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Bahraini Activist Enters 9th Week Of Hunger Strike; Afghanistan and U.S. Reach Deal over Night Raids; North Korea Rocket Launch Plans; Syrian Unrest; Bubba Watson Wins the Masters

Aired April 9, 2012 - 00:00:00   ET


ANNA COREN, HOST: Welcome to NEWS STREAM, where news and technology meet.

Hello. I'm Anna Coren in Hong Kong.

We begin in North Korea, as the secretive state prepares for a rocket launch that others say is just a cover for a missile test.

Fighting continues in Syria, where a promised cease-fire is now in doubt.

And a dramatic finish to the Masters, where Bubba Watson wins the green jacket in the finals.

Well, tensions are mounting on the Korean Peninsula and far beyond as North Korea prepares for a controversial rocket launch. Pyongyang says the operation has a peaceful purpose and involves only a satellite, but many other countries are skeptical, believing that the launch is actually a cover for a long-range ballistic missile test. Well, now South Korea says it's found evidence that the North is planning another nuclear test, ratcheting up concerns another notch.

CNN's Stan Grant was among a select group of international journalists given a tour of the rocket's launching site and he has this report.


STAN GRANT, CNN SR. INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): This is what North Korea has been keeping hidden from the world -- not anymore -- a long-range rocket 30 meters long, or nearly a hundred feet, that much of the world suspects will launch the next phase of the reclusive country's missile program. North Korea insists there is nothing to fear. Not a missile test, but, in fact, a satellite launch for scientific research.

To prove it, they've taken an unprecedented step, opening up the launch site to the eyes of the international media. For Pyongyang, this also represents a propaganda coup in the year the country celebrates their 100th anniversary of the birth of its founder, Kim Il-sung.

"This spiritual moment, as the North Korean people struggle to open the gate to a prosperous future," this man says. But the United States and its allies see it very differently, a country still technically at war taking yet another step closer to perfecting a missile that experts say could reach American shores.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE (through translator): I'm very disturbed.

GRANT (on camera): He can deny that? He can deny that it's --


UNIDENTIFIED MALE (through translator): If you look for yourselves, with your own eyes, then you can judge whether it's a ballistic missile or whether it's a launch vehicle to put a satellite into orbit to show that -- that that's why we've introduced -- invited you to this launch site.

GRANT (voice-over): We certainly get the grand tour, today shown all around the site, the control center, even the actual satellite that will be launched into space on the rocket. One independent European analyst visiting the site says he sees nothing to be concerned about, but --

CHRISTIAN LARDIER, SPACE ANALYST: I don't know what they want to do in the future, but today what we see is a space (INAUDIBLE).

GRANT: To travel to the site of Tongchang-ri is to get an all-too-rare glimpse through the window of what's been dubbed the "hermit kingdom."

(on camera): We're going to get on this train here. We're traveling for about five hours, until we actually get to the satellite launch site itself.

(voice-over): From the carriage of our train, a barren landscape, people scattered working the harsh fields, a country where many people struggle even to eat. Not an issue North Korean officials were keen for me to pursue.

(on camera): Is it more important than food?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Sorry, what was the question again?

GRANT: Is space technology more important than feeding -- feeding your people?

We don't answer that?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We'll have a chance before the interview.

GRANT (voice-over): To a country obsessed with its self-defense and presenting a strong face to the world, this, they argue, is money well spent. And anyway, as we are constantly reminded, this is a satellite launch, not a missile test.


GRANT: Yes. And, Anna, we're hearing that the window for the actual launch they're looking at is between the 12th and the 16th. No confirmation of that, and of course we won't be back there for the launch. We'll be watching that. When? It happens from here in Pyongyang -- Anna.

COREN: Stan, you were obviously given unprecedented access. Tell us a bit more about this experience.

GRANT: Yes, an extraordinary experience, isn't it, when you consider just how secretive this country, the efforts that it has gone through to hide programs exactly like this, to be taken there? It was certainly an historic event for us.

As you saw, there was a lot of media there from around the rest of the world. And I think as you heard there in the news story, the real aim here is to try to have some transparency, to meet the criticism that this is, in fact, a covert operation, a missile operation, to meet that criticism and say, look, here it is, you can have a look around for yourself. You can see the rocket, you can see the satellite, and it is indeed a satellite launch.

I think you heard from the independent analyst that we spoke to there. He said from what he saw, he doesn't see anything sinister at the moment as well.

So it was an attempt by them to try to say, here's the situation, we bring you in here. And as you heard the gentleman there say to me in the story, look with your own eyes and tell us what you see -- Anna.

COREN: Stan, as you would have heard, there are reports coming out of South Korea that North Korea is preparing for a third nuclear test. Did you get any indication that this is possible, that this could be happening?

GRANT: No indication, obviously, and no comment coming here from North Korea. What you're referring to there are these intelligence reports that are coming out of South Korea suggesting there is movement that would be consistent with a potential third nuclear test.

One thing that is interesting to point out though is, if you look at the history of this, 2006, they carried out a similar launch to what they're planning now. They also then carried out a nuclear test in the weeks after. 2009, the same situation, another attempted launch, another nuclear test.

I think that has fueled a lot of the speculation. And when you have a country that is sealed off from the rest of the world, when you have so much secrecy, and you have an unpredictable country, people are always going to speculate about what the next move may be -- Anna.

COREN: Stan, the international community has said that if North Korea carries out either of these tests, that it will be further isolated. Has there been any reaction from the North regarding those comments?

GRANT: Well, it's an extraordinarily isolated country as it is, both by design and also because of the sanctions that have been imposed against it over the past decade. We know there have been attempts by the United States and others to get North Korea back to the negotiating table. China had hosted the six-party talks for a number of years. North Korea had come to the party and then backed away again.

We saw these talks in February between the United States and North Korean envoys. There was some hope then, some optimism, but that has quickly dissipated in the light of this launch.

But one thing you have to understand here, Anna, is from the North Korean perspective, this is about presenting itself as a powerful and prosperous nation to the rest of the world. And you're talking about a regime whose survival is predicated on the ability to deter any potential invasion, and not just be able to do that, but to show that to its own people. That strength is its -- really its own survival. That's what we're seeing here, heightened in a year when the country is also celebrating the 100th anniversary of the birth of its founding father, Kim Il-sung -- Anna.

COREN: Senior International Correspondent Stan Grant, joining us from Pyongyang in North Korea.

Stan, we thank you.

And we'll obviously be crossing to Stan from Pyongyang throughout the week.

Well, Japan and the United States are among those questioning North Korea's true motives, but neighboring South Korea still technically is at war with its northern neighbor. Arguably, it has to be the most worried about what is going on.

Well, our Paula Hancocks joins us live from the capital in Seoul.

Now, Paula, tell us, how convinced is the South that North Korea will carry out this third nuclear test?

PAULA HANCOCKS, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, Anna, all the preparations have been made. There is an assumption at this point that the rocket launch itself will actually take place.

As for the potential nuclear test now, this is information we've obtained from an intelligence report here in South Korea, and it basically surrounds satellite images taken from the area where the previous two nuclear tests were carried out. And it now shows what appears to be a third tunnel being dug.

Now, according to the intelligence report, it says that you can see mounds of earth and sand at the entrance to the tunnel, and says that that makes it clear that there is a third tunnel for this nuclear test being prepared. The report says that this would be a grave provocation.

At this point, we're not getting official reaction from the South Korean government itself, but the report certainly makes it clear that this could be the case. And, of course, this happened in 2006 and in 2009, just weeks or months after both of those rocket launches which North Korea said were satellite launches. They did carry out a nuclear test.

Now, this intelligence report that we've obtained does say that North Korea is likely to use the international condemnation that will come after this satellite launch as an excuse to be able to carry out another one of these nuclear tests. One North Korean expert that I spoke to said that it just shows that North Korea is a great manipulator of the world, the fact that it is able to say we don't want this particular food aid that the U.S. has offered, and then show that it is a true danger to the world in the hope, he believes, of getting more food aid and more concessions -- Anna.

COREN: We hear a lot of concern coming out of South Korea, but if the North does carry out these tests, how will the South react?

HANCOCKS: Well, that's the big question. We've seen over the past year and a half a number of attacks by North Korea on South Korea. A warship was sunk which killed 46 sailors, and then, also, there was the Yongbyon island incident in November of 2010 which killed four more South Koreans.

On both of those occasions, South Korea was convinced to remain calm and to not retaliate in any great force. Now, it really depends on, obviously, the regional powers being able to stand together, show a united front, and also the United States standing next to its very strong ally, the Republic of Korea.

Now, we have heard that the military itself is on a state of alert, and we have been told by the South Korean military that they are "fortifying" their military stance. They won't go any further and say exactly how they're doing that, or if there's troop movements, but they are definitely on alert.

But, certainly, no regional power in this area at this point, once a direct confrontation. And North Korea probably knows that. North Korea knows that there's really no more sanctions that the international community can put on them. They are crippling sanctions at this point, and there's really not many ways that the South Koreans or the United States can actually penalize North Korea for either of these tests -- Anna.

COREN: Paula Hancocks, joining us in Seoul.

Many thanks for that analysis.

Well, the range of the rockets is, of course, one of the big talking points. And North Korea says it intends to send it south from the Sohay (ph) launching site northwest of the capital, Pyongyang.

Experts believe the rocket delivery system is similar to that of the ballistic missile known as the Taep'o-Dong 2, which can travel more than 6,700 kilometers. Officials say part of the rocket could end up somewhere down here, in this yellow box, and that, of course, is somewhere off the island of the Philippines. Reports say Philippines Airlines has already rerouted several flights in and out of Manila between the 12th and the 16th of this month, and the residents of the island of Luzon have been advised to stay indoors to avoid falling debris.

Well, Japan says it will shoot down any part of the North Korean rocket that enters its airspace. Now Kyung Lah has this report.


KYUNG LAH, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: As North Korea prepares to launch its missile, Japan is making preparations of its own, its missile defense. This is the Patriot Advanced Capability 3, the PAC 3. They've been deployed to three different locations in the Tokyo area. The one you see here, this is in downtown Tokyo.

Now, Patriot missiles have also been deployed to four different locations on the island of Okinawa. At sea, Japan has also sent out three Aegis destroyers equipped with interceptor missiles.

All of this is a show of force. Japan's government saying it will shoot down any part of a North Korean missile if it threatens Japan. Now, it is not expected to fly over Tokyo, and whether or not these would actually be effective remains to be seen.

Over the weekend, Japan's foreign minister said that all the diplomatic power in the region is being utilized to try to convince Pyongyang to not launch the missile, but if North Korea does launch the rocket, if the rocket starts to head towards Tokyo, Japan is saying with its actions that it reserves the right to protect its citizens.

Kyung Lah, CNN, Tokyo.


COREN: Ahead on NEWS STREAM, refugees under fire. The bloodshed spills across the Syrian border as hope fades for a cease-fire.

Also coming up, (INAUDIBLE) Bahrain's Formula 1. A hunger strike and unrest are overshadowing the Grand Prix.

And a thrilling Masters win for Bubba Watson as he clinches his very first major title.


COREN: Well, violence in Syria has apparently spilled over the border into Turkey. A Turkish Foreign Ministry official says two Syrians and one Turkish official were injured at a refugee camp from cross-border gunfire. It happened as several injured people were crossing into Turkey from Syria, and two of them have died.

On the ground inside Syria, fighting continues a week after diplomats said the Syrian government had pledged it would withdraw its troops from cities by tomorrow. Well, now the Syrian government appears to be backing out of that deal, saying it first wants a written guarantee from opposition forces that they will lay down their weapons. Opposition activists say at least 525 people have been killed since the Syrian government first agreed to Tuesday's cease-fire deadline.

For the latest in the region, our Ivan Watson is monitoring developments from our bureau in Istanbul, and he joins us now.

Ivan, we know that the opposition has said it won't meet the government's demands. What does this mean then for the cease-fire?

IVAN WATSON, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, as cities, towns continues to burn inside Syria, now disturbing developments of the violence crossing borders for the first time into Turkey. And we're still following this developing situation.

According to opposition sources, as well as Turkish government officials, it seems like a battle first erupted very close to the Syrian customs gate on the Syrian side of the border in an area called Bab al-Salam. And we're going to zoom in and show you the map of where Turkish government officials and Syrian opposition sources say rebels clashed with Syrian customs guards and security forces, with the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights claiming that as many as six Syrian soldiers and customs agents were killed in that battle.

Now, the governor of Turkey, of the neighboring province of Kilis, says at least 17 wounded people then tried to make it through minefields to the nearby Turkish border to escape that battle, and were coming to the Turkish side. And there is a Turkish refugee camp for hundreds, if not thousands, of refugees right near that Turkish customs post there, and that the fighting spilled across the border.

There were shots fired from the Syrian side into the Syrian refugee camp on the Turkish side of the border, and a Turkish police officer, as well as a Turkish translator, were both wounded. There were people running back and forth between that border area. And we've seen videos filmed by refugees inside the camp of wounded, possibly killed, people inside the camp.

This one, inside a Turkish police van. Also showing some of the bullet holes that went through some of the housing container units that the refugees are living in.

The Turkish Foreign Ministry, it lodged a formal complaint with Syria's embassy in Ankara, demanding an immediate cease-fire. Dozens of people -- rather, actually, around 21 people that were rushed to hospitals on the Turkish side of the border. We talked to one Turkish village official who transported at least a half-dozen wounded Syrians in his own car.

The latest news we've gotten is of fires raging on the Syrian side of the border. A very tense day along that border, and it will be important to monitor what official reactions we get from both the Syrian and Turkish capitals in the aftermath of this bloody border incident -- Anna.

COREN: Yes. Well, Ivan, we're getting reports that the cease-fire is on shaky ground. You mentioned the refugees. Kofi Annan has said that he will visit a refugee camp on the Turkish side on his way to Iran in the coming days.

Has Kofi Annan, has the U.N., or the Arab League, for that matter, said what will happen if this cease-fire is not enforced?

WATSON: Well, the latest word we got from Kofi Annan came yesterday in a pretty critical statement, basically criticizing the Syrian government for an escalation in attacks in the run-up to this cease-fire against Syrian population centers. And he called for an immediate cease-fire between both the opposition and the Syrian government. And he went one step further. He said this April 10th deadline should not be seen by the Syrian government as an excuse to escalate attacks before the April 10th withdrawal deadline date, and that is echoing criticism that we've seen from Syrian opposition groups, as well as from the Turkish government, basically accusing the Syrian government of using these final days and hours as a window to crush as much of the Syrian opposition as possible.

In the meantime, the Syrian government has come out with new demands demanding written guarantees from the Syrian opposition to hand over weapons, to a cease-fire, come Tuesday, and also from the governments of Turkey, Saudi Arabia and Qatar, for them to give written guarantees that they will not support the Syrian opposition. All of this suggests that this peace agreement could very well unravel before it even comes into effect -- Anna.

COREN: It certainly does not look promising.

Ivan Watson, joining us from Istanbul in Turkey.

Thank you for that update.

Well, coming up on NEWS STREAM, a dramatic end to the year's first golf major. We'll bring you all the action from Augusta. That's next.


COREN: Welcome back.

Time for a sports update.

And it was an amazing finish at the Masters, as one golfer became just the third left-hander to win the green jacket.

Our Pedro Pinto joins us from London with more details.

And Pedro, what a way to win the Masters.


Bubba Watson joining Phil Mickelson and Mike Weir in that elite group of left-handers to win at Augusta. The American survived a sudden death playoff to win the year's first major, but that only tells part of the story on what was truly an incredible Sunday.

In addition to a playoff, this year's final round featured two holes in one and a record-setting double eagle. The leader entering the final round had been Peter Hanson, but he shot a 73 in the final round and faded out of contention.

The opposite can be said about Louis Oosthuizen, who stormed into contention on Sunday. This shot had a lot to do with that. Watch as it approached from 260 yards on the par 5 second hole. It has the direction and the distance, and the end result, only the fourth double eagle in Masters history in the first ever at number 2. It moved Oosthuizen two strokes clear of Phil Mickelson at the top of the Leader Board.

And speaking of lefty, Mickelson ran into some big trouble at the par 3 fourth (ph). Off the tee box, Mickelson yelling, "Fore!" The ball goes left and into the woods. Instead of sinking a penalty, he tried to chip out right-handed, turning his club over. That wasn't a good move. The ball went nowhere.

Another terrible effort followed that. He wound up with a triple bogey. Still managed to finish the day at even par and a tie for third at 8 under.

Meanwhile, another American, Bubba Watson, started to make a major move at the 14th. His approach on the par 4 is a good one, rolls nicely back towards the cup to set up a second straight birdie. Two holes later, Watson, at the 16th, and his fourth straight birdie allows him to tie. This ties him for the lead at 10 under par.

Now, both players finished the final round on that score, forcing a playoff. And on the second extra hole, Watson comes up with this. He was in trouble in the pine straw, but watch how he gets out of it. An incredible approach, puts the ball within 10 feet of the cup.

Oosthuizen then needed to sink his par putt from the edge of the green, but it painfully just misses, and so does his chance at a second major title. That left Watson knowing two putts would do the trick, and he sank his second.

Let the tears flow and let the celebration begin. The 33-year-old Bubba with his first major championship win in his 17th major championship appearance.


BUBBA WATSON, 2012 MASTERS CHAMPION: The first time I ever worked with my caddie, Austin (ph), six years ago, I told him -- I said, "If I have to swing, I've got a shot." And so I'm used to the woods, I'm used to the rough.

And we were walking down there, and I said, "We were here already. We hit it close here already today," because I was in the streets (ph).

I got there, I saw it was a perfect draw -- perfect, well, hook. So I was just -- we were walking down the fairway. We've been here before. You're good out of trees. And he said, "If you've got to swing, you've got a shot."

So I get down there, and I saw it was a perfect draw, even though the tower was in my way. I just -- I didn't want to get ask if I can get relief or anything, because it was just set up for a perfect draw that I saw -- well, hook. But -- so I just -- that's what he did. We just kept talking about, you know, you never what's going to happen out here. Anything can happen.

Golf is not my everything. I'm not going to home -- if I would have lost today, I'm not going to go home and pout. I'm going to think about the great times that I had, the chance I had to win. Somehow I won, so I get to go home and thing about that.

But tomorrow there's going to be a new tournament. You all are going to write about other people. You're all going to forget about me tomorrow. You know what I'm saying.

I mean -- and so I'm going to have keep living my life and doing everything, but for me to come out here and win, it's awesome for a week. And then I'll get back to real life.


PINTO: I don't know if he'll forget about it so soon.

More on the Masters, of course, and the rest of today's big sports stories on the next edition of "WORLD SPORT."

That's all for now, though, Anna. Back to you in Hong Kong.

COREN: Yes, I can't imagine we'll be moving on too quickly. I want to know how he came up with the nickname "Bubba."

PINTO: Well, he was born Gerry Lester Watson, Jr. So "Bubba" is quite a common nickname in the South, and he just picked it up growing up. So it stuck, and everybody -- that's what everybody calls him, just "Bubba."

COREN: It suits him. Bubba Watson. Congratulations to him.

Pedro Pinto, good to see you. Thank you for that.

PINTO: Good to see you.

COREN: Coming up on NEWS STREAM, the Formula 1 race in Bahrain is set for later this month, but some question whether it will go forward.

And a look at the life and times of American journalist Mike Wallace, who has died at the age of 93.


COREN: I'm Anna Coren in Hong Kong. And you're watching NEWS STREAM. These are your world headlines.

Well, South Korean intelligence officials said the north is secretly planning a third nuclear test. But separately, North Korea is preparing to launch a rocket that it says will put a satellite into orbit. Well, news crews were invited to inspect the rockets, which South Korea, Japan, and the U.S. says is a cover for a ballistic missile test.

Well, Turkey says the unrest in Syria has spilled across the border with gunfire hitting three people at a refugee camp inside Turkey. Officials say two Syrian refugees and a Turkish official have been wounded. And the incident comes as the Syrian government appears to be going back on a pledge to withdraw its troops from cities tomorrow.

A rare meeting in New Delhi between the president of Pakistan and India's prime minister signals a warming in relations between the nuclear armed neighbors. Well, Pakistan's Asif Ali Zardari and Indian PM Manmohan Singh met for just half an hour on Sunday. Well, both expressed satisfaction with their talks, which came after Pakistan's promise to grant India most favored nation trading status.

Yemen says at least 21 people are dead after an hour's long battle with suspected al Qaeda militants. It began when militants attacked an army barracks or the second time this year. Well, Yemen says 12 militants died. Al Qaeda's influence is on the rise in Yemen. And some politicians are now considering dialogue with the militants.

Well, it's been just over a year since the Arab Spring roared into life in the small island kingdom of Bahrain. Well, it was inspired by the uprisings in Tunisia and Egypt. The pro-democracy protesters took to Bahrain streets on February 14, 2011 in what was called the country's day of rage.

Well, violent confrontations between police and protesters became commonplace until exactly one month from the day of rage. And that's when Saudi Arabia got involved and send hundreds of troops in to help put down the revolt. Well, the military strategy largely worked. But unrest continues to rattle the country.

Well, one leading human rights activist who was arrested a year ago is on a hunger strike, protesting the last sentence that he received. Abdulhadi al-Khawaja's daughter says her father's health is deteriorating. And he is now struggling to breath.

Well, Ian Lee has this report.


IAN LEE, CNN CORREPSONDENT: This may be the most recent photo taken of Bahraini human rights activist Abdulhadi al-Khawaja. Al-Khawaja has been in jail for nearly a year after being detained for his role in anti- government demonstrations. This picture appears taken in court and was apparently released by Bahrain's government just after al-Khawaja began his hunger strike. His daughter is not happy with what she sees.

MARYAM AL-KHAWAJA, DAUGHTER: Well, I mean you can definitely tell that his jaw is broken. There's something completely wrong here. This side of his face is completely different from the other side of his face is swollen as well. You can see in the person's eyes.

I know that he had stitches on the side of his head as well, but they took the picture from this angle so you couldn't see it.

LEE: Maryam al-Khawaja is in Cairo to organize support for Bahrain's opposition movement. Her mission began last year after police back home vigorously cracked down on protesters demanding political reforms. Dozens have been killed and thousands detained since then.

The Bahraini government says her father is currently serving a life sentence for his alleged role in an attempt to overthrow the government.

AL-KHAWAJA: He's not used to being in a situation where he has absolutely no control over anything. He has no way of protesting. And so he took the last thing that he could control, which is his own body, to raise a voice of protest.

LEE: Abdulhadi al-Khawaja's hunger strike is now into its ninth week, which Bahraini authorities say is designed to force the government to drop charges and free him. The Bahraini government released a statement saying doctors are monitoring him, and besides receiving some hospital care, his family and the Danish ambassador have been allowed to visit him.

Al-Khawaja carries Danish citizenship.

The government is promising reforms, a release of political prisoners, reinstating those fired from jobs for political activity, and reform of the security services. But Maryam says the reforms aren't happening fast enough or at all, because the international community isn't paying attention.

AL-KHAWAJA: The reason why the oppression continues in Bahrain is because there have been no international consequences for their actions. So they have no incentive to change. Why would they change if there's no consequences.

LEE: By going on a hunger strike, Maryam's father hopes to draw attention back to the plight of the Bahraini opposition, but Maryam fears his stubborn protest may cost him his life.

Ian Lee, CNN, Cairo.


COREN: Well, many of Abdulhadi al-Khawaja's supporters are currently venting their frustration at his treatment via Twitter. Well, his daughter, Maryam, has just tweeted that his family have not been allowed to see him or talk to him in two days, fear he's being force fed.

Well, Maryam goes on to say if her father is being force fed, then she considers that torture and unacceptable.

Well, Abdulhadi al-Khawaja's other daughter has also recently been arrested for demonstrating outside the hospital where her father is on a hunger strike. And this is what she has tweeted, "at this time last year, security forces broke the door down to our home and dragged my father down the stairs."

Well, his wife has also tweeted and she says, "even though he is in critical stage, he is not allowed telephone calls or visits by the family. Hadi, my heart is with you."

Well, the Formula1 Grand Prix takes place in Bahrain just two weeks from now and many believe the race should be canceled. Well, our Dan Rivers has been following this story. And he joins us now from London.

And Dan, what has been reaction to these calls?

DAN RIVERS, CNN INTERANTIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, it's putting the people who organize Formula1 in a very tricky situation. There is an enormous amount of money at stake. Don't forget the Bahrain Grand Prix was canceled last year at an estimated cost of half a billion dollars to the Bahrainis and to Formula1.

At the moment, all indications are that it will go ahead. Bernie Ecclestone has said in the last few days it's business as usual. He has met in London in the last week. The head of the Bahrain International Circuit, the venue where this is taking place, they put out a statement today saying that the IC is in regular contact with the FIA, the FOM, and the Bahrain government. All of the above continue to state that the Grand Prix goes ahead.

But there are calls for it to be postponed from Damon Hill, a former world champion who said it would be a bad state of affairs, bad for Formula1 to be seen to be enforcing Marshall law in order to hold the race, that's not what this sport should be about.

And now some politicians here in the UK are weighing in as well. Richard Burton, an opposition MP is also calling for the race to be canceled on the 22nd. But at the moment, as I say, all indications are that it will go ahead.

Last year when they scraped the race, they did so just a few days beforehand. So they still have two weeks to mull this over. And of course security at the circuit will be one consideration. But the public perception and the effect on the image of Formula1 is also going to be weighed very heavily by the likes of Bernie Ecclestone.

COREN: Dan, as you mentioned former world champion Damon Hill he did speak out and is concerned that this could damage F1's reputation if they go ahead with it. We are getting reports that teams have got contingency plans in place. What are you hearing?

RIVERS: Well, this is something that the Times newspaper here in London has reported that teams have been given two plane tickets from China, one that takes them to Bahrain, and the other one that takes them home. Now they're not citing any sources on that. And we haven't been able to confirm that ourselves. But if true, it would be an indication that they are beginning to entertain the idea that there's some contingency planning going on in here just in case they make that decision.

Today is a national holiday in London, so the FIA is not available for comment, but as I say, all indications so far are that they want to press ahead with this. And there's an enormous amount of money at stake. The problem is, of course, with al-Khawaja's hunger strike on its 61st day now. There are concerns, obviously, this could all come to a head in the next two weeks.

COREN: Certainly spark more unrest.

Dan Rivers in London, many thanks for that update.

Well, the U.S. and Afghanistan has signed a landmark deal over those controversial night raids on Afghan homes. The U.S.-lead raids have been a constant source of friction, but this new deal essentially puts Kabul in the driver's seat.

Our Nick Paton-Walsh has the details.


NICK PATON-WALSH, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Raids at night by special forces here in Afghanistan have been a long issue of contention. American officials say they're vital to the campaign here, but Afghan officials expressing broad felt Afghan popular distaste towards them, because of the intrusion they cause into Afghan homes.

Today deal should hopefully see the back of some of that. Certainly Afghan official anger towards this NATO policy, this deal effectively formalizing a system of Afghan officials reviewing a raid before it happens. They effectively grant approval for it and some kind of legal authority here in Afghanistan for the raid to happen, a key demand of Afghan officials.

This does effectively give Afghan government some kind of veto over which operations can and can't occur. ISAF say they don't really have a problem with that, because they normally agreed with the review decisions of these Afghan groups before.

Separate to this, there will be a review committee by the head of ISAF, General John Allen and the Afghan defense minister Abdul Rahim Warmack (ph) to check how this process is going. But on top of that as well, another vital key demand of the Afghan government is being met, the Afghan commandoes will be the ones knocking down the door and going in to Afghan homes. ISAF say that's been happening for months now, but do also concede their commandoes won't enter Afghan compounds or homes unless they get explicit requests from Afghan officials.

This really welcome good news for the U.S. embassy here after months of bad events troubling the progress of the campaign here, very much hoping this agreement will pave the way for a larger strategy between Washington and Kabul about America's presence here after NATO troops being to leave in 2014. And welcome good news before NATO's allies are asked to talk about their contributions and troop levels in Afghanistan in this vital conference coming up in May in Chicago.

So some good news here, but it remains to be seen exactly how Afghan people will react to this new procedure despite many of the Afghan government's grievances being met by this official document.

Nick Paton-Walsh, CNN, Kabul.


COREN: An icon of American TV news has died. Mike Wallace described himself as nosey and insistent. And those qualities helped make him the face of investigative journalism for millions of Americans.

Well, one of his colleagues on the CBS News magazine 60 Minutes remembers Wallace as a one man truth squad.


MORLEY SAFER, CBS NEWS CORRESPONDENT: People like Mike have an indefinable quality that makes people want to take to them immediately and then find themselves repelled by them. It's a unique talent.


COREN: And long time CNN host Larry King says Wallace was a glorious human being as well as a great journalist.


LARRY KING, FRM. HOST LARRY KING LIVE: He brought the story. He went to the action. And he gave you the story. Was it objective? Sometimes yes, sometimes no, sometimes very subjective. But he got to the core of things. And he enabled you -- you almost felt like you were with him when he was in the trenches.


COREN: Well, Wallace died Saturday night at the age of 93. And Sandra Endo shares his story.


MIKE WALLACE: I'm Mike Wallace.

SANDRA ENDO, CNN CORRESPONDENT: He was known for his hard hitting journalistic style and aggressive questioning.

WALLACE: How many blacks are there on your top 10 paying staff in government.


ENDO: But decades before millions of TV viewers watched him on CBS News, Mike Wallace already had a colorful career. He was born Myron Leon Wallace in Brookline, Massachusetts in 1918. After graduating from the University of Michigan, he started his career in radio.

His work as a radio host landed him spots in TV, as an actor in a police drama, as a program host, and even in commercials.

WALLACE: Get Golden Fluffel.

And that's some apple pie.

Are you the least bit afraid of what might happen?

ENDO: But his love for news made him drop that type of work in 1963 when CBS News hired him as a correspondent.

WALLACE: I'm waging my finger at the President of China.

ENDO: His feisty and brazen style made him a good fit for the network's new magazine show 60 Minutes, which debuted in 1968. Wallace didn't cower to American or world leaders. He said this to Ayatollah Khomeini during the Iran hostage crisis in 1979.

WALLACE: Imam, President Sadat of Egypt, a devoutly religious man, a Muslim says that what you are doing now is, quote, "a disgrace to Islam." And he calls you, Imam, forgive me his words not mine, "a lunatic."

ENDO: Media critics say, Wallace's attack dog style was relentless.

HOWARD KURTZ, CNN'S RELIABLE SOURCES: Sometimes he went too far. He pioneered the ambush interview, which has fallen out of favor. He used hidden camera investigations. And so he really taught generations of younger journalists about how to go get that story.

ENDO: In 2006, he took on a smaller role on 60 Minutes. And by 2008 had triple bypass surgery and retired from public life.

WALLACE: If you had made your living in the early days of black and white television, as I did, you'd know that sometimes it was a little like the early days of flying.

ENDO: But his relationship with CBS viewers spanned decades. And he'll have an everlasting impact on the field of journalism.

Mike Wallace was 93.

Sandra Endo, CNN, Washington.



COREN: Well, sand storms are a common occurrence for northeast Asia in the spring. And there seems to be another one that's brewing. Our Mari Ramos has all the details. Hello, Mari.


Good to see you.

You know what, yeah, for people across northeastern China and as we head into the Korean peninsula and even back over toward Japan they tend to watch this very, very carefully, because when they happen they do disturb life significantly.

I want to show you the latest pictures that we have, first of all. Let's go ahead and role the pictures that we had from Sunday. This is the sand storm that was affecting northeastern China. And you can see that orange tinge in the sky. This is back over in inner Mongolia, actually. And makes it very difficult to breathe. There's a lot of car accidents. That dust gets in everywhere. They tell people stay indoors as much as you can. Close all the windows, all the doors so it doesn't get inside your houses. But there's problems of traffic when this happens, not just on the roads, but also shipping traffic can be hampered by this, and of course air traffic delays are quite significant when we have that type of occurrence.

I want to show you something really interesting. And this is tracking that particular dust storm as it moves across northeastern China. We're looking at a NASA website, the Lance website. And this is pretty interesting, here is China, there's the Korean peninsula, back over here you have Japan. You can put different layers, so to speak, on this map on this tool. And I'll go ahead and tweet it out later so you can go ahead and play around with it yourself and you can see what -- how it actually it works.

What we're looking at over here is remote sensing satellite can pick up where the dust actually is. So you can see, that dust has actually moved on now. It is north of the Yellow Sea, starting to push in now into the Korean Peninsula.

You can also, if we get in a little closer -- and Brandon is helping me out with this -- you can see it even more clearly. The darker the color, the more intense the dust actually is in those areas. Most of this dust is now actually suspended higher into the atmosphere, so they're not getting the same effect as what you saw from those pictures I showed you.

And something really interesting here, we see a plume of what appears to be dust moving across northern parts of Japan in accordance with the flow here over the water. And some of this actually pretty thick. But most of this, like I said, is suspended high into the atmosphere, so you may get a bit of a hazy sunshine, not necessarily anything quite affecting you so dramatically.

So there you have it, that's how a dust storm -- the new way dust storms can be tracked as they move across the area.

Weather wise in this region, we're looking at a little bit of scattered rain showers across the Yellow Sea. And get ready, because another big storm is headed your way in Japan. Not like last week, but definitely rain on the way.

Let's go ahead and check out your forecast.

Hey, Anna, I don't know if you got to the movies this weekend, but the third highest grossing movie this weekend here in the U.S. was Titanic 3D. I think everybody is just so into this whole Titanic thing. And of course as we're coming up to the hundred-year anniversary, lots of different ways people are actually marking that.

And of course one of the big ones has been with this: with reenactments of the cruise, without the sinking of course. This ship left Southampton in England on Sunday and it's on its way to Ireland, which was the last stop there for Titanic when it actually left 100 years ago. They're going to spend a few days at sea and then they're going to hold a memorial service on Friday the 13th of a broke at the time the Titanic sank.

And pretty cool stuff.

I want to show you something else that's pretty cool, that we were able to track the ship, the Belmoral, actually where it's located right now. There it is. It left Southampton. It's been actually encountering a little bit of rust as it heads over toward Ireland. It's expected to dock there some time later today. It might be a little closer than this as you can see. But it's actually pretty cool that people are just going (inaudible) $17 million -- $17.5 million over the weekend here in the U.S. from that one movie that is, what, 10 years old? Pretty cool.

COREN: Yeah, and some. That's quite amazing. All right, Mari, great to see you. Thank you very much for that.

Just ahead on NEWS STREAM, you might think the idea is hopping mad, but prick up your ears while we tell you about (inaudible) and latest cafZ craze. We can assure you there's no rabbit meat on the menu at this bunny bistro.


COREN: In Japan, a new type of cafe has popped up. And it's proving popular with animals lovers. On the menu, playtime with dozens of rabbits. Well, our Kyung Lah pays a visit.


KYUNG LAH, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: At Raf Cavfe (ph) business is hopping, literally. This is a rabbit cafe. You sip your coffee and play with rabbits, real ones, really. From a couple on a date, to kids on a family outing, they're jumping at the chance to pet Peter.

Across town at Usage Cafe Ohesama (ph), customers are multiplying like bunnies. It's so packed, people are being shooed away. Inside, patrons eat lunch and watch the rabbits munch.

Themed cafes in Tokyo are not exactly new. There's a monkey restaurant where kimono clad monkey serves you beer, the cat cafe place hwere you pet the cafZ's cats while you drink your dopia (ph).

But fluffy, sort of house trained rabbits? Well, they make those animals seem so 2011.

OK, so he is cute and all, but what is the deal behind Japan's love affair with cafes featuring cute and cuddly critters? It comes down to Tokyo's long commute and working hours which isn't conducive to having an animal and this, small living quarters. This is an average middle class home in Tokyo, barely big enough for the couple who lives here, much less a pet.

That's why Takashi Shimoguchi (ph) doesn't own an animal and why he comes here to see the rabbits.

Why is it important for you to be able to play with a rabbit.

"It's a stress reliever," he says. "It makes me feel better. It's a chance to relax and play."

Do adults need to play more?

"Yes, we really do. People get down on life, so we can all use a place where you can be a little happy."

There's been a lot to be down about this year in Japan from the tsunami, ongoing earthquake, and the nuclear disaster. Maybe that's why, says cafe manager Maria Huwa (ph) that a dozen rabbit cafes have sprung up in Japan since the disasters.

"There are wounds that human beings can't treat, but the rabbit can," she says. "Rabbits can comfort people without words. Rabbits can read people's feelings when they're sick or sad. The rabbit just stays with you and makes you feel better."

Or maybe, say these Indonesian foreign exchange students. Searching for a serious reason for the draw is like pulling one out of a hat.

Do you think it's unusual at all?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Not really. Because like Japanese always like cute things.

LAH: What do you think of this place?



LAH: That it is.

Kyung Lah, CNN, Tokyo.


COREN: Only in Japan.

Well, that does it for NEWS STREAM, but the news continues at CNN. "WORLD BUSINESS TODAY" is coming up next.