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Mexican Trans Sex Workers Find Voice Through Journalism; Building in South Philadelphia Collapses; Egypt's Interim President Hints at State of Emergency; Iraq Violence Kills 600; China Working Conditions Probe

Aired July 29, 2013 - 12:30   ET



MICHAEL HOLMES, CNN ANCHOR: All right. We're still keeping an eye on this collapsed building in South Philly. There are firefighters on the scene. Still, you can see there the damage. Apparently one row house collapsed, as you can see there, but also pulled down parts of neighboring houses as it did so.

Our affiliate KYW reports there are injuries. They're saying seven of them, and one of them a child.

Now authorities spoke just a moment ago. Let's have a listen.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Six people have been transported to Jefferson. One person has been transported to HUP. He's in critical condition. And one child has been transported to CHOP.

There was a worker inside. He's in critical condition right now. We have burns on his shoulder and arms. That's the information we got. We do have the fire marshal going over there.

The house was not occupied. It was being rehabbed. So someone was inside rehabbing it. And that's all we have so far.

As far as the evacuation site, it's going to be the (inaudible) school. That's where it's at right.

The fire is under control right now. The incident commander is putting it under control.


HOLMES: All right, still keeping an eye on this.

And the report from our affiliate is seven injured. It was difficult listening to him there whether he actually totaled eight, but at least seven have been injured, a couple critically.

The house was under renovation when this occurred. We're continuing to monitor. We'll give you any developments as we get them.

ANNA COREN, CNN ANCHOR: This is an interesting story that's coming up.

They are the -- one of the most marginalized groups in Mexican society, transvestite prostitutes, and in Mexico City, they ply a trade so dangerous sometimes it costs them their lives.

Rafael Romo has the story of how some of the them are finding their voice through journalism.


RAFAEL ROMO, CNN SENIOR LATIN AFFAIRS EDITOR: They're often misunderstood, frequently abused and even killed, transvestite prostitutes who walk the streets of Mexico City in the underworld of pimps, "Johns" and not so easy money.

Now a group of them say they want to shed some light into their world of darkness.

She calls herself Christa. She's reading a story she personally wrote. It's the story of a prostitute and her pimp, a story of sleeping with "Johns" for a piece of bread. Fifteen dollars was the reward if the night was especially good.

Christa wanted to tell her own story in her own words. She says that's why she's learning to be a journalist.

COREN: Most media distort our stories. I've been interviewed before and I've told journalists how I'm making the sex profession a dignified one.

But, unfortunately, they choose to write only about my interaction with clients and how much money I charged.

ROMO: The journalism workshop is being offered free of charge by journalist Gloria Munoz and a sex workers rights organization in Mexico City known as Street Brigade.

The goal of the project is to help them write a book from the perspective of those who have known the horrors of life in the streets and have survived to tell their stories.

Munoz says she came up with the idea of creating the workshop while doing stories on prostitutes and learning they felt misunderstood.

GLORIA MUNOZ, MEXICAN JOURNALIST (via translator): I think that by training them in our profession and creating this workshop everybody can learn how to be a journalist. It has become a duty for me. I now feel it's not only a possibility, but a duty to tell their story.

ROMO: It's the first journalism project in Mexico to teach prostitutes how to tell their own stories.

As a transvestite prostitute, Laura says her access and insight makes her the right person to tell stories like her.

LAURA, SEX WORKER (via translator): Those I've interviewed are in their 50s, even their 70s. They're veterans and it's difficult for them to talk about these issues with a stranger.

But I can relate to them and we can understand each other better.


HOLMES: And Rafael Romo joins us now to talk a little bit more.

So they're going to write a book, but what's the level of interest from publishers and, indeed, the public?

ROMO: There should be a lot of interest. The good thing that they have going for them is they are working a journalist who is highly recognized in Mexico, Gloria Munoz, who writes "La Jornada," one of the largest newspapers in Mexico.

And she's advising them on not only how to write, but also how to get connected and hopefully come up with a book.

And at the beginning used the word, marginalized. Absolutely right. They're at the bottom of the totem poll when it comes to discrimination.

When -- if you think of murders that never get the attention of authorities, that never get to get solved, you have cases of abuse that are just incredible to talk about.

And when you think about a project that is going to put together their stories which are horror stories, if you really think about it, I there's going to be a lot of demand for it.

HOLMES: All right, well, keep us posted. Rafael, good to see you, Rafael Romo there.

COREN: Now to Christchurch, New Zealand, where a chef is getting a pretty blunt message -- you're too fat to live here.

HOLMES: Yeah, we're talking about a man called Albert Buitenhuis, I think that's how you say it, and his wife, anyway. You see him there.

They moved to New Zealand from South Africa six years ago. Back then, he weighed about 350 pounds. Well, get this. Now he weighs 285.

COREN: But the government still thinks he's too much of a health risk.

New Zealand is the third most obese nation in the developed world. That's a bit hard to believe.

HOLMES: It is, isn't it?

COREN: I'd have never thought that, after the U.S. and Mexico.

He and his wife are now facing deportation, but they are fighting the decision.

HOLMES: Those Kiwis, who knew? COREN: Tough. Tough bunch.

HOLMES: Yeah. There you go.

COREN: We'll take them when they're playing (inaudible) rugby.

HOLMES: Exactly.

Coming up, Apple launches an investigation into its supplier's factories in China. Wait till you hear about this.

We're going to have a live report, coming up.


COREN: Well, a building has collapsed in south Philadelphia. We've been closely following the story.

Firefighters are on the scene. You're looking at the pictures there.

Our affiliate KYW reports that there are injuries.

And here is one of the witnesses.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I saw the whole house was down. I saw the house next to it. It was falling over.

I saw a fireman. This dude was burnt. They were hosing him down with the fire hose.

They threw this baby out the window because the girl was on fire and the fireman had to catch the baby and all.


COREN: Quite extraordinary, amazing work there by emergency crews.

HOLMES: Yeah. Now it is -- as we were listening to the emergency worker earlier, took, we did do the math and it is eight injured now including a baby. We are working to get you more information.

This house apparently under renovation when this occurred. And there was one worker inside when the collapse happened.

Eight injured. We're keeping an eye on this for you.

All right, let's continue on here now, a crucial U.S. ally in turmoil. We're talking about tensions which are high in Egypt today after violent and deadly confrontations over the weekend, also fears of a major crackdown by Egyptian security forces.

COREN: Egypt's interim president is hinting at a state of emergency, and that is increasing the fear factor among supporters of ousted President Mohamed Morsy. HOLMES: Yeah, Reza Sayah joins us now live from Cairo.

I mean, there must be still a sense of dread there that a major crackdown is on the way. Although, apparently, they're backing off from these claims or thoughts of a state of emergency at the moment.

Is that right?

REZA SAYAH, CNN CORRESPONDENT: There are messages that seem to indicate that they're backing off, at least when it comes to the state of emergency.

New information over the past few hours, the spokesperson for the president here, the interim president, announcing in a news conference that at this point there are no plans to declare emergency law.

That's significant because over the past few days there was growing speculation and concern that perhaps the government could declare emergency law in preparation for a crackdown against supporters of the ousted President Morsy. Seemingly that's not happening at this point.

That could ease the anxiety, but still you get the sense this conflict is moving towards a dangerous stage because the violence is escalating. More people are being killed and there are still signs that more bloodshed could be ahead.


SAYAH: In Egypt, fear and nervous anticipation is growing for a decisive crackdown against supporters of the ousted President Mohamed Morsy.

For nearly a month, thousands of Morsy backers have staged a sit in at an east Cairo neighborhood. They won't leave, they say, until Morsy is president again.

At this point, chances of a comeback for Morsy and his Muslim Brotherhood movement seems smaller than ever. Morsy and several aids are still in custody. Several Brotherhood leaders are wanted by authorities and, increasingly, Morsy supporters are being killed.

Scores were shot to death on Saturday when they clashed with security forces. It was the deadliest day in Cairo since Morsy was toppled from power on July 3rd.

Human rights groups have condemned what they call the government's excessive use of force.

But the interior minister said it was pro-Morsy supporters who attacked first. Police never fired their weapons, he said. Plenty of amateur video and pictures seem to show otherwise.


SAYAH: It's important to point out that the overwhelming number of the fatalities in this conflict have been supporters of the ousted President Mohamed Morsy. There's growing evidence that security forces are firing at unarmed protesters.

And what's noteworthy is the absence of outrage and sympathy here in Egypt. The international community, including the E.U.'s Catherine Ashton getting involved. She's here meeting with both sides. She has a press conference in about three hours, a lot of people eager to see what she has to say.

HOLMES: Indeed. Reza, thanks so much, as always, Reza Sayah there in Cairo

COREN: Deadly car bombs rock Iraq and Syria. The attacks, obviously happened in different countries, but are they connected?

That's our focus, next.


HOLMES: Welcome back, everyone, to AROUND THE WORLD.

The stability of Iraq now in question as the country erupts in more deadly violence. Violence not seen at these levels in years.

COREN: And next door in Syria, the civil war there has killed more than a hundred thousand people. Well, could these two hot spots converge into a larger regional conflict?

HOLMES: Yes, let's go to our own Nick Paton Walsh who is standing by in Beirut.

Nick, in just the last few months, 2,500 people dead in Iraq. The sophistication of the attacks increasing. So, too, is the frequency. It's starting to feel like 2006.

NICK PATON WALSH, CNN CORRESPONDENT: And the numbers are beginning to emulate that too. May, over 1,000 people were killed in these bombings. That's the worst since 2006/2007, when the U.S. military had such trouble there.

These attacks today, 20 separate attacks. Remarkable numbers. Over 40 killed, 200 injured. Predominantly Shia. People thought of this Shia sect in Iraq targeted, often by the mostly Sunni insurgency fighting against the government here. Really the sectarian divide there fueling so much of this. It was the Sunni who were in charge under Saddam Hussein. Now the Shia are in power under Prime Minister Nuri al- Maliki. He's under pressure for failing to provide services. There's massive security lapse. They saw a huge jailbreak just last week. But it seems daily these bombings occur, fueling violence. So much of the anger coming from across the border inside Syria, where the sectarian divide and war is exactly the same as what's happening in Iraq. Real fears that Iraq is spiraling down into some sort of sectarian civil war, Michael.

HOLMES: And we can't just leave it with Iraq. Many people talking more and more about the violence in Iraq and the civil war in Syria basically morphing into one big regional conflict, if they haven't indeed already. What signs do you see of that happening or it worsening?

WALSH: Well, the U.N. themselves have come out and quite clearly said they believe that the wars in Syria and Iraq are merging into one conflict. The basic reason being we have Iraqis, Shi fighting on the side of the Assad regime inside Syria, and we also have Sunni Iraqis going across the border to join the rebels against that. And much of that violence imported back into Iraq as well as these bombings that you see.

Significant developments today inside Syria where we've seen the regime take hold of an important district in the city of Homs. The rebels have been holding that for a long time, but now the regime have it and they have a better hold on this important town. And it's right on the road between the coast and the capital. Something the regime really wants to hold onto.

But as that violence continues inside Syria, we just see the sectarian hatred in the region increasing and that's what many are worried about. We're really seeing the wars on both side of the border, Iraq and Syria, becoming one.


HOLMES: Yes, Nick, as always, thanks. And none of it helped, of course, by the jailbreak that we saw take place where hundreds of al Qaeda and rebel leaders were freed.

COREN: You spent so much time in Iraq. When you see what's going on there, I mean, could you ever envisioned this would have happened when the Americans pulled out (INAUDIBLE)?

HOLMES: There was the sense it would. Yes. That it would.


HOLMES: That the Sunnis would rise up against - they're feeling marginalized, ostracized by the Shiite government of Nuri al-Maliki and that this would happen. And then the opportunist step in, like al Qaeda and the like.

But, yes, I spent a lot of time there in '06/'07 as well when it was at its worst and you were seeing numbers like this. It is incredibly worrying, especially if indeed it does morph into the one war with Syria as well. It's very, very concerning.

COREN: It is frightening.

HOLMES: And it matters to Americans as well.

COREN: Definitely does.

Well, coming up, Apple launches an investigation into its suppliers' factories this China. We'll explain after the break.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK) HOLMES: Well, again, we find Apple taking action after being singled out once again for terrible working conditions in its suppliers' factories in China.

COREN: Well, China Labor Watch, a non-profit group, is out with a new report that says one of Apple's major Chinese suppliers violated a wide range of labor rules and industry standards as it worked to pump out iPhones and Mac computers.

HOLMES: Yes, we've heard this before. Anyway, CNN's Dan Simon with us now from San Francisco.

Dan, tell us more about the allegations and what's Apple saying?


Again, Apple stunned by these very serious kind of allegations involving one of its manufacturing partners. A watchdog group, as you said, they're called China Labor Watch, it says it found at least 86 violations that fall into various categories such as underage labor, poor working and living conditions and insufficient wages.

Now, the supplier at the center of all this is called Pegatron, which Apple has been relying on more and more to build its devices. Now, China Labor Watch estimated that employees in three Pegatron facilities worked an average to 66 to 69 hours per week. That's well above Apple's 60 workweek rule according to the organization. The report also detailed various other abuses. They range from management abuses, health and safety concerns, as well as pollution issues.

Now, Apple did put out a statement about this and it reads in part, "Apple is committed to providing safe and fair working conditions throughout our supply chain. This latest report contains claims that are new to us and we will investigate them immediately. If our audit finds that workers have been underpaid or denied compensation for any time they've worked, we will require that Pegatron reimburse them in full."

As we know, this has been a recurring issue for Apple. You'll recall in 2010 that a serious of suicides at the Foxconn plants led to reports of harsh working environments there. Apple took corrective action then. We'll see, of course, what happens this time.

Michael and Anna.

HOLMES: All right, Dan, thanks so much. Dan Simon there in San Francisco.

COREN: Well, there are new pictures showing Russian President Vladimir Putin with a sweet catch. A big Pike. But people don't believe he caught it.

HOLMES: Oh, is it a fishy tale? We'll talk about it when we come back on AROUND THE WORLD.


A building has collapsed in south Philadelphia. We have been closely following this story. Firefighters are on the scene at the moment. Our affiliate, KYW, reports that a row of a - a row of houses collapsed. Or it's just the one house. And the homes around it partially collapsed. At least eight people were injured, including a baby. We're certainly getting more information and we'll bring it to you at the top of the hour.

HOLMES: Yes, apparently that place under renovation. Somebody was inside when it happened. Eight injuries. We'll keep you updated.

Meanwhile, let's check some other stories making headlines around the world.

Japan. Boy, you wouldn't want to be there right now. Parts of the country under water after some drenching rain. The downpours hit the Yamaguchi area. This is in the western part of the country. Reports say a 79-year-old woman was killed when her house collapsed in a mudslide.

COREN: At least two people are reported missing. Well, flooding and mudslide warnings are now in place across the region. I can only imagine how much rain has fallen there.

HOLMES: Unbelievable.

Tunisia now. Lawmakers there normally would be inside the parliament building, but not these members.

COREN: Many members of the parliament surging (ph) a sitting outside. They are challenging the Islamist led ruling coalition. And they are also showing their anger over the assassination of an opposition leader who was gunned down outside his home on Thursday. He was the second Tunisian opposition leader to be killed in five months.

HOLMES: And in Russia, President Vladimir Putin showing off his outdoorsy skills again, as he is want (ph) to do. This time hauling in a huge pike while out fishing. Russian officials says it weighed in at around 46 pounds. In the past, Putin has, of course, been hunting wild boar, riding his horses without his shirt on, all sorts of stuff. Some of Putin's critics have posted online stories, though, suggesting a pike of that size couldn't have weighed anywhere near 46 pounds. So is it a fishy tale?

COREN: Michael Holmes bare chested on a horse.

HOLMES: Yes, right. You don't want to see that.

COREN: I think we'd like to see that, wouldn't we?

HOLMES: You don't want to see that.

COREN: Well, we want to end the hour with this. If you need something else for your daily cute fix, here's one you can try soon. HOLMES: Isn't that cute. Everyone together, aww. Chinese state media say in August there will be around the clock broadcasts of giant panda's living in Sichuan province. These are these cameras they've got out there. There's more than 80 of these furry beasts out there. Twenty-eight high-def cameras have been set up. Again, aww.

COREN: Aww. Beautiful creatures. We do love a panda.

HOLMES: Yes. That will do it for AROUND THE WORLD. Thanks for watching.

COREN: Yes. I'm Anna Coren.

HOLMES: I'm Michael Holmes.

CNN NEWSROOM. Wolf's up right now.