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Kenya's Elections; The Queen Checks Out of Hospital; Blast in Syria kills Many; Man Dies in Florida Sinkhole

Aired March 4, 2013 - 16:00   ET


HALA GORANI, CNN ANCHOR: Vote counting is underway in Kenya after millions turned out to cast their ballots in what's said to be a tightly contested race.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Kenyans have shown that they want change.


ANDERSON: Tonight, we have an exclusive interview with the country's Prime Minister Raila Odinga.

ANNOUNCER: Live from CNN Center, this is Connect the World.

GORANI: I'm Hala Gorani. Thanks for watching. Also ahead, medical history is made, as doctors in the U.S. say they have cured a toddler of HIV. But is this the breakthrough it seems to be? Also, out of the hospital, but not in the clear. We'll get an update on Queen Elizabeth II as she prepares to resume palace duties.

Welcome, everyone, as we broadcast live from CNN Center in Atlanta. And our top story this hour, Kenya. Vote counting is underway in that country after elections seen as crucial to rebuilding the country's reputation as one of Africa's most stable democracies. Turnout was extremely high. Lines were long. We heard from someone from the Carter Center saying that some people standing in the sun there with miles of lines, (inaudible) in some polling stations. Some polling stations stayed open past their official closing time to accommodate all these crowds. Voters are choosing a new president and members of parliament, as well as local leaders. Today was largely peaceful, although there were sporadic attacks in Mombasa and elsewhere. This was the first vote in Kenya since the disputed 2007 election, which triggered ethnic violence that left more than 1,200 people dead. Nothing like that today, though, thankfully.

We have two live reports for you from Kenya tonight. Nima Elbagir is in Nairobi, where she had that exclusive interview with prime minister and presidential candidate Raila Odinga.

Also, we'll be going to Nic Robertson in Mombasa. He's covering today's violence. Nima, then let's start with you and that interview with the Prime Minister Odinga. Did he tell you he was confident today as the vote unfolded?

NIMA ELBAGIR, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, every candidate tells you they're confident, don't they, Hala? But he did seem particularly chirpy. Mr. Odinga in recent weeks has been raising concerns about the potential for electoral malpractice, about his fears of bringing that none of that in sight today, though. Hala, he said that today was a day for Kenyans to start afresh. Take a listen to what he said to us.


RAILA ODINGA, KENYA PRIME MINISTER: Well, it's good, actually that the day has finally come that Kenyans now have an opportunity to speak to the ballot. And I hope that they're going to speak loud enough and make informed decision as to how they want this country to move forward.

ELBAGIR: You have raised over the last few weeks concerns about the electoral process.

ODINGA: Well, today is supposedly polling day. And as they always say that the taste of the pudding is in the eating. So we are going to see the kind of fight that we have made. Therefore, I want to be optimistic first from indications from the country, barring some unfortunate incident in Mombasa. I think Kenyans have shown that they want change. And that's why they're turned up in such large numbers all over the country.

ELBAGIR: There is an awful lot of scrutiny on Kenya today. What do you want the world to hear from Kenyans?

ODINGA: I think the world is expecting a difference. There have been some kind of apprehension that there might be a repeat of what happened five years ago. And we have kept on assuring people that Kenyans are wiser, that Kenyans did not do the deed because they were elected. They were pushing through the (inaudible) elections. But if the elections are conducted peacefully and transparently, as we hope they will be, there should be no cause for alarm. I think we want to demonstrate to the world that a Kenyan democracy is coming of age.


ELBAGIR: But even while, of course, people here breathe a sigh of relief that voting has passed pretty much successfully, there is, of course, still the results to be awaited. Fellow presidential candidate and Mr. Odinga's competitor, Deputy Prime Minister Uhuru Kenyatta, who we spoke with last week, told CNN today that he was calling on Kenyans to be calm, he himself was hopeful, and that they now needed to await results, Hala.

GORANI: All right, Nima Elbagir, live in Nairobi, Kenya. Thanks very much. We heard there from Odinga. He wants the world to see Kenyan democracy has come of age.

A quick look at -- are we looking at the top contenders here? Raila Odinga, as we just heard there in Nima's interview, currently Kenya's Prime Minister. He's with the coalition for Reforms and Democracy. His main challenger is the Deputy Prime Minister Uhuru Kenyatta with the Jubilee Coalition. You see it there. He's been indicted, though, by the International Criminal Court for allegedly orchestrating reprisal attacks after the last election in '07, so as his running mate, but he still enjoys widespread support in Kenya.

Now CNN asked Kenyans on Instagram, Facebook, and Twitter to share their election experiences with us. Steven Kitoto took this picture inside his local polling station. For some, just reaching a ballot box took a lot of patience. Efraim Muchemi (ph) captured lines stretching around the block in Nairobi.

Look at that just snaking around. You really have to be armed with patience. Where does it all end? You're right, I have that question, too. And proudly showing off the ink on her finger, Instagram user Divipink announces just exercised my constitutional right to vote for my country's elections. May the best man/woman win. And if you want to show us your photos of Kenya's election, just upload them to Instagram and don't forget to use the tag CNN iReport. One of your pictures might be featured on the air on CNN International.

Now we mentioned that violence and the question in Kenya. And the question has been is it related to the ongoing election right now? Is it separate from that? Let's check in with CNN senior international correspondent Nic Robertson. He's live in Mombasa, where there was an attack today. What happened and who did it, Nic?

NIC ROBERTSON, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, the government is blaming the Mombasa republican council (inaudible) the whole country to be here to break away from (inaudible) flew down to Nairobi to come and look in the very place where some of the policemen were killed. (Inaudible) one of the people who were shot, was injured, make it (inaudible) died there. They told to the family that the family can (inaudible) with us. So it's actually a group.

For the most half, though, it has been a very common (inaudible) to the polling stations, waiting patiently (inaudible) come out again (inaudible) democratic vote, but the day did begin very (inaudible)


ROBERTSON (voiceover): On the outskirts of Mombasa, at least two police and eight others killed by people, the prime minister and presidential hopeful Raila Odinga called terrorists.

RAILA ODINGA, PRIME MINISTER: They were heavily armed with weapons. And they shot the police officers. This must be condemned, this (inaudible). This is an utter terror.

ROBERTSON: Two hours' drive from the coastal city, Kenya's second largest, another attack blamed on separatists. At least five people butchered to death with machetes in a polling station, forcing it to close. More attacks followed.

(on camera): The separatists blamed for the attacks, the MRC, want the whole of this coastal region to break away from the rest of Kenya. Among their grievances, they cite high unemployment and outsiders buying up all the land. Their attacks appear intended to scare people off from voting.

(voiceover): The MRC later denied carrying out the attacks. And at this polling station in central Mombasa intimidation wasn't working.

Are you worried at all about the attacks that have happened today in Mombasa?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: There's a crowd here.

ROBERTSON: They have other priorities.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We want a leader who will be mindful people who are living below the poverty line. You see the majority of the Kenyan people live below the poverty line.

ROBERTSON: So far, no sign of the tribal violence that erupted after the last elections in 2007, when more than 1200 people were killed and 600,000 displaced from their homes.


GORANI: There you have it, that report from Nic Robertson in Mombasa. Apologies there for the poor quality of the audio coming to us from Kenya there during Nic's report. We'll have a lot more on Kenya, of course, on CNN in the coming hours. You're watching Connect The World. We are live at CNN Center today.

Our top story tonight, Kenyan officials say turnouts surpassed 70 percent in today's elections. The vote was mostly peaceful, to the relief of the nation still scarred by deathly ethnic violence after that previous election in '07. Preliminary results are trickling in, but we are not expected to hear official tallies until Tuesday at the very earliest. So you must be armed with patience to vote. You must be armed with patience as well in order to hear the results in Kenya. You're watching Connect The World.

Still to come, how Britain's Queen Elizabeth II is doing following her hospital stay for a stomach bug. And pieces of a family's life are pushed into public view, as workers continue their demolition of the Florida home where a massive sinkhole swallowed a man. Also, the game of golf is at a crossroads. And it's all about the use of belly putters. Do they give players an unfair advantage? All that and much more when we come back. Stay with us.


GORANI: You're watching CNN. This Connect The World. I'm Hala Gorani. Welcome back.

Britain's Queen Elizabeth II has left hospital in central London, following an overnight stay for the symptoms of stomach flu. It was the first time the monarch had been hospitalized in 10 years, he's still going strong it seems at 86 CNN's royal correspondent Max Foster joins us now with all the latest on her condition.

So she left early, right, because we were expecting two days in the hospital.

MAX FOSTER, ROYAL CORRESPONDENT: Exactly. And now, she's at Buckingham Palace, although she has still canceled all of those events for the -- for this week, including the big visit to Rome. So still a big event in her professional life, really, but she doesn't cancel things. And she's cancelled a whole load of things.

She is resting up now. She's at Buckingham Palace. And there's a debate now, I have to say, Hala, about whether or not she is doing too much now. This is the point in her life perhaps where she needs to step back, let the younger princes take on more of her duties, even abdicate, although she would never consider that. It's interesting that the Dutch queen recently did abdicate, so her son could get on with the job of being monarch. That's not the tradition in this country. And she wouldn't do that, but maybe she will now react to this pressure to do less.

GORANI: And what about her -- one of the questions that people had was what about her relatives? I mean, nobody really from her -- in her close family visited her in the hospital. Why is that?

FOSTER: Well, that's often the case. And that's partly because the royals don't want to create a sense of panic by visiting, because it might imply that she's more unwell than the public thinks. Actually, what I've been told is that she didn't want to create a fuss in the hospital, didn't put pressure -- want to put pressure on the staff here. So she didn't want any royal visitors. So that was one of the reasons. Also, she had said that she wanted to come out quite quickly.

I have to say, one of the stories that a lot of people are talking about as well, Hala, is a couple of policemen that were on the doorsteps behind me yesterday. A couple of Antonys (ph). They're called Antony -- one called Antony, or the other one called Tony -- Antony Wallen (ph), 7'2" and his friend is 5'6" tall. One of the tallest, one of the shortest policemen in London. And that was one of the big talking points yesterday. It just shows it's a vacuum of information we're getting from the palace, but that's one of the things they wanted to talk about. It was on the front pages of all the papers today.

GORANI: Right.

FOSTER: We're hoping to see them again tonight, but the Queen's left, so --

GORANI: Well, they've got every latitude covered. I mean, in terms of height, they can -- surveillance is perfect. 7'2" to 5' or what not.

FOSTER: Yeah, big Tony and little Tony, not surprisingly their nicknames.

GORANI: Thanks very much. Well, you know, it's not too bad if we can joke about the names of the policemen guarding the Queen's door. Thanks very much, Max Foster in London.

Now staying in Europe, Swiss voters have overwhelmingly backed some of the world's strictest controls on executive pay. More than two-thirds of voters supported plans to give shareholders a veto over salaries and ban big payouts if a manager comes in or leaves the company. It's called the fat cat initiative. It will apply to all Swiss companies listed on the country's stock exchange.

Meanwhile, HSBC says it will raise its dividend as profits at the global bank giant fall. It reported a pre-tax profit of more than $20 billion, down 6 percent from the previous year.

So Syria now and opposition activists there say, look at these images, absolutely unbelievable. They remind you of that Saddam Hussein statute. Rebels are saying they scored their biggest victory yet, overrunning the northern city of Raka (ph). It's a big provincial capital. This video puts it on Youtube, the first to show crowds in the main square tossing a statue of Hafsed Esed (ph), the leader of Syria before his son Bashar. Activists say rebels have near control of Raka (ph). If it indeed has fallen to the rebels, it would be the first major city captured by them since the war began.

Also today, new fears that the Syrian War is spilling over into Iraq. Ivan Watson has details of an ambush on a convoy of Syrian soldiers there.


IVAN WATSON, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: A deadly ambush took place deep inside Iraqi territory in a town called Alrupa (ph), involving Syrian government forces who were moving, who had retreated from that border that got captured by the Syrian rebels, and were trying to move, presumably, to another Syrian government controlled stretch of the border.

Iraqi government officials telling CNN that the convoy was ambushed by gunmen using automatic weapons and machine guns. At least 31 Syrians killed, some of them government soldiers and officers. At least eight Iraqi soldiers also killed in this ambush that, according to an Iraqi government official, had all the hallmarks of an al Qaeda and Iraq attack. Syrian rebel spokesmen that we spoke to, they claim that the ambush was caused by improvised explosive devices. This is the deadliest incident we've seen thus far of violence apparently spilling over from Syria into Iraq, a country that has seen no shortage of its own sectarian killing over the course of the last decade.

Ivan Watson, CNN, Istanbul.


GORANI: Speaking of sectarian killings, Pakistan's largest city is in mourning today, after a new attack on the country's Shi'ite Muslim minority. At least 45 people were killed in a car bombing in Karachi on Sunday. No one has claimed responsibility, but these attacks have become more and more frequent against the Shi'ias. Saima Mohsin has those details.


SAIMA MOHSIN, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Crowds are still gathered at the site of the attack, struggling to accept what's happened in their hometown. This ranger's check post was set up just three months ago when the area was identified as a potential target.

A mainly Shi'ite neighborhood, it's been the target of Sunni extremist (inaudible). The graffiti reads "war against Shi'ites." Karachi police tell CNN that 150 kilograms of explosives were planted in a parked car, then set off by a timing device. Ball bearings and sharp metal objects were packed inside to maximize casualties. This man's sister died in the blast. He came to me in tears.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I have come to bury my sister. I feel sorrow to think that our same country is being turned into hell. We are making hell by our own doing. Is this Islam speaking?

MOHSIN (on camera): This is a heavily populated residential area. The bomb was so powerful, it ripped off the front of two large apartment buildings.

(voiceover): Dozens of people are still missing, feared dead. Many bodies are yet to be identified. Glass from shattered windows hundreds of meters away, a painful reminder of the attack strewn across the neighborhood.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE (through translator): All the windows in our house are shattered. Smoke and dust came right into our home. I can't get it out of my mind. I'm so scared, I haven't slept.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE (through translator): We are trying to pull people from the rubble with our own hands. Every time we move the sheet of rock, we found bodies or limbs. I carried young children in my arms and rush them to hospital.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE (through translator): How do all the explosives get in? How do these bombings happen? This means there is no security. They just left us to die.

MOHSIN: As rescue workers left and diggers arrived to clear away the rubble through the day, the dead were being buried. There's anger in this neighborhood that yet again, the government has failed to protect its citizens.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We have limited resources in terms of police and rangers. They are short of the actual number required. And therefore, their presence all around is impossible.

MOHSIN: Across the city, there's a heavy police presence, but they're monitoring near diverted streets of a citywide strike gripped by Pakistan's commercial capital. This attack has scared this city of more 20 million people off the streets. But the residents of a vast town say they're not even safe in their own homes.

Saima Mohsin, CNN, Karachi.


GORANI: Life from CNN Center, this is Connect The World. Coming up, as demolition continues of the Florida house where a massive sinkhole swallowed a man, we look at how the holes are created, and how similar tragedies can be avoided.


GORANI: Workers are continuing their demolition of the Florida home where a massive sinkhole swallowed a man. Jeff Bush's body remains somewhere underground, following Thursday's tragedy. And officials say it's unlikely it will really ever be recovered. CNN's George Howell has those details.


GEORGE HOWELL, CNN CORRESPONDENT: A demolition crew started work Sunday on a Florida home condemned because of a sinkhole that killed one of its occupants. Hundreds of spectators watched as a backhoe plunged through the roof, ripping down walls and putting pieces of the Bush family life on public display.

MIKE MERRILL, HILLSBOROUGH COUNTY ADMINISTRATOR: The family is very close knit. Many of the family have actually lived in this house over the years. It belonged to the grandmother. And so, they all have a very close personal connection.

HOWELL: Crews helped salvage valuables, including military medals and an American flag, but authorities say it will not be possible to recover the body of 37 year old Jeffrey Bush. He's the only one of six family members at home, who was unable to escape when the sinkhole opened Thursday night. His brother Jeremy says he tried to save him.

JEREMY BUSH, BROTHER KILLED IN SINKHOLE: And I ran in there. And all I could see was this big hole. And all I could see was the tops of his bed. I could see nothing else. So I jumped in the hole and tried digging him out. And I couldn't get him. All I could hear was -- I thought I could hear him screaming for me and hollering for me to help him, but I couldn't do nothing.

HOWELL: The search for Bush was called off when authorities said it became clear he could not have survived. Tearing down the home will give officials a better look at the sinkhole, which is still expanding, and help them find the best way to fill it. Several other homes had to be evacuated. People were only given 30 minutes to get their belongings.

George Howell, CNN, Seffner, Florida.


GORANI: That's just unbelievable. Tom Sater is at the World Weather Center to talk more about -- what is a sinkhole? I mean, how does this happen that you're sleeping in your bed --


GORANI: -- and all of a sudden, you're swallowed up by a giant hole?

SATER: Yeah, it's amazing. We can understand the science behind it, Hala. And we can explain it, but the eerie part and the human factor to this is we just don't know when they're going to happen. And we have a better idea of when a volcano will erupt than when a sinkhole's going to occur like this one in China. They occur all the time. We're going to show you a map of Florida. They have quite a few of them, thousands of them.

Now here's a crude explanation of it. It's not just the soil, but it's the rock and the type of rock in the bedrock. Does it dissolve with water? How much water is in the ground table? And does this slowly erosion -- how long does it take place before that bedrock is broken down?

Eventually, we have underground holes or caves that develop. And then, of course, it just gives way. And you have the sinkhole. That's a crude explanation. We'll get into a little more detail.

But let me show you here. This is the type of dissolvable rocks. It's your limestones, such as the case in Florida, your carbonates, your sulfates. It's not your granite. In fact, it really is -- depends on where you live and what's indigenous to that area. But is there abundant groundwater? Are there aquifers nearby? Human activity, is there mining or are there a number of wells, irrigation has a lot to do with the area. But there are triggers. Excessive rainfall. Just in the last 12 hours, a 10 meter sinkhole in Queensland, Australia, that was due to the excessive flooding that they've had in the past couple days.

But take a look at Florida here. All of these are sinkholes since 1954. And believe it or not, it's over 3000 of them, but it's because of the bedrock, which is mainly a limestone.

So here again, just to give you an idea, we have a well. It depends on the soil as well, because a lot of times, depending on the chemicals inside, we have water like lakes, put pressure down. We also have what we call hydrostatic pressure that comes up, but the bigger problem is when you have acidic or acidity, it gets into the limestone. And it breaks down the limestone. It absorbs it. And it creates these pockets in which they're going to have as a sinkhole. And it just gives way.

But the eerie part, as mentioned, and this is why it's all over the Internet now, everybody wants to know why is we don't know exactly when most of them happen. Sometimes you can see, you know, the ground give way, but that's eerie.

GORANI: Right, it is. And sometimes deadly, sadly, for that poor man. Thanks very much, Tom Sater.

The latest world news headlines are just ahead. Plus, the latest on the process to elect a new pope. We're live in Rome as cardinals from around the world gather. Also ahead, a medical breakthrough at this U.S. hospital. What it could mean for the global fight against HIV. And three of the past five golf majors have been won by players using belly putters, as they're called. But that trend may not continue for long. Monday, the European Tour made their views clear about this. We'll be right back.


GORANI: This is CONNECT THE WORLD. The top stories this hour.





GORANI: Syrian opposition activists say rebels have scored their biggest victory yet, overrunning the northern city of Raqa. This video posted on YouTube appears to show crowds toppling a statue of Hafez al- Assad, the former leader of Syria, the father of the current president.

Also in the headlines, long lines and turnout reported at more than 70 percent in Kenya's national elections. The vote was largely peaceful with sporadic incidents of violence. The top presidential candidates are prime minister Raila Odinga and deputy prime minister Uhuru Kenyatta.

In the US state of Mississippi, a girl born two years ago with HIV appears to have been cured. Researchers credit anti-viral drugs shortly after birth. The child's functional cure, as it's being called, is raising hopes for the hundreds of thousands of babies born each year with HIV.

Britain's Queen Elizabeth II has left hospital after a brief stay for symptoms of gastroenteritis. The 86-year-old appeared smiling and rather fit after spending the night under the observation of doctors.

More than 140 Catholic cardinals from around the world have met at the Vatican in Rome, but a decision has not been made yet on when to begin the conclave that has been designed to select the new pope. Senior international correspondent Ben Wedeman is in the Italian capital. What was discussed today and when will we know when the conclave will be?

BEN WEDEMAN, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, there were two sessions today, Hala, and the Vatican press office this evening announced that there would be only one session on Tuesday and Wednesday.

Now, these meetings, which include not just the 115 cardinals who will take place in the conclave, but those over the age of 80 who will not, are extremely important in the whole process, because it's an opportunity for many of the cardinals who have never met before to see one another in action, speaking, discussing all the issues that are of importance to the church.

And it's important to keep in mind that in this upcoming conclave -- and of course, the date has not been set -- that 50 percent of the cardinals who will participate in the conclave will be doing so for the first time.

So, it's very much a learning process for them and an opportunity, as I said, for them to look around in the room and see and listen to those who they may decide to vote for when the conclave actually takes place. Hala?

GORANI: And do we know -- are any of the discussions eventually made public or leaks? Do we end up knowing closer to the time who the frontrunners are?

WEDEMAN: Well, really, that is the question that everybody is asking here in Rome, and it's really impossible to say at this point. There are names being bandied about, like Angelo Scola, the cardinal from Milan.

There are sort of the favorite for some of the cardinals from the third world, Peter Turkson, a cardinal from Ghana. And really that's something that the Vaticanisti know better than most of the reporters covering this story.

But -- and in fact, some of the cardinals were mentioning that because may of the reporters covering this papal election this time around had experience, learned the process eight years ago, that the names they are hearing discussed in the press seem to be much closer to those that were being bandied about eight years ago following the death of John Paul II.

But honestly, Hala, we will not know until that white smoke comes out of the chimney over the Sistine Chapel.

GORANI: All right. Should be by the end of March, so we'll see. We have a few more days to discuss this, Ben. Thanks very much.

One former cardinal who won't participate in that conclave is Keith O'Brien, Britain's former most-senior Roman Catholic cleric. He resigned last month amid allegations of sexual impropriety. At the time, he said no way, I didn't do any of this. But then on Sunday, he changed course. He apologized, though he didn't specify an incident.

The Vatican refused to answer questions on Monday about whether O'Brien will be disciplined. Matthew Chance reports from Edinburgh, where O'Brien presided.


MATTHEW CHANCE, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): For many Scottish Catholics, it's a confession that has shaken their faith, not in the church, but in its leaders. Worshipers at mass in the cathedral in Edinburgh are clearly troubled.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I feel sorry for him, but his choice was to lie.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I think I'm very, very sad for all the people involved, praying for all the people involved. And I think I'll write a note to my friend reflecting on the fact her faith is in God and in Jesus, not in cardinals or bishops.

CHANCE: But the statement from Cardinal Keith O'Brien is still a blow for the church. One of its most senior clerics is essentially admitting he had inappropriate contact with junior priests.

"There have been times," the statement reads, "that my sexual conduct has fallen below the standards expected of me as a priest, archbishop, and cardinal."

CHANCE (on camera): Before Cardinal O'Brien's confession, many Catholics we spoke to here appeared reluctant to believe the allegations. The cardinal himself had categorically rejected and said that he was seeking legal advice. It's made coping with the latest revelations all the more difficult.

CHANCE (voice-over): And the confession sits uneasily with Cardinal O'Brien's outspoken public stance on issues like gay marriage, which he has campaigned vigorously against.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: He's a total hypocrite. They've all had confessed, every single one of them. I just don't know.

CHANCE: In his statement, Cardinal O'Brien says he's apologizing to all he has offended and is asking for forgiveness, but it may take much more than a simple "sorry" to get it.

Matthew Chance, CNN, Edinburgh.


GORANI: You're watching CONNECT THE WORLD from CNN Center. Coming up, an extraordinary development in the fight against HIV and AIDS. That is next.


GORANI: Well, it is a potential game-changer in the fight against HIV, and doctors here in the United States say it happened almost by accident. Elizabeth Cohen has that incredible story.


ELIZABETH COHEN, CNN SENIOR MEDICAL CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): It's a startling announcement. Doctors say they've cured a two-year-old in Mississippi of HIV, the infection she'd had since birth gone.

ROWENA JOHNSTON, DIRECTOR OF RESEARCH, THE FOUNDATION FOR AIDS RESEARCH: You know, it's fantastic news from any number of angles. Of course that a child has been cured. That this actually happened quite easily and quite inexpensively.

COHEN: The cure came about as kind of a fluke. The baby was born to an HIV-positive mother who transmitted the virus to her daughter. The baby was put on HIV drugs, but the mother, for some reason, stopped giving them to her when she was about 15 months old.

She was taken back to the doctor around her second birthday, and tests showed the baby was HIV-free, even though she'd been off medication for eight to ten months.

JOHNSTON: What fantastic news. This is something that I don't think anybody would have expected.

COHEN: The key to success here might have been that the baby received relatively high doses of three HIV drugs soon after birth. Usually, HIV- positive newborns get low doses of one or two drugs after birth. If other babies could be cured after just 15 months on drugs, that would be huge. Now, HIV-positive babies take these drugs for life, and they can be toxic.

More studies need to be done, but this case may have inadvertently paved the way for other babies to have a brighter future.

Elizabeth Cohen, CNN, Atlanta.


GORANI: Well, earlier today at the International Desk, I spoke to the doctor who spearheaded the treatment of that toddler. Dr. Hannah Gay is associate professor of pediatrics at the University of Mississippi Medical Center. I asked her if she was surprised when she discovered that after not having been on drugs or on that treatment for five months, the toddler ended up HIV-free. Listen.



GORANI: What if -- in a panic, why?

GAY: Because my first thought was, oh my goodness, I've been treating a child who's not actually infected.

GORANI: And then what happened, when you saw that first result.

GAY: When I saw the first result I called her back in to repeat the results, hoping that it was just lab error. And when it proved that on multiple tests she was uninfected, I called some friends who I've worked with before on other studies, and they have access to research labs.


GORANI: And there you have it, Dr. Hannah Gay, who said she was in a panic. She thought potentially that she had been treating a toddler for HIV when, in fact, that toddler was HIV-free all along. That wasn't the case. It appears as though the toddler is now, quote, "functionally cured."

Now, the Foundation for AIDS Research, or AMFAR, is helping to fund the research into possible pediatric HIV cure cases. Its CEO, Kevin Robert Frost, joins me now in the studio with more. Thanks for being with us.


GORANI: You heard the results of this research that was presented to professionals and doctors and MDs that work in trying to find a cure for HIV-AIDS.

FROST: I did hear it --

GORANI: What did you think?

FROST: Well, I was excited by it, but of course, I knew about it for some time, because AMFAR had funded the studies, which actually looked at and confirmed the case.

But I can tell you, being in the audience today when Dr. Persaud, the author of the study, published it. There was a great deal of excitement. There's really genuine enthusiasm around not only what this means, but the potential for what it could mean in the future.

GORANI: And what's the potential?

FROST: Well, I think the most important thing is that there are more than 330,000 newborns born with HIV every year around the world.


FROST: And this could change their destiny. This could mean that those kids may not necessarily be destined to a life with HIV. If we can do the research to confirm these findings -- and that's really important, there's more research that needs to be done -- but the potential here is really a game-changer.

GORANI: All right. And then, what I found interesting about this, and of course, I don't follow as closely -- nearly as closely as you do research into finding cures for pediatric HIV infections, is that this mother, who had this HIV-positive child, a baby, for 15 to 18 months, apparently, provided the child with treatment.

But then, for five months, didn't go back to the hospital and didn't give it treatment. So, it's completely accidental that in the end, this interruption in treatment led doctors to realize that the child was HIV- free or tested negative for HIV even though it had not taken the medication for that long.

FROST: Well, life has a way of teaching us things even in the most unexpected of moments. We have a word for it, it's serendipity. And the truth is, a great deal of science and a great deal of research is reliant upon just sheer luck. And in this case, there's no question we got lucky. But the truth is, it's taught us an enormous amount, and we're excited about what that means.

GORANI: So, the question, of course, is if we want to look at numbers around the world because children affected by HIV and AIDS, of course, mainly live in other parts of the world outside of the United States. I believe we have figures there for you that we can show our viewers.

Africa, sub-Saharan Africa, 3.1 million children estimated to live with HIV. Middle East and North Africa is a much lower number, but even if you look at South and Southeast Asia, 150,000, compared to North America at 4500. Now, the big question when you make a breakthrough such as this one is access to this medication.

FROST: Well, that's one of the beauties of this, because unlike the first person who was cured of HIV, Tim Brown, the Berlin patient --

GORANI: Right.

FROST: -- a lot of people familiar with that case.


FROST: This was pretty straightforward. This was using --

GORANI: This wasn't a bone marrow transplant.

FROST: No, no, no, no, no. Not at all.

GORANI: This is aggressive cocktail --

FROST: That's exactly right.

GORANI: -- right off the bat.

FROST: And these are available drugs. These are drugs that are available even in Africa, even in Southeast Asia and all the places you've talked about.

GORANI: Right.

FROST: We don't have universal access, but one of the things that's been going on over the last ten years is that this structure, this architecture for preventing mother-to-child transmission has been built. And what we now have is an opportunity to build upon that structure and deliver this aggressive therapy, this therapeutic dosing for children.

So, we really do have -- if this turns out to be what we hope for, we have something that we could really deliver.

GORANI: What about adults, though? There has to be hope that if you do make a breakthrough with regards to children, that at some point, you're going to find something that will constitute a breakthrough for adults as well.

FROST: I think there's more than hope.


FROST: In fact, there are interesting similarities between this case and the adult case of a cure. There are really important differences, but there are interesting similarities. And the reality is, we're making such incredible progress in this area so rapidly that people like me and people at AMFAR, my organization, we actually believe we will have a cure for AIDS, and we'll have it in our lifetime.

GORANI: Well, 20 years ago, I don't have to tell you, it was a death sentence.

FROST: It -- no question.

GORANI: When you heard that somebody had the HIV virus, you were giving them a few years, and that was going to be it.

FROST: That's right. And that's no longer true.


FROST: A person diagnosed with HIV infection in this country, a 20- year-old, who has access to care and medicines can expect to live a relatively normal life to the age of 70, with their HIV infection. So it's not a death sentence, but it's also not a picnic.

GORANI: Of course not.

FROST: And so we understand that ultimately, the only way out of this is through a vaccine and a cure, and we believe we can get there.

GORANI: Well, you know that things have changed. When I was in the DC Metro a few weeks ago, and there was an aid for medication that helps with belly fat associated with the side effects of AIDS medication. We've -- 20 years ago, nobody was worried about their vanity or whether or not they accumulated fat on their belly.


GORANI: So, we're really in another era.

FROST: I had friends who told me that they had written their wills, they had prepared to die, and then they went on these new treatments, these combination therapies. Suddenly, they had to go out and get a job.

GORANI: Right.

FROST: And they really didn't know how to do that, so they had to start planning for their future. It's a good thing.

GORANI: It is a good thing. Still, though, there is some work to be done. The CEO of AMFAR, Kevin Robert Frost, thanks so much for joining us in the studio today.

FROST: Hala, thanks for having me.

GORANI: Pleasure talking to you. Well, as you can imagine, there's been a lot of reaction to this from you, our viewers, on Paul Statz writes, "People were dying in droves when HIV first came out." We were discussing this with Kevin. "I'm glad to see some progress."

A comment from another user, Felino2012, who says, "What a wonderful story. Inspiring and hopeful for new discoveries!" We agree.

But there's also some skepticism out there. Kendric writes, "This is simply one case study. To prove a sweeping cure, the results must be duplicated."

Let us know what you think about this issue, and you can get in touch on our Facebook page at More on all of this tonight on "Amanpour." Christiane gets some expert insights on the findings from a leading researcher in HIV-AIDS. That is coming up in just over ten minutes for viewers in Europe, the Middle East, and Africa.

When we come back after a short break on CONNECT THE WORLD, we look at why China's National People's Congress comes at such a critical time for the country. And in sports, the game of golf is at a crossroads, and it's all about the use of belly putters. All that and more, stay with us.


GORANI: Strength and stability. That's the image China is trying to project as it embarks on a once-in-a-decade leadership change. The National People's Congress gets underway on Tuesday in China, which is just a few hours from now. David McKenzie has more on the pivotal meeting and why it's coming at a critical time for China.


DAVID MCKENZIE, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: The delegates are streaming into the Great Hall of the People here in Beijing for a series of important meetings. They happen every year, but this year, the National People's Congress, in particular, is crucially important. It will bring in a new raft of leaders to rule China. And many people believe that China is at a crossroads.

MCKENZIE (voice-over): The 3,000 delegates of the NPC are a virtual rubber stamp for incoming president Xi Jinping and his top leadership. But they face many challenges. Number one, the economy.

Manufacturing, export, and investments sparked China's meteoric rise. But now, the government wants to move to a consumer-driven model, anchored on urbanization, to avoid the much-dreaded hard landing. The goal is to grow the middle class.

MCKENZIE (on camera): "To unify under socialism and strive for a well-off society," it reads, but propaganda aside, with the middle class growing, there's a real sense that cracks are appearing.

MCKENZIE (voice-over): This winter, China has seen its worst pollution in living memory, angering a population already jaded by a series of high-profile scandals, like the spectacular fall of party kingpin Bo Xilai. It's all tainted the reputation of the Communist leadership, and protests for accountability online and on street corners are increasing.

But while domestically the party is under pressure, internationally it's flexing its muscles, standing up to its neighbor, Japan, over a disputed chain of islands, launching its first aircraft carrier, and trying to match the influence of the Obama administration's so-called pivot to Asia.

This week, Chinese leaders are looking to project strength, not just locally, but on the global stage.

MCKENZIE (on camera): The NPC is a staged, managed event, so don't expect any surprised. Where China's going is anyone's guess. But with new leaders coming in, one thing may be more certain, that they'll prioritize power and stability over reform.

David McKenzie, CNN, Beijing.


GORANI: Well, we'll have much more on the start of China's National People's Congress, including a look at how markets in Asia are reacting. For viewers in that region, stay tuned for "CNN Newsroom" live from Hong Kong, that starts in just a few minutes from now.

The debate about the use of belly putters in golf is really starting to heat up, and Monday's announcement that the European Tour is in favor of banning anchored strokes leaves the professional game in the US potentially isolated. Don Riddell joins me now and -- to talk more about this.

We talked about this at the International Desk, so essentially, a belly putter is the longer club that allows you to anchor to your body.


GORANI: And that gives you a bit of stability.

RIDDELL: Absolutely right. And technically, the players that use it are cheating, and even players like Ernie Els would admit as much. But it doesn't seem to be breaking the rules, because the rules aren't being enforced.

GORANI: We see it there, by the way --


GORANI: -- just in case our viewers are wondering what it looks like.

RIDDELL: Exactly. So, this has been going on for a few years' time. I think what has really sparked the debate is the fact that all of a sudden, players who are winning major tournaments are now winning them with this. Three of the last five players that have won majors have used anchored putters or belly putters.

And so, the sports lawmakers, the Royal and Ancient and the US JDA here in the United States, have looked at this. They've had a period of consultation, and now it's got to the point where most are in agreement that the rules should be revised, or at least the rule should be enforced. But in the United States, they don't feel that way.

Let's just bring in a quote from the former world number one, Greg Norman, who recently told me why he thinks they should ban these putters.


GREG NORMAN, MEMBER, WORLD GOLF HALL OF FAME: The odd of the game of golf is not just the physical aspect of making a beautiful golf swing execution, putting your mind to telling that golf ball where you want it to go with your golf club, but it's the -- it's the nerves.

It's how you feel when you get over a put. The heart is pounding, the throat is dry, you can't swallow, your mind is racing or it's going so slow you've got to speed it up. It's that that you've got to feel. And belly putter takes that away.


RIDDELL: The PGA Tour say there is no evidence to suggest that these putters actually do give players an unfair advantage, but it's interesting, Norman doesn't think we should have them, the top two players in the world right now, Tiger Woods and Rory McIlroy, are in favor of banning them.

But there are a lot of players on the US Tour that use them, and right now, the Tour wants to support them.

GORANI: So, what happens, then, if you have one group saying ban them, and then in the US, they're allowed. How does that play out for the game of golf?

RIDDELL: Well, it -- potentially it would be a nightmare. You'd end up having events all over the world with completely different rules and players who would have to adjust their style of play depending on the tournament. And for the players that use these belly putters, that would be very, very difficult, for them to have to go one week without it and the next week with it.

GORANI: But I mean -- right, right. But I mean, if it's technically cheating and you're not supposed to have your club anchored to your body, why is this a debate?

RIDDELL: Well, there's an awful lot of money in the United States PGA Tour, and a lot of their players are using them, and they've become used to using them. They've only ever used them.

It's interesting, players like Ernie Els and Adam Scott didn't used to use them, but as they grew -- became older in their careers, Els in particular, switched to this kind of club. But some of the younger players have only ever used these, so it's a real problem for them to have to try and putt a different way.

GORANI: And it was interesting that Greg Norman was saying, essentially, part of the game is also calming your nerves, it's being in command of your stroke --


GORANI: -- and if you're -- you have this putter anchored to your body, that's not testing that part of your game.

RIDDELL: Absolutely right. The PGA Tour dispute that, but I think Greg Norman has a very, very valid point, and that's why he thinks that they should be allowed. You ask what's going to happen --

GORANI: Right.

RIDDELL: The PGA Tour now is really quite isolated, and I think what's most likely is that they're just going to have to cave and go with this law change, which we've brought in from 2016. But if not, we will have this ridiculous situation where you'll have different tournaments with different rules on either sides of the Atlantic.

GORANI: You can't imagine -- that -- is that even a possibility? Two different sets of rules?


GORANI: Imagine that in soccer. Imagine Soccer. If you have different sets --

RIDDELL: And it -- yes.

GORANI: -- it would be exactly maddening.

RIDDELL: It would be.

GORANI: You would have to kind of --

RIDDELL: It wouldn't be the first time, though. In the 70s, they had different regulations with regards to the size of ball that was being played with, and so guys like Jack Nicklaus would just have to adapt from one tournament to the next. But it's far from ideal, and it's such a global game, now, with these players traversing the globe and playing in all these different tournaments --

GORANI: Right.

RIDDELL: -- that I think it would be better for everybody if they came up with one uniform rule that everybody abided by.

GORANI: Yes, I agree. I agree on this one, I have to say. Plus for purists, you kind of want every aspect of the player's ability tested on very important shots as well.


GORANI: All right. Now, we talked about this at the International Desk, I don't know if it's going to be as funny the second time around --


GORANI: But the British city of Bradford received some unexpected and unlikely assistance from that guy --


GORANI: It is still funny.

RIDDELL: It is, yes.

GORANI: Especially because he's not in the best shape.


GORANI: Seriously.

RIDDELL: He doesn't even look that authoritative. He looks kind of resigned.

GORANI: And he -- he does. "Here you go. I just threw this guy against the police counter." This guy is a suspected criminal of the local police, and the man dressed as Batman apprehended the fugitive and delivered him to local police. And the wanted man was charged with handling stolen goods, apparently.

RIDDELL: Do we know if he was dragged kicking and screaming to the police station?

GORANI: They look like they're the best of --


GORANI: Frankly, nobody is resisting -- look at him. He's just staring into the floor.

RIDDELL: It's a fair cop.

GORANI: There you go. We don't know who it is.


GORANI: All right. Maybe he'll -- he'll come out, eventually.


GORANI: All right, that's going to do it for us, from Don Riddell and myself and the whole team, thanks for watching.