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Syrian Foreign Minister To Speak At UN; Europe Completes History Comeback, Retains Ryder Cup; Pakistani Police Forced To Slim Down Or Be Fired

Aired October 1, 2012 - 8:00   ET


PAULINE CHIOU, HOST: I'm Pauline Chiou in Hong Kong. Welcome to News Stream where news and technology meet.

We begin with Syria's civil war as the country's foreign minister prepares to speak before the United Nations general assembly. Who will he address the growing violence in his country?

Also ahead, a Russian punk band that performed a song criticizing Vladimir Putin must now wait even longer for a hearing on whether their conviction should be overturned.

And a record comeback. Europe clinches a fourth victory at the Ryder Cup. Full details coming up.

Death and devastation, division and deadlock, those words can be used to sum up Syria's brutal civil war and the international community's hesitant response. In just a few hours from now, Syria's foreign minister is expected to defend his government's actions when he addresses the United Nations General Assembly. Already this Monday activists have reported at least 30 deaths. They are blamed on a government air strike in Idlib province.

This video is said to show a father crying over the death of his child. Seven children have been counted among the victims so far. An opposition group says more than 24,000 Syrian civilians have been killed since March of 2011, that does not count fighters on either side.

CNN's Mohammed Jamjoom joins us now from CNN Beirut. Mohammed, what should we expect when the Syrian foreign minister speaks later on today at the UN?

MOHAMMED JAMJOOM, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, Pauline, in short really nothing surprising. It's not expected that Syrian foreign minister Walid Moallem stance will be any different than it has been in the past. It's expected that the Syrian government will be as entrenched and defiant as they have been throughout the conflict in Syria, that Walid Moallem will be defending his country's actions and the actions that they've taken combating, as they call them, armed terrorist groups, which is what the Syrian regime, how they refer to the opposition and the rebel Free Syrian Army fighters in Syria.

Walid Moallem has been meeting with other diplomats, with other foreign government secretaries and secretaries of defense there at the UN for the past few days. He's been trying to drum up support for the Syrian regime, but there hasn't been a lot of support there. World leaders have been huddling at the UNGA for several days trying to find a way out of the crisis in Syria, some sort of diplomatic solution, but the fact of the matter is, is the UN Security Council is still deadlocked. Russia and China are still backing the Syrian regime. And until that deadlock is broken somehow, not much of substance can be done at the UN to really help the Syrian people and try to end the crisis there -- Pauline.

CHIOU: Mohammed, we touched on the airstrikes just a few minutes ago. And we've seen a lot of violence in Idlib Province already today. What else can you tell us about this violence?

JAMJOOM: Well, Pauline, today another horribly, you know, brutal and deadly and bloody day in Syria as far as what we're hearing from opposition activists. The death toll already, according to the local coordination committees is that at least 87 people. At least 30 of those people reportedly were found dead in Salqin.

Now, let me walk you through some amateur videos that we've seen posted online today purporting to show what's been going on in Salqin, which is in the Idlib countryside close to the Syrian-Turkish border. In one video you see a helicopter flying overhead. The activist that posted this video say that this helicopter at one point in the video is dropping what's being called a barrel bomb.

We've spoken a lot about barrel bombs these past few weeks. Opposition activists have been saying that this is a newer tactic that's being used by the Syrian regime, that they are very crude devices, that barrels are being filled with TNT, with nails, and with fuel, that it's a very cheap way to maximize damage, that when these barrel bombs hit a neighborhood that it really maximizes damage.

Another video purports to show the aftermath of this shelling that happened when these barrel bombs were dropped in Salqin. You see what looks like utter devastation, a neighborhood that's been flattened, a very chaotic scene.

And then another scene that we've been seeing online today is very disturbing video. We must warn our viewers that it is graphic and disturbing, shows a truck in which bodies are stacked. And the activists say that these are bodies of victims of that shelling. They are the charred remains and the activists say that they are children in this truck as well and you see a father next to that truck crying out for his son who he says died in that shelling in Salqin today.

All in all, a terrible situation. We're also hearing about continued violence in the capital, in Damascus. And also we're hearing about continued -- and increased fighting going on between rebels and regime forces in Aleppo, the commercial hub and largest city of Syria -- Pauline.

CHIOU: There's also been concern from the international community about arms shipments coming into Syria for the government forces. What's being done to try to stop this?

JAMJOOM: Well, this is a refrain that's being said more and more, especially by the U.S. A few weeks ago you had the U.S. expressing concern that possibly Iraq was being used as a weigh station by the Iranians as a way to get arms into Syria to support the government there. Well, today there was an interview given by Hoshyar Zebari, he's the foreign minister of Iraq, this interview was given to Al Hayat newspaper, in which he said that the Iraqis would start inspecting flights going from Iraq into Syria, Iranian flights going from Iraq and going into Syria to make sure that there were no weapons on board. Mr. Zebari said that Iraq had no intention of acting as a passageway for weapons to go from Iran into Syria.

But he also warned that, you know, the Iraq air defenses have limited capabilities, that it would be difficult to carry out and conduct these searches.

A few weeks back, you had a congressional delegation that was in Iraq. They expressed concern with the Iraqi government that possibly Iraq was being used in this way, that Iranians were using Iraq as a way to funnel weapons into Syria. You've had U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton also echoing that sentiment.

So Iraq very much saying they do not want to act in this capacity in any way, but again this is going to be a tall order for the Iraqis to be able to inspect all these flights to make sure that there are weapons going from Iran into -- Pauline.

CHIOU: Mohammed, thank you very much for wrapping up what's going on in Syria today.

Well, another place where violence has raged is Aleppo. The city once considered an Assad stronghold has been under siege since July. And this weekend, fighting broke out in large parts of a covered market. The bizarre traces its roots back to the 14th Century, but it has been damaged by violence. Aleppo's old city is a UNESCO world heritage site.

And this is an image from the vibrant market taken back in 2006. According to legend, the city was once home to the Prophet Abramahm.

It was named Islamic capital of culture six years ago. UNESCO says it's been worried about this happening since the fighting began.


LOUISE HAXTHAUSEN, UNESCO: We have these concerns about the situation, the fragility and the vulnerability of the cultural heritage in Syria since the beginning of the conflict. Director-general has called on numerous occasion on all parties through the country to respect and protect cultural heritage in this particular situation.


CHIOU: But the biggest threat to Aleppo from the current fighting is the affect on its commercial status, which has ranked among the highest in the region since the heyday of the Silk Road.

Now to eastern Afghanistan, what's going on there with the Taliban claiming responsibility for a suicide attack on a joint Afghan NATO patrol. A spokesman for the Afghan interior ministry says 14 people were killed when the bomber blew up a motorcycle packed with explosives. Among the dead, three NATO service members, their interpreter, and four Afghan police officers. The ministry says 57 people were wounded.

The nationalities of the NATO service members who died in Monday's bombing have not yet been released. Since October of 2001, 2,117 U.S. troops and three civilian employees of the U.S. Defense Department have died in Afghanistan. And just this past weekend, an American soldier and an American civilian contractor were killed in Afghanistan's Wardak Province. Three Afghan soldiers also died in the firefight.

NATO's international security assistance force, or ISAF, initially said the incident appeared to be the latest insider attack on U.S. forces by their Afghan colleagues, but it now says that insurgents may have provoked the gunfire.


GEN. ADRIAN BRADSHAW, DEPUTY COMMANDER, ISAF: Whilst these incidents do represent a means by which the enemy seeks to drive a wedge between ISAF and our ANA and ANP colleagues, the fact is he will not succeed in doing this. Our relationships are very strong and they're very effective. And we're aware that every incident he will attempt to present in a negative light we're confident that our relationship will overcome those pressures.


CHIOU: NATO and Afghan investigators are still looking into that incident.

Well, coming up next on News Stream, the Russian punk band Pussy Riot makes more noise in court today. And we'll tell you while their appeal hearing has been adjourned.

And high drama on the green. The 2012 Ryder Cup ends with a dramatic comeback.

And Pakistan is giving its police officers an ultimatum. They're saying drop the pounds or risk losing your job.


CHIOU: In Moscow, a court has postponed the appeal hearing of the all girl punk band Pussy Riot after one bad member said she wanted to replace her lawyer. In August, three band members were sentenced to two years in prison over a protest they had at a Moscow cathedral back in February. They sang a song critical of Russian president Vladimir Putin.

Well, the hearing date has been pushed back until next week. And Phil Black joins us now live from CNN Moscow with more details.

Phil, why might there be a change of lawyers now?

PHIL BLACK, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, Pauline, that's not exactly clear at this stage. Today was supposed to be the appeal hearing. And we were also expecting a judgment on that appeal today, but as you say it didn't quite go to plan, because one of the three women, Ekaterina Samutsevich, announced to the court that she and her lawyer wanted to part ways because of the differing views over just how to proceed from here. We don't know specifically just what those differences of opinion are, but as a result of that she's asked for an adjournment.

Now that triggered all sorts of legal debate in the court about whether or not that was appropriate or fair or just. One of the lawyers who was there to defend the initial conviction and sentence suggested that perhaps this could be a deliberate strategy to delay the proceedings. We're not sure why that would be the case, though.

But in the end, the court accepted the motion and agreed to adjourn proceedings until October 10. So Ekaterina Samutsevich now has, as you say, just over a week to find a new lawyer and get him or her up to speed on this case that has been going on for well almost nine months or so now - - Pauline.

CHIOU: And Phil, what's the general public reaction about this case and about these three band members going to court again to try to get their conviction overturned?

BLACK: Well, this entire case from the very beginning, from the moment of their performance and their arrest a few days later, it has triggered a very heated debate among Russian society about just what would be an appropriate punishment. I think the majority of Russian opinion says that these women did cross a line, that they should not have performed in that space in the way that they did, but the real heated discussion point is just what should be an appropriate punishment. We heard the Russian Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev say recently that he thought the six months or so they spent in prison leading up to their trial would have been sufficient, but sentencing them to a further two years wasn't really going to achieve much good.

There are many who feel the same way, but there are many others who are closely aligned to the Russian Orthodox Church who feel very strongly that this deserves to be punished in a very strong, direct, and forceful way.

We've heard from the Russian Orthodox Church just yesteday on the eve of what was to be their appeal. The church believes that these women should be shown mercy, but only if they repent, if they are penitent, if they admit that they have done wrong. The women all along have said they are not going to do that, Pauline.

CHIOU: And this Pussy Riot case is also getting attention from another controversial person in Russia, Alexander Lebedev. And you recently spoke with him. What did he have to say?

BLACK: Alexander Lebedev is a very wealthy, well known Russian oligarch, a man who owns newspapers in Britain and Russia as well as other businesses. And for some time now, he says those businesses here in Russia have been under great pressure from the Russian authorities, because he is a very outspoken critic of the Kremlin and its policies in terms of society, politics, the economy. And he has closely aligned himself with the growing opposition movement in this country.

But now he also faces criminal charges. The criminal charge specifically is hooliganism, just like the women from Pussy Riot. But in his case, it relates to a television appearance that turned violent. He was on air talking to another businessman, another guest on a Russian TV show and the discussion got a little heated. And punches, it would were thrown.

Alexander Lebedev says that his actions in that occasion were more based on self-defense than attack. You can see the video and judge that for yourself, but in this case, there is a clear difference from th Pussy Riot women as well.

The Pussy Riot hooliganism charge was said to be motivated by religious hatred. His alleged hooliganism is said to be motivated by political hatred.

We spoke to him, we asked him about that, here's a little of what he said.


ALEXANDER LEBEDEV, RUSSIAN BUSINESSMAN: How could political hatred emerge from a completely cut out and edited discussion about some murky subject of the world economic crisis. I mean, what on earth is it? What political hatred and why should it be considered as hooliganism -- same as the Pussy Riot's case. It's clearly a political case, all motivation is political. Everything else is fabrication.


BLACK: So Alexander Lebedev denies that, obviously, and he says that this hooliganism charge is being used, because it carries a stiff penalty, potentially five years in prison in his case.

It's been a year since that incident on television. He says that time has passed. This potentially very tough punishment is being used, or wielded against him, he says, to try and persuade him to leave the country or good as other Russian businessman have done when they have crossed paths with the Kremlin in the past.

But he says for the moment he is staying in Russia and he's going to fight those charges in court -- Pauline.

CHIOU: Some two very interesting cases out of Russia.

Phil, thanks so much.

Well, turning now to South Africa where a commission has begun investigating the killings of dozens of striking miners by police. The inquiry put together by President Jacob Zuma will look into the conduct of the company Lonmin, mine unions, and also the police and the part they played in one of the deadliest days since the end of apartheid 18 years ago.

Strikes began back in August. And later that month, police opened fire on protesters, killing 34 workers near Lonmin's Marikana mine.

Coming up next on News Stream, Europe comes from behind to claim the Ryder Cup in a down to the wire win in one of golf's biggest thrillers. More on that coming up next.


CHIOU: This year's Ryder Cup was certainly one to remember. Europe pulled off an amazing victory. And here's Amanda Davies with more details -- Amanda.

AMANDA DAVIES, CNN SPORTS CORRESPONDENT: Hi. Yeah. It was one of those afternoons into the evening here in Europe that you really just couldn't stop watching, you couldn't go to bed, because it was dubbed as the miracle of Medinah, people talking of the greatest Ryder Cup of all time. Europe overturned the weight of history to come back from 10-6 down to beat the USA and retain the Ryder Cup in their very own backyard in Medinah.

Europe had known that any hope of a comeback relied on a good start, but Rory McIlroy gave himself and his team a real scare, needing a police escort to the court after mixing up his time zones to make it with just 11 minutes to spare. Fortunately for Europe, though, McIlroy put in a performance worthy of his world number one ranking to beat Kegan Bradley two and one.

In actual fact, Europe claimed five out of the first five points, with Ian Poulter, Luke Donald, and here Paul Lawrie seeing off PGA tour champion Brandt Snedeker to make things really interesting.

Justin Rose went all the way against America's Phil Mickelson. He came from behind on the 17th to claim a one hole victory.

Dustin Johnson, Zach Johnson picked up two valuable points for the USA to keep them in the hunt, but despite his experience, Jim Furyk had a nightmare with his putter again Sergio Garcia finishing boogie, boogie to give Europe a 13-12 lead. Furyk of course being a somewhat controversial selection, not on form in the run-up.

But it turned out that the USA hopes rested on Steve Stricker and Tiger Woods. They needed a point and a half victory, but Stricker missed his par putt at the 17th to leave Germany's Martin Kaimer with a putt to win the hole to go one up with one to play.

So on to the 18th and while Stricker's par putt gave the USA some glimmer of hope, Kaimer stepped up with nerves of steel despite the pressure and the crowd and watching teammates to hold his putt and clinch a 14th point for Europe to give Jose Maria Olazabal's the Ryder Cup once again. Incredibly emotional scene.

It's only once before that a team has come back from 10-6 down to win, that was the USA in Brookline in 1999. That on home soil of course, though, in front of home support. So Europe not only upsetting the odds, but the huge Medinah crowd on Sunday as well. And CNN Living Golf's Shane O'Donoghue is with us live now from Medinah.

Shane, I'm not sure how much sleep you've got. Incredible scenes.

The big debate here in the office, though, was it a miracle comeback or a USA choke? What's your take on it?

SHANE O'DONOGHUE, CNN SPORTS CORRESPONDENT: I would go with the former, Amanda, it was a miracle comeback. People knew that it could be done, having seen what happened in 1999 at Brookline as you mentioned when the Americans did that on home soil, but for a European team to do it here in America, well it was a lot to ask, but they managed to come up with the goods. And a certain Severiano Ballesteros was looking down from above. He passed away last year, one of the legendary figures of Ryder Cups throughout the years.

And it led to incredible joy, incredible scenes really of celebration here because they were instilled with the spirit of Severiano Ballesteros. They wore his navy colors on the final day. And they were inspired as well by their leader Jose Maria Olazabal who had that great partnership with Sevi Ballesteros down through the years.

And he convinced them to believe in themselves and that's what they did and that's what they showed. And actions speak louder than words. And to come home with eight-and-a-half points out of a possible 12 was absolutely fantastic for this European side.

And I spoke to Graeme McDowell afterwards to get his thoughts on what exactly went on, on that Sunday and how they managed to rescue the day.


GRAEME MCDOWELL, GOLFER: I'm sure Sevi is up there right now having a couple of cervezas enjoying this one. Something happened last night when Ian Poulter and Rory McIlroy won that last point, they birdied the last six holes. Momentum swung our way and we managed to keep that momentum going today.


O'DONOGHUE: It was incredible momentum and a fantastic performance by all of this European team. This was one for the record books, Amanda.

DAVIES: It was incredible momentum once it got going. A bit of a stuttering start, though, for Rory McIlroy. We're able to joke about it now as Europeans, but a little bit too close for comfort. How on earth does that happen?

O'DONOGHUE: Well, he was just watching television all morning, very casual, as you do. And you know he kept watching this particular program that was talking about the tee off times. And so he took his time to be 12:25 pm, but they were talking Eastern time. And, you know, he absolutely was convinced that that was his tee time. I really don't know how it happened. Of course we're on Central Time here in Chicago, so he was eventually phoned and told that he had 25 minutes to get to the tee and there was a lot of traffic on the road, but he managed to hitch a ride with a state trooper and got here with 12 minutes to spare, ran onto the tee, had no practice whatsoever, and casually went out and won his match.

Now absolutely it could have been disastrous for Europe had he not made it here. And it was funny, though, they were able to look at the lighter side of it afterwards. And captain Olazabal had a little gift for Rory when he finished on Sunday evening.


JOSE MARIA OLAZABAL, TEAM EUROPE CAPTAIN: Before we do anything I want to present you with this wonderful watch..


OLAZABAL: Make sure you get on time to the tee next time, OK? I hope he's (inaudible) so you can see the time.


O'DONOGHUE: He's the world number one. It's another chapter in the amazing story of Rory McIlroy. I think he got away with it this time, though, Amanda.

DAVIES: Yeah, incredible. Rory McIlroy going home with a clock and Europe heading back with the Ryder Cup one again. Shane for now, thanks so much.

That's all we've got time for, for now. Back to you.

CHIOU: Well, Amanda, I won't feel so bad when I oversleep for work next time. Thanks so much.

Well, athletes are not the only ones who need to be in top form to do their job, but in Pakistan the government there fears that its police force is seriously out of shape. Take a look. So officers have been told to get fitter or risk getting fired.

Reza Sayah shows us how they're fighting the battle of the bulge.


REZA SAYAH, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Pakistan's street cuisine melts in your mouth treats, deep fried in oil, often served swimming in oil, food that's guaranteed to add inches to your waist. And that has the government here worried. Some of the expanding waist sizes belong to police officers, Pakistan's finest assigned to protect and serve the nation fast becoming Pakistan's flabbiest.

They have to do this.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Yes, of course, they are bound to do this.

SAYAH: Seik Iftahar , the Punjab police force's second in command, says the department has put in place a mandatory exercise program with this ultimatum for police officers: drop the pounds, or risk losing your job.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Not more than 40 inch waist.

SAYAH: 40 inch waist.


SAYAH: Not more.


SAYAH: Daily workouts star here in the weight room. A barking trainer watching every move.

The equipment isn't the best here and maybe they don't have perfect form, but they're working up a sweat, their heart rate is going and that means they're getting a workout.

What if some people can't get to the required weight?

IFTIKHAR: Legal action is also taking --

SAYAH: Legal action?

IFTIKHAR: Why not?

SAYAH: They can lose their jobs?


SAYAH: Now we're out here in the exercise yard. Let's see what these guys do next.

After the weight lifting, it's time for aerobics and other fat burning workouts.

It's no secret many often make fun of overweight police officers. If anyone is considering making fun of these men, they should remember that they only make $10 a day, they put their lives on the line and now they've committed themselves to getting in shape.

Mohammed Azad says the last time he worked out was 20 years ago. Today, Mohammed has three children, suffers from diabetes, but he'll do anything to serve his country, he says.

"Our hearts are made of stone," he says, "no matter what we're asked, we'll do it."

That includes slimming down, getting in shape, for Mohammed and hundreds of other Pakistani police officers, their jobs depend on it.

Reza Sayah, CNN, Lahore.


CHIOU: Just ahead on News Stream, both U.S. presidential candidates are getting ready for their first debate. We'll take a look at how they're preparing.

Also, what's causing the road rush in China? We'll tell you just ahead on News Stream.


CHIOU: I'm Pauline Chiou in Hong Kong and you're watching NEWS STREAM and these are your world headlines.


CHIOU (voice-over): After days of back-to-back condemnation of his country's government, Syria's foreign minister getting ready to make his case at the U.N. Walid al Muallem is expected to defend the government's handling of the conflict when he addresses the general assembly later on today. But the accusations leveled against the regime he represents are mounting by the day.

Three NATO service members and their interpreter were among 14 people killed in a suicide attack in eastern Afghan. Afghan and Syria ministry officials say the suicide bomber targeted a joint patrol of Afghan and NATO forces. Four Afghan police officers were also killed. The Taliban has claimed responsibility for this attack.

A Moscow court has adjourned an appeal hearing for members of the Russian punk rock band Pussy Riot until October 10th. In August, the three female musicians were sentenced to two years of prison for performing a song critical of Russian President Vladimir Putin. The hearing was adjourned so one band member could replace her attorney.

And they are calling it the greatest comeback in the Ryder Cup history. At one point, the European team was behind the U.S. 10-6, but with the help of Ian Poulter and Martin Kaymer, the team came roaring back to win 141/2 to 131/2 and retain the cup.


CHIOU: Venezuela is gearing up for presidential elections on Sunday. President Hugo Chavez, who has been in office since 1999, is facing his strongest challenge in years from opposition candidate Henrique Capriles Radonski.

Both men held rallies on Sunday; both condemned the killings of two local opposition leaders in the western state of Barinas on Saturday. According to the opposition party, the leaders were gunned down when their caravan stopped at a blockade.

There are now just 36 days left until the U.S. presidential election and the final stretch for the White House rivals is jam-packed. On Wednesday, in Denver, Colorado, President Barack Obama and Republican challenger Mitt Romney will go head-to-head in the first of their three scheduled debates.

Vice President Joe Biden and Republican vice presidential candidate Paul Ryan will take their turn on October 11th. Mr. Obama and Romney will debate again on October 16th and then on October 22nd, and election day, of course, is November 6th.

Well, both of the U.S. presidential candidates are devoting much of their time right now to preparing for Wednesday's debate. President Obama did have one campaign event in Las Vegas on Sunday. He took aim at Romney's economic policy.


BARACK OBAMA, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: My opponent -- my opponent's a big believer in top-down economics.

He thinks that if we just spend another $5 trillion on tax cuts for the wealthiest Americans, if we get rid of regulations on Wall Street, then all our problems will be solved, and jobs and prosperity will trickle down on all of you and the deficit will disappear and we'll live happily ever after.

There's only -- there's only one problem with that. We tried that in the decade before I became president. It didn't work. Top-down economics never works. We don't need to double down on the same trickle-down policies that got us into this mess in the first place.


CHIOU: Well, Mitt Romney is spending most of Monday in Boston before heading to Denver for a late-night rally ahead of Wednesday's debate there. His supporters are actually downplaying expectations for Romney's first debate with Mr. Obama. But as CNN chief political correspondent, Candy Crowley reports, not everyone seems to have gotten the message.


CANDY CROWLEY, CNN HOST (voice-over): Apparently Romney supporter and Republican Governor Chris Christie didn't get the memo.

GOV. CHRIS CHRISTIE (R), N.J.: Wednesday night's the restart of this campaign and I think you're going to see those numbers start to move right back in the other direction.

CROWLEY (voice-over): Note to Governor Christie: no, no, no, no, no. SOP for pre-debate chatter is to lower expectations for your guy by raising expectations for the other guy, like this.

REP. PAUL RYAN, GOP VICE PRESIDENTIAL NOMINEE: President Obama's a very -- he's a very gifted speaker. The man's been on the national stage for many years. He's an experienced debater.

CROWLEY (voice-over): And because this is a bipartisanly accepted strategy, like this:

DAVID PLOUFFE, WHITE HOUSE SR. ADVISER: We've expected all along that Governor Romney will have a good night. He's prepared more than any candidate in history and he's shown himself to be a very, very good debater through the years.

CROWLEY (voice-over): Further, Governor, since you are supporting Romney, the candidate who is running behind -- you are supporting him, right? Then you also need to lower the stakes for Wednesday's first of three presidential debates -- like this:

SEN. JOHN MCCAIN (R), ARIZ.: Frankly, I can't remember the last time there was one of these comments that grabbed everybody's attention, because, frankly, the candidates are too well prepared. They're well scripted.

CROWLEY (voice-over): And like this:

RYAN: More importantly, I don't think one event is going to make or break this campaign.

CROWLEY (voice-over): But definitely, Governor Christie, definitely not like this.

CHRISTIE: I'll tell you, about Thursday morning, you're all going to be scratching your heads and saying, wow, we have a barn-burner now for the next 33 days.

CROWLEY (voice-over): Because the thing is, when you say that, the president's senior adviser says stuff like this:

PLOUFFE: They expect to come out of this with the race fundamentally changed. Now what does that mean? If it's going to fundamentally change that means in seven or 10 days from now, you'll see states like Ohio tied, states like Iowa tied, because that's what really matters here.

CROWLEY (voice-over): Like they say, Governor Christie, there's no heavier burden than great expectations -- Candy Crowley, CNN, Washington.


CHIOU: So what can we expect on Wednesday in the first U.S. presidential debate? CNN political editor Paul Steinhauser joins me now live from Washington.

Paul, this is the first time American voters can see the two go head to head. What could be the strategy for both men?

PAUL STEINHAUSER, CNN POLITICAL EDITOR: Well, you heard Candy right there talk about both campaigns are trying to lower the bar for their candidates. So if the candidate does well, it'll be considered a big victory.

What will this debate focus on? Domestic issues, Pauline. This is the first of the three debates, and it's going to focus mostly on domestic issues, which means most likely the economy will dominate.

The last presidential debate, the one in Florida just two weeks before the election, that one will focus surely on foreign policy. Now Mitt Romney was not on the campaign trail this weekend, but the president, as you mentioned, you showed us -- showed some clips there from that rally about 12 hours ago in Las Vegas and Nevada, he also talked about the debate; take a listen.


OBAMA: I know folks in the media are speculating already on who's going to have the best zingers.


OBAMA: I don't know about that, you know, the -- who's going to put the most points on the board.


OBAMA: I -- no,no, Governor Romney, he's a good debater. I'm just OK.


STEINHAUSER: Maybe he's doing the same thing, the president there, trying to lower the expectations for himself -- "hey, I'm just OK," "that Governor Romney, he's a pretty good debater."

You know, Pauline, Governor Romney was in about 20 debates during the Republican primary process earlier this year and late last year. The president, he's a pretty good debater as well, but he hasn't debated since 2008, when he was facing John McCain in the last presidential election, Pauline.

CHIOU: Yes, it should be interesting; many eyes will be watching.

Now you mentioned domestic issues will be on the table, but there's also the likeability factor, isn't there? And there's been a lot of talk about the difficulty that Romney has in connecting with many Americans.

Do you think this could be his opportunity to relate more to average Americans?

STEINHAUSER: Yes, and here's why, because this debate will be seen by millions and millions of Americans. This is probably the largest remaining audience for the candidates and the campaigns to reach out to. And that is why it is so important.

And, yes, you know, Mitt Romney, you look at almost any poll nationally and in those crucial battleground states as they're called, and, yes, when it comes to favorable and unfavorable likeability, he does appear to trail the president. And that is a problem for Mitt Romney, trying to connect to most Americans, most middle class Americans. He is perceived as somebody very wealthy.

As for the debates themselves, who do you think will win? Well, take a look at this.


STEINHAUSER (voice-over): This is a brand-new poll from ABC News and "The Washington Post," just came out a few hours ago. And you can see most Americans think that the president, by quite a large margin there, will win that first debate coming up on Wednesday night. Stay tuned, Pauline.


CHIOU: Yes, so we will, and we hope our viewers will as well, because CNN will bring you live coverage of the first debate of the 2012 U.S. presidential election. The focus on this one will be diplomacy as Paul just mentioned.

Both President Barack Obama and his challenger, Mitt Romney, will tackle questions on key issues like the economy, health care and the role of government. Our coverage starts Wednesday night at 6 pm local time in Denver, Colorado; that's 8 o'clock in the morning Thursday here in Hong Kong.

Well, opinion polls are all-important during election season. So Mr. Obama may have been disheartened to hear that he's less popular than Iran's president among white rural voters. But the thing is, that's not true.

It was reported by Iran's FARS news agency, and it's now apologizing for the error. The editor in chief says he's sorry, but he adds, "We do believe the majority of Americans would prefer anyone outside the U.S. political system to President Obama and American statesmen."

So where did the information come from? Well, here; the satirical news site, "The Onion." So that explains it.

Well, still ahead on NEWS STREAM, a popular tourist destination is not so popular this year with Chinese tourists as they mark Golden Week. We'll tell you why. Stay with us.





CHIOU (voice-over): And you are looking at live pictures of Victoria Harbor, right here in Hong Kong. In about 15 minutes, the skyline will be filled with fireworks. The 23-minute show will celebrate the founding of the People's Republic of China.


CHIOU: National Day falls during Golden Week. That's an 8-day holiday that also includes the mid-autumn festival. Celebrations involve giving thanks for the harvest and reuniting with family members. But as you can imagine, it's a tough time to travel during this week. Officials estimate that more than 85 million people hit the road on Sunday.

The freeways leading out of Beijing were packed for hours. It's believed some 740 million trips will actually take place this week and just to put that into perspective, that's almost twice the size of the U.S. population.

Well, Japan is normally a popular tourist destination for Chinese travelers, but this year many Chinese are staying away during their holiday week and Alex Zolbert explains why.


ALEX ZOLBERT, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Japan's Mount Fuji, minus the snow this time of year -- it's surrounded by this, picturesque lakeside towns, an overall tourist mecca.

And with this being a so-called Golden Week, a week where many Chinese head overseas during national holidays, places like this are a popular destination.

But as Japan and China spar over the hotly contested Senkaku or Diaoyu Islands, it's a very different story this time around.

ZOLBERT: Tell me; you have a stack of paper here. What are these?

TAGAWA YOSHIAKI , HOTELIER: (Speaking foreign language).

ZOLBERT (voice-over): Tagawa Yoshiaki is president of five hotels in the region.

He tells me, "About 40 percent of my customers are Chinese. We've had more than 4,500 cancellations in the past few weeks."

ZOLBERT: Are they citing the dispute? What do they say here?

YOSHIAKI : Yes, yes. (Speaking foreign language).

ZOLBERT (voice-over): By his estimate, his business is already off more than half a million U.S. dollars.

In Tokyo, in the popular shopping district of Ginza, the fall in business is even more severe for Mitsu Matsumoto . She's a tourguide for Chinese visitors.

MITSU MATSUMOTO , TOURGUIDE: (Speaking foreign language).

ZOLBERT (voice-over): She tells us, "Eighty to 90 percent of my bookings for the coming weeks are now canceled."

ZOLBERT: It's not just the Japanese who are impacted by this dispute; there are roughly 700,000 Chinese people living here in Japan. And right now, some of them are caught in the middle.

ZOLBERT (voice-over): Michaou Mu came to Japan from China nearly 25 years ago. He also caters to Chinese visitors, running a restaurant in Tokyo's Shinjuku district.

"Normally, you'd see lots of tour buses around here," he says. "Today, there are none."

And when we talk of the protests in his homeland, he says, "It is unfortunate that Japanese businesses were destroyed." But he also sees a small silver lining. While he says the protests were government- controlled, he tells me, "At least the Chinese people were allowed to take to the streets to demonstrate."

ZOLBERT: How long do you think it will take for things to return to normal?

ZOLBERT (voice-over): "It's pretty serious," he says, "not as bad as after the tsunami. But it will take at least six months to recover."

Back near Mount Fuji, Mr. Yoshiaki says the same, at least six months.

And he adds, "They're our neighbors. I hope we can resolve this peacefully."

Neighbors with great spending power, who make up a large percentage of visitors to Japan, just not at the moment -- Alex Zolbert, CNN, Tokyo.


CHIOU: And staying in Japan, we go from a political storm to another typhoon moving across the area.

Mari Ramos is live at the World Weather Center.

Mari, it's been a difficult couple of days there.

MARI RAMOS, AMS METEOROLOGIST: It has, and you know, this storm was a very powerful one. It made landfall -- and, Pauline, the thing is that there's been so many storms (inaudible) these days.

We've had 14 different either tropical storms or typhoons move across east Asia. And this is the third storm that has actually affected Japan. So, you know, it's been pretty active. Let's go ahead and roll the pictures, because they are pretty impressive. These are some of the latest images that we have from Japan of the storm.

Now, what you see here, of course, is blinding rain, very strong winds that were moving through there, overall, 300,000 people were left without power in Okinawa and more than 50 people injured overall across Japan. At least two deaths now being reported because of the storm, one by drowning and the other one in an accident.

And you can see here the downed trees, the downed power lines. There were widespread power outages. More than 500 flights were canceled across western Japan alone at the height of the storm.

But fortunately, it was moving a lot quicker. As far as rainfall is concerned, we had about 140 millimeters of rain in Tokushima and another what, 155 in Su in Japan. So here we're looking a storm that moves very, very quickly; dumped a lot of heavy rain. And we still have some advisories posted all the way up here in Hokkaido because of the potential for flooding.

But when you look at the latest satellite image here, that storm is moving away. So that's a little bit of good news. There is another storm that we're watching, and it is a new tropical depression. The 20th one to form so far this season. Remember, I told you, 14 of them have affected east Asia. But this is number 20 to actually form.

You are looking at a storm with winds close to 60 kph, and it's close to Guam. You can barely make out the islands right over here. This storm is expected to move in the general direction of Japan over the next few days.

And right now it appears that it may skirt the coastline here of Honshu. It's still too early to tell, but just keep an eye on this, because of course, we have had our -- more than our fair share of storms here across mainland Japan. So we'll be monitoring what happens with this storm very closely.

We head south, and here in the South China Sea, there's also talk of a developing weather system, and this could be a huge concern because it's in an area that, you know, someone's going to be affected, whether it's going to be here as we head over toward Vietnam and Cambodia and the rest of Southeast Asia, or perhaps here across the Philippines.

Now when you look at the forecast for this, right now, it's just a tropical wave. But it could become a tropical depression and then a tropical storm. And when you look at our forecast models, you can really start to see this storm taking place, taking shape, I should say, here in the South China Sea.

That could be a concern; rain on both sides of the -- of the sea for the Philippines and also for Vietnam, maybe even for parts of China. And then (inaudible) particularly in Vietnam, I think, could cause some significant flooding.

We're concerned a little bit about that. But even back over here towards the Philippines, you guys were just dealing with Jelawat, that same storm that affected Japan. That one was with you, what, almost four or five days last week. So we don't really need any more rain there, either. We'll be monitoring what happens with this, Pauline, in the next few days. Back to you.

CHIOU: OK. Thank you for keeping your eye on that, Mari.

Well, the sound of a ukulele will most likely bring your mind to the shores of Hawaii. But now a British orchestra takes the instrument to a New York stage known for classical music and more. We'll explain.




CHIOU: When you hear the twanging sounds of a ukulele, you probably think of folk music or the beaches of Hawaii. But one of the world's smallest orchestras is taking the guitar's little brother in a completely different direction, tuning in to Ozzy Osbourne and James Bond. Neal Curry, rather, takes a listen.


NEAL CURRY, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over); It resembles a scene from a gangster movie, a motley crew assembles in the tunnels and back alleys of London, carrying what looks at first glance like violin cases. But these contain a very different kind of instrument.


CURRY (voice-over): Ukuleles -- the miniature guitar was born in Portugal, raised in Hawaii and adopted by an unlikely film star from the north of England, George Formby's (inaudible) grin and merry musicmaking endeared him to a generation that left the ukulele forever associated with comedy.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: When we first started, hardly anybody was doing it, apart from some George Formby fans.

Now it's (inaudible) with (inaudible), so we added (inaudible). Over the years, we've seen in every country we go to -- Sweden, Australia, Canada -- absolutely everywhere -- Japan, the ukulele tops ukulele enthusiasts and some really great players.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: We've been playing together now for 22 years, which is quite sort of incredible, really.

So we're more like a family than a band, and I mean that in every sense of the word. You know, sometimes we love each other; sometimes we can't stand each other. We do have lots of differences. As far as egos go, we all have egos, but nobody's got such an unmanageable ego -- apart from George , of course.

CURRY (voice-over): The orchestra is known for its unique interpretations of a wide range of music, from movie themes, such as Margie Dorman's James Bond theme, to metal bands, such as Motorhead and Black Sabbath. Popular singers such as Adele's "Rolling in the Deep."


CURRY (voice-over): The orchestra has played to packed venues from Sydney Opera House to London's Royal Albert Hall, and will perform at Carnegie Hall in New York next month. But they're not letting success go to their heads with lavish backstage demands.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: We're very easy to please, you know, as long as there's -- what, we all have our different needs. Dave needs potatoes and tea, for instance. I need fruit and vegetables. Peter needs somewhere to lie down. So you know, as long as those sort of bases are covered with us, the bases, then we're pretty happy.

CURRY (voice-over): The ukulele orchestra has had some famous fans. George Harrison to David Bowie. And their music has been remixed by famous DJs, whether in the clubs or (inaudible) or the cathedrals of classical music, they aim to leave listeners with a smile on their face.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: What is it that makes them smile? I think maybe it's just the sound of the thing. And it's bit like a terrier, a dog, you know, he's sort of very friendly. But actually, if it's up and around your ankles too much, you get a bit bored with (inaudible).



CHIOU: And as you're tapping your feet, it's time to sing "Happy Birthday," because finally it's a big birthday in the tech world. Thirty years ago today, the first commercial CD and CD player were released.

The Sony CDP 101, which cost the equivalent of $730 at the time. United Press International described the device as, quote, "a new digital record player using laser beams," but it's important to remember that the CD also made a huge impact outside of music. CDs hold over 450 times more data than floppy disks. Remember those things?

Well, computers could use that space for programs with plenty of graphics, sound and even video, enabling new types of applications, like Microsoft's Encarta Digital Encyclopedia. Games could have bigger worlds with proper music, soundtracks; but there was a downside, which is piracy.

CDs were cheap and easy to copy, leading to widespread piracy in some parts of the world. Still, music was always at the core of CDs and it's even responsible for the size of the disk. Sony's CEO, Norio Ohga, wanted CDs to last long enough to listen to Beethoven's entire 9th Symphony without stopping.

So that was a demand that ultimately decided how big the CD would be. So what was that first CD that was released 30 years ago? It wasn't Beethoven; that's a hint. Here's the answer: it was "52nd Street" by Billy Joel, and here's one of the originals being sold on eBay today. The current price, $55.

And that is NEWS STREAM. But the news continues here at CNN. "WORLD BUSINESS TODAY" is coming up next.