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A Preview of Champion's League Group Stage; Profile Of Cirque Du Soleil Casting Director Krista Monson, Pfizer Executive Frita Lewis-Hall; Chinese Protest In Front of Japanese Embassies; New Video Reveals Ambassador Stevens' Last Moments

Aired September 18, 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. And we begin with the growing unrest over disputed islands claimed by both China and Japan. Now thousands have protested in Beijing as more Japanese companies stop production in China.

Also ahead, what did they see? Now CNN talks to those on the scene at last week's attack on the U.S. consulate in Benghazi.

And a 24 hour deadline. The French magazine is told to handover topless photos of the Duchess of Cambridge and is fined thousands of dollars.

The territorial rift intensifies between China and Japan over a group of islands in the East China Sea. Now China calls them Diaoyu, Japan calls them Senkoku. And on Tuesday, more Japanese companies suspended operations at their Chinese plants following sometimes violent protests in various cities. And the situation, it continues to escalate as Tuesday marks the 81st anniversary of the Mukden incident which sparked the Japanese invasion of China in 1931.

Now many protesters in Beijing carry portraits of the Mao Zedong in honor of the day. And hundreds marched past the Japanese embassy in the Chinese capital.

And on Tuesday, several companies joined a growing list of Japanese businesses that have suspended work at their Chinese plants. They include Japan's biggest exporters in the electronics and auto industries, at nearly 200 7-11 stores in China as well as 13 Ito-Yokado Supermarkets will be closed until Wednesday. They are owned by Japan's Seven & 1 Holdings.

Now on Tuesday, the ratings agency Fitch warned that the credit ratings of Japanese auto and tech manufacturers could come under pressure if the dispute, quote, "escalates and is prolonged."

Now protesters, they took to the streets of Beijing near the Japanese embassy on Tuesday. And Stan Grant was there.


STAN GRANT, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Walking along here with the protesters outside the Japanese embassy. There are thousands of people here on the streets, very strong police contingent if you just look over here as well. And you can see over here some of the barricades are up and they are blocking entrance to the embassy itself trying to stop even more people coming through.

Of course, protests like this in China are normally shut down the moment they begin. They don't like public displays of anger. But this is a very different issue. This is an issue involving Japan, a strong sense of nationalism. We're just being stopped here now.

Excuse me?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Here is not a press area.

GRANT: OK. Wait.


GRANT: Thank you, sir. Thank you, sir.

We're being moved.

People are carrying banners, they're carrying slogans. We've seen pictures.


GRANT: We're seeing pictures of Mao Zedong being carried and being held aloft. And we're just being moved out of here now. Some of these protests have turned nasty over the past few days. There have been attacks on Japanese businesses. There have been protests at Japanese consulates in more than 50 cities across China.

As you see there's a helicopter just above us here.

What's that?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Because you don't like those (inaudible), we don't like Japan.

GRANT: Why don't you like Japan.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Why don't you like North Korea?

GRANT: Is Diaoyu (inaudible), or Japan island?


GRANT: Diaoyu Island, who owns Diaoyu Island.


GRANT: Did you fight for Diaoyu Island?


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Would you fight for Hawaii? Would you fight for Washington, D.C.? I would do the same thing.


And the concern amongst officials is that these protests could get out of hand. They've already warned people that they must protest calmly. They must protest lawfully, but there is no doubt that this issue over the islands, an issue that involves history, an issue that involves age old enmity between Japan and China and an issue very much about the rich resources that lie underneath the islands themselves have certainly sparked widespread anger and the type of nationalism on the streets here today.


LU STOUT: And incredible exchange there between Stan and the protesters.

Now the battle over the islands is also taking place online. And the homepage of the Chinese search giant has an animation of a Chinese flag blowing over the disputed islands. And when you click on the image it brings you to a website where users can also plant a flag and make their own virtual claim to the islands. Now the moment as you can see here, more than 7 million users have done just that.

Now in Chengdu, China, court officials say that the trial of former top cop Wong Linjum has ended. Now you'll remember he triggered a political scandal back in February when he fled from his post in Chongqing to the U.S. consulate in Chengdu. And for that, he's been charged with defection. He's also accused of bribe taking and abuse of power.

Now court officials say that Wong did not contest the charges. And they add, his lawyers asked for a lenient sentence, saying Wong left the U.S. consulate voluntarily and went on to help authorities investigating the wife of disgraced politician Bo Xilai.

The verdict date has not been announced.

Now let's turn now to a story we've been following for the last week. Protests appeared to wane on Tuesday across much of the Muslim world over a film mocking the prophet Mohammed. But the fallout continues. Al Qaeda's affiliate in North Africa has urged Muslims in the region to kill U.S. government representatives and to escalate demonstrations. While in India, an administer in Kashmir, a general strike shut down businesses and public transport.

And exactly one week ago, the U.S. ambassador to Libya was killed in Benghazi. And we are still learning exactly what happened that night. But Arwa Damon has seen startling new video that's said to show a group of Libyans trying to save the ambassador's life.


ARWA DAMON, CNN INTERANTIONAL CORREPSONDENT: This is the first thing that Fahad says he saw and filmed at the consulate compound: the cafeteria building up in flames. It was shortly before midnight, September 11. The smoke so thick the compound's main house is barely visible.

And then, this, after breaking through a window, men shout they have found a body. Suddenly, one of them cries out. He's alive. He's alive.

The crowd cheers. God is great.

Rushing for a car, they realize it's a foreigner.

"I was filming the video, and I thought it was an American," Fahad recalls, "but I thought it was a driver or a security guy. I never thought it was the ambassador."

It's clear from the rest of the video that the man they pulled out was Ambassador Christopher Stevens. Fahad says he was alive, but barely.

"He had a pulse and his eyes were moving," Fahad says, "his mouth was black from all the smoke."

Ten minutes later, rushed through the Benghazi streets in a civilian's car, the ambassador arrived at the hospital, but it was too late.

"Doctor Ziad Abuzaid tells us he got a code blue call: patient arrested, needs resuscitation."

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: No pulse, no breathing.

DAMON: He, too, did not realize it was Stevens.

"The body was covered in soot," he says. "I began resuscitation, but after 45 minutes the patient gave no signs of life."

The Libyan government has vowed to bring those who attacked the consulate to justice. But nearly a week later there are still contradictory accounts of what happened.

The head of Libya's national congress Mohammed al-Magariaf says it was a pre-planned attack. But the government has arrested dozens of people, among them members or sympathizers of al Qaeda, and a handful of foreigners. Other senior officials say the 50 were merely brought in for questioning. And there is no evidence of an existing plot.

What is undisputed is that over the past three months attacks against western interests in Benghazi has increased as has the power of extremist groups, something military officials say they warned the Americans about.

This young man says he arrived at the compound just as the firefight began to subside. He says he didn't see any foreigners, just Libyans, members of known extremist militias, bearded, carrying Russian made automatic machine guns, rocket-propelled grenades and lighter weapons.

He was detained by the attackers and says he heard them talking about the assault, celebrating their success. And he says before he was released, they also talked about an attack on another location that night, a safe house where the American staff took shelter.

Perhaps we'll never know exactly what happened that night, but it's a far cry from the dreams of so many Libyans when they rose up last year.

Arwa Damon, CNN, Benghazi, Libya.


LU STOUT: Now 12 people have been killed in a suicide blast near Kabul airport. A group with ties to the Taliban claimed responsibility. And it says a woman rammed a car packed with explosives into a van on a road leading to the airport. And this was the aftermath. Eight of the dead were said to be South Africans working for an air charter company. 11 people were wounded in the same attack.

Insurgent group said it carried out the bombing in response to the online film mocking Islam.

Now coming up here on News Stream, Mitt Romney is caught on tape. And now he's on the defensive over controversial remarks he made at a $15,000 a plate fundraiser.

Plus, paying the price for publishing topless photos of the Duchess of Cambridge. A French court lays down the law. And now a preliminary criminal investigation is underway.


LU STOUT: Welcome back.

Now the royals have won round one in their legal battle over topless photos of Catherine, Duchess of Cambridge. A French court has fined the magazine Closer, which published the pictures last week. Now Closer has also been ordered not to distribute the images. Now French prosecutors are considering criminal charges for invasion of privacy and they have opened a preliminary investigation.

But France is not the only place where these revealing pictures have been seen. Now Atika Shubert joins us now from CNN London. And Atika, first can you tell us more about the civil court proceeding in France? Just how big was the fine and what will happen to the original photos?

ATIKA SHUBERT, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Yeah, well, we have the -- a copy of they, you know, the judgment here. And frankly, the fine is pretty small. It's just 2,000 euros. And there is an additional fine if the original digital photos are not handed over to the royal couple within 24 hours, then the magazine will be fined 10,000 euros for each day.

But, again, these amounts really in terms of making commercial sense for the magazine, they have nearly sold out this particular addition with those topless photos of Kate, that must be in the profits of at least tens of thousands if not hundreds of thousands of euro. So frankly a 2,000 euro fine is a drop in the hat.

So it does represent a legal victory for the duke and duchess of Cambridge, but as far as the magazine is concerned, it's clearly still made a lot of money out of these photos.

LU STOUT: And what will happen to the photographer who took the pictures?

SHUBERT: Well, that's another case, that's the criminal case. A preliminary investigation has now been opened. And we don't know who the photographer is at this point. That is a criminal case, so it could mean possibly some jail time if that case goes ahead and there is a guilty verdict, but more likely we expect to see another fine for like what we saw today.

And again, that fine may only be in the thousands or tens of thousands of euros. And that may not be enough of a deterrent for any future paparazzi photographer hoping to make a lot of money off of photos like this.

LU STOUT: And will the lawyers for the royal family take action in other countries where the photos have been published?

SHUBERT: They have not stated whether or not they will take action in other countries. We do know, of course, that Italian magazine Chi, which is affiliated with Closer magazine in France has already published more of those same topless photos in yesterday's addition of the magazine. There was also an Irish newspaper that republished some of those photos. Its editor has now been suspended. And they are considering what kind of action they should take. But it's not clear whether or not there will be a further spread of these type of photos.

What I will say is that there appears -- it was not just one paparazzi photographer taking these photos, there were apparently a number of other photographers also at that same site taking photos.

LU STOUT: And the photos, they have not appeared in the British press. And is that due to the press's relationship with the royal family, or due to the Leveson inquiry into press ethics?

SHUBERT: Well, I think a little both. I mean, remember the British press has been under some intense scrutiny with the Leveson Inquiry, but perhaps what's had more of an impact was the death of Princess Diana. Remember that Prince William and Prince Harry still very much blame the very aggressive paparazzi tactics for in part what happened. And as a result of that, a lot of the British media were a lot more restrained in their coverage of the royal family. And there's been an understanding especially as Prince Harry and Prince William were going to school that there wouldn't be this sort of breaches of privacy.

And as a result of that, it seems, there has been a collective decision by a lot of the media here not to republish those photos. In fact, there's been outrage saying that this is an invasion of their privacy and these photos should not be republished at all.

LU STOUT: Atika Shubert live in London for us, thank you.

And now we want to return to a topic we've been reporting on through CNN's Freedom Project where we shine a spotlight on the horrors of modern day slavery. And we've been uncovering the trafficking and torture of African migrants trying to make their way to Israel through Egypt's Sinai region.

Now Human Rights Watch is urging the Egyptian government to crack down on the traffickers and rescue hundreds of men and women being held by the Bedouin traffickers.

And as he returns to the region, Frederik Pleitgen has uncovered tales of torture and rape of the African refugees. Now here is a look at what he found. And a warning, some of the images are disturbing.


FRED PLEITGEN, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Sinai, the lawless desert region along Egypt's border with Israel. Would-be African migrants who try to get through Sinai to a better life in Israel are often held captive and abused by Bedouin gangs.

Some are murdered, others only released after their families pay thousands of dollars in ransom. Many of the women are raped. And some become pregnant.

Tigisti Tekla is one of them. I met her in Tel Aviv.

"They are cruel people," she says, "criminal people. And they don't have the human sense like us. I was screaming I'm a virgin, but they don't care about you at all."

Tigisti is one of the few women willing to talk publicly about her ordeal. Tigisti's rapist made her pregnant. And after she made it to Israel, she had an abortion.

"I would suffer all my life because I would have had a son or a daughter without a father," she says, "that's why I decided not to have the baby."

There are hundreds of cases like Tigisti's . Some women who become pregnant from rape give birth while in the captivity of people smugglers.

A human rights group provided us with this picture of then five month old Cecilia , born inside a Bedouin torture camp. After she was released, he mother told the organization that the trafficker who fathered Cecilia tortured the child, inflicting burns that reached her skull bone to pressure relatives into paying a ransom. Cecilia's wounds were finally treated in a hospital in Egypt.

While in Sinai, I met Sheik Mohammed Abubilal , a powerful tribal leader who has started to fight back against the human traffickers. Mohammed set up a safe house for refugees who flee the torture camps and says he frequently finds women who were raped, became pregnant, and were still tortured by the smugglers.

"There are usually signs of tortures and rape, he says, they arrive in bad condition, dressed in rags and starved, these are all methods of oppression to exploit them for money. I get them doctors and I try to help."

Many African refugees who make it to Israel wind up here in Lavinski Park in Tel Aviv. An aid group halping the migrants says a lot of women request abortions after becoming pregnant in captivity, but very few will talk about it.

DIDI MAIMON KHAN, AFRICAN REFUGEE DEVELOPMENT CENTER: Women say that they will not get any support from their community if they are victims of rape. So they will keep completely silent about it so that they're not ostracized, even more so if they're pregnant.

PLEITGEN: Women like Tigisti Tekla are the exception, coming forward, making their misery public in the hope of saving others from suffering the same fate in the Sinai Desert.

Fred Pleitgen, CNN, Tel Aviv.


LU STOUT: Horrific stories of abuse there. Join us Friday for the premier of A Stand in the Sinai. And this is the powerful followup to Frederik Pleitgen's award-winning documentary Death in the Desert. It debuts Friday night 11:30 here in Hong Kong, that's 7:30 in Abu Dhabi.

Now you're watching News Stream. And coming up, the U.S. presidential candidate Mitt Romney is on the defensive after remarks he made at a private fundraiser were caught on camera. We'll show you what caused the controversy next.


LU STOUT: Coming to you live from Hong Kong, you're back watching News Stream. And we are just hours away from kickoff in this seasons UEFA Champion's League. So let's join Alex Thomas in London to tell us about the big match that everyone is looking forward to -- Alex.

ALEX THOMAS, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Yes, Kristie. 32 clubs are in action over the next couple of nights in Europe as the world's most prestigious club competition kicks off once again, but it's the clash of Spain's and England's champions that catches the eye. And both managers have made headline grabbing statements ahead of that football clash at the Birnabeu Stadium in Madrid.

Jose Mourinho, the self-proclaimed special one has branded himself the guilty one over Real's recent slump in form and there's already talk of crisis in Madrid over the coach's relationship with his players.

As for city boss Roberto Mancini, well he's labeled his team a Ferrari with all the pedigree needed to win the tournament despite their shock group stage exit last year. Football development executive Patrick Vieira says the club are relishing another Champion's League campaign.


PATRICK VIEIRA, MAN CITY FOOTBALL DEVELOPMENT EXEC: Some of the fans must be really pleased and happy, because three years ago City was playing against small team and trying not to go down. And now we're going to receive Madrid, Ajax, and Dortmund. Last year we had Bayern Munich. And I think that's what the fans want, too. And I think when you (inaudible) in Champion's League you have to expect to play against this kind of teams. And I think this is the way you learn, that is a way you progress and this is -- that's a big stage. And this is, again, this kind of football club you want to perform. So it's real exciting. I think it's a good group, difficult but good.


THOMAS: Eight games in all on Tuesday. And in our opinion, these are the four most interesting fixtures as well as Real shaky form, AC Milan are struggling and it'll be fascinating to see how mega-rich Paris Saint- Germain and Zenit St. Petersburg get on.

Now we've got CNN reporters at three of the European nations involved in the competition. So let's see what they think of the competition ahead.


PLEITGEN: Four teams will be flying the German flag when the Champion's League group stage kicks off. You have Borussia Dortmund, the reigning Bundesliga champions, four time European Champions Bayern Munich as well as 2011 semifinalists Schalke.

Now Borussia Dortmund kick off against Ajax Amsterdam in the Group D. Now that is the group that is known as the group of death, probably the toughest group in the entire Champion's League, that has a long with Ajax and Borussia Dortmund also Manchester City as well as Real Madrid.

Bayern Munish have a chance to redeem themselves after narrowly losing the final four months ago. They play at home against Valencia.

PHIL BLACK, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: In Russia, two teams are vying for a first ever Champion's League title. Spartak here in Moscow and Zenit St. Petersburg. For Spartak, it's an 11th group stage campaign. But Zenit has creating all the buzz. Not only is it their Champion's League debut, but they've also splashed out $103 million on just two players: Hulk and Axel Witsel. If there is to be a return on that investment, it begins Tuesday in Malaga.

IVAN WATSON, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: In Turkey, it's been six long years since Galatasaray was last seen in the Champion's League. And that return is likely due to another return: Fatih Terim came back for a third term as coach and now has 200 wins, five league trophies, and one UEFA Cup title to his credit. He'll have perhaps the greatest home field advantage in Europe. Galatasary's new Turk Telecom stadium is in the Guinness Book of World Records for the loudest roar.

But up first, they'll play the role of underdog for a trip to mighty Manchester United Wednesday.


THOMAS: If that hasn't whetted your appetite enough, the champion's league isn't the only global sporting event getting underway on Tuesday. 12 countries from five different continents are contesting crickets World Twenty20 Tournament which starts with the host Sri Lanka taking on Zimbabwe, that kicking off in just over an hour-and-a-half.

Other Asian nations Pakistan and India will also have high expectations of winning the tournament. India are the reigning one day world champions. And they welcome back Yuvraj Singh who needed treatment for lung cancer earlier this year.

Speaking to CNN/IBN sports correspondent Final Kumar , the big hitting left hander says he never doubted he would return to action.


YUVRAJ SINGH, INDIAN CRICKETER: I think (inaudible) people believe in me and I believe in myself. And that's the will (inaudible) with and, you know, it's been hard on me. It's not been easy. Still trying to get better every game. But always have the belief that I will come back the day I knew that, you know, I'm going to live again.


THOMAS: Let's hope he does well. We get to see him hit some big sixes again in that competition. Well, I'm sure his opponents won't appreciate it. More in World Sport in just over three-and-a-half hour's time. For now, back to you in Hong Kong, Kristie.

LU STOUT: All right, Alex, thank you.

Now coming up next right here on News Stream, Mitt Romney goes off message and on the defensive after a hidden camera captures his remarks at a fundraiser. And we'll listen in to the controversial comments.


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

Now protesters have been marching outside the Japanese embassy in Beijing. And an escalating dispute between China and Japan over ownership of a group of islands. Now the sometimes violent protests have prompted several Japanese companies to suspend operations in China. Now today is a sensitive day in China. It is the anniversary of an incident in 1931 which lead to the Japanese invasion of China.

Now 12 people, including eight South Africans have been killed in a suicide bomb attack in Afghanistan. A woman drove a car packed with explosives into a mini-van near Kabul airport. And a group with ties to the Taliban claimed responsibility. It says the attack was in response to an online film that has angered Muslims around the world.

A French court has fined the gossip magazine that published topless pictures of Catherine, Duchess of Cambridge. Closer has also been ordered not to distribute the images. Now William and Catherine filed an additional criminal complaints for invasion of privacy. And French prosecutors have opened a preliminary case.

Aung San Suu Kyi is set to meet the U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton in the next half hour. The Myanmar democracy leader is in Washington at the start of a two week tour of the United States. And President Barack Obama is also expected to meet Suu Kyi.

And in U.S. politics, the Mitt Romney campaign is doing damage control less than two months ahead of the presidential election. Now it's following controversial comments caught on tape. The Republican presidential candidate says his remarks were, quote, "off the cuff and not elegantly stated," end quote. But as the U.S. political correspondent Jim Acosta reports, Romney is defending his main points even as he fine tunes his message to voters.


JIM ACOSTA, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Mitt Romney is rebooting his message, returning to the issue that has driven his campaign from the beginning, the economy.

MITT ROMNEY, REPUBLICAN PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: It's time for a president who's committed to cutting spending and balancing the budget. And I know how to do that. I have done it before. We balanced our budget in my business and at the Olympics and every year I was in my state.

ACOSTA: In a speech to the U.S. Hispanic Chamber of Commerce, Romney offered remedies to the deficit he rarely talks about, such as combining departments and agencies of the federal government. The retooled approach is backed up with plain language in new ads.

ROMNEY: Got to balance the budget. You have got to cut the deficit.

ACOSTA: Romney also returned to his line of attack on China, slamming President Obama's announcement of a trade complaint against the communist country.

ROMNEY: If I had known that all it took to get him to take action was to run an ad citing his inaction on China's cheating, I would have run one a long time ago.

ACOSTA: The Obama campaign is firing back by pointing to this hidden camera video showing Romney at a fund-raiser talking about a trip he took to China to buy a factory during his days at Bain Capital.

ROMNEY: And around this factory was a fence, a huge fence with barbed wire and guard towers. And we said, gosh, I can't believe that you keep these girls in. They say, no, no, no, this is to keep other people from coming in, because people want so badly to come work in this factory.

ACOSTA: A source familiar with Bain's investment history says the firm did not buy the factory referred to in the video.

That video and other clips lead to the liberal magazine "Mother Jones" appear to show Romney shooting from the hip on a whole host of topics, like his father's birth in Mexico.

ROMNEY: Had he born of Mexican parents, I would have a better shot at winning this.


ROMNEY: But he was unfortunately born to Americans living in Mexico. They lived there for a number of years. I mean, I say that jokingly, but it would be helpful to be Latino.


ACOSTA: In another YouTube video, Romney can be heard going off on Obama supporters.

ROMNEY: There are 47 percent who are with him who are dependent upon government who believe that they're victims, who believe that government has the responsibility to care for them.

ACOSTA: President Obama had his own off-script moment in 2008, when he was caught on tape at a fund-raiser saying people in rural America cling to their guns and religion. It's a favorite Paul Ryan attack line repeated just today.

REP. PAUL RYAN (R-WI), VICE PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: And I remember that one time where he was talking to a bunch of donors in San Francisco and he said, people like us, people from the Midwest, they like to cling to their guns and their religion.

I got to tell you, this Catholic deer hunter is guilty as charged and proud to say so.


ACOSTA: Coincidentally the Romney campaign announced new rules allowing reporters to videotape some of his fundraisers, something that had not been allowed by top staffers up until now.

Jim Acosta, CNN, Los Angeles.


LU STOUT: So, just how damaging are Mitt Romney's off the cuff comments? Well, let's go to CNN political director Mark Preston in Washington. And Mark, Romney, he is standing by his comments, but what is the political fallout for him?

MARK PRESTON, CNN POLITICAL DIRECTOR: Well, it's devastating right now certainly in the 24 news cycle where this has become the topic of conversation in the 2012 race for president. The bigger question is, though, is will this have a lasting impact and will this be a fatal blow to his campaign?

There are 49 days until the U.S. presidential election. I think it's too -- a little bit too early right now to tell how much of an affect this will have, but certainly as they're heading into the home stretch right now, Kristie, this is not the type of thing that the Mitt Romney campaign wants to be discussing.

LU STOUT: Yeah, and also how are the Democrats going on the offensive, seizing the moment and attacking Romney?

PRESTON: Well, it's very easy for them to do so. And we saw that from President Obama's campaign last night. His campaign manager, of course, put out a very sharp statement, being very critical of Mitt Romney for making those comments. But more importantly, too, he also put out a fundraising email late last night to supporters really capturing what those comments were. And by doing so, certainly the Obama campaign thinks that they can not only get more money for their campaign, which is going to fuel it, but they can get their supporters more riled up and perhaps more excited as we head into election day.

LU STOUT: Yeah, they're literally capitalizing on this incident.

And Mark, Romney, he is not the first presidential candidate to say something controversial. I mean, didn't Barack Obama come under fire as a candidate back in 2008?

PRESTON: He did. And we just saw that in our colleague Jim Acosta's piece just a short time ago. In fact, Barack Obama made some very strong comments during the Democratic presidential primary. And at that time, people said that this would be very hurtful to his campaign and perhaps could hurt him in the general election. And of course we do know that he did win the election. Those comments were at a time when there was so much economic despair that people would be clinging to their guns and religion. That's the kind of comment that doesn't play very well in the Midwest and in the south and certainly in states like Pennsylvania which are very rural on the east coast.

LU STOUT: Yeah. And those comments happened during a primary, so Obama back then did have time to recover. There are just seven weeks until the election. So where does the race stand now? And can Romney turn around his campaign in time?


You know, in politics, you know, every day is a new day. We do know after the two conventions that President Obama got a better bounce out of the Democratic Convention than Mitt Romney did out of the Republican Convention. He now has a few point lead over Mitt Romney, but by and large it is within the margin of error. And we're really looking at about eight states now in the United States that are going to decide the election. They include Nevada out west, Florida down south, also looking at a state like Ohio in the Midwest. Five other states we're looking at as well. But that's really going to be the determining factor.

Can Mitt Romney recover from this? Absolutely, because we don't know when the next shoe is going to drop. And that shoe could be something that President Obama doesn't want to see or doesn't want to hear.

LU STOUT: Now we've already established, Mitt Romney, he's not the only candidate to have made a mistake, or made a controversial comment, but he does seem prone to gaffes, whether it's talking about the 47 percent, or about London's readiness for the games, or criticizing Obama after that attack in Benghazi last week.

What's going on here? I mean, is it him or is it one of his advisers, or is it the campaign?

PRESTON: You know, Kristie, I think that you have to lay the blame at the candidate on this one. And Mitt Romney is one of these folks who is not a natural politician. Yes, he was the governor of Massachusetts. Yes, he's the son of the former governor of Michigan who also ran for president, but Mitt Romney is a businessman. He thinks in very mechanical ways. He thinks in very sterile ways.

So when Mitt Romney is on the campaign trail, he doesn't have the touchy feely affect that we would see from the likes of Bill Clinton, or he doesn't have the ability that George Bush would have in very small groups and crowds to get people to rally behind him. That's why I think we're seeing these gaffes. And I think Mitt Romney while there will be blame laid at the doorstep of some of his advisers, in the end it really is the candidate who should bear the responsibility.

LU STOUT: Indeed, Mark Preston joining us. Thank you.

Now you're watching News Stream. And coming up, it is our weekly look at Leading Women. A top executive at a multinational drug company and a casting director for Cirque du Soleil share their tips on balancing work, family, and success.


LU STOUT: Welcome back.

Now this week on Leading Women, we talk to two women who have opened new doors for themselves and are making sure to keep those doors open for others. Now I profile Cirque du Soleil's casting director Krista Monson who discusses balancing family and work, but first Felicia Taylor finds out who set Pfizer executive Frita Lewis Hall on the path to success.


FRITA LEWIS HALL, PFIZER: I'm really excited about the prospect of this because...

FELICIA TAYLOR, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: As the chief medical officer at Pfizer, Firta Lewis Hall is in the top ranks of a drug company, boasting some 100,000 employees. Her position also means she's highly visible and on the go: Mexico, Uganda, China and more.

In the U.S., she's often in Washington for a meeting at the White House, or a stop at a government research institute where she sits on the board. And possibly a visit to Howard University where she went to medical school.

HALL: In this job, I have an opportunity to touch people a million at a time by helping to shape policy and action in health care.

TAYLOR: What shaped her was her upbringing.

HALL: My parents believed I could fly. And they made every possible sacrifice to give me wings, but I can't say that everybody along the way felt as strongly that going into medicine was the right thing for a woman who is African-American.

TAYLOR: Tell me about your mom?

HALL: She died the summer of my freshman year of medical school, suddenly, from a stroke. And it was interesting as I look back on it, because even though I was in my early 20s and she wasn't there to help me realize my dream, our dream, it was almost as though she knew she wasn't going to be there. Every single day wise words, learning from experience, loving me beyond my imagining and making sure that I knew it.

So, even though I spent two-thirds of my life without here, I feel like she's here every day.

TAYLOR: Quality time with her 93 year old father is another way Lewis Hall connects to her memories in her past. Here, they visit a science museum the two used to visit when Lewis Hall was a child.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I'm proud of her to the fullest. And no other like her.

TAYLOR: Loving daughter, wife to a man she met in medical school, mother of three. Her strong family bond is visible in her office.

If I'm going to walk away having only seen one item in this office that would tell me all about Frita, what would it be?

HALL: It probably would be the picture of my family. Anything that you see that's about my family is really the definition of me, is really the definition of me.

LU STOUT: I'm Kristie Lu Stout. Training for one of Cirque du Soleil's most popular shows O in Las Vegas, Krista Monson, casting director for resident shows and regional sourcing is checking on a new member of the cast.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: He's a (inaudible) for a -- that big.

KRISTA MONSON, CASTING DIRECTOR, CIRQUE DU SOLEIL: It seems like his work ethic is...

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It's right up there.

MONSON: He's like a model for -- is he?


MONSON: Yeah, yeah.

LU STOUT: Her job can take her to auditions on the weekend, or traveling throughout the U.S. and Canada.

Her husband Paul is the band leader of O. And he joins her at this audition for an all-call singer for the show.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: That was fantastic.

LU STOUT: They both have schedules that force them to get a little creative in managing their children's routines.

MONSON: And then what else today? So, we have...

PAUL SHIHADEH, KRISTA MONSON'S HUSBAND: I don't think there's any dancing today.

MONSON: Yeah. Jada has dance.

SHIHADEH: Oh, there is one.

MONSON: 5:00 to 6:00. What is the new schedule?

SHIHADEH: Well, it's a challenge to try and organize our lives, for sure, a big challenge, particularly because we both have a certain amount of responsibility at work. And we also have a lot of responsibility at home.

MONSON: The schedule is tough. We have to really manage it as best as we can.

We have baby sitters...

But we have to subscripe to that idea of it takes a village to raise a child and this is our village. So blood of our friends are Russian and South American and that's wonderful. So we try to bring those influences to our kids.

You know what I think is really, really -- what makes you smile? Is that you have a great opinion. You have an opinion. And that you want to take that -- you want to do something about it.

I fear normalcy a little bit. And it's a big challenge for me, because on the one hand I want a normal life. I want a normal life. I'm a mother. I have children. They have friends. We have a community. I want to be part of it. But also what makes my adrenaline go a little bit is to really embrace the world around us that is not necessarily normal or proscribed or in front of us.

So I fear, you know, just managing that balance.


LU STOUT: Now we profile Leading Women every Tuesday right here on CNN. You can also go online to to find out even more.

Now coming up right here on News Stream, forget computer bugs, we tell you about Robo roaches. Find out why these household pests could be more useful than you think.


LU STOUT: Welcome back.

Now YAHOO! employees are in for a treat. Now according to several reports, a leaked memo reveals a project to give every YAHOO! employee a new smartphone either an iPhone 5, an Android phone from Samsung or HTC, or a Windows phone from Nokia. Now notice any phone missing from the list? Yep, there are no BlackBerries.

The memo says YAHOO! will discontinue the use of BlackBerries and stop IT support for the devices.

Now it used to be an indispensable tool for business, but this is another sign of Research in Motion's struggles.

Now here is the BlackBerry's marketshare since the first quarter of 2011. And you can clearly see a steady decline to under 5 percent. And YAHOO!'s explanation for the switch can only rub salt into the wounds. The memo says this, quote, "we'd like our employees to have devices similar to our users." Ouch. Well, that snub from YAHOO! is just the latest sign of how far the once mighty smart phone has fallen.

Well, time now for a look at the world weather forecast. And rescues are still ongoing in northern India after a deadly weekend landslide. Let's get the very latest now with Mari Ramos. She joins us from the World Weather Center -- Mari.


Toward the end of last week we had some very heavy rain across northern parts of India. Remember we were talking about the heavy rain across Pakistan as well. It was very widespread. And in some cases it did turn deadly.

Let's go ahead and look at the pictures here that we have from northern India.

This is in the aftermath of that landslide. Basically what they had - - locally they call it a down burst, but it's basically a severe thunderstorms. They have some very strong winds that come down with this, very heavy rain. And we're talking about a mountainous area where really the people at the bottom of this valley have no chance. You can see this huge rocks that just came crashing down the mountainside along with trees and homes. At least 50 people were killed, 500 people are still staying in shelters. And they're still trying to find some people that may be missing in there. It's really a tragic situation. And even though in these pictures it's not raining, it has been raining very heavily across that entire area.

Let me show you some of the rainfall totals that we have across south Asia. So not just across India, my goodness, but also as we head over into Pakistan where some places -- Lahore, you still have 143 millimeters of rain in the last 24 hours.

Most of the heaviest rain now has shifted, though, farther to northern India and into this eastern half of the continent so to speak.

Look at this picture, this is from Pakistan. You see the people right over here, you see some of their belongings kind of strewn about. They are still reeling from last week's flooding in this area also. Even though it hasn't rain in Jacobabad so much, but you can see there's just water everywhere, a few little dry patches of land here and there. And that's where people try to survive.

But these rescues are ongoing here also. And here you see a boatload, literally, of people that are being taken to higher ground by the military. You can see the members of the military have life vests on because some of that water is extremely deep.

Those pictures are from Jacobabad right in here. And this is a satellite image from NASA back on September 3. And you may have seen this last week as I showed you this picture last week. And look at the difference what happened within a week. They had over half a meter of rainfall in all of these areas that you see here that are darker that before and after those are areas of widespread flooding, literally turned into lakes. And it's still pretty bad across some of those areas.

Getting a little bit drier here. The monsoon starting it's low retreat over this area.

One more thing that we're watching is the heavy rain here across Southeastern -- Southeast Asia, remember still some very heavy rain and runoff expected across northern Thailand moving into areas farther to the south also across Bangkok and back over as we head into Vietnam and Laos and Cambodia. And very heavy rain also here for you in the Philippines.

Kristie, back to you.


LU STOUT: All right. Mari Ramos there, thank you.

Now nobody wants to see them in their house, but the humble roach could be more useful than you think. As Jeanne Moos found out, the pesky bugs could one day come to your rescue.


JEANNE MOOS, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Next time you see a roach and panic...

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: What do we do? What do we do?

MOOS: ... try imagining its coming to rescue you wearing a computer- chip backpack. You're looking at a prototype for a search- and-rescue roach.

DR. ALBERT BOSCURT : Biobots, as we call them, or biological robots.

MOOS: Dr. Albert Boscurt and his electrical engineering students at North Carolina State University have been installing circuit boards and micro controllers on Madagascar hissing roaches. Using a joy stick, they can steer the roach along a chosen pathway by applying a tiny electrical current to the antennas and other sensors on the bug.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: In order to, say, make it turn left, you stimulate its right antenna.

MOOS: See how zapping the antennas keeps the roach in line? Stimulating the antenna makes the roach think there's an obstacle from which it veers away.

(on camera) Researchers say it's like riding a horse, pulling on the reins to direct it.

(voice-over) Though often, the roaches disregard the electrical nudges. The robo-roach is sort of the biological cousin of the robo- mule designed to carry 400 pounds worth of stuff or the robo-cheetah that goes over 28 miles per hour or the fictional robo-spider in "Minority Report."

Unlike the spiders zapping Tom Cruise, the roaches getting zapped would be the good guys going where neither dog nor man can fit, equipped with cameras and sensors designed to find humans buried in rubble.

The robo-roach project has got an $880,000 grant from the National Science Foundation. When the top of the roach antenna gets chopped off and an electrode inserted, some animal lovers may hiss. Entomologists say it's hard to say what a roach feels. They have nerves, yet such a primitive system that it's likely they don't perceive pain like we do.

But what about the human sufferings seeing a swarm of robo- roaches could induce?

(on camera) Note to survivors. Do not step on the rescue roach.


MOOS (voice-over): If it's wearing a backpack, think of it as the St. Bernard of roaches.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Don't do that. You're going to miss.

MOOS: Jeanne Moos, CNN...

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: All you've got to do is get on the couch! Get on the couch! Get on the couch!

MOOS: ... New York.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Get on the couch.


LU STOUT: Ew. If you weren't too freaked out by the roaches there, you heard Jeanne mention the robo-mule and the robo-cheetah, but there are many other robots inspired by insects and animals. Now this scary looking spider, it could be a big help for first responders. It was designed by a European research firm and would carry cameras and other equipment into dangerous areas to give people a better view of the situation.

Now this next one is kind of cute, it's called sticky bot. And the robo-gecko was a research project by Stanford University students. And they hope the technology could be used in Space.

But NASA has looked to the LEMUR. Now LEMUR stands for Limbed Excursion Mechanical Utility Robot. It is partly inspired by its namesake, but also by an octopus and a crab. And one day it could explore Mars.

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