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North Korea Moves Long-Range Rocket to Launch Pad; Attack in Southern Afghanistan; Papal Visit to Cuba; Mohammad Merah's Brother Arrested For Conspiracy; Hong Kong Protests As Committee Votes For City's New Executive

Aired March 26, 2012 - 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.

And we begin in South Korea, where the U.S. president sends warning to North Korea and Iran ahead of a nuclear summit in Seoul.

The pope heads to Cuba today. We'll be live in Havana.

And Tiger Woods finally wins again his first PGA Tournament victory since before his career was apparently derailed by his personal life.

U.S. President Barack Obama issues a stark warning to North Korea and Iran over their nuclear agendas. Now, he spoke ahead of a nuclear summit in South Korea's capital. Mr. Obama warned the north it could face tougher sanctions and isolation if it fails to offer more transparency on its nuclear program and says Tehran must act with a sense of urgency.

Now, before this summit gets down to the nitty-gritty tomorrow, Mr. Obama visited the demilitarized zone for the first time, peering across no man's land into North Korea. Now, Obama also pledged to reduce the U.S. stock of nuclear warheads.

Brianna Keilar has more from Seoul.

OK. Meanwhile, those warnings, they appear to be falling on deaf ears. We do have this report from our Paula Hancocks. She reports now.


PAULA HANCOCKS, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): North Korea is dominating conversation in Seoul. Although not on the official agenda of the Nuclear Security Summit, the threat of a rocket launch was enough to make Pyongyang the most immediate concern. U.S. President Barack Obama spoke directly to North Korea's leaders Monday.

BARACK OBAMA, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Your provocations and pursuit of nuclear weapons have not achieve the security you seek, they have undermined it. Instead of the dignity you desire, you're more isolated. Instead of earning the respect of the world, you've been met with strong sanctions.

HANCOCKS: Mr. Obama insisted the days of rewards for provocations are over, but it's still not clear whether the Washington-Pyongyang deal stands. North Korea, also known as the DPRK, had agreed last month to allow U.N. weapons inspectors back into the country and promised no more nuclear or missile tests in return for U.S. food aid. The food aid appears to be on hold, but according to the head of the International Atomic Energy Agency, talks to send IAEA inspectors back in are not.

YUKIYA AMANO, DIRECTOR GENERAL, IAEA: We have established contact at the working level, and they are keeping contact with the North Korean mission in Vienna. Nothing has been decided yet, so we'll need to consult the DPRK, as well as other parties of the six-party talks.

HANCOCKS: Weapons inspectors were kicked out of North Korea in 2009 after the collapse of six-party talks with the U.S., South Korea, China, Japan and Russia.

U.S. scientist Siegfried Hecker visited the Yongbyon nuclear power plant more recently in 2010. Invited to by Pyongyang to see its secret uranium enrichment program, he's convinced he was not shown everything.

SIEGFRIED HECKER, U.S. SCIENTIST: When I saw the sophistication and the scale of that uranium enrichment facility at Yongbyon, in a building I had been in before that housed something totally different, it was clear that they started the program long before the time that they had said, which was April of 2009. So my conclusion was they have to another site someplace else.

HANCOCKS (on camera): Pyongyang has already transported its long-range rocket to the launch pad it will use in the northeast of the country, a clear sign that calls from global leaders to abort this launch are falling on deaf ears.

Paula Hancocks, CNN, Seoul.


LU STOUT: OK. Now back to the warning by U.S. President Barack Obama to both North Korea and Iran over their nuclear program. He spoke while in Seoul.

Our Brianna Keilar is traveling with the U.S. president and she filed this report.


BRIANNA KEILAR, CNN WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: President Obama had some tough words for North Korea's new leadership, saying if North Korea moves forward with what it claims is a satellite launch, and what the U.S. and many other countries see as a thinly-veiled long-range missile launch, it will further isolate itself. And President Obama was very clear about just who he was talking to.

OBAMA: Here, in Korea, I want to speak directly to the leaders in Pyongyang. The United States has no hostile intent toward your country. We are committed to peace. Your provocations and pursuit of nuclear weapons have not achieved the security you seek, they have undermined it.

KEILAR: It appears North Korea is demonstrably moving forward with that missile launch. A South Korean Defense Ministry official saying it's clear by U.S. and South Korean military intelligence that North Korea has moved that rocked to its launch site in the northwestern part of the country. President Obama also addressed Iran's alleged ambitions to build a nuclear weapon, reiterating that there is still a window for a diplomatic solution, but that window is closing.

And the stated purpose of this Nuclear Security Summit is to keep tabs on nuclear material and make sure it doesn't fall into the hands of terrorists, but it's really what's going on on the sidelines that is getting a lot of the attention. President Obama has had a number of meetings with world leaders. He met today with the president of Russia, and we knew that he would talk about Syria.

President Obama has been upset with the Russians, because they, along with China, vetoed that U.N. Security Council resolution recently on Syria. And President Obama said he addressed this with President Medvedev, but also stressing an area of similarity between them, that they both agree that Kofi Annan's efforts to end the yearlong violence need to move forward, and that is an area that should be successful.

President Obama also meeting with the president of China, and he talked with President Hu, yes, about North Korea. The concern there is the influence that China can have, and President Obama is very much pressuring China to change its tact with North Korea and see what it can do to stop North Korea from launching that missile.

Brianna Keilar, CNN, Seoul.


LU STOUT: Now, to Afghanistan now, where we're learning new details about how U.S. Army Staff Sergeant Robert Bales is alleged to have killed at least 16 Afghan civilians. Now, a source tells CNN that investigators now believe that Bales carried out two shooting sprees on March the 11th, returning to his base in Kandahar province after the first attack, and then making his way to a second village to kill again.

Now, meanwhile, his wife, Karilyn Bales, has defended her husband in a TV interview. She told NBC that she finds the charges unbelievable.


KARILYN BALES, ROBERT BALES' WIFE: He loves children. He's like a big kid himself.

MATT LAUER, NBC: And he is accused of killing nine children.

BALES: Right.

LAUER: Innocent children.

It's unbelievable to me. I have no idea what happened, but he would not -- he loves children and he would not do that.


LU STOUT: Now, Afghan officials say the U.S. government has paid almost $1 million in cash compensation to the families of the victims. Families were given $50,000 for those who died, $10,000 for each of the wounded.

And we're receiving news of another shooting in southern Afghanistan. NATO says a gunman in an Afghan army uniform killed two coalition troops before being shot and killed himself.

Our Sara Sidner is in Afghanistan and joins us now live.

And Sara, any more details about today's attack in southern Afghanistan?

SARA SIDNER, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: That's all we have for right now, that two ISAF members have been killed. We're trying to confirm the identity of those two, but of course the families have to find out first.

We can talk a little bit about the investigation into the other case, where you have Army Staff Sergeant Bales under arrest, 17 counts of murder. We're trying to figure out where that 17th person comes from, because the Afghan government is still saying that 16 people were killed. We also know that when the U.S. handed over money -- a U.S. representative -- to the victims, that they paid for 16 dead, not 17. So a lot of confusion as to why the number 17. We're still digging on that story.

We do know that a total of about $860,000, the equivalent in Afghani cash, has been handed over to the victims at this point -- Kristie.

LU STOUT: In addition to news of the compensation, we've also learned more about the massacre suspect from U.S. investigators, who say that Sergeant Bales may have split the killings into two episodes.

Sara, how would that have happened?

SIDNER: Well, the base is, like, between the two villages. And the villagers had complained in the beginning that, how did this person go from one to the other? Because they're a distance away, more than a kilometer or two, and he was on foot.

As we understand it, a U.S. official has told us that Staff Sergeant Bales left the compound, went to the first village, and then came back to the compound and went to the second village. In both villages, people were shot dead and people were wounded. There are a lot of questions that this, of course, brings up.

Number one, the security. Did anyone see him, especially the second time that he came back?

Where were the checks? Why didn't anyone notice he was gone? And if he did come back, did he go into the base, or did he just go to the side of the base, he didn't actually go inside? Who saw them?

You know, these bases have 24-hour security, as you might imagine. You can't just walk in easily and get out easily without anyone noticing you. So a lot of questions left on exactly how this went down, and there's going to be more and more conspiracy theories as these kind of details come out - - Kristie.

LU STOUT: And any more additional comment coming from inside of Afghanistan about the cash compensation being offered from the U.S.? I understand that it is a gesture, but still nothing to replace the lives of those lost.

What kind of reaction have you heard about these cash payments?

SIDNER: There has been absolutely no reaction. The villagers had it first -- in the first week, and as you might imagine, when their emotions were extremely raw. They said they didn't want any compensation, that you couldn't just give them blood money, that all they wanted was justice.

They still want justice. This is not case closed just because they've been given some compensation, but it is a sizeable amount of money, and we do know the victims did take the money.

There is some question about how they understood -- how they were given the money. Basically, the U.S. saying that this is compensation. They took it as this is help from the United States, not necessarily compensation for those who died and were injured -- Kristie.

LU STOUT: Sara Sidner, joining us live from Kabul, Afghanistan.

Thank you.

Now, still ahead here on NEWS STREAM, refueling the faith in Cuba. Pope Benedict, he heads to the island nation on the first papal visit in 14 years.

Democracy or deception? Hong Kong's new leader says he will work toward full suffrage by 2017. Some disgruntled citizens say that they've heard it all before.

And Tiger Woods brings the goods. The world's most famous golfer hits the headlines for the right reasons.


LU STOUT: Welcome back.

Now, Pope Benedict XVI is set to arrive in Cuba today. It is the first papal visit to the island in 14 years.

Now, the pope will celebrate the 400th anniversary of Cuba's patron saint and celebrate mass in Havana's Revolution Plaza. The Catholic Church is hoping the visit will revive the faith in Cuba. The country was once officially an atheist state. Relations between the Church and state have improved somewhat over the years after decades of hostilities following the Cuban revolution.

Before his visit to Cuba, the pope spent the weekend in Mexico, and the highlight of his trip came on Sunday, when he led an open-air mass before nearly 500,000 people. And CNN's Rafael Romo was there.


RAFAEL ROMO, CNN LATIN AFFAIRS EDITOR (voice-over): They came from the north and from the south, waving the Mexican colors, along with the Vatican flag. It's not every day that you get to attend a mass celebrated by a pope, and they didn't want to miss the opportunity.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Look all around, all the people. It's amazing how they come to see the pope and to hear his message. I am very, very happy.

ROMO: David Gutierrez (ph) came from Mexico City to greet Pope Benedict XVI. He and his girlfriend, Blanca Lopez (ph), were among the thousands who spent the night waiting at this park.

BLANCA LOPEZ (ph), CAME TO SEE POPE: To me, it's very important to come to visit and to see him so we can receive the message of peace and love that he came to bring us.

ROMO: There were families from as far away as Ecuador, and this seminarian from Nigeria.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It is a great privilege, it is a great blessing not for me alone, but for others because of this good (INAUDIBLE).

ROMO (on camera): And this is the moment millions of Mexican Catholics have been waiting for. Pope Benedict XVI is finally here at (INAUDIBLE) Bicentennial Park. And as you can imagine, the level of excitement is very, very high.

(voice-over): The pope, sometimes perceived as distant, wore a broad- brimmed sombrero, a tradition in Mexico. In his sermon, he urged Mexicans to rely on their faith in the battle to get rid of poverty and the violence caused by drug trafficking, violence blamed for more than 47,000 deaths in the past five years.

POPE BENEDICT XVI (through translator): It helps us well to look inside the human heart, especially at this moment of sorrow and also help that the Mexican people and other Latin American nations are going through.

ROMO: One of the leading drug cartels promised to observe a truce during the pope's visit. Benedict's message of peace resonated with Jose Mantil (ph), whose daughter Laticia (ph) suffers from cerebral palsy.

JOSE MANTIL (ph), CAME TO SEE POPE: I think it's a very good message not only for our family, but for all Mexico. We have to change. We have to look forward for a better life for our children.

ROMO: As a teenager, Laticia (ph) met Pope John Paul II, and she wanted to see the man who succeeded him as well. Church officials estimate as many as 500,000 people attended the pope's mass.

Rafael Romo, CNN, Silao, Mexico.


LU STOUT: Now, Pope Benedict is scheduled to meet President Raul Castro during his visit to Cuba, and the talks come just days after the pope said that communism had failed in the country.

Patrick Oppmann has been following this story, and he joins us now live from Havana.

And Patrick, have the pope's comments fueled cause for change, for political change there in Cuba?

PATRICK OPPMANN, CNN CORRESPONDENT: You know, it hasn't been widely reported here, but what the government has said is that they're willing to listen to anything the pope says with great respect. He's obviously a visitor here that the Cuban government has spent several years trying to bring to this island, but here's the thing, Kristie -- he's not going to be the only visitor coming to Cuba this week.


OPPMANN (voice-over): Welcome to the Havana Airport's Terminal 2, where fading billboards of long-deceased revolutionaries still decorate the parking lot alongside classic American cars that have seen better days.

This is where the flights from Miami arrive, planeload after planeload of Cubans returning to the homeland they left behind. And this is where we find Teresa de la Paz (ph), waiting for her son Lacero (ph), who departed for Florida five years ago. That was the last time Teresa saw him.

TERESA DE LA PAZ (through translator): I adore him! I adore him! God give me the strength to hug him.

OPPMANN: Teresa (ph) says she needed to be strong to endure the wait.

DE LA PAZ (through translator): You don't know what's going to happen to them. Just knowing they're going to be back is the most wonderful thing.

OPPMANN: Hundreds more Cubans will travel home in the coming days.

(on camera): The pope says he's coming to Cuba to help build bridges between Cubans who left after the revolution and those who stayed, but many of those family reunifications are already taking place.

(voice-over): When Cubans come home, most don't travel lightly. Some arrive carrying gifts for their families, others to show off what they have.

It can take a long time to get out of Terminal 2. Cubans returning even for a quick visit face avid scrutiny. For their families waiting outside, barricades become pillows, the airport floor a bed. But when they finally do happen, the reunions are sweet.

Four hours after her son's plane lands, Teresa (ph) is still waiting. The hardest moments away from her son, she says, will be these last ones.

DE LA PAZ: Lacero (ph)!

OPPMANN: Then Teresa (ph) sees Lacero (ph) and can't wait any longer, an embrace long overdue. His loved ones greet Lacero (ph) in their native Spanish with words that need no translation.


OPPMANN: And Kristie, hundreds more of Cuban-Americans are expected to arrive at the same airport tonight. And with them, Miami's archbishop. So the pope's message of reconciliation is already taking place, and I expect we'll be seeing more of these emotional homecomings and incredible scenes of Cubans returning to the country they haven't seen in years -- Kristie.

LU STOUT: That's right. These scenes of reunions, so heartfelt, so touching to watch.

I also understand that this week, or perhaps today, the Venezuelan president, Hugo Chavez, is also there in Cuba. Why?

OPPMANN: You know, he's been a frequent visitor, and he actually arrived quite unexpectedly on Saturday night, saying he was going to continue his cancer treatment. Earlier, he had had a cancerous tumor. This is the second cancerous tumor that he's had removed in Cuba. He's returned to have some more of that treatment, and so far we're hearing it has nothing to do with the pope's visit. But with all of these world leaders in town, with plans for the pope to meet with both Raul and Fidel Castro, I don't think anybody would be surprised if Hugo Chavez showed up in that group photo -- Kristie.

LU STOUT: Patrick Oppmann, good to see you, live in Havana for us. Thank you and take care.

Well, it has been a long time coming. Tiger Woods is finally a winner again. Pedro Pinto will have all the highlights, next.


LU STOUT: Coming to you live from Hong Kong, you're back watching NEWS STREAM.

Now, Tiger's title drought has finally ended. The former world number one, he turned back the clock with a victory on Sunday.

Pedro Pinto joins us now live from London. He's got all the details -- Pedro.


Thirty long months, 27 PGA Tour events. That's how long Tiger Woods' title drought had lasted.

Well, it finally came to an end at the Arnold Palmer Invitational in Florida on Sunday. Tiger, a six-time winner, at the Bay Hill course, started the final round at the top of the leaderboard, and just how he had done so many times earlier in his career, he never relinquished top spot.

He began his day in solid form, incarted (ph) an early birdie there on four. Woods was out in front, but there were still a couple of players who threatened his lead.

His playing partner, Graeme McDowell, was one of them. And when he drained a long eagle putt on the sixth hole, he was just two strokes behind the pace. But that didn't rattle Tiger at all, who reached the turn with four birdies, to go along with one bogey. This approach allowed him to improve his score to 14 under par after he was solid on the green.

McDowell's chase effectively ended on the 12th hole. He missed a par putt, and the bogey put him four strokes behind Woods.

Tiger would then cruise to his first victory since September of 2009. He couldn't get a birdie on 18, but you know what? He didn't need it.

Woods wins with a final score of 13 under par. His long title drought on the PGA Tour has finally come to an end.


TIGER WOODS, 1ST PGA TOUR VICTORY SINCE 2009: I've been making steps in the right direction. It just hadn't shown up for all four days yet. And, you know, I've been so close to putting it together. And, you know, Joey's (ph) been -- we've been kind of going over this, and he says, like, "Man, you've been a yard off all year." You know, a yard here and a yard there, a yard here and a yard there, and it's just, like, man, I mean, we -- it feels like -- you know, 65s should be, like, the highest number I could possibly shoot a lot of times, but we're just, like, a yard here and a yard there.

And I said, "You know what? Be patient. It's coming." And then today, when the wind blew like this, to be able to have that type of control, that feels good.


PINTO: That's it for me, Kristie. Back to you in Hong Kong.

LU STOUT: Pedro Pinto, thank you.

Coming up next here on NEWS STREAM, we are on the campaign trail in the United States, where Rick Santorum has won the latest Republican primary. What it means for front-runner Mitt Romney just ahead.

And Hong Kong has a new chief executive. We'll tell you why CY Leung inherits an administration that is deeply divided.


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

Now South Korea says Pyongyang is pressing ahead with its plan to test first a long range rocket. The North says it's a satellite launch. Earlier on Monday, the U.S. president Barack Obama warned North Korea against making provocative gestures. Mr. Obama is in South Korea for a summit on nuclear security. On Sunday, he visited the DMZ.

An earthquake of magnitude 7.1 struck central Chile on Sunday. Now authorities ordered some people living on the coast to leave their homes, but no tsunami warning was issued. Now three people were reported to have been injured, but there doesn't seem to have been any major damage.

The president of Senegal, Abdoulaye Wade, has conceded defeat in Sunday's presidential run-off handing victory in the west African nation to his former protege Macky Sall. Now President Wade who has been president for 12 years called his opponent to concede the race. There had been violent demonstrations against Mr. Wade who won a court battle for the right to stand for a third term.

Now French police have charged the brother of a suspected gunman with complicity with the attacks that terrorized southwestern France. Abdelkader Merah is also facing charges of conspiracy to prepare acts of terrorism. His brother Mohammad, who was wanted in the killings of seven people, was killed after a standoff with police in Toulouse on Thursday. Abdelkader Merah denies all the charges.

Our Jim Bittermann has been following the story from the first murder on March 11 to Mohammad Merah's death on Thursday morning. He joins us now live from Paris. And Jim, can you tell us more about the brother and his reaction to the charges?

JIM BITTERMANN, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, in fact, Abdelkader who is the older brother of Mohammad Merah is in fact thought to be, or was thought to be by police to be the more politicized, the more fundamentalist of the two brothers. He had also gone off for training in Pakistan and Afghanistan. And as a consequence the police immediately suspected him.

They did a little investigating and they found out that the two brothers had dinner just the night before the killings at the Jewish school in Toulouse, had dinner together and that Abdelkader, the older brother's cellphone had been used right around the school.

So they were immediately suspect about him. And they did some more investigating and now they've thrown him in jail and charged him, as you mentioned.

And they -- you know quite unusual in this kind of a case, they have assigned four investigating judges I think as a measure of the kind of seriousness they feel about his involvement.

On the other hand, the wife of Abdelkader had been released as has the mother of the two brothers. So, in fact they've eliminated them from suspicion at least for the moment.

Now, the lawyer for Abdelkader for the older brother in fact says that he is being made a scape goat. Here's what she said.


ANNE-SOPHIE LAGUENS, LAWYER FOR ABDELKADER MERAH: Well, today it was decided that Mr. Merah would go for a moment to jail, because of the emotions that was due to this case and because he may be linked to some terrorists, but it's not sure yet.


BITTERMANN: So in fact the investigation could go on for months as they look into his connections to the various crimes that were committed. There's been no trial dates at this point, Kristie.

LU STOUT: Also I wanted to ask you about the aftermath of the Toulouse shooting on race relations in France. Is there more anxiety about Islam in France after what happened in Toulouse?

BITTERMANN: Well, those people who had anxiety to get. And in fact on the extreme right we see a kind of an increase in the number of people who are supporting Marie Le Pen after these attacks. There's been a real increase, by two points in fact, for support for Sarkozy because of the way he handled these attacks. So I guess that would be a measurement of anxiety.

On the other hand, Sarkozy has done a lot to try to ease those fears by calling in religious leaders, both Jewish leaders and Islamic leaders, and trying to make a point of the fact that France is a diverse country, about a tenth of the population here is of the Islamic (inaudible). In fact, it's the largest Muslim population in Europe.

So as a consequence, I think Sarkozy and a number of other officials here are trying to insure that people don't take this as something that is divisive, that they find this as something that should bring the French together. And whether they are successful or not we'll see I think probably in the vote that takes place here on April 22, Kristie.

LU STOUT: And Jim, the big question looming over this story, over the investigation, why was Mohammad Merah not being more closely watched?

BITTERMANN: And that of course is a question that's being asked by the opposition -- by President Sarkozy's opposition. They're saying why wasn't he being watched more closely? I think the short answer is they'll say -- officials will say, look, we live in a free country and we can't keep watch on everyone. Although, they have isolated about two dozen people in this country who have gone for training in Afghanistan. In fact, then you think it would be fairly simple to keep a watch on them, but in this particular case they were not closely monitoring his activities. They were not, at least closely enough to avoid the attacks -- the three different attacks that took place here.

LU STOUT: Jim Bittermann live in Paris for us. Thank you, Jim.

Now on paper, he is struggling in second place. But Republican presidential hopeful Rick Santorum has won the latest state primary and 10 more crucial delegates. Santorum's win in Louisiana on Saturday means that yet another so-called red state has snubbed frontrunner Mitt Romney.

And the failure of the former Massachusetts governor to dominate the Republican heartland, it means that the nomination race rolls on. But Romney now has his eye on a string of more northerly contests next month. He could also take confidence from a clear lead in the latest national poll.

Now crucially, he has more than twice as many delegates as Santorum. But given the financial weight behind Romney's campaign, he might have hoped to be rid of his rival by this stage in the contest.

Now Paul Steinhauser, he joins us now live from Washington. And, Paul, fresh off a big win there in the south, Rick Santorum he is pumped and he's making some pretty harsh comments about his rival.

PAUL STEINHAUSER, CNN POLITICAL EDITOR: He sure is. You're talking about Saturday night's victory, of course, in Louisiana. He beat Romney by more than a two to one margin. And he picks up 10 of the 20 delegates up for grabs there.

Santorum says that his victory in Louisiana, a very southern and very conservative state, he says it's proof that the pundits are wrong, that this battle for the nomination is not over.

Last night, Sunday night in the United States, Santorum was campaigning in Wisconsin, one of the states that's up next in the primary calendar, and he had some very harsh words, as you mention, for Mitt Romney. Take a listen.


RICK SANTORUM, REPUBLICAN PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: Why would we put someone up who is uniquely -- pick any other Republican in the country. He is the worst Republican in the country to put up against Barack Obama. Why would Wisconsin want to vote for someone like that.


STEINHAUSER: Now what he was referring to, Kristie, was that Mitt Romney of course when he was governor of Massachusetts five, six years ago was the author, or signed into law a sweeping health care law for the state which many Republicans say was the inspiration for the national health care law in the country. They deride it as Obamacare. And they don't like it very much. And that's one of the reasons why he says Romney would be a very bad general election candidate.

He had a little run-in, Santorum did, with a New York Times reporter soon after he made those comments Sunday night. And he was asked about those comments. And he said why are you taking what I say out of context? And then he used a profanity.

But again as you mentioned a long road to go for Rick Santorum.

Here's why. Let's look at that delegate count. You mentioned it. And you can see right here, Mitt Romney more than two to one advantage right now over Santorum by far in the battle for the nomination, but Romney is not to the halfway point yet to the 1,144 delegates needed to clinch the nomination. So, yes, he's got a large, large lead, but he still has a long way to go -- Kristie.

LU STOUT: Yeah, not clinching the nomination, but he's clinching more support. Another top Republican is now rallying around Mitt Romney. Who is it?

STEINHAUSER: Yes. A bunch of the them just in the last couple of days. Take a listen to this one. This is Lindsay Graham, the senator of South Carolina. He was on CNN's State of the Union.


SEN. LINDSAY GRAHAM, (R) SOUTH CAROLINA: I haven't endorsed anybody, but I think -- yeah, I'm very comfortable with him. The other two candidates have run phenomenal races. Rick keeps exceeding expectations, but, you know, Romney won five delegates in Louisiana. He'll get the 1,144. The last thing I want is a brokered convention.


STEINHAUSER: And since then, Kristie, two more Republicans have come to actually formally endorse Romney. One of them, Senator Mike Lee of Utah, he will do it today, Monday, here in the United States. He is a Tea Party senator, I think it's fair to say. And then Congressman Kevin McCarthy, the number three House Republican also endorsing Romney.

So more and more people are coming to Romney's side right now in lieu of his victory last week in Illinois -- Krsitie.

LU STOUT: Yeah, I think it's very telling that Lindsay Graham, he doesn't quite endorse Mitt Romney, but says he's, quote, "very comfortable with him."

Now in that interview on CNN, Graham he also predicted that the federal health care law and the role of government will be the central issue of the election. Is this true? Not the economy, it's going to be those issues instead?

STEINHAUSER: The economy and jobs still remain, I think, the number one issue in the minds of Americans. The health care has been a huge issue, especially for Republicans ever since the passage two years ago of that sweeping national health care law here in the United States which is to Republicans very controversial. They want to repeal it. You heard Rick Santorum, that's why he was criticizing Romney.

Starting today here in the United States, a full week of the health care law being argued in front of the Supreme Court. So we'll see what happens, whether its legality remains or not. But it is a very important issue for Republicans who would like to get rid of that law -- Kristie.

LU STOUT: Paul Steinhauser, joining us live. Thank you.


LU STOUT: Now after months of heated campaigning, Hong Kong now has a new leader. CY Leung was elected chief executive of Hong Kong by a 1,200 member committee made up of pro-business circles and political elites. Now Hong Kong residents cannot take part in elections. And as Anna Coren reports, many are demanding political reform.


ANNA COREN, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Anger and frustration is spilling out on the streets of Hong Kong. With thousands of protesters finding a collective voice that continues to be ignored.

AVERY NG, LEAUGE OF SOCIAL DEMOCRATS: We are extremely disappointed that we cannot get our voice heard. We can only see a handful of the eligible voters who are going in and out. And most of them we don't even recognize their faces. How can they represent Hong Kong people?

COREN: Inside the convention center, just over 1,100 committee members took part in a so-called election and cast their votes for Hong Kong's new chief executive. Some were forced to push their way through the media scrum.

There to greet them, the two main candidates -- Henry Teng and CY Leung.

Up until a few months ago, Teng was Beijing's man. The son of a Tycoon and veteran politician, he had the backing of business and the city's richest man, billionaire Lee Ka-shing.

But his campaign became engulfed in scandal after admitting to extramarital affairs and building an illegal basement in one of his luxury homes which he then blamed on his wife.

CY Leung also had skeletons in the closet. The real estate surveyor is reportedly a member of the underground Communist Party, a claim he denies. He's also under investigation for a conflict of interest while he served as a cabinet minister.

But in the end, Teng's loss of credibility was far too damaging and Beijing switched sides.

CHRISTINE LOH, CEO, CIVIC EXCHANGE: When Beijing comes out to lobby for a candidate they would be very, very surprising if he didn't win.

COREN: And despite reports of some members refusing to tow the party line, in the end the majority listened.

CY Leung was given an outright victory in the first round of voting.

CY LEUNG, EXECUTIVE OF HONG KONG ELECT: During the heat of the campaign, inevitably tensions were roused and strong remarks made. Now that the contest is over, it is time to reunite.

COREN: For Teng, the dream was over. He was on the verge of tears while thanking supporters.

But outside, there were only angry voices as hundreds of police tried to control the crowd.

This election campaign has really emboldened many people here in Hong Kong who are sending China a clear message to keep out of Hong Kong politics. They want real democracy and real elections where the people choose their representatives not Beijing.

NG: I'm simply telling China let Hong Kong people decide our future. We do not need their interference or disruptions.

COREN: China has promised to deliver Hong Kong's 7 million residents universal suffrage in 2017, but many people remain skeptical.

CHRISTOPHER LAU, PEOPLE POWER: Beijing promised Hong Kong people universal suffrage back in 2007 and '08. They didn't give us. And they promised 2012. They didn't give us. We demand universal suffrage immediately.

COREN: In the meantime, the people will have to rely on their new chief executive who is promising to redistribute the wealth and pave the way for democracy.

Anna Coren, CNN, Hong Kong.


LU STOUT: Now coming up on NEWS STREAM, inside slavery's last stronghold, Mauritania, a preview of the CNN Freedom Project documentary on the last country in the world to abolish slavery. Just ahead here on CNN.


LU STOUT: CNN has joined the fight to end modern day slavery. Through our Freedom Project, we're giving victims a voice and shining a light on this continuing horror. Now two CNN reporters traveled to Mauritania where slavery still has a significant foothold. Our John Sutter and Edythe McNamee are talking about their experiences in the new CNN documentary "Slavery's Last Stronghold."


JOHN SUTTER, CNN CORRESPONDENT: It was a really long process for us, you know, to be able to go to Mauritania to report on this story. It's not something that the government wants foreign journalists to be there talking about.

The thing about Mauritania that really caught my eye was sort of the statistics about it. You know, we talked to the UN's expert on modern slavery. She says that 10 to 20 percent of people in Mauritania are in a form of slavery today, which I just thought was sort of mind blowing.

It's also the last country in the world to abolish the practice.

EDYTHE MCNAMEE, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Mauritania is an instance of slavery by dependence, where people don't necessarily know that they shouldn't be in this position. And that's kind of a unique and very old world form of slavery.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: But the multigenerational slaves, he is a slave even in his own head. He is totally submissive. And unfortunately, it's this type of slavery that we have today.

SUTTER: This is wide spectrum. If you -- there are people in Mauritania who are enslaved today in a very real, living with the master, serving their family, working on, you know, their land, herding goats and that sort of thing. And there are people who have escaped from slavery and then who go back because they can't, you know, find a way to survive in the free world. So I mean, I think there are some people who question like how free someone is that they, you know, even if they've escaped.

MCNAMEE: When you walked around (inaudible) the man on the ground who was showing us where the city was, helping as a translator, we'd go to some of the markets and he would say look at that person, that person is dressed in this way, they're doing this job, chances are they're a slave. And you wouldn't know it. Just the families go back together for generations that one family is living next to another family. And they grow up kind of like an extended family. And they're maybe not treated very poorly, they're just not paid for what they do. So it's this really big gray zone, I guess what it means to be a slave.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I think about slavery. Yes, I think about it. Because I can't forget it at all. Because my brothers and sisters are still there. So I can't forget about it. Also, a person like me will never forget about the torture he has suffered. I will not forget it.


LU STOUT: Now John and Edythe, they also played a part in reuniting a former slave owner with his former slave. We'll have that part of the story tomorrow.

You can learn more about the CNN Freedom Project on our website. There you can get facts about modern day slavery, what people around the world are doing to fight it.

There's also a section that shows how you can help. It's all at

Now just ahead here on NEWS STREAM, the man who brought us Titanic sinks even deeper in the name of science. We'll tell you about James Cameron's mission to the ocean's deepest known point next.


LU STOUT: It is a titanic achievement for a man best known for make believe. But movie director James Cameron, he never stopped believing he could become just the third man in history to visit the deepest point in the ocean. And on Sunday, after eight years of preparation, he finally did it.

Cameron took his one man submersible to the point known as Challenger Deep in the heart of the Mariana Trench. And deep it most certainly is. Just take a look. I mean, this is the lowest point to which the Titanic sank. And you can also see here the depth that Mount Everest would reach if you turned it upside down.

And when you consider how long the average Everest expedition takes, consider this point, James Cameron he took just two hours and 36 minutes to reach a depth of about seven miles where he gathered samples of life forms for research.

And some people were even more amazed when Cameron appeared to tweet from the abyss. In fact, this is what he wrote. I mean, quote, "just arrived at the ocean's deepest point," again this is on Twitter, "hitting bottom never felt so good."

But we're not entirely sure whether he did it himself or whether someone wrote that tweet for him from the surface. So big question mark there.

Now Tom Sater, he joins us now from the World Weather Center for your global weather forecast -- Tom.


We're going to start in Asia here where we've got three main weather components that we're watching. And they're all kind of joining hands to work in collaboration with each other. One moving across Japan, one in China we'll get you. But I want to start down to the south where eventually this moisture will kind of ride up into parts of southern China, the provinces to the south and southeast.

But let's start down to the south where over the weekend Joint Typhoon Warning Center actually had a box around this convective activity for a slight risk for some cyclone development. Well, over the weekend it just wasn't getting the mechanics together. It had some high level winds that were sheering off the top. So all the ingredients were missing. So therefore they discontinued that.

But it's still been producing a lot of rainfall, more toward the south. Malaysia had 99 millimeters there up to around Calapan had 142. This convective activity will continue for about the next 24, 48 hours. We're going to see it for days here, but at least it's isolated in spots.

High pressure has been providing at least some sunshine and some quiet weather for some interior provinces of China. But you get on the other end as this circulates counterclockwise, the mercury was plunging 6 to 10 degrees. Winds were howling, too. In fact, airport delays in Taipei, they had gale warnings in Taiwan Strait for awhile. But now that it's sliding a little bit more toward the east we're going to find the return flow warm things up.

In fact, Hong Kong, your forecasts were about 20 degrees for a high. You had a bonus day today getting up to 26.

Winds still a little strong around 32 kilometers per hour. But here's the moisture now from the south feeding into the next system as that high pressure slides off, return flow giving a little bit of rainfall scattered in its variety. Some snowfall up around Ginzu (ph) and around Shizing (ph). In fact, for the most part this will be light amounts.

But Hong Kong, your pleasant weather will continue. Your winds will lighten up somewhat. You're going to be slightly above or near average for the next couple of days.

Now I want to talk about when we head over toward Japan. Before the weekend occurred on Friday, there was a potential for some flooding with snow melt. Massive snowfall from the winter well up to the north, temperatures were warming up. You had good amounts of rainfall up and down of course the coastline. Well, now you're getting a reinforced shot of cooler air, that'll slow the process of some of that snow melt. And the winds that continue to be strong in some areas and producing snow on the coast will start to subside.

And over to the Korean peninsula of course where the summit is going on. And temperatures going in the other direction. But they will start to warm up getting actually to average on Wednesday and keeping sunshine there.

Winds still a little brisk, but they will calm down.

Here's what I'm going to leave you with, it is the century anniversary in Washington, D.C. What are they celebrating? 100 years ago in 1912, Kristie, 3,000 cherry blossom trees given to Washington, D.C. from the residents of Tokyo, Japan. And as you see here, they have been well rooted, standing the test of time. The festival will run until the 27 of April. Beautiful.

LU STOUT: What a wonderful thing to celebrate and a sight to behold. Tom, thank you so much for sharing that with us.

And now, the early stages of the entertainment show Britain's Got Talent, they normally do a pretty good job of suggesting it is anything but. But, just when the audience is about to throw some rotten tomatoes, the producers, lead by a certain Mr. Simon Cowell, they pull out an absolute gem.

Where classic singers Paul Potts and Susan Boyle have gone before we now have jittery teenager Jonathan Antwoine. Now he's performing with his more confident friend Charlotte, but in terms of talent well, take a listen.


SIMON COWELL, BRITAIN'S GOT TALENT: Jonathan, you are a future star.


LU STOUT: A big voice there.

And if Susan Boyle is anything to go by, we haven't heard the last of it.

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