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Sudan Denies Aerial Bombings of South Sudan; New Company Plans to Mine Asteroids; How Much Power Does Rupert Murdoch Have?; Jon Huntsman on Bo Xilai; Pakistan Missile Launch

Aired April 25, 2012 - 08:00:00   ET



I'm Kristie Lu Stout in Hong Kong.

Now, Rupert Murdoch takes the stand at the Leveson inquiry as government ministers come under fire for his ties to his media empire.

The son of a disgraced Communist Party official caught up in scandal makes a statement.

And it's one of the greatest comebacks in the Champions League as Chelsea defy the odds to defeat Barcelona.

Just how powerful is Rupert Murdoch? That was the focus of today's session at the Leveson inquiry into British press ethics. Now, this time it's Rupert Murdoch himself under oath and on the witness stand talking about how he built his media empire and how he uses it and its abuses.

And it seems that this is a hearing that has been decades in the making. Now, newly released papers show Murdoch held meetings with Margaret Thatcher in 1981 about his bid to take over "The Times of London."

Now, the Leveson inquiry was set up in the wake of the "News of the World" phone-hacking scandal and is charged with looking into British media ethics and claims of corruption of public officials.

Dan Rivers has been following developments, and he joins us now live.

And Dan, today the focus of the inquiry is how much power Rupert Murdoch has had on British leaders from Margaret Thatcher to Tony Blair.

What did Murdoch reveal today?

DAN RIVERS, CNN SR. INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Yes, they've been tracing -- Robert Jay, the lawyer here, cross-examining, or interrogating, if you will, Rupert Murdoch, the grand kind of arch of his career from the early 1980s and his dealings with Margaret Thatcher, and her decision not to refer his purchase of two key papers here to a regulator, and then on through the Thatcher years to John Major, Tony Blair, and then more recently Gordon Brown. All along, really, questioning whether he was trading influence -- i.e. supporting these politicians in these newspapers -- in return for favors for his business, for his commercial interests, something that he has repeatedly denied, but various different slices of evidence have been put before him to try and suggest it was otherwise.

Just recently, in the last few minutes, he was questioned about The Sun's decision to not back Labour in 2009, when Gordon Brown was prime minister, and to switch allegiance to a change of government, sort of conservative. That decision was announced the very day that Gordon Brown made a keynote speech at a Labour Party conference, and some fascinating insights from Rupert Murdoch about the telephone conversation he had with Gordon Brown.

Have a listen.


RUPERT MURDOCH, CHAIRMAN & CEO, NEWS CORP.: He says, "Well, your company has declared war on my government, and we have no alternative but to make war on your company." And I said, "I'm sorry about that, Gordon. Thank you for calling." End of subject.


RIVERS: So leaving no doubt about the absolute dire relations between Gordon Brown and Rupert Murdoch towards the end. And, of course, Gordon Brown went on to lose that election.

Separately, but related to all this, in the House of Commons you'll remember yesterday James Murdoch was being questioned here at the Leveson inquiry. Lots of e-mails were revealed showing the link between government and the Murdoch empire, and particularly in relation to their attempts to buy out the remaining shares in the British broadcaster BSkyB. One minister, Jeremy Hunt, who ended up being responsible for this deal, brought in a lot of hot water about his supposed back channel that he was operating to News Corp., telling them blow by blow what was going on.

It is alleged while supposedly being impartial and acting as a sort of judge in the decision-making process, so completely breaking the rules, his critics claim, he hit back hard today in the House of Commons, vehemently denying he had done anything wrong.


JEREMY HUNT, U.K. CULTURE SECRETARY: I took full decisions in this process. Each of those decisions was against what News Corporation wanted. The first decision that I took -- well, no. If you're making a very serious allegation that I was supporting this bid and not acting quasi judicially, you do at least have to listen to the evidence of what happened.


RIVERS: So the opposition Labour Party has been calling for Jeremy Hunt to resign. He is the minister, crucially, who's also in charge of the Olympics this summer, so it's not something they really want to do with less than 100 days to go until those games begin. But, so far, he's staying (INAUDIBLE), but his special adviser, Adam Smith, who was involved in this back and forth between central government and the Murdoch empire, he's quit his job.

LU STOUT: Fallout for a high-profile British politician.

Now, British Prime Minister David Cameron is also taking heat about his relationship with Murdoch and News Corp. What has been said and how is Cameron responding?

RIVERS: Well, David Cameron is sticking by Jeremy Hunt, again pushing back. A lot of problems for David Cameron today, because not only has he got all of this blowing up in his face, as it were, because, also, yesterday, we heard about the rather embarrassing allegations that he discussed this big acquisition, this deal at a Christmas drinks party at the chief executive of News International, Rebekah Brooks, back in 2010, I think it was, but also new figures out today showing Britain's gone back into recession. So a bit like the weather here, it's a pretty bleak day for David Cameron.

LU STOUT: Dan Rivers, reporting live from London.

Thank you, Dan.

Now, it is the political scandal that could rival a Hollywood film, and it doesn't show any sign of fading away.

First, the prominent Chinese politician Bo Xilai was sacked amid allegations of corruption. Then his wife was arrested on suspicion of involvement in the murder of a British businessman. And now their son has waded in to distance himself from accusations of privilege and extravagance by writing to his university newspaper at Harvard.

Now, in the letter, Bo Guagua says his education at Harrow School, Oxford University, and Harvard was paid for partly by scholarships, and also by his mother's generosity from her savings. He also gives detailed description of his academic record, saying he achieved top grades on his British exams and the second-class honors degree from Oxford. He then addresses the claims that he leads a lavish lifestyle by denying that he's ever driven a Ferrari and defending his social activities as part of normal student behavior.

What's interesting about this latest development in Bo Xilai's case is the attention that this scandal is still attracting and what it means for the future of Chinese politics. And one man who should know China from the inside is the former U.S. ambassador to the country, Jon Huntsman, who you'll remember was also a contender in this year's Republican presidential race.

Now, he's been speaking to our Chief International Correspondent Christiane Amanpour about the Bo Xilai case, which she says actually reflects positive change in China.


JON HUNTSMAN, FMR. U.S. AMB. TO CHINA: This, I think, is a sign of growing transparency within the party, which is a good thing. And I think we need to reflect on the idea that, some years ago, we never would have seen this.

I think there's always a lot of tussling behind the velvet curtain, so to speak, but it's never seen by the rest of the world. This has been very public and very high profile, and I think that's largely due to greater transparency now in China and within the party.

CHRISTIANE AMANPOUR, CNN CHIEF INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Obviously, what it's brought up is this incredible corruption. Now, he, on the one hand, tried to portray himself as a crusader against organized crime, against corruption. On the other hand, you've seen these staggering numbers come out. Some report it may have been a leaked report from the China Central Bank, said something like $123 billion was smuggled out of the country, you know, by some of the leadership.

What is the extent of the corruption? And can this put an end to it or not?

HUNTSMAN: Corruption is endemic and widespread. And if there's one thing that will bring the party down, it will be corruption.

And I think the party leadership knows this very well. And so what have they done over the last couple of years? They've made very high-profile examples of corruption cases. If there's one thing you see on the headlines, the front pages of the party papers throughout China, it's been recent corruption cases.

AMANPOUR: Are the Chinese leadership concerned that had they not taken a hard stand, that people would rise up in anger over this kind of -- over this kind of corruption or this kind of story?

HUNTSMAN: If you look at all of the uprisings around the country, most of them largely unreported -- and there are probably 100,000 or more a year -- it's usually due to local corruption cases, somebody gets away with something, some local government official gets off scot-free after some --

AMANPOUR: So this could be a real problem even in tightly-controlled China?

HUNTSMAN: This gets right to the heart of the credibility of the party.


LU STOUT: Jon Huntsman there.

Now, as China battles to show it is serious about tackling corruption, the statement from Bo Xilai's son attempts to dispel the controversial image associated with the country's so-called princelings, or the children of the Communist Party elite. That's because rumors of their flamboyant lifestyles don't go down well in China. Millions of people live in poverty.

With Pakistan announcing it successfully launched a missile, we take a look at the technology and what it means for the region.

Also, fresh calls for Sudan and South Sudan to end the fighting over control of oil fields along the border.

And the race isn't over for Mitt Romney, but he's riding high from wins in Tuesday's Republican primaries, enough for him to turn his focus on a more blocked-year (ph) goal.

Still to come on NEWS STREAM.


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

Now, tensions between India and Pakistan appear to have subsided recently. Their nuclear ambitions have not.

Just five days after New Delhi announced the successful launch of a missile capable of carrying nuclear warheads, the government in Islamabad has followed suit. Now, both missiles are ballistic, both are potentially devastating, but the key difference is range.

While India's Agni V rocket can apparently travel up to 5,000 kilometers, Pakistan is staying silent on the potential scope of its Shaheen-I model. Now, a missile of the same type launched in 2010 hit a target 650 kilometers from its launch site.

What we do know is that Pakistan advised not just India, but also Oman and Yemen, of its intention to launch this missile, and authorities asked those countries to issue so-called notices to airmen, essentially warnings to commercial airlines and pilots, to avoid flying over waters to the south of Pakistan. Now, Oman lies fairly close to Pakistan, across the Persian Gulf, but if Yemeni air space lay within range, this indicates that a wide sweep of India did, too, not just border regions that could have been potential targets of Pakistan's previous Shaheen-I missile.

Now, a senior figure in the Pakistani military says the country's latest missile will further consolidate and strengthen Pakistan's deterrence abilities.

Let's go live now to Reza Sayah for more on the implications of this launch.

And Reza, will this test have an impact on Pakistan-India relations?

REZA SAYAH, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: I don't think so, and I think it's very important to point out that this test-firing, it will not impact Pakistan-India relations. There's absolutely no indication that there's a conflict emerging between these two nuclear rivals, absolutely no indications that relations are deteriorating. In fact, it's quite the opposite.

Over the past year there's been all sorts of signs that relations are improving. Both sides are talking after a lengthy freeze in relations following the Mumbai attacks in 2008.

That said, these are two countries that love to use their military capabilities to flex -- their nuclear capabilities to flex their military muscles. And they usually do it with these ballistic test firings, this type of tit for tat we've seen for more than a decade now.

It's a fact that when one country test-fires a ballistic missile, you can be sure that within days, within a short period of time, the other country will do it as well. And that's what we saw here five days ago.

As you mentioned earlier, India test-fired a long-range missile. And today, the Pakistani military announcing that they have test-fired a mid- range missile, what they're describing as a new and improved version of their Shaheen-I missile with a range capable of hitting anywhere in India, according to observers. In a brief statement, the military announcing that the test-firing was a success and the missile landed in the sea, we're assuming somewhere in the Indian Ocean.

And we should note that we didn't hear a response from India, certainly no condemnation, Kristie. And that's a sign of how commonplace these ballistic test-firings have become over the past decades between these two countries.

LU STOUT: So the timing indicates that this was a tit-for-tat test-firing.

What more can you tell us though about Pakistan's missile arsenal? What does Pakistan have and what are its missiles capable of doing?

SAYAH: Yes. Observers say they have about 70 to 90 nuclear warheads, most of them capable of hitting areas in India. Those same observers say India has fewer missiles than Pakistan, but now they're saying India is designing its ballistic missiles to perhaps use it to make a show of force to China, the emerging power in the region, as well.

In fact, many observers saying that the long-range ballistic missile that was test-fired by India was designed to show force in China. But again, it doesn't matter what their intention is. When they do a test-firing, Pakistan does one as well.

But observers say if there's any example of two countries that have effectively used nuclear bombs as a deterrent, it's Pakistan and India, because ever since they went nuclear in 1998, they've never had a major war. These two countries have had three major wars, all of them before they went nuclear in 1998.

LU STOUT: Reza Sayah on the story.

Thank you very much for that, Reza.

Now, Pakistan and India, they may have been successful in their recent rocket launches, but North Korea was not. And while Pyongyang denies its attempt was in fact a nuclear missile test, many of its detractors believe it still intends to test its nuclear strength.

South Korean officials say that they have evidence the North is preparing for an atomic experiment in the same location where it says the North tested weapons in 2006 and 2009. On both occasions, Pyongyang was condemned by the U.N. Security Council, but earlier this week, a key member of the council, China, reaffirmed its close ties with its long-term ally.

Now, today was Army Day in the Democratic People's Republic, and state television showed viewers how the military opted to mark the occasion, primarily by shooting at and eventually destroying targets, including an effigy of South Korean president Lee Myung-bak.

Now, a man short and facing a 2-0 deficit against one of the best teams of all time. Coming up next, we'll show you how Chelsea pulled off one of the greatest comebacks in Champions League history.


LU STOUT: Now, a teenager in Afghanistan who lost his legs hopes to make a big splash at the Paralympics in London.

Mohammed Jamjoom shows us a boy whose body is disabled but whose spirit is an inspiration.


MOHAMMED JAMJOOM, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Being a symbol is never easy. Throughout his young life, Malik has already overcome so many challenges, some might be tempted to think he requires no assistance whatsoever.

MALIK MOHAMMED, AFGHAN SWIMMER: The 18-year-old double amputee knows better.

I need support, I need help, because I'm representing Afghanistan, especially the civil people.

JAMJOOM: Landmines took his legs at age 11 when he was walking through a field near Kabul's airport. Now Malik wants more than anything to be a world champion, to swim for his country at the 2012 Paralympic games in London.

It's been a struggle, and a lonely one at that.

MOHAMMED: I don't have any coach or any trainer to teach me how to swim, how to prepare for the games, so I am doing it by myself because I love swimming.

JAMJOOM (on camera): Malik isn't the only athlete in Afghanistan facing these kinds of challenges. In Kabul, sports facilities are generally considered lacking. Financial support is minimal.

(voice-over): Encouragement is what he gets in droves, friends and family finding hope in Malik, something they say is missing in a country torn apart by far too many years of war.

REZA JAVAD, MOHAMMED'S FRIEND (through translator): I am so happy to see someone like him who has no legs still swimming, and often even better than the rest of us.

JAMJOOM: Malik clearly loves the water, but there's another place where he has just as much fun -- on the track, running on prosthetic limbs made for him in America, where he spent time recovering from his injuries. His tread is wearing thin. Malik says in Kabul, replacements are impossible to come by.

Another reason he spends so much time in the water. He realizes the odds aren't exactly in his favor, but remains optimistic.

MOHAMMED: And I am sure some day I will have some professional trainer, good teacher and good support, and representative Afghanistan. And that will be my job, to bring some medal for my country.

JAMJOOM: Knowing that whatever happens, in a sense he's already won.

Mohammed Jamjoom, CNN, Kabul.


LU STOUT: Well, coming up next here on NEWS STREAM, saber-rattling in East Africa. South Sudan's president accuses his northern neighbor of declaring war.

And mining the final frontier. The plan to tap the resources of asteroids attracts some big-name investors. Stay with us for that.


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

Now Rupert Murdoch says his company has never pushed its commercial interest and his newspapers. The chairman of News Corp made the comment while fielding questions at an inquiry into British press ethics. Murdoch was grilled about his ties with government ministers and whether his papers have wielded undue influence in British politics.

Now Pakistan says it has successfully test fired a medium range missile capable of carrying a nuclear warhead. Pakistani military says the missiles impact point was at sea. Now this launch comes less than a week after India test launched a long range missile.

New calls for Sudan and South Sudan to end the fighting. The African Union has set a deadline of three months for the neighboring countries to resolve the conflict over control of oil fields along their border. It could lead to all out war.

And the conflict has been going on for almost two weeks and tensions only seem to be worsening with the president of South Sudan accusing Sudan of declaring war.

Now for the very latest let's go to David McKenzie who has been monitoring the situation from our CNN bureau in Nairobi. And David, clearly tensions are on the rise. China and the African Union are urging restraint as well as the UN security council. What are they calling for?

DAVID MCKENZIE, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, what they're calling for is an immediate end to the fighting, Kristie. Certainly in the last 24 hours there has been a bit of a lull in any aerial strikes or ground fighting on that volatile border region between Sudan and South Sudan. As you say, as African Union putting out very strong statements saying that both South Sudan and Sudan have 48 hours to sign up to what they're calling a road map that will iron out, they hope, those difficult issues of oil sharing, citizenship rights, and where exactly the border is between the two sides. Before they even get to that point, they want them to withdraw from disputed areas and stop any underground or aerial bombing.

The UN as well weighing in saying they haven't ruled out Chapter 7 of the UN convention saying that -- which means, Kristie, in fact, that if the two sides don't comply with the requests by the security council they could bring sanctions as well as ultimately ground forces from the UN to help secure any kind of peace -- Kristie.

LU STOUT: Now on the ground there is a lull in fighting, but also a rise in rhetoric. So how close are we to all out war between Sudan and South Sudan?

MCKENZIE: Very hard to tell exactly -- you know, it's the kind of situation that in the past when Sudan was in a civil war small incidents sometimes escalated into all out fighting. Certainly both sides from an economic standpoint would be very hesitant to move towards largescale fighting because they depend on the oil that has currently stopped flowing.

At the UN both ambassadors to the UN from the Sudans weighed in. You know, first let's hear from the Sudanese ambassador. And here's what he had to say.


ANGES OSWAHA, SOUTH SUDAN AMBASSADOR TO UN: We call upon the international community to exert maximum pressure on the Republic of the Sudan to return to the negotiation table. For us in South Sudan we hope that the border demarcation will be taken as a priority and all the pending issues of the comprehensive peace agreement will be looked at comprehensively.


MCKENZIE: That's actually the South Sudanese ambassador. And she's saying they want negotiations. Somewhat ironic, some might say, because it was South Sudan who moved into that oil field last week and kicked off this round of tension.

Also, the Sudanese ambassador saying that they haven't done any kind of aerial bombardments on the south.


DAFFA-ALLA ELHAG ALI OSMAN, SUDAN AMBASSADOR TO UN: If there is aerial bombardment, there must be collateral damage. Where is that damage? This is just an attempt to disguise their aggression, to distract that tension from their support to the rebel movements.


MCKENZIE: Well, Kristie, you know though he is saying no collateral damage, they in fact on Monday was at least three people killed, according to reports. And we have witnesses on the ground who show us, and filmed, a dead body of a young child. So certainly the rhetoric at the UN not exactly meshing with the reality on the ground. The hope is now that they will keep the core of the UN, AU, China and others and get around that negotiating table.

LU STOUT: All right. David McKenzie reporting. Thank you very much for that, David.

Now a video of a vicious gang rape in South Africa, it stunned people right around the world when it went viral last week. And today, seven of the eight accused are appearing in court in Johannesburg to seek bail. They're aged between 14 and 20 and are facing a raft of charges from rape to using a minor to create child pornography.

Now images of the assault swept across the internet last week and they touched a nerve in South Africa.

Nkepile Mabuse has been following this story. She joins us now live from Johannesburg. And Nkepile, can you tell us more about what is happening today, today in court?

NKEPILE MABUSE, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, Kristie, proceedings are stall and away, but what we know is that of the four minors that are accused, three of them will be fully prosecuted, that's what the National Prosecuting Authority has decided. The youngest in 13-years-old. And the NPA basically needs to determine if he does have criminal capacity before they can continue with the case.

The case is being heard in camera, of course, because there are so many minors involved, but what this case has done, Kristie, it has really shown a spotlight on rape and the rape crisis here in South Africa. A survey was conducted by the Medical Research Council in this country that shows that one in four South Africans have confessed to having raped at least one woman in their lifetime.

Now I spoke to a self-confessed rapist earlier today and he just tried to explain to me just how accepted and how acceptable rape has become by telling me the story of how when he confessed to his priest what his priest said about him going back to confront his victim. Let's take a listen.


DUMISANI REBOMBO, GENDER EQUALITY ACTIVIST: Just I remember I went to my pastor and said, this is how I feel about what happened when I was 15. I need to go find this woman and apologize to her.

Here is a man of the cloth say, look, you don't have to do that. You were young, 15. Boys will be boys.


MABUSE: He says that he was practically bullied into being involved in this gang rape by a group of boys who said he needed to prove his manhood by taking part. He says also that in South Africa there just is no political leadership when it comes to this rape crisis. He said to me in that interview that when President Jacob Zuma was accused of rape in 2006 of course the president was acquitted. He says despite the acquittal the things that President Zuma said during that trial still very worrying and very damaging for young boys to hear things like that, Kristie.

LU STOUT: Yeah, very disturbing to hear about the level of acceptance of sexual violence there in South Africa.

Now we know that today some of the suspects accused of the gang rape, they're in court, but what about those who made this video viral, those who watched it and circulated the gang rape video? Will there be any action against them?

MABUSE: You know, that's a law, Kristie, that is so near impossible I would say to police. I was in the area where this happened last week and boys were telling me that even more people want to see this video. And it is spreading even wider than previously thought. So obviously the police are finding it extremely difficult to try and police it, to confiscate this. Many young people know that it is a criminal offense to watch this video and distribute this video, because it has been declared as child pornography. But that hasn't stopped it from spreading even further, Kristie.

LU STOUT: Nkepile Mabuse reporting. Thank you very much for that.

Now two more members of the U.S. Secret Service have resigned over a prostitution scandal that is threatening to engulf the agency. Now seven people had already stepped down and others are under investigation, including members of the U.S. military. Now the controversy erupted over an official trip to Colombia earlier this month after reports emerged that several prostitutes signed into the hotel being used by Secret Service members.

Now President Obama described the agents involved as, quote, knuckleheads. He said most members do great work and put their lives on the line.

Now the sky is the limit for the next generation of metal miners. And if you've ever suspected asteroids are a waste of space, well stay tuned to hear why one company thinks they have got platinum potential.


LU STOUT: Welcome back.

Now former Massachusetts governor Mitt Romney is that much closer to being the Republican nominee for the White House. Now Romney swept all five states in Tuesday's primaries. He still doesn't have enough votes to secure the Republican nomination, but he is far ahead of his competitors Newt Gingrich and Ron Paul.

Now the win was a major boost for Romney and he seems to be changing his tune now. Paul Steinhauser is watching the race from our CNN bureau in Washington. He joins us now live. And Paul, after that primary sweep, Romney seems to have turned his focus to the general election campaign. What is he saying?

PAUL STEINHAUSER, CNN POLITICAL CORREPSONDENT: Yeah, he's definitely pivoting, Kristie, from a primary campaign to a general election campaign as you say and targeting President Barack Obama who will face off with him in a November election. And in his speech in New Hampshire on Tuesday night, Mr. Romney really targeted President Obama and was all about the economy, the economy, the economy which is still the top issue on the minds of American voters.

Take a listen to some of what Romney said.


MITT ROMNEY, REPUBLICAN PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: Because he has failed, he will run a campaign of diversions and distractions and distortions. That kind of campaign may have worked in another place and in a different time, but not here and not now. It's still about the economy. And we are not stupid.


STEINHAUSER: He also used his address to try to reach out to average Americans, middle class Americans. You know, Kristie, polls here in the United States that Americans think Romney does not connect very well with middle class Americans and the problems they are facing. So he used some of his speech to try to connect to voters. And I think you're going to see a lot more of that between now and November -- Kristie.

LU STOUT: Now meanwhile, Rick Santorum, he seems kind of reluctant to give a nod of support for Mitt Romney. What is he saying?

STEINHAUSER: Yeah, it's been two weeks now since Santorum, the former senator from Pennsylvania, who was Romney's main rival for the nomination, it's been two weeks since he suspended his campaign and yet no endorsement of Romney.

Now our Piers Morgan in an interview last night had Santorum on his program. And he really tried his hardest to get Santorum to make the news. Take a listen.


RICK SANTORUM, FRM. SENATOR PENNSYLVANIA: He's the person that is going to go up against Barack Obama, it's pretty clear. And we need to win this race.

PIERS MORGAN, HOST, PIERS MORGAN TONIGHT: I mean, that's an endorsement, isn't it? Unless I'm mishearing things.


MORGAN: You've just endorsed Mitt Romney.

SANTORUM: Well, if that's what you want to call it, you can call it whatever you want. I...

MORGAN: Am I wrong?

SANTORUM: All I would say -- look, I believe...

MORGAN: Karen, you know your husband, is he -- has he just endorsed Mitt Romney?

KAREN SANTORUM, RICK SANTORUM'S WIFE: Not at this point. No. We're working through it. We're talking about it.


STEINHAUSER: Good try there Piers Morgan, but no. No endorsement from Santorum.

We do know, Kristie, that on May 4, Santorum and Romney will meet. And well, we'll see what happens then.

Santorum, of course, had a lot of support from conservatives at some - - that's a group of voters that Romney really wants in his camp now that he faces off against the president in the general election -- Kristie.

LU STOUT: Yeah, wait and see for that endorsement. Now with the Republican race really all but over, there's a lot of talk about who will run with Mitt Romney. Tell us who is generating some VP buzz?

STEINHAUSER: Oh yeah, it's all about the running mates now. Who will Mitt Romney chose? You know, he has until August to make that decision. And he's not talking about who he is looking at. But we're all thinking he may have a list of somewhere between 15 and 20 possible candidates.

One of them, Senator Marco Rubio the freshman senator from Florida, a very popular Republican especially with conservatives, he teamed up with Mitt Romney on Monday and a lot of people are saying, well, is this a sign of things to come? You know, listen, again Romney not talking about that. But the speculation game of Rubio and a ton of other candidates will continue between now and August.

What does Mitt Romney need? Does he need a female running mate to help him with that deficit with women voters? A Latino running mate like Rubio maybe to help with Hispanic voters. Does he need somebody from an important state? Does he need a real conservative? A lot of questions. We don't have many answers right now, Kristie.

LU STOUT: Paul Steinhauser reporting. Thank you very much for that. We'll check in with you later.

Now, what do you see when you look up at the sky? Clouds maybe, or constellations. Well, how about a trillion dollars? Well, a new company, it's called planetary resources sees an opportunity in asteroids. It wants to mine them for water and platinum and claims a space rock like this one could be worth tens of billions of dollars.

Now here's now it works in theory. Now the company plans to launch a fleet of space traveling robots. These robots will then seek out asteroids with the right stuff.


PETER DIAMANDIS, PLANETARY RESOURCES CO-FOUNDER: This next, you know, two to five, six years we're really focused on building our (inaudible) series of spacecraft, the 100, 200, and 300 series which are going to be first of all imaging these near Earth approaching asteroids to identify which of the ones that we want to go after. And then ultimately going out to them to place beacons, to do the full reconnaissance to understand their makeup and then ultimately is going to be the prospecting, to begin to get resources.

Our first step, really, is going to be to process these resources, water in particular, which is propellent rocket fuel in fuel depots what will remain in space and be accessible to government partners, private industry that's doing Earth-moon or Earth-Mars transportation. And then of course after that beginning to bring strategic metals and minerals back to Earth.


LU STOUT: Now that last stage remains a bit hazy. Now the company has not said how it plans to mine the asteroids. And its co-founders admit they still need to develop some of the necessary technology. But they are convinced they're on the right path.


DIAMANDIS: Every aspect of human exploration ever, whether it was the Europeans heading to the Americas or the early American settlers going across the Great Plains had been driven by a search for resources.


LU STOUT: Now some big names are backing the project, including Google's Larry Page and Eric Schmidt. And if you've heard space mining and instantly thought of Avatar, then you've guessed another investor. Here's director James Cameron.


JAMES CAMERON, DIRECTOR: Why does it have to be left up to impassioned individuals to do what governments used to do? You know, I fall into that category. I just get impatient. It's like why aren't we exploring this stuff?


LU STOUT: You'll recall that Cameron completed the world's deepest solo dive last month.

Now as for planetary resources, the company hopes to be off the ground by the end of next year.

Now another startling cell phone disaster. Now you see this young girl, and then you don't. The whole cell phone sink hole drama caught on camera just ahead.


LU STOUT: Welcome back.

Time for your global forecast, the focus on storms in Europe. Mari Ramos joins us now from the World Weather Center -- Mari.

MARI RAMOS, CNN WEATHER CORRESPONDENT: Hey, Kristie, yeah this has been quite a week across Europe. Even the end of last week we were already talking about these weather systems that were just pounding that region.

Now we're going to look at here is the wind. I think that's one of the bigger concerns. Notice Dublin right now, winds up to 50 kilometers per hour. London, a respectable 30 kilometers per hour, higher gusts than that, sometimes even doubling as strong. So that's pretty significant. Even in Paris, winds are close to 30 kilometers per hour.

Strong winds, of course, along this western side here of France. I saw some wind gusts just off the coast here of Bretagne that were about 100 kilometers per hour. And that, again, is pretty significant. And notice these winds are going to be spreading inland as we head through the rest of the afternoon today. So that's something significant.

Also across northern Spain we're seeing very high waves and those winds also howling near 100 kilometers per hour, that's the strongest one I saw there in San Sebastian (ph).

So the strong wind gusts continuing across this area, also some very heavy rain. As far as the severe weather, we're also shifting our focus a bit more now over towards Eastern Europe where large hail, even the possibility of some strong winds and tornadoes are likely across this region with that very warm air coming out of the south and the next weather system that -- the one that used to be affecting you there in Central Europe starting to move in to this region here toward the east.

And you can already see some of those strong thunderstorms starting to pop up here south of Ukraine into Romania, Bulgaria and all the way down even as we head into Macedonia. So watch out for that, that's still going to be a concern.

Back to Western Europe, there you see that area of low pressure. And notice also all of the heavy rain here that we're getting across southern parts of France and over into northern Spain. Very gusty winds also associated with this. And that's a concern, especially as we head over into the Alpine region, because they had some very heavy snowfall, now we're getting some very heavy rain. And just the combination of all of this along with the wind does create a high avalanche danger. So that's also going to be a problem in those areas.

And there's the heavy rain. Also there's some advisories posted across southern parts of the UK. And the wind is going to be a huge concern. So expect some significant travel delays there.

Looking at some strong thunderstorms popping up again here for you across southern parts of China, including the Hong Kong area. Notice the line of storms stretching all the way back over here towards western parts of Japan. That's going to be where the heaviest rain is actually expected to be over the next 24 hours. You get a little bit of a break here and then the rain showers returning back for you on Friday here across the southern portion of China, Wendeng for you guys as well.

Look at this picture, Kristie. So scary. I always think firefighters so brave. That's an image of a firefighter in Guadalajara, Mexico where there is a 4,000 square kilometer fire burning as we speak, about 60 percent contained, but it's in a natural preserve near one of Mexico's largest cities Guadalajara. Back to you.

LU STOUT: Incredible image there. Intrepid firefighter as well. Mari Ramos, thank you.

Now it is a scene you'd expect in a cartoon or a comedy film, but it wasn't funny for the teenage girl that fell right through a sidewalk on a street in central China. Now she was later rescued, but as Jeanne Moos reports, the video of the incident has become an internet hit.


JEANNE MOOS, CNN CORRESPONDENT: This Chinese teenager was walking and talking on her cellphone when a sidewalk sinkhole opened like a trap door. Apparently those little block cones were meant as a warning.



MOOS: Water had eroded the ground underneath. The passing taxi driver saw the girl disappear and went down the nearly 20 foot hole to rescue her.

He said at first she didn't respond, but when he shook her, she came to.

Firemen put down a ladder and eventually out she climbed.

No one even clapped. And some blamed her.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: How does that happen?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: She was on her cell phone.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: She was on her cell phone.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: That does not matter that she was on her cell phone. That does not happen to you.


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: What is wrong with you?

MOOS: Being swallowed up by a sinkhole just isn't the same as, say, texting into a mall fountain.

And without further ado, we bring you the greatest hits of sinkholes.

This may look like a missile silo, but it's a sinkhole in Guatemala roughly 30 stories deep. Burst sewer pipes and a tropical storm probably combined to cause it back in 2010. It swallowed a three story building.

And this sinkhole ate a horse, a deaf and blind horse named Chief. It took about six hours to successfully hoist the horse out of this hole in Maryland.

Sinkholes usually occur when water eats away rock below the surface. Sinkholes have trapped fire trucks, a car, and a boat, an entire house.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: And there it goes.

MOOS: In a seaside San Francisco neighborhood back in 1995. And then there was this Florida woman.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Packs of dirt that's hitting me in the head.

MOOS: Carla Chapman fell into not one, but two separate sinkholes in her backyard in less than a year. The second one was a doozy. But the good news was she had her cellphone and called 911.

CARLA CHAPMAN: I'm in the ground.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: You're in the ground?

CHAPMAN: Somebody help me.

MOOS: The bad news was at first she couldn't get service. Calls kept dropping. Can you hear me now?

Eventually she got through and they got her out. Maybe the moral of the story is it's better to use your cell phone once you're in the hole rather than on your way to it.

Jeanne Moos, CNN, New York.


LU STOUT: Now let's go over and out there with an age old conundrum for those of us who live in major cities. To take the car or to take the subway? Well, one driver in Paris has found a pioneering if unplanned way to combine the two. Now this is what happened when a 26-year-old man mistook the entrance to the Chaucet (ph) downtown Lafayette station for an underground car park. He took many steps to ensure he got a safe spot for his Dacier Duster (ph), unfortunately, they were steps in the wrong direction, specifically to line seven and nine of the city's underground railway.

Now no one was hurt and the driver himself passed a breathalyzer test. But perhaps next time he heads downtown, he should just take the bus.

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