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NEWS STREAM

Samsung To Unveil Smartwatch; Russia Open Up Possibility Of Military Strikes In Syria; Ariel Castro Found Dead In Prison Cell; Neighboring Countries Struggle To Cope With Refugee Influx from Syria; Barack Obama Visits Sweden

Aired September 4, 2013 - 08:00   ET

THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.


KRISTIE LU STOUT, HOST: I'm Kristie Lu Stout in Hong Kong. And welcome to News Stream where news and technology meet.

Now President Vladimir Putin says Russia could back a military strike on Syria if he sees clear proof of chemical weapons use.

The man who imprisoned and raped three women in the United States is found dead in his prison cell.

And we look at the growing battle for your wrists as Samsung prepares to unveil its own smartwatch.

As U.S. edges closer to possible military action against Syria, there is a slight change of tone from Russia about how to deal with its ally.

Now the Kremlin has resisted attempts to blame Damascus for a suspected chemical weapons attack, but President Vladimir Putin now says that Russia could back a strike on Syria with two big ifs. Now they include clear proof that the regime used poison gas and a presentation of that evidence before the UN security council.

Now those qualifications are significant. And for the very latest, CNN's Phil Black joins me now live from Moscow. And Phil, what brought about this new line from the Kremlin?

PHIL BLACK, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Difficult to say, Kristie. Certainly it is a departure. We've never heard President Vladimir Putin say anything like this before. And on first inspection it would appear to be a softening, in a sense, for the Russian position. But as you mentioned, it does come with some very strict conditions, those being that the evidence must be undeniable. So far we know Russia hasn't been impressed by the evidence. And that this must involve a process before the United Nations.

Take a listen now to some of Vladimir Putin's comments on this subject.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

VLADIMIR PUTIN, PRESIDENT OF RUSSIA (through translator): If we have objective, precise data of who is responsible for these crimes, then we will react. Right now, we are just guessing. It is too early to say yes we will do this or that. This would be absolutely incorrect. People in politics don't act like that. But I assure you that we are taking a position in principle.

I want to say that the principle of this position is that the use of chemical weapons for mass destruction of people is a crime. But there is another question, if it is concluded that the fighters used weapons of mass destruction, what will the U.S. do with the fighters? What would these sponsors do with the fighters? Are they going to stop delivering weapons? Are they going to launch military action against them?

(END VIDEO CLIP)

BLACK: So perhaps not quite such a departure after all. President Putin went on to say that he believes no such evidence exists implicating the Syrian government, because he thinks is ludicrous to suspect them. He think from the Russian point of view it would be absurd to think that the Syrian government would use chemical weapons at a time when the fight is generally going their way and when they know the use of chemical weapons would very likely trigger some form of international intervention, Kristie.

LU STOUT: Now also today, Phil, reports saying that Russia is sending a missile cruiser to the eastern Mediterranean. Is this true? And if so, why?

BLACK: Some earlier reports, and another naval rotation by the Russian navy.

It's important to note that Russia maintains a naval task force in the Mediterranean permanently. And it has had some ships come and go from this task force over the last week or so and it has insisted all along that that is just part of the regular rotation of vessels involving that task force that is not related to Syria or U.S. naval movements in the region.

They had sent one vessel, especially, into the eastern Mediterranean, they say, to monitor, to perform reconnaissance about the escalating situation in Syria. But so far, of all the movements that have been noted in recent weeks, Russia has not confirmed any of them are specifically related to a buildup of U.S. Naval forces in the region as well, Kristie.

LU STOUT: Now this day Vladimir Putin, he also says that it has frozen additional air defense shipments to Syria. So what do we know about the arms sales between Russia and Syria?

BLACK: What he's talking about there is the S-300 air defense missile system. It is said to be very sophisticated, very capable weapon. And one that both the United States and particularly Israel, other countries in the region did not want Syria to get.

What Vladimir Putin said on this is that while some components in that system have already been delivered as part of an arms deal that dates back before the Syrian crisis, he says that sale and the delivery on that deal has now, for the moment, been suspended.

What he went on to say, though, however, that should there be some sort of military strike on Syria by the United States and its allies then the delivery of these sorts of sensitive weapons could be reconsidered -- Kristie.

LU STOUT: All right. Phil Black reporting live for us from Moscow. Thank you.

Now U.S. President Obama has won the support of key Democratic and Republican leaders in the House for military action against Syria. But the White House is still seeking congressional approval for a strike as Jim Schiutto now reports.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

SEN. BOB CORKER, (R) TENNESSEE: Today you're beginning the formal request of asking each of us to make the most important decision many of us will make during our tenure in the United States Senate.

JIM SCHIUTTO, CNN CORRESPONDENT: For senators, a rare chance to debate a president's decision to launch military attacks abroad. The administration's three spokesmen, all with very personal experience of war, delivered the same message: the world is awaiting America's response.

JOHN KERRY, U.S. SECRETARY OF STATE: Hezbollah is hoping that isolationism will prevail. North Korea is hoping that ambivalence carries the day. They are all listening for our silence.

SCHIUTTO: Left to make the military case for attacks, the chairman of the joint chiefs who had been a skeptic of broad military action.

GEN. MARTIN DEMPSEY, U.S. JOINT CHIEFS CHAIRMAN: I have never been told to change the momentum. I have been told to degrade capability.

SCHIUTTO: Senators in the administration came face to face with an American public deeply skeptical of another conflict in the Middle East.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Thank you, Mr. Secretary.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: American people say no to (inaudible)

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Committee will be in order...

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: (inaudible)

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The committee will be in order.

KERRY: The first time I testified before this committee when I was 27 years old, I had feelings very similar to that protester. And I would just say that is exactly why it is so important that we are all here...

SCHIUTTO: With that reluctance in mind, the administration took extra care to clarify what military action would be...

KERRY: Limited, targeted effort that will not be American boots on the ground with respect to the civil war.

SCHIUTTO: And would not, even when Secretary Kerry for a moment seemed to open the door to U.S. boots on the ground.

KERRY: I don't want to take off the table an option that might or might not be available to the President of the United States to secure our country.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

LU STOUT: Jim Schiutto reporting there.

And as the U.S. congress deliberates whether to act on Syria, France's parliament is also set to debate the issue.

Now Jim Bittermann will be watching today's debate very closely. He's in Paris. He joins us now live. And Jim, you know, without a vote what is the purpose of today's debate?

JIM BITTERMANN, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, I think, Kristie, it's more than anything else a public relations exercise. It could backfire on President Hollande. Basically he is running against public opinion here. About two-thirds of the French say they wouldn't like to see France take military action in Syria. And the president had been very dramatic saying that action has to be taken.

So this debate is being launched under that background -- over that background and it'll take place in both the national assembly and in the senate. There will be the prime minister and the national assembly and the foreign minister will present the president's case in the senate. It'll give both opponents and proponents a chance to make their best arguments. The political leaders from both sides will be making their best arguments.

And the reason it could backfire is because in fact some of President Hollande's backers, including the Communist and the (inaudible) in the national assembly are not backing him on this issue. They're against the idea of taking military action.

So there could be some strong arguments against taking military action, Kristie.

LU STOUT: And also weighing the situation and the political temperature in the U.S., if the U.S. congress does not approve action will the debate in France end there?

BITTERMANN: Well, the debate is only scheduled to take three hours this afternoon. So the debate in Congress is not going to take place for several days yet. But yeah, I mean, the debate here basically is against the background. The president saying he's going to take action only if the U.S. takes action, or if someone else takes action in concert with France. He said he's not going to take action alone. France is not going to do anything on its own in this.

So as a consequence, if the U.S. doesn't take action, the French won't take action.

LU STOUT: And President Hollande, we know that he will be at the G20 summit later this week in St. Petersburg. Does he plan to meet with European allies to discuss what action to take in Syria?

BITTERMANN: Well, he is. He's going to meet with the European allies. He's also going to meet with President Obama. And I think he's going to try to sell his case once again for taking military action. But he's going to run into very stiff headwinds. We've already seen the vote in the British parliament. The Italians are known to be against it. The Germans have not said anything about taking any kind of military action. So, really, nobody else in Europe to join any kind of military coalition.

There's a possibility of bringing NATO into the equation. There's been some calls for that.

But nonetheless, there's just not a basis for taking military action if the U.S. doesn't move forward with the military action -- Kristie.

LU STOUT: All right, Jim Bittermann reporting live for us from Paris. Thank you, Jim.

Now at the United Nations, this man represents the Syrian government. Bashar Ja'afri has called on the UN to prevent any aggression on Syria. And he spoke with chief international correspondent Christiane Amanpour in this exclusive interview.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

CHRISTIANE AMANPOUR, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: How will it affect the morale of your government if and when the U.S. takes this action and a lot of your military facilities will be destroyed? They're not saying they're going in as an invading force, but you've seen these actions in the past, you've seen it in other places -- cruise missiles, other strikes -- they can be devastating. Are you afraid of defections, of the government and its allies sort of collapsing?

BASHAR JA'AFRI, SYRIAN AMBASSADOR TO UN: We are not the warmongers. We are not war advocates. We are a peaceful nation, a small nation, and we don't pretend to be equally strong enough to confront the United States military. This is not the case. We are a victim of any aggression that might happen and at any time.

We are mainly and keen interest in safeguarding the interests of our people and preventing any aggression.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

LU STOUT: Now Ja'afri also called allegations the Syrian government used chemical weapons, quote, false and unfounded. He said U.S. and European claims are, quote, "not credible."

Now in Iraq, more deadly violence. Just this morning militants bombed adjacent houses in the town of Latifiyah killing 18 people. Now the houses belonged to two Shiite Muslim brothers.

And to the north of Baghdad, three roadside bombs killed five soldiers in the town of Tarmiyah. Now this town is mostly made up of Sunni Muslims. And also yesterday a series of car bombs went off in Baghdad, hitting a range of civilian targets. At least 54 people were killed and over 100 wounded.

A surge in violence in recent months has sparked fears that the country is slipping back into sectarian war.

You're watching News Stream. Coming up next, Ariel Castro, who held three women captive in his Cleveland home, is found dead in his prison cell. We'll get the latest on the investigation.

And at Japan's Fukushima nuclear plant, radiation readings near tanks holding toxic water jumped to a deadly new high.

Also from the tech frontier, we got the latest on the newest smartwatches. Stay with us.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

LU STOUT: Welcome back. You're watching News Stream. And you're looking at a visual version of all the stories we've got in the show today.

Now we started with the Russian president laying out his conditions to back any military effort against Syria. A little later, we'll bring you news of another radiation spike at Japan's Fukushima nuclear plant.

But now to news that Ariel Castro, the man who kidnapped and imprisoned three women in Ohio is dead. Now in the case that shocked and horrified people around the world, Castro repeatedly raped the women and kept them captive for a decade.

And last month he was sentenced to life in prison plus 1,000 years. And just 33 days later he's been found hanged in his Ohio prison cell. Now authorities are calling it an apparent suicide.

Castro's attorney says their earlier request to have their client evaluated by a forensic psychologist were denied.

Now let's go live to Pamela Brown in New York. And Pamela, after just one month in Jail, Castro has apparently killed himself. What more have you learned?

PAMELA BROWN, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Really just a puzzling, shocking development here in this story. Craig Winetraub, Castro's attorney, spoke out this morning. He said he is stunned by this news. And he says he does not understand why Ariel Castro was checked on only every 30 minutes rather than being on suicide watch. He says he still has a lot of questions about this.

We know that Ohio state police investigators are there at that state prison trying to figure out how this could have happened.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

BROWN (voice-over): Ariel Castro's last public words delivered a month ago.

ARIEL CASTRO, CONVICTED OF KIDNAPPING: I'm not a monster. I'm a normal person. I am just sick. I just act on sexual instincts.

BROWN: Last night, he was found dead, discovered at 9:20, hanging in his jail cell at the Correctional Receptions Center in Orient, Ohio near Columbus. He had been sentenced to life in prison plus 1,000 years for kidnapping and sexually assaulting three women for over a decade. Castro was being held in protective custody, the only one in his cell with guards checking on him every 30 minutes.

Prison medical staff tried to revive him and rushed him to the Ohio State University Medical Center. He was pronounced dead at 10:52 p.m. Castro received few visitors while in prison. His daughter told CNN back in May that she wanted nothing to do with him.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: My father's actions are not a reflection of everyone in the family. I have no problem cutting him out of my life. I have no problem doing that. I never want to see him again.

BROWN: Earlier this month, the house where Castro tortured his victims was torn down. Neighbors rejoicing during the demolition of the so-called house of horrors. At his sentencing he apologized to his victims, but remained defiant about keeping Gina Dejesus, Amanda Berry and Michelle Knight locked up in his home for around a decade.

CASTRO: I have a family. Every time I came home, I would be so blessed for the situation, as crazy as it would sound. I am truly sorry for what happened. To this day I'm trying to answer my own questions. I don't know why.

BROWN: Only one of his victims showed up in person to confront him saying she wanted him to spend the rest of his life in prison.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: The death penalty would be so much easier. You don't deserve that. I spent 11 years in hell. Now your hell is just beginning.

BROWN: For his three former captives, Ariel Castro's death is yet another gruesome chapter in a tragic story.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

BROWN: And again Castro was in isolation at that state prison, but he was not on suicide watch like he initially was right after his arrest. And in fact, his attorneys are saying this morning that they had put in two requests for a psychiatric evaluation. And both of those requests were denied -- Kristie.

LU STOUT: You know, we heard from Michelle Knight in your report just then, she wanted Ariel Castro to spend the rest of his life in prison. Now that he is dead, any reaction from her or the other women he forced into captivity?

BROWN: No reaction yet. We do know that all three of the women have been notified of this news., that's according to their attorney. And the attorney is saying that there will be no statement coming from them any time soon.

As you can imagine, they're still trying to digest this news, probably going through a flood of emotion about this, like you pointed out Michelle Knight, when she spoke in court and confronted him, she said that the death penalty would be too easy.

But you have to wonder, you know, how they're feeling this morning. I spoke to a family friend of Gina DeJesus earlier and he said he looks at this as a cowardly act. So we'll have to wait and see what we hear from those victims, if anything, about this.

LU STOUT: Indeed. Pamela Brown reporting for us live from New York. Thank you.

Now at Japan's Fukushima nuclear power plant, the operator Tepco says that radiation readings have jumped to a new high near tanks holding radioactive water.

Now levels of 2,200 millisieverts per hour have now been detected. Now that is some 20 percent higher than on Saturday. Now the recent levels are strong enough to kill an exposed person in just hours.

Tepco says the radiation is mostly beta rays, which can be easily blocked.

Now the readings have raised suspicions that there could be a new leak. Tepco denies this.

Now you're watching News Stream. And coming up next, will this be the year of the smartwatch? Now the Pebble helped make the idea popular. And Samsung is expected to reveal its version soon. But they're not the only ones. We'll examine the battle for your wrist next on News Stream.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

LU STOUT: All right, coming to you live from Hong Kong you are back watching News Stream. And Samsung is reportedly set to unveil a new smartwatch in just a few hours from now. It's another sign that the battle for your wrist is heating up with rumors that Apple and Google also set to release smartwatches.

But it's worth remembering that the idea of having a smart device on your wrist, it's not a new one. Casio released their first databank watch all the way back in 1984. It could hold up to 10 phone numbers.

Now it doesn't sound like much, but Casio went on to sell 6 million of them in the next five years.

Now Samsung has also built smartwatches before. In 1999, they showed off this watch that can double as a mobile phone.

Now Microsoft made a big push into smartwatches with the Spot series. They used a special form of wireless transmission to send simple pieces of information directly to your watch like weather or stock data, but it never really caught on.

And the idea of smart watches seemed to go away.

And then Apple unveiled this, a smaller version of the iPod Nano. And one designer thought that the Nano was the perfect size to fit on a wrist. In 2011, Scott Wilson launched a project on Kickstarter to build this casing to put the iPod Nano on a wrist.

Now the result was over $900,000 in funding. It was a record for Kickstarter at the time.

And then a year later, another smartwatch project set the all-time record for funding on Kickstarter. I'm referring to this one. They raised over $10 million to build this smartwatch.

Now let's bring in our regular contributor now, Nick Thompson. He is the editor of The New Yorker.com.

And Nick, what do we know about this new Samsung watch?

NICK THOMPSON, THE NEW YORKER.COM: Well, we seem to know a little bit more than we sometimes know about Samsung launch projects. We have a, you know, a look at the rectangular size. There are a lot of concerns about battery life.

We know they will really do two things, there will be a fitness monitor and it'll be a system for receiving notifications. You'll know, for example, if you have an email coming in.

And we also know they will be running Android and connect to other Android devices, or at least we think we know these things. It's more, this is the rumor mill on the blogosphere.

But I mean, a smartwatch is really good for two things. It's good for glancing at, that's why we always have worn them on our wrist. It's a very convenient motion to turn your wrist, turn it over, look at it quickly. So if there's information that you can acquire at a glance, smartwatch is great.

Secondly, we know that since unlike its phone -- unlike a phone it's in constant contact with your body. It's very good for monitoring your health. So there's going to be a lot of health, nutrition and fitness features built into this watch.

So it seems like Samsung is going to be doing a good job of taking advantage of the things that a watch is good at.

LU STOUT: That's why there's been so much emphasis on this health tracker element of the new upcoming Samsung watch.

But, you know, it's safe to say that the early adopters, Nick, of smartwatches were the ones not wearing traditional watches anymore. So why the shift?

THOMPSON: That's a really good point, right. We gave up -- a lot of people gave up watches -- I'm not wearing one right now -- because when you need to check the time you just pull out your phone and you have your phone with you all the time.

So in order for a Samsung watch to actually prove useful it has to suddenly give you something, it can't just replace the watch you have, because the people who are going to buy it won't have watches.

So it has to give you something you can't get from your phone. And I think that's where all the fitness stuff is going to come in, right. It can monitor your pulse, it can monitor your -- you know, it can monitor your exertion levels. It can be a -- serve as a pedometer in a way that your phone can't.

So as long as Samsung can do -- if Samsung just tries to replicate the phone in a watch device, that's not going to work. It's like trying to replicate a computer in a phone, it's doing something that won't work.

If it takes advantage of the space on your body where you have it, the size of the watch that you can put on it -- and does things differently from a phone, then it has a chance.

LU STOUT: Yeah. And it's not just Samsung, right. I mean, there's this huge push into wearables. Samsung, Apple, Google rumored all to be going after smartwatches. How much of this was prompted by the consumer saying this is what I want versus the tech sector, which is looking for always fresh new markets?

THOMPSON: I think it's more the latter. I mean, there's some of both. What's happening in technology right now is there's been this huge push into phones over the last five, 10 years, right, as the world adopted smartphones, smartphone -- as we stopped using computers, desktop computers as much, started using phones more, every company started making phones and there have been a couple that have really won.

But now the competition in phones is very intense. It's very hard to get ahead. It's very hard to make money in that business. So people want to figure out a new way to make money.

So there's a lot of competition trying to figure out how to advance televisions, that's a hot new thing. But that's also been troubled for that last little while. So here we go, whole new category. It's open.

It could be a complete bomb. I mean, you and I could be going on air three years from now making fun of this segment because no one is wearing smartwatches. Or on the other hand, it could be something where it's the great new market opportunity for Apple, Samsung and everyone else.

So we don't know right now.

LU STOUT: That's right. We'll have to revisit this topic a few years from now.

And Nick, smartwatches, we know that they're hot tech gear right now, but you know, watches are also a style statement, it's a way of presenting yourself to the world. And I love smart devices, I've got one in my hand. I don't really like the look of smart wearables right now. I'm not wearing anything right now in terms of smartwatches. Will the design evolve to be more attractive for consumers like me?

THOMPSON: It absolutely has to. I mean, we're used to wearing beautiful things on our wrist. That's how watch makers traditionally make money now. The people who are still doing well in the watch business are the ones who make really gorgeous watches that women want to wear, that men want to wear.

So these smart watches traditionally have been quite geeky and ugly. I mean, the one time in my life where I've worn one -- I thought it was awesome -- was in about the late 80s with one of those little calculator watches. I thought that was, you know, dynamo. But which is certainly not a fashion statement. But when you're a little kid it doesn't really matter.

So that's going to be the hardest challenge. Can they make a beautiful object that people feel good about wearing on a part of their body where they're used to wearing things that make them feel more attractive, more cool, all of that.

So it's going to be a tough sell. And it's probably going to be an even tougher sell for women than for men. Men are more used to wearing kind of blocky things on their wrist than women. So that's something that these tech companies have to really consider. And it's something the tech companies aren't always so good at.

LU STOUT: It has to have both form and function and of course bragging rights. Nick Thompson joining us live. Thank you. We'll take again next week.

Nick Thompson of The New Yorker.com.

Now you are watching News Stream. And still to come, as world leaders and diplomats work out a response to suspected chemical weapons attacks in Syria, the misery of the Syrian people escalate. Hundreds of thousands of people are dead, millions displaced. And after the break, we have the latest on the situation on the ground at the borders and in the countries sheltering Syria's refugees.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

LU STOUT: I'm Kristie Lu Stout in Hong Kong. You're watching News Stream. And these are your world headlines.

Now Russian President Vladimir Putin says Moscow could support a United Nations approved military strike on Syria if clear and undeniable proof the regime used poison gas was presented to the security council. In an interview on Russian television, Putin however added that it is absurd that Assad's forces would use such weapons.

Now a wave of car bombs rocked Baghdad on Tuesday evening killing at least 54 people and wounding more than 100. Now the blasts targeted Shiite neighborhoods. And today, deadly bombings were also reported south and north of Baghdad.

Ariel Castro, the U.S. man who kidnapped and held three women for more than a decade at his home in Ohio has been found dead. The 52-year-old was discovered hanging in his prison cell late on Tuesday night. Now authorities say it was an apparent suicide. An investigation is underway.

Some radiation levels at Japan's crippled nuclear power plant have jumped to a new high. The plant operator says readings new tanks holding radioactive water have reached a level strong enough to kill an unprotected person within hours. Now Japan's government is pledging nearly half a billion dollars to help fix the water leaks at Fukushima.

And while the U.S. and France debate a possible strike on Syria, the civil war there continues. The statistics are staggering. More than 100,000 dead in two years of conflict according to the UN.

And opposition activists say 107 people were killed on Monday alone.

And for the latest on the ground I'm joined now by Arwa Damon in neighboring Lebanon. And Arwa, as the debate drags on about military action, the conflict continues inside Syria. What's the latest you're hearing?

ARWA DAMON, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: It most certainly does, Kristie.

And one does get this sense -- and this is especially what members of the Syrian opposition and Syrians themselves, no matter what side of the spectrum fall on will tell you, it's almost as if people have to a certain degree, at least on the outside, become desensitized to the numbers, to the fact that every single casualty that we report is someone losing their loved one, a family being ripped apart in many cases by violence few people can truly comprehend the brutality that we're seeing in Syria is to a certain degree unparalleled, given the intensity of the violence just how widespread it is and the types of violence that are manifesting themselves pretty much throughout the entire country.

Among the one things that did take place was allegedly an air strike that wounded a little boy. And just take a look at this interaction between him and the doctor.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Don't be scared.

BOY: Thank god almighty there is nothing wrong with me. I'm OK. I am fine. The most important thing is I am alive. And thank god almighty.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

DAMON: And what's especially eerie, I find, in that particular clip is just how strong his voice sounds, how mature he sounds despite how young he is and how terrifying the experience he went through must have been.

A lot of activists are telling us that they're very concerned that the regime is going to retaliate with even more violence than we have seen in the past. There have been various reports that they've been seeing convoys moving in certain parts of the country. And then, of course, there are great concern, they say, that another attack like the alleged chemical attack that we saw take place is going to be happening in the very, very near future -- Kristie.

LU STOUT: Yeah, that video footage of the wounded boy eerie and gutwrenching to watch. And it's because of violence like that, which has spurred million of Syrian to leave the country -- I mean, sobering statistics from the UN this week about the number of refugees who have fled Syria, a vast number of them inside Lebanon. What are their lives like there?

DAMON: It's absolutely miserable for them, Kristie. Even those who perhaps have some sort of shelter, the challenge in Lebanon that does not necessarily exist in Jordan or Turkey is that there is no actual camp, there's no real structured system in place to ensure that these various refugees get the aid that they need.

We talk about a number of 2 million. And it does seem astronomical. And it is. These are all people who, for the most part, had to leave their homes behind. They fled with just the clothes on their backs, the bags that they could actually carry.

I remember meeting a woman at one of the camps in Jordan who said that as they were crossing over the border there, her daughter who was about 5 or 6-years-old just knelt down to grab a piece of -- to grab a handful of dirt, because she wanted something to remember her country by.

The UNHCR, just to give you one example, says that it only has 50 percent -- less than 50 percent of the funds it needs to provide for the most basic of refugee needs. So these people have not only lost everything, but oftentimes in the host countries that cannot handle the numbers that are coming across the border, they're forced to live in circumstances that are causing them to lose their dignity as well.

And for so many, there's really no end in site to all of this. There's no light at the end of the tunnel, no timeframe that will just allow them to hold on believing that they'll be able to go back home at some point.

And so while we listen to these global leading players debating on the worldwide stage, unable to come to a consensus over how to deal with the crisis in Syria, there's really very little that justifies the lack of funding when it comes to helping the refugees, especially those who are the most vulnerable, Kristie.

LU STOUT: Yeah, a desperate situation with, as you put it, no end in sight. Arwa Damon reporting for us. Thank you.

And if you want to help the victims of Syria's civil war, you could start here, CNN.com/impact. It provides links to more than a dozen organizations already helping refugees all over the region.

And as the violence continues in Syria, CNN is taking a special look at the al-Assad Dynasty. Now the family has controlled the country for more than 40 years. Nick Paton Walsh charts their rise to power. Let's take a look at a preview now.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

NICK PATON WALSH, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: The al-Assad dynasty began in November 1970 when Hafez overthrew his boss, seizing power for himself in a bloodless coup.

THEODORE KATTOUF, FRM. U.S. AMBASSADOR TO SYRIA: He consolidated his power by, again, rooting out enemies, installing loyalists in key intelligence security and military units, rewarding them with perks, using corruption as a way to also win their loyalty and just being very street smart, and very clever.

WALSH: Being from a minority group, the Alawites, Hafez al-Assad knew he had to broaden his powerbase if he were to stay in power.

ELIZABETH O'BAGY, INSTITUTE FOR THE STUDY OF WAR: He, in fact, tried to make broad alliances with a number of minority communities not only the very important Sunni upper class, but some of the Christians and Kurds as well. And to that degree, he was always careful about relying on any sort of Alawi or kind of tribal alliances that could potentially put his regime at a disadvantage because of their smaller percentage of the population.

WALSH: And when needed Hafez al-Assad used brute force.

KATTOUF: Assad was very clever, very intelligent, ruthless but not gratuitously so. He used force, including imprisonment and torture and the like to maintain himself in power, not as something that he necessarily took pleasure in doing, but it was part of a Mafia-like regime.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

LU STOUT: A preview there of our CNN special. It's called "The al- Assads of Syria." It premieres Friday night at 11:00 here in Hong Kong. That's 7:00 pm in Abu Dhabi.

Now in India, a holy man accused of an unholy act. Now this man, an influential spiritual leader, has been accused of raping a 16-year-old female follower. Ralitsa Vassileva has more.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

RALITSA VASSILEVA, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Amid angry protests by his supports, this 72-year-old Hindu preacher is in police custody. A 16-year-old girl has accused him of sexual assault at an Ashram. Though Asaram Bapu (ph) denies the charges, he failed to appear for questioning and police arrested him early Sunday.

The girl's parents were followers of the guru, revered by millions for his discourses in spiritual enlightenment. But on August 15, the alleged, he asked their daughter to stay after prayers and sexually assaulted her while her mother waited outside.

At Tuesday's bail hearing, the guru's lawyer asked why if she was being raped hadn't the alleged victim's mother come to her rescue? He also argued the girl was not underaged, therefore the charges don't stand.

But police say they have strong evidence against him.

DEP. COMMISSIONER AJAYPAL LAMBA, JODHPUR POLICE FORCE: Whatever has been said by the victim, we have collected all those evidences, which corroborate her statement.

VASSILEVA: The preacher has claimed he's incapable of rape, but police say a physical test showed he's in good shape.

LAMBA: The team of doctors are saying he is perfectly, medically, mentally and physically fit.

VASSILEVA: Asaram Bapu's (ph) supporters say he's being punished for speaking out against the ruling congress party's leader Sonjya Gandhi and her son Raul. But the Hindu preacher has received supportive statements from opposition Hindu nationalists leading to questions of his being shielded by powerful BJB politicians, a charge the guru angrily denies.

But the BJB is now distancing itself from him, calling on members to stay away from the case.

The controversial guru outraged many Indians earlier this year when he said the victim of a deadly gang rape on a New Delhi bus was just as much to blame as her assailants because she hadn't begged for mercy.

Now it's not just his words, but his alleged actions that are under scrutiny.

Ralitsa Vassileva, CNN, Atlanta.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

LU STOUT: You're watching News Stream. And up next, angry scenes return to the Marikana Mine. We'll tell you why after the break.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

LU STOUT: Welcome back.

Now South Africa's gold miners have called a strike, most of them are now officially off the job. And that is a big blow to the South African economy, not to mention the lives of the miners themselves.

Errol Barnett has the details.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

ERROL BARNETT, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: This is gold country. I'm in Careltonville, just outside Johannesburg, which is home to several major gold mines like the one you see behind me. It's also one location subject to the nationwide strike initiated by the dominate union NUM.

People here are frustrated at their living conditions, which has been made more difficult by the rising cost of living. And they're angry at an industry which has reaped massive profits for decades.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Who is going to help us?

BARNETT: These miners spoke passionately about how dangerous their work is. One said his monthly salary was peanuts in comparison to how important gold is to the national economy. In fact, President Jacob Zuma underscored the industry's importance Tuesday when he warned against NUM's planned strike saying the country's economy is fragile. He encouraged both sides to find common ground. But it didn't work.

Members of NUM were enthusiastic in the hours leading up to the strike. This dominant union represents 65 percent of gold mine workers. Local union leader, Mangope Motsetse says he understands the president's point, but it wouldn't change their plans.

MANGOPE MOTSETSE, NATIONAL UNION OF MINEWORKERS: The economy is bad. It's (inaudible). But because of the situation that we are in, in the mines, so we think it's -- we must go -- we're going to (inaudible).

BARNETT: Not everyone expects a peaceful resolution. Some are anticipating violence.

UNIDENTIIFED MALE: We are at my place (inaudible)

BARNETT: This rock drill operator was willing to talk to us at his home, which he rents from his employer. But he wanted his face obscured, because he's not joining the strike.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: And still a lot of people they are struggling, they are angry.

BARNETT: Like many others, he left NUM last year saying if anything the union isn't going far enough. He's disappointed with its offers, believing it's too cozy with management. So he joined Um Coup (ph), the new arrival, which is currently holding out for a 160 percent wage increase. A more attractive offer, he says, because his current salary of 7,000 rand, or about $700 per month supports him and eight others.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Two sons, and two girls and my brother and my sister and my grandmomma and also my wife.

BARNETT: This miner's father also worked at this mine before he passed away a few years ago. This backyard vegetable garden keeps his memory alive.

UNIDENTIIFED MALE: Because of my father was a good man in (inaudible) just teach me a lot.

BARNETT: Mining is the highest generator of foreign exchange earnings in this country. But for many men and women, they just hope they can get a cut of that wealth.

Errol Barnett, CNN, Carletonville, South Africa.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

LU STOUT: All right. The U.S. President Barack Obama is in Stockholm. He arrived this morning for a one day visit ahead of his trip to Russia and the G20 summit. Right now he's holding a news conference with the Swedish prime minister who is speaking right now. Let's listen in.

FREDRIK REINFELDT, PRIME MINISTER, SWEDEN: And we have considerable American investments in Sweden. The United States is the most important foreign employer in our country.

Our societies are founded on the same core values: democracy, respect for human rights and rule of law. All these values are at the heart of the deeds of our value (ph) of life. And I'm looking forward to the possibility to pay tribute Raoul Wallenberg this afternoon, a man who chose not to be indifferent and who saved thousands of Hungarian Jews from the Holocaust.

The United States and Sweden also share ambitions when it comes to the opening of global trade flows. Trade has laid the foundation of Sweden's wealth and prosperity around 50 percent of our GDP comes from exports. And Sweden strongly supports open-trade regimes and in particular free trade agreement now being negotiated between the European Union and the United States. This will not only bring more jobs and growth to both our continents, it will strengthen our political and economic partnership.

We also touched upon the economic situation in Europe and in the United States. I mentioned that the crisis has hit countries in Europe differently, Sweden being one of those countries that has done relatively well during the crisis. But the need for structural reforms exists throughout Europe to stay competitive and at the same time, preserving all our welfare ambitions. We have also discussed climate change and its consequences. It represents one of the most important challenges to our societies. Sweden has reduced greenhouse gas emissions by 20 percent since 1990 while GDP at the same time has increased by 60 percent. So there is no contradiction between economic growth and the protection of environment.

I welcome President Obama's ambitious new climate action plan. U.S. emissions have in recent years already fallen substantially. Your new plan will help the United States to make even further reductions. We have agreed to work together in the international climate negotiations to make sure that other countries also are prepared to cut their emissions. This is the only way that we can protect our environment.

We have discussed a few foreign policy issues, as well and the most topical of course being the situation in Syria. Sweden condemns the use of chemical weapons in Syria in the strongest possible terms. It's a clear violation of international law. Those responsible should be held accountable.

Sweden believes that serious matters concerning international peace and security should be handled by the United Nations. But I also understand the potential consequences of letting a violation like this go unanswered. In the long-term, I know that we both agree that the situation in Syria needs a political solution.

So thank you, once again Mr. President, for coming to Sweden. I look forward to our program together this afternoon.

BARACK OBAMA, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Thank you so much. Hej - - I've just exhausted my Swedish. Thank you so much Prime Minister Reinfeldt for your very kind words in welcoming me today. I'm proud to be making the first ever bilateral visit by a U.S. President to Sweden. It's only been a short time, but I already want to thank all the people here for the warm hospitality that has been extended to me and my delegation. This is truly one of the world's great cities, it is spectacularly beautiful. The Prime Minister tells me that the weather is like this year round and so like so many who have come here, I feel Stockholm in my heart and I'm sure that I'll want to bring back my family to have a visit sometime in the future.

I've said before that it's no accident that democracies are America's closest partners and that includes Sweden. That's why I'm here today. As free peoples, we recognize that democracy is the most effective form of government ever devised for delivering progress and opportunity and prosperity and freedom to people.

And as two of the most innovative economies on earth, we cherish that freedom that allows us to innovate and create, which is why we're leaders in science, and research and development, those things that pioneer new industries and broaden our horizons.

We share a belief in the dignity and equality of every human being. That our daughters deserve the same opportunities as our sons, that our gay and lesbian brothers and sisters must be treated equally under the law; that our societies are strengthened and not weakened by diversity.

And we stand up for universal human rights not only in America and Europe, but beyond because we believe that when these rights are respected, nations are more successful and our world is safer and more just. So I want to thank Sweden and the Swedish people for being such strong partners in pursuit of these values that we share. The partnership is rooted in deep friendship, but it was also mentioned we have very strong people-to-people ties.

My hometown of Chicago has a lot of people of Swedish descent. Vice President Biden was honored to welcome King Gustav and Queen Silvia to the United States earlier this year to mark the 375th anniversary of the first Swedish colony in America and I'm looking forward to visiting with the Kind and Queen tomorrow.

I should mention on behalf of hockey fans back home in Chicago, I have to say how grateful our champions Blackhawks are for their several teammates who hail from Sweden. That's been an excellent export that we gladly accept.

I had a chance to visit with Prime Minister Reinfeldt during my first year in office at the White House and he has always proved to be a thoughtful and deliberative partner on a whole host of international issues and I'm pleased that we've been able to strengthen that relationship in our discussions here today.

We, of course, discussed the appalling violence being inflicted on the Syrian people by the Assad regime, including the horrific chemical weapons attacks two weeks ago. I discussed our assessment which clearly implicates the Syrian government in this outrage. The Prime Minister and I are in an agreement that in the face of such barbarism, the international community cannot be silent and that failing to respond to this attack would only increase the risk of more attacks and that possibility that other countries would use these weapons, as well.

I respect and I said this to the Prime Minister, the U.N. process, obviously, the U.N. investigation team has done heroic work under very difficult circumstances. But we believe very strongly with high confidence that, in fact, chemical weapons were used and that Mr. Assad was the source.

And we want to join with the international community in an effective response that deters such use in the future. So I updated the Prime Minister on our efforts to secure Congressional authorization for taking action, as well as our effort to continue to build international support for holding the Assad regime accountable in order to deter these kinds of attacks in the future.

And we also discussed our broader strategy. The United States and Sweden are both major donors of humanitarian assistance to the Syrian people. We will continue those efforts. We're going to continue to try to strengthen the capabilities of an inclusive and representative opposition, and to support the diplomacy that could bring an end to all the violence and advance transition and a future in Syria where all people's rights are upheld. Those are goals that we share and we will keep working towards those goals.

And more broadly, given Sweden's close partnership with NATO, we also touched on some of the other security challenges and I expressed my appreciation for the extraordinary work that the Swedish Armed Forces has done in a whole range of issues, including Afghanistan efforts to resolve some of the conflicts in central, eastern Europe and the ongoing training that's also being provided and the good example that's being provided by Swedish Armed Forces here in Europe.

Mindful of the jobs that are supported by trade between our two countries, we discussed ways to partner more, including creating a clean energy partnership that creates jobs and combats climate change effectively. Sweden is, obviously, an extraordinary leader when it comes to tackling climate change and increasing energy efficiency and developing new technologies. And the goal of achieving a carbon neutral economy is remarkable and Sweden is well on its way. We deeply respect and admire that and think we can learn from it.

In the United States we have taken some historic steps doubling our electricity from wind and solar and improving the fuel efficiency of our cars and reducing our carbon pollution to the lowest levels in nearly 20 years. But we all know we need to do more. So my new climate action plan: more clean energy, more energy efficiency, less emissions, will allow us to do even more in the years to come and we look forward to a close partnership with Sweden on what is going to be a global challenge. And at the Royal Institute of Technology today, I look forward to seeing some of the innovative ways that we can cooperate.

We also talked about trade and the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership or TTIP. I want to thank Sweden and the prime minister for the strong support of these negotiations and I believe for the U.S. and the EU to reach a high standard, comprehensive agreement can create more jobs and opportunity on both sides of the Atlantic.

As I head into the G-20, I shared my view that here in Europe and around the world, we've got to stay focused on creating jobs and growth. That's going to be critically important not only for our economies, but also to maintain stability in many of our democracies that are under severe stress at this point.

Finally, I want to salute Sweden along with all the Nordic countries for your strong support for democracy and development strengthening democratic governance in Eastern Europe and global efforts against AIDS, TB and malaria; responsible development in Africa. I want to thank in advance the prime minister for hosting our meeting tonight with the leaders of all the Nordic countries and I look forward to our discussion.

To Prime Minister Reinfeldt, thank you so much for your hospitality. To the people of Sweden, thank you. This is a wonderful visit and I'm looking forward to it producing concrete results that will enhance the lives of both the American people and the people of Sweden. So, with that, I think we'll take some questions.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: As you might know the NSA surveillance affair has stirred up quite a few angry reactions even here in Sweden. What do you want to say to those upset and how do you think the affair affects the relationship between our countries?

And as a follow up to that, I know that at home you're sometimes accused of wanting to turn the U.S. into Sweden. Now that you're here, you have been here for several hours, what have you seen? What actually inspires you? What do you want to import to the U.S. in terms of ideas for a society?

OBAMA: Well, let me -- let me take the NSA question first. Because this is a question that I received in previous visits to Europe since the stories broke in "The Guardian" and I suspect I'll continue to get, as I travel through Europe and around the world for quite some time. Like other countries, we have an intelligence operation that tries to improve our understanding of what's happening around the world. And in light of 9/11, a lot of energy was focused on improving our intelligence when it came to combating terrorism.

END