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Car Bomb In Iconic Aleppo Square Kills At Least 30; Romney, Obama Court Latino Vote Ahead Of Debate
Aired October 3, 2012 - 8:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
PAULINE CHIOU, HOST: Hello, I'm Pauline Chiou in Hong Kong. And welcome to News Stream where news and technology meet. We begin in Denver, Colorado where Barack Obama and Mitt Romney are preparing to go head to head over America's big issues in their first presidential debate.
Also ahead, Hong Kong's worst maritime disaster in decades: the latest as the investigation into the deadly boat collision gets underway.
And dozens are killed in explosions said to target Syrian government forces, what this attack means for the country's civil war.
The U.S. presidential election is kicking into high gear. In just about 13 hours, U.S. President Barack Obama will debate the man who wants his White House job, Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney. It's the first of three scheduled presidential debates before the election on November 6. It's also the first time Mr. Obama and Romney have gone head to head. Their first verbal duel will focus on the economy, health care, the role of government and also leadership.
Well, millions of Americans are expected to tune in to watch the televised 90 minute debate live in Denver, Colorado. And in a just released CNN/ORC poll more than half of likely voters say they expect Mr. Obama to win the faceoff. 32 percent say Romney will come out the winner. The struggling U.S. economy will be a major focus of this debate and just 27 percent of registered voters say the economy right now is actually good, an overwhelming 73 percent says the economy is poor.
A record 24 million Latinos are eligible to vote in the U.S. Presidential election and that's according to the Pew Research Center. A new CNN/ORC/International Survey shows more than two-thirds of likely Latino voters back President Barack Obama and 26 percent favor Romney. That's a big advantage for Mr. Obama if the Democrats can translate that into actual votes at the polls in November.
The Pew Center says the turnout rate of Hispanic voters has lagged behind whites and African -Americans in the past.
Now 68 percent of Latinos surveyed approve of the job President Obama is doing, 28 percent disapprove.
Well, the Latino vote is critical in many U.S. states. Nevada is one of them. Miguel Marquez looks at how Hispanic voters could make the difference there.
(POLITICAL AD IN SPANISH)
MIGUEL MARQUEZ, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: It might sound like Mexico, but this is the fight for the White House.??
MITT ROMNEY (R), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: Soy Mitt Romney. Apruebo este mensaje.??
MARQUEZ: Welcome to Washoe County, Nevada, the front line in this battleground state. Washoe County's 250,000 voters are expected to decide whether Nevada goes blue or red. And Latinos, about 30,000 votes here, could make the critical difference in a race that could come down to a few thousand votes.??
Here's how Nevada's 1.4 million votes break down and why Washoe is a battleground within the battleground. Most of the votes here are in Clark County, that's Las Vegas. It leans left, and rural Nevada is solidly Republican, the state almost evenly split. It leaves Washoe County and that biggest little city in the world, Reno, feeling like, well, the biggest little city in the world.??
MARQUEZ: To Democrats here, the ground war is on. Bus loads of party faithful, some from other states, already knocking on doors appealing directly to Latinos. Republicans, too, seeking favor with Latino voters.??
MARQUEZ (on camera): Craig Romney. Hablas a espanol. Si???
CRAIG ROMNEY, SON OF MITT ROMNEY: Si.??
MARQUEZ (voice-over): The candidate's Spanish-speaking son on one of many trips by the candidate, his family, and surrogates all descending on Nevada. Obama, the first lady, and their surrogates doing the same. A massive effort on both sides for Nevada's six electoral votes.??
C. ROMNEY: That's why you saw my dad here Friday, my mom here yesterday. We've got -- this state is very important to us, as are many other states across the country. But this election is going to come down to just a handful of votes probably in the entire country.??
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Hi, ma'am, are you registered to vote? Senora, esta usted registrado???
MARQUEZ: Registering Latinos, new voters, a priority in a county and a state where the margin of victory could be razor-thin.??
MARQUEZ (on camera): You've been out here how long today???
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Today? Five hours.??
MARQUEZ: Five hours? ??
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Yes.??
MARQUEZ: And how many people have you gotten to register.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Six people.??
MARQUEZ: That's about -- that's not very good, is it?
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I know, it isn't. I know.??
MARQUEZ (voice-over): The growing Latino population decisive here in Nevada and across the country if only it voted.
ERIC HERZIK, UNIVERSITY OF NEVADA RENO: Well, the Latino voter is, in a sense, an untapped resource in many instances. The registration level, the turnout level in the Latino community lags badly other groups.??
MARQUEZ: In 2008, nearly 20 million eligible voters nationwide were Latinos, but less than 10 million actually showed up to vote.
ROSA LOPEZ, CULINARY WORKERS' UNION: It's really important to be after them, if I could say like that, and make sure that they go and vote.
MARQUEZ: The White House in the balance, Latino voters could help either party win the whole enchilada.
Miguel Marquez, CNN, Reno, Nevada
CHIOU: And we'll have a live report on tonight's debate from Denver, Colorado just ahead. We will also be live in Colorado for the presidential debate as the candidates focus on domestic policy. You can watch it right here, Thursday morning, at 8:00 Hong Kong time.
And you can also follow the debate online at CNN.com/politics. You will find analysis, including CNN senior political analyst David Gergen's look at why tonight's show down in Denver is not just critical for Romney, but also a window of opportunity for President Obama.
Still ahead on News Stream, the latest on the investigation into Hong Kong's worst Maritime disaster in decades as authorities look into what caused Monday's fatal ferry collision.
And also violence in Syria surges as the country's commercial capital is rocked by a wave of deadly explosions.
Plus, the U.S. Secretary of State is put in a tough spot as she looks into last month's attacks in Benghazi that killed four Americans. We'll have all the latest. So stay with us.
CHIOU: Many questions remain after Hong Kong's deadly ferry disaster. It's still unclear if people are still missing after Monday nights collision of two passenger boats. At least 38 people were killed. Officials have promised a thorough investigation, but the inquiry is expected to take a couple of months.
In the meantime, Ferries remain an unavoidable part of life in Hong Kong. For many people, this felt like the sort of accident that could not happen here. Remy Inocencio shows us the city's essential waterways and the accident that has shocked everyone.
REMY INOCENCIO, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Hong Kong's star ferry: for visitors a famous tourist attraction, for residents Hong Kong's less iconic commuter ferries like these are a more routine way of life.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It's very much a commute. Once you've been on it a few times, you know, it's like every other form of transport.
INOCENCIO: Each month, Hong Kong's ferries clock more than 4 million journeys.
Hong Kong isn't just one island. In fact, it's made up of more than 200 of them. And to get to most of them, the only way to get there is by ferry.
That makes Hong Kong's waterways feel like rush hour at New York's Grand Central Terminal, says one maritime expert. And now in the aftermath of one of Hong Kong's deadliest maritime accidents in decades, many ferry commuters are talking about safety on the waterways.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It's never actually never passed my mind, never crossed my mind for one second.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: They've always gone around the boats. They've always been really good. I don't know what's going to come of this.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I feel very afraid and sorry for that people. I feel afraid if I take this ferry.
INOCENCIO: Right behind me, you can see the wreckage of the Lamma IV. It was towed late on Tuesday night from the accident site to this very location. Investigators are now going to take over. And they're going to try to find evidence of what exactly happened.
While the Lamma IV sustained heavy damage and the loss of 38 lives including five children, this boat, the passenger ferry collided with, was able to lend support with her damages and with no deaths: the devastating event a rarity for Hong Kong waterways.
PRAKASH METAPARTI, HONG KONG POLYTECHNIC UNIVERISTY: I have no that it is one of the safest boats in the world. This is the first time I'm seeing a major accident in whirlwind ferries, otherwise usually you have maybe one accident a year, probably one in two years.
INOCENCIO: A rarity, but no less devastating.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE (through translator): I am sorry for this accident.
INOCENCIO: The head of the Hong Kong Kowloon Ferry Holdings, HKKF expresses his grief as he speaks to the press about two children in his wife's family who died in the crash.
Mourning as well at the Hong Kong Electric Company where many of the victims worked. Executives and employees observed a moment of silence and queue to sign a condolence book. This is a city in shock, grieving as they wait to see what went wrong on the waters that so many travel every day.
Remy Inocencio, CNN, Hong Kong.
CHIOU: And this is today's front page of the South China Morning Post, or SCMP, the main English language newspaper right here in Hong Kong. You can see the sorrow on these faces of family members as they perform a Taoist ritual for the dead.
An editorial in the SCMP says this, "tragedy has befallen Hong Kong in the very waters that have made our city so great." It goes on to day, "accidents are terrible, but they also point to failings and to where we need to improve. Given our love and dependence on the sea, good has to come from this calamity. The investigation has to lead to even higher standards than the present ones."
In other news now, we want to update you on a story that we first brought you yesterday at around this time when we learned that gunmen had attacked students at a Nigerian University. You're looking at pictures of Federal Polytechnic in Mubi in northeastern Nigeria. Late Monday night, an unknown number of attackers went into residences at a student facility there killing at least 25 people, most of them students.
Investigators say the gunmen called out the names of some of their victims. They say the attack was most likely an inside job. They're trying to determine whether the killings could be related to upcoming campus elections.
Coming up next on News Stream, Syria's largest city is rocked by a wave of powerful explosions and dozens of people are dead. And a main public square is now in ruins. We'll bring you the latest.
CHIOU: You are watching News Stream. And here is a visual rundown of some of the stories that we're covering today. We've already updated you on preparations for the first 2012 U.S. presidential debate. And we've also looked at the ferry disaster in Hong Kong.
Now let's turn to the investigation into last month's attack on the U.S. consulate in Benghazi in Libya. A senior U.S. official tells CNN that Washington is considering possible military action against militants in Libya. The official says the Pentagon and intelligence officials have begun assembling preliminary information about potential targets. The official adds any strike would have to be ordered by the U.S. president and most likely coordinated with Libyan authorities.
You'll remember last month's attack on the U.S. consulate in Benghazi killed four Americans, including the U.S. ambassador to Libya.
The U.S. probe of the attack in Benghazi is taking place on several fronts. And now a congressional committee has called on State Department officials to testify about security issues. Jill Dougherty has more.
JILL DOUGHERTY, CNN FOREIGN AFFAIRS CORRESPONDENT: Well, wolf, here's what we know. These Congressional Republicans are charging that there were numerous threats, security breaches, and attacks in Libya leading up to even before the attack that Killed Ambassador Stevens and three other Americans.??
For example, they say that Ambassador Stevens, they say, took regular early morning jogs around Tripoli with members of his security detail, but according to their sources, a pro-Gadhafi Facebook page trumpeted those runs, posting a threat against the ambassador along with a stock photo of him.
Stevens stopped running for about a week, then resumed.
REP. DARRELL ISSA, (R) OVERSIGHT & GOVT. REFORM CHAIRMAN: All indications are the ambassador was not reckless and he took the advice always of his security forces, including sometimes when they said that meetings needed to be canceled. So, I think that this is a failure of intelligence, a failure of security, and a failure of judgment, but not of the now-deceased ambassador.
DOUGHERTY: And there were other security breaches, according to the committee. An assailant blew a hole in the security perimeter at the north gate of the Benghazi mission. Two rocket propelled grenade rounds were fired at the Benghazi office of the Red Cross. And the convoy carrying the British ambassador was attacked by a militant with a grenade.??
The letter from the House oversight and government reform committee says multiple U.S. federal government officials told them that the U.S. mission in Libya made repeated requests for increased security in Benghazi but was were denied these resources by officials in Washington."?
However, State Department officials have told CNN that security upgrades were made to the Benghazi mission, because of those incidents and others.
Within hours of receiving the letter from Congress Secretary of State Hillary Clinton wrote back. Her spokeswoman said at this point she could not comment on specific questions, but the department is amassing all documents requested.
VICTORIA NULAND, STATE DEPARTMENT SPOKESWOMAN: We want to get to the bottom of precisely what happened and learn any lessons that we need to learn from it. We're taking this very, very seriously.
DOUGHERTY: The House Committee plans to hold hearings on October 10th. And they've asked for State Department officials to appear. This is the only hearing on the attack before the presidential election and Democrats charge that timing I political. Congressman Issa denies that. He tells me his first indications are the State Department will cooperate.
Jill Dougherty, CNN, the State Department.
CHIOU: Now more on our top story, which is the upcoming debate showdown between U.S. President Barack Obama and his Republican challenger Mitt Romney. It's less than 13 hours away.
So let's go straight right now to Dan Lothian in Denver, Colorado. Dan, what are some of the things we should look out for in tonight's big debate?
DAN LOTHIAN, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, a couple of things. First of all, they do have -- these candidates do have some potential challenges. First of all, Presidnet Obama tends sometimes to get long winded in his responses and his answers to questions whether it's a sit down interview or at a press conference or in a debate format. And his campaign has talked about this as being a potential liability. And so the president will work to try to keep his answers more concise.
For Governor Romney, one of the things that we've noticed from past debates is that when he gets his back up against the wall he can sometimes appear agitated. He'll start flailing his arms around. And so he wants to contain that a bit more in this debate. As you know, it's important what these candidates say, what comes out of their mouth, but also important what the camera sees. And that can sometimes determine at the end of the evening who actually wins the debate, Pauline.
CHIOU: And some of the viewers that are going to be watching come from very interesting demographics. I'd like to focus on some of them, namely women voters and Latinos.
Dan, how do ou think both men plan to appeal to these voters?
LOTHIAN: Well, during the debate tonight, it will be focused broadly on the economy and issues of the government. And so they'll talk about all voters, not just these segments of the population. But what you've seen leading up to this debate a focus on different groups, whether it be Latinos, the president doing his debate preparations in the state of Nevada which has a big Latino population. Both candidates in recent days talking about immigration issues .
So those are some ways that the candidates have been going after or targeting the message to voters who will be critical to winning in just about -- well, a little more than 30 days from now.
CHIOU: And let's also talk about independents. They went for Obama back in 2008. They were swing voters then.
LOTHIAN: They did.
CHIOU: How are they leaning going into this debate?
LOTHIAN: Well, you know, that's a very good question. I mean, there are some polls that show that some of them are leaning towards the president, others that some of them are still on the fence because these were folks who voted for the president, because they wanted to see a lot of change happen. They knew the economy was struggling. They wanted to -- they bought into the president's promises and his ideas for turning the economy around. Some of them are frustrated.
So that is still the target audience. And among that group the undecided voters, those undecided swing voters, the Romney campaign I heard from a senior Romney official telling me that they believe that those undecided voters are leaning more towards them than to the president. But in large part tonight while the candidates will be speaking to this broad audience of voters, they'll be speaking specifically to those voters who are still on the fence, despite all the political ads out there, despite the speeches at the conventions, they still haven't made up their minds.
So this is an opportunity for the candidates to cut through a lot of the noise that's been going on on the campaign trail and really get out the message and try to convince those undecided voters.
CHIOU: Another sector is the youth vote, Dan, those 20-somethings. Obama did very well with them back in 2008. How is Romney doing with them?
LOTHIAN: Well, still the president is getting a big chunk of the youth vote when you look at the polling out there, at least the support among the youth and one of the things that you've seen both candidates do is try appeal to these young voters by going to places such as college campuses where they can rally them, get them energized.
The president in particular tried to recapture some of that energy that he got in 2008, has been doing that as I pointed out, but also talking about what his administration has done to help young people such as the extension and expansion of Pell Grants, such as young people being able to stay on their parent's health insurance after 25. This is all because of health care reform. Those are the things that the president has been touting as a way to not only build on how his policies have lived up to the promises that he made, but also to appeal to those young voters.
CHIOU: Dan, thank you very much for a preview to this big debate. We will certainly be watching.
Turning now to Syria, a string of attacks has killed dozens of people in the commercial capital of Aleppo on Wednesday, that's according to opposition activists. They say that three car bombs exploded in a main city square near a military officer's club at a hotel. Both government and rebel fighters have confirmed that another car bomb exploded near the chamber of commerce.
Syrian state TV reports that after the first blast, three, quote, terrorists dressed in Syrian army uniforms attempted to enter the main square, but were shot dead by army soldiers.
Opposition groups say at least 40 people were killed and 90 wounded in this series of attacks.
Nick Paton-Walsh joins us now live from Beirut, Lebanon where he's following the story. Nick, can you shed some more light on how this attack in Aleppo actually happened?
NICK PATON-WALSH, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, we're hearing of three blasts, as you mention. One of the only real detail we have about being a car bomb apparently driven by a suicide bomber. There are also suggestions the third blast may have been a mortar strike in this key area.
A gas station, according to state TV, a number of hotels and also you mentioned this key officer's club among the targets hit. Intense devastation in that particular are, front torn off buildings, and reports of many men in uniform being pulled out of these buildings.
As I say, opposition activists say that the military encamped there, grouping there was their target, but suggestions on state TV that civilians were also killed. No clear figures, though.
31 dead, according to state TV, 40 plus according to opposition activists, and as you mentioned dozens injured. Another symbolic attack, really, in this city which has been subject to guerrilla warfare in many ways for months now, what is effectively a regime stronghold being targeted, but it's particularly deadly type of tactic.
CHIOU: As we've been seeing, the rebels seem more emboldened now, targeting government officials. Does this seem to be indicative of a wider strategy for the rebels?
PATON-WALSH: Well, I think what you just saw with those alleged suicide bombers, terrorists in the parlance of the Syrian government, being shot dead as they try to enter, them actually wearing Syrian army uniforms. That's a repeat of a tactic that was allegedly used recently in Damascus when Syrian rebel troops tried to storm the joint chiefs of staff building unsuccessfully, got inside it seems, wearing Syrian army uniforms. It's a tactic of deception there.
The use of a car bomb in this will of course add fuel to the Syrian state's claim that they're fighting foreign terrorists and extremists here, radicals who would use suicide bombers and the kind of tactic, I think more familiar to many from five or six year ago in Iraq. That will of course raise concerns here.
But we've seen now for months this intense guerrilla warfare street to street in the most important commercial city of Syria. Not realy yield a particular winner. Reports yesterday that perhaps President Bashar al- Assad is sending thousands of troops to reinforce the last few days of fighting. The rebels announcing on Friday they were entering what they hope would be the decisive battle for the city.
But as this drags on inside this city, hundreds of thousands of people, residents there, many of them displaced, all of them living under intense fear of bombardment, jets, gunships, or simply the clashes that break out daily between regime soldiers and rebels, you will see, I fear, more of this kind of radical tactic, this sort of car bomb, suicide bombing reminiscent from the darkest days across the border in Iraq, Pauline.
CHIOU: Aleppo being just the latest spot where we're seeing so much violence.
Nick, thank you very much for the update.
Still ahead on News Stream a Muslim cleric and four other terror suspects await a key ruling in the UK in their fight to avoid extradition to the U.S.
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UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE (through translator): They raped me for one hour and 15 minutes while driving.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
CHIOU: People in Tunisia express outrage after a woman accuses two police officers of rape only to find herself facing charges. We'll explain. Stay with us.
CHIOU (voice-over): -- involved in one of Hong Kong's worst-ever maritime disasters had passed a recent safety test.
The company that owns the vessel says the (inaudible) showed no signs of problems at an inspection last month. Thirty-eight people died when the ferry collided with another boat on Monday. Police have arrested seven people, all of them from the crews of the two boats.
A series of explosions have killed and injured dozens of people in the Syrian city of Aleppo. The U.K.-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights says car bombs went off in Aleppo's main square, killing at least 40. Syrian state TV puts the number of people who died at 25.
A senior U.S. official tells CNN that Washington is considering taking military action against militants in Libya. Last month, an attack was carried out on the U.S. consulate in Benghazi. That killed four Americans, including the U.S. ambassador for Libya.
Any strike would have to be ordered by the U.S. president himself and likely coordinated with Libyan authorities.
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CHIOU: London high court is expected to make a final ruling on an extradition case that has been in the courts for almost 10 years, but we're still waiting for that to happen. U.S. prosecutors want to put Muslim cleric Abu Hamza al-Masri on trial along with four other suspects.
The men have been charged with a number of terrorism-related crimes. Lawyers for Abu Hamza al-Masri presented last-ditch arguments against his extradition from the U.K. to the U.S. CNN's Dan Rivers is live outside the high court in London, where he joins us now.
Dan, are the lawyers making a strong enough case to the high court?
DAN RIVERS, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, they're certainly trying. The arguments concerning Abu Hamza basically center around his fitness to stand trial.
And his lawyers were trying to argue that he's suffering from a number of mental issues, from depression, that the conditions in which he is held are wholly sort of unsuitable and have contributed to his depression. And therefore, he's not fit to plead in any future trial in the United States.
They went into a lot of detail about the conditions in which he's held, has been held in Belmont Prison here, being woken every hour, suffering from sleep deprivation and so on. These were described as utterly unacceptable conditions by Alan Jones Q.C., who's representing him.
Well, the government lawyers responded basically saying, look, you know, if he is suffering from any mental issues, the United States is more than capable of providing psychiatric care for him and medical care.
But they were -- there was an argument advanced by Abu Hamza's lawyers, that he needed an urgent MRI scan to see if there was any underlying deterioration or degenerative condition which was going to get worse, which meant he would be unable to stand trial.
And the judge sort of intervened and basically said, well, you know, if that was the case, isn't it better to put him on trial sooner rather than later, you know, if it's going to be getting worse. So they haven't yet decided, these two high court judges, on any of these cases yet.
There's still two more cases yet to be heard, which we may get to this afternoon, Syed Tahla Ahsan and Baba Ahmad, accused of a different set of terrorist offenses, basically fundraising online. These two last cases are perhaps the most contentious, because these two men have never even been to the United States.
The only connection with the United States is that the server which hosted the website, which it is alleged, was being used for terrorist fundraising was at one time one of the servers was based in the United States.
There's a pretty tenuous link to the United States, but they are wanted there anyway on extradition. All of these different cases actually are different. Abu Hamza is charged with 11 different offenses, including running a terrorist training camp in Oregon and conspiring to kidnap Western hostage in Yemen.
CHIOU: So there are five different cases that the high court is considering.
But, Dan, why is this one case with al-Masry so significant in terms of how the law is supposed to deal with accused terrorists in the future?
RIVERS: Well, I mean, (inaudible), there's a number of significant legal points, this.
I mean, they've been arguing basically that, you know, sending these men to stand trial in the U.S., they could potentially be put in a supermax prison in the U.S., and that would amount effectively to torture, it has been argued, because they would be kept in virtual solitary confinement; they would only be allowed out of their cell for a maximum of five hours a day, three of which would be to exercise in a cage.
And so all these arguments have been put forward (inaudible) this is in breach of their human rights and therefore they shouldn't be sent for trial. It's also interesting, because these cases fall under a kind of fast-track extradition procedure in which no prima facie evidence is required to be produced for the extradition to go ahead.
So there's a lot of kind of legal reasons why these cases are significant . Culturally, of course, Abu Hamza has basically been a kind of public face of extremism here in London. He has been vilified in the press. He's already been found guilty of inciting racial hatred and, you know, he's probably one of the most high profile terrorist suspects in Britain.
And as such, his extradition to the U.S. is incredibly high profile. The other two cases are significant as well. Ahmad and Tahla Ahsan, because, you know, simply because there's a tenuous connection to the United States with their campaigners saying they should be put on trial here.
Why are we subcontracting our justice to the United States, some campaigners have said. They should be put on trial here. They've never been to the United States. The fundraising they have alleged to have done happened in London. Why aren't they tried here?
The answer is because some of the evidence is inadmissible; there's going to be a whole big argument this afternoon about why the metropolitan police here passed all the evidence directly to the Americans and didn't pass it to prosecutors here and why prosecutors here didn't allow a private prosecution of these men, basically why weren't they allowed to be put on trial here, why do they need to be sent to the U.S. for crimes that they did in London.
CHIOU: Very interesting angles.
Dan Rivers reporting on the five different cases before the high court.
Thanks so much, Dan.
In other news now, a rape case in Tunisia is sparking outrage. A woman accused two police officers of sexually assaulting her, then found herself facing charges of public indecency. CNN's Atika Shubert looks at why the outcome of this case could be critical for the country's future.
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ATIKA SHUBERT, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): The alleged victim was parked here with her fiance when three policemen ordered the couple out of the car. She says one stayed with her fiance. The other two put her in the car and took turns raping her as they drove through the streets. Her fiance, she says, meanwhile, was being extorted by the other policeman in order to be set free.
Her identity protected, she recounts what happened.
"They raped me for one hour and 15 minutes while driving," she said. "Finally, we reached a place next to a school at a factory. My car was there and the third policeman was standing next to it.
"I asked them to let me go and the policeman told my fiance, 'We will fabricate a charge of adultery and you will spend years in prison,'" she said.
Her ordeal a month ago has brought hundreds of protesters out onto the street, outraged not just over the alleged rape, but also over what happened next.
Half an hour after the incident, the couple came to this police station to file a complaint. Then the police accused them of being, quote, "in an immoral position," charging them with, quote, "intentional indecent behavior," punishable by up to six months in prison.
"I broke down," she said. "It devastated me psychologically. This case has made me have convulsions every day. I keep thinking about one thing: to kill myself. I can't accept my life after what has happened to me," she said.
Tunisia is the birthplace of the Arab Spring, but the Islamist-led coalition now in power is grappling with a draft constitution that does not afford equal rights to women.
Now this case is proving to be a flashpoint. The three policemen are to be tried on charges of rape and extortion and the woman at the center of it all is putting her faith in the law.
"I address all women in Tunisia and elsewhere who face such cases. They shouldn't remain silent because, if you remain silent, you will suffer forever," she said.
"At least when you fight it, you will get your rights. This will help to ease the suffering that you live with and, when you see them in court, when I saw them handcuffed, I felt happy.
"And when they face trial, I will, in my heart, feel some relief," she said.
Now her legal battle will be closely watched at home and abroad -- Atika Shubert, CNN, London.
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CHIOU: We're only in the second week of Champions League group stage action, but the tournament continues to throw up surprise results. Let's join Alex Thomas right now in London for the very latest.
ALEX THOMAS, CNN CONTRIBUTOR: Hi, Pauline.
Before this season, they'd never won a game in the Champions League but BATE Borisov, a little-known side from Belarus, have claimed a second successive victory to sit at the top of Group F by some famous European football names.
Their latest scout was Bayern Munich. They're four-time champions of Europe. And despite a late goal from Franck Ribery, last season's runners- up were comprehensively beaten 3-1. Aleksandr Pavlov, Vitali Rodionov and Renan Bressan, all on target for BATE in Minsk on Tuesday night. And Bayern's coach was as shocked as the rest of us.
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JUPP HEYNCKES, BAYERN MUNICH MANAGER (through translator): I mean, there are no weak opponents in the Champions League. And the team BATE Borisov confirmed it once again. I think they have chances to go further. As for my team, there are concerns, but we will keep fighting. Not everything is lost yet. We'll continue our matches and concentrate while playing.
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THOMAS: (Inaudible) champions of Belarus, so sitting above far better known European teams like Valencia, Bayern and Lille at the top of Group F. (Inaudible) other games saw Valencia win against Lille.
Manchester United recorded their 100th Champions League victory, but manager Alex Ferguson described the goal they conceded against Rumanian champions Cluj as a shocker, despite misgivings about his defense, Ferguson was encouraged to see Robin van Persie and Wayne Rooney linking up effectively in attack, Rooney setting up both the Dutchman's goals as United recovered from 1-0 down to win 2-1.
And the reigning European titleholders also struggled (inaudible) to Denmark's champions. Despite a flattering 4-0 score line. Three of Chelsea's goals came in the final quarter of an hour.
Looking ahead to Wednesday's matches now and Carlo Ancelotti's star- studded Paris Saint-Germain squadron in Portugal to face Porto in Group A.
In Group E, Arsenal hosts Greek champions Olympiakos.
(Inaudible) Italian club AC Milan have flown to Russia to play Zenit St. Petersburg.
And in the so-called "Group of Death," Ajax take on Real Madrid while Manchester City face Dortmund.
Now he was one of the stars of the Olympic and Paralympic Games in London earlier this year, but Oscar Pistorius is facing one of his toughest challenges yet this week. The so-called Blade Runner is up in Scotland competing at the home of golf, St. Andrews. Oscar is playing in the Alfred Dunhill Links Chairmanship over the famous Old Course.
(Inaudible) pairs professional players with celebrity amateurs. Pistorius clearly not as good with club and ball as he is on his famous carbon fiber blades. Not bad, though. He plays off a handicap of 18 and admits he's nervous about the crowds watching him swing, despite running in front of all those hundreds of thousands of people most of the time.
Pauline, that's the sport for now. Back to you in Hong Kong.
CHIOU: Yes, you'd think he'd be used to that kind of attention. His swing looks pretty good, though. Thanks so much, Alex.
Let's move on now to school fees. As university tuition rises in the United States and the U.K., some students are looking abroad to further their education. CNN's Erin McLaughlin spoke to some Americans who are studying at London's Royal Veterinary College.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
ERIC MCLAUGHLIN, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): It's a dream come true for Laura . She's wanted to be a vet since she was little.
LAURA : Hi, I'm Laura . I'm a final year vet student at the RVC.
MCLAUGHLIN (voice-over): She is one of an increasing number of Americans studying at the RVC, where one in 10 vet students is from the U.S.
LAURA : Good boy!
I'm doing a consult, yes, really puts me in that position where I can interact with the clients and, you know, get a feel for what it's going to be like at the end of all of this, you know, where I'm going to be the one making those decisions.
MCLAUGHLIN (voice-over): Laura tells me she'll be nearly $300,000 in debt when she graduates next year.
LAURA : Good boy!
I was always told you got to do what you love. And at the end of the day, I know I've wanted to do this ever since I was a little girl.
MCLAUGHLIN (voice-over): Tyler is also a student at the RVC. And despite paying $32,000 a year in tuition, he says it's less expensive than some American universities.
TYLER : You know, I pay off my loans; it might take me 10 or 20 years to pay that off, but knowing that I'm doing something that I want to do and that I'm committed to is more valuable than, you know, $150,000 for me.
MCLAUGHLIN (voice-over): We asked Professor David Church why the RVC is so popular with American students.
DAVID CHURCH , PROFESSOR, RVC: The college has American Veterinary Medical Association accreditation. So it's -- that's hugely important. It's pretty much an international license to practice veterinary science. They're going to get a very different eclectic, international experience. They're also going to be working with a very large range of internationally recognized specialists.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: (Inaudible) what are your thoughts behind (inaudible)?
MCLAUGHLIN: While some students are coming to the U.K., others are leaving. Some British students feel there are bargains to be had elsewhere, especially in mainland Europe. Hannah , who also dreams of becoming a vet, is one of them.
HANNAH : I studied veterinary medicine in Slovakia and I would absolutely recommend it because it's fantastic course. I think I saved probably up to 100,000 pounds by going abroad. If you're looking for a way to find -- to do veterinary medicine and you're struggling to pay the fees in this country, then Slovakia's definitely an option to look into.
MCLAUGHLIN: With over 1,200 university courses taught in English, Europe is proving to be a hit with British students. As any savvy student will tell you, it pays to shop around -- Eric McLaughlin, CNN, London.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
CHIOU: Still ahead on NEWS STREAM, from a childhood spent in poverty --
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
CHIOU (voice-over): -- to hitting the high notes there, we'll have the inspiring story of this opera singer --
-- and hear why Mitt Romney's 47 percent remark touched a raw nerve. That's coming up next.
CHIOU: It has been a pretty active weather wise in the Asia Pacific region, and now we've got our eye on tracking two tropical cyclones near Asia.
Mari Ramos is at the World Weather Center with more details.
We're keeping you pretty busy, Mari.
MARI RAMOS, AMS METEOROLOGIST: Yes, they stay pretty busy. You know what, we match again. Every day we've been working, we've been matching our clothes. It's so weird.
But anyway, you look great, Pauline.
CHIOU: We're on the same brain wave.
RAMOS: That's right. That's right.
Anyway, let's go ahead and move on, talk a little bit about the weather here.
You know what, these tropical cyclones, both of them are the same ones I've been telling you about pretty much all week. And a couple of things happening a little bit differently right now. For the one that continues to approach Japan, now first of all, we're not expecting a direct hit with this storm. Right now what we have is a frontal system that moved through.
And that's beginning to interact with the moisture from the tropical cyclone. That's where you have all this cloud cover over Honshu, even in Tokyo. It continues to be very cloudy. It is a bit on the breezy side. It will get windier as the storm approaches. But it's not going to be anywhere near to, you know, as windy as it would be if you had the storm actually making landfall.
Now the storm itself is still pretty far away, as you can see, all the way down by Iwo Jima, winds close to 80 kph. It's continuing to move to the north-northeast, fairly quickly, close to 30 kph. So that center is still pretty far away and it's expected to stay far away.
Also, (inaudible) you'll get some rain, generally light rain. We're not expecting heavy downpours. And that's good news, too, because you've had so much rain already over those areas that any amount of rain, you know, could really cause you some problems. But we could see some travel delays.
The other storm is this one right over here in the South China Sea. Now this one is a little bit different, because I really think this one is impacting a lot more people and it does have the potential to continue to cause some serious problems. Now it's already brought some very heavy rain in Manila, for example, 150 mm of rain so far this month. Your average is 180 for the entire month.
So that just gives you an indication of how intense the rain has been at times over these areas. And notice that flow continuing across the central Philippines with this tropical storm. Now the storm had kind of a mostly stationary.
But we are expecting now in the forecast for it to start moving a bit more toward the west again. And that would mean the rainfall will continue to spread a little bit more toward Vietnam. And you can see that moisture remaining over the Philippines and then over on this side of the screen you begin to see the moisture start to approach Vietnam.
That is going to be a concern as we head into the next couple of days. Notice the storm continuing to trail along right over here. After this, there you see it, that forecast pushing it right into Vietnam as a tropical storm with winds close to 100 kph and then after that possibly a lot of rain for areas in Thailand, maybe in Cambodia.
That will be a concern as we head into the week to the latter part of the week. Let's go ahead and check out your forecast next.
RAMOS: This is an interesting story, Pauline. How would you like to maybe be able to control the rain? Well, that is this experiment; it's actually an art exhibit in London, through October 4th (inaudible) just is opening up on October 4th, and you can see it. It's called the Rain Room. It's a 100-square meter field of falling water.
Visitors get to experience what it might feel like to be able to even control the rain. You can see, you're supposed to stand there and the water droplets, as you move around, follow you. Pretty cool.
CHIOU: Ah, very interesting. It would be nice to control the rain during the morning commute and the evening commute. That would be very convenient.
All right. Wow.
All right. Thanks so much, Mari.
Well, as the U.S. president and his Republican challenger prepare for tonight's debate, there is one issue that is not going away. That's Mitt Romney's infamous comment about 47percent of U.S. voters feeling a sense of entitlement to government support.
Well, that remark was keenly felt by rising opera star, Solomon Howard. He has performed at the prestigious Kennedy Center in Washington, but he also knows what it's like to struggle after a childhood spent in poverty.
Barbara Starr has his story.
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BARBARA STARR, CNN REPORTER (voice-over): Thirty-one-year-old Soloman Howard sings to the rich and powerful.
His basso profundo has brought him here to the Kennedy Center, singing in Mozart's "Don Giovanni" with the Washington National Opera.
STARR (voice-over): It's as far away as you can get from this, one of Washington, D.C.'s poorest neighborhoods, where Soloman grew up the eldest of seven children.
SOLOMAN HOWARD, OPERA SINGER: We watched our home, then stayed with families, different families. We sometimes walk, you know, until we could find something to, you know, somewhere to stay.
STARR (voice-over): His family, part of the 47 percent referred to by Republican candidate Mitt Romney in that controversial video addressing wealthy Republican donors. But Soloman says his mother and stepfather never thought it was the government's job to take care of them.
HOWARD: They always, you know, instilled great values and morals in us and to, you know, just never to give up and to keep pursuing.
STARR (voice-over): After a life of food stamps and no health care, finally a teacher heard Soloman sing.
HOWARD: And she said, no, I want you to try this. You're going to be serious about it and, you know, let's see what you have.
STARR (voice-over): There was a college scholarship, an audition before opera legend Placido Domingo. The help was needed, but Soloman says don't put him and his family in some category of easy labels.
STARR: As a family that's been through it, when you see this debate in the country, the whole 47 percent question, you know, what do you want people to really begin to understand about that?
HOWARD: Assistance is very important. I remember a few times where we ate off of a Salvation Army food truck, you know. So that was something that, you know, had Salvation Army not been there, maybe I would have missed a meal that night or those few nights.
What the government does for us here is very helpful. At the same time, we do have to take responsibility for ourselves.
STARR (voice-over): Oh, by the way, this opera singer would also like to do other things.
HOWARD: I do voice-over (inaudible).
This is CNN.
STARR: Barbara Starr, CNN, Washington.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
CHIOU: That has a very nice, deep, rich ring to it.
Well, before we go, one more morsel of U.S. election fun.
A bake-off has been held between potential first ladies in every election since 1992. In those 20 years, the cooking contest has only failed to predict the next president once. So who won this time around? It looks like Ann Romney likes the M&M cookies there. But the Obamas, with a recipe for white and dark chocolate chip cookies was the winner.
'Family" (sic) magazine says this was the closest vote yet, just 287 votes separated the two different recipes. It is sweet success for Michelle Obama, who lost to Cindy McCain back in 2008. But of course, we all know who ended up in the White House.
And on that note, this is NEWS STREAM. But "WORLD BUSINESS TODAY" is coming up next.