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Top North Korean Military Leader Stripped of Positions; Red Cross Officially Calling Syrian Conflict Civil War; British Security Firm G4S Can't Fulfill Contract For Olympics; Hong Kong Builds Zero Carbon Building

Aired July 16, 2012 - 8:00   ET


KRISTIE LU STOUT, HOST: I'm Kristie Lu Stout in Hong Kong. And welcome to News Stream where news and technology meet. We begin in Syria where violence is intensifying in the capital Damascus.

Intrigue in North Korea, why were the prominent military figure removed from power?

And we'll tell you why it looks like the New York Knicks will say farewell to Jeremy Lin.

The conflict in Syria is now essentially a civil war, that's according to the Red Cross. It means violations on both sides could form the basis of later war crimes prosecutions. And the crisis is becoming more focused on the capital Damascus. Now reports are emerging that armored vehicles have entered a central district in the past few hours. Activists also say that Sunday saw the most intense fighting in the city since the uprising began 16 months ago.

Now Russia insists it won't support a draft UN resolution against Damascus. International envoy Kofi Annan has traveled to Moscow to discuss the security council measure. It would invoke Chapter 7 of the UN charter. Now those resolutions are enforceable through sanctions or even military action. And Russia had strong words for the west.


SERGEY LAVROV, RUSSIAN FOREIGN MINISTER (through translator): Unfortunately, there are some blackmailing elements. They say if you don't agree to our draft inline with Chapter 7 of the UN charter we will not extend the mandate of the mission. I believe this is counterproductive and quite dangerous approach as using the monitors that serve us as a token is, you know, inadmissible.


LU STOUT: Let's get more on this now. Ivan Watson has been monitoring events from Istanbul. He joins us now. And Ivan, a lot to get to today. You're exclusive interview with a high profile defector. And reports of fierce fighting inside Damascus. What have you heard?

IVAN WATSON, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: That's right. The security situation just seems to continue to be deteriorating now only around Syria, but now in the Syrian capital with another day of fierce clashes are reported there. We're getting reports of this armored personnel carriers deployed in the neighborhood of Midan (ph) that we're trying to confirm independently.

And meanwhile, the International Committee of the Red Cross has -- their lawyers have basically started terming what we're seeing in Syria a, quote, non-international armed conflict. That's legalese for a civil war.

That may not mean a lot for people on the ground who have seen more than 14,000 people killed over the past -- course of the past 16 months. The ICRC says that means that the Geneva conventions now apply across Syria. People on the ground, though, are just seeing their country basically going down the tubes. The fierce fighting now hitting a downtown Damascus, areas that had been spared, conflict that had torn apart other cities like Hama, and Rastan, and Homs, and Idlib over the course of the past 16 months.

And as the situation deteriorates, now we're talking to the highest ranking Syrian government official to have publicly broken with the regime since this uprising began 16 months ago. We just interviewed in Doha the former Syrian ambassador to Baghdad. Again, the highest ranking Syrian official to have broken with what until now has been a very highly disciplined cadre around the Syrian President Bashar al-Assad. Take a look at this report.


WATSON: Nawaf al-Fares was Syria's man in Baghdad for nearly four years. That is until a few days ago when the Syrian ambassador to Iraq suddenly announced his defection.

What prompted you to say I've had it? I don't want to work with this government anymore?

NAWAF AL-FARES, FORMER SYRIAN AMBASSADOR TO IRAQ (through translator): I served the Syrian regime for 34 years in many different positions. But after what happened in the last year during the holy revolution, all of the killing, the massacres, the refugees, I don't see how anyone can remain silent. So I decided to end my relationship with this regime.

WATSON: Fares has long been one of Bashar al-Assad's trusted lieutenants, an insider who knows how the Syrian government works.

Who is making the decisions in Damascus right now?

FARES (through translator): the regime in Syria is a totalitarian regime and a dictatorship. There is only one person who gives the orders, that person is the president.

WATSON: In his first interview with a U.S. news organization since he defection, Fares rejected Syrian government claims that the Syrian rebels are al Qaeda terrorists. He said he accuses the Assad regime of cooperating with al Qaeda ever since the U.S. invasion of Iraq in 2003 by paving the way for al Qaeda militants to transit Syria to attack targets in neighboring Iraq.

FARES (through translator): Bashar al-Assad and his security forces are directly responsible for the killings of thousands and thousands of Iraqis and coalition forces, because he gave al Qaeda everything it needed to train them and gave them shelter.

WATSON: Fares points to a controversial cross-border U.S. military raid in 2008 against the Syrian town of al-Sukkariyeh. Fares claims the American target was an al Qaeda camp run by Assef Shawkat , the brother-in- law of the Syrian president.

You saw with your own eyes that Assef Shawkat was leading this al Qaeda in Iraq operation?

FARES (through translator): That hour after the raid, Assef Shawkat was there at the location. A conversation took place between me and him, and he was angry about the attack made against al-Sukkariyeh. And he was kind of scared.

WATSON: Fares is now in Doha under the protection of the Qatari government. Syrian opposition members applaud the ambassador's defection, but tells CNN they don't trust a man who waited 16 months before joining the uprising.

What message would you like to send to Bashar al-Assad and to your former colleagues in the Syrian government?

FARES (through translator): My former colleagues, I ask them to join the people and leave this corrupt regime. There is still time. To Bashar al-Assad, I say you don't know history. Two wills cannot be defeated: the will of god, and the will of the people. History will curse you for crimes you committed in Syria.

WATSON: A blunt warning from a man who was once one of the Syrian regime's top enforcers.


WATSON: And Kristie, I was surprised to hear Nawaf al-Fares publicly call for foreign military intervention into Syria to overthrow Bashar al- Assad. He said that otherwise only through use of force will this regime be toppled. And he fears that many, many more Syrians will die until that day comes -- Kristie.

LU STOUT: It was an incredible interview. He was blunt and he was very, very direct.

Now meanwhile we know that Kofi Annan, Ivan, he is in Russia. He is trying to break the diplomatic deadlock. But it's the same story, isn't it? We have this flurry of diplomatic activity, but no change in diplomatic position. So can there be a diplomatic breakthrough?

WATSON: We've been covering this uprising for 16 months, Kristie. And the diplomacy has been going on. It does seem like the diplomatic deadlock is the same. You've got western governments calling for the overthrow of the regime, but not necessarily willing to step up support for the opposition. You've got allies of the Assad regime, Russia and Iran, continuing to stay staunchly behind Assad. And Russia, of course, as well as China have opposed stronger measures in the United Nations security council thus far.

So while the diplomatic deadlock still appears to be in place, the killing continues on the ground, the change that we've seen is that the opposition has gotten increasingly armed, better equipped, and has spread its forces into previously untouchable places like Damascus and Aleppo as the Syrian government has been unwilling to back down and has continued to ramp up its military use of force as well.

So, fighting getting worse and the outside actors continue to watch and bicker as the killing continues inside. And now groups like the International Committee of the Red Cross are basically calling this a civil war, something we've basically been saying for months now -- Kristie.

LU STOUT: That's right the killing it just drags on with some of the fiercest fighting yet happening right now inside Damascus.

Ivan Watson reporting, thank you.

Now North Korea analysts, they are saying a power struggle may be playing out in the secretive nation. And that speculation has been sparked by this man's sudden removal from his party positions. Now Ri Yong Ho was also chief of the army's general staff. That made him especially powerful in the country with a military first policy.

Now Ri was considered close to the late leader Kim Jong il and helped his son Kim Jong un assume power. Now the young Kim is now first secretary of the Worker's Party congress and supreme commander of the army.

And Ri held influential political positions in the central committee where he was a member of presidium. Now he was also vice chairman of the central military commission. Now in both bodies, he outranked Kim's uncle Jang Sung-taak. And when it came to the army, he was second only to Jim Jong un.

Now South Korea is closely monitoring these developments. We have our Paula Hancocks joining us now from CNN Seoul. And Paula, what's going on here with his removal? Is a power struggle underway in North Korea?

PAULA HANCOCKS, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORREPSONDENT: Well Kristie, this is certainly a very surprising development. Ri Yong Ho was a regime heavy weight. He was an incredibly powerful man. He was considered to be incredibly close also to Kim Jong un and would have been considered, if possible, anyone is considered this way in North Korea, but an untouchable, someone who was in such a position of power that he couldn't have been dismissed.

Now when we saw official engagements, we saw Ri Yong Ho very close to Kim Jong un. Often seated next to him, standing next to him, walking next to him during the funeral procession for the late Kim Jong il back in December. And he was considered a very close confidante to Kim Jong un. He was considered the man who helped him carry out what is perceived at this point to be a fairly stable and successful succession and gained him credibility within the military.

But the fact is he has been dismissed. Now the official line from KCNA, the state-run news agency, is that it was due to illness. But very few experts believe that it was anything to do with illness. The fact it was so quick and the fact he lost all of his positions in one fell swoop.

Now there are many theories. You brought one up, Kristie, which could well be the truth. There could be a power struggle between the civilian and the military inner circle of Kim Jong un. Other people say it could be the fact that Kim Jong un wants to assert his own power within the military and show that he is the one who is boss. And then thirdly, other experts are saying that he could be using Ri Yong Ho as a scapegoat for mistakes made, most notably that failed rocket launch back in April which provoked widespread condemnation -- Kristie.

LU STOUT: Now army chief Ri Yong Ho, he may be out of the picture, but another figure has stepped in, the so-called mystery woman. We've seen her standing next to Kim Jong un. Have we learned anything else about her?

HANCOCKS: Well, what we have done is we've seen even more of her than we had just last week. On Sunday, the state run news agency, the television actually released pictures of her with Kim Jong un visiting a preschool in Pyongyang and watching children dance, watching children study. And she was once again at his side, more than anyone else. Now of course this is just increasing the speculation that she could well be Kim Jong il's wife.

Now just a week ago we've seen her a couple of times over three days and the assumption was she either the wife or the sister, but now we are seeing so much of her, the assumption here is South Korea certainly is that she is the wife of Kim Jong un. But of course it's still speculation. We don't know for sure that North Korea has not given any indication or any mention of this woman.

But it is another indication that Kim Jong un is doing things a little differently to his father. You would never have seen Kim Jong il with one of his spouses in a public place. That just didn't happen. And the same with the grandfather, Kim il Sung. So we are seeing slightly different style from Kim Jong un, although maybe not necessarily a different policy - - Kristie.

LU STOUT: Yeah, but North Korea is so opaque, we can only speculate. Paula Hancocks reporting live for us from Seoul. Thank you.

Now coming up next here on News Stream, calling in the British military. Why thousands of additional armed forces will help beef up security at the summer Olympics in London.

Plus, athletes of the Arab Spring: just months ago, a Tunisian gymnast was caught up in his nation's turmoil. And now he's hoping to bring home a medal.

And a beauty pageant contestant's inspiring story. She is nearly blind, but she's not letting that stop her from living life to the fullest.


LU STOUT: Welcome back.

Now in London, Olympic athletes and officials are starting to arrive for the games. And with less than two weeks to go preparations are underway around the city. But things have not all been going smoothly. Now security contractor to the Olympics G4S has admitted that it won't be able to provide enough staff for the games. Now the British government is stepping in announcing it will call on 3,500 military personnel to boost security at the games.

And Dan Rivers joins me now live from London. And Dan, can you tell us more about G4S as a company? And also how they allowed this shortfall to happen?

DAN RIVERS, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: It is a really -- some people describing at a fiasco here. We're less than two weeks out from the opening ceremony and then suddenly we're told that G4S, the company that won the contract to provide security for many of the Olympic sites, is unable to fulfill its contract. There's been a computer glitch in its software, meaning it's not sure that the right people have received the right training. It's not sure the right people know to turn up at the right venues. It still doesn't know how many of the 10,000 guards that it's supposed to have contracted will turn up on the day, and therefore as sort of backup measure the government has said it will now deploy 3,500 extra troops on top of the 17,000 that were already going to be involve in a wider fence around the Olympics.

It's clearly highly embarrassing for the government. It's highly embarrassing for this company G4S. It used to be known as Group 4 Security. It's got a track record, a patchy track record actually years ago of providing sort of, you know, guarding prisoners as they turn up to court. And they actually run six prisons here in the UK as well as children's homes. They oversee the tagging of offenders and so on.

But this should have been their most prestigious and definitely their most high profile contract with the government. Now their chief executive officer, Nick Buckles, well he's having to eat humble pie.


NICK BUCKLES, G4S CEO: Clearly in this instance, the company hasn't done a great job. I feel very embarrassed about it. I'm very sorry about it. And we've got to put it right. And we are going to get a safe and secure games.


RIVERS: With the help of the army, it must be added.

Their share price has been hammered, as you can probably understand, Kristie, down more than 6 percent today on top of 4 last week, seeing it down off almost 10 percent in total, with people saying, you know, other contracts with the government should be reviewed in light of this fiasco.

Meanwhile, the home secretary, the interior ministry here -- minister if you like here Theresa May has been called to the House of Commons to answer urgent questions by her opposite number Yvette Cooper. So real politics at play here as well as real concerns that this close to the Olympics this just simply should not be happening.

LU STOUT: Yeah, so much fallout from the security fiasco. Dan Rivers reporting from CNN London, thank you.

Now for some athletes, the road to the Olympics has been overshadowed by last year's Arab Spring. Now one Tunisian gymnast found himself having to defend his neighborhood from the violence. As Mohammed Jamjoom reports, he's now back in the gym and ready to springboard into the games.


MOHAMMED JAMJOOM, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORREPSONDNET: Wajdi Bouallegue is finally getting the global recognition he deserves: a major photo shoot for Sports Illustrated and what has become one of the symbols of the revolution in Tunis. This is the former home of the toppled Tunisian president's brother-in-law.

After he fled the country, it was gutted, covered in graffiti. Now, it houses rubble and revolutionary art. For Tunisia's star gymnast and Olympic hopeful it's a strong statement.

Bouallegue is one of Tunisia's leading athletes, known to be one of the best floor exercises in African and Arab history. Bouallegue makes the sport look easy, combining physical strength, poise, flexibility and balance. He competed in the 2004 Olympics and now is said to be the only Tunisian gymnast at the 2012 games.

During Tunisia's revolution, the scenes of protest not only took over his athletic dreams, the violence hit home.

WAJDI BOUALLEGUE, TUNISIAN GYMNAST: It was here downstairs with all the neighbors here ready to protect our city.

JAMJOOM: Bouallegue decided to defend his community during the uprising as part of a neighborhood watch.

So this is where you guys would put a patrol?

BOUALLEGUE: Yeah, this is where every resident over here have the own groups. And every head of family right here of every home. And our wives and our sons are at home. And right here to communicate with us if something wrong happen, we communicate quickly.

We were really scared. Sometimes we were like 200, 300 people, then we just heard some noise like come on, come on, go to fight, go to fight. And we run, we run, we run.


LU STOUT: Now CNN and Sports Illustrated have teamed up to tell the stories of these brave athletes who are now following their dreams to London as World Sport presents "Athletes of the Arab Spring." It debuts Wednesday at 5:30 pm in Hong Kong. Don't miss it.

Now the American teen is not letting anything get in the way of her dreams. Connor Boss is beautiful. She's smart. And she's also legally blind. She's hoping to change the world one pageant at a time. Her inspiring story is next.


LU STOUT: Now a downpour in Hong Kong is distorting our usual harbor shot, but we like the look of it. Coming to you live from Hong Kong, you are back watching News Stream.

Now she may not have won, but many will consider Connor Boss a winner in her own right. Now she competed in the Miss Florida USA pageant. And is the first legally blind contestant to do so. John Zarrella has more.


JOHN ZARRELLA, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Just to see where to sign her name, Connor Boss must hold her face inches from the sign-in sheet. You see, Connor is legally blind.

We're, what, maybe four feet apart, if that. And you can't see me?

CONNOR BOSS, MISS FLORIDA USA PAGEANT: No. It is -- well, it affects -- Stargardt affects my retina. And it's my central vision. So my peripheral vision is intact.

ZARRELLA: At six months old, Connor developed over her left eye what's call hemangioma, a build-up of red blood vessels. Surgery took care of that. But within a few years, she was diagnosed with Stargardts, a rare disease, and one have nothing to do with the other, just plain back luck.

BOSS: I fell going down the steps of the Lincoln Memorial, believe it or not, but you know I manage.

ZARRELLA: Stargardts, a gradual worsening of sight until blindness is incurable, but Connor also has an incurable thirst to overcome her disability. She was in gymnastics until.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: And then when she had to do vault, she actually ran into the vault one time.

ZARRELLA: While Connor can barely see, her vision of the future is clear. She is the first legally blind woman to sign-up to compete in the Miss Florida USA pageant. Winner goes to the nationals.

Her journey here began just a couple of years ago when Connor was 16. On a whim, she entered a local teen pageant and won.

So which one was the first one you won?

BOSS: That bad boy.

ZARRELLA: And what's that bad boy?

BOSS: That is the harvest queen.

ZARRELLA: Connor says each new success, each crown, helps build in her a confidence and self esteem that was lacking. And each new success lead her here.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: What makes her special is her drive. She's admirable. She doesn't give up.

ZARRELLA: Pageant officials say other than helping Connor get to marks on the stage, she's treated like all the other young women. And she never plays to her disability.

GRANT GRAVITT, MISS FLORIDA USA EXECTIVE PRODUCER: She's the last one who will tell you this, she would prefer you not know. And more importantly it's not what I can't do, it's what I can do.

BOSS: I've come to learn that it's not even about winning the pageants, it's about -- I'm so glad that my story could be shared and that at least I can inspire one person. And if I can inspire one person I feel like I've won.

ZARRELLA: Perhaps what is most refreshing, Connor doesn't take herself too seriously.

What's going through your mind right now?

BOSS: Dinner.

ZARRELLA: Of course.

John Zarrella, CNN, Hollywood, Florida.


LU STOUT: A beautiful and brave young woman.

Now up next, basketball star Jeremy Lin might be headed for a new home. The phenom took the court by storm earlier this year, helping the Knicks win games and fans alike, but that does not mean his future with the team is secure.

Also, U.S. Republicans presidential hopeful Mitt Romney is calling foul. And he wants an apology for President Barack Obama. We'll tell you why.


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

Now there are reports armored vehicles have entered a district in central Damascus, that as the Red Cross announces that the conflict in Syria is essentially a civil war.

Now Russia is accusing the west of using blackmail to try to win support for a draft UN security council resolution on Syria. International envoy Kofi Annan is in Moscow to try and reach a breakthrough.

North Korea has relieved its army chief Ri Yong Ho of all his government posts. A state-run media cites illness as the reason behind the move. But there is growing speculation as a sign of a power struggle within the secretive regime.

Another former high profile executive from Barclays bank is due to face questions from UK lawmakers today. MPs want to know why Jerry del Missier apparently instructed staff to lower the banks interest rate submissions. Newly released documents show a Barclays official admitted to the New York Federal Reserve in 2008 that the bank was under reporting interest rates.

And more than five months after quitting the England job, it looks as if Fabio Capello is back in football. And we can join Alex Thomas in London to find out where he's heading -- Alex.

ALEX THOMAS, CNN SPORTS CORRESPONDENT: Yes, Kristie. Fabio Capello appears to be on his way to Russia in a deal that would see him coach the team up to the 2018 World Cup which the country is hosting. Russia's (inaudible) news agency is quoting the vice president of the nation's football union as saying an agreement has been reached. However, it's believed that Capello won't put pen to paper until later in the week.

The Italian has been out of work since quitting the England job in February. He succeeds Dick Advocaat who parted company with Russia after failing to guide them past the group stage at Euro 2012.

Capello is not the only person facing new football horizons as Didier Drogba has flown into China to start the next stage of his playing career. The former Chelsea star scored the winning penalty in the Champion's League final just a couple of months ago. And as Stan Grant reports from Shanghai he's now facing a very different challenge.


STAN GRANT, CNN SPORTS CORREPSONDENT: Dider, Stan Grant from CNN, welcome to China.


GRANT: Are you looking forward to playing here?


GRANT: Didier Drogba has now arrived here. Of course, the real question is what is he being paid? A lot of the speculation says $300,000 U.S. dollars a week.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Now let's warmly welcome Didier Drogba!

GRANT: Oh yes, it takes a lot to lure a name like Didier Drogba, but the Ivory Coast star insists the big bucks are not his motivation.

DROGBA: The money is not really what is the most important thing, because everybody knows that I give a lot of my money to my foundation, all my sponsor deal, most of them I give them to my foundations.

GRANT: His foundation assists African education and health. It has him hailed by Time magazine as one of the world's 100 most influential people. But it is on the field where he is best known. At football giant Chelsea, Drogba has won three Premier League titles, 4 FA Cup crowns, and scored the winning goal at this year's UEFA Champion's League.

So why come to China?

DROGBA: For me it was a big challenge, because it would have been easy for me to stay in Europe and go to another team, another big team, but I wanted a challenge, so that's why I decided to come here.

GRANT: There are cultural and language barriers.

DROGBA: Ni ha (ph).

GRANT: Hello is all the Chinese Drogba knows. But his reputation speaks volumes. He arrived in Shanghai to a crush of media and eager fans. Drogba's signing to Shanghai Shenhua (ph) presents China as an emerging sporting super power where money talks.

He Hongguang coaches kids at a grass roots level. He says China football can't simply buy credibility.

"I think Chinese football is a bit too eager to achieve quick success and get instant benefits," he says. "For one thing, football is not so popular in China like in some of our neighboring countries Korea and Japan."

And even Didier Drogba has some way to go to win over the next generation of fans.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE (through translator): I'm a fan of Pele's.

GRANT: A few titles with Shanghai and they will all be chanting Didier Drogba's name.

Stan Grant, CNN, Shanghai.


THOMAS: Well, if that little kid was old enough to remember Pele he can certainly remember Linsanity. Do you? Jeremy Lin of course became a virtual overnight sensation in the NBA last season, reviving the fortunes of the New York Knicks in the process. Yet amazingly, the Knicks may let the Asian-American star leave for the Houston Rockets. It all boils down to money, of course. As a restricted free agent, Lin can listen to offers from other teams, but the Knicks have the right to match the deal.

And it's being reported that Lin has signed a three year contract with the Rockets paying around $5 million in the first two seasons, but in the third his salary would leap to almost $15 million. And that could be too much for the Knicks to pay because of the NBA's strict salary cap.

Let's put that deal into perspective. Lin's pay would put him level with some of the NBA's biggest stars. LeBron James is set to make $17.5 million next season. Dirk Nowitzki almost $21 million. Lin's earnings, then, would make him better paid than reigning defensive player of the year Tyson Chandler or even San Antonio's Tony Parker.

And Lin is the only one of these five not to have an NBA title to his name. So no wonder the Knicks may hesitate to pay that much.

Now moving on, police are hunting for the saboteurs who threw nails onto the Tour de France course during Sunday's 14th stage resulting in dozens of punctures. Race organizers say that one or two spectators were responsible for disruption which happened towards the end of a hilly route through the Pyranees. Defending champion Cadel Evans forced to wait nearly two minutes for a wheel change and then he suffered another puncture further on the course as the current yellow jersey holder Bradley Wiggins also had a puncture, but he retains the overall lead which stands at more than two minutes.

And that is all the sport for now Kristie. Back to you in Hong Kong.

LU STOUT: All right. Alex Thomas there, thank you very much indeed.

Now we can't predict the conditions on the road, but in the sky we leave it to Mari Ramos for the Tour de France forecast. She joins us now - - Mari.

MARI RAMOS, CNN WEATHER CORRESPONDENT: Hey, Kristie, you know what it's still pretty sunny right now as they get underway this morning -- or now getting into the early afternoon hours. We could see some scattered rain showers across the portion of southern France here in the next -- probably the next few hours. So some light rain showers not entirely out of the question. We'll be monitoring it of course.

They're kind of moving along hilly terrain today. It's going to be across that middle portion of the terrain toward the later part of the day, I think, where they do have some chance to see some rain showers before they get to the last place. So that's going to be in the areas of the highest elevations.

The temperature is expected to drop significantly. So you start off with 20 degrees and go down to about 10. And then warm up again as they head to the finish line. So pretty interesting how everything changes, not just the terrain, but the weather as well as they move along that track.

Then here comes the rain again across the UK, moving into northern parts of France and then back over toward Germany and even into Poland some scattered rain showers, but nothing, nothing like what we saw over the weekend.

Take a look at these pictures of this tornado. Spectacular images. You know, this is in Poland on Saturday. And this tornado left at least one person dead. A very dangerous situation, just a sample of the storms that moved across this area here, some of them very violent as you can see there. You can see the funnel. You can see the debris flying around, really dramatic images coming through these areas.

We are not expecting to see as severe weather today, but there is that risk of some strong thunderstorms popping up along portions of Eastern Europe. I think it's going to be more closer to Russian down through Ukraine, maybe into areas of the Black Sea where the chance for some severe storms are possible.

And then we're going to see the heat finally starting to ease up just a little bit across southeastern Europe while the west begins to warm up. I know you guys in the UK, I think you're still saying a little bit on the cool side there.

Look at these temperatures. Kuwait city 52 degrees. Even earlier today that was your Monday high. 3 to 6 degrees above the average all along the Persian Gulf. Yeah, Kristie, they say it's a dry heat. Yeah, I don't know. 48 in Kuwait City right now. 44 in Bahrain. And 46 in Riyadh.

As we understood there's some strong storms moving through Hong Kong even as we speak right now. There's the live camera. See if we can catch any lightning ongoing. There are no warnings for you right now, but this is just part of those summer thunderstorms that start to pop up across this area.

Now if you come back over to the weather map -- I don't know was that light or thunder? You can see all of the activity all along southeastern China. This is part of the Manyu Bayou (ph) front. It continues to bring some very heavy rain now mostly over China, but remember the Korean peninsula and even parts of Japan again watching now just the potential for rain and thunderstorms, but remember they're coming on the heels of all that devastating flood. And there could be a tropical cyclone moving your way as we head to the latter part of the week.

We are taking a break right here on News Stream. Don't go away. Kristie will be right back.


LU STOUT: Broadcasting live from a very wet and stormy Hong Kong. You are back watching News Stream. And right here you are looking at a visual rundown of all the stories in the show. And we've covered the mystery moves in North Korea and Jeremy Lin's next move already. And pretty soon we'll talk about Apple a little later in the show.

But now I want to focus on this, the U.S. election. Now U.S. presidential hopeful Mitt Romney, he wants an apology from President Obama. The Republican candidate tells CNN that the Obama campaign is putting out false, deceptive, and dishonest information about Romney's tenure at Bain Capital, a private equity firm. Now at issue, whether Romney was in charge at Bain when it closed a number of businesses and outsourced jobs. Now Romney insists he wasn't. Still, it doesn't look like he'll get an apology any time soon.


BARACK OBAMA, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: No. We won't be apologizing. And I don't -- you know, sometimes these games are played during political campaigns. Understand what the issue is here, Mr. Romney claims that he's Mr. Fix-It for the economy because of his business experience. And so I think voters, entirely legitimately, want to know well what exactly was that business experience?


LU STOUT: Now both the Obama and Romney campaigns have come out with new attack ads targeting each other's credibility. And with four months still to go before the presidential election, the onslaught on the air waves will likely only increase.

Tom Foreman has that.


NARRATOR: When a president doesn't tell the truth, how can we trust him to Romney's companies were pioneers of shipping U.S. jobs overseas. TOM FOREMAN, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Even in the flood of negative ads pouring out of each side of this race, Democrats are hitting one target again and again and again.






UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Bain capital walked away with a lot of money that they made off of this plant.

FOREMAN: The White House clearly wants to portray Mitt Romney's time at the helm of Bain Capital as a weak spot. In ad after ad, Democrats are suggesting Romney is a fat cat job outsourcer, an opportunistic financial predator, and a leader's out of touch with the working class. Never mind that many of those claims appear to be backed with little or no evidence.

KEN GOLDSTEIN, PRESIDENT, CMAG-KANTAR MEDIA: The Obama campaign is absolutely doubling down on the Bain attack, no doubt about it. And if the work triple down existed, they would be doing that as well.

FOREMAN: Ken Goldstein is the political media analyst who believes President Obama was at one point looking to steal a page from Ronald Reagan's playbook, planning an optimistic, positive reelection campaign until economic troubles and weak poll numbers hit hard.

GOLDSTEIN: I think the Obama folks were hoping to run a campaign like "morning in America" in 1984. But the campaign I think they're look at is much more the George W. Bush campaign in 2004.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The accusations that John Kerry...

FOREMAN: He's talking about the swift-boat campaign, in which President Bush's challenger John Kerry was demonized over what his campaign considered an attribute. His decorated service as a soldier in Vietnam. The swift-boat ads, backed by a group of pro-Bush veterans, questioned the Democratic challenger's conduct in the war, his anti-war activities later and his patriotism.

(on camera): Kerry was slow to respond and never very effective in refuting their claims even though his critics offered little in the way of proof. He lost the election of course. And for many Democrats, swift- boating became a catch-all term for any unfair, untrue, personal assault on a candidate.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Romney's companies...

FOREMAN (voice-over): But if the president is troubled by the comparison of his Bain attacks to Republican swift-boating, he's not showing it.

OBAMA: Well, I think that when you're president, everything's call into questions. When you are president, everything is coming across you.

FOREMAN: Romney's tough responses this week appear to have been spurred by Republican calls for him to hit back fast.

GOLDSTEIN: Because as much as a presidential election is a referendum on the incumbent, the challenger still needs to reach that threshold level of credibility.

ROMNEY: I need you guys to work.

FOREMAN: And if he doesn't, some Republican analysts fear Mitt Romney could become the second politician from Massachusetts swift- boated out of the presidency.

Tom Foreman, CNN. Washington.


LU STOUT: And there's been a lot of speculation about who will join Mitt Romney on the Republican ticket? Today, Romney will cross paths with Louisiana Governor Bobby Jindal at an event in Baton Rogue. And Jindal, he's said to be high on Romney's vice presidential wish list.

Peter Hamby joins us now live from Washington with more on the Veepstakes. And Peter, will Bobby Jindal run with Romney?

PETER HAMBY, CNN CORRESPONDENT: He's certainly on the short list, Kristie. Jindal, you know, him and Romney have never been very close in terms of having a good personal relationship, but he's listed by people around the Romney campaign as one of those credible VP possibilities. He's a two term governor of a state, former congressman. He's a Catholic, popular with evangelicals. And he's an Indian-American, which would bring some diversity to the ticket. So we shall see.

He'll certainly get some attention this week, but I think if you look at some of the other candidates, Jindal is probably in the top four of five. So if there's a pick this week, which is a possibility, he could be one of them Kristie.

LU STOUT: Let's talk about some of the other candidates, and namely is Mitt Romney concerned about being associated with members of the George W. Bush administration? I asked because Condoleezza Rice has been named as another potential pick.

HAMBY: Right. Her name surfaced last week. Romney was asked about this in an interview last week and he said you know while he talks to members of the Bush administration and considers people like Condoleezza Rice talented and good advisers, he has his own policies and he won't do what Bush did. It's certainly a fine line. Bush remains still very unpopular in the United States.

Condoleezza Rice, the bigger problem for her in the VP chatter is that she's actually a supporter of abortion rights, which would hurt Romney with the conservative base here. And we saw that last week when her name surfaced. A lot of conservatives in the country came out and said this is a non-starter for Mitt Romney, Kristie.

LU STOUT: Now, Senator Rob Portman is another name out there. Who is he? And how active is he with the Romney campaign?

HAMBY: Who is he is a very good question. There's actually if you look at polls a lot of voters in his own state of Ohio don't even know who Rob Portman is. He's the Senator from Ohio. He's a former budget director under George W. Bush. He's a former trade representative under George W. Bush. But he's a competent guy, a lot of Republican insiders like him. Him and Romney get along. And, again, he's from Ohio which is one of those eight or nine swing states that will really determine this election. And he's got a good political organization in Ohio. He's friendly with reporters in the press, which is something the Romney campaign probably needs right now. So he is probably one of the top two, I think, if you talk again to people around the Romney campaign.

LU STOUT: We may very well soon learn a lot more about him. Peter Hamby, thank you very much indeed for your insight there.

Now here in Hong Kong, I've got to say that office space is always at a premium, but the priority has not been making sure that those structures are green, at least until now. We've got the story after the break.


LU STOUT: Welcome back.

Now Apple has reversed a decision to pull out of a U.S. government backed environmental program. Now last week we told you about Apple pulling out of EPEAT, it's a registry of products that meet certain environmental standards. And it's important, because regulations say 95 percent of all products purchased by the U.S. government must be certified by EPEAT. And the city of San Francisco already said it would not buy any more Apple computers.

Well, on Friday Apple released this letter saying it would put its products back on EPEAT, but there's still a potential problem for Apple, EPEAT's CEO said last week that he thought the new MacBook Pro would not meet EPEAT standards.

Now Hong Kong's skyscrapers are world renowned, but not for being green. In this week's ecosolutions, Remy Inocencio shows us what could be the start of a growing environmental movement: Hong Kong's first zero carbon building.


REMY INOCENCIO, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORREPSONDENT: Hong Kong, one of Asia's iconic crossroads cities: narrow skyscrapers define the city's image to much of the world, but it's a little known secret that a full 60 percent of the land is green space. And anyone who has been here can tell you, the two aren't easily found in the same place until now.

This is the ZCB, Hong Kong's first and only zero carbon building. Opened in June, it's a three story oasis in Hong Kong's urban jungle. And it gets all its power from renewable sources.

M.K. LEUNG, ARCHITECT: The PV alone is actually provides more than 70 percent of the energy required for this building.

INOCENCIO: M.K. Leung is architect of the ZCB

LEUNG: For the people, actually they may not be in such a close distance with the PV. And they may have heard about that, read about that, but they have never seen it. So we want to show the real installations.

INOCENCIO: PV is for photovoltaics, cover the entire roof of the ZCB. It has a 21 degree curvature, that's the same latitude as Hong Kong, guaranteeing the solar panels soak up as much sun as possible. And on the best days, they actually feed energy back to Hong Kong's grid.

LEUNG: These are the inverters which turn the DC from the PV into AC that we can use.

INOCENCIO: All right. So basically it turns the suns energy into electricity.

LEUNG: Yeah.

INOCENCIO: The ZCB also boasts other energy saving features: air conditioning the blows from the ground up, not the top down to target where the people are, Big Ass fans -- that's the brand name -- that keeps air circulating.

LEUNG: They move very slow, but they generate a lot of volume of air.

INOCENCIO: And outside, an urban forest made only of indigenous plant species, that keeps the area one to two degrees cooler than the surrounding city blocks.

But while Hong Kong's ZCB is groundbreaking for this Asian hub, it's not the first in the world to boast the name zero carbon. In April 2011, South Korea built the world's first zero carbon business building. And the world's first zero carbon city, Mazdar, was built in the United Arab Emirates.

But the million dollar question, are the millions in costs worth it for what amounts to be showcase projects?

GUIYI LI, DIRECTOR, ZCB: We want to evaluate all the technology in terms of the cost, in terms of the efficiency, and the performance.

INOCENCIO: And while Hong Kong may never be a city of only zero carbon buildings, the ZCB helps to show off the possible, to educate, and to inspire a more ecofriendly future for the buildings we work and live in.

Remy Inocencio, CNN, Hong Kong.


LU STOUT: Cool project there.

Now on the internet in China, the truth has returned. On Friday, we reported that the Chinese word for truth had been blocked from Sino Weibo, China's leading social media site. Now this is what we saw when we searched for the truth on July 13, it was an error message saying "search results for the truth cannot be displayed."

But earlier today we learned that the truth is now unblocked. It seems Sino Weibo can indeed handle the truth, at least for today.

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