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Pro-Assad Sunni Cleric Killed in Bomb Blast; Cyprus Lawmakers Scramble to Find Bailout Funds for Banks; Davie Bowie Retrospective Exhibit to Open with Latest Album; Xi Jinping Visits Moscow
Aired March 22, 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. Now desperation grows in Cyprus. With the banks closed, people are trying to scrape together enough cash to get through the weekend, but could Russia still come to the rescue?
Meanwhile, Moscow welcomes China's new leader. It is Xi Jinping's first trip as president.
And adopt a revolution. We'll show you a high tech twist to fighting Syria's civil war.
A government spokesman in Cyprus says the next few hours will determine the future of the country. Now lawmakers there are scrambling to avoid a financial collapse. But their hopes for Russia to come to the rescue have been dashed, at least for the time being.
Now the Cypriot finance minister left a meeting in Moscow earlier unable to convince Russian investors to give his country a cash injection. Now meanwhile in Nicosia, a large crowd gathered to beg the European Union for help. Later today, parliament is expected to vote on a series of bills that could help raise the desperately needed cash to secure the $13 billion bailout offer from the EU.
And the sight of people lining up at ATMs like this has become familiar now. Now banks are closed, at least until Tuesday, and many people need their money now, but they can't to it.
Now Nick Paton Walsh has one woman's story.
NICK PATON WALSH, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Olga, a Russian single mother who taught herself Greek just to get work in an upscale hotel has always lived on a budget, but never like this.
She has no ATM card so closed banks mean there's no more money now for food. Here, how much it's left in her purse for her family to live off.
OLGA, HOTEL WORKER (through translator): Not even five euros. I took a loan from friends to get through the weekend, but I don't know when the banks open again. My son gets paid tomorrow with a check, but he can't cash it anywhere. We have money, but can't get at it maybe even for a week.
PATON WALSH: Her eldest two have grown and worked to pay for school, but little Elena always has questions.
OLGA (through translator): Mom, what will we do now, she asks? At school, even the little ones talk. She hears stuff in school and that's a problem. I can't put adult problems on a baby's shoulder. I explain. I say we can get through this. We will wait and something good, I believe, will come of this. I feel hopeless; fear, not just for my future, but for the future of my children. What can we do?
PATON WALSH: Across Nicosia there is that sense of despair in streets like this that would normally be bustling, but now are barren and empty. So many Cypriots waking up to hear that the solutions their government offered the day before have now been cast aside.
During Thursday, queues grew with ATMs. Gas stations asked only for cash. Shops stayed shuttered. Panic built.
Olga says her 1,000 euro savings are two years work for her, not something she can lose even two percent of.
OLGA (through translator): I feel like it's a million, because I worked for it, sweat for it. I saved this money. Not scared, not angry, it's desperation that grips your soul. A desperate situation and you cannot find your way out.
PATON WALSH: She jokes her life is like a fairytale. It gets scarier the longer it goes on.
Nick Paton Walsh, CNN, Nicosia
LU STOUT: And later in the show, we'll try to take you live for Cyprus. We'll also take you to Moscow for some Russian perspective on the crisis there in Cyprus.
Now U.S. President Barack Obama has come to the end of his first presidential visit to Israel and the Palestinian territories. Now President Obama has been visiting the Church of the Nativity with the Palestinian Authority president Mahmoud Abbas. The UN recently recognized the church as a world heritage site.
Now in contrast to Thursday's speech to Israeli University students, which is largely political in nature, Mr. Obama has devoted his last hours in Israel and the Palestinian territories this Friday to cultural endeavors.
Now earlier, President Obama, he made a symbolic visit to the Yad Vashem Holocaust Memorial with Israeli President Simon Perez and Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.
And next, Mr. Obama moves on to visit another close ally in the region Jordan.
Now Ivan Watson is in the capital of Amman. He joins us now live. And Ivan, when Mr. Obama sits down with Jordan's King Abdullah, what will they focus on?
IVAN WATSON, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, one of the biggest topics of discussion is going to be the huge refugee influx from neighboring Syria, people fleeing that grinding conflict. More than 460,000 refugees entering this small country. The Jordanian government spent more than half a billion dollars hosting these refugees. And they're certainly going to be looking for help from their American ally to help with this enormous financial burden.
WATSON: There are so many Syrian refugees in this neighborhood in Jordan that locals have basically started calling it Syriatown. In Syriatown, refugees are turning shops into homes.
This is what Syrians have had to resort to. It's something I've never seen before in the Middle East. The refugees are renting shops, storefronts. There's a family of eight living here in what used to be a business, sleeping here. Take a look at this single room. There is no bathroom here. No kitchen. This is not a place where people are supposed to live.
Some of these makeshift apartments don't even have doors. This is where we meet Umkhalid (ph) a widow from the Syrian city of Homs.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE (through translator): The regime soldiers and militia took my husband and son from our house. They also took my brother and his son. They lined him up on the street and shot them.
WATSON: Umkhalid (ph) spent her last savings renting this unheated cell. Her two youngest surviving boys used to go to the school, but now they have to help pay the rent.
"I tried to find a job," says 12-year-old Abdul Rahman (ph), "but I still can't find one."
The trouble is even before this flood of Syrian refugees came to Jordan, there weren't enough jobs to go around, especially in Mufraq (ph), a scruffy Jordanian bordertown.
"The economic situation here was already tough," says this Jordanian mechanic named Khalid. "But it's gotten even harder since the Syrians came."
This small kingdom of 6.5 million people has been flooded by more than 450,000 registered Syrian refugees many of whom choose not to live in government run camps.
Jordanians complain the cost of living has skyrocketed as Jordanians are forced to compete with Syrians for jobs, real estate, and even water. For some Syrians, more help is on the way. A group of wealthy Syrian businessmen, along with various charities, are bringing aid to Syrian refugees in part to help ease the burden on Jordan.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We know well about the Jordanian economic situation. So we need really to help them and to help us. With what they have, they help, but we cannot ask more...
WATSON: A Syrian girl smiles when she gets a new coat. But it will take more than clothes to stop little Darine's (ph) tears. A bomb broke this two-year-old girl's legs two months ago, another victim of the brutal conflict in Syria. Until that stops, the future looks bleak for residents of this growing refugee community called Syriatown.
WATSON: And Kristie, just to give you some more context, the Jordanians are counting more than 1,000 Syrian refugees crossing the border a day, sometimes up to 100 of them wounded from the conflict and in need of medical attention. The enormous Zaatari refugee camp that is one of the principle destinations for these hordes of people has more than 100,000 residents. The Jordanian government is describing it as the fifth largest city in the country right now -- Kristie.
LU STOUT: Jordan is simply overwhelmed by the scale of this refugee crisis. And some very heartbreaking images in your report just then.
Ivan Watson joining us live from Amman Jordan, thank you.
Now you're watching News Stream. And coming up next, China's Xi Jinping, he takes his first trip abroad as president. We'll have more from his visit to Moscow.
And more scrutiny on North Korea. The UN steps up investigations on alleged human rights abuses.
Also, resource without borders, but millions do not have enough to drink. More on World Water Day coming up.
LU STOUT: Welcome back. And you're looking at a video rundown of all the stories in the show today. Now we've told you about the high stakes situation in Cyprus where lawmakers must make difficult decisions to fix the nation's finances.
And later, we'll go to Syria where the killing of a cleric could have repercussions on the civil war. But now, let's turn to Russia.
Now China's Xi Jinping has traveled to Moscow on his first official foreign trip as president just as his predecessor did 10 years ago. Many analysts see the choice of his first foreign destination as a sign of Beijing's priorities. David McKenzie has more.
DAVID MCKENZIE, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Incoming president Xi Jinping of China made his first foreign visit on Friday significantly to Moscow. State media here in China are playing up the visit saying that it's, quote, because of the special nature of the relationship between Russia and China.
At the top of the agenda trade, China and Russia have about an $80 billion trade relationship that's mostly because of energy sent from Russia for China's growing economy.
China says they hope to pen a natural gas pipeline deal during the visit. Russian analysts are a little bit more skeptical about it. So the two countries are trying to increase their trade relationship in the coming years.
China and Russia are trying to maintain a united front on regional foreign policy issues to counterweight President Obama's so-called pivot towards Asia. This is just the first step in a multi country tour for the new Chinese president. He will be heading from Russia to Africa where he'll attend the annual BRICs conference.
David McKenzie, CNN, Beijing.
LU STOUT: And in France, a judge has put Nicolas Sarkozy under formal investigation for breach of trust. Now the former French President is accused of taking advantage of L'Oreal Cosmetics heiress Liliane Bettencourt helped fund his 20077 campaign. On Thursday, the judge summoned Sarkozy to his office in Bordeaux. And this is him leaving the courthouse. He is in the back of the car.
Now Sarkozy, he denies asking for or taking any illegal campaign funding from Bettencourt. His lawyer says he will appeal.
The United Nations says it will step up investigations of alleged human rights abuses in North Korea. It set up a dedicated commission of inquiry to look into allegations of what it calls grave rights violations. Now North Korea has been accused of holding around 200,000 people in a network of political prison camps like the one identified here in Google Earth.
Now Pyongyang has denied the allegations. And human rights groups have been pushing for more actions, saying that conditions appear to have worsened under Kim Jong un.
The decision to launch new inquiries, it came at a UN human rights council meeting in Geneva. And Matthew Chance tells us more about the plan and Pyongyang's angry reaction.
MATTHEW CHANCE, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, the UN probe will examine allegations of North Korean prison camps, slave labor, food deprivation, forced disappearances and other allegations of widespread human rights abuses by the regime in Pyongyang. A human rights groups have of course welcomed it, but during the debate at the UN Human Rights Council in Geneva, North Korea's representative, who we very rarely hear from, was furious in his rejection. Take a listen.
SO SE PYONG, NORTH KOREAN AMBASSADOR TO UN: The draft resolution is also a fixed document full of political invectives with serious distortions, fabrications, and accusations about human rights reputation of the DPRK.
As we stated time and again, those human rights abuses mentioned in the resolution have totally nothing to do with the DPRK.
CHANCE: The ambassador added that North Korea has, quote, "one of the best systems in the world for the protection for human rights."
Well, that's not a viewed shared by many. In fact, the resolution was passed unanimously. And although it is extremely unlikely that a UN team will be permitted to investigate alleged abuses on the ground in North Korea -- they have to depend on satellite images and testimony from defectors -- diplomats spoke of how urgent was the need for scrutiny.
GERARD COOR, IRISH AMBASSADOR TO UN: For too long, the population of the country has been subjected to widespread and systematic human rights violations and abuses. For too long, the government of the DPRK has persistently refused to cooperate with the Human Rights Council and a special (inaudible)
CHANCE: Important to note, though, that this human rights probe comes at a time of increasing tensions on the Korean peninsula. Pyongyang appears particularly sensitive at the moment to criticism. And so this may not be the last we hear from North Korea on this issue.
Matthew Chance, CNN, Seoul.
LU STOUT: And turning now to South Korea. And officials there say that the malicious code that brought down computer networks on Wednesday was not from China as they had thought. But officials do still believe that the attack came from, quote, "a foreign land."
Now the server outage on Wednesday shut down around 32,000 computer at several media organizations and banks. Regulators say that operations at two banks are back to normal while the others are still trying to recover their networks.
In Syria, activists depend on computer networks to disseminate their message and images of the war. Ahead, hear how a new NGO in Germany is working to bridge a missing link.
LU STOUT: Coming to you live from Hong Kong, you're back watching News Stream.
Now today is World Water Day. And established in 1993 by the UN, it was set up to bring awareness to the importance of fresh water. It is a necessity that some people take for granted, but for many it is a luxury. The UN says nearly 800 million people do not have access to clean water. And 2.5 billion do not have access to adequate sanitation and says that if everyone were to live the lifestyle of the average European or average American, 3.5 entire Earths would be needed to sustain the global population. Incredible statistics there.
As we mark World Water Day today, it's an opportunity to reconsider extreme weather patterns and a change in climate that can change the way we access water. Now let's bring up Mari Ramos from the World Weather Center for more -- Mari.
MARI RAMOS, CNN WEATHER CORRESPONDENT: Kristie, it's just really amazing when you hear those statistics. And the way that we use water is just so critical and sometimes in ways we don't even think about. And what you were talking about, the possibility here of what these changes in the climate that are happening are going to affect our availability of water, could really change people's lives very, very quickly.
So, when you talk about climate change, how can this affect our availability for water? First of all, one of the main things is how it can change how much rain falls and when it falls. So what season does the rain fall? That could change significantly. And the amount of rain that is happening at that time. That's very significant, especially for agriculture or even for the use of water in factories and in our weather as a whole.
And then you have these changes in temperature and in precipitation that will change how much water actually runs off into the ground. You've got to remember that where our water comes from is mostly from underground. Whatever falls from the sky and then eventually seeps into the ground or goes into rivers or lakes, that's where we get our water in most major -- that's where we get it everywhere really.
And when we see these changes of how much water will actually run off into these reservoirs, that could bring significant changes as well. And then if you have increased temperatures the water will evaporate more quickly. And it will reduce the amount of water that is available in the soil and that could change drought patterns and that could also change agricultural patterns which would affect our food supply as well. So this is almost a chain of events.
And then those areas in drought would actually increase in extent, so in other words more areas would be in drought, and also how severe those droughts may actually be would also be on the rise like what we're seeing right now across portions of the central U.S. It's better than last year, but they're still in a drought there.
So I want to show you a map that's a little bit different. This is from the IPCC. And we're going to go all the way to 2090. This is what they think it will look like in 2090 as for the changes in water runoff, that important runoff that is coming in and going into those reservoirs. The areas in blue will have an increase, the areas in red will have a decrease.
Well, this is very important because you think, oh, well that means they're going to have more. Well, not really. It's because the temperatures will be warmer during the winter months. The snow and the ice will actually melt quicker, so they'll see that increase during those winter months probably. But in the summer and the hotter months of the year that probably won't happen.
And then the areas in red, in the mid-latitudes which is where most people live, that's where you see that decrease in runoff because of the increase in temperatures and those drought areas that would be expanding.
And then you have highly populated areas such as Southeast Asia where that change in the rainy season can bring an increase in flood risk. But that's all the way into 2090.
How will if affect you now or in the immediate future if we begin to see these water shortages? First of all, significant water restrictions. Imagine living on a third of the water that you're using now. And that's just for drinking water, cooking, bathing. Imagine paying more for everything that you have -- for goods, for services, because water is used for everything that we do, for that clothes that we wear, for the products that we use, Kristie, and of course for the food that we eat.
And so we're going to see large urban areas and also agricultural land affected by these water shortages. But the main thing is that the poor cities, the larger cities that have financial crises, will be the ones that are going to face the biggest challenges, because once that water gets more expensive and it gets farther away from these large urban centers, how are you going to bring it to those areas?
So these are ways that we can think about even right now that we could be affected by water shortages even though we think it's something that's happening in far-flung places and not in big cities like the ones we live in.
Back to you.
LU STOUT: Yeah, this is a very, very alarming trend. And thank you for explaining this relationship between weather patterns around the world and our access to water. And it's just going to be more shortages ahead. We better watch out.
Mari Ramos there, thank you.
Now just two months after a controversial visit to North Korea, Google's chairman Eric Schmidt is today in Myanmar. Now a Google spokesman says Schmidt is there to help increase internet access in the region, quote, "by helping them get online and access to the world's information for the first time."
His visit comes as the country undergoes dramatic political changes after decades of military rule and harsh international sanctions. It is also one of the largest untapped markets for western companies.
Now officials say Buddhist monks armed with swords and machetes patrolled the streets on Friday in Central Myanmar where around 20 people have been killed in sectarian violence. Now these are pictures from the violence on Thursday. A local member of parliament says clashes were set off by a dispute between a Muslim shop owner and two Buddhist sellers. He says rioters set fire to houses, schools, and mosques, prompting thousands of residents to flee their homes.
Now, we want to update you on the gun control debate in the United States. The National Rifle Association is suing the state of New York over a law passed in January. It includes a statewide gun registry, a uniform licensing standard, and a limit on bullets and ammunition magazines. Now the NRA's New York affiliate claims that the law was pushed through without committee hearings or public input.
Now New York was the first to pass legislation after the mass shooting in Newtown, Connecticut. And after that tragedy and other high profile shootings, gun control advocates started hoping that reforms would actually come through. But Joe Johns reports that the movement has stalled.
JOE JOHNS, CNN CORRESPONDENT: With a ban of so-called assault weapons all but dead in the Senate according to top Democrat Harry Reid, the vice president said he is not giving up.
JOE BIDEN, VICE PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: I'm not going to rest nor is the president until we do all of these things, all of these things.
JOHNS: He told the family of a teacher killed protecting children in the Newtown, Connecticut school shooting that the country needs some political backbone.
BIDEN: You know, it's time for the political establishment to show the courage your daughter showed.
JOHNS: The father of a six year old also killed at Newtown said shame on the congress.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I'm really ashamed to see that congress doesn't have the guts to stand up and make the change and put a ban on these type of weapons and universal background checks.
JOHNS: From New York's Mayor Bloomberg, a call for public pressure.
MICHAEL BLOOMBERG, MAYOR OF NEW YORK: If you want to make a difference, you've got to pick up the phone, call your congressperson.
JOHNS: But what happened was no surprise. Conservative Democrats in the Senate up for reelection risk riling up pro-gun forces in an election year if they vote for the ban. Democratic supporters like retiring Michigan Senator Carl Levin are frustrated.
(on camera): Do you think it's worth just having a vote even...
SEN. CARL LEVIN, (D) MICHIGAN: Sure. I think it's important that people express their views and have a chance to vote those views so that their people back home can judge whether they agree or disagree.
JOHNS: Bad for Red State Democrats though.
LEVIN: It's not the politics that I even want to get into -- the stakes here go way beyond politics.
JOHNS: All the pressure from gun control advocates appears to be working. Late Thursday, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid released a statement saying he wants to bring a gun safety bill to the floor after the upcoming recess, including provisions on background checks. He said he also wants a vote on an assault weapons ban amendment.
So there appears to be one last chance for the senate to vote on the ban after all. The NRA saying they've always expected there would be a vote on the ban and they say they're prepared for a lot of pressure on Senators to pass it.
Joe Johns, CNN, Washington.
LU STOUT: Now Russian investors say no to Cyprus's request for a cash infusion, but Prime Minister Medvedev says the door is still open. We'll tell you more after the break.
Plus, a top Sunni cleric is killed in Syria as violence flares in the civil war.
LU STOUT: I'm Kristie Lu Stout in Hong Kong. You're watching News Stream and these are your world headlines.
Now U.S. President Barack Obama is wrapping up his tour of Israel and the Palestinian territories and next heads to Jordan. Earlier today, he made a symbolic visit to Israel's Yad Vashem Holocaust Memorial and visited the grave of former Israeli Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin.
Now at least three people are dead, including the gunman after a shooting at a U.S. Marine Corps base. The Quantico base, it was put on lockdown for several hours early on Friday. Officials say a marine fatally shot two of his fellow service members and then apparently turned the gun on himself. His motive currently unknown.
Xi Jinping is in Moscow on his first foreign trip as China's president. Now discussions with his Russian counterpart Vladimir Putin are likely to be dominated by the economy. Trade between Russia and China reached a record high last year. Now the pair met last year in Beijing when Mr. Xi was still China's vice president.
And a government official in Cyprus says the next few hours will determine the nation's future. Cypriot lawmakers are desperately trying to raise nearly $7.5 billion to avoid a financial disaster. Now the money is needed to secure a $13 billion bailout from the European Union.
Now let's go live to Nicosia now. Our correspondent Jim Boulden is there. And Jim, the clock is ticking. Just how close is Cyprus to securing a new source of revenue?
JIM BOULDEN, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, we're still hours away, I think, Kristie, (inaudible). The president has put out a statement. His office had to say he's in deep negotiations with the troika, of course, is the ECB, the IMF, and the EuroZone.
And the parliamentarians were supposed to debate and pass these bills hours ago and that simply hasn't happened. Political deadlock, perhaps. Deep negotiations, perhaps.
But Kristie, just on the spur of the moment we are now joined by a guest, the acting CEO of Laiki Bank. Laiki Bank, of course, the center of this storm. He's agreed to come over and speak to us.
First, sir, explain to us what's going to happen to Laiki Bank in the next few days if these bills pass?
TAKIS PHIDIAS, LAIKI BANK CEO: Well, the proposal as we heard it today is to create a good bank out of like eBank (ph) that we'll actually take all the deposits under 100,000 euros and it will take the good assets of the bank as well. All the remaining assets and deposits will stay in the bad bank, if I can call it like that. And that bank will go into resolution.
BOULDEN: Explain the capital controls. If that bill passes as well, what will people in your bank be able to take out. What won't they be able to take out?
PHIDIAS: I'm not aware of the details of the legislation that is being put forward as far as the transactions are concerned. What I am aware is the bill that is supposed to be voted later on today, I guess, will actually say that restrictions will be put forward to ensure that stability in the financial system of Cyprus can remain.
BOULDEN: Can you explain what the Greek banks have agreed to do today. They've agreed to buy the Greek branches of Cypriot banks. Can you explain that?
PHIDIAS: I think there is an agreement by the -- between the two governments of Cyprus and Greece to save the branches in Greece of the Cyprus banks by transferring them to a Greek bank.
BOULDEN: So your branches will no longer be part of your bank, obviously, they will be sold to Greece?
BOULDEN: What do you expect to happen behind us in the next few hours with parliament? What is it that we need to see, what is it you need to see so that your bank can reopen on Tuesday?
PHIDIAS: I have no idea. Now that we are at this stage, I really have no idea what could happen. I think any decision would be a disastrous decision. In my opinion, if we had done the haircut on depository, would could do a haircut on deposits. It could be a much better solution because all the banks would be saved. But that would need the unconditional support of the European Central Bank which is not there.
BOULDEN: So right now, everyone with 100,000 euros or below is -- will be safe, but people who have more than that in your bank will most likely have to pay a levy, will they not?
PHIDIAS: Definitely. It's not a levy, it's a -- they will just receive money if the resolution of that bank has any money to be paid to depositors. And that includes people who got damages from court for the death of their parents or for -- incapability -- that includes profit defense (ph), pension funds, and a lot of other humanitarian sums that could leave families in desperation.
They're trying to do something about that, but I'm not quite sure.
BOULDEN: Finally, how worried are you that your bank will collapse come Tuesday morning?
PHIDIAS: To be honest, I have no idea how we will open on Tuesday morning. I don't really know if our people go to the branches. I'm not quite sure what they have to do and how this situation will be handled. You realize that this is the first time we come across such a scenario. I'm not quite sure if in Europe anybody else has come across this scenario with restrictions and a transfer a passion, transfer of deposits.
BOULDEN: Who do you blame? Do you blame -- the EuroZone blames the banks here in Cyprus.
PHIDIAS: Look, the banks here we're OK. We had a very healthy financial system. The -- what effectively happened is that ever since we participated in the Greek PSI...
BOULDEN: To help save the Greek banks.
PHIDIAS: ...the Greek banks, our banks immediately became insolvent. And because -- there was no provision to save the Cyprus banks from the Greek PSI. And from that moment on it was -- it was a total dependence on assistance from the European Central Bank...
BOULDEN: And that assistance will dry up on Monday if there's no deal here.
PHIDIAS: Without assistance we are (inaudible) has dried up already, yes.
BOULDEN: OK. Sir, thank you very much for your time. I appreciate it.
Well, Kristie, as you can see even from people who are deep inside this story it's still very fluid, acting CEO of Laiki Bank saying he's not sure how his bank could even open on Tuesday morning. And he is not sure what will happen with the votes here later today at Parliament in Nicosia, Kristie.
LU STOUT: That's right, Jim. I mean, that was incredible in that exchange you had just then with the acting CEO of Laiki Bank telling you live. I have no idea how we will open on Tuesday morning surely adding to growing concerns there in the Island nation.
Jim Boulden joining us live from Nicosia, thank you for that.
But the Russian prime minister, meanwhile, Dmitry Medvedev, says his country is not completely closed the door on Cyprus. Now Cyprus and Russia, they have been engaging in talks earlier this week.
Let's take you now to Moscow and our correspondent Phil Black. And Phil, we know this happened -- why did the Cypriot finance minister earlier leave Moscow without a deal. What happened?
PHIL BLACK, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Kristie, he spent two days here trying to sell the Russian government on the idea of investing in Cyprus's undeveloped gas fields or its very troubled banks. And at the end of those two days of talks, the response from the Russian government and the potential investors, which are mostly Russian state companies was, there's no interest in any of it.
It doesn't really come as a huge surprise. When it comes to Cyprus's banks, I think the view certainly here in Moscow is that they would not make a very good investment right at this time. Earlier in the week, we heard the Russian prime minister Dmitry Medvedev talking about the prospect of investing in the gas fields and he said that they, too, are problematic, because they're not really known in terms of extent and value and there are potential territorial disputes there with Turkey as well.
So in the end, the Cypriot finance minister has left empty handed.
This was the Russian prime minister commenting on what could happen from here just a short time ago.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
DMITRY MEDVEDEV, PRIME MINISTER OF RUSSIA (through translator): Concerning our involvement in the process, we have not closed the door. We did not say that we would not discuss anything anymore or that we don't want to listen to anyone, or that Cyprus as a member of the European Union and leave us alone. We have economic interest, and we are ready. And we will discuss the support for Cyprus after the solution scheme will be worked out by the EU members.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BLACK: So, when he says the door isn't closed what Dmitry Medvedev is probably hinting at there is renegotiating, perhaps relaxing the terms of an existing loan from Russia to Cyrpus that was made back in 2011 for 2.5 billion euros. That could still be on the table. But that is what Cyprus had hoped to secure from Russia before the EU bailout package was cast into crisis by that suggested levy on deposits, Kristie.
LU STOUT: All right. Phil Black giving us the very latest live from Moscow. Thank you.
Now in Syria, the government and rebels are blaming each other for a suicide attack that killed nearly 50 people including a top Sunni cleric. And this was the scene in Damascus on Thursday after the blast struck one of the city's main mosques. Now state media say the cleric Mohamed al-Buti was inside at the time teaching a religious class.
Now Buti was a prominent supporter of Syrian President Bashar al- Assad. And now almost three-quarters of Syria's population are Sunni Muslims. Their presence is represented in this map in green.
Now Sunni Muslims are dominant in Syria's opposition. Still, some support the government, which is largely controlled by Syria's largest religious minority, the Alawites. You see them here in yellow.
Let's get the latest now on the situation in Syria from CNN's Mohammed Jamjoom. He's watching developments from neighboring Lebanon. He joins us now live from Beirut. And Mohammed, you're learning more about the aftermath and reaction to the mosque attack. What can you tell us.
MOHAMMED JAMJOOM, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, Kristie, to give you an idea of just how big this attack was, the death toll continues to mount. In fact, just a couple of hours ago, the ministry of health in Syria announced that now it's at least 49 people that have been killed as a result of this suicide bombing yesterday. Now this was significant in the fact that many civilians were killed, but it was also significant in the fact that Mohamed al-Buti, who is one of the top Sunni clerics in Syria, was killed. Now he's a Sunni cleric who supports the regime.
Almost immediately after this attack happened, you have both sides in the civil war there, both the rebels and the government, pointing fingers at each other saying that -- the rebels saying they thought the government behind this, the government saying that because the rebels hated this cleric because he supported the government, that it was obviously the rebels and the opposition that was behind this attack.
Now, many opposition groups in Syria, including the LCC, including the national coalition, the Syrian National Coalition have condemned in the strongest possible terms this attack. They said no matter who was killed, they said this attack should never happened. A really devastating scene at this mosque, at one of the main mosques in Damascus. And fears that the death toll will continue to rise even further than where it is right now.
But one of the real worries about this is because this top Sunni cleric was killed, is the worry that the sectarian lines in the horrible and horrifying civil war there will only deepen as a result of this killing -- Kristie.
LU STOUT: And Mohammed, you're also getting clarity about the alleged chemical weapons attack earlier this week. What was actually used?
JAMJOOM: Well, it's still unclear as to what was used, although a lot of analysts and officials who have looked at the tape of the -- hospital tape of the people that were suffering the effects of what the opposition was saying was a chemical attack, they're leaning away from the contention this was chemical weapons.
Now there's a growing amount of skepticism that's being expressed. The U.S. government, several officials, several analysts have said that they don't believe that there's any real evidence that chemical weapons were used in this attack.
Now one official told CNN that it was possible that the people in this tape that are shown here, perhaps they were exposed to a caustic agent, perhaps they were exposed to some sort of chemical, but they don't believe that they were exposed to chemical weapons.
Nonetheless, the international community taking this very seriously. U.S. officials as well as French officials and many other officials have expressed the need for a thorough investigation to be conducted to find out what exactly happened and who was behind it.
Also, the UN has announced that they do plan to investigate this, because they have heard the claims from both the rebels and the government that chemical weapons, they believe, were used in this attack. -- Kristie.
LU STOUT: All right. Mohammed Jamjoom reporting for us, thank you.
Now we want to tell you about an organization in Germany that is raising money to try and strengthen the political process in Syria. The organization is called adopt a revolution. It allows donors to specifically pick and choose which groups they want to support inside Syria.
Fred Pleitgen has more.
FRED PLEITGEN, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: The uprising in Syria appears to be getting more violent by the day as armed groups take center stage and civilian activists seem to be losing ground. This group in Germany is trying to help them with a unique idea. It's called Adopt a Revolution where donors can choose specific activist groups they want to support, paying for everything from internet access to leaflets.
AKHTAM ABAZID, CO-FOUNDER, ADOPT A REVOLUTION: The other side, of course, it's moral support, that they know they are not alone in their struggle.
PLEITGEN: Akhtam Abazid is from Syria and one of the co-founders. He spends hours on the phone each day speaking with opposition activists to make sure donations reach the recipients, but also vetting groups so funds are not used to acquire arms.
ABAZID: Just then we are sure that they are doing the civil work, they get our support.
PLEITGEN: That's not always an easy task with more and more armed groups fighting in Syria, some with an islamist agenda.
Daniela Steinert is a donor. She says although there are no guarantees, she trusts that her cash is going to secular, pro-democracy groups.
DANIELA STEINERT, DONOR: I trust this organization, though that's the only reason I gave my money to them, because I have the feeling they have the connections to Syria, they know the people, they know the activities. And so I can be sure that my money goes to the right places.
PLEITGEN: Adopt a Revolution also has the approval of the German government and is recognized as a non-profit organization. Donations are tax deductible.
Andre Find said the aim is to strengthen civil groups also for a possible time after the Assad regime falls.
ANDRE FIND, CO-FOUNDER ADOPT A REVOLUTION: I wouldn't trust the armed guys that the bring about a civil, a human rights, a democratic state. But I would trust the civilian guys that they have the right goals and the right aims to reach that.
PLEITGEN: Adopt a Revolution supports about 25 groups in Syria. And one thing they are not close to running out of is demand as the civil war there shows no sign of drawing to a close.
Fred Pleitgen, CNN, Berlin.
LU STOUT: All right. And this just in to us here at CNN. The International Criminal Court says the Congalese rebel leader Bosco Ntaganda has left Rwanda on a flight to The Hague. No Ntaganda is wanted by the ICC for alleged war crimes and crimes against humanity, including murder, rape, sexual slavery, and recruiting child soldiers. Ntaganda surrendered himself voluntarily to the U.S. embassy in Kigali earlier this week.
You're watching News Stream. And after the break, a football player's protest against racism may get him in trouble with the league. But he says he does not regret his actions. Alex Thomas has more on that and all the sports headlines coming up.
LU STOUT: Welcome back.
Now, the fight to eliminate racism in football takes an important step in Switzerland. Alex Thomas joins us now with more -- Alex.
ALEX THOMAS, CNN SPORTS CORRESPONDENT: Yeah, hi, Kristie.
Kevin-Prince Boateng, the Milan midfielder who walked off the pitch in protest at racist abuse, has been meeting FIFA President Sepp Blatter today. Boateng's action was widely praised and prompted football bosses to reassess how they deal with racism. He was a speaker at an event marking the United Nations anti-racial discrimination day this week and told our own Amanda Davies that his attitude hadn't changed.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
AMANDA DAVIES, CNN SPORTS CORRESPONDENT: Would you have done it, do you think, if it had been a competitive game, if it had been a Champion's League match?
KEVIN-PRINCE BOATENG, MILAN MIDFIELDER: I think we should not accept and tolerate it anywhere like in any game, if it's a friendly game, if it's a World cup final, if it's a Champion's League final. For me, honestly, I would do it even in the Champion's League final. If I feel that this is a racial abuse I will even do it in the Champion's League final.
Then it's of course it's a different situation, there's a lot of money involved and even if my whole teammates would maybe follow me, I don't know, because it's a totally different situation. But from my part, I would do the same.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
THOMAS: And you can see the full interview on World Sport in just over four hours time.
Luiz Felipe Scolari is still waiting for his first win since becoming Brazil's football coach for a second time. His team were denied victory on Thursday night when Italy recovered from 2-0 down to draw the friendly encounter in Switzerland. After first half goals from Fred and Oscar, the Italians mounted a comeback after the break. Daniele De Rossi pulling one back before the equalizer from man of the match Mario Balotelli.
Now, he got the better of Sebastian Vettel and the Red Bull team in Melbourne last week. And Lotus Formula 1 driver Kimi Raikkonen looks just as competitive ahead of the second race of the season. The 2007 title holder set the fastest time on a rainy opening day of free practice for Sunday' Malaysian Grand Prix. He was two-hundredths of a second quicker than Vettel, the reigning world champion, with the Ferrari duo of Felipe Massa and Fernando Alonso next on the list.
Tiger Woods remains in contention to reclaim the world number one ranking for the first time in almost two-and-a-half years. And the absence of Rory McIlroy, Woods can leap back to the top of men's golf with a victory in this week's Arnold Palmer Invitational at Bay Hill.
Tiger is the defending champion and has won the event seven times. His fondness for the course clearly showing. An eagle at the 16th moved him to three under par.
However, he wasn't as consistent as he would have liked, throwing in a couple of boogies before picking up three more birdies, including here at the sixth after that delicate chip. A score of 69 for Woods.
Bill Haas produced one of the shots of the day holding his approach at the sixth for an eagle. Like Tiger, he was one of 10 players tied for fifth place four strokes behind the overnight leader Justin Rose. The Englishman racking up six birdies, an eagle, and only one dropped shot in his opening round of 65.
We'll keep you fully up to date on that event and the rest of the sport in a couple of hours time. For now, back to you in Hong Kong, Kristie.
LU STOUT: All good stuff. Alex Thomas there, thank you.
Now still to come right here on News Stream, on the heels of his new album, a new retrospective of David Bowie's life. These days, Bowie fans just can't seem to get enough. And we'll take you to London for all the hype.
LU STOUT: Welcome back.
And it was 50 years ago today that the Beatles released their first album Please, Please Me.
LU STOUT: Besides the title track, the record contained the hit songs "I Saw Her Standing There," "Love Me Do," and "Twist and Shout." The album was voted number 39 on Rolling Stone magazines list of 500 greatest albums of all-time.
Now one of the hottest tickets in London today is for an exhibition that hasn't even opened yet. The Victorian Albert Museum has sold a record 40,000 advanced tickets to its David Bowie retrospective. It opens this weekend.
Now the museum says it had unprecedented access to Bowie's archive, his music memorabilia and the costumes.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
VICTORIA BROACKES, V&A CURATOR OF THEATRE AND PERFORMANCE: The title of the exhibition kind of sums up the fact that David Bowie, as he's here in the present tense, but it's also David Bowie is what? And through the exhibition, we look at different interpretations of that. We've got all manner of objects: costumes, photographs, stage set models, and also fantastic music and AV in the exhibition including film that's never been seen before.
GEOFFREY MARSH, V&A DIRECTOR OF THEATRE AND PERFORMANCE: We have been given really access to David Bowie's personal archive for the first time ever.
I kind of knew he had a collection, but I had no idea how big it is. And also he's been collecting everything from year naught. Most bands have gone bust, or they split up, or whatever. And so to find a collection in one place that represents 40 or 50 years is -- I can tell you it's pretty rare.
I guess he must be one of the 10 most recognizable people on the planet.
BROACKES: We do start in London, because London seems to be so much part of Bowie's inspiration and imagination at that stage. And so important. So we did want to sort of ground him there. And we take the chronology through Space Oddity, his first breakthrough single.
MARSH: There's obviously the costumes. And, you know, people love costumes. And of course a lot of people remember seeing them at different concerts. So there's about 50 or 60 of those.
BROACKES: When you see the costumes close up, it is really thrilling. It's very exciting actually how exciting the original object is.
There's nothing beats it really in this age when you can do so many things in other ways. Actually seeing the real thing you might have seen it on stage, you might have seen it on film, but to see the Ashes to Ashes costume, for example, up close. It's pretty fantastic. We've also got the Ziggy costumes. And they really are amazing.
MARSH: But if you hate fashion, you hate costumes, you hate all this, I think for the fans, one of the most interesting things is seeing all the early design work. Obviously a lot of rock stars, you know, the sort of -- you know, they just get people in to do their videos, but David is -- controls everything. You know, he thinks the idea up. He works it out. The story boards, his notes.
BROACKES: Through the exhibition, we have lyrics on display sort of in the areas they relate to. We have Star Man. We have Fame. And we have a section on Bowie's process of song creation. I think lyrics, little crossings out, very interesting to see what might have been and wasn't.
Bowie has permeated every area of our culture.
MARSH: In the end, you know, there's a whole generation that has sort of grown up with him. And although I think they're finding the idea of him in a museum a bit strange, I think the fact he can do that and produce a new album, successful album at the same time, actually shows what a remarkable person he is.
LU STOUT: And again, that exhibit on David Bowie at the V&A, it opens this weekend in London.
And finally the man known as the father of modern African literature has died. Chinua Achebe was a Nigerian novelist and poet who first became famous in his 1958 novel Things Fall Apart. He went on to write more than 20 books and won the 2007 Man Booker International Prize for Fiction.
Now Achebe was also recognized with the Nigerian national merit award, his country's highest honor for intellectual achievement.
Chinua Achebe was 82.
And that is News Stream, but the news continues at CNN. World Business Today is next.