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Security High At French Magazine; Palestinian and Israeli Students Speak Out About U.S. Role In Peace; Champion's League In Full Swing

Aired September 19, 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 in France where the prime minister is calling for restraint after the publication of new cartoons of the Prophet Mohammed. We are live with the latest.

Also ahead, Mitt Romney hits back. The U.S. Republican candidate stands by comments he was taped making about voters as U.S. President Obama now weighs in.

And heading back to work, a deal is reached with some striking miners in South Africa, but will it be enough to prevent further unrest?

Now just days after an anti-Islam film prompted fury and protests across the Middle East, a French satirical magazine is publishing controversial new cartoons of the Prophet Mohammed. Now French police cars are guarding the Paris offices of the magazine Charlie Habdo. And the French Prime Minister Jean-Marc Ayrault is calling for calm and responsibility.

Now the magazine's offices were fire bombed last November when it published another caricature of Muslim's revered prophet. And the French foreign ministry says that French embassy and schools in about 20 nations will be closed on Friday as a security precaution.

Let's go to Jim Bittermann in Paris with more. And Jim, knowing the sensitivity out there, why did this magazine publish these cartoons?

JIM BITTERMANN, CNN INTENATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, I think, Kristie, that the magazine, Charlie Hebdo feels is it's obligation to be provocative, that's the way that it makes its money, it publishes every week all sorts of cartoons and articles that are offensive to some one group or another, that's all they do. And it's not the kind of magazine that's read by everybody. It's kind of a very particular taste of people that pick up this magazine, yet that's what they expect when they pick it up that they're going to see institutions and people insulted.

And in fact this same edition, this week's edition has satirical cartoons about rape victims, about the Catholic Church and of course the controversial cartoons involving the Prophet Mohammed.

The cartoonist, one of the cartoonists, one of the dozen cartoonists who work for the magazine talked to CNN this morning. He's been under 24 hour protection since that fire bombing at the magazine's headquarters back in November. And he seemed a bit surprised at the outcry, because they published so many cartoons in the past that have been equally as daring, he thinks. Here's what he had to say.


LUZ, CARTOONIST: It's not the provocation, it's not the provocation it's like a -- it's like a -- everybody can see a provocation if you want, everybody can (inaudible) why you want to see a provocation in what we do in the drawing. A drawing is like a -- it's like a Koran or Bible, it's -- you can see it with many, many interpretation and you can see your own interpretation if you want. And the guy in front of you can see another interpretation.


BITTERMANN: It may be a matter of interpretation, but some of the things in the magazine, and I've seen the cartoons -- CNN, by the way, has decided not to air the cartoons, but in any case, some of the cartoons are quite provocative and quite daring with someone -- a person being depicted, perhaps the Prophet Mohammed, as -- in various stages of undress and in sot of obscene postures and whatnot, so it's pretty daring I would say even if the cartoonist said he didn't it was all that provocative.

Now of course the Islamic community in France, Islam is the second largest religion in this country, the Islamic community is outraged. They have condemned this. And they also have said that if they can find legal grounds they will take the magazine to court -- Kristie.

LU STOUT: Now let's talk about security in Paris now, Jim. Has it been stepped up, especially at the embassies there in the French capital?

BITTERMANN: Well, in fact, the other embassies aren't involved. I mean, but they have stepped up security around the magazine's offices. And like you mentioned in the lead-in, the fact is that they have closed schools and embassies around the -- in 20 countries around the world and they will remain closed until Monday as a kind of preventative measure, protective measure just in case.

There have been no specific threats that we know of or the police have talked about up until now. And the cartoonist for Charlie Hepdo told us this morning that in fact the magazine has not specifically been threatened by anyone, but it's still early days yet. And it's possible that other things could happen down the line.

But in any case, at the moment, there's not any evidence of real stepped up security. The one thing that has happened is that the prime minister has banned a demonstration that people had called for against the U.S. embassy here in Paris and that was as a result of the anti-Islamic film that was put on the internet in the United States last week -- Kristie.

LU STOUT: All right. Jim Bittermann reporting live from Paris, thank you.

Now the U.S. is still investigating last week's deadly attack on its consulate in Benghazi, Libya. Now President Barack Obama says securing diplomatic missions is a top priority. And he spoke to late night host David Letterman about the anti-American protests abroad.


BARACK OBAMA, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: The broader issue here is there's a lot of change that's taking place in the Middle East. And we, as Americans, always stand on the side of democracy. We want people to have opportunity to determine their own fates and their own destines. But the message we have to send I think to the Muslim world is that we expect you to work with us to keep our people safe.

And as offensive as this video was, and obviously we've denounced it, the United States government had nothing to do with it, that's never an excuse for violence.


LU STOUT: Now Egypt has charged eight people who live in the U.S. over the online video that sparked the anti-American protest. Now they are accused of insulting Islam and inciting sectarian strife. You'll recall the U.S. embassy in Cairo also came under assault. And there have been signs that the incident could affect relations between the U.S. and Egypt.

Now it is a far cry from the new beginning that many heralded in 2009. And that was when Barack Obama delivered his address to the Muslim world from Cairo. Ben Wedeman looks back.


BEN WEDEMAN, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: It was a speech intended to reset the tone in a troubled relationship.

OBAMA: I've come here to Cairo to seek a new beginning between the United States and Muslims around the world, one based on mutual interests and mutual respect.

HOSSAN BAHGAT, HUMAN IGHTS ADVOCATE: You know the likelihood...

OBAMA: Human rights activist Hossan Bahgat was in the audience in Cairo University in June 2009.

BAHGAT: There was the promise of something new and something different. And there was a degree also of acknowledging, you know, past mistakes and you know past injustices.

HISHAM QASIM, PUBLISHER: So much happening here that it's...

WEDEMAN: Also present was publisher and civil society activist Hisham Qasim.

QASIM: Everybody was thrilled with Obama and not as engaged following.

WEDEMAN: But Qasim was skeptical. Behind the soaring rhetoric, he felt there was little substance.

QASIM: It's OK to say a new beginning, because yeah, but beginning of what, exactly, that was not clear. And what evolved from it? Very little. The same mistrust is there, OK, you know, highlighted by the events in the past few days where people actually think that these -- this movie was made by the American government or sanctioned by the American government.

WEDEMAN: Most of the students in Cairo University today were still in high school when the U.S. president came here. It doesn't appear to have had much impact on attitudes here, says literature student Hiem .

"Obama and America simply don't love Egypt," she tells me.

The relationship between the U.S. and the Muslim world has changed, but in ways few anticipated.

President Obama's speech here at Cairo University was about a new beginning in the relationship between the United States and the Muslim world. And indeed there has been a new beginning, but it was brought about not by a speech from an American president, but rather revolutions by the people.

During his Cairo address, President Obama spoke about democratic reform in vague terms.

OBAMA: Government that is transparent and doesn't steal from the people, the freedom to live as you choose.

WEDEMAN: He shied away from criticizing his host, aging President Hosni Mubarak. A year-and-a-half later Egyptians rose up and overthrew their president.

BAHGAT: Right now Egyptians feel a sense of empowerment because you know they went on the streets, they broke down the dictator after 30 years of dictatorship backed by the west.

WEDEMAN: Today, both sides are feeling their way, old channels may not work anymore.

QASIM: For years, the United States found it much easier to deal with us through the Pentagon and the CIA as opposed to having a foreign policy.

WEDEMAN: In other words, the United States now has to deal with leaders who, at least in theory, are sensitive to public opinion. And that, indeed, is a new beginning.

Ben Wedeman, CNN, Cairo.


LU STOUT: Ahead on News Stream, standing by what he said. Mitt Romney insists that he won't back down from controversial comments caught on tape.

A Japanese icon returns to the Tokyo stock exchange. Japan's flagship airline makes it through turbulent times to fly high again.

And back on the job soon, South African mines agree to return to work after a standoff that lasted for weeks.


LU STOUT: Now the U.S. presidential candidate Mitt Romney has publicly addressed controversial comments he made at a private fundraiser in May. Now the Republican hopeful told donors at the gathering that nearly half the American electorate would vote for President Obama. And he said those Obama supporters, quote, "believe that they are victims and that the government has responsibility to take care of them."

Now his remarks were secretly recorded. And parts of that video later surfaced online. And now in an interview with the U.S. TV network Fox News, Romney says that he was making a political analysis and he stands by it.


ROMNEY: I'm talking about a prospective of individuals who I'm not likely get to support me. I recognize that those people who are not paying income tax are going to say, gosh, this provision that Mitt keeps talking about lowering income taxes, that's not going to be real attractive to them and those that are dependent upon government and those that think government's job is to redistribute, I'm not going to get them.


LU STOUT: Now the secretly taped remarks are stirring up both sides of the campaign. U.S. President Barack Obama, he spoke out on the late night talk show David Letterman.


OBAMA: One of the things I've learned as president is you represent the entire country. My expectation is is that if you want to be president you've got to work for everybody, not just for some. And...



LU STOUT: And Romney's remarks were recorded back in May. And the secret taping, it took place at a fundraiser attended by wealthy donors inside a private home in Florida and was posted online on Monday by the Liberal magazine Mother Jones with an article by the reporter David Corn.

Now Corn has not revealed his source, but he says that the person who taped Romney claims not to be affiliated with any campaign and denies any attempt to infiltrate the Romney camp.

Now Corn says he was put in touch with the source in mid-August. He spent a few weeks verifying the videos legitimacy. And Mother Jones has now posted the entire recording of the event, something Romney requested after learning of the leak.

Now in the same secret recording during the same event, Romney addressed the Middle East peace process. Now here is part of what he had to say on that. Take a listen.


ROMNEY: The Palestinians have no interest whatsoever in establishing peace. And that the -- and that the pathway to peace is almost unthinkable to accomplish.


LU STOUT: Now Palestinian leaders are denouncing those comments. A chief negotiator Saeb Erakat calls them absolutely unacceptable. He told Reuters this, quote, "no one stands to gain more from peace with Israel than Palestinians. And no one stands to lose more in the absence of peace than Palestinians."

Now for years, American presidents have played a central role in the Middle East peace process. And Frederik Pleitgen visits students in both Gaza and Israel to find out what kinds of U.S. policies the next generation would like to see.


FRED PLEITGEN, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Like most teenage girls in Gaza, 15 year old Umsiet Awadja likes hanging with her friends in school and chatting. And here in Bait Lahia , the Israeli/Palestinian conflict and America's role in trying to solve it is often on Umsiet's mind.

"When the American people elect a new president I hope they vote in favor of the Palestinian people," she says, "because we Palestinians have suffered a lot during the war."

Umsiet says her families home was destroyed during Operation: Cast Lead more than three years ago when the Israeli military pounded targets in Gaza, trying to prevent rocket attacks on Israel. Her brother Ibrahim was killed.

Many of Umsiet's fellow pupils had similar experiences and bitterness and hatred are evident among teachers and students.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: She has a brother who was died in -- during the war and their house was depositated or destroyed. Do you know the word destroyed

PLEITGEN: "Israel killed my brother," she says, "and destroyed the house I was living in. I honestly would like to avenge them in any way possible."

Feelings that won't make it easier for the U.S. to media in a conflict that has seen years of mistrust on both sides and now a stalled peace process.

Just a few miles away from Bait Lahia near the own of Sirot , Israeli students are also enjoying their break. 16-year-old Bar Bzezinski too wants American to do more after the election.

BAR BZEZINSKI, ISRAELI STUDENT: I think America needs to do something -- I don't exactly what the thing is, but they have to do something, maybe to raise awareness, you know, to make people know about the situation.

PLEITGEN: Students here have suffered as well. Their school was built of reinforced concrete with bomb shelters every couple of feet in the schoolyard. Stirot was hit by hundreds of rockets fired from Gaza in 2009 and is still frequently targeted. Virtually all of the students here have witnessed such attacks.

That's why discussions of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict are heated in classrooms here. Should Israel be tougher or more conciliatory? The opinions differ considerably, but they all agree they've had enough of the violence.

BZEZINSKI: I feel it (inaudible). I have more alarm than ever. And I just feel that the situation is just getting worse.

PLEITGEN: On this day, the children here celebrate the weekend with a party. The theme, America. And many children on both sides of the fence in Gaza and Israel hope the U.S. will play a larger role in trying to bridge the divide between them.

Fred Pleitgen, CNN, Stirot , Israel.


LU STOUT: Making a corporate comeback: we'll tell you how Japan Airlines went from being bankrupt to being the year's second biggest IPO. The turnaround that's turning heads.


LU STOUT: Coming to you live from Hong Kong, you're back watching News Stream. And the U.S. Defense Secretary Leon Panetta is in Beijing and met with Chinese Vice President Xi Jinping on Wednesday. It was Xi's first meeting with a foreign official since he disappeared from public view nearly two weeks ago. He canceled a talk with visiting U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton at the beginning of the month.

And the meeting between Xi and Panetta, it comes as this survey has been released from the Pew Research Center. And it may offer some food for thought not just for Panetta, but perhaps to Barack Obama and Mitt Romney as well.

Now it suggests that although most Americans describe relations between the U.S. and China as good, 52 percent feel China's emergence as a world power is a major threat to the U.S. And 26 percent say China is America's greatest danger ahead of Iran and North Korea.

Now in their meeting, Panetta and Xi also addressed the territorial dispute between Japan and China over a group of islands in the East China Sea. Now Panetta has spoken about it before saying that the U.S. will not take sides and wants a peaceful resolution between the two countries.

But China's ministry of commerce said on Wednesday the dispute will hurt trade ties between Japan and China. And for that, it said Japan should take full responsibility.

Now sometimes violent protests in various Chinese cities have forced several Japanese companies to suspend operations at their Chinese plants over the past few days. Now some reopened for business on Wednesday.

Now Japan's iconic air carrier is bouncing back from bankruptcy and is back on the Tokyo stock exchange. Alex Zolbert shows us how Japan Airlines is watching its bottom line.


ALEX ZOLBERT, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: A Japanese icon back from the brink of collapse. The relisting of Japan Airlines marks the world's second biggest IPO this year after Facebook. And what's it taken to get here? There are the steps one might expect. The carrier has eliminated roughly a third of its routes. Employees have agreed to pension cuts of 30 to 50 percent and the airline has slashed a staggering 40 percent of its workforce in a country where lifetime employment was once all but guaranteed.

Then there is this, the small cost savings as well.

We ha rare access to the company's maintenance facilities at Haneda Airport.

Hirowaki Takahashi shows me how the company is rethinking what can be recycled with employees bringing in old clothes that can used as rags. And that's not the only step.

It's cost savings taken to an extreme. For instance, each of these bins has a label, 20 yen, or about 25 U.S. cents for one of these new paint brushes. And over here, more labels: about 4 yen for one of these new plastic bags, that's about a nickel.

A way to remind employees that every yen, or cent, counts.

It's not just penny pinching, it's a way of thinking.

Employees from pilots to maintenance workers to customer service reps are encouraged to attend a philosophy course. Ichiro Yumia tells me, "today we talked about safety and company values. It was a good discussion."

Small steps leading to one of the biggest corporate turnarounds in Japanese history.

Alex Zolbert, CNN, Tokyo.


LU STOUT: Now the Champion's League matches are in full swing. And it may be hard to top the display by two big spending football clubs. Amanda Davies joins us with more -- Amanda.

AMANDA DAVIES, CNN SPORTS CORREPSONDENT: Hi, Kristie, yeah, it was certainly worth waiting for, wasn't it? It was very much a tale of two managers after a fantastic encounter in Madrid on the opening night. Manchester City boss Roberto Mancini was left fuming after watching side blow a 2-1 lead whilst his opposite number at Real Madrid Jose Mourinho was dancing on the touchline like his side has won the title.

The English champions had the advantage with just two -- at four minutes to go, but late goals from Karim Benzema and Christiano Ronaldo stole the victory for the Spanish champions. It was Ronaldo's 39th European 39th European Champion's League goal.

Madrid of course looking to win the tournament for a 10th time. And Jose Mourinho was pretty pleased with their start.


JOSE MOURINHO, REAL MADRID MANAGER: Real Madrid can lose matches. Real Madrid can lose matches like tonight. Real Madrid can lose matches fighting like animals to the last minute like they did. Real Madrid cannot lose matches like the match in (inaudible), cannot lost matches like the match in Sevilla.

So for me, it was important to feel that when they want they can.

ROBERTO MANCINI, MANCHESTER CITY MANAGER: We are disappointed for this, because I said before you can lose here, because (inaudible) Real Madrid. It can happen easy. But I think that the first half we didn't play well. Real Madrid played better than us. But the second half we played well. We scored two goals. And when you score two goals here you are 2-1. You should pay more attention, you can't concede a goal only because you got too deep with the team. We should (inaudible).


DAVIES: So a very flat Roberto Mancini there. And Carlo Ancelotti has urged his PSG side not to get carried away despite their convincing 4-1 over Dynamo Kiev. He said it's three points in the bag from Group A, but very much played down the French side's chances of lifting the title.

After five goals in five games in Ligue 1, the Swedish striker Zlatan Ibrahimovic found the back of the net again only for Thiago Silva, Alex, and Javier Pastore to weigh in as well to send PSG top of the group.

Their next fixture is away to Porto who began their campaign with a 2- 0 win over Dinamo Zagreb.

Meanwhile in Group B, Montpelier fans disappointed not to get a point at home, though the team fought hard right up to the end. Montpelier were 2-1 down in the second half after goals from Arsenals Lukas Podolski and Gervinho. But the French side kept on applying the pressure late into the match, but Arsenal stayed firm in defense to take the victory.

(inaudible) Inter Milan coach called Tuesday scoreless home draw against Anderlecht a small step forward for the struggling Italian giants. Milan had already lost two league games this season at the San Siro.

And what a start for Malaga's Champion's League story. The Spaniards put three past Zenit St. Petersburg after million dollar new recruit Hulk was handed a yellow card into injury time.

Chelsea boss Robert Di Matteo insists his side can do what no other has ever done and successfully defend a Champion's League crown. They kick off the defense of their title against reigning champions of Italy, Juventus later on Wednesday. Juve taking the opposite approach, though, goalkeeper Gianluigi Buffon playing down his side's chances, saying there are more experienced teams ahead of them. Di Matteo, though, says his side can achieve the impossible starting tonight at Stamford Bridge.

Wayne Rooney could make a return from his horrific leg injury for Manchester United tonight as they kick off their campaign against Galatasaray of Turkey. He took part in full training on Tuesday, could play a part from the bench as Sir Alex Ferguson's side look to make amends for their group stage exit from last year. Robin Van Persie also poised for a Champion's League debut for his new club.

Also on Wednesday, Barcelona will be entertaining Spartak Moscow of Russia. While last seasons beaten finalists Bayern Munich hosts Valencia of Spain.

Kristie, it is busy.

That is it for me for now.

LU STOUT: Indeed. Amanda Davies there. Thank you.

And you are watching News Stream. And still ahead, bombed buildings and schools turn to rubble. The rights group Amnesty International accuses the Syrian government of showing absolute disregard for civilians.

And after weeks of labor unrest, a new pay deal with send a group of South African miners back to work.


LU STOUT: I'm Kristie Lu Stout in Hong Kong. You're watching NEWS STREAM, and these are your world headlines.

Now France plans to close many of its embassies and schools around the world this Friday. It is a temporary measure after the satirical magazine "Charlie Hebdo" published cartoons said to depict the Prophet Muhammad. Now last week, violent demonstrations swept the Middle East. Muslims protested over a film made privately in the U.S. that mocked their religion.

Now U.S. Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney says he stands by comments he made during a private fundraiser in May. Romney said he will never attract some 47 percent of voters because they depend on government assistance and believe government should care for them.

Now Mr. Obama responded during his hearings under these talk shows saying a U.S. president should work for everyone.

Now authorities are investigating an explosion in northwest Pakistan. Police officials tell CNN that Wednesday's blast killed at least eight people on the outskirts of Peshawar. At least 32 people were hurt and the authorities expect that the attack targeted a vehicle that was carrying several Pakistani Air Force officials.

And after six weeks of sometimes deadly demonstrations in South Africa, striking miners have agreed to go back to work. That's after their employer, Lonmin, agreed to give them more pay.



STOUT (voice-over): Now you can hear the happiness following news of the deal. And workers will now earn between $1,000 and $1,300 a month before taxes. Now that is far less than the $1,500 net salary they demanded. But it marks up to a 22 percent increase from their old earnings.

Now work at the Marikana mine is set to resume on Thursday. But there is word of fresh demonstrations elsewhere. Now Nkepile Mabuse joins us now live from Marikana.

Nkepile, at that mine, we have an agreement, even though the workers will receive far less money than they wanted. So how did they reach this agreement, this deal?

NKEPILE MABUSE, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, Kristie, reaction has been mixed. You all know that these miners were demanding $1,500 U.S. dollars after tax. That was more than 300 percent of what they were earning before. So some of them are saying that this deal is not good enough.

But I think overall, people are happy and have welcomed the fact that at this end of the strike, as some of the miners tell me, that they were -- they felt under pressure to sign this deal because of the crackdown that was launched by the police last week.

We know that on Friday, the government announced that it will no longer tolerate illegal marches and illegal gatherings. And on Saturday, there was a huge raid conducted here at Marikana. And many of the residents feel hounded by the police.

And as you mentioned, just earlier, (inaudible) police today dispersed a crowd that they felt was a gathering illegally armed with machetes. They used tear gas and sound grenades to disperse the crowd, repeating again that they will no longer be tolerating this illegal gathering from people, Kristie.

STOUT: Now the strike had started there at Lonmin, but the unrest had spread to the other mines. So now that Lonmin will soon return to work, will the situation stabilize across the mining sector in South Africa? Or is it still very much a tense situation?

MABUSE: It's very much a tense watch-and-see situation. As I speak to you right now, there's still heavy police presence here at Marikana and in the (inaudible) region, where you find many of the huge platinum producers and (inaudible) is the world's biggest platinum producer. And it had trouble outside its mines today. So it may be the end of this strike at Lonmin, but it's not the end of trouble here.


STOUT: And also the economic fallout of the mine strike, due to the work stoppage, the unrest, just how much production has been lost?

MABUSE: Well, the president actually this week, earlier this week, mentioned that the country has lost over 500 million in lost production in both the gold and the platinum sectors. So government's very worried about the implications of what's happening here long-term to the industry. We'll know that mining (inaudible) in South Africa the backbone of this country's economy. Kristie?

STOUT: Thank you, Nkepile Mabuse, joining us live from Marikana, thank you.

And moving to events in Syria now, and Amnesty International has released a new briefing based on first-hand investigations into attacks that killed more than 160 civilians.

Now the organization looked into 26 towns in the northwest regions of Syria, where the deaths occurred earlier this month. And in this report, investigators from Amnesty International found that government forces are indiscriminately targeting areas under opposition control with no regard for the civilian population.

Now the report comes as opposition activists say at least 60 people were killed by security forces across Syria on Wednesday. Let's go to Nick Paton Walsh, who is live in Beirut, Lebanon, with more.

And Nick, indiscriminate bombing on civilians? Tell us more about the Amnesty report and the violence today inside Syria.

NICK PATON WALSH, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, there's never been any doubt that the Syrian regime forces are shelling residential areas in many cities across the country. You see the results of that every day. The question is what are they targeting.

Are those strikes somehow justified because they're looking for rebel military targets. This Amnesty International report is (inaudible) 26 separate places in the last month in which these heavy weapons were used, most of the launched on the air, from the air onto these towns. They concluded in 25 of those 26 cases, there was no military target aligned to the rebels in the area at all.

But the heavy weapons could have been aiming at. But interestingly, they looked at one of the 26 and determined that actually probably was a strike aimed at a rebel military target. The difference they distinguished was the kind of weapon used to attack that military target with slightly more sophisticated. It was more accurate.

And the conclusion they drew from that was when the Syrian regime are trying to attack civilian areas that reasonably relaxed about accuracy and accurate weapons are used. But when they have a military target in mind, they change to a Russian-made rocket called an S-5, which is fractionally more accurate.

Adding weight to this belief amongst many analysts of what's been happening, particularly in the north, that actually the indiscriminate nature of the shelling is, in fact, deliberate and in fact, it's aimed to try and inflict fear upon the population, Kristie, something we've seen again today, as you say, 60 are dead across the country, the majority of which in Damascus, 20 bodies found in a suburb there called Jobar, Kristie.

STOUT: And meanwhile, we know that Iran's foreign minister is in Damascus today. He's already met with his Syrian counterpart. He is due to meet with President Bashar al-Assad. When they sit down, what will they discuss?

PATON: Well, at this point, he said -- Ali Akbar Salehi has said that he wants to exchange views with different Syrian groups to try and find a way out of the crisis, which will be acceptable for all parties. In the past few days, Iranian officials have been shuttling around the region.

The head of National Security Council recently in Turkey yesterday, in fact, to meet Turkish PM Erdogan and then recently in Cairo, a summit of other regional powers in a bid to try and start some sort of political process which might stop the conflict. And you have to bear in mind, really, the key phrase from today from Salehi is "acceptable to all parties."

Iran is seen by the Free Syrian Army and by rebel groups as being a key backer of the Syrian regime, so quite how they will be able to foment some sort of political negotiation which will end this crisis seems quite farfetched, Kristie.

STOUT: And also, is there a bounty for the capture of the Syrian president, Bashar al-Assad? What is the Free Syrian Army saying?

PATON: Well, earlier this week, there was an announcement that $25 million would be offered for Bashar al-Assad dead or alive. The Free Syrian Army quite quickly came out and said that that came from a group called the Free Syrian Army of the Revolution, which is based, apparently, out of Egypt and it was not affiliated with them.

They seemed to distance themselves from the idea of this bounty, in fact, saying it was quite silly to throw a number out there and say wanted dead or alive. And (inaudible) at this point, it does seem, given the intense fractionalism of the brutality of this conflict that the sudden injection of a large amount of cash like that is going to topple the Syrian regime, Kristie.

STOUT: Nick Paton Walsh reporting, thank you.

You're watching NEWS STREAM. And coming up next, charting the future for the U.S. military. Now the two White House rivals offer two very different options. We have the details ahead.

And we'll look at the terrible hardships of African refugees that tried to reach a faraway destination in the search for a better life.




STOUT: Welcome back. Now violent attacks in Afghanistan are overshadowing the ongoing U.S. handover of authority to the Afghan government. And the attacks are also putting the spotlight on the challenges ahead for the U.S. and its military. No matter who wins November's U.S. presidential election. Now Pentagon correspondent Barbara Starr has more on that.


BARBARA STARR, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): How many troops and just what weapons are needed to defend the nation. President Obama and Governor Mitt Romney each are making a different case.

Governor Romney has said he wants to significantly add to our conventional forces.

FORMER GOV. MITT ROMNEY, R-MASS., PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: We must have a commitment not just to more ships and more aircraft but also in my view to more members of our Armed Forces.

STARR (voice-over): President Obama wants a smaller conventional force and $500 billion in Pentagon spending cuts over the next 10 years.

BARACK OBAMA, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: And so long as I'm commander in chief, we will sustain the strongest military the world has ever known.

STARR (voice-over): Let's start with the Romney plan. The candidate says he favors a larger force of naval ships and aircraft but has not said how he'd pay for it. Romney has also said he wants to add 100,000 troops to the current force of 1.4 million.

Now for a look at Obama's plan. As part of $500 billion in spending cuts, President Obama says he wants to get rid of older ships and delay buying new ones. He also proposes cutting the Army by some 66,000 and reducing the Marine Corps by another 20,000. Obama envisions continuing use of small special forces teams and unmanned drones, a signature weapon of the last decade.

But Romney's surrogate and former DOD comptroller, Dov Zakheim says not so fast.

DOV SAKHEIM, FORMER DOD COMPTROLLER: There's no objective, no ideological objection at all, to having drones, unmanned aerial vehicles, unmanned subsurface vehicles, unmanned surface vehicles, all kinds of unmanned vehicles. The issue is to what extent do you rely almost exclusively on drones and on special forces?

STARR (voice-over): For President Obama, secret CIA drone attacks against militants in Pakistan and Yemen have had results without risking putting U.S. troops on the ground. He told CNN's Jessica Yellin --

OBAMA: It has to be a situation in which we can't capture the individual before they move forward on some sort of operational plot against the United States.

PETER SINGER, BROOKINGS INSTITUTION: I don't think whether Obama or Romney wins we're going to see this technology go away or see any greater minimized use in it because of their own approach. I think we've seen the -- President Obama's most definitely willing to utilize these, actually been a signature part of his counterterrorism agenda. And it would be very hard for Romney to roll that back, even if he wanted to.

STARR: Whether it's Romney or Obama in the Oval Office, the bigger problem with drones may be the international pushback from governments and human rights groups increasingly voicing their opposition -- Barbara Starr, CNN, the Pentagon.


STOUT: Now the CNN Freedom Project's commitment to the fight against human trafficking continues this week as we take a closer look at the plight of African refugees trying to reach Israel. In the documentary "A Stand in the Sinai," Fred Pleitgen uncovers just what they face at the hands of smugglers. Here's a preview.



FRED PLEITGEN, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): The would-be migrants start their journeys in Sudan or Eritrea, trying to escape poverty and, in many cases, political opposition. By the time they reach northern Sudan, they fall into the hands of smugglers who take them overland to Sinai. Some, only a few, make it to Israel.

Others are sold to the human traffickers who then begin the process of extorting huge ransoms from family members around the world. The Bedouin leaders who are trying to stop this pipeline of extortion not only have huge distances and determined adversaries to contend with, they also have very little government support.

The United Nations Refugee Agency has no presence in Sinai to help the refugees, but it has established contact with the sheikhs who are trying to rescue them.

MOHAMED DAYRI, UNHCR RECNL REPRESENTATIVE: Thanks to some local religious leaders and tribal leaders in the Sinai, we have been able in the last few months, in 2012, this year, to get these people fleeing what they use to face in the Sinai.

PLEITGEN (voice-over): For these people, there is no such thing as a quick fix. But as we found out, miracles do happen.


STOUT: Now join us Friday for the premiere of "A Stand in the Sinai," the powerful follow up to Fred Pleitgen's award-winning documentary, "Death in the Desert." Now Fred's first report uncovered tales of African refugees suffering torture, slavery and organ harvesting at the hands of Bedouin desert captors.

And now it looks at what tribal leaders are doing to stop this shocking practice. "A Stand in the Sinai," the CNN Freedom Project documentary, debuts Friday, 11:30 pm in Hong Kong. That's 4:30 in the afternoon in London. You're watching NEWS STREAM. We'll be back right after this.


STOUT: Welcome back. Now the space shuttle Endeavour is heading to its retirement home in California. It left Florida a short time go on the last ferry flight of the shuttle era. And the journey will take three days. Endeavour will fly over space centers in at least five states and it dips to a low altitude so people can get a good view.

And as you can see, Endeavour is a passenger on its final flight. The shuttles are carried by specifically modified Boeing 747s and one has its cheeky sonnet . It reads, "Attach orbiter here, note, black side down." Proves that even rocket scientists have a sense of humor.

Now still, the departure of Endeavour is bittersweet for Kennedy Space Center. And John Zarrella is there, and he joins us now live.

And, John, I know we've seen it before, but the sight is incredible. The space shuttle on top of a 747. Tell us what you saw in the last hour, the departure of Endeavour.

JOHN ZARRELLA, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Yes, it really is spectacular and they had about 2,000 people out here at the Kennedy Space Center, many of them people who had worked on the shuttle program for 30-plus years out here. And just a spectacular sight. It's no easy chore getting that space shuttle on top of the 747.

They have to lift it with specially modified equipment and then they have to lower it back down on top of the 747. And then bolt it onto the 747 at those just those right spots you were mentioning there, Kristie, where, you know, it says "attach space shuttle here," and that's exactly what they have to do.

And once they're airborne, as they were this morning, they flew over the Kennedy Space Center, did a few flybys; they flew at 200 feet when they flew by Kennedy for the very last time on their way out to the ultimate destination, which will be, of course, the California Science Center. And they will be there on Friday of the afternoon Eastern time here in the United States, Kristie.

STOUT: And John, I want to get your thoughts on the legacy of Endeavour. It was the youngest shuttle in the fleet. But how should it be remembered?

ZARRELLA: Yes, it really was, and you know, many people in the audience probably recall the 1986 Challenger disaster. And Endeavour was really born out of that disaster. It never would have been built if they had not had the Challenger explosion right here at the Kennedy Space Center back then in '86.

And Endeavour rolled off the assembly line in 1991, flew its first mission in '92 -- 25 total missions, 123 million miles that it flew over that course of time. Some very high-profile missions: its first one rescuing a satellite in space and then reboosting that satellite to a proper orbit. It was the shuttle that was used for the very first Hubble servicing mission.

And I think one of the great tributes to it was that the teacher in space who died, Christa McAuliffe, on the shuttle Challenger, her backup for that flight was another teacher named Barbara Morgan. And Barbara Morgan actually made her flight into space on Endeavour which replaced Challenger.

STOUT: Endeavour flew so many high-profile missions.

John Zarrella joining us live, thank you.

Now we know that our Mari Ramos will be keeping an eye on Endeavour as it makes its way to Los Angeles. And she joins us now from the World Weather Center with more. Mari?

MARI RAMOS, AMS METEOROLOGIST: Hey, Kristie, you know, it's so cool, everything that's happening with the shuttle. And that hashtag again on Twitter, #spottheshuttle for people that get a chance to see the shuttle. And you know, many people might get that chance as we've been saying. The weather delayed this whole takeoff, at least by one day.

It did take off, though, as John was telling us from the Kennedy Space Center. And we don't know exactly where the shuttle is right now. We do know that it is planned, anyway, that it could do a low flyover along the Mississippi Gulf Coast region and maybe even pass closer to eastern New Orleans. This might be a little bit of a challenge, though.

The flight path, the precise flight path always depends on the weather. They're flying at a lower altitude than normal spacecraft. They're carrying, of course, a very large load. It's a very sensitive mission. They have aircraft, jet fighter aircraft that fly ahead of it and they actually check the weather. So sometimes they'll have to reroute the plan, depending on the weather patterns.

And we had a big area of high pressure that moved through here, very strong northerly winds moving along the Gulf Coast. So we'll have to see. Hopefully they'll get to do that flyover in just about an hour or so along the Gulf Coast region here. It is on its way to Houston. It will land at Ellington Airport, which is, of course, not too far from the Johnson Space Center here.

And there will be a thing for people to be able to watch before that happens though. And as our buildings on 3D grow right over here, it should pass close to the Houston skyline if they're able to do that low flyover.

And the weather for this actually expected to be pretty nice. Then they take it back to Ellington Field, of course, where it's going to land and people can watch it until 9 o'clock tonight. It's open for visitors. So that's pretty cool. And then after that, it eventually goes from here about a, what, 1,100 -- about 800 kilometers away here, to the big airfield.

And from there it should be moving -- this is just for a quick refueling stop -- moving on to Edwards Air Force Base. So it is another (inaudible) hop, but another 1,000 kilometers away. And from there, it finally makes its last stop at LAX. So pretty cool stuff, all of this expected to happen in the next few days. It's going to take about, like you said, three days, weather permitting, for it to reach L.A.

Then it won't be on display until the middle of October, though. Want to move it through the city streets of L.A. and into those areas. I want to go ahead and (inaudible) completely, though, because there's some awesome video, Kristie, I totally have to share with you guys.

This is something that you don't get to see every day. And actually, scientists haven't seen too many of them. We're going to head to Australia, right into the middle of the Outback. Let me roll the video, because this is so cool.

Have you ever seen that, Kristie? This is a fire tornado. We've heard of dust devils or dirt devils, but this was a very interesting site that a filmmaker caught in Australia back on September 11th. He says he had never seen anything like that and while scientists usually think that these phenomenons (sic) tend to last maybe a few minutes at a time, this was a wildfire, bush fire, that was already burning.

And then these dust, these fire devils or fire tornadoes began forming very quickly. They're not real tornadoes; they're smaller, they're not as intense. And they're usually caused by a -- that warm air rising very quickly. It finds an open pocket of cooler air on top and you get this huge column of air just shooting up into the sky.

He said he saw several of them, some made out of smoke, some made out of fire, like the ones that you see here. And while they usually only last a few minutes, he said he saw some that lasted up to 40 minutes. Amazing. I cannot believe my eyes when I saw that. I just -- my mouth is just open. Anyway, back to you.

STOUT: Yes, that was me just a moment ago. That wasn't CGI. That was the real thing.

RAMOS: The real thing.

STOUT: Quite a sight. And thanks for the share.

RAMOS: Sure thing.

STOUT: Wow. Mari Ramos there, thank you.

Now this just into us here at CNN: now a Danish magazine says it plans to print topless photos of Catherine, the Duchess of Cambridge. Now the magazine's editor says the photos will appear in this Thursday's edition. It is not clear whether they will be the same photos recently published in a French magazine and elsewhere.

Now a French court ruled this week, fined the French magazine and ordered it not to distribute or print the photos which were taken while the Duchess was on a private holiday. And that is NEWS STREAM. But the news continues at CNN. "WORLD BUSINESS TODAY" is next.