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Turmoil in Egypt from Protest Crackdown; British Teens Accused of Attempted Cocaine Smuggling; Typhoon Utor Hits China; China May Ditch 1-Child Policy; Carrots Do Not Improve Eyesight

Aired August 14, 2013 - 12:30   ET


MICHAEL HOLMES, CNN ANCHOR: Egyptian television says 149 people have been killed, more than 1,400 is now the official number of wounded.

The Muslim Brotherhood puts both of those figures much, much higher.

FREDRICKA WHITFIELD, CNN ANCHOR: The coup that toppled President Morsy was one of the sparks that ignited this current crisis.

Our Ivan Watson now who was in Cairo is now joining us from New York.

So, Ivan, did you expect this level of violence and bloodshed once the security forces moved?

IVAN WATSON, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: They had been threatening, Fredricka, that they were going to move in to clear out these camps and there were kind of false alarms earlier in the week.

It's not the first horrific bloodshed that we have seen in the Egypt since the coup happened a little bit more than a month ago.

In fact, hours before the military ousted the elected President Mohamed Morsy in early July, one of these camps by the University of Cairo where our own Arwa Damon has been, was the scene of violence, and I saw bloodstains and blood streaks on the ground.

The generals who seem to be running the show, who have imposed emergency law curfews now as well and have sent in the security forces, they had to have known that there would be serious violence and loss of life if they wanted to carry out this operation.

And it's being pretty much universally condemned by Egypt's ally, the U.S., by European countries and, of course, by other Middle Eastern countries, some of which saw ideological allies with the Muslim Brotherhood.

HOLMES: Yeah, and, Ivan, to explore that more, I'd like to get your thoughts on this.

There had long been people saying that everything that's happened in Egypt lately, the removal of the democratically elected government and now what we have seen on the streets today, gives oxygen to the extremists, the Salifists, who say democracy is not for us. It's not going to work. What is going to be, if you like, the potential ripple effect in countries in the region, nascent democracies and less than democratic countries?

WATSON: Well, the terrible example in Egypt is that this is closing the door to the democratic process to political Islamist movements that, in many Middle Eastern countries and Arab countries in particular, have long been effectively excluded from politics, which has allowed the Islamist movements to really kind of paint themselves as martyrs and victims and underdogs.

For about a year the Muslim Brotherhood had its candidate as president, and it was one of the first times that we'd seen the Muslim Brotherhood nominally in charge.

It wasn't an easy process. Mohamed Morsy was very unpopular in some circles in Egypt, and that sense of victimhood was kind of stripped away.

It was the Muslim Brotherhood that now was in charge of trying to keep the streets clean and clean up the garbage. It's not easy to govern.

That door has been closed again. With the mounting loss of life now, the Muslim Brotherhood can, once again, paint itself to Egyptians and to the broader world as an oppressed and repressed group, and this experiment in political Islam running the most populous Arab country has now come to a very tragic and bloody end.

And this does set, I think, a terrible example to some of the other countries of the Arab Spring. You have an Islamist government in Tunisia that's come out condemning this.

Across the Mediterranean, the Turks have come out as some of the harshest critics of what is happening there, and they're saying, see, this is what could happen to us if we let enemies get control of the state, mount coups against us, a lot of talk of conspiracy among some circles in the Middle East now, Michael.

HOLMES: Yeah, it could be long-lasting and far-reaching consequences.

Ivan, appreciate your thoughts. Thanks so much. Good to see you.

WHITFIELD: With such disarray it's hard to envision just exactly how this will end.

All right, more than $2 million worth of cocaine found hidden in food in Peru.

HOLMES: In their bags. Those two teens there under arrest. We'll have the details, coming up.


WHITFIELD: All right, they're accused of being drug mules, two young women from Ireland and Scotland. However, they are now behind bars in Peru. HOLMES: They are. In Peru, they were arrested as they tried to get onboard a flight going to Madrid in Spain. Today, they're going to be in court.

Rafael Romo with their story.


RAFAEL ROMO, CNN SENIOR LATIN AFFAIRS EDITOR: Peruvian authorities say the drugs were hidden in 34 packages of oatmeal and dehydrated food products.

Altogether police found nearly 11.6 kilograms, or 25.6, pounds of cocaine, valued at $2.3 million.

According to authorities, the suspects had the drugs hidden in their baggage when they were arrested at the airport in Lima, the Peruvian capital.

Twenty-year-old Michaella McCollum from Ireland and 19-year-old Melissa Reid from Scotland were about to board the flight to Madrid, Spain.

They both deny the accusations.

MELISSA REID, ACCUSED OF DRUG TRAFFICKING: I was forced to take these bags in my luggage.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: You know it contain drugs?

REID: I did not know that.


ROMO: Peruvian authorities say the young women were contacted by Columbian men when are they were still in Spain. They traveled to Peru and entered the South American country as tourists in late July.

Authorities also say they visited tourist attractions, including Cusco and Machu Picchu.

Police say a young man contacted them by telephone and delivered the packages containing the drugs the night before their departure.

Colonel Julio Vela is in charge of the anti-drug unit at the airport. He says the suspects knew full well the drugs were inside their bags.

COLONEL JULIO VELA UTOR (via translator): They knew they were facing a risk, but they didn't think they would get caught.

At first they felt bewildered. They don't speak Spanish and it was difficult to communicate. They were trying to communicate with us in gestures.

ROMO: Michaella McCollum's family issued a statement saying they are confident their daughter will be exonerated. Her attorney said in a statement, "I spoke to Michaella last night, and she emphasized that she denied that she was guilty of any offense. She is well. She's not on hunger strike. She's finding it difficult to cope with the current situation so far from home but is optimistic."

ROMO: Peruvian authorities say more than 80 foreigners have been caught at the airport so far this year trying to smuggle drugs out of Peru.

If convicted, McCollum and Reid face as many as 25 years behind bars.


WHITFIELD: Oh, boy. That does not look good for them.

HOLMES: It does not.

WHITFIELD: All right, Rafael Romo, here with more. Tell us how bad it does look for them.

HOLMES: Yeah, have they been charged, actually charged yet?

ROMO: They have not been officially charged. Right now, they are being held in a temporary holding cell at the headquarters of the Peruvian national police.

Under Peruvian law, they have 15 days to officially charge them. So it's supposed to happen next week, a very, very difficult situation for them.

WHITFIELD: So this is almost part of a pattern, though, right? I mean, you have dug up details that they are not the first. In fact, there's a long list of people suspected of the same kind of activity.

Similar circumstances?

ROMO: Similar circumstances, yeah.

HOLMES: And, while you answer that question, why Peru? It used to be Colombia.

ROMO: Peru is now the number one cultivator of coca which is the leaves that are used to make cocaine, and so in -- so far this year there have been 80 foreigners that have been caught trying to smuggle drugs out of Peru.

HOLMES: Eighty?

ROMO: Eighty. Mainly Europeans and especially people from Spain. They broke the norm because of this case, but mainly people from Spain or traveling to Spain. In this case, they were actually travelling to Madrid.

HOLMES: Because of the crackdown and war on drugs in Columbia, it's sort of shifted to Peru, but you would think after 80 arrests people would get the message, wouldn't you?

WHITFIELD: Yeah, you may not want to try that at home.

HOLMES: My goodness.

ROMO: (Inaudible).

WHITFIELD: Rafael Romo, appreciate it.

ROMO: Thank you.

WHITFIELD: All right, one child for every family, that's the rule physical China. I think everyone, universally, has heard about this.

HOLMES: Yeah, but it could be changing because of an aging population. We'll discuss.


HOLMES: Welcome back to AROUND THE WORLD, everyone.

We're continuing to following developments in Egypt.

WHITFIELD: We are, indeed. A violent crackdown on pro-former President Morsy supporters to the degree of thousands of injuries and perhaps more than a hundred killed.

HOLMES: Yeah, the official death toll from the health ministry now stands at 149. It's been creeping up throughout the day.

The Muslim Brotherhood put the death toll in the thousands. They say a couple of thousand. Of course, there's no way to independently verify.

A couple of things to point out, a state of emergency has been declared for the next month right across Egypt, and curfews are being imposed from tonight in Cairo and also other major cities like Alexandria, elsewhere around the country.

WHITFIELD: Also the vice president, Mohamed ElBaradei stepping down, resigning from that post just a month after being sworn in.

We'll, of course, keep you posted on all that's taking place there throughout Egypt.

All right, now let's move over to southern China. It's getting hit by the world's most powerful storm so far this year.

HOLMES: Yes, this is a big one. This is Typhoon Utor. It has been hammering the region for days now. Gusts of up to 115 miles an hour. That's a couple of hundred kilometers an hour. Tens of thousands of people have been evacuated in the region.

WHITFIELD: And in Hong Kong, hundreds of flights were cancelled. The city's financial market and the schools there also closed. So far, no reports of casualties. HOLMES: But as you could see there, difficult to get around, especially if a scooter is your mode of transport. The Philippines, not as fortunate as elsewhere. At least six people were killed there, several others are missing. Just look at those winds.

WHITFIELD: And take a look at the face of a very lucky man today. European astronaut Luca Parmitano had a serious situation this month during a space walk outside the International Space Station.

HOLMES: Yes, remember this, he almost drowned in space. Yes, remember, he was out, he was doing that spacewalk. He was about an hour into it an there was a leaky cooling system in his space suit. Water started getting into his helmet. I mean how dramatic that would - how would you like that? Talk about scared.

WHITFIELD: And I don't think anybody would ever envision something like that to happen. He could have choked or, worse, drowned if he didn't rush back into the space station pronto. So what's even more frightening than that, Parmitano's wife was watching it all happen live back on earth.


KATHY DILLOW, LUCA PARMITANO'S WIFE: I was there, yes. I saw everything live on big screen. For me I think all I could think about was my husband and what he was thinking, what he must be thinking.


HOLMES: How terrifying. Can you imagine?


HOLMES: This flooded helmet incident. If I remember, we reported on it at the time. It happened back in July. But just getting more details on it now. More than a quart of water was splashing around in his helmet.

WHITFIELD: Oh, my gosh.

HOLMES: Of course, in zero gravity as well.

WHITFIELD: Oh, so he really had no control over the situation whatsoever. Definitely a, Houston, we have a big old problem kind of moment. But, fortunately, everything worked out and Parmitano is just fine and we're able to talk about it, as is his wife.

HOLMES: Hopefully they - hopefully they fixed the suit.


HOLMES: Fixed the problem.

All right, there are some signs now that China may be considering relaxing that very unpopular one child policy. WHITFIELD: And that would indeed have a dramatic impact on that country's massive economy, which would undoubtedly have a domino effect on the rest of the world.

HOLMES: Alison Kosik is in New York.

Tell us all about this. I mean there are valid economic reasons for this.

ALISON KOSIK, CNN CORRESPONDENT: There are. And just so you know, we are getting this through China's state media that the government looks to be considering relaxing that one child policy.

Now this, just to give you a little background here, this is a policy that was put in place in the 1970s to control the population in China. And this change could be announced this year.

Now, China is beginning to consider reforming this policy because the economy is slowing down. How much? Well, you look at the economy in China. It's growing at a 7.5 percent pace right now. It was 10 percent just a few years ago, so obviously it's coming down a bit.

Also, China's work force, you look at it, it shrank last year for the first time in decades. So the thinking is that you relax the rules because more kids equals a bigger work force, equals more spending, equals more productivity. But it's not clear if that's necessarily going to happen because, if you think about it, if they put this policy into place, it's going to take time for the kids, the extra kid who are born, to grow up and get jobs.

Also, some studies show that many Chinese families, that they really don't want bigger families. And some experts say a bigger work force doesn't necessarily boost economic growth.

Fredricka. Michael.

WHITFIELD: And so changing the policy would also help alleviate another pressing problem in China, you know, having enough young working people to actually help take care of that aging population. Take a look at this right here. China's population is more than 1.3 billion. And 185 million of them are over 60. That's 12 percent of the population. And that is expected to swell to 34 percent by 2050. So, Alison, will a boom in a younger population really make an impact with that older generation?

KOSIK: You know what, it could. It could. I mean, think about it, you know, you need younger people to take care of the older people. And those older people are going to need a lot of help. But there's a recent study that shows that a lot of the elderly in China are living in poverty and that they have physical problems, they have depression. So it means there is more of a need there for social services. They need workers to meet that need, not to mention doctors and psychologists and psychiatrists and physical therapists. So the need is likely to be big, like you said, hundreds of millions of people.

Fredricka. Michael. HOLMES: Interesting. Alison, always a pleasure. Alison Kosik there.

WHITFIELD: Yes, another driving force and concern of particularly the elderly population is, they've had one child, but for some reason that child dies.


WHITFIELD: Health matters, et cetera, who is going to help take care of the parent.

HOLMES: That's a really good point.

WHITFIELD: And they don't have anyone there. So it really is a -- quite the dilemma that many people have been arguing for change for a long time.

HOLMES: A very familial (ph) society where the young do look after the old.


HOLMES: Not like in the U.S.

WHITFIELD: That's right.


All right. It's your one (ph).

WHITFIELD: Great, let's talk more about parents.

HOLMES: Let's do that.

WHITFIELD: Your parents, you know, always telling you to eat carrots and that would improve your vision. Guess what!

HOLMES: Mine were always telling me to shut up and do my homework.

WHITFIELD: No, no, no. I hope not.

HOLMES: Yes. Well, it's not really the case. Eating carrots does not help your vision so kids you can stop -- no, they're still good for you.

WHITFIELD: No, don't eat t hose carrots.

HOLMES: This all started back in World War II, believe it or not. All part of beating (ph) the Nazis. We'll explain that.


WHITFIELD: All right, just in time for lunch now for an old wives tale being debunked. Eating carrots apparently does not improve your eyesight. HOLMES: Not in the way your parents told you. "Smithsonian" magazine setting the record straight in its online blog by explaining just how the myth got started.

WHITFIELD: So now what are we going to tell our kids? Kat Kinsman in New York.

So, Kat, what's up, doc. It was Bugs Bunny's favorite snack. All the more reason to get kids to eat.

KAT KINSMAN, EDITOR-IN-CHIEF, EATOCRACY: Yes, this is true. And it turns out it's actually not even an old wives tale -


KINSMAN: But rather a specific campaign of information by the British government during World War II, who -- they released this information for - both to dig into the carrot stash, the overage of carrots that they had on hand, but also to fool the Nazis because it turned out the Royal Air Force was working on radar technology that would make them have more effective strikes at night. They didn't want the Nazis to know that this was going on, so they released an information campaign involving posters and news stories telling people that their pilots, in fact, were eating more carrots and that was what was making them able to see at night.


HOLMES: Did it work? I mean - well, certainly, a whole boatload of kids bought that one. What actually is the nutritional value of carrots if they don't make you see enemy planes better?

KINSMAN: You know, they may not help you see in the dark, but they're still really great. They're packed with vitamin a and beta-carotene, which are both great at preventing macular degeneration and helping maintain your eyesight.

And, you know, I was just talking to the technician who was helping me get ready and he was saying he was trying to get his kids to eat carrots. So the most effective way that I've seen parents who are friends of mine do is get their kids involved in the process of planting the carrots. To, you know, have them grow it from seed to full on carrot and also get them involved in these great heirloom carrots, which come in all different colors. They have great names like, you know, cosmic purple and atomic red and solar yellow. And, you know, no matter what the nutritional value of carrots are, it's better than them sitting down and eating a great big handful of cheesey poofs or something like that.

HOLMES: I don't know what it is about you, Kat Kinsman, but every time we talk to you, I get so excited.

WHITFIELD: About food?

HOLMES: I'm going out to buy carrots.

KINSMAN: You should they're -

WHITFIELD: That's the whole idea.

KINSMAN: They're good, they're good for you.

HOLMES: Exactly.


HOLMES: Kat, good to see you.

KINSMAN: Great. Thanks so much for having me.

WHITFIELD: All right.

HOLMES: I will. I'm getting carrots. (INAUDIBLE) leave here.

WHITFIELD: You're ready? OK. Carrots for lunch. Cooked (ph) or raw.

HOLMES: Yes now, listen, we showed you these images the other day, rocks, trees, bushes, build on top of an apartment building in China. And that --

WHITFIELD: Wow. And let's just say the neighbors, well, they're not too thrilled about that. Boy, that is some growth there. We've got an update for you on the battle straight ahead.


WHITFIELD: All right, let's take a look at what's trending around the world now.

HOLMES: Let's do that. Beijing. That professor, we mentioned this the other day, built his own mountain retreat on top of a high-rise apartment building, now bowing to pressure from the neighbors.

WHITFIELD: He says he will tear it down. David McKenzie reports.


DAVID MCKENZIE, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, it seem like his luck has run out. The man who built this enormous piece of urban landscaping on top of his 26 floor apartment has been told he needs to get rid of it. Officials saying he has 15 days to tear down the fake rock, trees and all the things that angered neighbors for years. They said that he was above the law, had powerful connections, and that's why he got away with it. But because of pictures like this going viral on social media in China and the anger people have that the rich and powerful can get away with anything, he's being made now to take it down.



HOLMES: If you were rich and powerful, I could think of other things to do with the money other than that. WHITFIELD: Uh-huh.

HOLMES: What do you think, Pam?

WHITFIELD: But he likes the green stuff (INAUDIBLE).

PAMELA BROWN, CNN ANCHOR: Yes, all that for nothing. So I guess I shouldn't build a resort on my building's roof top.


WHITFIELD: I guess not.

BROWN: All right, lesson learned.

HOLMES: I guess if he's really annoyed, he can just shove it off the top. Yes.

BROWN: That too.

HOLMES: All right, Pamela, you have a good show.

BROWN: All right, thanks, guys, I'll take it from here. Thank you.

NEWSROOM starts right now.