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Morsi Building Dictatorship?; Aleppo Fighting Continues; Violence at Gaza Border, But Cease Fire Holds; Congo Violence Forcing More Residents into Neighboring Countries; Record Greenhouse Gas Levels

Aired November 23, 2012 - 12:00   ET


FREDRICKA WHITFIELD, CNN ANCHOR: Hello, everyone, welcome to the NEWSROOM INTERNATIONAL. I'm Fredricka Whitfield in for Suzanne Malveaux.

We're about to take you around the world in 60 minutes. Here's what's going on right now.

This is Egypt today. Thousands of people furious at their new president and crowding the streets of squares to show it.

Here's what they're angry about. President Mohamed Morsi's new set of orders and declarations that whatever he says goes. One man, absolute power. No interference from any court. That is definitely not sitting well with Egyptians who endured decades of a single strongman presidency under Hosni Mubarak. Many people today say President Morsi is creating for himself a new dictatorship.

CNN's Reza Sayah is in Cairo right now.

So, Reza, do these protesters have a point? Is this the same style of leadership that triggered the Arab spring?

REZA SAYAH, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, Fredricka, if you ask the protesters if they have a point, they'll give you an emphatic yes. These are demonstrators who believe the revolution, the principles of the 2011 revolution, is in jeopardy, and they believe it's current president Mohammed Morsi who has put those principles in jeopardy.

All this outrage, all this fury is the outcome of a set of decrees suddenly announced by Mr. Morsi on Thursday night. These decrees give him temporarily sweeping powers and it seemed to be in an effort to push through the drafting of Egypt's all-new constitution.

One of the decrees says that no one, not even the judiciary, can overturn, appeal any of Mr. Morsi's declarations, decisions since he took office in June. This order seems to be put in place until a parliament is in place several months from now.

So technically this is a man who can do whatever he wants for the next few months without any oversight. So that's one of the decrees, Fredricka, that people here are outraged about. They're describing this as a power grab by Mr. Morsi.

WHITFIELD: So it's not permanent; it is expected to be temporary. You were in Tahrir Square just a few minutes ago.

Does it seem as though most people understand that and does it make a difference at all?

SAYAH: No. They reject that position by Mr. Morsi, and that explains the outrage. Some dramatic scenes in Tahrir Square today in crisis and other cities, including Alexandria and Port Said. And these are scenes that are very much reminiscent of what we saw in Tahrir Square back in 2011, of course, last year. The fury was aimed at then President Hosni Mubarak.

Today the fury is aimed at Mr. Morsi. And, again, we saw clashes today as we did in 2011, the clashes caused by some of the younger protesters who were throwing rocks and Molotov cocktails and security forces, the security forces fighting back, shooting tear gases in the air. So very similar scenes to last year. And the similar slogans as well, Fred.

Last year we heard the protests, the slogan, "Leave, leave, leave." We're hearing it again today, people saying they're not going to leave Tahrir Square until the regime is toppled.

WHITFIELD: And what, if anything, is President Morsi's office saying?

SAYAH: He has tried to calm the situation down. A couple of hours ago he made a speech to a gathering of his supporters, saying he is the protector of the revolution. He is one of the people, that he wants to protect the democratic process.

But, again, these particular factions that are in Tahrir Square that are his opponents, these are liberal factions, women's rights groups, youth groups, Christians' groups. They believe that they're being sidelined by the process to get a new government in place, and that's why they want to make their voices heard, Fred.

WHITFIELD: And then, Reza, Mohamed ElBaradei tweeted this comment a short time ago saying, quote, "Morsi today usurped all state powers and appointed himself Egypt's new pharaoh. A major blow to the revolution that could have dire consequences," end quote.

Now, this is also somebody who wanted to be president, wanted to lead Egypt. So how are his comments being received by the general consensus of the public?

SAYAH: Well, remember, Mohamed ElBaradei, the Egyptian diplomat, is a member of one of these opposing factions. There are many very powerful political figures that are sitting in opposition to Mr. Morsi.

The problem, the dilemma for them is they don't seem to have a political mechanism in place to take on Mr. Morsi, who is in power right now and a Muslim Brotherhood that's in power right now. Even so -- and this is something that emerged in 2011 -- that's the power of the people. There's no more fear for speaking out. It started in 2011, and right now they're speaking out again.

They say they'll continue to come out and protest until this government listens to their call.

WHITFIELD: All right. Reza Sayah, thanks so much, in Cairo.

And so now to that cease-fire over the border that President Morsi actually helped broker between Israel and Hamas. Palestinian leaders say Israel has already violated the truce.


WHITFIELD (voice-over): Its soldiers opened fire today on a group of Palestinians in a buffer zone near the Gaza-IsraelI border. Sarah Sidner joining us live now from Jerusalem.

So, Sarah, no one disputes that Israelis soldiers opened fire, but Israel and Hamas have very different views about the events that led up to that shooting. What is each side saying?

SARA SIDNER, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, the Department of Health there, the ministry in Gaza, is saying that these were farmers, they were out, and ended up being fired upon.

But the Israeli military says that these were several groups of men coming up, protesting, coming up to the border fence, trying to go over to the Israeli side of the border, that the soldiers fired warning shots in the air initially. When those warnings were not heeded, they ended up shooting towards their legs.

The government in Gaza is saying that they had killed one person and that the Israeli soldiers injured 25 people. The Israeli military right now not confirming that, just saying that they are investigating the potential injuries and potential death that may have been caused by Israeli soldiers.

So the situation a bit of a tense one because, as you know, we are now coming up to 48 hours. Haven't quite hit 48 hours of the cease-fire in place. And one of the things that was a sticking point was that there be no aggression from either side towards the other.

And this is clearly seen, especially hearing from the Palestinian Authority as an aggressive move, although they're blaming Israel. Israel has not responded yet, but certainly if they were trying to get over there, under the fence onto the Israeli side, it would be considered another act of aggression, Fredricka.

WHITFIELD: So, Sara, despite that, there is this belief or consensus that that cease-fire is still holding.

How confident are people in general on both sides that this cease-fire will really have some legs, some real lasting power?

SIDNER: Look, there's a lot of people that are hoping that it will have some kind of lasting power. But as you speak to people here in Israel a lot of them think, look, this will last for a little while and then again we will see more trouble. We will see more rockets come over; there will be a response from Israel, and this will be another back-and-forth. And people are, frankly, tired of it. They want to see an end to this conflict, and they want to see a permanent solution, something that a lot of people just don't believe they're going to get any time soon. There are a lot of sticking points. They don't see Israel and Hamas or Israel and whoever is in the position of power in Gaza agreeing, too.

That being said, there is one thing that some families can agree to.

We went to a hospital that is treating people from both sides of the border. And the situation inside the hospital is really a zone of peace.


SIDNER (voice-over): Four-year-old Yosef (ph) is listening to an age- old bedtime story. But he's not at home safe in his bed. He in the hospital, a victim of an age-old conflict that has shattered his family life.

He and his parents were staying inside this apartment building in southern Israel when a rocket from Gaza slammed into it. The blast sheered off several of Yosef's (ph) tiny fingers, badly injured his father, and took his mother's life. She was among the first to die on the Israel side of the border.

"He was saying, 'My mother is not here. She's with God.' He knows it will be a hard time," his grandmother says.

Hard is putting it mildly. He has just been through a second surgery. Doctors at the Sheba Medical Center at Tel Hashomer Hospital reattached four of his fingers, but in the end they had to reamputate two of them.

"He lives in the south, and there are rockets all the time in that area. Hamas doesn't think about where the rockets are going," she says.

SIDNER: While Yosef (ph) is being treated in this hospital room, just one room away there's another child with the same kind of war injuries, except she's from the other side of the conflict. She's from Gaza.

SIDNER (voice-over): Eight-year-old Bisan al-Agram (ph) lost three fingers when the war came to her home.

"I heard the sound of the missile that hit. I didn't even have time to ask what happened, and then the second one hit," she says. When the dust cleared, she could see the bones of her child's fingers in small pieces on the floor. She was taken to Al-Shifa Hospital in Gaza, but it was too crowded and they couldn't give her the best care, so the family asked Israel for permission to cross the border.

Initially her mother was terrified, terrified at the prospect of people considered an enemy in their country putting their hands on her wounded daughter. "It's a strange situation, and it's my first time entering Israel. I was afraid, but they treated me and my daughter in a very nice way, and I understand that medicine has nothing to do with politics," she says.

ZEEV ROTHSTEIN, CEO SHEBA MEDICAL CENTER: All the tension is blocked outside the hospital. Here there is an island of sanity in this calming water of the Middle East. Here we treat people. We don't actually look from where they are and what they do and what they did before coming here and what they're going to do after leaving us.

SIDNER (voice-over): Dr. Batia Yaffe is treating both children.

DR. BATIA YAFFE, DIRECTOR, HAND SURGERY: It will never be normal. It will affect her life from now on, and his life from now on, in choice of profession and choice of hobbies and choice of a future partner for life -- everything.

SIDNER (voice-over): She has worked in this Tel Aviv hospital her entire career, treating everyone from soldiers to suicide bombers and the civilians in between.

YAFFE: What is it in this piece of land that everybody is fighting about it all the time? This is what comes to my mind and whether this is our lot for eternity from now on. We must have injuries on both sides, always fighting. What's the point?

SIDNER (voice-over): If there is a point, it is lost on a 4-year-old boy and 8-year-old girl from either side of the Israel-Gaza border, who just want to be children but now share a similar fate, their innocence interrupted by a war they had nothing to do with.


SIDNER: And as you saw there, you know, wherever there is conflict, there are always people trying to create peace, even in a place like this, where there is fighting that happens, on and off, time and time and time again. Fredricka.

WHITFIELD: Oh, heartbreaking. All right. Sarah Sidner, thanks so much.

More than 40,000 lives have been lost in the Syrian civil war. And there's no end in sight there. We will get a live report.

And a dangerous warning from scientists who say there are more greenhouse gases in the atmosphere now than ever before. We'll talk to Bill Nye, the science guy, about what it means for the health of our planet.


WHITFIELD: As we talk about conflicts around the world, hard to believe the despair in Syria has gone on for 20 --

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) UNIDENTIFIED MALE: (Speaking foreign language).

WHITFIELD (voice-over): Now an opposition group says the civil war has claimed 42,000 lives, and that is not counting the 30 people who were killed today. One city that's been particularly hard-hit is Aleppo. As Nick Paton Walsh shows us, no place is safe.

NICK PATON WALSH, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Even sanctuaries in Aleppo can be deadly. Dar al-Shifa, the hospital where the wounded flood, itself hit by an airstrike Wednesday.

The building next to it collapsed. The hospital's lobby normally crammed with patients from children hit by shrapnel to injured rebels caught hard. In the debris, at least 15 dead, including a doctor and two nurses.

Jubilation as one man is found alive, but now there's a question, where do you take him to?

Doctors in Dar Al-Shifa have struggled for months to keep death at its doors -- blood-soaked blankets when we visited in September, few medical supplies, endless hours, constant bombing, power cuts.

But they persisted even when rounds hit the hospital's maternity ward. Among their patients, an uneasy mix of combatant and innocent born out of no other choice.

There really was nowhere else to run for so many injured in Aleppo and now that is left in tatters.


WHITFIELD: Nick Paton Walsh joining us now live from neighboring Beirut.

So, have they found any more survivors from that rubble in that hospital?

WALSH: Video emerging of one man, I think dead, pulled from the rubble yesterday and there are also photographs -- unclear exactly when -- of a 13-year-old boy being brought from the wreckage.

But activists at the time and still do believe they had as much as 40 people underneath that substantial debris there.

That building next to the hospital bearing the full brunt of the blast, four or five stories of it collapsing, and, of course, hospital next door.

Its lobby always teeming with anything from injured children to wounded rebel fighters rendered inoperable by the blast, Fredricka, such a vital thing to people in that bombarded city.


WHITFIELD: And, Nick, you know, the leader of Iran's parliament was in Damascus today. Iran is one of Syria's key allies and, last week, Iran hosted a conference for the Syrian opposition and representatives of the Syrian government, so what does Iran have to gain in all of this?

WALSH: Well, I think Iran wants to see any political solution have its footprint all over it, but really you've got to bear in mind for any rebel fighting, any opposition politician, Iran is absolutely the key backer, the sustaining force behind the Damascus regime.

So, political solutions engineered by them like that conference are really going to lack credibility with the opposition.

But Iran, as I say, accused by the rebels of being a key financier and armor and supporter of the Damascus regime, but desperate to be sure that whatever emerges from this is something that it can vaguely control and be comfortable with, Fredricka.

WHITFIELD: And regional stability is of a great concern. Of course, earlier this week, Turkey requested NATO deploy Patriot missiles near its border with Syria.

How has Damascus responded to that?

WALSH: Well, obviously, that's the last thing Syria wants to see. The world's biggest military machine in history getting involved and backing up its member there, Turkey.

But really we're yet to see if the missiles will get there. Although the NATO secretary-general says they'll deal with this as merit of urgency.

Russia already making its discomfort known, saying it's worried simply because, if NATO is there in a military capacity, it could get drawn in and we've seen this before, the Turkish military firing back at the Syrian regime when they shelled into Turkish territory.

A very volatile situation here, and many observers thinking, that once, NATO has that really sophisticated firepower on the border with Syria, some sort of de facto no-fly zone may end up emerging simply because it's going to be hard for people to know on the NATO side, on the Turkish side, exactly what Syrian regime activity amounts to being hostile or not.


WHITFIELD: Nick Paton Walsh, thanks so much in Beirut.

Ahead on "Newsroom International," anti-government rebels storm a critical city in the Democratic Republic of Congo. Now, thousands are running from the violence.


WHITFIELD: Live pictures right now of Tahrir Square, a familiar scene, is it not, from a year ago, the Arab Spring, which led to the toppling of the dictatorship of Hosni Mubarak. Well, this time, thousands have turned out in protest of the new president, Mohamed Morsi, who says he wants absolute power, no interference from any court. It would be temporary, says his office.

However, the protesters there are saying they don't like the idea at all. Temporary, because parliament has yet to be put into full place, and that's still months away.

Morsi says this is what he would want, no interference from any court, at least until parliament is put into place.

But of course, protesters have turned out in full force there saying this is just too reminiscent of the dictatorship that just left just barely a year ago.

Morsi's been in -- he has been in office now since June, so people are not very happy about how he is exercising his power, thus far. We'll keep an eye on Tahrir Square.

And now to other parts of Africa now where rebels are making quick progress in the Democratic Republic of Congo.

They've already taken over the eastern city of Goma and they're advancing now toward the next potential battleground.

U.N. peacekeepers in Goma were seen watching the fight between rebels and government soldiers.

This area has been embroiled in violence since 1994. It has left thousands of people displaced. Now, thousands more are running for their lives.

David McKenzie reports now from neighboring Nairobi, Kenya.


DAVID MCKENZIE, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Rebels in the Eastern Congo are pushing onto new frontlines on Friday, both to the north and to the south, leading to fears of a wider war in this vast country in the center of Africa.

The M23 rebel group took the key town of Sake on Friday from government forces and alliance militia. Thousands of civilians were seen flying, sometimes carrying all their possessions on their backs.

Oxfam, the U.K. charity, says that more than 100,000 people need humanitarian assistance in this crisis.

Now, there's a move to try and solve the growing conflict at the negotiating table. The political (INAUDIBLE) of M23 has been summoned to use Uganda to try and find a way to find peace.

But international observers believe that because the U.N. peacekeeping force watched as M23 took the key city of Goma earlier this week, they might be emboldened to push on.

And they say they want tom, quote, "liberate" the entire of the country and move all the way to Kinshasa, a thousand miles away.

David McKenzie, CNN, Nairobi, Kenya.


WHITFIELD: And dangerous new record reached. A report says that there are more greenhouse gases in the atmosphere now than ever before.

We'll talk to Bill Nye, the Science Guy -- there he is -- about what it means for the health of our planet.


WHITFIELD: The damage caused by Superstorm Sandy here in the States has a lot of people asking questions about our weather and what's in our atmosphere.

Will scenes like these become more frequent? Are storms like these the new norm?

A recent report from the World Meteorological Organization has some frightening statistics about greenhouse gases.

Chad Myers is here to break it down for us. And we've got Bill Nye on the other side, as well.

So, alarming report, say some.

CHAD MYERS, AMS METEOROLOGIST: It is. This is the highest level now of CO2 that we've ever seen and it's not stopping.

You know, this isn't just a peak that we were higher back in 1990. This just exponentially is going up.

So, back before we were burning fossil fuel, our baseline was about 280-parts-per-million. Can't get much lower than that because we weren't doing much.

There weren't even that many people really, pre-Industrial, but now we have a 40 percent fever here. We're up to 390.9-parts-per-million and that number has no indication that the acceleration is slowing down.

WHITFIELD: So why is this? I mean, what, if anything, can be done to change the equation here?

MYERS: You don't we think we're doing a lot? We're recycling. We're turning off the lights. We're doing so much more than our parents did.

But we're not slowing it down. We have so many more people on the planet now that concentration is still going up.

WHITFIELD: And so what's the correlation here? You know, there are some who say, you know, climate change, it's not an element here.

This is just natural progression of change, of evolution and the earth will correct itself.

MYERS: Possibly. I don't know that we want to take that chance.

Something else happens here. The ocean absorbs a lot of this CO2, turning it into carbonic acid. We are polluting our oceans with this acid.

I'm not worried that we're going to kill the human species because of global warming, but we may kill the human species if we kill the ocean and have nothing else in the ocean except dead mass because it's just a big acidic pool.

WHITFIELD: Let's bring in Bill Nye, the Science Guy, joining us now.

So, you know, Bill, what's your take on this? Do you think there really is a correlation here between man's behavior, whether this is kind of the natural evolution of the earth, whether greenhouse gases affect -- are really being caused by people's behaviors?

BILL NYE, "THE SCIENCE GUY": Oh, yeah, it's humans. There used -- when I went -- no, when I went to the World's Fair in 1965, there were three billion people in the world.

Well, now, there's over 7 billion, two-and-a-third times the number of people just in my lifetime, let alone my father's lifetime and grandfather's lifetime.

And, so, before we started burning fossil fuels in steam engines, in, let's say, the 1700s, we had, yeah, 280-parts-per-million carbon dioxide. Now, we have almost 400.

And, as we always say, it's not just the amount of carbon dioxide. It's not just the amount of greenhouse gases like methane and water vapor. It's the rate. It's the speed at which we are adding this gas, these gases, that is so concerning.

But I will say we could be at a turning point that we're even having this discussion is big progress for people like me, that we're even considering this.

Now, all the computer models, this is where people try to get a mathematical model of the earth's atmosphere. These things are fantastically complicated. Weather is complicated.

But storms like Sandy are consistent with every computer model and, so, this is of great concern, and this is maybe an opportunity to turn it around and have everybody in the entire world, especially in the United States, get going on this stuff and have more efficient means of transportation, more efficient means of moving electricity around and storing electricity.

We could, dare I say it, change the world?

WHITFIELD: OK, when you say everyone in the world, it's everyone's responsibility to kind of turn it around, but is it your belief that those of us here in the U.S. are the biggest offenders? NYE: Oh, yeah, well, the word "offenders" -- we, the United States ...

WHITFIELD: Or maybe contributors then, is that a better word? The largest contributors ...

NYE: Say it again.

WHITFIELD: Are we, instead, the largest contributors?

NYE: Yeah, and the problem or the opportunity is people in the developing world want to live the way people in the developed world live, but if we all try to do that at our current inefficiencies -- with our current inefficiencies we'll need another couple of earths and we don't have those, so we have to find ways to do more with less.

Now, I was born in the U.S. I am not objective about this. I would like the U.S. to be the world leader in these new technologies that will help us do more with less.

It would be OK in a scientific sense or maybe for the sake of humankind if it's invented in other parts of the world, but I would rather it were done here and this could be the big -- this Hurricane Sandy, as traumatic as it is or was -- it still is -- it would be -- maybe it will give us that kick we need to everybody work together and change the world.

MYERS: Hey, Bill, it's Chad. I believe in baby steps because I believe that we have such -- this overwhelming number, these statistics, we can't fix this.

In the human mind, we can't get our hands around it, our minds around it. How do we take baby steps, one thing at a time?

What's the first thing we should do as a nation to get this under control?

NYE: Well, perhaps -- let me throw this out -- maybe we put our electrical wires underground and then -- just think of the cost.

We spent -- I don't know. Did we spend $20 billion, $30 billion, $100 billion recovering from Sandy.

Suppose we had invested that $100 billion in any sort of existing technology for moving energy around and making it more reliable. We would have that money available to do other stuff.

So, I don't know if that's a baby step, but it's kind of big-thinking with existing technology.

WHITFIELD: You mentioned transportation being another route, Bill, in which ...

NYE: I live in Los Angeles. It's so inefficient.

WHITFIELD: But, you know, some people would say -- yeah, some people would say, at least over the last 10 to 20 years, there's been so much progress being made, whether you are talking about hybrid vehicles, you know, cleaner engines, et cetera.

But it doesn't seem like that's making a big enough impact if we want to blame transportation for being a giant contributor, too.

NYE: Well, see, as I always say, I think we have to do everything all at once. And so that we're making progress on fuel efficiency is good.

WHITFIELD: That can be very costly, too.

NYE: Well, but just think -- well, except look at the price tag of repairing things after stuff. Look at Katrina and now Sandy.

You know, Sandy wasn't an especially a big hurricane, as hurricanes go. It just happened to get deflected ashore at an -- in an inopportune place and, from a geological standpoint, you know, Katrina was 2005. Sandy is 2012. From -- in the sense of deep time, that's like the blink of an eye. It's just happening like that.

If these storms happen every five years and then every four years, this is going to be a very expensive and traumatic thing, and that's just in the developed world where we have the means to feed 50,000 people on Thanksgiving Day.

But in the developing world, it leads to just horrible trauma and we have huge inefficiencies and there's going to be conflict over transportation and clean water and who gets the rights to live in the right -- in the most desirable places.

And this could be a turning point, so I'm an advocate of doing everything all at once.

WHITFIELD: So, do both of you, as we wrap it up, real quick then, do you believe, to both of you, we're going to see more, larger, bigger, more frequent storms as a result of these, you know, greenhouse gases?

NYE: Well, there's more heat energy -- yeah ...

WHITFIELD: ... we should ...

NYE: There's more heat energy in the atmosphere and this is what you would expect.

And, strangely enough, when there's more heat energy in the atmosphere in a place like the Great Lakes, it snows a little more because there's more moisture up there and it's not that complicated, but it's not -- it's a little bit counterintuitive at first.


MYERS: If you put more gas, more heat in a hot air balloon, will it go higher? Yes.

WHITFIELD: All right. MYERS: There you go.

WHITFIELD: Chad Myers, Bill Nye, the Science Guy, thanks to both of you gentlemen. Appreciate it.

NYE: Thanks, good morning. Good afternoon.

WHITFIELD: All right, good afternoon. Bill, it's morning somewhere, right?

WHITFIELD: All right, the president of Mexico wants to rename his country, by the way, whether it's morning, afternoon, or evening, and it's also getting a lot of support south of the border. We'll explain.