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NEWS STREAM

Americas Tallest Man Looks For Shoes That Fit; Tibetans In India Protest Chinese President

Aired March 28, 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. The world waits to see whether the Syrian government will stick to the peace plan it agreed to. We get a rare look inside a city under siege, Homs.

How thin is too thin? Israel becomes the first country to pass a law over a model's weight.

And one of basketball's most famous ever players swoops in to save a city's baseball team.

We begin in Syria where the fighting rages on. It's now been more than 24 hours since President Bashar al Assad pledged to end the bloodshed. And the world is still waiting for any evidence that Syria intends to honor its commitment to UN/Arab League special envoy Kofi Annan.

And more fighting has been reported in Homs. And a Syrian human rights group says three government security troops were killed in the city of Rastan (ph). Activists say at least 79 people were killed in unrest on Tuesday.

In a show of strength, Syrian president Bashar al Assad walked right into the heart of the resistance on Tuesday. Now Syrian state TV reports that he toured the flashpoint city of Homs, meeting with soldiers, and promising to rebuild. And there is another side that the city Mr. al Assad may not have seen. Ben Wedeman has that.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

(END VIDEOTAPE)

LU STOUT: OK, our apologies there. We're having some technical issues with that report. We'll try to bring it up to you later on -- a report from Ben Wedeman on the situation in Homs.

Now meanwhile, thousands of Syrians have made a dash for safety and headed for the border with Turkey. Colossal refugee camps have sprung up in the border area there. And CNN's Ivan Watson, he joins us now live from the Turkish side.

And Ivan, can you describe what you've seen and the conditions at the camps there?

IVAN WATSON, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, some of these camps have been in existence now for nine, 10 months, Kristie where there's been a pretty fixed population until the last month when the Syrian military launched a fresh offensive into the neighboring Syrian province of Idlib. And that has sent about 7,000 more refugees across the border in the last month raising the total number of official refugees to about 17,000 in Turkey. And we don't quite know the numbers of unofficial refugees that are not living in camps.

Currently, the Syrian border is over my shoulder. It's about two kilometers away. And we were kind of hiking along there. There's a village just in the distance that is in Syrian territory just inside the border where there are a number of Syrian soldiers. At that village, I'm told, is populated by Alawites from the Alawi sect, the same sect of the ruling president Bashar al Assad. And I'm told that the relations between the Alawite village and surrounding Sunni Muslim villages are not good.

These borders are some of the areas that refugees have been coming out from one family at a time, two families at a time. They're often met by Turkish gendarme border patrol who bring ambulances in the case of wounded refugees who have been hospitalized and are being treated.

Yesterday, we talked to one man who had had his right foot blown off, Kristie, because Syrian soldiers had been laying landmines along this border over the course of the last two months. We've been talking to a young Syrian man who has been working with a metal kabob skewer, it's a single handedly find some of these landmines and dig them up at great risk to himself -- anti-personnel mines. And he and his team, he says, have dug up about 300 landmines to help clear a few of the smuggling trails so that refugees could continue to come out and escape the ongoing crackdown and violence in Syria -- Kristie.

LU STOUT: Now Ivan, there was a meeting in Istanbul among the Syrian opposition. And the divisions among them was very apparent. Can they come together and speak with one voice?

WATSON: That's what this meeting was supposed to do in Istanbul. However, during the press conference last night after hours and days of talks, a Kurdish faction stood up and walked out and said they didn't agree with the statement that was calling for unity among the different Syrian opposition groups.

Some groups that have in the past criticized the Syrian national council, one of the leading opposition groups, now say they're willing to work together with them. They've set up a committee that's going to spend the next three weeks trying to put together a more coherent, unified opposition.

In the meantime, everybody we've talked from that meeting has had very little good to say about the United Nations special envoy Kofi Annan and his six point peace plan, which Syrian President Bashar al Assad has recently agreed to.

Take a listen to what one of these opposition members had to say about that peace plan.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED MALE (through translator): The Annan plan does not proceed a transition of power. So that was the biggest problem with this plan. If a transition of power does not take place, we don't think that the violence will stop.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

WATSON: And some of those opposition members we've spoken to, they think that this is just what they call another attempt for the Syrian government to buy time. And they say as long as people keep getting killed with artillery and tanks and snipers that no talk of peace really counts, it's not legitimate -- Kristie.

LU STOUT: Ivan, thank you very much indeed for that. Ivan Watson reporting live from the Turkish/Syrian border and the opposition reaction as well as the refugee crisis.

Now let's go back to the story that I tried to bring you earlier. Ben Wedeman, he has this rare look inside the besieged city of Homs.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

BEN WEDEMAN, CNN CORRESPONDENT: The sound of gunfire is the only farewell this family hears as they pack into a car to leave the Homs neighborhood of Qatamzetoun (ph). There's little time for one last look back, at a home they have no way of knowing when they'll see again. The reassuring routine of daily life is a faded memory.

In footage obtained by CNN, much of Qatumzetoun appears to be have been abandoned. The young men who have stayed behind live a precarious existence. They've knocked holes in the walls to move from house to house to avoid being exposed to government snipers.

"Here there was a bakery," says this man, "but it stopped working because there are no supplies." And there's no electricity, rarely any running water and rotting garbage is strewn in the streets.

Residents are getting by on old bread, which they first put in the sun to dry and then break up and mix with warm water. These men say it's been two weeks since they were able to get to a bakery.

Shelling is sporadic. The voice here explains that this fire was cause by a mortar round. The building's inhabitants have left town.

One of the men describes off camera how Homs' sectarian fabric is being torn asunder.

"Our Christian brothers," he says, "have left because their homes and churches were being hit by bullets and mortars."

A large cloth has been strung across the street to block the view of snipers. Nearby, three men from the Free Syrian Army take cover behind a sandbag barricade. And through a hole in the barricade you can just see how close Syrian government forces are.

Just a few families remain.

"Here are four children," says this man. "there are two others. You can count them on your hands."

The last shell-shocked children left in a ghost town called Qatumzetoun (ph).

Ben Wedeman, CNN, from Beirut.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

LU STOUT: Now Syria is expected to top the agenda at the Arab League summit in Baghdad this week. And while politicians discuss what to do about the conflict raging next door, some Iraqis are taking matters into their own hands.

Arwa Damon has more.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

ARWA DAMON, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Iraq's balands -- rugged, harsh, dotted with smuggling routes to and from Syria. Sunni tribes that straddle the border, their loyalty cemented by decades of intermarriage. Among the most power, Sheikh Abu Ahmed's (ph) tribe, the Dulain (ph). And he's angered by what's happening in Syrian.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE (through translator): You've all seen what the Syrian government is doing. It's time to return our debt. It's our duty.

DAMON: He doesn't want his identity disclosed, but he's sending money and weapons to rebels across the border.

He claims that he's sent over $300,000, 35 heavy machine guns, hundreds of AK-47s and around 30 fighters into the Syrian province of Datazur (ph), including expert bomb makers and ambush specialists.

The Sheikh says Syrian members of the Dulain (ph) tribe came to help them when U.S. forces began their offensive against the Sunni stronghold of Fallujah back in 2004.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE (through translator): Some of them died, some of them carried out suicide attacks against U.S. forces.

DAMON: Now it's his men's turn to help.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE (through translator): Some are hardened fighters, but there are also people who don't have experience, youth who didn't fight in Fallujah who are sitting around unemployed. So we train and send them over.

DAMON: The Sheikh's claims are impossible to verify. There are no accurate estimates about how many guns or fighters are being smuggled across the 600 kilometer border into Syria. And not all the sheikhs here believe in arming the Syrian rebels.

Sheikh Hali Al Shalal (ph) of the prominent El Hamda (ph) tribe is keeping a close eye on events in Syria.

"We support the Syrian revolution," he says. But he doesn't believe in arming the opposition. Instead, he and other leader organize demonstrations like this one last month in Fallujah with people declaring their support for various cities under siege, offering sanctuary in Iraq and rallying to collect food and other humanitarian aid.

Years on, scars remain from the insurgents' pitched battles with the Americans. The people of Fallujah know only too well what war brings. And they know the uprising in Syria, with similar sectarian and tribal fault lines could drag Iraq back into a state of war.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

DAMON: And that, Kristie, is exactly why this summit is so focused on Syria. The various foreign ministers have been meetings since around noon local time in Baghdad. At one point they went into a closed-door session. The main focus of these meetings is trying to bring about some sort of resolution when it comes to Syria, because it is not just divisive when it comes to how Iraqis, perhaps, want to deal with it, it is just as divisive when it comes to how the Arab and the international leadership want to approach this ongoing crisis.

LU STOUT: Now Arwa, in the last 30 minutes, we learned that Damascus says it will reject any initiative on Syria issued by the Arab League summit. So what can really be achieved there at this point?

DAMON: Well, what they're trying to do here is bring about some sort of unified stand when it comes to the Arab leadership. Remember, tomorrow is the really key day. This meeting today the foreign ministers pretty much setting that up. Tomorrow is going to be seeing Arab leaders coming together. And we're expecting some sort of statement where they're going to endorse Kofi Annan's six point peace plan, which is quite interesting, because the Syrian government did in fact already accept that specific plan.

But when it comes to that plan, or any sort of statement, the key part of it is going to be convincing the regime in Damascus to actually fully adhere to it. We've seen all sorts of plans being put forward in the past. We've already seen the Syrian government saying that it is going to adhere to them. And then at the end of the day it has not complied or only partially complied.

But Iraq's foreign minister was saying that this particular summit was both a golden opportunity, but at the same time the last chance, trying to figure out some sort of way to resolve this problem in Syria.

LU STOUT: Arwa Damon live from the Arab League summit underway in Baghdad. Thank you.

Now still to come here on News Stream, Israel is promoting a healthier body image. Models that are too thin won't find work there.

And U.S. presidential hopeful Mitt Romney attacks comments made by Barack Obama. But now Romney is the one who has got some explaining to do.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

LU STOUT: Welcome back.

Now the next story, some say has a distinct James Bond flavor to it. It mixes political intrigue with a mysterious death. But this is real life. Stan Grant reports from Beijing.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

STAN GRANT, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: This is an absolutely extraordinary story that has captivated all of China. And it goes to the very heart of political power here, peering into the dark corridors of the Communist Party politburo. It involves a man known as a princeling, Bo Xilai, the son of a Maoist era communist revolutionary hero, a man himself destined for the very top of political power.

He was put in charge of Chongqing, a city of more than 30 million people. He made his name by cracking down on crime. He drove out the gangs and locked up the allegedly corrupt businessmen.

But then his right-hand man, a former top cop, turned on him spectacularly seeking refuge in an American consulate. He wanted asylum apparently in fear for his life. And according to reports, allegedly holding incriminating information against Bo Xilai.

So then Bo Xilai was purged. He was sacked from his position. No one knows where he is at the moment. He has not been able to say anything. Wong Lee Jun (ph), his former top cop also has vanished from the scene.

And here's where it takes yet another turn. Neil Haywood, a British businessman was found dead in a Chongqing hotel room last November. According to reports from local officials his death was put down to an excessive amount of alcohol, alcoholic poisoning if you like. Now according to people that we've been able to speak to who knew him, who socialized with him, he was not a heavy drinker.

It takes another turn. Neil Haywood had moved into the orbit of a company that was founded by former agency members by MI6, that is the British spy intelligence network. They set up a company here in China and even put out a statement expressing their condolences for Neil Haywood's death.

Now the UK government is calling for a full investigation. They want to know what happened in this case. They're also offering any consular support to Haywood's family.

People are going to ground. They don't want to talk about this. But all of this continuing to play out during a year of political transformation, of change at the very top of China's Communist Party. All of it, again, shining a light into the inner dealings of political power here in China.

Stan Grant, CNN, Beijing.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

LU STOUT: Now leaders of the so-called BRICS nations have begun arriving in India ahead of their fourth summit. And Chinese president Hu Jintao joins leaders from Brazil, Russia, India, and South Africa for the economic conference. Now this year's summit is being held in New Delhi.

The five nations are expected to focus on greater economic cooperation. But what is happening on the sidelines is also drawing widespread attention with Tibetan demonstrators using Hu Jintao's visit to protest against what they say is repression by Beijing.

Now Tibetan demonstrators are turning to more extreme measures to get their message across as Mallika Kapur reports self immolation has now become an increasingly common form of protest.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

MALLIKA KAPUR, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Leaders of BRICS countries are arriving in New Delhi on Wednesday for its two day BRICS summit which gets underway later today. Security is extremely tight throughout the city. I drove past the area where the BRICS summit will be held tomorrow and it was a virtual fortress of this very heavy police presence.

Now we had seen some protests take place in Delhi over the last couple of days. On Monday, a young Tibetan set himself ablaze as he was protesting the visit of the Chinese president Hu Jintao to New Delhi. That young man succumbed to his injuries in New Delhi on Wednesday morning.

Tibetan activists say about 1,000 Tibetans have come to New Delhi from various corners of India wanting to stage a protest against President Hu Jintao's visit. 200 to 300 Tibetans have been arrested. We believe about 500 to 600 more are here in the capital, many of them believed to be staying in this hospital right behind me, which is being guarded very heavily by the police.

Local media is reporting that these Tibetans aren't being allowed to leave the premises. And when I ask the policemen here they said, yes, no one is allowed to leave. No one is allowed to go in.

Tibetans are angry. They say they want their voices to be heard. They fear that the Indian government is putting a gag on them. This is a country dedicated to free speech. It's a democracy. They do want their voices to be heard. But the police here said that they want to take no chances. And its priority is to make sure that the BRICS summit goes off smoothly.

Mallika Kapur, CNN, New Delhi.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

LU STOUT: It's the first law of its kind targeting models considered too thin. Now coming up, we look at how Israel is trying to set a new fashion industry standard.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

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

Now Israel is taking unprecedented steps to stop what some say is a growing and dangerous trend in the fashion industry: the use of extremely thin models. Now Matthew Chance has a closer look at a new law designed to save lives.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

MATTHEW CHANCE, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: At Israel's Fashion Week, a parade of models in all their skinniness. Critics say this waif- like image glamorizes extreme thinness, encouraging eating disorders. And Israel has become the first country to formally legislate against it.

ADI BARKAN, FASHION PHOTOGRAPHER: Something happened in the last 20 years. Always the model was skinny, but not too skinny. And I found that the difference between skinny, thin, and too thin is a big -- it's the difference between life and death.

CHANCE: At his studio in Tel Aviv Adi Barkan is the fashion photographer behind Israel's grand breaking new law. It bans underweight models from cat walks and commercials, using body mass index, a way of estimating healthy weight, to decide who can model and who can't.

Anyone with a BMI less than 18.5 is out.

BARKAN: Even (inaudible) super model, nobody can get into Israel market if they are less than 18.5. Doesn't matter if it's Kate Moss or Claudia Schiffer, or Naomi Campbell if you're less than 18.5 you're not here.

CHANCE: Other countries like Spain and Australia have set minimum weight limits for certain fashion shows in the past, but Israel's law goes much further. The fashion industry's obsession with being super skinny is an increasingly global public health concern.

This new Israeli law maybe a step in the right direction, perhaps a way of shocking the international glamour industry into making important changes. But critics say limiting the types of bodies permitted to model may also backfire. Instead of celebrating bodies of all shapes and sizes, they say, it simply rejects extreme thinness.

But Adi Barkan knows the dangers that extreme thinness can pose. In his arms is Hila Elmalich (ph), a former Israeli model dying of anorexia. He found her on the floor of her apartment five years ago too weak to stand. She?d been desperate to keep her weight down, passed away after having a heart attack, he says, in his arms.

BARKAN: Some people died just because (inaudible). We didn't know how much power we have to kill people and we can save people.

CHANCE: And that's what Barkan says he hopes Israel's new law can achieve, slashing eating disorders among models and those trying to emulate them, saving a few lives in the name of fashion.

Matthew Chance, CNN, Tel Aviv.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

LU STOUT: A powerful stor there.

Now still to come here on News Stream, we'll be live in Cuba where we're following the pope's visit.

And from Romney with love: how a U.S. Republican presidential hopeful Mitt Romney has got himself caught up in a war with words with Russia.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

LU STOUT: I'm Kristie Lu Stout in Hong Kong, you're watching News Stream, and these are your world headlines.

Now violence, it rages in Syria as the world waits to see whether the government will act on its acceptance for a peace plan proposed by UN/Arab League envoy Kofi Annan. President Bashar al Assad has pledged to end the violence at least once before, but failed to deliver. Activists say nearly 80 people were killed across the country on Tuesday.

The Los Angeles Dodgers baseball team is changing hands for a cool $2 billion. A group that includes former basketball star Magic Johnson will take over the team as soon as the judge overseeing the Dodgers? bankruptcy approves it.

Now Pope Benedict XVI wraps up his three day visit to Cuba today with a mass in Havana's Revolution Plaza. He's also expected to hold talks with Fidel Castro after the former Cuban leader requested a meeting.

Patrick Oppmann has been following the story. He joins us now live - - Patrick.

PATRICK OPPMANN, CNN CORRESPONENT: Good morning, Kristie. And yes just in an hour-and-a-half that mass will start. Already all over Havana, we're seeing thousands of people streaming towards Revolution Plaza to get a good spot and it's just absolutely enormous plaza.

And the pope's message really in many ways is quite simple, he's requesting that the Catholic Church be given more of an opportunity to play in a role in Cubans? lives. As one papal representative said last night, to be given a chance to help Cubans.

Well, in the weeks that we've been preparing reports on the papal visit, we were given the opportunity to go to the one place in Cuba where Cuban Catholics are already being given that chance.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

OPPMANN: Prayers in a place that is itself miraculous. In Cuba, where 50 years ago the revolution seized many Catholic schools, the church has again opened a place for Cubans to study for the priesthood.

This seminary is much more than just a school for Catholic priests, it's also the first building that the Cuban government has allowed the church here to build since the revolution. That was one of the outcomes of Pope John Paul II's visit to Cuba in 1998. And here you actually see a stone that the pope blessed during that visit.

FATHER JOSE MIGUEL GONZALEZ, SEMINARY DIRECTOR: (inaudible) the center of our life. And here the seminarians pray.

OPPMANN: Father Jose Miguel Gonzalez, the director of the seminary, says the new school is a vast improvement over the falling down building where aspiring priests once studied.

The church here faces restrictions, he says, but sees progress.

GONZALEZ (through translator): In the last few years, the old tensions have lessened. There is great ability to talk, maintain a dialogue. They're more receptive to our initiatives, like the creation and operation of this seminary.

OPPMANN: 54 Cuban men live and study here, about half the available spots. It will take them eight years to become priests, a hard task, especially in a country where religious devotion, much less celibacy, are often foreign concepts.

The upcoming papal visit, these three seminarians said, will further shape their lives.

`then he comes to Cuba, a country that is not that important, a small country. It's a sign that god sees us, that the church is also watching Cuba too.?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE (through translator): I want to be a priest for the important mission of trying to save Cuba.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE (through translator): The holy father's visit will be the realization of many wishes and show that we are not alone.

OPPMANN: Financial aid and other help arrives from around the world to support the year old seminary.

And when you told your family that you were going to go to Cuba what was their reaction?

SISTER EVA MARIE ACKERMAN, AMERICAN NUN: Well, my family and friends were like, Cuba, Missouri? And I said, no, Cuba the island, the country.

OPPMANN: Sister Eva Marie Ackerman is a nun from Texas now serving her church in Cuba.

ACKERMAN: My faith has been strengthened. I think it's been strengthened by the strength of their faith. I think the faith has been there, but I think in some ways it's been to be more outward with it.

OPPMANN: Faith over many years, they say, can move mountains. And in Cuba build a school.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

OPPMANN: Kristie, Cubans -- or Cuban leader -- Cuba former leader Fidel Castro, Cuban media is now reporting, will meet with the pope following the mass. Castro has said he hopes the meeting will be simple and modest -- Kristie.

LU STOUT: All right. Patrick Oppmann joining us live from Havana, thank you very much indeed for that.

Now Hong Kong's court of appeals has overturned a landmark ruling allowing foreign domestic workers to seek permanent residency in the city. The decision is a setback for the tens of thousands of maids from countries including the Philippines and Indonesia who spend years working in Hong Kong.

Ramy Inocencio reports.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

RAMY INOCENCIO, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Precious downtime, a day off enjoyed once a week by many of Hong Kong's domestic helpers. Tens of thousands of them have come from abroad to work and many of them would like to settle down and retire here. But hopes of that were dashed in court.

DELORES BALLADERES, UNITED FILIPINOS OF HONG KONG: We are very disappointed. We are very unhappy with the decision, because it shows that discrimination and social exclusion is happening in Hong Kong. That's why we're supporting domestic workers.

So this is not a good indication about how the Hong Kong government treats its people.

INOCENCIO: Last September, a maid won an historic legal battle that would have paved the way for domestic workers to apply for permanent residency, something they'd long been denied. But on Wednesday, an appeals court overturned that ruling.

Under the law, most oversees workers in Hong Kong, like bankers, teachers, and reporters can apply for permanent residency after they've lived here for seven years. Not so for overseas domestic helpers, the government says.

ALAN LEONG, HONG KONG LEGIATIVE COUNCILOR (through translator): The immigration law is not superseding the basic law, Hong Kong's mini constitution. And the years that domestic helpers spend in Hong Kong working here do not count toward the seven years required to earn permanent residency.

INOCENCIO: Meaning that no matter how long they've worked in Hong Kong, they won't be eligible to apply. Critics say if the helpers were mostly from the Philippines and Indonesia are granted permanent residency they would bring in spouses and children, overwhelming the social welfare and public housing systems, becoming a $3 billion weight on Hong Kong's economy.

Lawyers who represent immigrants say that's just fear mongering. And their fight is not over.

The maid at the center of this case, Evangeline Benalvallejos (ph) is not talking to the media, but her lawyer is. He tells CNN that she's lived and worked here for more than 25 years. And Hong Kong is her home now. He's planning to take the case to the court of final appeals in the hope that she, and others like her, will get to stay.

Ramy Incencio, CNN, Hong Kong.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

LU STOUT: Now turning now to the U.S. presidential race. Republican candidate Newt Gingrich has announced that he will lay off one-third of his staff and replace his campaign manager. But he is defying calls to pull out of the race. A spokesman calls the shake-up a redesign of Gingrich's campaign to make it, quote, convention ready.

Now CNN estimates that Gingrich has 134 delegates, that's well behind frontrunner Mitt Romney who has 559 of the 1,144 delegates needed to win the Republican nomination.

Now Romney's recent remarks on the campaign trail were aimed at President Obama, but they ended up causing a storm in Moscow. Jim Acosta has the sound bite and the fallout.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

BARACK OBAMA, PRESIDENT O THE UNITED STATES: This is my last election. And after my election I have more flexibility.

JIM ACOSTA, CNN CORRESPONDENT: In President Obama's open mic moment with Russian President Dmitry Medvedev, Mitt Romney saw an opening. The question is whether the GOP frontrunner missed it.

MITT ROMNEY, REPUBLICAN PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: This is to Russia. This is without question our number one geopolitical foe. And the idea that our president is planning on doing something with them that he's not willing to tell the American people before the election is something that I find that very, very alarming.

ACOSTA: But alarm bells also rang on Capitol Hill where House Speaker John Boehner sounded as if Romney needed a lesson in Washington protocol.

JOHN BOEHNER, SPEAKER OF THE HOUSE: While the president is overseas, I think it's appropriate that -- that people not be critical of him or of our country.

ACOSTA: As for Romney's number one geopolitical foe comment, it didn't take long for that to transmit back to the Russian president.

DMITRY MEVEDEV, RUSSIAN PRESIDENT (through translator): It is very reminiscent of Hollywood and a certain period of history. It is 2012, not the mid-1970s.

ACOSTA: It was an apparent reference to the Cold War and the days of 007 taking on the Soviet Union. But was this episode a From Romney with Love, a Dr. No No?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I would call that acute political hyperbole.

ACOSTA: But Matt Raganski (ph) with the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace cautions there is good reason to worry about Russia. Take Vladimir Putin's controversial return to the presidency, Raganski (ph) says, or Moscow's moves to block United Nations sanctions aimed at stopping the crisis in Syria.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: You cannot ignore Russia. You've got to find a way to work with the Russians.

ACOSTA: The Romney campaign responded to the Russian president with a statement saying "Medvedev's comments about Governor Romney make it evident that the Kremlin would prefer to continue doing business with the current incumbent in the White House." The statement goes on to tag Russia as a unique, not number one, geopolitical concern.

ROMNEY: This is without question our number one geopolitical foe.

ACOSTA: The Democratic Party turned the comment into a web video, questioning whether Romney is ready to be president. But listen to what one of Romney's fiercest critics and GOP rival Newt Gingrich told CNN.

Do you agree with that assessment?

NEWT GINGRINCH, REPUBLICAN PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: I think that we need a total reassessment of American foreign policy. And the world is much more complicated than just any one country. There are at least three centers of gravity, a fourth now (inaudible), but you have to pay attention to every nation.

ACOSTA: Romney may be backing away from his assertion that Russia is the nation's top foe, but he is standing by his criticism that the president has caved to the Russians on issues like missile defense. The White House isn't holding back either. When asked who the country's number one enemy is, Press Secretary Jay Carney replied it's still al Qaeda.

Jim Acosta, CNN, Washington.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

LU STOUT: Now U.S. authorities are investigating an incident during a JetBlue flight from New York to Las Vegas. The flights captain became hysterical and had to be locked out of the cockpit by his co-pilot and then restrained by passengers.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: (inaudible) now.

Oh my god, I'm so distraught. Oh my god. We've got Israel. We've got Iraq. We've got to get down. The bombs are going to drop.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

LU STOUT: Witnesses reported hearing the captain shout references to Israel, Iran, Iraq, and Afghanistan as they fought to subdue him. And the flights co-pilot, he managed to land the plan safely in Texas. And the captain is now being held at a medical facility.

Now still to comes here on News Stream, from basketball to baseball, Magic Johnson has got his eye on the L.A. Dodgers, but it comes at a price. We've got that next.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

LU STOUT: Welcome back.

Now it is a record setting price for a historic sports franchise. The Los Angeles Dodgers are being bought for $2 billion. And the new owners, well it's a group led by former basketball star Magic Johnson. An auction was meant to start Wednesday morning with three bidders, but their bid easily beat out the competition. And if the deal is approved, it may be the baseball team's ticket out of bankruptcy court. Financing and ownership issues emerged two years ago from Dodger owner Frank McCourt's divorce.

So how does this $2 billion purchase stack up? Well, reports say that the Dodgers will take the top title from English football club Manchester United, bought in 2005 for $1.5 billion and also nearly doubles the previous U.S. record held by the Miami Dolphins. The American football team was bought in 2009 for just over $1 billion.

Now, there's another big night in store in the Champion's League. Alex Thomas is here with a preview and a recap of last night's quarterfinals -- Alex.

ALEX THOMAS, CNN SPORTS CORRESPONENT: Yes, Kristie. It's been revelation since replacing Andre Villas-Boas as Blues boss. But even after a 1-nil victory over Benfica last night, Roberto DiMateo says Chelsea still have a mountain to climb to reach the Champions League semifinals.

The interim coach left Didier Drogba, Frank Lambard and Michael Essien out of his starting line-up, but the gamble paid off. Fernando Torres setting up Solomon Kalu for the only goal of the game. It's a biter one away from home, a 1-nil win for Chelsea. And they have a home leg to look forward to at Stanford Bridge.

It looks as though APOEL FC's fairy tale run in the competition is over, though. The first Cyprus side ever to reach the knockout stages defied the odds just to reach the last eight, but then lost 3-nil to Real Madrid on Tuesday night.

To their credit, APOEL held the Spanish giant for 73 minutes, but once Karim Benzema finally made the breakthrough, it rather opened the flood gates. He scored again after a goal from Kaka. And it leaves their opponents from Cyprus the titanic task of scoring four times in the second leg at the Birnabau stadium.

In Wednesdays games, AC Milan take on the defending champions Barcelona. It's easily the pick out tie of all the quarterfinals. It sees the seven time champions up against the holders. Barca the team everyone wanted to avoid in the draw, although the Rosonneri are promising there will be no nerves from them, although football writer Gabby Marcotti told CNN that he thinks Milan may have a bit of a problem.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Teams that have had success against Barcelona like Inter with Mourinho two years ago have a tendency to defend deep and do that. Milan aren't built to play that. Milan are built to go out there and play and attack. And -- which is what they did in the group stages and certainly in the second leg at the San Siro. So I think they're going to have to go out and do that. And I don't know that that's the right strategy, but it's their only strategy. And I think it's going to e entertaining.

But a huge loss for Milan at the back Richardo Silva, he'll miss, looks like, both legs.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

THOMAS: Gabriel Marcotti (ph) speaking to my colleague Pedro Pinto.

Now after more than three years of trying, Caroline Wozniacki has finally recorded her first tennis victory over Serena Williams. The Dane who has dropped from world number one to sixth in the rankings this year beat the American 6-4, 6-4 in the quarterfinals of the Sony Ericsson Open in Miami.

Let's show you he action from the first set. Wozniacki leading two games to one at this stage. Approaches the net and then has the chance to put away the overhead winner. She went on to take this opening set by 6-4.

Now match point for the fourth seed. Wozniacki, a lengthy rally. Serena's backhand goes into the net. That unforced error handing Wozniacki the 6-4, 6-4 victory. Isn't she delighted?

And we end, Kristie, with a look at Australia's kit for the London 2012 Olympic games. They describe this as back to basics. The famous Green and Gold. The range took 18 months to design, create. 80,000 pieces of kit for the 800 odd athletes that will go and represent Australia here in London. A kangaroo motif used throughout.

And why not indeed. Good luck to them and all the competitors in London 2012.

For now, back to you, Kristie.

LU STOUT: All right, Alex. Thank you, take care.

Just ahead here on News Stream, being tall certainly has its perks, but America's tallest man has found that putting his best foot forward is proving a major challenge.

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LU STOUT: Welcome back to News Stream.

Now reports of a natural gas leak in the North Sea. Let's get the very latest on that with Mari Ramos. She joins us from the world weather center -- Mari.

MARI RAMOS, CNN WEATHER CORRESPONDENT: Hello, Kristie, good to see you.

Yeah, this is kind of an interesting story, the incidents happened actually earlier in the week on Sunday and that's when originally more than 200 workers from that platform were evacuated.

Now I want to go ahead and show you where this is actually taking place. Let's go ahead and roll the video. You're looking at a Google Earth image there. And that what the platform actually looks like. That ridge that you see sticking out actually connects to wellheads, one that produces oil, one that produces gas. All of this taking place about 240 kilometers from the coast of Scotland there.

Interestingly enough, one of the latest press releases from the company says that aircraft that has been flying over the area has detected an oil sheen. And they're estimating that to be right now about 30 cubic meters of oil sheen over that area. Now remember that this was a gas leak. They said that this is consistent, though the gas leak -- the oil that they're seeing or the sheen that they're seeing on the ocean is consistent with -- with normal drilling. So they're not too worried. They don't think that there's an actual leak of oil in that area. So that's important.

We found this observation from that region. This is another oil platform, Ekotisk, and this one is -- this one is only about 50, maybe 80 kilometers away from that location. I just wanted to show you how the winds here are generally out of the north and west at about 40 kilometers per hour. So that indicative of the similar weather conditions that they may be finding at the Elgin oil rig incident.

So we'll be monitoring the weather situation here. If the weather takes a turn for the worse, it could make of course any kind of clean-up efforts or any kind of containment efforts a bit more difficult. The gas leak is still ongoing. There's a flare up there that has not been put out.

Today, west and northwesterly winds, some scattered rain showers expected. On Thursday that wind will be increasing so that could pose a little bit more difficult conditions.

You can see that weather system beginning to move in here. That big area of high pressure that has been across Western Europe is starting to break down a little from north to south. So we're starting to see a little bit of change in weather for you across Scandinavia, certainly -- actually for Denmark and northern parts of the UK.

Parts of France still had some record high temperatures.

But remember, the main thing with all of this dry weather that we've had is the drought conditions. Less than 50 percent of the normal rainfall across parts of the UK. And less than 25 percent of the rain we should have had across Spain and Portugal.

The northern part of Spain one of the driest areas in terms of lack of rainfall. Normally a very green and luscious area. We're talking about Galifia (ph).

You can see right over here some fires. Now this fire turned out to be deadly. Look how close the firefighters are actually working the flames here, very dangerous work indeed. You can see his face blackened with the smoke there. One firefighter lost his life. This is just one example of the hundreds of acres that have actually burned already across northern parts of Spain.

Temperature wise, today not as hot as yesterday probably across much of this region, Kristie. But it's still going to stay rather warm. And still very dry; not just the UK, but also of course as we head down to Spain as well. Back to you.

LU STOUT: All right. Mari Ramos with the forecast. Thank you.

Now let's introduce you to a small dog with a big chance of setting a world record. Now just how small is she? Well, this puppy named Beyonce is the size of an iPhone. And reports say that when she was born she could fit into a spoon.

Now she is of course named after one of the world's biggest pop stars. And her owners are hoping that she will set some records of her own as the world's tiniest dog.

And now to a human being who has the opposite problem. Now the young man in our next story is 7 feet 8 inches tall. And when you're that big, finding shoes that fit is quite a feat.

In fact, without the generosity of an online network of strangers it would be impossible. Holly Wagner explains.

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HOLLY WAGNER, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Igor Vovkivinksiy is a towering 7 feet 8 inches tall.

IGOR VOVKIVINSKIY: When we came here to the United States I was almost seven years old. And at that time I had already surpassed my mom in height. I was already six feet tall.

WAGNER: Now 29 years old, his dramatic size is record breaking. And when it comes to footwear, off the charts.

VOVKIVINSKIY: Nobody makes shoes my size. Probably four six or seven years I don't even know what my shoe size is.

WAGNER: Igor says he's down to a lone pair of shoes with little to no support left and no traction. For a guy who has had 15 surgeries in the last three years, it's put him in a challenging and sad situation.

VOVKIVINSKIY: Not having shoes is basically handicapped me partially.

WAGNER: The residual pain from those surgeries makes it difficult for him to stay on his feet at time.

VOVKIVINSKIY: It's been pretty depressing at times.

WAGNER: So he moves around the house in a motorized wheelchair. He's taking college courses online instead of on campus. And he doesn't spend time with friends like he used to.

VOVKIVINSKIY: I tried to avoid just thinking about what I could be missing with shoes.

WAGNER: Igor says a pair of shoes with proper support should change his life, helping him lose weight he gained during bed rest and gain back the muscle he lost.

But getting a new pair will be a feat. Seven years ago when a German cobbler made him three custom pairs of shoes he wore size 26. Since then, the surgeries have physically changed the shape of his feet.

VOVKIVINSKIY: Each one of my feet is now very different.

WAGNER: Igor says he's contacted several shoe companies and only heard back from Reebok. He says he was told the cost would be around $15,000 to have shoes made for him, money not in the budget for this college student.

With the encouragement of friends, he started a webpage and started collecting donations.

VOVKIVINSKIY: I am amazed, pleasantly surprised, shocked. I just cannot believe at how generous people have been to me.

Wagner: Two weeks in, $2,700 later, and a lot of supportive messages. Igor feels he's one step closer to a better fit and a better life.

VOVKIVINSKIY: I don't know what I'm going to do first once I get that pair of shoes. I have so many things that I want to do just going for a simple walk.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

LU STOUT: Now, like us you're probably trying to figure just how big his feet really are. Well, we did a bit of number crunching. And we think that based on his shoe size here is how big his foot is. It's this big, or about 42 centimeters long. And for an idea of scale, here it is compared to my own shoe. And I've got to tell you I do have some pretty big feet myself.

Now that is News Stream, but the news continues at CNN. World Business Today is next.

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