to film the church stopped at every turn, plainclothes police keeping a constant eye on us.

(on camera): Already the police have tagged us. And they've not just turned the camera on us, but they've followed us as well. If you just look through here, you can see the police have been following us.

Move back, Greg (ph). Move back. Move back.

OK. OK. OK. OK. We leave.

(voice-over): Only moments later we were detained and questioned. More than 30 parishioners arrested. Water herself kept under house arrest.

The pressure, she admits, is taking its toll.

WATER: Actually, personally, I don't know how long I can last, because the pressure is pretty tense.

GRANT: Water says she turned to Christianity when she lost her faith in the Communist Party. She says she prays for her country but has no doubt about the fight that she faces.

WATER: Yes, I just suddenly was found (ph) amid this war.

GRANT: You're in a war?

WATER: Because, in church, we would put it as spiritual war.

GRANT (voice-over): In this spiritual war, the Communist Party has drawn its own battle lines, determined that the only worship here will be to (INAUDIBLE).

Stan Grant, CNN, Beijing.


STOUT: Now, police in southwestern China have seized more than 26 tons of melamine-tainted milk powder. The Chongqing Public Safety Bureau says it was intended for use in ice cream but never made it to the market. Now, authorities have detained three people in connection with the case.

China's food sector has suffered multiple safety scandals. Back in 2008, tainted milk killed at least six babies, it sickened hundreds of thousands more.

Now, Spain's biggest rivals are set for an epic clash. Real Madrid meets Barcelona. The champions lead semifinals, and we will preview the powerhouse showdown.


STOUT: Now, one NASCAR fan in the United States got the gift of the century. Rachel Gilbert's family surprised her with the chance to drive the pace car at New Hampshire Motor Speedway to celebrate -- get this -- her 100th birthday.

Now, she has been a devoted NASCAR fan for nearly five decades and hasn't driven in 16 years. But with the help of a booster seat and family support on the back seat, Rachel put the pedal to the metal at top speeds of 50 miles an hour. And by the looks of it, she loved every single minute.

So, Rachel, happy birthday.

Now, up next here on NEWS STREAM, most brides, they worry about rain ruining their big day, but there is a much bigger concern for the royal wedding. And we'll show you what police are doing to keep potential security threats away.

Plus, the best man is keeping busy as well. Find out why Prince Harry is turning parts of Buckingham Palace into a nightclub.


STOUT: I'm Kristie Lu Stout in Hong Kong. You're watching NEWS STREAM and these are your world headlines.

Now these are new pictures coming into us here at CNN. Military tanks continue to roll into Syria's southern city of Daraa. 13 have already been spotted there in the past couple of hours. And witnesses say there is now fighting between security forces and the military.

The United Nations Security Council is meeting on Wednesday to discuss the crisis in Syria. Syria's government has rejected calls for an independent inquiry into its crackdown on protesters. A human rights group says as many as 400 people have been killed since demonstrations began one month ago.

And NATO says that six members of the international security force have been killed in a shooting at an air base in the Afghan capital of Kabul. Afghan military officials say all six are Americans. They say the shootings followed an argument involving an Afghan pilot. The Taliban has claimed responsibility, saying it was the work of a suicide attacker. NATO is rejecting that account.

The U.S. is shaking up its national security team. U.S. officials are saying that this man, CIA Director Leon Panetta, will be tapped by President Obama to be the next defense secretary. Obviously, to succeed Robert Gates if confirmed by the U.S. Senate. A defense official says U.S. General David Petraeus would be nominated to replace Panetta at the CIA.

Thailand pulled out of cease-fire talks with Cambodia on Wednesday. The Cambodia media reported that the Thai military was going to surrender in defeat. Thailand said it did not want to send the wrong message. The two countries have been fighting since last Friday over disputed ancient temples situated on their border.

Now as Britain's royal family is in its final preparations for the big wedding on Friday, protesters are making a few procession plans of their own.

Dan Rivers takes a look.


DAN RIVERS, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): With just a few days to go, the police in London are engaged in a massive security operation, searching every inch of the wedding route and drawing up plans to deal with potential troublemakers.

The wedding of Prince William and Katherine Middleton is taking place during a time of government spending cuts, political turmoil and protests. The event itself is a magnet for anyone with a gripe to make their point very publically.


RIVERS: The small but provocative Muslims Against Crusades group has applied for official permission to protest. One member, Abu Izadeen, famously heckled Britain's interior minister five years ago.

ABU IZADEEN, MEMBER, MUSLIMS AGAINST CRUSADES: I'm here to disrupt the meeting. That's right.

RIVERS: Now he's also threatening to disrupt the royal wedding.

IZADEEN: Prince Harry and Prince Williams, they are part and parcel of the crusade against Muslims. Prince Harry himself is the best man. He fought against Muslims, hitting inside of Palestine and Iraq.

RIVERS: But with such inflammatory accustoms, it's unsurprising their application to protest opposite Westminster Abbey has been refused.

But the far right English Defense League may cause further problems, vowing to stop Muslims Against Crusades getting anywhere near central London.

TOMMY ROBINSON, ENGLISH DEFENSE LEAGUE: We're going to block their tube -- tube stations that end at the wedding -- into the wedding area. Basically, have 50 to 100 lads guarding the tube stations. So if they're -- every single time they bring the Muslims Against Crusades protesters, the police escort them in and they escort them out. So as they escort them out of the tube, we're trying to put them back down into the tube.

RIVERS: And anarchists are also planning on being on the streets during the wedding. The police are hoping these scenes won't be repeated.

But some are already planning on winding up the establishment, like Chris Knight and his guillotine, showing his contempt for financial cuts.

CHRIS KNIGHT, ANARCHIST: This feeling that this wealthiest of families should have a wedding at our expense, at this place in central London at this time isn't amusing. I mean, it really is a provocation.

RIVERS (on camera): With all these competing protest threats, the police are facing a real challenge, how to keep these different factions away from each other and from the royal wedding without turning an atmosphere of celebration into one of confrontation.

(voice-over): During previous protests, the police tactic of containment, or kettling, has been used to pin activists into one location. But that might overshadow the generally good-natured feel of the day. Instead, this is the police message for potential troublemakers.

LYNNE OWENS, ASSISTANT COMMISSIONER, METROPOLITAN POLICE: My police officers will spot you in the crowd and they will take quick and decisive action to remove you. We won't let anybody disrupt this very exciting day for the royal family and for the country.

RIVERS: A day the police are hoping won't be marred by a noisy minority bent on trouble.

Dan Rivers, CNN, London.


STOUT: Now CNN's Monita Rajpal is in London at Westminster Abbey where those security preparations for the big day are under way.

Monita, from what you can tell, what's being done to secure the area around the wedding site?

MONITA RAJPAL, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, Kristie, what we have been noticing over the last couple of days since we have been here, that anything, any car that goes in, especially any deliveries that are made into Westminster Abbey itself, will be searched. For example, the other day, we say scaffolding being delivered and all the piping was checked one by one to make sure there was no suspicious package or anything suspicious within the scaffolding itself.

Now, throughout the city, we've seen here -- it's not so much a city on lockdown but, of course, there are more and more barriers that are being set up throughout the procession route. There are some 11,000 barriers that will be set up for Friday. The Abbey says 5,000 police officers will be on duty. Three helicopters with detailed imagery will be used as well, not to mention 35 sniffer dogs.

So right now, we're seeing it's still a pretty fun celebratory atmosphere, not seeing an increased presence. But we would know and we would assume that there will be lots of undercover officers as well, people that are mingling around, making sure that there are -- that there's no suspicious people or activity taking place. Even just to get in to where we are right now, we would have to show our security passes with photo I.D., so that even us, coming in, if we didn't have photo I.D., we wouldn't be able to broadcast from where we are. Just to give you an idea of just how tight security is around here -- Kristie?

STOUT: And also, Monita, there are a few other wedding details being attended to at Westminster Abbey, the actual preparations for the big event under way. Have you caught a glimpse of any royal wedding decorations?

RAJPAL: Well, not so much decorations but, you know, there's some 1,300 military guards that will be lining the procession route. Earlier this morning, they had early pre-dawn practice, rehearsal. Because as you know, the wedding is just 48 hours away -- less than 48 hours away, I should say -- and they will be lining the route, and they need to know exactly how they're going to be, how they're going to look and where they're going to go. And so that's just -- we saw the road closes there this morning as a result of that. Actually, I saw them yesterday practicing within the military guard barracks. That was kind of nice to see.

But Nic Robertson has more now on these final preparations.



NIC ROBERTSON, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, it's a little over 48 hours now until the royal wedding. Preparations, rehearsals are well under way. In just over two days, the royal couple will emerge from Westminster Abbey, over there, and then they will be escorted by the Household Cavalry, these troops on the horses here. They are Life Guards and Royals and Blues. Many of the soldiers on those horses there are frontline troops in Iraq and Afghanistan. And from Westminster Abbey, they will escort the carriages around, past the Houses of Parliament, just around the corner, and left, up Whitehall, towards Buckingham Palace. It is about a 15-minute route march.

There are two carriages. One will take the royal couple. It will have the Captain's Escort. There will be 24 Horse Guards escorting one of the carriages with the royal couple. The other carriage will take the queen and Prince Philip and they will have about 100 soldiers and the Horse Guard protecting them along the route.

The rehearsal's not just about practicing formation, pace and timing and knowing when to turn left and when to turn right. It's about what to do if the unexpected happens. Hundreds of thousands of people are expected to be lining the routes. What will the soldiers do if somebody jumps over the barrier, somebody gets excited in the crowds or there's a protest aimed at disrupting the royal wedding, or worse still, a possible terror attack? If that happens, then quite possibly one of these soldiers could save the day, maybe even save lives.

And this will be final part of the procession. They've just come down the Mall. They will have come through Horse Guards, Whitehall, past the houses of Parliament, all the way from Westminster Abbey. About 15 minutes to get here. And come the day, these soldiers from the Royals and Blues will have their tunics on, their blue tunics, red plumes for their hats. The soldiers from the Life Guards will have their red tunics and white plumes for their hats. And they will be delivering the royal couple here to Buckingham Palace. They'll be coming here for the reception. And about an hour after they arrive, everyone here will be waiting for the big moment when they appear on the balcony over there. Everyone will be watching for that moment, the royal kiss.

Nic Robertson, CNN, outside Buckingham Palace, London.


RAJPAL: And meanwhile, inside Buckingham Palace, we understand that the party prince himself, Prince Harry, has secured three rooms to ensure that the late-night party that he is planning and taken a real interest in for the couple that will go into the late morning, that's taking place -- that's last-minute preparations that are going to be taking place for everything, the D.J.s to the drinks. And really, as you know, Kristie, if you're anything like me, that's the party you want to be at.

Now, finally, also here at Westminster Abbey where thousands of tourists would usually be able to go in and get a tour, the abbey itself is closed today. We understand there's going to be a rehearsal. We're not sure if it's a full wedding rehearsal. That's going to take place today or exactly less than 24 hours from now. But it is closed right now. We know that the flowers have already been delivered. It's all being set up to look pretty for the bride -- Kristie?

STOUT: Ah, just a couple of days away. And, Monita, earlier this week, you told us about the royal guest list. If you get hold of the royal play list, you've got to share it with me. I want to hear what the D.J.'s going to be playing.

Monita Rajpal, joining us live from London.


STOUT: Take care, Monita. Thank you.

Now, don't forget to join us for complete coverage of the royal wedding. We've got Monita there, Anderson Cooper, Pierce Morgan, Cat Deeley and Richard Quest. We'll bring you every moment of the celebrations, live from London. That's Friday, 4:00 in the afternoon in Hong Kong, noon in Abu Dhabi.

Now the search for extraterrestrial intelligence has hit a snag. The SETI Institute has run out of money for its best alien-hunting apparatus. The Allen Telescope Array is now in hibernation. In this field of dishes, it searches the skies for signs of communication from other planets, but its budget has been cut by the state of California and federal agencies. SETI is now trying to raise $5 million to turn the telescope back on. In the meantime, the group's other projects are still listening for that call from E.T.

Now in Libya, the U.S. is praising international efforts to protect civilian, but lives are still being lost as the battle for control of Libya rages on. I'll bring you the latest in just a few minutes.


STOUT: Welcome back.

Now the U.N. secretary-general says NATO has saved many lives in Libya. Ban Ki-moon says diplomatic efforts are working to secure a cease-fire. Now that is something Colonel Moammar Gadhafi's regime has promised on multiple occasions.

But as Fred Pleitgen tells us, cities like Misrata are still under siege.


FREDERIK PLEITGEN, CNN CORRESPONDENT: While the rebels seem to be making gains in the turf war for Misrata, Gadhafi forces seem to be intensifying their shelling of civilian areas as well as the port areas.

Now, what we're hearing from rebel sources in Misrata, that yesterday a lot of shelling took place in the port area and also on the little village that is sort of outside the port area. They're talking about rockets falling on that place, also artillery shells. Three people were killed when one of these shells hit a refugee camp. They seem to have been refugees from Sub- Saharan Africa. Also, 14 people were injured.

And one of the really disturbing things about all that is that this shelling caused one aid ship that was inside the port to leave prematurely, not taking on as many refugees as it could that are trying to get evacuated from that area. Meanwhile, another aid ship that was outside of Misrata's port was not able to enter, simple because the situation was too dangerous.

The rebels however say that they do have central Misrata under control. They say that they've driven Gadhafi's forces to outside of the city boundaries, but that now these forces are using their artillery as well as other heavy weapons to shell the civilian areas in town, so keeping that siege going. And also, Gadhafi forces have still surrounded the place.

Meanwhile, NATO seems to still be stepping up its air campaign against Gadhafi forces. In the Misrata area, this takes the form of quite classic close air support where they're hitting heavy Gadhafi positions, they're hitting tanks, they're hitting artillery, the weapons that Gadhafi uses on the battlefield to besiege the city of Misrata.

Here in Tripoli, it's a different situation where NATO seems to be hitting Gadhafi's command-and-control infrastructure. Of course, one of the things that was hit in the past couple of days was a building inside the Bab el- Azizia compound, which is Gadhafi's compound, which NATO says was a command-and-control headquarters. But the Libyan government says was actually one of Gadhafi's residences and they say that this was a direct assassination attempt on Moammar Gadhafi. They've called on Russia to ask for an emergency meeting of the U.N. Security Council, saying that this attack on what they say was an attack on Gadhafi was illegal under the U.N. resolution to enforce the no-fly zone here in Libya.

Fred Pleitgen, CNN, Tripoli, Libya.


STOUT: Now, Britain's foreign secretary says that Colonel Gadhafi has shown no regard for civilian lives. William Hague briefed the House of Commons about NATO's operation in Libya, and he said that Gadhafi must go.


WILLIAM HAGUE, BRITISH FOREIGN SECRETARY: By his actions, it is clear that Gadhafi has no intention of observing the conditions in Security Council Resolution 1973 that I described to the House earlier this month. He has repeatedly ignored the cease-fires that he himself has announced.

Our military action is defined by the U.N. Security Council resolutions. We are also clear that Gadhafi should go. And it is impossible to see a viable or peaceful way forward for Libya until he does so.


STOUT: Now Hague also says the diplomatic, economic and military pressure on the regime has been successful.

The Dalai Lama, Tibet's long-serving exiled leader, may soon be handing over political power to this man, Lubsang Sangay. Now he has just been elected prime minister of Tibet's exiled government in India, beating out two other candidates. Last month, the Dalai Lama said he wanted to turn over political duties to an elected leader. And he will stay on as the spiritual head. Now, Sangay is a native of India and he received his doctorate in law from Harvard University.

Now still ahead here on NEWS STREAM, some people already want to forget about the royal wedding, but for those who can't get enough of the couple, a few souvenirs will help you recall the happy day. We've picked out a few that make us say "I do" not get it.


STOUT: Welcome back.

Now this week's royal wedding may be the event of the decade. Many mementos have been made to mark the marriage of Prince William and Kate Middleton. And if you seek such a souvenir, we feel a duty to tell you that some are a bit silly.

Now this book says that you can knit your own royal wedding. We gave it try. Let's just say it's not simple. There are easier ways to relive the royal romance like this.





LUDDINGTON: I know who you are.



STOUT: "William and Kate," the movie, is now available on DVD. And some critics have said it is just so bad, it's good.

But it never hurts to be prepared. So in case the film makes you feel a little ill, may we suggest a royal sick bag. Also, handy in case the nuptials make you nauseous.

Now you may remember we showed you this, the Lego representation of the royal wedding, a few weeks ago. It's at the Lego Land, Windsor, but no bride wants to look so lifeless on her big day, so, behold, much better figure. Yes, Kate appears a bit taller than Will wearing the crown, but it doesn't stop with the couple. Lego has inpilled (ph) members of the royal family as well. Now that's Prince Harry next to Camilla. Prince Charles is next to his father, Prince Philip. We're not too sure why Queen Elizabeth looks a bit perturbed there. And then there is this. Now fans have built a gigantic replica of Westminster Abbey. It took eight weeks and 180,000 Lego bricks to make.

No replica is needed for London's weather as what could be a historically warm April nears an end, but changes are in sight.

Pedram Javaheri, joins us from the World Weather Center -- Pedro?

PEDRAM JAVAHERI, CNN METEOROLOGIST: Yes, we've been tracking the changes here at least the past week or so, Kristie, and it still looks like we're going to see them happen here as we approach the next 36 to 48 or so hours. We've sat clear. We've sat warm. Above average, as you just said, approaching 40 consecutive days now, as the skies have been generally clear.

But I want you to notice something over Germany. This little circulation beginning to move back out towards portions of Belgium, out towards -- eventually towards the United Kingdom. That's a storm system doing what we call retrograding or going against the grain. Typically, in this part of the world, storms come in from the west, shoot off to the east. This storm system is actually doing something a little unusual, beginning to move against the grain and work its way back towards portions of the U.K. And the timing, of course, puts them right there around Friday, Friday afternoon, into Friday evening. And again, high pressure has been in place there, giving them mild conditions. And that begins moving off towards Scandinavia, giving them a little bit of a break.

So we'll get some showers in the forecast. I think some light showers in the early, early morning hours, well before the wedding begins, perhaps the time that -- while William and Kate are sound asleep. And then by the afternoon hours, we'll get another round of showers. And we'll give you a detailed forecast here momentarily.

But there's the Thursday reading. 17 is what we're expecting, Paris, 19. But I want you to notice this. Berlin, Vienna, work your way towards Kiev, they're now going to now begin to warm up as high pressure begins shifting to the east. So the forecast could take a little bit of a flip-flop.

And, again, the high on Friday around 17 degrees. We will have northeasterly winds, fairly breezy at times, so going to feel cool, and perhaps a lingering shower.

At the time of the wedding, around 11:00 a.m., here we go. This is the forecast over the next couple of days. As we approach, you can see the clouds on the increase on Thursday. It will approach 10:00, 11:00 local time. Probably, right there at 10:00. And this is what it looks like right now. Clouds in the area. Notice some clearing perhaps possible. Some clouds in the area. A few showers could pop up. So a mixed bag of a weather pattern certainly in the forecast.


STOUT: Yes, Pedram, thank you for giving us the forecast. And you watch out yourself there in Atlanta's CNN Center.

Pedram Javaheri there, thank you very much indeed.

Now, it's time to take you over and out there. Now in Latvia, real birds are taking to Twitter to tweet for their supper. That is right. The folks behind a Latvian magazine, they covered a keyboard in bacon fat and they connected it to the Twitter feed "Hungry Birds." So far, the birds have pecked out more than 2,000 posts with gems like, "Mmm" and "LOL." Sure, it's mostly nonsense, as you can see. And occasionally, they get fixated with the letters S, E, X. But, come on, guys, we've seen worse on Twitter.

Now, that is NEWS STREAM. But the news continues at CNN. "WORLD BUSINESS TODAY" is next.