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Libya: Infighting & Resistance; Bashar al-Assad Adviser says Parliamentary Elections Possible This Year in Syria; Some Afghans Have Never Heard of 9/11; Photography Program Helps Japan Children Rebuild Lives After Tsunami; Explosion Rocks Nuclear Site In Marcoule, France

Aired September 12, 2011 - 08:00:00   ET


KRISTIE LU STOUT, HOST: Welcome to NEWS STREAM, where news and technology meet.

I'm Kristie Lu Stout, in Hong Kong.

And we begin in Libya, where the country's new leaders are trying to create unity and take control of the last loyalist areas. But so far, the fighting has stalled.

Plus, the 9/11 Memorial opens to the public after a weekend of remembrance.

And North Korea's young need help. Find out why so many children only have a few potatoes to eat every day.

Now, there are fresh concerns that Libya's new leaders are fighting among themselves, even as one of Moammar Gadhafi's sons suddenly surfaces and his anti-Gadhafi force encounter violent resistance from troops loyal to Gadhafi. Now, Mustafa Jalil, the head of the National Transitional Council, returned to Tripoli from Misrata for the first time since Gadhafi's regime fell, but he is facing new challenges.

Now, Reuters report that pro-Gadhafi forces have attacked the oil refinery near the eastern town of Ras Lanuf. And Niger says it has accepted Gadhafi's son Saadi on humanitarian grounds.


MAROU AMADOU, NIGERIAN JUSTICE MINISTER (through translator): On this day of September 11, 2011, we have registered the arrival of another convoy of nine Libyans of whom one is the son of Gadhafi. Particularly, Saadi Gadhafi. They were intercepted by the homeland defense and security forces of our country. They are actually on the way towards Agadez.


STOUT: Fugitive Gadhafi family members infighting among Libya's opposition fighters, and Gadhafi loyal troops staging new attacks. A lot to get to.

World Affairs Correspondent Jill Dougherty is keeping tabs on all of this for us. She is live in Tripoli.

And Jill, first, how is Saadi Gadhafi's flight into Niger affecting the NTC's morale and perceived authority?

JILL DOUGHERTY, CNN FOREIGN AFFAIRS CORRESPONDENT: Well, it's significant, of course, because it's the son of Moammar Gadhafi, but obviously the NTC would like to get Moammar Gadhafi himself. And it's not clear exactly where he is, still, at this point.

And what they're doing now, the most important thing, is that they are concentrating -- the military side -- concentrating on three cities that are actually strongholds or perceived as political strongholds of Moammar Gadhafi. And one of them is Bani Walid. That is not too far from here -- it's to the south and east -- and it's been a slow go.

There was some fighting, but then things seemed to kind of settle into this standoff where they haven't been able to penetrate far into the city. They're out there. They've held back. And they believe that the forces inside, the ones that are loyal to Moammar Gadhafi, are very well armed and very well trained. So this could -- once they eventually come in direct contact, and perhaps move into this city, it could be a very difficult fight.

Then you have Sirte, a little farther east. That is still kind of a standoff. Not too much action, we understand, at this point going on. And then the last place would be Sabha.

So that's the military side of it. And then, as you mentioned, Kristie, there's a political side of it.

This is a very complicated situation, because the military is made up of groups from different towns, different tribes, et cetera. And then, politically, you had a group that had to coalesce. They are showing some signs of the internal division. How significant they are is difficult to assess, but certainly it's happening. There are some divisions.

STOUT: Yes. And because of this division, we're seeing this impasse in the battlefield, due to other reasons.

Jill Dougherty, joining us live from Tripoli.

Thank you very much for that update.

And as Jill mentioned, Gadhafi loyalists are not giving up without a fight. The holdout cities include Sabha, Bani Walid, and areas around Jufrah.

And as Phil Black reports, the battle for Moammar Gadhafi's birthplace, Sirte, shows just how quickly the tide can change.


PHIL BLACK, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: All of these rebel fighters are from Misrata. There are hundreds of them.

At the start of this day, they were still at least 200 kilometers from the city of Sirte. That is the city that is still in the hands of those loyal to Colonel Gadhafi.

Today, what they are doing is pushing out, aiming to close that distance, clearing territory between Misrata and Sirte, which they say is still being patrolled by soldiers and forces loyal to Gadhafi.

The convoy has stopped here because they spotted the green flag of Gadhafi loyalists just up ahead. The vehicles, spread out to one side, approached from the side. They seem to have reached that point now.

This was the location where the pro-Gadhafi fighters were. The green flag was flying just above this point. By the time that we got here, they've already torn that flag down. We are told they have captured seven pro- Gadhafi fighters, but we're not allowed to see them, while there were as many as perhaps a dozen more who jumped in their cars and have headed off down the road in that direction.

Just past that outpost, the convoy has stopped and there is now something of a standoff. Just down the road is a small village that is made up entirely of Gadhafi supporters. They are made up of the Wafa La tribe, which is entirely loyal, still, to Gadhafi, and refusing to switch sides.

The commander here is trying to negotiate with representatives from the village. The village has refused to talk about it any further.

The fighters here, you can see they're chanting they want to go in there by force and take this small village, but the commander is saying no. He's saying the population there is made up of women and children. He wants these guys all to turn back.

KHALIL SHIBLEY, LIBYAN REBEL COMMANDER (through translator): There are only a handful of fighters in there. We don't want to enter and risk killing women and children. We want the world to know that the Libyan revolutionaries are civilized.

BLACK: So the commander has had his way. All the fighters are now turning their vehicles around. His concerns over easing future tensions between the Libya have won out over the desire of some of the fighters to take this small village. So now all the fighters are heading back towards Misrata.

Phil Black, CNN, Wadi Bayy, Libya.


STOUT: Now, in Syria, we're hearing more reports of government-led crackdowns. The U.N. says the death toll has now reached 2,600, whereas the top adviser to President Bashar al-Assad puts the figure at about half that.

Activists say security forces killed at least 15 people this past weekend alone in the flash point cities of Homs and Daraa. And a 26-year-old Syrian human rights activist was apparently killed while in military custody. The U.S. State Department issued a statement condemning his killing on Sunday. Now, that came just as Syria's state media said new national dialogue sessions kicked off in Damascus and Latakia on Sunday as well.

President al-Assad's adviser addressed the violence in Syria in Moscow just a short time ago. Russian state media report that she said Syria may hold parliamentary elections as early as the end of this year.

For more, Moscow Chance joins us now from Moscow. And Matthew, what more did al-Assad's adviser say?

MATTHEW CHANCE, CNN SR. INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, Bouthaina Shaaban has been giving a press conference here in Moscow. She's been meeting with senior Russian officials on the invite of the Foreign Ministry here to come and discuss the situation in Syria.

And she's made a number of statements. She's been giving that press conference. She's been taking questions from journalists as well.

She said that over the several months since the violence in Syria erupted, 600 members of the security forces have been killed and about 700 civilians. She dismissed estimates of much higher civilian causalities.

And she essentially took the opportunity to thank the Russian government, which is a longstanding ally of Syria, for its position when it comes to the international diplomatic stance towards Syria. Russia, which has a naval base in Syria, has been kind of reluctant to embrace calls from other countries like the United Kingdom, like the United States, for U.N. Security Council resolutions to impose sanctions on the Syria authorities. But what the Russians say is that they favor a more kind of softly-softly (ph) approach, if you like, where they mediate in the conflict between the various political forces inside Syria.

The visit of Bouthaina Shaaban to Moscow coincides with the visit of David Cameron as well. He's been meeting his Russian counterpart -- or, rather, the Russian president -- Dmitry Medvedev. They spoke about Syria as well.

There's been some talk in the Cameron camp to convince the Russians to take a much harder line at the Security Council. Russia, of course, has a veto at that council. At the end of it, Mr. Cameron said that, essentially, they had agreed with Russia that the U.N. has some kind of role to play, but not going any further than that -- Kristie.

STOUT: Interesting intersection diplomacy there in Moscow as it continues to back Damascus.

Matthew Chance, joining us live from the Russian capital.

Thank you.

And we have this just into us here at CNN. Now, Reuters news agency and French media are reporting that there has been an explosion at a nuclear site in France. There are reports that one person is dead and as many as four people are injured.

This took place in Marcoule. It is a nuclear waste management site. It does no have any reactors, and police are telling Reuters there is no risk of nuclear contamination.

Now, we're still working on this story. We'll bring you more information as we get it in here on CNN.

Coming up next here on NEWS STREAM, nearly 3,000 people were killed in the 9/11 terror attacks. And we'll look back at how the U.S. marked the tragedy 10 years on.

And six months after one of Japan's darkest days, the country's new trade minister is already out of a job. And we'll bring you the latest gaffe to rock Japanese politics.

And Mogadishu is seen by many as a violent, lawless city, but could the Somali capital be Africa's next business hub?



BARACK OBAMA, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Nothing can break the will of a truly United States of America. They will remember that we've overcome slavery and civil war, we've overcome bread lines and fascism and recession and riots and communism and, yes, terrorism.


STOUT: U.S. President Barack Obama there marking one decade since one of America's darkest days.


STOUT: And that echoing keel (ph), it came exactly 10 years after the south tower of the World Trade Center fell on September 11, 2001.

Well, thousands gathered at New York's Ground Zero, where the towers previously stood tall, to honor their family members, friends, and countrymen who died in the terror attacks. And some stood in silence and others like this young girl were simply overwhelmed with emotion as the names of the victims were read aloud and live music was played across the site.


STOUT: All together, 2,700 people were killed when terrorists crashed two planes into the World Trade Center towers.

And during the Ground Zero commemorations, President Obama stood side by side with George W. Bush, who was president on that fateful day 10 years ago. And President Obama, he traveled next to the Pentagon building outside Washington, laying a wreath there and talking to families of the victims. A third plane slammed into the Defense Department headquarters on September 11th, killing another 184 people.

And this was the memorial in Shanksville, in the U.S. state of Pennsylvania. Now, security officials believe the plane that crashed here on 9/11 was headed for Washington. United Flight 93 never made it to its intended target.

President Bush talked about the passengers' bravery as a memorial was dedicated to them on Saturday.


GEORGE W. BUSH, FMR. PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: With their selfless act, the men and women who stormed the cockpit lived out the words, "Greater love hath no man than this, that a man laid down his life for his friends." And with their brave decision, they launched the first counteroffensive of the war on terror.


STOUT: And then back in New York, from the ashes of the terror attacks, has emerged this -- the new World Trade Center tower.

The day after the commemorations, a heavy security presence remains in New York. This is the scene in Manhattan right now, as authorities remain alert to a possible terrorist strike. They're acting on unconfirmed intelligence that up to three people could launch an attack in New York or Washington using an explosive-laden vehicle.

Although there were no attempts, no intended attacks yesterday, fighter jets though were scrambled. They escorted two commercial jets to their U.S. destinations after passengers acted suspiciously. But authorities determined that they posed no threat, and no arrests were made.

Now, for the U.S., the September 11 attacks were the trigger for the military action in Afghanistan. But for many Afghans, America's motives have been less than clear. That's because, as Adam Pletts found out, shockingly, some have never even heard of the events that day in 2001.


ADAM PLETTS, REPORTER (voice-over): Helmand, in southern Afghanistan, is the province that has borne the brunt of the fighting between the Taliban and coalition forces. While on patrol with the Marines, I get a first opportunity to ask a couple of Afghan men what they know about 9/11.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: No, they never heard about this.

PLETTS (on camera): No? Can you show them a few more and can you ask them, do they know where it is, even?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: "We don't know, sir, because we're farmers. We never heard about anything else about the world."

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Big-time motorcycle coming through.

PLETTS (voice-over): The two young men had clearly never heard of 9/11, but maybe the elders of the local shura would have more to say.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: No, they've never seen it. He's saying you just can see the smoke from the buildings and that's it. When you guys showed us that picture, this guy's saying, "I thought it was Kabul."

CAPT. ZACHARY SHORE, U.S. MARINES: If I had just gotten here I would have been surprised, but having been here now for six months, I'm not. This is pretty much the stone ages, where we are.

PLETTS (on camera): And what did you think about their reactions?

SHORE: Oh, I thought it was fascinating. The guy who said it was Kabul has clearly never been to Kabul. It just shows you how isolated they are, even in their own country.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: He's saying, "The Americans say we're going to help you. They destroy one building. And they destroy how many buildings? And they say we're going to help you. Where is the help?"

SHORE: I do sympathize or understand what some of them were saying, is, yes, your buildings were knocked down, but how many of our buildings have been knocked down?

PLETTS (voice-over): Amazingly, in a country where, for 10 years, a war has been fought with 9/11 as its root cause and justification, it turns out not only were the villages oblivious to 9/11, but so were the Afghan police, and even some of the translators working with the U.S. military.

(on camera): You don't know the history of this?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Oh, no. I have no idea about the story of this.

PLETTS: Have you ever seen these pictures before?


PLETTS (voice-over): In fact, after showing the images to dozens of Afghans, I only found one person who clearly recognized them and could connect them to the U.S.' initial reason for coming to Afghanistan, and that was the police district chief in Marjah.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: He says that "The Taliban terrorists, they attacked the building of New York and they killed most of the people. They destroyed this building. So that was the reason American forces today came to Afghanistan."


STOUT: That was Adam Pletts reporting from Helmand province in Afghanistan.

Now, the Taliban have taken credit for an attack on a coalition base in the Wardak province in central Afghanistan. A truck bomb exploded at the entry point of a NATO base, injuring 77 Americans and killing at least two Afghan civilians on Saturday. NATO has called it a high-profile attack, but said that most of the injuries were not life-threatening.

Somalia's president has declared its capital, Mogadishu, safe and open for business. Ahead on NEWS STREAM, we examine whether the country battling drought, famine and militancy is indeed making progress.


STOUT: Welcome back.

Now, I want to update you on the situation in Libya's capital, Tripoli. We are hearing there has been a massive blast at an arms depot in the city. It is not clear what caused it or if there are any casualties. And this comes as Libya's opposition fighters try to seize control from several key cities that remain loyal to Moammar Gadhafi.

And here's an update on another developing story this hour, the one out of France. Reuters news agency and French media are reporting there has been an explosion at the Marcoule nuclear site in France. There are reports that one person is dead, as many as four people have been injured.

Now, this is a nuclear waste management site. It does not have any reactors. And police tell Reuters that there is no risk of nuclear contamination.

Here at CNN, we're working on the story. We'll bring you more information as it comes in.

Somalia's president says the country's capital is now safe for business after the Islamist militant group al-Shabaab withdrew from Mogadishu. But there has been little change on the ground in the most urgent issues that people face there like poverty, hunger, and a persistent atmosphere of insecurity.

Nkepile Mabuse joins us now live from Johannesburg with more.

And Nkepile, tell us, just how safe really is Mogadishu?

NKEPILE MABUSE, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Not very safe, Kristie. You know, the withdrawal by al-Shabaab from the capital, Mogadishu, has emboldened the weak transitional government there in Somalia. It feels that it can now assert its own authority.

Although al-Shabaab is still in control of most parts of central and southern Somalia, Mogadishu is key. I mean, that's where the airport is, that's where the seaport is, that's where the center of government is. And at the moment, this transitional government is trying to send us a message that, because it is in control of Mogadishu, it's in control of the whole country.


MABUSE (voice-over): A ribbon-cutting ceremony in the capital of a failed state. As Somalia's president declares Mogadishu open for business, he knows his people have much more urgent needs.

SHEIKH SHARIF SHEIKH AHMED, SOMALI PRESIDENT (through translator): Right now we are fighting against hunger. When we get a solution for that, then we will start development. We will also find the funding for people to start their own enterprise.

MABUSE: But he wants to assure them it's now safe to trade in the capital. Still, the ceremony does little to mask an atmosphere of insecurity. Not everyone who wants to can attend. The president himself arrives protected by an army.

Last month, the Islamist militant group al-Shabaab announced this tactical withdrawal from Mogadishu, leaving Somalia's weak transitional government in charge of the capital for the first time in five years. The president sees the retreat as a sign of defeat.

AHMED: A hundred percent, they cannot attend.

MABUSE (on camera): People here are still scared that there is that threat.

AHMED (through translator): The threat will be there, but they are so scared, and they have a reason to be scared. But it will end soon.

MABUSE: The people gathered here are desperate for a new beginning, but they don't need much more than assurances from politicians, they need money to start their own businesses and the threat of al-Shabaab to be totally eliminated.


MABUSE: You know, Kristie, al-Shabaab is but one of many militant groups in Somalia, in the capital of Mogadishu. You see different kinds of militia that are aligned to different plans, and that controls different parts of the city. So it's a really, really complex situation and one that will take many, many years, I think, to sort out -- Kristie.

STOUT: And with Somalia still in the grip of famine, given the security situation there, how are aid organizations able to distribute food?

MABUSE: You know, I think the saddest thing about Somalia is the biggest aid food distribution organization, World Food Program, is unable to adequately respond to the biggest humanitarian crisis at the moment in the world. The World Food Program cannot get to many of these places that are still controlled by al-Shabaab.

And in Mogadishu, aid organizations are living in constant fear. They are either protected by the African Union troops that are fighting on the side of government, or they're protected by the government army. So it's not very easy to distribute aid.

Aid organizations are just counting on those Somalis that are leaving their areas in the south, coming into Mogadishu. And that's what has made it easy to actually get to some of these people that are most in need, but it's not an easy task -- Kristie.

STOUT: And it's such a tragic situation there.

Nkepile Mabuse, thank you very much for keeping our eyes fixed on this story for us.


STOUT: And still to come on NEWS STREAM, the number of malnourished children in North Korea, it's rising rapidly. And we'll show you some shocking footage from the World Food Program.

That, up next, here on NEWS STREAM.


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

Now Libya's opposition fighters are trying to seize control of holdout cities still loyal to Moammar Gadhafi including his birthplace Sirte. But they're meeting street by street resistance in some areas. And we now the whereabouts of another Gadhafi son, now Saadi Gadhafi fled across the border into Niger, but his father Moammar Gadhafi is still at large.

Now at least 55 people have been killed in an oil pipeline fire in Kenya. Now the blaze broke out as workers tried to contain a leak and prevent people from stealing fuel. It's thought that the pipeline may have been punctured on purpose.

And media reports say Bank of America could soon slash up to 40,000 jobs. A bench spokesman refused to confirm reports in the Wall Street Journal and the L.A. Times that cutbacks would target the company's consumer operations. Now if true, Bank of America would join a growing list of U.S. companies cutting jobs.

And more now on the breaking story we've been bringing you from France. Now Reuters News Agency and the French media reporting that there has been an explosion at the Marcoule nuclear site in the south of the country.

Our Jim Bittermann is monitoring the situation for us. He joins us live from Paris. And Jim, what is the latest you are getting?

JIM BITTERMANN, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Kristie, what we're hearing, and some of this is just coming in, is that one person has been killed and four people severely injured in an explosion of a furnace that was being used to treat nuclear waste at a site in Marcoule in southeastern France. This is a major center for nuclear activity in France. It includes reactors generating electricity, but also includes a lot of retreatment and treatment plants like this one.

Apparently this plant, and the one we're talking about in particular according to the reports we're receiving, this plant was used to be to treat mildly, slightly radioactive nuclear waste, for instance gloves and boots and uniforms things like that that need to be disposed of. And they are burned in this furnace. And the furnace exploded.

The explosion, as we're being told, caused one dead and four people severely injured -- Kristie.

STOUT: Now Jim, how densely populated is the area around Marcoule? And is there a contamination threat?

BITTERMANN: Well, at the moment the ministry of the interior saying there is no contamination threat, that in fact it has been contained within the plant itself, any nuclear waste that has -- what was involved in the explosion has been contained in the plant itself. So they're saying there is no reason to be worried about that at the moment, that's what we're hearing from the first reports. And like I say things are still leaking in.

This is a very heavily populated area. It's an area, very popular tourist area in southeastern France. And so it's an area that -- that I think has been some controversy over the years about the idea that there's so much nuclear activity based there. Of course the people there who depend on the jobs don't see it that way, but I think other people see it as a center that should be perhaps moved somewhere else.

It was involved in a lot of different nuclear activity since the early 50s. And like I say there is a nuclear reactor there as well as the other parts of the area, the center, the nuclear center which includes these waste treatment plants. And it was one of those plants that the explosion occurred today, Kristie.

STOUT: And also how would you gauge the safety record of France's nuclear waste management sector? Is this event an aberration?

BITTERMANN: Well, the safety record for the French nuclear industry is pretty impressive. Basically 80 percent of this country's power comes from nuclear power plants. And they have never had a fatal injury resulting from something one of those power plants. Now there have been some injuries, and today of course a death in some of the associated nuclear facilities, like this treatment plant.

So I would say it's been exceptionally safe. I don't think there's been worries too much over the years, but of course there is controversy here just like there is in Germany and other countries in Europe about the amount of energy that's produced by nuclear energy (inaudible) dependency - - Kristie.

STOUT: All right, Jim. Thank you very much indeed. As Jim just reported, one person killed, four injured in this explosion at the Marcoule nuclear facility there in France. Jim Bittermann reporting for us live from Paris.

Now mending fences between key strategic powers. Now Egypt and Israel both say that they want to return to normal relations after a mob stormed the Israeli embassy on Friday. And as they look to repair ties, Turkey's prime minister is in Cairo.

Now Turkey has seen its relations with Israel worsen recently. Our Ivan Watson is following all of this. And he joins us live from the Egyptian capital. And Ivan, Egypt and Turkey are edging closer. Israel is getting increasingly isolated. What is the latest word today in Cairo?

IVAN WATSON, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, the Turkish prime minister is due to arrive in a few hours here. He wants to address crowds in Egypt's famous Tahrir Square, Cairo's famous Tahrir Square behind me. And he is landing in a middle of twin diplomatic crises that are shaking the foundations of Middle Eastern alliances right now.

Israel has been forced to pull out its ambassadors from both Turkey and Egypt within the last week but for very different reasons. Here in Egypt, of course, after Friday night's riots in front of the Israeli embassy here in Cairo forced the Egyptian ambassador and almost all of the other Israeli -- sorry, Israeli ambassador and almost all of their family members to flee the country.

In response to that, the Egyptian government has denounced that violence. It has arrested more than 100 people. We're seeing reports of it is vowing to stand by its peace treaty with Israel that's been enforced for more than 30 years. And it is enacting -- reactivating emergency law here, which is likely to be very unpopular.

But now the Turkish prime minister, who is very popular here, is due to arrive here. He has been leading a diplomatic offensive against Israel, very angry that Israel hasn't apologized for last year's shooting deaths of eight Turkish humanitarian workers and an American humanitarian worker aboard a convoy that was trying to break Israel's blockade of Gaza.

And Erdogan, the Turkish Prime Minister has said he would like to visit Gaza during this visit to Egypt. That will make the Egyptian authorities, who are trying to patch over tensions, very uncomfortable. Listen to what one Egyptian analyst had to say.


SAMEH SEIF ELYAZAL, AL GOMHOURIE CTR. FOR POLITICAL AND SECURITY STUDIES: Going to Gaza, this will embarrass Egypt a lot from (inaudible) to Gaza he will pass through the Egyptian border from Salahadin (ph) land port. And this may embarrass the Egyptians with respect to Israel and the relation now is tensed between Egypt and Israel, so it is -- doesn't need more tension, actually.

So, but this will be an issue.


WATSON: The interesting thing here is that Erdogan, the Turkish prime minister, is very popular on the streets here in Cairo right now, perhaps more popular than the interim ruling military council here, which has come under a lot of fire recently from revolutionaries who say it hasn't been enacting reform fast enough -- Kristie.

STOUT: And Ivan, after the Arab Spring, this is being called the Turkey/Israeli Winter. So what are the ramifications of Israel's increasing isolation on Turkey's foreign policy?

WATSON: Well, it would certainly look increasingly uncomfortable if I was an Israeli policymaker right now. Turkey is going through a big shift. Erdogan enjoying consolidated domestic support in his country since he swept parliamentary elections last June. Turkish economy is booming. And he seems to have done away with Turkey's plan to have a zero problems foreign policy where they were trying to open up markets with Turkey's neighbors and trying to resolve all their differences.

Take a listen to what one analyst based in Turkey had to say about that.


HUGH POPE, INTERNATIONAL CRISIS GROUP: (inaudible). Turkey has got security problems now on its borders. And I think we're seeing Turkey retreat a bit back towards the old Turkey from 10, 20 years ago, which was very concerned about threats to its security.


WATSON: We've spoken with Erdogan's foreign policy adviser. This is the first stop Egypt in a three country tour. Erdogan is also going to go to Tunisia and Libya, three Arab North African countries that have all seen revolutions, all seen dictators overthrown. And the Turks want to be there with the new governments that come next. They say they can offer support and advice based on their own democratic example and Erdogan's own battles with the Turkish military, which long called the shots in Turkey and has been beaten in battles at home.

It will be interesting to see how Erdogan is received by the Egyptian army generals who rule this country now -- Kristie.

STOUT: Ivan Watson joining us live from Cairo. Many thanks indeed.

And coming up next here on News Stream, six months and a day after a massive earthquake and tsunami rocked Japan, we'll tell you about how a group of youngsters are looking forward through a lens.

And a World Food Program project in North Korea has given us a little more insight into life behind the iron curtain there. And it does not paint a pretty picture.


STOUT: Welcome back.

Now Sunday was a day of remembrance, not only the U.S., but in Japan. Now 2:46 pm the sirens sounded and the country fell silent.

Tens of thousands paid their respects exactly six months after a magnitude 9 earthquake rocked Japan triggering a deadly tsunami that wiped out whole communities in minutes.

Now tens of thousands of people are dead or missing as a country struggles with power shortages and a faltering economy, not to mention the ongoing nuclear crisis.

Now with nuclear power a contentious issue in Japan, many took the opportunity to stage anti-nuclear protests yesterday as well.

Now when disaster struck. the most vulnerable were the young and the old. Now as a way to help children cope with what they experience, one rights organization is giving students cameras to help them capture their new lives.


UNNI KRISHNAN, PLAN INTERNATIONAL: This project run by Plan has been (inaudible) the last couple of months. And these pictures were mostly taken by children, about 56 children below the age of 12, in the tsunami affected areas.

They were trained by a local Japanese commercial photographer, but all the pictures you see on the screen right now are taken by small children. It helps them to bring a sense of confidence. It helps them to express their impressions, their emotions. It also helps them to talk to each other as well as amplify their voices.

We need to remember that thousands of buildings have collapsed in Japan. And people were living in temporary evacuation centers, so -- and it was very cold. It was -- because it was winter at that time. Most of the pictures are about things which makes a difference in their lives.

So getting something hot, getting something warm is absolutely crucial, was absolutely crucial in such critical situations. So children remember that. It's exactly what they were capturing.

Reopening the school was a big challenge, because children are separated and they are in different places. And most of the families are staying in temporary houses.

So to bring a sense of normalcy, especially for children, it is important to kick start usually, normal activities. So kick starting schools immediately was a priority. And we know from experience working in other places for children to connect with each other, play with each other. School provides a great opportunity.

So this -- the image you see right now is children collecting their lunch in school when it just started again after the vacation.

The story in which the picture is telling us is that the (inaudible) work that is being communicated. That is, if you are living in an (inaudible) area you need to keep something that can protect your head in case there is an aftershock, or if there is an earthquake. In some places children have been using pillows to cover their head.

One of the things which Plan has been promoting is to help the local communities to (inaudible) their festivals and fairs and other things, because these are activities that will help to bring a sense of normalcy. This is not an isolated phase, you know.

We're happy to know today is six months later. Of course, you know, so much needs to be done, but the other side of the story is that Japan is getting back on its feet. And there are more and more such small initiatives that are going on which is making a huge difference. And we know from the history of working in other disasters when we engaged the most vulnerable like children and when we ensure that they become an acting agent in the change and the reconstruction, we can foster (inaudible).

It is quite interesting and quite hopeful to see such emergence of hope and happiness coming out six months after the disaster. And today, quite a lot of rubble has been removed, things are getting cleaned up, it's not a perfect scenario, but Japan -- the investment which Japan has made in (inaudible) for several years is paying off and it is giving good dividends.

We hope the rest of the world takes this message from Japan...


STOUT: It's good to see some smiles on the children's faces there.

Now Yokio Edano, he became the face of Japan's government following the March earthquake and following nuclear crisis. And he became known for his tireless news conferences. And now he's been handed a new role as the new minister for economy, trade, and industry. And he replaces this man, Yoshiro Hachiro who resigned abruptly on Saturday after a series of gaffs. Now he'd only been on the job for eight days when he caused outrage by calling the area around the Fukushima nuclear plant, quote, "the town of death."

Now we're getting a report from the French Press Agency that the government of Yemen's president Ali Abdullah Saleh is working on a transfer of power. Now Saleh, as you recall, he was injured in a bomb attack after an uprising against his rule. He's been recovering in Saudi Arabia. And it is still unclear if he still exercises actual control over the government, but he has vowed to return.

Now we're working on bringing more on this story for you, but so far the information is unconfirmed.

Let's go to North Korea next. North Korea is a country that remains very secretive and rarely allows much access to the international media. But the United Nations World Food Program is providing a special glimpse into a growing problem there. Now the rapidly rising numbers of malnourished children.

Paula Hancocks has more.


PAULA HANCOCKS, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Cho (ph) is 4 years old and so malnourished he's too weak to stand. A bitter irony at his North Korea nursery is surrounded by fields of corn.

The United Nations World Food Program saw clear signs of hunger and illness on a recent trip to deliver aid. In the Hiju (ph) pediatric hospital the number of malnourished children being admitted has risen by 50 percent.

Diarrhea and skin disease are common from drinking polluted water. WFP estimates a third of all children under 5 in North Korea are severely malnourished.

These children are 7 years old, but look younger. WFP says they are too weak to play outside.

CLAUDIA VON ROEHL, COUNTRY DIRECTOR, WFP, NORTH KOREA: There is a very high rate of children, and also adults, who are actually much shorter than you would expect them to be. And why does this happen? Because it's a long story of suffering.

HANCOCKS: The weather had exacerbated an already dire situation, a cold winter, record rains this summer, and flooding has devastated this year's harvest. Almost all of this rice field is destroyed. Torrential rain has rotted much of the crop.

One local official says in Chongdang (ph) county, almost 60 percent of the rice crop has been lost.

Flooding in August destroyed roads and bridges.

Tzo Jan-dong (ph) says he and his family barely survived when their roof collapsed during a recent storm. This is where they sleep now, under a plastic sheet draped over some furniture.

The World Food Program says their operation in North Korea remains chronically under funded and insists they have strict regulations to make sure any food gets to those need it rather than those in power.

11,000 metric tons of wheat are on their way. Until then, the local factory that produces 45 biscuits for children sits idle.

The United States sent $900,000 worth of flood aid earlier this month, including medical aid, blankets, and cooking kits, a sign of thawing tensions between the two countries.

The U.S. is still deciding whether to send food aid after a May fact finding mission. One of the main concerns is how to ensure food is not redirected to the leadership and the military as it has been in the past.

For now, most residents of North Korea are rationed to a few small potatoes per day per person, a third of what the quota used to be.

The World Food Program says many more children will slip into acute stages of malnutrition in the coming weeks and months if further assistance is not given.

Paula Hancocks, CNN, Seoul.



STOUT: Welcome back.

Now a winner was crowned in the women's final at the U.S. Open tennis tournament, but a controversial instant overshadowed her triumph. Let's get the story now with Alex Thomas in London -- Alex.


We'll start with the non-controversial fact first, and that is that for the first time since 1980 an Australian woman is holding a Grand Slam tennis title. Samantha Stosur triumphing 6-2, 6-3 at the U.S. Open on Sunday. Although her victory was somewhat marred by a clash between her opponent and the officials.

Two years after receiving a large fine for her verbal outburst against a line judge, Serena Williams is again under investigation by tournament organizers. The 13-time Grand Slam winner was docked a point at the start of a set and said after shouting. Come on, because Stosur could attempt to return a shot. Williams was furious at the umpire, accusing her of being out of control and unattractive inside.

Stosur went on the claim her first Grand Slam title.


SAMANTHA STOSUR, TENNIS PLAYER: Going into the match I had to believe that I had a chance to win, otherwise there's not to much point showing up. So I think having two victories against Serena in the past definitely helped that confidence I guess. And I felt like I was playing well going into this match, especially, and you know as the match went on I guess that confidence grew and that belief. And of course I knew it was never over until I had won that last point.

But I think for sure I was the underdog, and maybe that actually helped me relax me a little bit.


THOMAS: Now at the Formula 1 driver's title, but in the back, Sunday's Italian Grand Prix went as Sabastial Vettel is promising a run at the record books over the last six races of the season. The German is already the youngest champions race winner and points winner in the sport. He could beat Nigel Mansell's record for pole positions in one season and Michael Schumacher's total of race victories in one season.

As for start at Monza on Sunday, a bit of a crash, but Alonso overtook Vettel to start with only for Vettel to dangerously go wide at the first corner. Not on the first corner, but later in the race to retake the lead. Red Bull teammate Mark Webber colliding with Felipe Massa later, ending his chances. With no front wing, the Aussi couldn't control his car.

Plenty of former world champions jostling for position behind Vettel who stayed in first place. Michael Schumacher bending the rules to swerve repeatedly to block Lewis Hamilton. The McClaren driver eventually got past to finish fourth with Alonso third and Hamilton's teammate Jenson Button fighting his way up to second place. But none of them were a match for Vettel.

An emotional winner on the podium heading for his second successive world title. And he could seal that in Singapore later in the year, Kristie. And we'll have much more for you in World Sport in two-and-a-half hour's time, including a full interview with that new U.S. Open Women's Champions Sam Stosur.

STOUT: All right, a lot to look forward to. Alex Thomas there, thank you.

Now here in Hong Kong and other parts in Asia families are gathering right now to celebrate the mid-autumn festival, or moon festival. It's a centuries old tradition that always takes place on the 15th day of the eighth month of the lunar calendar. And part of the tradition is to light lanterns and to give out these, moon cakes. You either love them or you hate them. They're a high calorie, high fat cake traditionally filled with a lotus paste and yummy salted duck egg yolks.

But it's the fancy packaging as some of these so-called treats like this one from Ermes (ph). If that's not over and out there enough for you, just check this out, the average moon cake contains around 800 calories, that is more than double a McDonald's hot fudge sundae.

And that is News Stream, but the news continues at CNN. World Business Today is next.