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NEWS STREAM

Armstrong Reportedly Confesses To Oprah; Pakistani Supreme Court Issues Warrant For Prime Minister's Arrest; Coke and Obesity

Aired January 15, 2013 - 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: I'm Kristie Lu Stout in Hong Kong. And welcome to News Stream where news and technology meet.

Has Lance Armstrong confessed? Now several media reports say that the cycling superstar tells Oprah he took performance enhancing drugs.

And accused of corruption, Pakistan's Supreme Court orders the arrest of the prime minister.

And weighing in on the obesity battle. Coca-Cola's landmark new campaign.

Now he was the most celebrated cyclist before his fall from grace, but has Lance Armstrong now confessed to doping? Now media reports say that he told the talk shot host Oprah Winfrey that he did use performance enhancing drugs. Now the interview, it will air on Thursday and stream live online.

Armstrong has always denied allegations of cheating, even after the International Cycling Union stripped him of his seven Tour de France titles. He remained defiant. Now he tweeted this picture of himself with his yellow leaders jerseys. And some teammates told the U.S. Anti-Doping Agency that he tried to intimidate them not to speak out.

Now the wife of cyclist Greg LeMond referred to 11 years of bullying and threats. And a competitor who testified against Armstrong's doctor told investigators that Armstrong chased him down during a 2004 race and said I have a lot of time and money and I can destroy you.

Now Armstrong also sued journalists for writing about his alleged doping. And he brought a lawsuit against USADA over the agencies investigation.

But perhaps the best example of Armstrong's ardent denial comes from his own lips. Now here he is back in 2005. Let's take a listen.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

LANCE ARMSTRONG, FRM. CYCLIST: I said it for seven years -- I've said it for longer than seven years. I have never doped. I can say it again. But I've said it for seven years. It doesn't help. Why would I then enter into a sport and dope myself up and risk my life again? That's crazy. I would never do that. That's -- no. No way.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

LU STOUT: In 2005 saying I never doped.

So news of this reported confession I mean this is a stunning turnaround for Lance Armstrong.

Now Pedro Pinto joins us now live from CNN London with more. And tell us more about what we know came out of this interview with Oprah.

PEDRO PINTO, CNN SPORTS CORRESPONDENT: Well, Oprah Winfrey sat down with Lance Armstrong in his home in Austin, Texas. And the interview was recorded over two-and-a-half hours. All parties have been forbidden to talk about the details of what was said legally, but there have been some leaks, as you expect in situations like these. And as you mentioned, there are reports out there from sources close to the interview, close also to the USA Today newspaper and they say that Lance Armstrong for the first time did admit to taking performance enhancing drugs. Before he did the interview with Oprah he actually stopped by the site where his Lance Armstrong Livestrong Foundation is, the foundation that has raised so much money for cancer research. And he also apologized to his colleagues there.

And a spokesman for Livestrong had this to say. "Lance offered a sincere and heartfelt apology for the stress Livestrong staff have endured because of him." So that was a first step towards redemption, perhaps, where the people he has worked closely to.

Kristie, as far as more details from the interview, they aren't available if reports are to be believed. It is quite a staggering change of heart from Armstrong who for so many years denied vehemently any kind of involvement in doping and was very aggressive when asked about that as well.

I believe that now it's a case of trying to see what happens after the interview airs and what will be the official reply from a lot of the former sponsors, a lot of people who gave him a lot of bonuses. So I think we can also have a listen at a quick denial that Lance Armstrong had also in 2005, like he had with Larry King, when he was being interviewed by attorneys at the time when he was asked whether he had ever done anything illegal. And this is what he had to say.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

ARMSTRONG: I've never taken performance enhancing drugs. How could that have happened?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: That was my point, you're not -- it's not just simply you don't recall it's...

ARMSTRONG: How many times do I have to say it?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I'm just trying to make sure your testimony is clear.

ARMSTRONG: Well, if it can't be any clearer than I've never taken drugs...

(END VIDEO CLIP)

PINTO: As we see here, he has a very, very aggressive posture being asked the question. And Kristie, that's what a lot of people now don't accept. If he was, indeed, guilty, the fact that he for so many years denied it and the way in which he denied it is making a lot of people angry.

LU STOUT: That's right. He has denied doping over the years with such conviction. And now we're expecting an admission of doping to come out of this interview with Oprah Winfrey. Why, if so, this admission? Why is Lance Armstrong doing this? Why is he coming clean now?

PINTO: Well, that's what a lot of people are wondering. And there are two reasons for this. The first is that he could want to continue to have a sports career. So he could want to compete in triathlons, which he's done in the recent past, and marathons which he's done in the recent past. And the only way he could be allowed to do so would be by admitting to taking performance enhancing drugs and starting the process of rehabilitation in that way.

Another is conscience, he just wants to come clean.

The later is a little strange to a lot of the fans, because why would you suddenly have a conscience now when you didn't for so long. If that would be the case, I think a lot of people wouldn't want to forgive him for doing that. And the circle of lies which he was involved in.

And the U.S. Anti-Doping Agency was very clear. They said that he was effectively masterminding one of the most effective and successful doping programs in sporting history. Now that's a pretty damning report. If that's the case, to change his mind now and to admit that he was effectively doing that is crazy for a lot of sports fans out there.

LU STOUT: Yeah, it could be his conscience, as you said, it could also be his desire for a comeback as a triathlete. Anyway, who knows.

Pedro Pinto joining us now, thank you so much for that.

Now any admission from Armstrong could have legal implications. The disgraced cyclist may be sued, but he is worth an estimated $125 million, that's according to the New York Times. Now a source says that he may return sponsorship money to the U.S. Postal Service, that is reported to be more than $30 million. Now he's also been asked to return all prize money from his now discredited Tour de France victories.

Now in Pakistan, the pressure is growing on the government from two sides this Tuesday. Now the country's supreme court has ordered the arrest of Prime Minister Raja Pervez Ashraf on corruption claims. Meanwhile, several thousand people remain in the center of the capital Islamabad. Now they are lending support to a Muslim cleric who wants the administration thrown out and the country's corridors of power cleaned up.

Now local media reports that shots were fired in the air and tear gas lobbed at crowds that gathered near the parliament building. Now they come the hear Tahrir al Qadri speak. And he urged followers to keep the demonstration going.

Now one adviser to the prime minister has told CNN that the demand for his arrest is a soft coup against democracy.

Now Saima Mohsin joins us now live from Islamabad with more. And Saima, first, is there any link between that supreme court order to arrest the prime minister and Qadri's anti-corruption protest? Any link at all?

SAIMA MOHSIN, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Kristie, that's certainly how the supporters of the government feel. They -- as you say, one of the advisers to the prime minister has dubbed this a soft coup. Several others have been on local TV channels defending themselves saying that this is completely unconstitutional and illegal and there is a conspiracy. Or one supporter -- senior leader of the PPP has told CNN that he feels that there is a hidden hand in this. Analysts for some time have been wondering whether, certainly as far as the protest is concerned against the government here, whether that's backed by the military here. Of course that is denied by Tahrir al Qadri and in fact to all of his supporters.

Tahrir al Qadri came to the stage today and said once again that there is no backing. He is not getting any finances from anywhere else.

But let's just get back very briefly to that order from the supreme court to arrest everyone involved in a case that, Kristie, has been going on for a number of years now, since the summer of 2011. It's about the water and power ministry here. Now the prime minister of Pakistan, the current prime minister, was then the minister for water and power. There are allegations that he took kickbacks when implementing a rental power project across the country and that's been ongoing since 2011, but it was today of all days that the supreme court chose to announce that those people involved should be arrested simultaneously.

Right up here, I'm not sure as it's getting dark here in Islamabad, right along this main boulevard leading up to the presidency, the National Assembly and the supreme court. Those white lights in the distance over my left shoulder there are leading up to the presidency. That's how close these protesters here have gotten to the parliamentary building from the government. They're here, they say, for change. And Tahrir al Qadri announced his demands. He's calling them -- the entire government and the provincial assemblies to step down immediately.

One more thing, Kristie, it's not just these two pressures that the government is facing here. Just the other day over the weekend the provincial government in Velotistan (ph) also was dismissed. And Governor rule was implemented after that terrible bombing last week when almost 100 people were killed in Quetta -- Kristie.

LU STOUT: Pressure form all sides on Islamabad. Saima Mohsin on the story for us live from the Pakistani capital, thank you so much for that.

Now you are watching News Stream. And still ahead, the battle continues. So what now for the French operation in Mali?

And remaining steadfast, we hear directly from Syria's government about its response to scenes like this.

And the 81 year old woman that China's government considers a threat. Find out why.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

LU STOUT: Now French forces are continuing to assist Mali's military in an offensive against Islamic insurgents. And there are reports that France is planning to increase its deployment to a total of about 2,500 troops. Now meanwhile, a security source is telling AFP that the French army carried out an overnight air strike on the western town of Diabaly. Now the town is located in the government-led south. France's defense minister says it was seized by the rebels on Monday.

And the French army has been attacking Islamist militant controlled areas in Mali since Friday. But the government and rebels there have been in conflict for decades.

Now Nima Elbagir shows us how the country got to this point.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

NIMA ELBAGIR, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: In March last year, a group of Malian army officers appeared on state TV frustrated with what they term their government's inadequate support in their fight against rebels they staged a coup. It was meant to be a short-term solution.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE (through translator): We wish to restore power of a democratically elected government as soon as national unity and integrity are reestablished.

ELBAGIR: Instead, it set off a chain of events that has now led Mali's interim president to seek international military intervention.

The Malian state has been fighting Tuareg separatists in the north for decades. But the Tuareg were reenergized when hundreds of fighters who had been in Moammar Gadhafi's army returned home from Libya with their weapons.

CHEICK ODIBO DIARRA, FORMER PRIME MINISTER OF MALI: We have very sophisticated weapons from the Libyan army that were smuggled into the Malian desert by groups. And they have now taken a foothold and don't want to let go. And it is so -- those weapons are so, so sophisticated that the Malian army really doesn't stand a chance to be able to fight against them.

ELBAGIR: But it wasn't just the Tuareg who saw an opportunity. The al Qaeda linked militant group (inaudible) quickly partnered itself with the Tuareg and established harsh Islamic rule in parts of northern Mali. They also destroyed ancient Sufi shrines deemed heretic.

But as they grew more extreme in their implementation of Shari law, they fell out with the Tuaregs who eventually left the radicals to run cities like Timbuktu and Gao.

Already, the fighting has displaced hundreds of thousands of desperately poor Malians and aid groups say thousands more are already on the move.

The battle for Mali may have begun, but it's far from being won.

Nima Elbagir, CNN, Nairobi.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

LU STOUT: And for more on the unrest in Mali, Vladimir Duthiers joins us now live from Legos, Nigeria. And Vlad, tell us the very latest on this conflict.

OK, Vlad, it's Kristie in Hong Kong. Can you hear me?

All right, it seems like we're going to have to reestablish that connection with Vladimir. And once we do that, we'll give you that live report to tell you what's happening in that French operation in Mali right now.

Now let's move on to Saudi Arabia and public protests in this country are extremely rare, but they are on the rise, and that is largely due to the efforts of one man. A human rights activist, his name is Mohamed al Qahtani. And our Mohammed Jamjoom reports that his calls for reform have landed him in court.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

MOHAMMED JAMJOOM, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: These men are demonstrating to win the release of their relatives. In deeply conservative Saudi Arabia where such gatherings are prohibited, activists say these types of small protests are becoming more frequent.

MOHAMED AL-QAHTANI, HUMAN RIGHTS ACTIVIST: We are trying to push the limits so our kids will live in a world where there are hundreds of us who be respected.

JAMJOOM: Mohamed al-Qahtani is one of Saudi Arabia's most prominent human rights activists. Since 2009, he's petitioned for the release of political prisoners and advocated for reform in the absolute monarchy. His organization even crossed one of the country's ultimate red lines by being openly critical of its interior ministry, which is why rights groups weren't surprised when al-Qahtani and his colleague Abdullah al-Hamid were taken to court.

al-Qahtani was accused of, among other things, setting up and running an unlicensed organization and turning international organizations against the kingdom. al-Hamid faces similar charges.

If convicted, both men could spend years in prison.

TAMARA ALRIFAI, HUMAN RIGHTS WATCH: This has been a systematic approach by the authorities in Saudi Arabia, namely the targeting and harassing activists across the country.

JAMJOOM: al-Qahtani says he knows why he, al-Hamid and other activists were really put on trial.

AL-QAHTANI: Because we have been documenting human rights abuses carried out by the Saudi (inaudible) investigations department. We have numbers of cases where people are thrown in prison arbitrarily, tortured, forced disappearances.

JAMJOOM: Despite repeated efforts, we were unable to reach the Saudi government for comment.

In this amateur video, anger overtakes tradition. Purporting to show how even Saudi women have recently been taking to the segregated streets. Despite his prosecution, al-Qahtani presses on, helping them file cases against the government to free their loved ones.

And while the father of five says he fully expects to be found guilty in his own trial, he has no problem going to jail for what he believes in.

AL-QAHTANI: Maybe I'm dreaming. Just last night I was telling my wife or my newborn daughter that maybe on day she will vote for the prime minister in Saudi Arabia. So we are really hopeful about the future.

JAMJOOM: Mohammed Jamjoom, CNN, Beirut.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

LU STOUT: OK, let's get back to Mali. The French army continues its offensive there against insurgents in the country. Now let's get straight to Vladimir Duthiers in Legos. And Vlad, what is the very latest on this offensive?

VLADIMIR DUTHIERS, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Hi, Kristie Lu. Well, the French army is ramping up their military intervention in Mali. We have now learned that there are some 800 French soldiers on the ground, that they expect to increase that number to about 1,700 soldiers in the days and the weeks ahead. France will not be going at this alone. The United States has said that they are prepared to offer any assistance in any way that they can. U.S. Defense Secretary Leon Panetta speaking to reporters yesterday said that the United States had an obligation to stop al Qaeda wherever and whenever they may pop up. And that's what they're planning on doing.

The U.S. has not, at this point, offered any combat assistance. And a spokesman for the State Department says they probably will not until there is a viable form of democracy established in Mali. But what they are offering is communications assistance, assistance with intelligence. There are thoughts that there may be unmanned drones that can survey the area and provide reconnaissance for the French military.

And the European Union has already lined up behind France. Ban Ki- Moon and the United Nations said that the United Nations is welcoming France intervention in Mali.

And also today I learned from the spokesman for the Economic Community of West African states that today in Bamako, Mali, the defense chiefs of the west African states are meeting to decide military options which they will present to the heads of the state on Saturday of this week, Kristie Lu.

LU STOUT: So international support is growing, but the French are certainly still taking the lead here. And why is it so important for France and its allies to prevent Islamic insurgents from establishing a stronghold in Mali?

DUTHIERS: Well, I mean, if there was an Islamic militant insurgency that established a foothold in a state like Mali, it could destabilize not only all of West Africa, but threaten the U.S. and European interests. And what we've seen so far from what the militants have implemented as far as their strict interpretation of Sharia law, executions, public floggings. We have one video that we should warn our viewers is a little tough to watch, but we can see this man being flogged, another man has his hand amputated for stealing. These are the kinds of things that are being done to the people of Mali.

Hundreds of thousands of people have been displaced since this turmoil began in March. And I think at this point, France decided that it could no longer wait, even for the African states that were meant to deploy there in September, they had to take action right away, Kristie Lu.

LU STOUT: Wow, Vladimir Duthiers telling us and showing us what's at stake in this battle for Mali. Thank you so much indeed for that report.

Now just ahead, we will recap all the action on day two of the Australian Open. Serena Williams, she suffers an injury scare. And Pedro Pinto will tell us whether she managed to get through to the next round of the year's first grand slam. Stick around.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

LU STOUT: Now live from Hong Kong. You are back watching News Stream.

And it's time for an update on the year's first tennis grand slam tournament. Day two at Melbourne saw some pretty big names play their opening matches. For all the action, let's bring in Pedro Pinto -- Pedro.

PINTO: Hey, Kristie.

Roger Federer, Andy Murray, Victoria Azarenka, Serena Williams, all of them were in action on Tuesday. Ladies first, Serena overcame a slight injury scare in Melbourne to clinch an easy victory in the first round. The 15-time grand slam winner didn't drop a single game as she eliminated Edina Gallovits-Hall 6-0 and 6-0. She showed no ill effects of an ankle injury she suffered during the match. You can tell by these pictures that she was in some pain after rolling it.

Williams landed heavily and went to the ground. A trainer did come on court to provide treatment and that appeared to fix the problem. She moved on without any major issues.

There was also a comfortable victory for world number one Victoria Azarenka who began her title defense by beating another Romania Monica Niculescu. The Belarussian top seed came through 6-1 and 6-4 to progress to round two.

No major upsets to report on the men's side either. Second seed Andy Murray comfortably booked his spot in round two in Melbourne. The Scot brushed aside the challenge of Dutch player Robin Haase. The reigning U.S. Open champion needed just over 90 minutes to get the job done in straight sets on Rod Lever Arena. The 25 year old Murray is twice a runner-up at the Australian Open.

Should both men manage to get that far, Murray could face 17-time grand slam champion Roger Federer in the semifinals. And the Swiss star began his campaign with a victory against Frenchman Benoit Pair. Pretty easy straight sets. And Federer is through.

In Basketball they say defense wins championships. Well, if that's the case then the Chicago Bulls definitely showed on Monday night they could be title contenders in the NBA. They allowed only 58 points as they beat the Atlanta Hawks at home. Offensively, Carlos Boozer, who had 20 points, and also Luol Deng who had 18 were the main weapons. But this story was really about the defense that the Bulls played and how badly and how poorly the Atlanta Hawks shot. 29 percent in this game, that was the field goal percentage for the Hawks. They also only hit 2 of 14 3- pointers. Numbers that really tell the story of a miserable evening for the visitors. When it was all said and done, the Bulls won it easily and comfortably by nearly 30 points. Taj Gibson with a huge exclamation point on the win 97-58 the final.

The Bulls are in fifth place in the Eastern Conference, two-and-a-half games behind the leaders, the Miami Heat. LeBron James and company have struggled recently, though. And on Monday they lost for the sixth time in the last 10 games. The defending champions went down to the Jazz in Utah. Miami were down by double digits in the fourth quarter, but managed to cut into that deficit thanks to the veteran Ray Allen here.

And later it was LeBron James finding Joel Anthony for the slam. And suddenly it's just a three point game.

However, the Jazz would prevail. Gordon Hayward, who is having a great season for the Jazz coming off the bench, he nailed a key jumper late in the game. And the Heat need to get their act together quick if they're going to maintain first place in the east. They lost again by seven.

That'll do it for sports for now. Kristie, back to you in Hong Kong.

LU STOUT: All right, Pedro, thank you.

You're watching News Stream. And still ahead, more shocking violence in Syria, but the government says it is winning the battle inside the country.

And 81 and almost blind, so why is this woman still considered a threat by China's government?

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KRISTIE LU STOUT, CNN ANCHOR: You're watching NEWS STREAM, and these are your world headlines.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

STOUT (voice-over): Media reports say disgraced cyclist Lance Armstrong has admitted to using performance enhancing drugs. The talk show host (inaudible) interview has just spoken about it. Now Oprah Winfrey said Armstrong acknowledged using banned substances but did not come clean in the manner she had expected.

She describes the interview as difficult for him and says he asked if she would "lighten up." Now the conversation, it will air starting Thursday and stream live online.

French President Francois Hollande plans to send more troops to help defeat Islamist rebels in Northern Mali. Mr. Hollande told the news agency AMP (ph) that he will almost double the number of soldiers on the ground.

But the rebels are showing no signs of backing down. They launched a counteroffensive seizing the central town, Diabaly. AP reports that the French army carried out overnight airstrikes killing at least five rebel fighters.

A European court says British Airways subjected a Christian employee to religious discrimination on the job. The European Court of Human Rights says that happened when the airline told a check-in clerk she could not wear a visible cross over her uniform. Three other British Christians lost their religious discrimination claims in similar cases.

And the violence in Syria is continuing with reports of casualties after a blast at Aleppo University. Across the country on Monday opposition groups say a total of 151 people were killed.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

STOUT: And despite the mounting death toll and relentless violence, Syria's government remains steadfast. The deputy foreign minister says the military is starting to win the war against what he calls terrorists. Now ITV's Bill Neely sat down with him.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: (Speaking foreign language).

BILL NEELY, INTERNATIONAL EDITOR FOR ITV NEWS (voice-over): Sixty thousand dead so far and dozens more today, on the edge of Damascus, the aftermath of an attack by a warplane. Amid the screams, 20 dead, according to locals, including six children, one of them buried in the rubble of his home.

Syria's air force and army have been targeting suburbs all day, attacking rebels, they say. The explosions resounded as I met Syria's main diplomat, a man who says he's in daily contact with Russia and who is confident.

NEELY: Are you winning this war?

FAISAL MAKDAD, SYRIAN DEPUTY FOREIGN MINISTER: We have started to win the war and we shall win the war. I am very optimistic.

NEELY: You are saying you have not lost control of the north and of the east?

MAKDAD: Absolutely not, because we can go there anytime.

NEELY: And the army can take back that territory anytime they want? You just need time?

MAKDAD: Absolutely.

NEELY: Is President Assad as confident as you are? You know him. What is his mood?

MAKDAD: In fact, I take my confidence from his confidence. So his mood is always positive. It is always optimism.

NEELY: If things are going as well as you say, why do you use warplanes against targets in cities?

MAKDAD: Because we want to preserve the lives of our soldiers. Can I deny the -- I mean, death of many Syrians? Absolutely not. But each killing of a Syrian is a tragedy by itself.

NEELY: We're hearing explosions just outside the building now. Who's responsible for that?

That's government shelling.

MAKDAD: This is a shelling -- I mean, I mean, this is a military aspect. I am -- I am assuring you they are not shelling cities. They are not directing themselves against innocent civilians.

NEELY (voice-over): He labeled the government of Turkey a terrorist government for supporting rebels. The danger is growing.

NEELY: Is the danger to the Middle East, to the region, greater now than it was a year ago?

MAKDAD: Absolutely.

NEELY (voice-over): The danger in Syria's biggest city, Aleppo, is clear: civilians dying on the street today, the city divided like the country, like the capital, that the airstrikes and the shelling that resound here day and night -- Bill Neely, ITV News, Damascus.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

STOUT: Now a report says that all these countries in red are victims of an advanced cyber-espionage campaign. The ITC security vendor Kaspersky Lab says Operation Red October targets diplomatic over mental or scientific research organizations.

Now Kaspersky Lab, it says it gathers sensitive information by targeting security flaws in Microsoft Word and Excel and does this by sending the victims emails filled with malware. Kaspersky Lab says Operation Red October, called Rocra for short, it started back in 2007 and is still active today.

Now let's turn to China and the U.N. says nearly 200,000 people are currently prisoners in labor camps across the country. Now there have been hints that Beijing may reform or even abolish that system of punishment. Steven Jiang has more.

STEVEN JIANG, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Wang Xiuying is 81 years old and almost blind, but the government, she says, still considers her a threat.

WANG XIUYING, LABOR CAMP PRISONER (through translator): Sometimes they still watch me 24/7. What can I do? I can barely take care of myself.

JIANG (voice-over): But she has become a symbol in a grassroots campaign calling for the abolition of the country's controversial labor prison camps.

Back in 2008, Wang was sentenced to a year in a labor camp for disrupting social order after she protested the forced demolition of her house by local officials. The authorities only reversed their decision following international media coverage of her plight during the Beijing Olympics.

JIANG: Officially called Reeducation through Labor, this system allows Chinese police to imprison petty offenders, such as thieves and prostitutes, for up to four years without a trial. But critics say the authorities often misuse it to persecute dissidents, activists and members of banned spiritual groups like the Falun Gong.

JIANG (voice-over): (Inaudible) affiliated TV station in the U.S. aired this footage a few years ago offering what it said was a rare glimpse of the conditions in a labor camp in northeastern China. The same camp was recently thrown into a spotlight when an American consumer found a letter inside her Halloween decorations supposedly made in that facility.

The letter alleged abuses and torture in the camp and pleaded for help. The U.N. estimates almost 200,000 people are confined in several hundred labor camps across China. The government has increasingly acknowledged flaws in the system and some activists see its latest pledge to reform it as a positive sign for the country's rule of law under a new leadership.

But many others remain skeptical.

LI XUEHUI, FORMER LABOR CAMP PRISONER (through translator): It would be old wine in new bottles as long as there's still a system that restricts personal liberties without due process.

JIANG (voice-over): Li Xuehui is Wang's old neighbor, but not as lucky. His protests landed him in a labor camp for almost a year. The 52- year-old former insurance salesman says he suffered daily physical abuse and was starved while inside.

LI (through translator): The moment I arrived there, I knew my goal was to stay alive.

JIANG (voice-over): Li's been spearheading the anti-labor camp movement from Wang's home as other former prisoners gather to air their grievances.

But Wang herself seems more philosophical about the system that almost imprisoned her.

WANG (through translator): They have power, so they're always right. I'm powerless, so I'm always wrong.

JIANG (voice-over): And she knows well that in China real changes often move at a turtle's pace -- Steven Jiang, CNN, Beijing.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

STOUT: An incredible woman and an incredible story there.

Now still ahead, right here on NEWS STREAM, having to hold their breaths a little longer, how residents in Beijing are continuing to deal with the severe smog (inaudible) blanketing the city.

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STOUT: Welcome back. Now it's a question that many of us would like answered. What is the key to a successful career? And this week, we asked our two leading women just that. Now executive Guler Sabanci opens up about the origins of her multibillion-dollar family business and artist Bharti Kher tells us about her path to becoming an international art star.

Becky Anderson and Felicia Taylor report.

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BECKY ANDERSON, HOST, CONNECT THE WORLD (voice-over): The key contributor to Turkey's booming economy is the leading conglomerate, Sabanci Holding.

GULER SABANCI, SABANCI HOLDING: Our banking has started with my grandfather. Yes, and I'm proud to say that we have been one of the leading Turkish private banks all through this time of the republic.

ANDERSON (voice-over): Since 2004, Guler Sabanci has led the company as its chairwoman and managing director. The Sabancis own a majority stake in the company and as a symbol of brand unity and identity, the subsidies have the signature SA denoting the family name. The multibillion-dollar Sabanci Group continues to expand.

The family patriarch, Haci Omer Sabanci, started the company first with a cotton mill.

SABANCI: Grandfather was a passionate man. He was a self-made man and he was a genius, really.

So what I learned from him is, I think, what we all learned from him. You need to have a goal. You need to work hard and you need to believe in yourself.

ANDERSON (voice-over): And as an executive, she's also come to understand the importance of building consensus.

SABANCI: We have very cooperative work that we are doing. We are a team. I have never thought in my life that I could do something on my own -- never. I had dreams, I had ideas, I had -- but I have to convince people.

ANDERSON (voice-over): Guler Sabanci was the first grandchild in a male-dominated family line. Her grandparents had six sons. Her own father died early. Sabanci grew up among her uncles in a large extended family.

ANDERSON: You haven't married and you haven't had kids.

SABANCI: No.

ANDERSON: Is that because you'd gone at your work to the detriment of other things? Or is that a choice you've made? How would you explain that?

SABANCI: I think both. I think both. It was a choice and both that I -- my hands are full. It was a choice.

ANDERSON: Do you regret that at all?

SABANCI: No, never. Never, never. I don't have time for regrets. I have been very fortunate, as I said, on my life, of having the opportunity of founding a university, which give me the chance of being with young people. This is very satisfying.

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FELICIA TAYLOR, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): I'm Felicia Taylor. Artist Bharti Kher also finds satisfaction in what she does. Here she is at work in her large studio in Delhi. She's a known figure in India's contemporary art scene and beyond.

Her works are in museums and private collections in many countries.

BHARTI KHER, ARTIST: My business has grown because I work with really good galleries.

TAYLOR (voice-over): But Kher says that's only part of the story.

KHER: You can't turn (inaudible) into gold. You just can't. Gold is gold and good art is good art. You can get a great break because you've met somebody. You can do it twice. You can't do it 20 times.

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TAYLOR (voice-over): It's been more than 20 years since Kher began her journey, starting in London, where she was born to Indian parents. Becoming an artist was definitely the road less traveled in her community.

KHER: In fact, all my cousins, friends, the people that we knew grew up as Asians are all doctors, accountants, lawyers. I think people are very surprised when we said, well, we're going to go to art school. I did. So did my sister, actually.

TAYLOR (voice-over): In 1992, after graduating with a degree in art, Kher ventured out.

KHER: Honestly, I kind of tossed a coin. It was New York or New Delhi. I had no intention of staying in India. I'm going to travel around the country and couldn't travel around the country, actually, because I was too afraid.

TAYLOR (voice-over): Within two weeks, she met her husband and stayed. Today her life and art are infused with India from bindis to saris, all are found in her work.

KHER: I wouldn't be using the bindis or I would certainly not be using saris if I was not living in India.

TAYLOR (voice-over): Kher's husband, Subodh Gupta, is a successful artist in his own right. We meet them in Abu Dhabi for their first talk on the same platform.

Kher says there's a bit of curiosity about their relationship.

KHER: Curious because they don't understand how (inaudible) two very large egos live in the same house and manage. And I think, you know, having children keeps you very grounded.

SUBODH GUPTA, ARTIST: I like it. I like it because she's a very good judge for my work.

TAYLOR (voice-over): Kher points to another side to being life partners and artists.

KHER: You get to travel together, meet lovely people. You can spend all night talking about art and the things you like doing. So that's the advantages. Being in the same business, you get to do it.

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STOUT (voice-over): And there is more on CNN's "Leading Women" series online. That's at CNN.com/LeadingWomen. You could also see our list of eight women you should be following on Twitter.

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STOUT: Now we all know Coca-Cola's ads are very persuasive. But can Coke persuade us that it stands against obesity? See its latest campaign next.

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UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE (voice-over): -- obesity, the long-term health of our families and the country --

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STOUT: Now over the years we've been told "it's the real thing," and we've heard that "life tastes good." Now Coca-Cola has delivered some memorable advertising slogans. But the world's leading beverage brand has never confronted critics in quite this way.

The Atlanta-based company has opened up about a growing problem it's often accused of perpetuating: obesity. Take a listen.

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UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE (voice-over): For over 125 years, we've been bringing people together. Today, we'd like people to come together on something that concerns all of us: obesity. The long-term health of our families and the country's at stake. And as the nation's leading beverage company, we can play an important role.

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STOUT: Some wholesome imagery there. Now Coke says it wants to find meaningful solutions to the complex challenge of obesity. Now CNN's senior medical correspondent, Elizabeth Cohen, joins us now live from CNN Center in the company's hometown of Atlanta, of course.

Elizabeth, we've been talking about and reporting on America's obesity epidemic for years. But how truly responsible is soda?

ELIZABETH COHEN, SR. MEDICAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, when you take a look at it, a soda is 140 calories. And let's say you have two of those. You're getting more than 10 percent of the calories you're supposed to get in an entire day in just those two sodas. And that's why Coke says that they're taking these steps.

They say that they do now and have for a while offered low- and no- calorie versions. They've recently started offering smaller versions, a 7.5-ounce rather than a 12-ounce. And also they have done this to the label. They've put the 140 calories -- it's right there where my finger is -- rather than just keeping it on the back.

So as far as what kind of a contribution it makes, let me show you something. People always wonder how much sugar is in this Coke that I'm drinking. Well, wonder no more. We have it right here, according to the Harvard School of Public Health. There are about nine teaspoons of sugar in one can of soda.

And what happens, according to doctors, is that when you drink that much, guzzle that much down, it actually goes into your bloodstream a lot quicker than if you were to have sugar, say, eating an apple. When you're eating an apple, you're digesting fiber and metabolizing fiber at the same time. And that slows it down.

So doctors are particularly concerned about this much sugar and also about this much sugar in a drinkable form.

STOUT: Yes, Elizabeth, seeing those seven tablespoons (sic) full of sugar there --

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COHEN: Nine.

STOUT: -- really visualize is -- nine. I'm sorry.

COHEN: Nine, right.

STOUT: Nine of them.

COHEN: Yes.

STOUT: Really visualizes just how many calories are in a single can of Coke. Now Coca-Cola, it is addressing this issue with this ad campaign. What impact will it have against obesity?

COHEN: Well, some people say it's kind of late. Other companies addressed this many years ago and some people are wondering why, you know, Coke is doing this in a big way now rather than earlier. You know, some advocates are saying it's not going to have any meaningful impact. They're saying that Coke is really trying to do damage control.

Mayor Bloomberg in New York City, he's put a limit on the sizes of sodas that are sold in certain places in New York City and some people say Coke's afraid that that's going to happen in other cities. And they don't want that to happen.

They also don't want their sodas taxed, which is another threat that's happened. And so that they've done this in order to kind of curb that damage. Coke says, no, that's not true. They say we've already helped people lose weight with our smaller sizes and with our no- and low-calorie options, and we will continue to help people lose weight.

STOUT: Yes. But one can't help but think that Coca-Cola is in damage control mode here.

Elizabeth Cohen reporting for us --

COHEN: Thanks.

STOUT: -- thank you.

Now let's get an update on that choking smog in Beijing that we've reported on. Have the conditions improved there at all? Mari Ramos is monitoring and she joins us now from the World Weather Center.

Mari?

MARI RAMOS, AMS METEOROLOGIST: Yes, talk about a health risk there, Kristie, with that smoke and that smog that continues to affect Beijing, you know, 20 million people in a crowded area and you can hardly breathe.

You know, Beijing is not the only place that has been affected by this. We have some pictures to show you of other places in China. Let's go ahead and roll the first piece of video -- there you see it. This particular city actually had snow and so it was cold, it was very dreary and it was also very difficult to breathe.

This is widespread problem, not only happening in Beijing. We've been focusing on Beijing because we had those readings that were so alarming over the weekend that they were literally off the charts.

When it comes to air pollution and it's extremely dangerous. We were talking about this yesterday, the World Health Organization says over 1.5 million people die every year because direct things directly related to air pollution.

So you asked me, Kristie, has it improved? Yes, it has. And it has improved some. Let's go back over here to the weather map. It hasn't gotten better. Can you breathe easier if the hair's -- if the air's still unhealthy? That would be at the limit of 100. We haven't gotten quite there yet.

The latest readings have it in the hazardous levels for Beijing but we're no longer in these extremely hazardous levels or those off-the-chart levels that we were over the weekend. A couple of things have happened. We had a cold front that came through earlier today and that kind of help makes the air just a little bit.

We had a little bit of wind that came through out of the north and west. (Inaudible) winds as high as 20 kph. And even a few snowflakes that came down. And so all of those things kind of help a little bit. We don't have that wind out of the east anymore, but once you to know that's the latest thing. Not only is it very cold in Beijing right now, but the winds are again very calm.

And this is an indication of the new area of high pressure that is kind of settling in here and is going to keep things very, very still. Notice Beijing visibility about 3.5 kilometers. That's about as good as it's been over the last few days. But look at Tianjin, only less than 2 kilometers, similar for Wuhan and also into Chongqing.

This is just -- I'm showing you this so you can see how widespread this problem of the smog actually is across these areas because it is very significant, not only affecting that major city but other major cities around China, the culprits of course, industry, you have construction, cars and just what people use for heating, which in many cases tends to be coal.

So those weak winds that have been trapped here will begin to move away. We'll start to see a little bit of an improvement across in the area here with this front that came on through. But then after that high pressure settles in again and we're going to see similar conditions, hopefully not as bad, though, because we have another front coming in in the next couple of days.

So it won't be as bad as what we had before. But still, not a huge, huge improvement but perhaps maybe a little bit better visibility and the code orange, what's left in. Let's go ahead and check out other cities now around the world.

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RAMOS (voice-over): And these are pictures from the U.K. -- from the U.K. That's not California. There we go. We're looking at some pretty nasty weather across parts of the U.K. The snow is slowly tapering off and even in places like London, we're going to start to see a little bit of more snowflakes coming through overnight tonight possibly. Watch out for that freezing and the ice.

And come back over to the weather map.

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RAMOS: It has been difficult to get around for some of you. But this picture looks pretty. I like this one in the park in London. Like I was saying, it's going to improve here from west to east. The areas to watch are now across central parts of Europe. This is going to be pretty significant.

I want you to see right over here, we have some very heavy snowfalls across the Alpine regions, southern parts of Germany and back over toward France. But the huge snowfall -- did you see this, Kristie? We've had some significant snowfall in across the Balkan area, in Zagreb and Croatia, 68 centimeters of snow. This could be an all-time record for this area.

And most of this happened in a period of just three hours, which is amazing to believe. Similar situation as we head into Ogulin and look at the wind. They even had thundersnow over these regions. And unfortunately, more snow is on the way.

And here in Serbia, winds of over 100 kph, that's going to bring you blizzard-like conditions. All of this will continue spinning here across the central Med. Watch out. And if you're here, let us know how you're doing. Kind of worried about all of that snow that continues to fall over this region.

Back to you.

STOUT: Yes, a lot of snow falling, covering such a vast region as well. Mari Ramos, thank you.

And before we go, I want to show you a new app. Now it's a free game from the National Rifle Association. It's called Practice Range. The NRA says it's educational and it provides safety tips and updates about gun laws. But as you can imagine, the NRA is taking some heat over it. It includes a 3D shooting game that features targets, some say are shaped like coffins.

It's kind of ironic, since NRA CEO Wayne LaPierre singled out quote "vicious violent video games" in a statement he gave after that mass shooting in Newtown, Connecticut. And one of the weapons available is a semi-automatic AK-47. Plus if you look at the description on iTunes, you will see it is recommended for kids as young as 4.

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

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