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Free Syrian Army Announces It Will Leave Homs; U.S. Defeats Italy For First Time Ever; Tornadoes Rumble Through Midwest

Aired March 1, 2012 - 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. And we begin in Syria and the struggle to find out just what is happening inside Homs as the Syrian army tightens its grip on the town.

Now Google's controversial new privacy rules go into effect today. And the web giant defends its policy. And tells CNN why it's better for users.

And Iran prepares for a parliamentary vote, but how many Iranians will go to the polls?

We won't pull out until the last drop of blood -- now those are the worlds of a Syrian rebel fighter in the Baba Amr district of Homs, which activists say is being attacked from four sides by government forces. An opposition group says intense fighting has broken out as the Free Syrian Army tries to defend the area from an escalating assault.

And normally we'd show you YouTube videos of the fighting, but an opposition group says Syrian forces are targeting satellite internet devices, preventing activists from uploading new video from YouTube.

Further north in Hama, this huge crowd appears to be showing their support for the people of Baba Amr, although we can't verify the authenticity of this footage. Activists say 29 people died across the country on Wednesday including a family of five and 11 other people in Homs.

As the violence continues, the UN human rights council has adopted a resolution condemning what it calls Syria's widespread human rights violations and calling for access to give out humanitarian relief.

Nic Robertson is monitoring Syria from Beirut, Lebanon and he joins us now. And Nic, what is the latest word from Homs?

NIC ROBERTSON, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, Kristie, it's very, very hard for us to get any good communications with activists inside Baba Amr and inside Homs, however a Facebook page that's used by activists and is known to be reliable in the past has made the following statement, and this is a very important statement for the Free Syrian Army, they say they are mounting a strategic withdrawal from Baba Amr. They are pulling out of Baba Amr, they say, to save the civilians. They say that they are running low on ammunition and weapons and that they are withdrawing themselves from that area in the hope that the bombardment against the civilians there will end.

They're saying they call immediately for the international Red Cross to be allowed to enter Baba Amr and to help the civilians there get out of the area.

But this is the turning point for Baba Amr if this statement proves to be correct. And at this moment we have no reason to doubt it. We cannot reach activists in Baba Amr at this time, but this is, according to the Free Syrian Army, a strategic withdrawal from Baba Amr, recognizing that they cannot hold out against Bashar al Assad's much better armed and equipped and trained forces -- Kristie.

LU STOUT: And if this is true, that the Free Syrian Army is withdrawing from Baba Amr, that Baba Amr has in fact been taken by the Syrian Army what next? What will happen to the uprising across the country?

ROBERTSON: It's very, very hard to say. There's no doubt at all that the Free Syrian Army, through what we hear from activists and what they say, that they will continue defending other locations. But the message is very clear, there comes a point when so much pressure can be put upon them where they become so isolated and cut off that they cannot maintain their supplies, to keep weapons and ammunition coming in, where the attrition rate through shellings and injuries become so high that they -- that they lack the human resources to hold out.

It doesn't sound at the moment as if the area is overrun, if you will, by government forces. And of course the civilians in Baba Amr have been bearing the large brunt of all the shelling that's going on. There's -- we don't have an update if the shelling has stopped because of this announcement. That would perhaps be unusual that you would get such a cessation of hostilities. So immediately after announcement like this it would seem -- and we don't have up to date information from the ground that even government forces are willing to stop their military action until they can be sure that there's no one there who is waiting to shoot back at them.

So the situation there very likely right now remain incredibly dangerous. But the message is if you will clear for other communities that are isolated that the -- that Bashar al Assad's forces will continue their offensives until they have completely crushed the ability of those areas to withstand. So perhaps this is -- is an isolated case, the fact that this tactical withdraw may just happen in Baba Amr and nowhere else, but it's an indication that will be of great concern for civilians who are relying on the Free Syrian Army essentially to protect them. And this is what happens in many, many, many places around Syria right now, Kristie.

LU STOUT: And describe the humanitarian nightmare inside Homs for the civilians who have been trapped and the ongoing bombardment for what almost a month now? What have they been dealing with?

ROBERTSON: Well, electricity and water, we understood, was cut off for the whole of Homs. They've been relying on generators for what little electrical power they had. We'd heard of hundreds of people being essentially crowding into what few basements there were in Baba Amr just to try and seek safety, shelter, and security and sanctuary from the shelling.

Whenever people have gone out, they've run the risk of injury and of being killed even if they're just going to search for food or for water. We've seen video from other parts of the country where people are sitting on the streets with pans essentially showing for the camera that they're collecting water from the rain that's been falling down.

So the humanitarian situation is one that's been incredibly dire. It's been short of the essentials for life: short of water, short of electricity. And of course the one thing that they have been so massively in short supply of is not just medical equipment, but medical facilities, because in Baba Amr and in some of these other neighborhoods the government controls the principal hospitals. And the medical facilities have merely been set up in somebody's basement, in somebody's living room. So they've been cut off from proper medical treatment as well.

It's very hard to imagine just how bad it can be. And of course not being there, because the government won't allow us to be there, it's very difficult for us to see as well, Kristie.

LU STOUT: Nic Robertson watching the story for us. Thank you very much indeed, Nic.

Now, quote, Othe killing and the violence must stop.O Those are the words of Kofi Annan, the joint UN Arab League envoy to Syria. However, the former UN secretary-general, he acknowledges that ending the conflict will not be easy.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

KOFI ANNAN, FRM. UN SECRETARY-GENERAL: It's a tough challenge. And the first thing we need to do as the secretary-general has said is to do everything we can to stop the violence and the killing, to facilitate humanitarian access and ensure that the needy are looked after and work with the Syrians in coming up with a peaceful solution which respects their aspirations and eventually stabilize the country.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

LU STOUT: Now Kofi Annan is expected to travel to Cairo and then says he will visit Damascus, quote, fairly soon.

Now Google has become an essential tool for most internet users across much of the world, but it is facing criticism for its controversial new privacy policy which comes into effect today. However, the company says it will mean better service for users as Dan Simon reports.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

DAN SIMON, CNN CORRESPONDENT: A senior attorney at Google, Keith Enright, helped draft the company's controversial new privacy policy.

KEITH ENRIGHT, GOOGLE SENIOR PRIVACY COPMOSER: It's about improving relevance. It's about using information that you shared with Google to make Google products and services more useful for you.

SIMON: It does that by keeping track of all your activity across all of Google's sites like YouTube, Gmail, and Maps. It takes that information and builds a profile of you to display more relevant ads and search results.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We'll treat you like a single user across all of our products combining information you've provided from one service with information from the others.

SIMON: And that's what frightens privacy watchdogs. Simply put, they worry that one company will know too much about us. Attorneys general from 36 states wrote a blistering letter to the company calling the company's new policy an invasion of privacy. And others are sounding the alarm that there is no way to opt out.

PETER ECKERSLEY, ELECTRONIC FRONTIER FOUNDATION: If there are things that you want to keep private about your life, those records are all in there.

SIMON: But Google calls that untrue and says the criticism is unfounded. Now it's going on the offensive trying to erase a perception that it's violating user's rights.

But here's what the privacy watchdogs say, they say if this is really good for Google users, and very few people would decline to opt out. So why not just make that an option?

ENRIGHT: It's really about delivering the best service we can to users. Based on our experience with users we know that a consistent seamless experience across all of our products and services is going to deliver the most value for them.

SIMON: Enright points out that users will still have a wide set of privacy controls: search results can be deleted or edited, users can decline targeted ads and log out of their accounts and use Google services anonymously.

So what's all the fuss about?

ENRIGHT: I think it's largely based on misperception. I think people think that something is happening that is not, in fact happening.

SIMON: Google may only have themselves to blame for some of the skepticism. Last year it agreed to settle a lawsuit filed by Federal Trade Commission over charges that the company used deceptive tactics and violated user policy with its now shuttered social network called Buzz. And more recently, Google was found to have circumvented privacy controls on Apple's Safari browser, Missteps that only invited more scrutiny.

ENRIGHT: What we want to do is we want to deliver products that delight users and that they find extremely useful. To the extent we deviate from that mission we're going to lose users. And if we're not delivering out services in a manner that's consistent with their expectations and what they're looking for, our competition is only one click away.

SIMON: Google knows it still has some convincing to do, but thinks when people actually take the time to read the policy they'll appreciate what the company is trying to do. At a time when so many of us are sharing our lives online, Google readily concedes that it's important we know what they're doing with our private information.

Dan Simon, CNN, Mountain View, California.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

LU STOUT: Now Dan mentioned one way to avoid being tracked by Google. And you can find much more on how to keep your online activities secret on our website. Just go to CNN.com/tech.

And ahead here on NEWS STREAM, Iranians are preparing for parliamentary elections. Now the last vote in 2009 was marred by allegations of fraud and massive protests. We'll tell you what voters are saying ahead of tomorrow's election.

Meanwhile, Russia will pick its next president this weekend. Vladimir Putin is widely expected to win, but a Communist candidate is hoping to give him a run for the money.

And America's Midwest recovers from a spat of deadly tornadoes that caught many people by surprise. We'll have the latest on the rescue mission coming up.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

LU STOUT: Welcome back.

Now there are scenes of incredible destruction in much of the Midwestern United States right now. At least a dozen people are dead after a monster storm system tore through America's heartland on Wednesday spawning ferocious tornadoes. Search crews are combing through the debris. And as Brian Todd reports, there are fears that the death toll with rise.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

BRIAN TODD, CNN CORRESPONDENT: The mayor Harrisburg, Illinois says crews are searching piece by piece for survivors through wreckage that he calls devastating. By early indications, Harrisburg was hardest hit by the tornadoes that ripped through the Midwest, some touching down in the darkest hours of the morning. Most of the deaths were in Harrisburg.

ERIC GREGG, MAOR OF HARRISBURG, ILLINOIS: We have suffered the loss of lives. We have suffered many injuries. And we have suffered millions of dollars worth of damage. But first and foremost, the lost of our lives breaks my heart today.

TODD: And those fatalities could rise in number. The mayor says the twister was on the ground for several miles, the destruction about three or four football fields wide, hundreds of houses and commercial buildings crushed.

The tornado that hit Harrisburg had an early raiding of EF4, the second most powerful on the ratings scale, winds estimated at 170 miles an hour.

At a medical center there those winds tore off windows and the building's entire southern wall leaving several patients rooms exposed. One witness says hospital staffers had enough time to move those patients to the better protected center of the building before the tornado hit.

Missouri also suffered fatalities. At least one of them was a person thrown from a mobile home.

In the result town of Branson, a tornado stretched across nine miles according to the governor. Tens of millions of dollars in damage suffered. One resident described what it was like to be jolted awake by a twister.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We woke up to the windows shattering, exploding on us. It was pretty bad deal.

TODD: And listen to this account from a survivor in Kentucky.

STEVEN VAUGHT, TORNADO SURVIVOR: I was laying on the couch and all of a sudden I started hearing a train. I mean, when they say you hear a train you do. And I got up and took two steps off the couch and then me and the two dogs I have and the trailer started rolling down the hill. And you can see what's left. And after I rolled five times, I mean, I can remember everything about it, I was -- once it hit the ground on the fifth time everything just -- I saw daylight and I was sitting up against the stove down there just leaned up with my back against it like I was sitting in a chair.

TODD: Back in Harrisburg, Illinois, as residents were still dealing with shell shock, the mayor was resolute.

GREGG: We will rebuild this city. We will make this city strong.

TODD: But while they rebuild, others in that broader region are bracing for more. Other possible tornadoes could hit into Thursday. People from Alabama, Georgia, Tennessee, Kentucky and north to Ohio could be in their path, or could possibly be hit by very strong thunder storms.

Brian Todd, CNN, Washington.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

LU STOUT: Wind so powerful there that they can tear off windows, tear of walls, and the threat for severe weather is not over there in the U.S. Mari Ramos joins us now with more from the world weather center -- Mari.

MARI RAMOS, CNN WEATHER CORRESPONDENT: Yeah, like Brian mentioned right now in his report the threat is not over just yet. I want to get into some specifics for this area and then talk a little bit about other potential areas for severe weather around the world.

Now I want to show you the latest satellite image. And you can see - - or radar image I should say -- there is still some moisture and some snow coming up across parts of New England, but that line of storms that will move through this area is now farther to the south here. There are no more watches or warnings, even though we can still get some strong storms here across portions of the southeastern U.S.

The next storm system coming down the pike is what you see over here along the mountains in the form of snow. That weather system will probably get a little bit better organized as it rolls in across the plains and picks up moisture from the Gulf yet again. And this is why again we have this area with a possible, with a moderate risk we can say, this area that you see here shaded, for the possibility of strong winds and the possibility of tornadoes yet again.

The time frame for this will be Friday and into Saturday morning. So again we could be talking about, depending on what time these comes through, about some night time possibilities of some strong storms. But the people in these same areas, pretty much the same areas that were affected by these other tornadoes, will have at least one day, which is not much, to prepare before the next round of rain comes in. Even if we don't have any tornadoes, it's still going to be very tough for those people there.

Talk a little bit about the Fujita scale, the enhanced Fujita scale, how tornadoes are rated. So it goes from zero to five, from the least intense, or minor, all the way down to what's called incredible with an EF- 5. The tornadoes in Harrisburg, the one that we saw destroyed most of that town, or a large part of that town and even parts of the hospital, that was an EF-4. That's considered devastating. And winds could be as high as 320 kilometers per hour. And this one it appears it was closer to 270 kilometers per hour. But definitely that is nothing to sneeze at, Kristie, pretty intense indeed.

And EF-4 tornadoes are actually rare. The stronger they are, the more intense they are the more rare they are. Less than 1 percent of all tornadoes in the U.S. are actually rated EF-4. So you're talking about an isolated incident, fortunately. EF-0, EF-1s, those are much more common. And there was at least one EF-1 in Ohio later in the day yesterday.

Tornadoes are not only happen in the U.S. and this is really important, this is something I want to make sure people understand. They can happen in Mexico. They happen in Canada. Those of you watching in Canada know what I'm talking about. We've had tornadoes reported almost in every single country in Europe. The areas that you see here shaded are the ones that are more commonly referred to as, you know, can't really call it tornado alley, but more common areas.

This part of India, surprisingly, northern Pakistan, India and all the way into Bangladesh also an area that reports tornadoes on a regular basis and also eastern parts here of China do see some tornadoes. Every once in awhile we'll see them in the Korean peninsula, in Japan, and even into parts of the Philippines, Australia also reports tornadoes on a regular basis almost every single year and even does New Zealand. And we cannot forget about the southern tip of Africa and also portions of Argentina here in South America and also into Uruguay that also report tornadoes from time to time.

So it is a worldwide phenomenon, not just a U.S. phenomena. And just be away if you think severe weather is coming, if you know there is severe weather coming, be aware and be prepared to take shelter.

Back to you.

LU STOUT: Tornadoes, a global phenomenon. Mari Ramos there, thank you.

You're watching NEWS STREAM. And just ahead, the Soviet Union may be long gone, but Communism is not. Meet the Russians who are supporting a Communist Party candidate for president.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

LU STOUT: Coming to you live from Hong Kong, you are back watching NEWS STREAM. And in just a few days Russians will head to the polls to vote for their next president. Vladimir Putin, the current prime minister and former president is widely expected to win. But Russia's Communist Party is doing all they can to stop him.

Now Phil Black is following the elections from the Russian capital in Moscow. He joins us now. And Phil, how big a threat is the Communist Party leader to Vladimir Putin?

PHIL BLACK, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORREPSONDENT: Well he's not a huge threat to be honest, Kristie. The Communist Party has maintained its presence within Russian politics for the 20 years since the collapse of the Soviet Union. On a support base of nostalgia for the USSR and some people say because of a lack of genuine choice within Russian politics.

Its candidate, Gennady Zyuganov is a persistent candidate. This is his fourth run for the top job. So he's a long way behind, but he still remains the closest competitor to the likely winner.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

BLACK: These young people are not cheering for a sports team. They are passionately screaming for this man, the Communist Party's presidential candidate Gennady Zyuganov.

Before a crowd of true believers, he speaks of the Soviet Union's former greatness. That empire, and its ideology, collapsed 20 years ago. But Russia's Communist Party still reveres Lenin, the man responsible for it.

Zyuganov is rarely far from Lenin's image. Here he lays flowers at Lenin's mausoleum the honor what would have been the revolutionary leader's 140th birthday.

But when meet Zyuganov, he insists today's Communism is very different to Soviet Communism.

He says under the USSR it was a system of state control, now it's a modern left-wing political party.

Zyuganov says the Communists offer democracy and political competition. He says he wants a coalition government. He believes in an economy that is pro-business, but he also wants government control of big industries like agriculture, oil, and banking. His message appeals to those who fondly remember the USSR.

This woman says Zyuganov will revive Russia.

He's been criticized for not modernizing and attracting more young people, but there are young faces in the crowd.

This man believes the number of young Communists is growing because more people want social equality.

There are bloody chapters in Russia's Communist history, but that red flag with the hammer and sickle is still a powerful brand. The party has remained the second most popular political force in the country. But that also means Zyuganov, now 67, is a serial presidential wannabe.

Back in 1996 when he had moves like a younger man, Zyuganov ran strongly but unsuccessfully against Boris Yeltsin. In 2000, he ran against Vladimir Putin and lost. In 2008, his loss to Dmitry Medvedev was spectacular. And polling suggests he won't get close to beating Putin this time.

So this soon to be four-time presidential election loser is the closest electoral alternative to Vladimir Putin. It is another reason why a growing number of Russians believe their vote just doesn't count.

Zyuganov never joined the recent crowds of anti-Putin protesters demanding political reforms and fair elections. But he says he supports them. And has even suggested some of their leaders could serve in a Communist government. That would be very different to Russia's last experience with Communist rule. It's just not likely to happen.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

BLACK: So Zyuganov cannot expect to beat Putin in this Sunday's election, but if Vladimir Putin gets less than 50 percent of the vote then he must enter a runoff vote in a few weeks time against the second place getter. And that is very likely to be Gennady Zyuganov. In the event that Zyuganov is embraced by all the anti-Putin parties and groups as the anyone but Putin candidate, then it's possible that second round of voting could be more competitive. But it's still likely that Putin even then would emerge victorious.

But the hope of the opposition groups is that in that scenario he would return to the presidency a significantly weakened and diminished figure, Kristie.

LU STOUT: More on the anti-Putin sentiment. I mean, just a few months ago there were these massive anti-corruption, anti-Putin rallies in Mosow. What happened to the opposition?

BLACK: Well, they're still here. They are bigger, louder, better organized than was even thinkable just a few months ago. They are a growing political force. Despite that, though, Vladimir Putin remains the most popular politician in the country.

The reason for that is largely demographic and geographic. The opposition movement at the moment is largely made up of middle-class urban dwellers, people in Moscow and St. Petersburg, people who are well educated, economically comfortable, well traveled, who very much want political systems like those they see in the west.

Beyond that, Putin's support outside of those cities is still very strong. And for the moment that is why he can still expect to win convincingly in this election, Kristie.

LU STOUT: And Russians will go to the polls this Sunday, March 4. Phil Black reporting live from Moscow, thank you Phil.

Coming up next here on NEWS STREAM, the flyers are going out, the campaign posters are up, but will many Iranian voters stay away from the polls in Iran's parliamentary elections tomorrow?

And from the red carpet to a real-life deep sea adventure, Oscar winning director James Cameron's aquatic quest is next.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

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

Now activists say at least nine people have been killed in Syria so far this Thursday. It comes as activists say intense fighting is taking place around the neighborhood of Baba Amr in the city of Homs. Opposition groups say government forces are staging a ground assault there. And they say it is almost impossible to contact residents trapped inside. Now one activist group posted this message to Facebook saying that they will withdraw from Baba Amr. And we will continue to bring you the very latest from Homs as soon as we know more.

Now two U.S. soldiers have been killed in southern Afghanistan. NATO says the attackers were a man in an Afghan army uniform and a civilian, apparently a teacher who ran courses for members of the Afghan army. Both attackers were killed. Four other American service members have been killed in the past week.

Now more than 1,000 passengers and crew of the cruise ship the Costa Allegra have made it to dry land after spending three days at sea with no power or electricity. The ship was towed into port in the Seychelles earlier today. Passengers are being given accommodation there in the Seychelles while arrangements are being made to fly them home.

Now Iranians head to the polls on Friday in their country's parliamentary elections. It will be their first chance to vote since President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad won reelection in 2009. Now allegations of fraud overshadowed that vote leading to massive opposition protests and a government crackdown.

Now some Iranian political analysts are framing this vote as a contest between rival conservative factions supporting Mr. Ahmadinejad and factions supporting Iran's supreme leader Ayatollah Ali Khomeini.

Now Ivan Watson is in the Iranian capital. He's been gauging the mood of Iran's people on this election eve. And he joins us now live from Tehran.

And Ivan, after what happened in 2009 just how many Iranians are eager to return to the polls?

IVAN WATSON, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, that's a big question that I guess we'll see -- possibly see an answer to on election day tomorrow. The official campaigning period, as I understand, is over now. And there is a massive publicity campaign that's been underway for days now on Iranian state media, on the streets with billboards and signs, urging Iranians to do their patriotic duty to go out and vote on Friday.

And part of that is driven by the controversy that swirled around that 2009 presidential election when the competitors for the post of president actually accused the government of rigging the election. And that resulted in them under house arrest to this day. Many other people reported arrests on fleeing the country. A big mess, basically, with widespread allegations of human rights abuses that the Iranian government continues to deny.

When you hear from Iranian officials right now, the supreme leader Ayatollah Ali Khomeini who just spoke yesterday to people at a Hosseinia (ph) here at one of the mosques, the religious schools, he was again saying that this was a time for unity, saying this is a tie to go out and vote. And that this would be a punch in the face of Iran's western adversaries, countries like the U.S. and Israel because it would show that there is mass popular support for the regime some 33 years after the Islamic revolution - - Kristie.

LU STOUT: So the U.S. being played up as an adversary in this vote. But to what extent is this election a political battle between President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad and Iran's supreme leader?

WATSON: Well, political analysts I'm talking to are saying that in part because many of the so-called reformist candidates, and certainly anybody affiliated with that pro-reform Green Movement that we saw in 2009 out in the streets in force, they can't participate, Green Movement politicians, in this election.

So who does that leave in the ideological spectrum? There are some so-called reformist candidates. But for the most part the biggest political power blocks come from within the conservative establishment according to Iranian political scientists I've talked to. And some have described this as a competition between Mahmoud Ahmadinejad's supporters and those who hue very strongly to the supreme leader Ayatollah Ali Khomeini.

There have been differences between these two leaders within the Iranian government over the course of the past year.

When you speak to candidates, however, Kristie, candidates from this so-called principleist field of Iranian politics, this very conservative, very close to the regime group, strain in politics here, they insist in interviews with me that there are hardly any differences between these groups, that they are part of one family. And that may be because there have been calls for unity from the supreme leader who has basically been arguing the west an exploit these differences and weaken us. We have to come together.

But certainly not spoken about, there is competition -- there is competition within different branches of the government. And we may see the results on Friday of that competition.

LU STOUT: Yeah, competition, but a competition between two groups of conservatives.

Now one last question for you before we let you go, Ivan, international journalists including yourself are now inside the country, inside Iran to cover this election, but are your movement restricted? How much access do you have?

WATSON: Well -- that's a good question. We have been assigned officials who work with agencies that work with the government as media guides here. We have been instructed that we're allowed to cover the election only for a period of five days. That is our visa period. And there have been not so subtle warnings to stay away from other subjects that are perceived to be sensitive here.

And certainly compared to my past visits to this country, Kristie, it's been seven years that I have been denied visas to Iran. Compared to the past, there does seem to be less political freedom, less political space for people to discuss the current state of affairs in Iran, whether that's an aftermath of the crackdown following 2009 elections, or whether it also has something to do with the ratcheting up of tensions between the Iranian government and its western rivals, the U.S. and Israel and others where we've even seen the assassination of nuclear scientists in the streets of Tehran in recent months and very stiff economic sanctions against Iran that are believed to be causing some harm to the economy here.

Whether or not that is part of what is adding to this atmosphere of suspicion, I haven't quite figured out the answer to that yet. But certainly it's not as easy and as liberal for foreign journalists as it was seven years ago the last time I was in this country -- Kristie.

LU STOUT: Fascinating the difference then and now. Ivan Watson reporting live from Tehran for us. Thank you very much indeed for that report.

Now Ira's nuclear ambitions are certain to top the agenda when U.S. President Barack Obama meets Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu in Washington on Monday. And there are growing suspicions that Iran has carried out nuclear activities at this military complex southeast of Tehran.

As Barbara Starr reports, Iran has been keeping the doors of that site firmly locked against UN nuclear inspectors.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

BARBARA STARR, CNN CORRESPONDENT: This is the place that Iran may be holding some of its most critical nuclear secrets.

DAVID ALBRIGHT, INSTITUTE FOR SCIENTS AND INTERNATIONAL SECURITY: Iran put together a special facility, basically a facility within a facility where they can conduct high explosive tests that wouldn't be visible from overhead imagery.

STARR: Commercial satellite images show the military base at Parchin south of Tehran. Experts believe it is here that Iran has tested explosives that would be used in a trigger for a nuclear bomb.

ALBRIGHT: A very sophisticated experiment that Iran is suspected of conducting in that facility.

STARR: International Atomic Energy Agency, IAEA, officials haven't been here since 2005. But do watch it from satellite images. Iran has flat out refused to let inspectors back in.

HILLARY CLINTON, U.S. SECRETAYR OF STATE: It was surprising because it raises suspicions. If there is no nuclear weapons program, what does Iran have to hide? If there is no nuclear weapons program why are they putting their nuclear centrifuges deep under ground? If there is no nuclear weapons program that is intended, well why don't they clearly state so?

STARR: It's a critical question as Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu prepares to meet President Obama next week. Unlike the U.S., Israel believes Iran has made the decision to go ahead with a weapons program. How close could Iran be to the bomb, the so-called red line? Experts tell CNN by early next year Iran could have enough uranium enriched to the 20 percent level. If that happens, it would be easy for Iran to further enrich to weapons grade material to make a bomb.

Turning it into weapons grade nuclear material could take just weeks. And inspectors might never know about it.

Right now those nuclear inspectors want back in to the base at Parchin. Even if they can't find evidence a test was conducted there, they want Iran to agree that nuclear inspectors can go wherever they want to.

Barbara Starr, CNN, the Pentagon.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

LU STOUT: You're watching NEWS STREAM lie from Hong Kong. And journey to the bottom of the ocean, director James Cameron's big adventures are not only in the movie screen. We'll explain when we come back.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

LU STOUT: Welcome back.

And there was no shortage of goals or drama on a busy night of international football. Pedro Pinto joins us. He's got all the details -- Pedro.

PEDRO PINTO, CNN SPORTS CORRESPONDENT: Hey, Kristie, there were a lot of great games on Wednesday. Let's start in Bremen where Germany lost for the first time in 11 matches. The Manshaft (ph) went down to France in front of their home supporters.

The Germans were missing several first team players at Weserstadion. And Le Bleus took full advantage. Olivier Giroud was the top scorer in Ligue right now put the visitors ahead after 21 minutes. Laurent Blanc's side added to their lead in the 69th minute. Giroud turning provider. Florent Malouda making the most of some slack defending to put his side up 2-nil.

All Germany could do would get a consolation goal in injury time. Thomas Muller crosses for Cacau who scores. 2-1 it finished in Bremen.

Here in London, England lost for the first time in 15 months in what was their first game since Fabio Capello left his post as national team manager. They went down to The Netherlands at Wembley. Arjen Robben scored twice including the winner in injury time to give the World Cup runner's up a 3-2 victory.

Also on Wednesday, football history was made as the United States beat Italy for the first time ever. A second half goal from Clint Dempsey gave team USA an unexpected win in Genoa. The Azzurri had several chances to get back on level terms, but they couldn't convert any of them. Substitute Fabio Rolini (ph) couldn't find a way past Tim Howard. And later, Ricardo Montevideo's (ph) effort went wide. The Americans holding on to record an historic 1-nil win over Italy.

Well, after the international break, Europe's top leagues return to action this weekend. In France, Paris St. Germain resume their quest for their first league title since 1994. Manager Carlo Ancelloti told me he would love to lead the club to the title and qualify for the Champion's League.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

CARLO ANCELLOTI, PARIS ST. GERMAIN MANAGER: This club has not big history like Milan like other club like Manchester United, Real Madrid, like Barcelona, but the aim is to reach that kind of level.

PINTO: Tell me about the pressure you have here to win the title this year. Would it be a big failure if you don't finish first?

ANCELLOTI: Oh, it's not -- would not be a problem for the club. The club, the aim is to play in the Champion's League next year. So of course it's my responsibility because I found the club at the top of the league and so I have to try to do the best to maintain, to keep the club at the top of the league until the end of the season. But the aim is to play in the Champion's League.

PINTO: What was your first impression of the president and what he told you and what he wanted from you?

ANCELLOTI: Here is our objective. It is very clear. To build a good image of this club, to build one of the top club in Europe. And he wants my experience. He wants my knowledge to help the club and the team to improve quickly. He has a fantastic passion for football. He knows everything.

PINTO: I believe you signed a two-and-a-half year contract. When do you think this team can compete in the Champion's League to win the trophy? So not only to get there -- I know that's your first objective -- but..

ANCELLOTI: Other -- to be competitive in the Champion's League it means to move on from the group phase. I think that we want to be competitive like next year. Next year -- I think that with two or three players in the summer we can be competitive.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

PINTO: More from Paris St. Germain on World Sport later on CNN as we hear from Javier Pastore their record signing (ph).

Now if I ask you to name famous men in masks you would probably think of Zorro, the Lone Ranger, but what about Kobe Bryant? The Lakers super star had to wear a protective mask after breaking his nose over the weekend in the all-star game. It didn't seem to bother him too much as he scored with ease against the Minnesota Timbewolves on Wednesday night. The T'Wolves stayed close before the break.

Luke Riddenhauer managed to get the steal on Kobe Bryant and then convert the lay-up in transition.

But in the second half it was all L.A. And Kobe, of course, had a lot to do with that. He had 31 points, 7 rebounds, and 8 assists. The Lakers and the masked Kobe winning comfortably 104-85.

Also on Wednesday, New York hosted Cleveland at Madison Square Garden. This was truly a game of two halves. The Cavaliers led by 17 points in the first half, but the Knicks dominated the second. Carmelo Anthony pulling up and nailing a 3-pointer in the third period to pull the home side to within four.

New York would complete the comeback later in the third. Steve Novak drains a shot from downtown and it's 82-80 Knicks. Novak was just unstoppable from long range. He hit 5 of 7 3-pointers, 17 points on the night from him off the bench.

Jeremy Lin had one of his best games of the season, 19 points, 13 assists and only 1 turnover. Great reverse lay-up by the Taiwanese- American point guard. The Knicks winning by 17, 120-103.

Finally, we're going to head out to Israel to show you one of the strangest own goals that you ever see. It was scored in a friendly game between Macabi Haifa (ph) and Denemo Kiev (ph). Macabi (ph) keeper Asif Mendez (ph) kicks the ball upfield, but watch the wind blow it straight back past him and into his own net. It's definitely worth another look. The gusts were so strong in Haifa that the game had to be suspended in the second half. You can see why. Absolutely crazy. The ball blown back into his own net.

That will do it for now. More on World Sport coming up in about three-and-a-half hours time, Kristie. Pretty crazy video isn't it?

LU STOUT: Yeah. Incredible video. How can you compete against gusts like that? Wow. Pedro Pinto there, thank you.

Now film director James Cameron, pictured here, he's made a living out of movies that explore different worlds. Think of Avatar, Titanic, and The Abyss. And some of his movies were inspired by his love of the sea and the creatures he's encountered in the big deep.

Now James Cameron is taking his passion to new extremes. He is attempting to dive to the very bottom of the ocean, to the depth of the Mariana Trench which sits some 11,000 meters down in the Pacific. You can see here just how deep that is.

Now the floor of the trench is deeper than Mount Everest is tall. It has only been visited by two humans in history.

Now still to come here on NEWS STREAM, we'll take a look at the latest trends in technology on display at the Mobile World Congress. That's up next right here on CNN.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

LU STOUT: Welcome back.

Now most of the world's leading technology companies gathered in Spain to show off their latest phones and tablets. And CNN Money's David Goldman had the enviable task of traveling to sunny Barcelona to check out the latest gadgets and he gave us this look at the highlights.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

DAVID GOLDMAN, CNN MONEY: It's all the smartphone makers descending upon Barcelona. It's easy to start to spot some trends. One big trend is for handset makers to add high-end accessories to their devices. HTC's new run line has an especially good camera that has a new image censor chip in it that allows you to take good pictures in low light. Since it's a faster lens, action shots won't be nearly as blurry. You can even take a video and snap pictures from the video as well.

Intel has a new chip out that it uses a proof of concept to show other handset manufacturers what it can do in mobile. And that chip comes with a pretty cool feature. It allows you to take 10 rapid succession photographs. So if someone turns or if someone looks down, if you're taking a photo of someone you can ensure that one photo is going to be good.

Nokia has a new phone that has a 41 megapixel camera. Now before you get too excited it's actually not 41 megapixels. It does some digital trickery to make it a higher quality image than it really is. But it's still a little bit grainy. It's just good for high quality action shots that you can take on a mobile device.

It's not just that I'm taking pictures either, it's about projecting them as well. Samsung has a new phone called the Beam and it allows you to take whatever is on that device and shoot it at a wall or a ceiling or wherever you want to project the image that is on the device. The resolution now is pretty low, but if this is something that catches on then maybe that will improve down the road.

Qualcomm has been working on a technology for quite some time and it's finally here. It's called Mirasol. Mirasol is a technology that allows you to have a color screen and a battery life that lasts 14 days. Now what's really interesting about that is that it is not lit from the back like most other tablets. In fact, you need ambient light, or sunlight would be perfect, to view an image on your Mirasol tablet.

Now what's good about that is that if you are outside it's really hard to see a tablet image. So if you're trying to read a book on the beach, for instance, it can actually be really difficult to do that on a normal tablet. Not a Mirasol tablet. And that can be coming to us pretty soon.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

LU STOUT: Interesting, a tablet you can use at the beach.

Now what do a football quarterback and a piece of paper have in common? Well, for Joe Iobe (ph) it was a match made in heaven.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: There it is. There it is. We are all over that one. That's going to do it. Get up there. Get up there. Get up there. Get up there. Get up there. Yes! Yes! Yes!

(END VIDEO CLIP)

LU STOUT: Nice. Now Iobe (ph) used his killer throw to achieve the world paper airplane record. On Sunday he threw the paper plane 69 meters. The creator of the plane is the man in the blue shirt. His name is John Holland. And he spent years trying to perfect the design using just an A4 piece of paper and small piece of tape for his creation.

And in case you're wondering, using tape may not sound traditional, but it is reportedly allowed by Guinness World Records. And in case you're wondering just how long 69 meters is. Well, it's almost the length of a very real airplane, the 747 400 jumbo jet.

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

END