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NEWS STREAM

Bayern Munich Sets Champion's League Scoring Record Against Basel; U.S. Secretary of Defense Leon Panetta Makes Surprise Visit To Afghanistan; Syrian Government Torture Practices Go Back Decades; Rick Santorum Wins Mississippi, Alabama Primaries

Aired March 14, 2012 - 08:00:00   ET

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


MANISHA TANK, HOST: Hello, and a warm welcome to NEWS STREAM where news and technology meet. I'm Manisha Tank at CNN Hong Kong. And we begin in Afghanistan where the U.S. Secretary of Defense has made a surprise visit amid rising anger against Americans.

China's outgoing leader apologizes. Wen Jiabao says he's sorry for any economic troubles under his leadership.

And Rick Santorum wins Tuesdays primaries, but the numbers show he still didn't make a serious dent in Mitt Romney's lead in the U.S. Republican presidential race.

U.S. Defense Secretary Leon Panetta is on a two day visit to Afghanistan. And his trip coms at a time of heightened tensions and Afghan anger over a shooting rampage blamed on an American soldier. Defense Secretary Panetta described the incident as deeply troubling. He met with -- he's going to meet with tribal leaders and ministers, but he's not expected to visit an area of Kandahar Province which is where Sunday's attacks took place. 16 civilians, including nine children were killed. And a U.S. army staff sergeant is in custody after turning himself in.

Well, earlier today, Afghan officials say eight people were killed after a roadside bomb ripped through their minivan in Helmand Province. Panetta was visiting the province, but he wasn't affected by this attack.

Separately, an Afghan security officer was killed trying to diffuse a motorcycle bomb in Kandahar. And that comes on top of what already appears to be a growing backlash against the United States.

On Tuesday, gunfire and grenades weer heard near a funeral for victims of the village shootings.

In Jalalabad, anti-American slogans were chanted by these student protesters who blocked the highway to Kabul. It's a sign of the mounting anger against U.S. troops following a series of incidents. In February, riots broke out after soldiers inadvertently burned copes of the Koran that had been seized from inmates a Bagram Airbase. Dozens of people, including six American troops in the resulting violence.

Before that, in January, this graphic footage was posted online. What you can see here, U.S. marines apparently urinating on the dead bodies of Afghans. The Pentagon launched an investigation after this video surfaced.

Well, as those tensions in Afghanistan rise, U.S. officials investigating Sunday's attack on the civilians say alcohol could have been involved. Let's talk to Sara Sidner who is in Kabul in Afghanistan. And Sara, has Defense Secretary Panetta talked about Sunday's massacre there yet?

SARA SIDNER, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESOPONDENT: He has not. We haven't heard from him about the massacre. He did talk yesterday about it, saying it seems like every time you turn around these days there has been an incident that makes things more difficult, the relationship between the United States in particular and Afghan leaders.

What I can tell is that this unannounced trip was scheduled weeks before anyone could have imagined this massacre occurring with an accused U.S. soldier now in custody, but we do know that there have been a couple of incidents of violence, one that you mentioned, one in Helmand Province. But quite a ways away from where Panetta is visiting, which is two bases there: Camp Leatherneck, and Camp Bastion.

He was talking to UK and U.S. troops today as well as Afghan leaders. He told the troops that he wanted to assure them that the mission is really turning to a transitional mission to try and get the Afghan security forces in the place where they can control and take over their country so that the Taliban can no longer have a stronghold, especially in Helmand province.

Helmand province, a place where there have been a lot, a lot of action and fighting over the years in this war by U.S. forces and NATO forces and the Taliban itself. It was a stronghold particularly Marsia (ph), that has been captured in 2010 by NATO forces and the Afghan officials and forces are starting to take over those areas.

But I want to mention this motorcycle explosion in Kandahar as well. You're seeing just a few things happen after this killing that happened on Sunday that left 16 people dead, including nine children and three women. A lot of anger, the Taliban expressing that they're going to take revenge. And it appears that that is what you are starting to see now, though, in smaller portions.

You know, sometimes the Taliban says things that they're going to do something massive, they're going to behead any Americans in the country, but we are seeing some violent reprisals.

We are not, however, seeing a lot of protests. We saw one in Jalalabad, which is in eastern Afghanistan, very far from Kandahar. And we have not seen any protests since then. Interesting to note that after the Koran burnings by U.S. troops we saw massive protests all over the place with people very angry. Those turned violent with 40 people killed, including several U.S. service members.

We're not seeing that kind of response now. And there's a lot of people hoping that that kind of response will not materialize as the relationship particularly between the United States and Afghanistan is strained after these several incidents that you mentioned earlier -- Monita (ph). Sorry, Manisha.

TANK: Yeah, you know, Sara, I wondered about that, because you talk about this relationship -- you described it just then as strained. So in your opinion, from your perspective and what you're seeing people you're talking to it isn't strained beyond measure at this stage.

SIDNER: Yeah, I mean, if you talk to U.S. officials, if you talk to UK officials, they're saying, look, we're still going forward with the mission that has been in place for a long time, coming towards pulling troops out in 2014, trying to get these Afghan security forces properly trained so that they can take over the job that NATO forces have been doing.

And they're saying actually if you look at it as a whole, there are hundreds of thousands of forces that have been properly trained and that what you are seeing is incidents that are happening sporadically, but they do not represent the entire NATO mission here, nor the soldiers involved in this fight.

So I think it's a situation where they're saying, look, it is not damaged beyond all repair, but certainly this causes difficulty when people are trying to negotiate, when there are certain things that people want to put in place. It's hard to talk about peace when you have people very, very angry and seeing the slaughter of children and women.

But it is going to go forward. And we know that one of the Afghan officials that Panetta talked to today actually thanked him, saying that things have gotten better, that the Taliban has been moved out of certain areas of the Helmand province. And there didn't seem to be any strife there.

TANK: OK. We'll have to leave it there for now. Sara Sidner live in Kabul. Thanks very much for bringing us up to date.

Now the Syrian army has seized control of a rebel stronghold, this is according to activists who say that security forces have driven opposition fighters from the northern city of Idlib in Syria after a four day onslaught.

The activists are saying that small bands of military defectors are holding out against the assault. This footage you're seeing now appears to show the aftermath of an attack by rebel fighters on the Syrian army in Idlib province. CNN, though, cannot verify its authenticity.

Now activists say 16 civilians have been killed in violence so far just today, including 12 in Idlib which is farther south. These images report to show tanks and troops massed on the outskirts of Daraa. And that's where the uprising began almost one year ago.

The horror of torture can be both powerful and upsetting to watch. Our next report has videos that viewers may find disturbing. The stories of torture as a technique of conflict are not new. CNN's Arwa Damon looks into allegations that torture has been a tool used by the Syrian regime long before the government's crackdown of open protest even began a year ago.

Again, we do warn you that her report does contain some very graphic images.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

ARWA DAMON, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: This is one of many videos posted to YouTube since the uprising against the Syrian government began. It identifies the victim as (INAUDIBLE) from Homs being beaten by men in military uniform. CNN cannot independently verify the video, but it's clear El Amr (ph) is crying out in pain.

Smiling, the man crouched at his head shouts, "this is an infiltrator."

Despite El Amr (ph) pleas, the beating doesn't stop.

"Should we shoot him and waste a bullet," someone taunts?

Then he's forced to declare, "with my blood and my soul I will fight for you Bashar."

"Liar." they say.

"No, I mean it." He implores.

It seems they were not convinced.

These are traces of torture on his body, a voice narrates. El Amr (ph) it would appear was beaten to death.

Torture at the hands of Syria's government has been happening for decades.

"Have you ever heard of someone coming back from hell and talking about it? We did. We are telling you about hell," Ali (ph) says at this therapy session in Beirut.

These men say they were all detained by Syrian forces during Syria's 30 year occupation of its smaller neighbor. Jailed in Syria anywhere from five to 15 years.

ALI ABU DEHN, FORMER PRISONER: Lately we have seen what's happening in Syria. And what we have seen, the same way they are beating the people, torturing the people in the street, that's was happening to us, the same in the prison.

DAMON: It's an experience he and the others here are just beginning to talk about.

Ali pulls up his pant leg showing his scars. He says they are from beatings with a stick embedded with nails.

Moussa (ph), sitting across the room, has a cyst sized hole in his calf.

"They had an electric cable," he says, "with the wire sticking out. Each time they would whip it around, it would rip out chunks of my flesh."

Helping these men confront their trauma is psychoanalyst Reina Sarkis. She established this group therapy program with Omam (ph), a Lebanese NGO, the first of its kind in the region to help torture victims.

Even with Sarkis 15 years of experience, what she's hearing is incomprehensible.

REINA SARKIS, PSYCHOANALYST: The things they say are unimaginable. And it's unspeakable, the truth they tell you are unspeakable. And you wouldn't imagine that one day you will hear of such atrocities that the human mind is capable of coming out of imagining, of inventing such means of torture to inflict on another human being. And this happened for real.

DAMON: The internet now brings the horror of torture into the homes of people worldwide.

There are countless videos, which CNN cannot independently verify, electing to show Syrian security forces brutality. Bodies like Amid Zelis (ph) returned to families bearing signs of torture.

This video recently emerged said to be shot in the military hospital in Homs. It appears to show detainees chained to their beds.

This is a clip from the hospital morgue. The voice narrates, "he came into the hospital with a gunshot wound to the leg and then was tortured."

These images give Ali intense flashbacks. He says the same happened to them. Chained when they needed medical treatment, surgeries with no anesthetic.

Five years ago, they made their own video to show what they say they've endured.

This technique is dubbed El Dulab (ph), meaning "the tire." The victim is beaten across the souls of his feet. In some cases, electrocuted. In some cases, even sodomized.

SARKIS: They were in a place where it was in many ways a machine to break down human beings. So the torture was not only physical.

DAMON: This clip demonstrates how Ali and the other former detainees say they were strung up from the ceiling, beaten and left hanging for hours if not days.

SARKIS: I mean, these people were tortured and destroyed. These men were destroyed physically, emotionally, mentally. Their morale, their character, they really -- they really worked hard and -- in a very methodical way to turn them into dust, to pulverize them.

DAMON: Despite every new report on torture, despite every new and apparently real video on the internet, and despite all the publicity, this is still going on.

Arwa Damon, CNN, Beirut.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

TANK: The Belgian prime minister calling it a tragic day for the country. 28 people, most of them children, are dead. This follows a bus crash in Switzerland on Tuesday night. The bus was carrying the school children back to Belgium after a skiing holiday when it crashed into a wall in a tunnel in the Canton of Ballet (ph) close to the Italian border. An investigation is underway to determine the cause of that accident.

And to another tragic bus crash, this one in China's Sichuan province. The state run Xinua news agency reporting 15 people were killed after their bus plunged into a ravine. Six other passengers were injured, one of them remains in critical condition. And a preliminary investigation found that the bus hit a guard rail before falling into that ravine.

Now China's parliament has wrapped up its annual session. It is the last with premier Wen Jiabao at the helm. And he says he'll spend his final year in office pushing for economic and for political reform, though he didn't make any specific promises.

Mr. Wen called the last decade difficult, but momentous. He also apologized for any mistakes that he may have made in that time.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

WEN JIABAO, CHINESE PREMIER (through translator): Although I have never committed any intentional error in my work, because of my duties as the top of the executive body of the country, I should assume the responsibilities for the problems that have occurred in China's economy and society during my term of office for which I feel truly sorry.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

TANK: Well, the NPC meets each year to pass new laws. And this time, among other things, it approved the first overhaul of the country's criminal code in some 15 years. Under those changes, police now have the authority to hold suspects for up to six months at undisclosed locations. The critics are saying that just formalizes a practice that's already in place, pointing at the recent detention of Ai Wei Wei.

The activist and artist was held for some 80 days last year on rather vague charges of economic crimes.

Or look back to the high profile Rio Tinto case of 2009. That was when the Australian executive Stern Hu and three Chinese employees were detained on suspicion of stealing state secrets. The case didn't go to trial until eight months after their arrest.

Well, Chinese lawmakers point at other amendments as a step forward for human rights. The revised law throws out evidence obtained through torture and gives defendants the right to a lawyer and requires their families are notified about detentions.

Well, let's bring in Nicholas Bequelin of Human Rights Watch to talk a little bit more about this.

I think what's quite worrying for certain people is how this was a process that's been seen before, but it's actually been formalized.

NICHOLAS BEQUELIN, HUMAN RIGHTS WATCH: That's right, that's the main point is that the power formalizes -- the police formalizes the power of detaining people secretly for a very long time, up to six months, and in a place to choose, not in a formal detention place, but in a guest house in some place in the suburbs of Beijing. And they just have to notify the family within a 24 -- the first 24 hours, but they don't need to tell the family where the person is. And that's about it.

The person will not meet a lawyer, will not meet his family. The police basically have a free hand on that suspect for six months in a secret detention place. So this is really worrying. And this flies in the face of China's commitment to improve human rights through this law.

TANK: I was wondering about that, because you know, I wondered what's driving this, what's behind this formalization? And the fact that it seems to target certain types of people.

BEQUELIN: Well, the Communist Party is very worried about instability in the country. And they consider that anyone who criticize the government could be potentially destabilizing to the overall situation. They've taken a very tough line against dissent ranging from people like Ai Wei Wei to human rights lawyers, critics, writers, and so on. And what we've seen with this law was a sort of a power struggle between the reformist who wants to make Chinese law better and more in line with international norms, and hardliners, the security (INAUDIBLE) who want more power, more budget, more authority.

With this law, unfortunately they win. The police has more power. And you have to consider that the police in the first place is the institution that commits most of the human rights abuses. So it's not a very good day for Chinese criminal justice system.

TANK: Do you think this is going to lead to more arrests? Are we going to see more of this sort of thing happening?

BEQUELIN: Well, this is a Damocles hanging over the neck of every critic of the government now. At any point the police can decide that you are a national security threat, arrest you, abduct you, take you in an undisclosed location, and keep you there for as long as they can.

Take the case of lawyer Gao (ph), for instance, who was one of the most famous human rights lawyers in China. He was even acknowledged by the government to be one of China's top 10 lawyers. He disappeared at the hand of the police and suffered immense torture, not to mention the fact that his family for months and years had no idea about his whereabouts.

So this is -- we're talking about a very serious kind of abuse. And the fact that the government has decided to give way to the police and allow them to formalize this power is really a step back.

TANK: Yeah, and that was a very incredible case.

We're going to have to leave it there for now, but very interesting insights. Thank you, Nicholas Bequelin for joining us.

Now you're watching NEWS STREAM. A reminder, we're live from Hong Kong. And just ahead on this program, sweeping to victory in the deep south, a double boost for U.S. Republican presidential hopeful Rick Santorum in the race for the White House. What it means for the frontrunner, that's next.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

TANK: Well, a series of earthquakes have hit Japan this Wednesday, just days after the first anniversary of the deadly earthquake and tsunami that devastated parts of the country a little bit more than a year ago.

Now the largest was 6.8 magnitude. That was a quake that was centered 270 kilometers off Japan's northeast coast. And there weren't any immediate reports of any damage like the last one -- like the last time, authorities did issue a tsunami warning for that earlier quake, but it was quickly called off.

This quake was centered further north than last March's quake. And it was further from the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear plant that was crippled by the resulting tsunami.

Well, let's cross over to Mari Ramos who is standing by at the world weather center and who has been tracking what's been going on.

So we had that earlier quake in the day, possibly an aftershock in the last half hour or so, Mari. What can you tell us?

MARI RAMOS, CNN WEATHER CORRESPONDENT: Yeah, there's actually been several aftershocks after this -- that original powerful quake. And I want to go ahead and show you right here on Google Earth a little bit of what's been going on.

When you look at these dots on the map, each one of those is an actual earthquake that has occurred. Now they are color coated depending on how long ago they have happened. The orange ones happened within the last 24 hours, the yellow ones happen within the last seven days. And the red one happened within the last hour. So there you know.

Also, the biggest that list circle is, the larger the magnitude of the quake. So you can see right over here, the last one that we had, that red one that you just mentioned, the latest aftershock that has occurred, that one was a 5.4 and just happened in the last hour or so.

We had a 6.9, that was the original one. It was originally called a 6.8, that has been corrected by the U.S. Geological Survey to a 6.9. And you can see that there was another one, a 6.1 just almost immediately after that original quake.

This is in an area that is very seismically active. It is a what's called a convergence zone where tectonic plates from one side and the other side actually push together. So this is an area -- and one actually goes underneath the other. Where that happens is where you have most of these earthquakes occur.

You can see they are farther away from Tokyo.

Brandon, can you check on this one right over here near Tokyo for me? Brandon Miller, our senior weather producer, helping me out.

This one near Tokyo, not related to that one way up there, happened within the last hour as well.

Let's go ahead and take a look at the magnitude on that one. It was a 5.7. And surely you felt some shaking in Tokyo from that particular quake.

I want to go to the Japanese Meteorological Agency and show you some of the tsunami advisories that we saw earlier. And we're looking at the northern coast of Honshu and the coast of Hokkaido here. These dots that you see are not earthquake, these are tidal gauges. They measure the level of the water. The green actually indicates a fall, a drop in the water level. This was measured by the tidal gauges there. And it's actually pretty interesting, because a tsunami reaches the coastline you will see that drop in the water table.

They're saying, they never really did report a rise in the water table, which is actually kind of interesting as well. That doesn't mean it didn't happen, but they're telling people, you know what, be careful boating, swimming in the next few hours. I don't think anybody will be swimming out there. And it's night time, so probably not a lot of boating going on.

Let's go ahead and go back to Google. There's one more story about Japan that I want to tell you about -- well, first of all, all of the advisories have been canceled -- these lines that you see here, those are those convergence zones. 92 millimeters per year is the average movement of these two plates. And that's actually quite a bit. Near another one of those tectonic plates there's a volcano, Sakurajima. That's actually fairly common to see volcanoes in these areas.

Sakurajima has been erupting, not related to the earthquake. This is a very active volacno. It has erupted more than 200 times already. But its most violent eruption happened just in the last 24 hours. They're saying that there are no reports of damage, though, from the Sakurajima volacno. You may see some problems with some of the flights around the area.

Back to you.

TANK: OK. The advice then, people should check on their flight time, get online and do that.

Mari, thank you so much for bringing us up to date on what's happening in Japan right now.

You're watching NEWS STREAM. Stay with us. There's much more coming up after the break.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

TANK: I'm Manisha Tank in Hong Kong. You're watching NEWS STREAM. And these are your world headlines.

The U.S. defense secretary is in Afghanistan now trying to deal with the anger surrounding Sunday's shooting rampage in which authorities say a U.S. soldier killed 16 civilians. Leon Panetta's visit comes amid fresh violence eight people were killed by a roadside explosion in Helmand province.

A bus carrying Belgian school children crashed into the wall of a tunnel in Switzerland on Tuesday night. 28 people were killed, including 22 children. It happened in the Canton of Ballet (ph) as the group headed home from a ski trip. The cause of the crash is under investigation. Belgian made available two military planes to take parents to the scene.

The International Criminal Court has delivered its first ever verdict, almost a decade after the court started work. It found Thomas Lubanga, a Congalese rebel commander, guilty of sending children into battle during a conflict in the Democratic Republic of Congo some 10 years ago.

To the Republican race for the White House now. And Rick Santorum has won key victories in the conservative south with a double win in Mississippi and Alabama. Despite those victories, though, the numerical gap between him and the frontrunner Mitt Romney remains wide. But Santorum did succeed in putting more pressure on Newt Gingrich who had pinned his hopes for success largely on the south.

Well, candidates need to secure 1,144 delegates to win the nomination. You can see the figures. And here is where we stand at the moment.

Romney is ahead of the pack quite clearly with 489, but still has some way to go if he's going to challenge Barack Obama for the U.S. presidency as a whole.

Santorum, meanwhile, he's in second place with 234 delegates, followed then by Gingrich with 139.

Ron Paul, well, he's in fourth position as you can see.

Well, Mitt Romney has a very clear lead in the delegate count, but it looks like he may have underestimated his closest rival. This is what he said about Santorum ahead of Tuesday's results.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

MITT ROMNEY, REPUBLICAN PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: Senator Santorum is at the desperate end of his campaign. I mean, he's far behind in the delegate. He's far behind in the popular vote count. If you look at the math and how many delegates he'd have to win to become the nominee, it's a very difficult road for him.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

TANK: Well, despite his opponent's prediction, Santorum was in a buoyant mood after laying claim to the two southern states. Despite the delegate gap, victory was the only thing on his mind.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

RICK SANTORUM, REPUBLICAN PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: We want to make sure that everybody knows we're campaigning everywhere there are delegates, because we are going to win this nomination before that convention.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

TANK: Well, for more analysis on Santorum's victories and their impact on the Republican race, I'm joined by political editor Paul Steinhauser. He's at CNN Center.

You know, I don't know that you could have predicted this two weeks ago, but I think maybe Mitt Romney is having to eat his words.

PAUL STEINHAUSER, CNN POLITICAL EDITOR: A little bit, a little bit, because it was a very big night for Rick Santorum.

What Alabama and Mississippi did, what Super Tuesday the week before when 10 states voted couldn't do, it brought a little more clarity to this battle for the Republican nomination here in the United States, it now clearly becoming a two person race -- Mitt Romney versus Rick Santorum.

This was supposed to be a big night for Newt Gingrich, remember he won South Carolina, he won Georgia his home state. He was supposed to do well in Mississippi and Alabama. He came a little short coming in second to Santorum in both states. It really boosts Santorum now as the conservative alternative to Romney. He is becoming more of a two person race. And I think you're going to hear more calls for Gingrich to drop out, though he sure did not sound that way in his speech last night, Manisha.

TANK: Yeah, tell us a bit more about that, because is terms of strategy, what happens here within the Republican Party? At the end of the day, you need a candidate who can go up against the incumbent president in the next election. And would it be in favor of the Republican Party as a whole if Newt Gingrich just said, OK, I'm going to wipe my hands of this one, it's time to drop out.

STEINHAUSER: Yeah, if it was only that easy, right?

I think you're going to hear more calls now for Gingrich to drop out by Republicans, especially establishment Republicans coming out of Washington, D.C. It's up to Gingrich whether he wants to or not. It really depends on whether he has the money to continue on.

As for Santorum, this was the night he needed. He needed a big victory to show that he is the conservative alternative to Mitt Romney. He got that. This battle now continues, as you mentioned a battle for delegates. Romney far ahead, but I guess the strategy now for Santorum and for Gingrich to a degree is to prevent Romney from getting the number of delegates needed, 1,144 and hope to take this all the way to the Republican convention in Tampa, Florida at the end of August, Manisha.

TANK: OK, things really ramping up now.

Oh, we'll have to leave it there, though. Paul Steinhauser, as always, thank you very much for your insights today.

Well, on our website you can find something called the Republican delegate calculator. It will actually let you predict the outcome of the remaining contests to see if a candidate can actually secure the nomination.

So here's what would happen if Santorum took all the delegates up for grabs through the end of the month. And as you can see, he would still trail Romney -- you can try if for yourself. Just got to CNN.com/election.

Well, France is also in the middle of a heated presidential campaign. Socialist candidate Francois Hollande has been topping most of the opinion polls there, but a victory is by no means assured at this stage. And one new poll this week suggests that President Sarkozy's fortunes may be on the rise and that he would lead in the first round of voting.

Our very own Jim Bittermann has a closer look now at Hollande's record and his chances for success.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

JIM BITTERMANN, CNN CORRESPONDENT: If the public opinion polls hold true, the French are about to elect a president who has never before held national elective office. Social Candidate Francois Hollande has risen to prominence as a party insider. He was the socialist leader five years ago when his companion then, Segolene Royal ran for president. They've since split, and he went on to become the candidate this time around.

A likeable personality who continues to be dogged by questions from even within his own party about whether he has the character and decisiveness to become president.

FRANCOIS HOLLANDE, SOCIALIST PARTY CANDIDATE (through translator): There's always a risk when the candidate becomes president. Will he deliver what is expected of him? It's a choice. It's always an important moment for a country because it has to choose between two risks. Either you keep the candidate who is on his way out, or take the new candidate that we don't know. It's a gamble.

BITTERMANN: A gamble that after five years of president Nicolas Sarkozy, the polls suggest the French are willing to take. Among a dozen would be candidate, Hollande is the frontrunner. And in a simulation of a face-to-face runoff with Sarkozy, Hollande wins easily.

But the 57-year-old politician himself says half of those who will vote for him, would do so only because they are voting against Sarkozy.

HOLLANDE: What the French want is coherence, stability, and justice. If I am in a favorable position today, it's because my fellow citizens want to make the effort to straighten out the country and at the same time they want it to be just and equitable. No one left out of national solidarity and no one left out of the contributions which must be made.

BITTERMANN: To his critics, that sounds as if Hollande wants to revive left-wing tax and social policies of the past, a view reinforced in the first speech of his campaign when he went on the attack against the financial community.

HOLLANDE: I don't want to drive the markets crazy. I don't want to create trouble, but rather order and rules and norms. We have to struggle against financial excesses, those who speculate with sovereign debt, those who develop financial products which have done so much harm.

BITTERMANN: Given the constraints of international economics and finance, observers here say that Hollande is elected president he will really not have the room to maneuver to radically shift France to the left the way his socialist predecessor Francois Mitterrand did decades ago. As well, they believe that voters this time around may not be making their choices so much based on substance as on style.

If that's the case, since the word you hear most often to describe Francois Hollande's style is sympa (ph), French slang for sympathetic, his style could well transform his lead in the polls to a victory on election day.

Jim Bittermann, CNN, Paris.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

TANK: Still to come here on NEWS STREAM, start your engines.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Sounding the horn for London and kick starting...

(END VIDEO CLIP)

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

TANK: Well, it's a construction project like no other, tunneling for Central London's crossrail. The project is launched. And the $23 billion plan will connect east and west London by rail service. It'll also, of course, create thousands of jobs.

Jim Boulden has the story for us.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

JIM BOULDEN, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Sounding the horn for London and kick starting one of Europe's biggest construction projects. These boring machines will soon tunnel under London to add a fast east-west train service far below the capital's creaking Victorian era transports.

In all, there will be eight of these giant machines creating 21 kilometers, or 13 miles of tunnel, under London. The plan is to have the entire railway operational by he end of 2018.

Never one to miss a photo opportunity, the mayor is touting improvements to London's transport during his reelection campaign.

BORIS JOHNSON, MAYOR OF LONDON: The east-west corridor will be massively improved. It's going to be like the RER in Paris only much, much better

BOULDEN: And you've had to scale back the budget a bit, though, and you've had to be a bit more realistic I guess.

JOHNSON: Yeah. We've taken cost in a pretty (INAUDIBLE) way. In the end, though, you've got to go ahead with the project. This is an amazing thing. This will liberate loads of Londoners from the oppression of being jammed together in the tube.

BOULDEN: Crossrail has been in the planning stages for decades. Now, firms from the UK, Germany, and Spain are heading the tunneling portion of the $23 billion rail line.

Britain was once burdened with a reputation of big projects being late and over budget. Crossrail could literally build on Britain's more recent reputation of getting big projects like the Olympic Park completed on time and on budget.

PHILIP CAVE, KIER CONSTRUCTION: Whether your doing the Olympics or you're doing crossrail, you need to work with a whole rage of people from the design experts to the clients on the land based side of life to the contractors where we understand the costs and risks which are associated with a project.

Yes, it creates work, and a volume of work through the business, but also builds reputation. We can take that reputation and we translate to work both in the UK and internationally.

BOULDEN; The trans service will have limited stations in Central London, so it will cut the journey from Heathrow Airport to London's financial center in half to 32 minutes with no need to change trains.

ANDREW WOLSTENHOLM, CEO, CROSSRAIL: For one ticket to Heathrow for instance is go right (INAUDIBLE) London. It has a huge opportunity to connect to an existing line. So it leaves the lines that are already here.

BOULDEN: If the 73 mile line can be opened with little hassle and within budget, there are plans for a second crossrail running southwest to northeast London.

Jim Boulden, CNN, London.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

TANK: An exciting project for Londoners.

Now we know the U.S. president loves basketball, but can he turn the British prime minister into a fan? We'll hear David Cameron's thoughts on his first college basketball experience. That's up next.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

TANK: It's time now for a sports update.

We've seen a lot of goals in the Champion's League this season and Tuesday was no exception. Don Riddell standing by in London. And he has the update for us. Hey, Don.

DON RIDDELL, CNN SPORTS CORRESPONDENT: Hi, there. Thanks very much.

You know, if you're wondering who might be able to challenge the dominance of the Spanish teams in the Champion's League this season than look nor further than Bayern Munich. Bayern's home ground will actually stage the final in May. And on the evidence of Tuesday's demolition of Basel they'd be a good bet to feature in the title game.

The Bavarian giants made history by winning the game 7-nil on Tuesday, the biggest margin of victory in a knockout game of the Champion's League. And it took them into the quarterfinals on a 7-1 aggregate score.

The star of the show was Mario Gomez who scored an incredible four goals in just 23 minutes, that equals a Champion's League record. He's now scored 31 goals in 31 games this season.

It wasn't such a good night for the 2010 champions Inter Milan who were dumped out of the tournament by Marseilles. Claudio Renieri's men actually won the game on the night, but a 2-1 margin of victory wasn't enough. It finished two all on aggregate. And Marseilles went through on the away goal draw.

The loss surely puts more pressure on Ranieri, but Inter's president Massimo Moratti wrote on the club's website after the game that it wasn't the manager's fault.

The draw for the quarterfinals will be made on Friday. And the final two berths will be decided later today.

Now every year since 1996 there has been at least one English team in the last eight, but to keep that run going Chelsea must overturn a 3-1 deficit against Napoli.

The Blues have improved since Roberto Di Matteo took over from the sacked coach Andres Villas-Boas earlier this month. And tonight's game at Stamford Bridge is crucial. The Blues will like to think they should be challenging for the European Cup every year, but right now they're struggling both in the competition and to qualify for it next season.

Napoli have never made it into the quarterfinals, so they're on the brink of an historic achievement. At 3-1 down, Chelsea have it all to do. And their captain denies that the London club is governed by player power.

Meanwhile in Spain Real Madrid are up against CSK Moscow knowing that a nil-nil draw will be good enough tonight. The first leg in Russia finished as a 1-all score. It's unlikely, though, that Jose Mourihno and the Merengues will settle for a goalless draw. The Spanish league leaders have scored in every game they've played since September.

Now, I don't often talk about David Cameron here in sport, but then the British prime minister doesn't often watch U.S. college basketball games. David Cameron is meeting Barack Obama this week, and the U.S. president was only too happy to show his counterpart one of his favorite past-times. We know Mr. Obama likes it, but what does Mr. Cameron think?

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: What do you make of the experience so far?

DAVID CAMERON, BRITISH PRIME MINISTER: I'm enjoying it. It's fast. It's pretty fast and furious. It's hard to follow sometimes exactly who has done what run.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Was our president helping you follow the game?

CAMERON: He was giving me some tips. He's going to help me fill out my bracket. So...

OBAMA: He's going to teach me cricket.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

RIDDELL: Well, Obama isn't the only world leader that's obsessed with sports. Here's Ralitsa Vassileva with more.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

RALITSA VASSILEVA, CNN CORRESPONDENT: He's passionate about the game, known for playing pick-up ball with players half his age, and for showing off his free throw skills.

It's Barack Obama's bowling arm that could use some work. His predecessor bowls too. Although former President Bush is a bigger baseball fan and of the Texas team he used to co-own.

Baseball is also passion for Cuba's Fidel Castro, dating back to his days as a revolutionary leader. His exhibition team was called Los Barbodos (ph), the Bearded Ones.

Further afield is the game of polo, which the British royals prefer. Although, Prince Harry doesn't always stay in the saddle.

And then there's bobsledding, that's Monaco's Prince Albert in the pilot position.

Russia's Vladimir Putin has done it too as more of a backseat driver. He's more hands on with judo, widely reported to be his favorite sport.

Putin is a black belt, but he's gone shirtless, too, on horseback. He's big on outdoor sports like fishing and hunting.

But, back to basketball. The late Kim Jong-il was a fan, especially of Michael Jordan's. Former U.S. Secretary of State Madeleine Albright brought the North Korean leader a ball signed by the basketball great on her historic visit in 2000. He reportedly passed on the basketball passion to his son Kim Jong-un.

Ralitsa Vassileva, CNN, Atlanta.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

RIDDELL: Great pictures there.

Now David Beckham used to play for Real Madrid as we know and he was a former Champion's League winner with Manchester United, but these days he's one of the star men at the Los Angeles Galaxy, however he's got one eye on a very big project this summer. Beckham has made no secret of the fact that he'd like to be involved in the British team that will play in the summer Olympics, which is of course going to be in his home town of London.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

DAVID BECKHAM, LOS ANGELES GALAXY: It's down to me being in form. It's down to me being fit. And then hopefully I'll be involved.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Well, if you're not, I think there might be a small riot in East London.

BECKHAM: Well, we'll see.

I know a few people there.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

RIDDELL: You can hear more on that interview with David Beckham in World Sport in just over four hours time.

And before I go just now, I'm sure you're familiar with the world's best footballer Lionel Messi, Barcelona's young, mesmeric Argentine goal machine. Well, it seems he's not just good with his feet, his Barca teammate Carlos Puyol has just posted this incredible picture of Messi on his Twitter account and it shows Lio in goal making what looks like a fantastic save at full stretch. If he wasn't so valuable in the outfield, Barca would do worse than to put him between the sticks.

That's all I got time for you now, Manisha. What about that, though? Great picture, huh?

TANK: Oh, fantastic. Fantastic. Thank you.

To Mr. Don Riddell, the man with an encyclopedic knowledge of sport.

Speaking of which, it used to be a bit of a homework ritual for school children in many parts of the world, but is looking through an encyclopedia very much like this one, in fact exactly like this one, now really a thing of the past? Well, after 244 years Encyclopedia Britannica says it is ending production of these iconic multi-volume sets. The company says it is now focusing solely on its digital encyclopedias and educational tools. And this is because the book sets represent just 1 percent of sales.

It reflects how difficult things have become in a market, of course, where people are so used to getting their information for free.

And one of the main sources of free information, it is of course Wikipedia. As a purely digital encyclopedia, Wikipedia can hold far more in terms of the number of articles than any one set of books. One Wikipedia user tried to show just how many volumes will be produced if the site's entire contents was printed. Here it is. This is actually from 2010. And Wikipedia has grown since then. And Wikipedia now says that it holds nearly 4 million articles on its English site alone. And 19 million in total.

You'd need a pretty big bookshelf for all of those. In fact, you'd probably need a few houses -- mansion type houses.

Well, that's it for NEWS STREAM, but the news does continue here at CNN. I'll leave you with live pictures of the South Lawn at the White House where the U.S. president and British prime minister are set to speak shortly. We'll be monitoring what they have to say on "WORLD BUSINESS TODAY." That's next.

END