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Syrian Army Vows To Die To Protect Country; World Leaders Prepare For Opening of General Assembly; U.S. Marines Talk About Camp Bastion Attack; Barack Obama Bobblehead Sent to Space

Aired September 25, 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 Syria with a look inside the opposition stronghold of Homs where Syrian government forces say the are ready to die for their country.

Also ahead, taking a tough stance on Tehran, U.S. president Barack Obama will speak at the United Nations after his Iranian counterpart causes early controversy.

And a dramatic confrontation in the East China Sea, vessels from Japan and Taiwan fire water at one another as tensions escalate over disputed islands.

Now Syria's civil war is expected to dominate the opening of the United Nations general assembly debate today. As world leaders gather at UN headquarters in New York, fighting continues to rage half a world away.

Now opposition activists and the regime say powerful explosions shook a Syrian intelligence security compound in the capital Damascus. Now details are still coming in, but Syrian state TV is reporting at least seven people have been injured. And as the conflict drags on, the city of Homs bears deep scars from 18 months of unrest. Now the opposition stronghold remains a battleground where government soldiers and rebels fight for every street.

Now ITN's Bill Neely is inside Homs talking to Syrian troops who tell him they're in it for the long haul.


BILL NEELY, ITN CORRESPONDENT: He is ready to kill. A Syrian army sniper aims through a crack in the wall. This is the hidden front line. From their firing point, they target rebel positions just 50 yards away.

Every day, men die here. This is Homs, the heart of the war, and here it is stalemate. The streets here are so deadly, we move through holes in walls and houses up to near darkness and another sniper. He waits in total silence.


NEELY: It's never quiet for long. These Syrian troops are trying to take back whole districts the rebels have held for months. They are edgy. The rebels killed five of their men just hours earlier.

So, in Homs, they run for their lives, and we do too. They have been doing it for longer than they ever expected.

Why is the war lasting so long?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It will be continuing months, today, one year. We don't know. We don't know.

I'm ready to die, and all these persons ready to die for Syria.

NEELY: One-and-a-half years after it began, and the battle for this city and for Syria grinds on relentlessly. The bombardment of Homs, the war here is as intense as ever. These soldiers say they have the rebels trapped in this area and that the battle will be over soon.

Whole neighborhoods here are a wasteland, the signs of battle on every building. Few civilians remain. It's almost a shock to see them.

In your heart, when you see your area like this...

SALEH SHATTOUR, SYRIA: Well, I have no heart at all. Can you imagine this loss --I feel very sorry for what has happened.

NEELY: How long will this go on for here?

SHATTOUR: I don't know. God alone knows. God alone knows.

NEELY: The war here is almost macabre. Bizarrely, a mannequin marks the deadliest junction. But few places here are safe for anyone.

So, as world leaders at the United Nations begin to talk again of Syria deadlocked in disagreement, the snipers on both sides take their positions, death on their minds, victory in their sights.

Bill Neely, ITV News, Homs.


LU STOUT: But it's not only soldiers and rebels who are caught up in the fight for Syria, there are reports of new atrocities. And these reports are coming from the youngest witnesses to war: Syria's children.

I want to bring in Nick Paton-Walsh in Beirut Lebanon. And Nick, Save the Children has issued a report about the youngest victims of Syria's war. Walk us through the findings.

NICK PATON-WALSH, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: It's very simple. It's a series of first person accounts over the suffering of, as you say, the very youngest victims in this now 18 month long war.

Let me just read you some of the more gripping testimonies, a series of accounts I say put together and released today ahead of the United Nations general assembly I think to remind people hopefully of this continued suffering of the very youngest people caught in this conflict.

Khalid , 15 years old, talked about how his own school was in fact turned into a torture center where he was hung up from the ceiling by his wrists with his feet off the ground and was then beaten. And then a 13 year old Imani who said once I was in the shelter I was so scared I had a fit. My sister told me it was a nervous breakdown. And then a mother, Rezan , talks about how she sees two soldiers in the street place a bet as to who will shoot the eight year old boy in front of them. They do so. And then watch him die slowly from his injuries.

But this toll, this violence continuing all day just simply today in Damascus, a plume of smoke on the skyline apparently a key intelligence building hit by two explosions. State TV saying seven people were injured. Rebel activists saying dozens were killed. This a key building where accusations of torture have been made. People have apparently been sexually tortured according to reporting by Human Rights Watch, a part of intelligence services called the Palestinian branch.

The smoke, again, whatever the total number of casualties, billowing over an area that should be a government stronghold, Kristie.

LU STOUT: So more violence in Syria this day. And the children of Syria tortured, traumatized and scared.

Now Nick, on the Diplomatic front, the prime minister of Qatar, he has proposed a plan B for ending the bloodshed there in Syria. What plan does he have in mind?

PATON-WALSH: Well, this plan B seems to really be because plan A, the hope for immediate intervention by the west in some sort of military form hasn't really happened as yet. Sheik Hamad bin Jassim al Thani spoke to Christiane Amanpour in which he outlined a suggestion of a more humanitarian zone that could be created. And of course really pointing for the need for other countries to install a no-fly zone over Syria. Let's hear what he had to say.


CHRISTIANE AMANPOUR, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Who would participate in this plan B as you put it, the safe havens, safe areas, no- fly zone.

HAMAD BIN JASSIM AL THANI, PRIME MINISTER OF QATAR: I believe there is a lot of Arab countries will participate. And there is also European countries will participate. And what we need, we need United States of America -- I know to be more frank that there is election now and we are in an election period, maybe that's not a diplomatic way to say it, but I hope that after the election the American government look at this matter in a different way.

And I always meant no military intervention, but we need to take some measures, and we need these measures with the United States, the European countries, the Arab countries, the Muslim countries to save the Syrian people.


PATON-WALSH: You really can't install a no-fly zone without America being key and central to all of that.

The Obama administration, as the prime minister pointed out there, is keen to stay well out of another Middle Eastern conflict ahead of an election in which the White House would be judged on how it's handling the economy and America's balance of debt. But really it is a no-fly zone is vital for civilians there being pounded daily in residential areas. And of course also to (inaudible) any rebel advances they make. They can push forward against the Syria regime, but always vulnerable to jets and gunships striking them afterwards.

America's top military official, General Martin Dempsey, has said he believes a no-fly zone can be implemented, is possible, but it's going to be a very tricky affair, complex, the Russian supplied air defense systems remarkably sophisticated by previous standards and that will make a very complex task for any American or foreign forces to try and implement the Qatari prime minister's plan - Kristie.

LU STOUT: Yeah. And meanwhile at the United Nations there has been diplomatic deadlock. We know that China and Russia, they have continually blocked resolutions for tougher action against Damascus. What can be achieved at the UN General Assembly this week?

PATON-WALSH: I think it's highly unlikely that we will see a (inaudible) on any of Syria's major backers here to cause some sort of binding or powerful resolution. Really I think this week is about drawing attention to what's continually happening to civilians on the ground there. Even the UN envoy to the crisis Lakhdar Brahimi said that the time really now is no longer to talk about reform, as Syrian president Bashar al-Assad has said, this situation requires change.

He's also talked about the impossibility of his task. So I think there is a sense perhaps from UN officials working on this that they're exhausting their possibilities. They need some sort of game-changer maybe to try and stop the continuing bloodshed on the ground, this daily toll of brutality. We bring you the numbers, but you can't really imagine exactly what 200 plus dead a day looks like on the ground inside Syria.

As people looking to New York today really to see if something more than rhetoric can come from it, but really perhaps expecting not much more than further publicizing the daily death toll - Kristie.

LU STOUT: Nick Paton-Walsh joining us live from Beirut on the story for us. Thank you.

Now Syria's civil war will no doubt be a major discussion point at the UN General Assembly when debate officially opens in the next hour. And U.S. President Barack Obama will be among the first world leaders to address the hall. We'll bring you his speech to you live when it happens.

Now Iran's president gets his turn in front of the General Assembly on Wednesday, but Mahmoud Ahmadinejad has already made some controversial comments. On Monday he stated that Israel had no roots in the Middle East. Now his hard line comes as no surprise. Such talk has prompted diplomats at the UN to walk out on his speeches for the past three years in a row.

And the United Nations says Secretary-General Ban Ki moon Met with Mr. Ahmadinejad last weekend and warned him of the potentially harmful consequences of inflammatory rhetoric.

Let's go live now to the United Nation's senior UN correspondent Richard Roth is standing by. And Richard, tension is clearly high over Iran and its nuclear program. Tell us how it's likely to play out this week at the UN.

RICHARD ROTH, CNN SENIOR UN CORRESPONDENT: It's not likely to change the relationship between the United States, Iran, and the United Nations. The UN inspectors still have major questions on Iran's nuclear program, the president of Iran is here. He's already been at the UN headquarters. He was already telling reporters again questioning about Israel and its nuclear program and why doesn't the Security Council do anything about it. That was at a rule of law conference.

Ahmadinejad does speak Wednesday.

President Obama's turn is today in an hour or two. The president of the United States arrived yesterday in New York. It'll be a lightning fast 24 hour visit with no heads of state meeting scheduled, which is quite rare. Usually last year he met with 12 other heads of state. It is an election year.

Iran, though, is going to be one of the major topics of Iran's - of the president of the United States remarks to the General Assembly. And in one of the excerpts released already by the White House, he is expected to tell the General Assembly, quote, "we respect the right of nations to access peaceful nuclear power, but one of the purposes of the United Nations is to see that we harness that power for peace. Make not mistake, a nuclear armed Iran is not a challenge that can be contained."

The United Nations Security Council, of course, has issued four resolutions regarding sanctions on Tehran. They are supposed to have make a difference. They've bitten hard, but still Iran's leaders, not necessarily Ahmadinejad calling the shot, are still holding firm. They say they're nuclear program has only peaceful intentions - Kristie.

LU STOUT: So Iran front and center at the UN General Assembly this week. And there will also be plenty of attention on the new year-and-a- half long conflict in Syria. Your thoughts on what will happen there in terms of efforts to end the bloodshed?

ROTH: No deal here, say diplomats and ministers I've talked to, probably references in speeches. Japan already decried the loss of life there in a speech last night. The United States president certainly will mention Syria. The Arab Spring has certainly turned bitter in Syria. Last year there was more sense of momentum as you see leaders and delegations arriving for the president and other leaders' speeches, including the president of France today.

The UN envoy for Syria, Lakhdar Brahimi delivered another grim assessment of the deteriorating situation in Syria. Yesterday to the Security Council Brahimi headed back to the region in a few days. He still has, he says, some things in his diplomatic toolbox to work out, but the violence, of course, is making toolboxes seem a little antiquated at the moment.

LU STOUT: Well said. Richard Roth joining us live from New York. Thank you.

You're watching News Stream. And coming up next, a fresh complication in the dispute over islands in the East China Sea as Taiwan wades deeper into the battle.

And who's stance is tougher on China? U.S. Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney says President Obama is leading from Behind.

Also, staying connected, some people can't live without their cell phone so flying on a plane can be excruciating, but is that about to change? A look at how airlines are evolving to keep up with your mobile technology.


LU STOUT: Welcome back.

Now there is a new twist in the heated dispute over a group of islands in the East China Sea. Now China and Japan have long been at odds over ownership of the islands, but on Tuesday dozens of fishing boats and 12 coast guard vessels from Taiwan entered waters near the disputed islands. Now the Japanese coast guard says it issued a warning and fired water cannon on the ships, which then turned around, but not before firing high pressure hoses in return.

Taiwan's news agency says the boats were there to assert their fishing rights.

Meanwhile, China's vice foreign minister Zhang Zhijun met with his Japanese counterpart Chikai Kawai in Beijing on Tuesday to discuss the dispute. And while the two sides agree to keep the lines of communication open, China continue to reiterate its stance on the issue.


ZHAN ZHIJUN, CHINA VICE FOREIGN MINISTER (through translator): China can absolutely can not tolerate Japan's unilateral actions of infringing on China's territorial sovereignty. Japan must abandon its illusions, reflect deeply, and correct its mistakes with concrete actions. It must come back to the understanding and consensus reached by leaders of the two countries.


LU STOUT: Now as we get closer to the U.S. presidential election now just six weeks away, there is tough talk on China. Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney has called for President Obama to formally declare China a currency manipulator in a trade report due out in October. Now the Romney campaign says China's currently manipulation has taken hundreds of thousands of jobs from the U.S. And I quote, "President Obama is leading from behind on taking on China."

Now in his presidential campaign, Romney has promised to declare China a currently manipulator on his first day in office.

Now both campaigns have released new adds accusing each other of being weak on China. Now Brian Todd did some fact checking.


BRIAN TODD, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): They're both hitting the trail in Ohio this week. That means telling voters what they're doing to fight for the American worker and what the other guy isn't. Their battle lines play out in new ads, sparring over who's tougher on China. Mitt Romney's latest commercial accuses the president of not standing up to China when he had the chance to formally label the Chinese currency manipulators.

ANNOUNCER: Seven times Obama could have taken action. Seven times he said no.

TODD (on camera): Is that true?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Technically, yes.

TODD (voice-over): But with a caveat says Nicholas Lardy, an analyst on China for the Peterson Institute, a nonpartisan think tank. Lardy says the administration does have a chance twice a year to tell Congress if any country has manipulated its currency. China has often been accused of keeping the value of its currency artificially low in order to boost its exports. But if the White House does tell Congress that a country is manipulating its currency, that would trigger formal negotiations with that country which in turn could prompt Congress to take action to punish the offender. The last time an administration cited China as a manipulator was in 1994. And what results did those talks produce?

NICHOLAS LARDY, PETERSON INST. FOR INTERNATIONAL ECONOMICS: They didn't really produce very much. But I'm not really very surprised by that because at that time China did not have a big global trade surplus.

TODD: The Obama administration has avoided formally labeling China as a manipulator.

(on camera): But that doesn't mean the Obama administration has never taken any action to pressure China, right, on trade?

LARDY: No they -- I would say they've done two things. They have had a very, very concerted effort at the top of our government and the Chinese government to have very intensive discussions on economic issues and the so-called strategic and economic dialogue. A number of cases have been brought to the WTO where we believe China has not been living up to its international obligations. These have been intellectual property, auto parts is the most recent.

TODD (voice-over): Which brings us to the latest Obama ad on China.

ANNOUNCER: When a flood of Chinese tires threatened 1,000 American jobs, it was President Obama who stood up to China and protected American workers.

TODD (on camera): That refers to the administration imposing stiff tariffs on Chinese-made tires back in 2009. Tire manufacturing jobs in the U.S. did increase by more than 1,000 over the next two years and the imports of Chinese tires did drop. But Nicholas Lardy has a caveat for that, too.

LARDY: It turns out that our imports from other suppliers, other countries, some in Asia, some in Eastern Europe, went up.

TODD: A tire industry lobbying group says because of that those tariffs imposed by the Obama White House didn't work directly to save American jobs and might have even hurt people working in small businesses geared toward bringing tires from China to the U.S.

Brian Todd, CNN, Washington.


LU STOUT: Up next, surfing the net high in the sky, how to stay connected at 30,000 feet, that story is straight ahead.


LU STOUT: Welcome back.

Now even as you're watching this I bet your cell phone is close by. These days people have their mobiles at hand no matter what they're doing: at the movies, during dinner, even in the bathroom. But there's one place where mobile devices are still frequently a no-go, the airplane. Now on many flights, passengers have to turn off their gadgets for a portion of the trip. Now Sandra Endo examines potential changes to those rules.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: And now we'd like for you to pay attention to the following safety video.

SANDRA ENDO, CNN CORREPSONDENT: The announcement air travelers know all too well.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Your mobile phones and other electronic devices should be turned off.

ENDO: But in this age of gadgets, some airlines have found ways to keep passengers connected.

This Emirates Airlines plane makes the 13 hour trip from Dubai to New York twice a day. And passengers on board can stay connected on their cell phones almost the entire time. But when they get close to the U.S. these have to shut off.

The FCC has banned the use of inflight phones since 1991 over concerns they'd interfere with mobile phone systems on the ground. The FAA has said it's concerned about electronic signals disrupting flight instruments. 20 carriers worldwide do provide inflight service which each plane equipped with its own mobile network.

This Airbus A380 has been specially retrofitted with this system where the cabin crew can monitor connectivity. You see the satellite connection, seat connection, seat display, connectivity network and wireless connection. Five green lights and then passengers are free to use their cellphones and other electronic devices.

And it's safe according to what other countries that use it told the FAA in a recent study.

PATRICK BRANNELLY, EMIRATES VICE PRESIDENT: We not jeopardize anything to do with safety at Emirates.

If I look to the future 20, 30 years, for sure you'll be able to use your phone on American aircraft over the United States. I don't think that's - nothing is going to stop that happening.

ENDO: The U.S. government is not even considering allowing passengers to use cellphones on planes, but officials are looking into whether passengers can use devices like these to read or listen to music during takeoff and landing.

Americans Airlines pilots just started using iPads in the cockpit throughout the flight to access maps and other information. Flight attendants will also get tablets to use inside the cabins. And consumer advocates say allowing passengers to do the same during takeoff and landing would only be fair.

CHARLES LEOCHA, CONSUMER TRAVEL ALLIANCE: It kind of bothers consumers and passengers not so much the fact that they can't make cellphone calls, just the fact that they can't use any electronic devices.

ENDO: And he worries one day on domestic U.S. flights dealing with a loud neighbor talking on a mobile phone may be the next in-flight inconvenience.

Sandra Endo, CNN, Washington.


LU STOUT: Now that report is part of our special coverage on News Stream this week. We are focusing on how mobile technology has changed our lives. And you can find more on our website, including the results of our mobile photography challenge, it's at

Now Samsung is requesting a new trial a month after a California court found it infringed on Apple's patents. Now Samsung says it should have a new trial because of jury misconduct. And here is a copy of Samsung's new trial motion.

Now Samsung says the jury's verdict was inconsistent and details what it says are mistakes in how the jury worked out damages. Now remember, the jury had to revise its initial damages verdict after Samsung pointed out that they made mistakes the first time around. Now the next time the court is set to meet on this case is December 6. And for its part, Apple is seeking more damages.

Now still ahead here on News Stream, a Taliban attack that killed two U.S. soldiers in Afghanistan. And now details are emerging of that deadly assault this month as U.S. marines speak out.


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

Now explosions strike a Syrian intelligence compound in Damascus today and the violence continues across the country. And Qatar's prime minister is proposing a plan B for resolving the country's civil war. Now he tells CNN that a no-fly zone, increased humanitarian aid, and safe havens could provide a non-violent solution.

Now UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon welcomed world leaders to New York ahead of today's opening session of the UN General Assembly. Now U.S. President Barack Obama will be one of the first speakers in the civil war in Syria and Iran's nuclear program are expected to be top issues at the UN this week.

Now dozens of fishing boats from Taiwan entered waters near disputed islands in the East China Sea on Tuesday. The Japanese coast guard says the ships have since retreated after being fired on by water cannon. Japan and China both claim ownership of the islands. And Taiwan's news agency reports the fisherman from Taiwan wanted to assert their right to fish there.

Now a radical Muslim cleric may soon be extradited to the United States. Now Abu Hamza has lost his final appeal in the European Court of Human Rights. He was already sentenced to seven years in Britain for inciting hatred and is facing 11 for terror related charges in the U.S.

And we are learning how U.S. forces in Afghanistan fought off a deadly assault earlier this month. The Taliban attack on Camp Bastion damaged or destroyed more American aircraft than any single incident in decades. As Barbara Starr reports, the new firsthand details are coming from U.S. Marines.


MAJ. GREER CHAMBLESS, MARINE ATTACK SQUADRON 211: We see flaming aircrafts, we see the enemy shooting at us. We're seeking cover. We're hearing small arms fire, AK 47s, PKMs, and then at some point soon thereafter see another RPG shot towards us and towards our building.

BARBARA STARR, CNN PENTAGON CORRESPONDENT: For the first time on television, U.S. Marines tell CNN just how bad it got on the night of September 14 here at Camp Bastion in southern Afghanistan when the Taliban got inside the base. Major Greer Chambless and his squadron commander Lieutenant Colonel Christopher Rabel raced tot he scene as the first rounds hit.

CHAMBLESS: He performed heroically that night. He was the first engaging the enemy. He came out of the door. He saw the enemy. He engaged the enemy.

STARR: These Taliban videos, which NATO believe show the insurgents getting ready weeks before the attack, may be a clue to how 15 heavily armed Taliban fighters dressed in U.S. style military uniforms, infiltrated through the fence on the eastern edge of the airfield. When it all happened, the Taliban broke into three groups: one group headed right for the flight line. Six Harrier jets were destroyed, more than $200 million in damage.

Some Marines say it is the largest loss of aircraft since the Vietnam War.

CHAMBLESS: We're hearing ammunition begin to cook off as well as their - as well as their rounds that they're firing at us. We're hearing the sounds of fire as the gases release from the aircraft. So it was, like I said, a surreal scene to behold.

STARR: Staff Sergeant Gustavo Delgado led another team into the firefight.

STAFF SGT. GUSTAVO DELGADO, U.S. MARINE CORPS: It's definitely like the movies, you know, how you see - I mean, the fire was huge, so you can feel the heat hitting your face. You can smell it. You can hear all the snapping and cracking all around the walls all around you.

STARR: For sergeant Bradley Atwell and Christopher Rabel , it would be their final mission: both men died of their wounds. Lieutenant Colonel Rebel remembered by his marines.

CHAMBLESS: He saw a challenge and he took action, he took decisive action. He led his Marines and he lead them from the front.

STARR: Lieutenant Colonel Rabel went up against the Taliban with the only weapon he had: his 9 millimeter pistol. A full investigation remains underway as to how the Taliban got on to Camp Bastion in the first place.

Barbara Starr, CNN, the Pentagon.


LU STOUT: Time for a look at your global forecast. We have monsoon rains in northeast India leaving thousands of people stranded there. Mari Ramos has more. She joins us from the world weather center - Mari.

MARI RAMOS, CNN WEATHER CORRESPONDENT: Yeah, Kristie, this is a growing problem, because the rain has been so significant across these areas of northeastern India. It is already one of the wettest places in the world. We're talking about the north of India right over here.

So here's Bangladesh, here's eastern India. If you continue moving over here you have Myanmar right here along the border.

I want to show you something pretty interesting. This line that you see right here is the Brahmaputra River. And this is what it normally looks like during the dry season, you know. It's still a very large river. It comes along very flat terrain very, very quickly, because it bumps right up, it comes right out of the Himalayas as it makes its way down into the Bay of Bengal crossing through Bangladesh.

But let me show you what it looks like right now. This image is really quite spectacular. This is from NASA. And what you're looking at over here is how large, how much the river actually grows, particularly in these areas right over here. Let's go back to the before so you can see and then now the after over here.

This is about 30 kilometers wide in this area alone where the river before was probably maybe seven to 10 kilometers. This is just an example of how widespread the flooding actually is.

Another area that's particularly interesting that has not received a lot of attention is right over here as we head over into Bangladesh. You see all the water that's right over here. Let's go to the before image, there's no water in this original picture. And that's just an indication of that runoff and how it continues to spread across these areas. You see it one more time in the after and you can see how significant that actually is. So the flooding is widespread.

Let's go ahead and roll the pictures now, because it is pretty impressive. When you see children like this, you know, life goes on when you have flood waters extending several kilometers around. The water is just everywhere and people just have to try to go on with their lives. It has been very difficult.

At least 16 districts in Assam alone are completely underwater as you see there. And there's really no place for people to go. Literally millions of people have been affected by the high water. And while the monsoon rains are generally beneficial, they can really cause some serious problems.

Along these areas like that I mention that are some of the wettest places in the world, we can see in the last few days, actually in the last five days alone, we've seen more than their monthly average rainfall, which is about 330 millimeters of rain. They've had 414, that just gives you an example of the kind of rain that they're having to deal with.

Come back over to the weather map over here. This is the area that we're talking about. And even though they're expecting some isolated rain showers, it's the rain that already fell that's the problem. And notice as we head farther to the south there is some rain for you in Bangladesh, through Myanmar, and even into parts of India as the monsoon continues to retreat from these areas. As far as rainfall as you can see, nothing too significant left over as we head into these regions.

Thailand has had some significant rainfall as well. If we can roll the pictures from Thailand, because here the flooding continues and it is still also widespread, particularly in the northern provinces. In Bangkok proper, you do see some flooding, particularly when it rains. The river levels go up, but then the water tends to go back down. We're watching, though, the runoff from the areas to the north, because that could be a concern as we head through the next few days and weeks, because this is a matter of weeks, not days, until all of this water eventually drains out.

Come back over to the weather map very quickly. We have one more thing to show you, that's our typhoon right here just offshore of the Philippines. This is a very large weather system. Winds 260 kilometers per hour sustained, staying offshore from the Philippines, that's good news. But it is bringing some very heavy rain along central portions of the country.

Now let's go ahead and take a look at your city by city forecast.

And let's go ahead and take a look at these amazing fires that are burning in Spain, that eerie glow that comes in the night sky. Look at that Kristie, there are literally hundreds of firefighters that are battling the flames. This is near that Spanish region of Valencia in eastern Spain. They say the fire has already ravaged more than 5,500 hectares of land since it broke out on Sunday. And 800 personnel are working to try to put the fire out. It's ruined at least six villages about 50 kilometers east inland from the eastern city of Valencia. There's also airplanes that are trying to put this fire out.

The concern is that it's been so dry across Spain. Finally you get a good weather system that comes through here, but the problem is the winds have been so strong across the entire region that is not helping firefighters at all. And to make matters worse, even though temperatures are somewhat lower across the area, they haven't really had any kind of significant rainfall.

So it's unfortunate, but it looks like the weather will not be cooperating, at least not for now, though the winds should be easing just a little bit, Kristie. Back to you.

LU STOUT: Wow, just then looking at the globes of fire against the ridge line, a very eerie sight indeed. Mari Ramos there, thank you.

Now you're watching News Stream. And coming up next, leading the way. We talk to two remarkable women at the top of two very different fields. Their stories next.


LU STOUT: Welcome back.

Now every week CNN brings you stories about Leading Women from around the world, remarkable professionals who have made it to the top in their respective fields. And today, we catch up with Cirque du Soleil casting director Krista Monson, but first CNN's Felicia Taylor talks to Pfizer executive Frita Lewis-Hall.


FRITZ LEWIS-HALL, PFIZER: As a chief medical officer, I am a member of our executive leadership team. I am the physician that is most senior and responsible for the health outcomes of patients.

FELICIA TAYLOR, CNN CORRESPONDENT: During a lunch session at Pfizer headquarters in New York, Dr. Frita Lewis-Hall addresses a group of visiting graduate students.

LEWIS-HALL: We have everything from medicines in the marketplace like Vilantin that have been actively used since the 1930s to our most novel precision medicines recently developed and deployed into the marketplace.

TAYLOR: Articulating her company's vision and what she views as the challenges ahead.

LEWIS-HALL: The global health challenges will bring us collectively to our knees unless we can find better intervention, better medicines, better vaccines, and better ways to engage people in their health care.

TAYLOR: She also shares her life lessons.

LEWIS-HALL: And my father told me when I was a teenager to relax and to simply remember that I would ultimately be judged on three things. The first is what I've left behind. The second is who I bring behind. And the third is what I've learned along the way.

TAYLOR: At this point in your career, what's next? Where do you want to go?

LEWIS-HALL: Ooh. It's interesting that you would ask that. I often talk about reaching a pinnacle role, which is the point where you have the broadest potential impact and the deepest possible satisfaction. And I really feel inspired every day by the impact that I can have and I'm so satisfied with what I'm able to achieve you know here at Pfizer in the role as chief medical officer.

These were the things that made we want to be a doctor.

TAYLOR: A journey that began with a fascination in science, but lead to a career in medicine. And now to her position as one of the highest ranking executives in the pharmaceutical industry.

LEWIS-HALL: I've been asked before do you have it all? I don't know, but I can't imagine what's missing. I have an amazing family, a wonderful job, an opportunity to help people. I just don't know how it gets better.

LU STOUT: I'm Kristie Lu Stout. It's easy to see Krista Monson fully enjoys her role as director of casting for Cirque du Soleil's resident shows. She had a long career as a dancer and choreography before she got to Cirque.

KRISTA MONSON, CIRQUE DU SOLEIL: How is everything going?

UNIDNETIFIED MALE: Very well, thank you.

LU STOUT: The theater is in her blood.

MONSON: It's a really sacred moment for me to be in an empty theater. There's no audience. And the lights - the house lights are off. And there's some conversations happening here and there, but it's just a real sacred yet really raw moment.

LU STOUT: At the office, she keeps things light. Here, she has a bubble gum blowing contest at the end of a meeting with her talent scouts.

MONSON: I mean, at Cirque du Soleil we're not juggling in the hallways, we're working hard. I feel it's important to remind ourselves to have fun and to laugh a lot and when people feel safe and they're having fun that's when they'll take risk.

This is what someone - one of the musicians at one of the shows gave me. So for me, it - it's really, really, really important to love what you do and that's when you give others around you the most respect.

LU STOUT: For Monson, her leadership advice comes from something she learned as artistic director for Cirque du Soleil's show O in Las Vegas.

MONSON: When I came to O as the artistic director, it had already been running for six years. And it was like a fast moving train going very, very fast. And I had to literally jump on this train and learn about six years of history and vision and nuances. So learn all of that while at the same time leading a huge group of people.

You really have to believe in your position and not just your position, your title, but your place in that moment. It's OK to have an opinion. And it's OK to disagree. I've really learned that at Cirque that some of the most successful meetings, or decisions, are as a result of a bit of friction. Some of the best jewels in the world take the most friction to polish.

LU STOUT: An Monson's last bit of advice: take risks as she did when she left behind her world of choreographing to take the casting director position.

MONSON: That's why for me I never dreamed of casting, per se, but let yourself go there. So let yourself go and it doesn't mean you're failing or this or that, it just means hopefully you're going to realize your creative potential in a setting that's best for you.

Great job Sejema .


MONSON: Great work.


LU STOUT: I love Krista's bubble gum meeting idea.

Now later this week, CNN will co-host a Twitter chat on women and success in the workplace. And you can join in the conversation on Friday with the hashtag #yfechat. That stands for Young Female Entrepreneurs. It starts at 11:00 pm Friday in New York, that's 11:00 am Saturday here in Hong Kong. And you can find out more on our website,

Now coming up here on News Stream, the U.S. president in space, well, not exactly. We'll show you the remarkable video of Obama literally reaching for the stars.


LU STOUT: Now, it started as disgruntled muttering, but now the concern over replacement referees in the NFL has erupted into full blown anger after an astonishing decision in the league's most high profile game.

Let's join Alex Thomas for the details - Alex.

ALEX THOMAS, CNN SPORTS CORREPSONDENT: Yes, Kristie, NFL bosses will come under pressure to reopen negotiations with the referees union after a highly contentious call in the sport's prestigious Monday Night Football game. It handed victory to Seattle and left the Green Bay Packers fuming. The referees are frozen out over a pay dispute. And the mistakes of their replacements are an increasing embarrassment.

The Packers were leading 12-7 in the dying seconds of Monday's game when a huge Hail Mary pass was grabbed by Seahawks receiver Golden Tate and Green Bay's M.D. Jennings. Replays appeared to show that Jennings had possession of the ball, not Tate, but even though the replacement referees reviewed the decision on video monitors, they still awarded the touchdown to Seattle who won by 14-12.


MIKE MCCARTHY, PACKERS COACH: Don't me a question about the officials, all right. So we'll just cut to the chase right there. I've never seen anything like that in all my years in football.

AARON RODGERS, PACKERS QUARTERBACK: Just look at the replay. And then the fact that it was reviewed was awful, that's all I'm going to say about it.


THOMAS: There were more furious reactions on social networking. Green Bay Packers guard TJ Lang tweeted, "got F'ed by the refs. Embarrassing. Thanks NFL." He's sure to be fined by the league and knows it, later adding, "F it NFL. Fine me. And use the money to pay the regular refs."

Saints quarterback Drew Brees wrote, "I love this league and love the game of football, but tonight's debacle hurts me greatly."

NBA star Dirk Nowitzki got in on the act twetting, "not going to watch another NFL game until real refs are back. What a farce."

And Master's golf champion Bubba Watson cheekily commented, "all NFL fans, watch the Ryder Cup this week. We got no refs."

Maybe so, but there's no shortage of pressure. And America's captain Davis Love III admits there so much national pride at stake in the Ryder Cup that it's almost unfair on the players. He and his opposite number for Europe, Spains Jose Maria Olazabal was speaking four days before this biannual tournament tees off near the Diner Course near Chicago. Each team has 12 players. And as the captain's pointed out, the Ryder Cup is unlike any other even they'll compete in.


DAVIS LOVE III, USA RYDER CUP CAPTAIN: It's a pride in playing for your country and being part of a team. And that adds pressure. And then I think the difference is it's a little bit of - there's winning and losing in it. And when you're playing in an individual game it's a little more of trying to accomplish a goal and playing it a little bit different game. I think when you come here it's trying to win this cup, it's trying to support your teammates and play for your country and it's a different kind of pressure.

JOSE MARIA OLAZABEL, EUROPEAN RYDER CUP CAPTAIN: We're playing away. The crowds are going to be rooting for the home team, really strong, so in that regard we have to be prepared for that. I think - I've said it all along, I think both teams are pretty much even. And it's going to be a close match

From that point of view, I don't see any favorites. And it will have to be decided obviously on the golf course.


THOMAS: Now live to that golf course Medina to hear from our golf expert Shane O'Donoghue in World Sport in just over three hours time. For now, though, back to you in Hong Kong, Kristie.

LU STOUT: All right, Alex, thank you.

Now a lot of strange things have been spotted in space, but this may be one of the weirdest yet. Now Jeanne Moos explains how a bobble head doll of President Barack Obama ended up 32 kilometers above the earth.


JEANNE MOOS, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): It's one thing to send your 4-year-old son's favorite toy train into the stratosphere, attached to a weather balloon and a camera. The balloon eventually pops. The train falls back to earth. But what will they think of next...


MOOS: ... to launch into space?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: President's here.

MOOS: It's bobblehead astronaut Obama in a wild dissent 20 miles above California.

(on camera) You added a little extra glue to make sure his head didn't fly off.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: That's right. It's not presidential to lose your head in space.

MOOS (voice-over): Actually, he did lose it once, on impact.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Obama lost his head.

MOOS: He found it there on the mud flap.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Yes, got down into the boxer shorts. Got a little muddy. MOOS: But Sean Navel isn't a mud slinger against Obama. A group of around eight supporters launched the presidential bobblehead to raise money for him, putting the flight to the music from "E.T."

The idea was to promote yard sales for Obama. Note the bobblehead's picket fence. The yard sales, where supporters sold their stuff, raised only a few thousand dollars, but bobblehead Obama was raised 100,000 feet.

A helium balloon lifted a platform, which held the cameras and the bobblehead.


MOOS: Up they went above the Golden Gate Bridge, through the clouds and then with the earth's curvature behind him, the helium balloon burst as expected at that altitude. A parachute deployed, and the bobblehead floated to earth, landing 30 miles from the launch site.

(on camera) Five times they launched bobblehead Obama. Several missions were flopped. One landed in the Pacific ocean.

(voice-over) Naturally, they made modifications to add buoyancy.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: These are just pool noodles that we got.

MOOS: Presidential pool noodles.

The final video is a compilation of the best footage from the five flights.

(on camera) Bobblehead Obama returned to earth with one visible nick on his neck, the result of excessive bobbling.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Right there, you can kind of see that his head as it banged into it...

MOOS: The president got dinged, but candidates tend to become experts at nodding and spinning.

Jeanne Moos, CNN. New York.


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