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CONNECT THE WORLD
G20 Summit Closes With No Syrian Consensus; Australian Liberal Party Projected To Win Election; Syrian Children Die Of Starvation; U.S. Added 169,000 Jobs In August
Aired September 6, 2013 - 16:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
JONATHAN MANN, HOST: The G20 leaders did agree about something.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
BARACK OBAMA, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: It was unanimous that chemical weapons were used.
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MANN: But they couldn't agree about what to do about it.
Tonight, we take a look at the uphill battle facing U.S. President Obama on Syria.
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UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I had already told the people from security that it was very dangerous.
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MANN: New audio recorded in the chaotic moments before the train crash in Spain. We'll bring you all the details.
Plus, why it could be sausages rather than candidates enticing some Australians to get out and vote.
ANNOUNCER: Live from CNN Center this is Connect the World.
MANN: Thanks for joining us. Russia and the United States are both standing their ground on Syria after a two day, 20 nation summit failed to end their dispute. The G20 St. Petersburg summit wrapped up with world leaders deeply divided over whether and now to punish Syria for an alleged chemical weapons attack.
10 leaders joined U.S. President Barack Obama in calling for a strong response, although their statement did not specify military action, Presidents Obama and Vladimir Putin spoke separately to reporters after a brief private meeting. Mr. Obama said if the world is serious about a ban on chemical weapons it has to be willing to enforce it.
He explained why he's seeking approval from U.S. lawmakers, though he wouldn't say what he'd do if they reject military action.
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OBAMA: I put it before congress because I could not honestly claim that the threat posed by Assad's use of chemical weapons on innocent civilians and women and children posed an imminent direct threat to the United States.
I was under no illusions when I embarked onto his path, but I think it's the right thing to do. I think it's good for our democracy. We will be more effective if we are unified going forward.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MANN: Russian President Putin warned against unilateral attacks on Syria saying any strike would need UN approval. He also said rebels in Syria may have used chemical weapons to try to provoke the world to intervene. Mr. Putin says Russia will stand by Syria if it's attacked.
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VLADIMIR PUTIN, RUSSIAN PRESIDENT (through translator): Will we help Syria? Yes, we will. And a way of doing it right now, we are supplying arms. We are cooperating in the area of economy. And hopefully we will cooperate more on humanitarian issues, including humanitarian assistance and giving support to the civil -- to the civilians who are in a very dire situation right now.
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MANN: President Obama says he'll address the American people Tuesday on his plan. We can expect the intense lobbying underway in Washington to continue over the weekend as his administration tries to line up congressional support.
For some perspective on all this, let's bring in Michael Weiss, a columnist with NOW Lebanon currently in New York.
Thanks so much for being with us.
There are really two campaigns to convince underway. One of them just ended in St. Petersburg. And we're going to go back to that in a moment. Another is still very much underway in congress. And it's running into trouble. Let's take a look at how the votes in the U.S. congress are stacking up still with several days to go. At this stage, most lawmakers on Capitol Hill officially undecided. In the Republican controlled House of Representatives, though, there are 118 no votes, just 24 planning to vote yes. That's five to one.
But the majority of representatives are still undecided. So that could go a different way.
In the Democrat controlled Senate, 24 Senators favor a strike, 18 oppose, 57 are undecided. And there the thing is, the president needs a 60 vote majority not a 51 vote majority, to actually have his way.
Well, Michael Weiss, are you surprised he isn't doing better even among Americans?
MICHAEL WEISS, NOW LEBANON: I'm actually not surprised. The problem the president faces is he spent two-and-a-half years essentially making the case for not intervening in Syria. To do this, he said, that this would be very much like the Iraq war, which of course is, you know -- he being an anti-war president, one of the reasons he was elected was to withdraw the United States from foreign entanglements, particularly in the Middle East.
So he's been making the case that the opposition is divided. We don't know who these guys are. This would be a quagmire. The U.S. doesn't want any direct military engagement. And as if like flicking a switch he expects the lights to go on and suddenly he's arguing against himself.
And it doesn't surprise me at all that not just congress, but the American people are frankly, you know, taking this very poorly and thinking well we've been prepared for a diplomatic solution, a political settlement, which still, by the way, is the articulated U.S. policy for Syria. Why all of a sudden the change in tone and rhetoric.
And I mean, you've seen -- you've seen John Kerry and others...
MANN: Well, let me jump in, because it's not just the American people who matter here, of course. You know, there are the people in the Middle East. And what they're seeing is the G20 summit ends divided down the middle. The American people polls show are quite divided down the middle, but they're divided and they're opposed to this.
To Middle Eastern eyes, does this look like a good, healthy, reasonable debate? Does it look like a victory for international peace? Or does it look like a victory for Bashar al-Assad?
WEISS: Well, let's look at sort of the immediate neighborhood of where Syria is. I can tell you -- I mean, I've traveled to Turkey several times. I've gone to the region. People are actually quite terrified of what happens now. The Turks are plumping for regime change. They are very much onboard. They feel very dissatisfied that they couldn't get a no-fly zone from NATO as much as a year ago.
The Jordanians are absolutely petrified about what is happening in terms of both absorbing too many refugees, but also this leading to political instability and possible terrorist attacks inside their borders. Publicly they backed a diplomatic solution, but privately -- and I can tell you from my own reporting -- they are very much looking to see the back of this regime.
And of course there's Israel, which is looking to the United States and wondering, well, if Barack Obama says he intends to act and then congress tells him you can't and he abides by that decision, what will this mean? What does this bode for any kind of preemptive strike on Iran's nuclear program?
So in the region actually people are very confused, disappointed and worried.
You've got now five American war ships stationed in the eastern Mediterranean. Are they going to turn around and go home thus leaving the Russian naval buildup there?
And all of Syria has prepared for these imminent or inevitable attacks. So...
MANN: And I'm going to jump in, because we have seen this war drag on at terrible human cost for two years. We are seeing the threat of international intervention that may make it different or worse -- I don't know what to say.
But there's a new threat in Syria and that is starvation. And I want to share a report by our Arwa Damon, but a warning before we bring it to you it will be disturbing to see. Let's roll the package.
ARWA DAMON, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Amid the utter devastation caused by weapons of war there is another killer working silently amid the chaos. Its first victims, the most vulnerable.
In this video uploaded to YouTube by opposition activists, two-and-a- half-year-old Ibrahim (ph) struggles for life. His body can't take solid good. It can only digest milk. But there isn't any for him.
Through Skype, we reached Dr. Abu Samer in Syria, the pediatrician who treated Ibrahim. "There are many illnesses we are confronting because of an absolute absence of food," Dr. Samer explains. We've depleted all of our food reserves. Even animal products that could act as alternatives because there are no animals left. Most of the residents to Madamidasham (ph), just to the southeast of Damascus, have long fled. But among the 15,000 who remain, an estimated 5,000 are children, under siege now for months by regime forces, cut off from all aid.
RIMA KAMAL, ICRC DAMASCUS: For us, the fact that reports keep coming in from the area indicating there are (INAUDIBLE) inside, indicating that people are dying because we don't have medical supplies, people are dying because, you know, they don't have food supplies, they don't have, and as you mentioned, probably the necessary staple as well, it a serious cause for concern.
DAMON: The ICRC's request for access have repeatedly been denied and there are hundreds of thousands of people living under a similar siege across the country. In this area, there are tanks on all sides. Only one route sporadically opens and it's high risk. Presented with the tough choice between weapons and food, the rebels say they have to choose weapons, otherwise they will all be slaughtered by the regime.
9-year-old Ahmad (ph) had a neurological disorder and there were no nutrients, no food, no medicine to sustain his already weak body.
"People are eating leaves off the trees to stave off the hunger," Dr. Abu Samer tells us. "Adults can force themselves to handle it, but the children can't. Some people rely on vegetables they can grow and their gardens," he adds. "And this doesn't give one enough vitamins. There are no proteins, no fats."
With little or no food and medicine simply unavailable, anyone with any sort of medical condition simply cannot fight it off. Ahmad had part of his intestines removed two months ago after he was hit by shrapnel in the abdomen, but there was no way to provide him with the amino acids and proteins his body needed to recover.
"The main reason is a complete lack of food ingredients that supports a child's immune system," dr. Abu Samer tells us.
We're told Ahmad died the day we spoke to the doctor. We cannot independently verify the authenticity of the videos or the causes of these children's' deaths. The ICRC also can't confirm how they died or indeed how many people are in this condition. A point of immense frustration for them.
KAMAL: Because what needs to be highlighted, these reports cannot be confirmed, for example, by international organizations because they have not had access. And that lack of access has been a concern.
DAMON: Unless the siege is broken, the doctor says, this is just the beginning. Two-year-old Ibrahim is another one of the innocent victims. The day after this video was shot, he took his final breath.
Arwa Damon, CNN, Beirut.
MANN: Michael Weiss of NOW Lebanon, a political solution to this war eludes world leaders, a military solution eludes world leaders. Let me ask you, if the world has to do at least something more to solve the humanitarian crisis.
WEISS: Yeah, absolutely. I mean, you've got a country where 4 million people are now displaced internally. The principle victims of this crisis, I should say, are the civilians. The neighborhood that you just exhibited where this starvation crisis is taking place, Modamiyah (ph), that was actually one of the neighborhoods in Damascus that was hit with chemical weapons on August 21.
So in addition to having rampant famine throughout the country, these are people who are being gassed as well.
And, you know, there have been all kinds of reports that running humanitarian aid is not nearly as extensive as we'd been led to believe, a lot of the stuff is not reaching the civilian population. The UN isn't doing enough. Countries that have pledged money to humanitarian aid works are not making good on those pledges.
Syria -- look, I would argue Syria is already a failed state. When you have a large percentage of the population that has either fled the country, or is internally homeless and displaced, how much longer before all 23 million people are in some way devastated and affected by this crisis?
And three years on there is no end in sight.
MANN: Michael Weiss of NOW Lebanon. Thanks so much for this.
WEISS: Thank you.
MANN: Still to come tonight, U.S. weapons inspectors -- rather UN weapons inspectors aren't the only ones analyzing samples from alleged chemical attack sites. The latest on the allegations and the evidence coming up.
And Spanish media were quick to blame the driver in a train crash which killed 79 people, but were there other factors involved? New information up next.
And will this man become Australia's next prime minister? Polls are predicting a resounding victory for Tony Abbott. All that and more when Connect the World continues.
MANN: Welcome back.
Two people have reportedly been killed in protests across Egypt Friday. Supporters and opponents of deposed President Mohamed Morsy held rival demonstrations in several Egyptian cities.
Meanwhile, Egypt's state run news agency is reporting that the government is considering revoking the legal status of the Muslim Brotherhood. The Brotherhood was banned in Egypt for most of its 85 year history, but registered as a non-governmental organization earlier this year.
A Spanish newspaper has obtained some remarkable new information about a train crash in July that killed 79 people. After the crash, you may recall, officials honed in on the driver who may have been going more than twice the speed limit when the train jumped the tracks.
But as Al Goodman reports, that appears to be only part of the story.
AL GOODMAN, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: The train coming from Madrid had just crashed. There would be 79 fatalities. Now, for the first time, Spanish newspaper El Pais (ph) has obtained audio of the driver's first desperate phone call while injured and still trapped inside to the train's control center.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: There must be many injured as it -- the train -- is overturned. I can't get out of the cabin. Did you hear me?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I heard you. There are injured, right?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Yes, because it was in green, and I got distracted. I had to do 80, but I was doing 190 or so.
GOODMAN: Francisco Jose Garcon (ph) admitted going double the speed limit. News media reported that part of the conversation in the days after the accident, citing officials who blamed excessive speed for the crash.
But now, the audio recording also shows Garcon (ph) told the control center he had warned authorities about what he called the dangerous curve.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I already told security that it was dangerous that one day we were going to eat it, and it happened to me.
GOODMAN: And a few moments later...
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Oh god. I had already told the people from security that it was very dangerous. We are human, and this can happen. This curve is inhumane. Understand? If there was a warning light...
GOODMAN: The two state railway companies had no comment on the audio recording of the driver's phone call, but since the accident, the speed limit at the curb, which was 80 kilometers an hour, has been reduced to just 30.
The judge investigating has filed preliminary charges against Garcon (ph) for reckless driving that cause 79 deaths, and against one of the railway companies over security concerns.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: My god -- poor travelers. Hopefully there are no deaths.
Hopefully. If not, my conscience.
GOODMAN: Al Goodman, CNN, Madrid.
MANN: The U.S. Department of Labor released its closely watched jobs report today and the numbers turned out to be disappointing. Although the U.S. economy did add 169,000 jobs in August, the number of Americans who lost their jobs also reached its highest level in three years.
For market reaction, we go live now to Zain Asher at the New York Stock Exchange. High Zain. What are they doing.
ZAIN ASHER, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Hi, Jonathan.
Yeah, markets closed about 10 minutes ago. And they finished pretty much in the red, but only ever so slightly. It was an interesting session on Wall Street within the final hour of trading. We saw -- we lost pretty much all the gains we made today.
So we saw the market initially jump on the jobs report. And then the Dow fell more than 100 points over concerns about Syria and then it picked up steam a little bit later one once we did hear from President Obama.
The market right now is having to digest a lot. It's thinking about Syria. It's thinking about the fed. It's thinking about jobs and the overall economic situation. It has a lot of pots on the stove, so to say.
I mean, you mentioned that headline number, 169,000 jobs added in August. And it did certainly fall short of expectations.
Obviously, in terms of the unemployment rate, we are seeing an improvement. It was 10 percent in 2009. Now it's lower obviously, 7.3 percent. So yes, of course, it is improving.
But the recent drop is mostly because you have a lot of people dropping out of the labor force. And a lot of investors here are saying you know the economy is still too weak for the fed right now to think about tapering as early as September.
We think of the economy as a patient. You have to ask yourself is the patient really ready to be taken off the IV bag?
At the same time, I was downstairs with the traders. And I was asking them, you know, has QE really helped? A lot of them don't think so. They think QE is running out of steam.
And quickly, I do want to mention that if you look at the jobs report, you look at the types of jobs that are being added right now it's really sort of low wage retail jobs in leisure and hospitality as well -- John.
MANN: Zain Asher, that may be the most telling number of all. Thanks very much.
South Korea has banned imports of fish from a large area of Japan, because of concerns about the leaking Fukushima nuclear plant.
In addition to banning fish from the Fukushima area, seven other Prefectures are also affected. An official in Seoul says the ban stems from, well, what they called sharply increased public concern about seafood from Japan.
Last year, South Korea important 5,000 tons of fish from the effected region.
Malala Yousafzai is vowing to intensify her struggle for children's education around the world. The 16-year-old activist accepted the International Children's Peace Prize in The Hague today. Less than a year ago you may recall Malala was shot in the head by the Taliban for promoting girl's education in her native Pakistan. She is now considered a leading contender for the Nobel Peace Prize.
Live from CNN Center, this is Connect the World.
Coming up in just a matter of hours the polling stations open in Australia. But why voters may be disenchanted, we look at why they're are still plenty of fizzle left on election day.
Plus, the director of an award winning documentary exploring the role of women in Indian society. What hope does she have for the future?
MANN: Welcome back.
Australians will be voting in just a couple of hours for a new parliament. All signs pointing to a solid victory for the opposition coalition led by Tony Abbot. Despite a gaffe prone career, Abbot's conservative Liberal Party has capitalized on the bitter infighting that's plagued the current Labor Government. Andrew Stephens reports.
ANDREW STEPHENS, CNN CORRESPONDENT: It's known as the night of the long knives. Back in June 2010, the ruling Labor Party shocked a nation and dumped its leader Kevin Rudd.
KEVIN RUDD, AUSTRALIAN PRIME MINISTER: This has been a very busy two- and-a-half years.
STEPHENS: Replacing him with his deputy Julia Gillard.
JULIA GILLARD, FRM. AUSTRALIAN PRIME MINISTER: Thank you very much.
STEPHENS: Many saw it as the most spectacular stab in the back in Australian political history.
But it was never an easy prime ministership for Julia Gillard.
GILLARD: I will not be lectured about sexism and misogyny by this man. I will not.
STEPHENS: Almost three years into her leadership, an ugly row over sexism, rumblings within her own party, and a dismal performance in the opinion polls left Julia Gillard exposed.
RUDD: Today, I'm announcing that I will be a candidate for the position of leader of the parliamentary Labor Party.
STEPHENS: Gillard was ready. Finally, a chance to silence Kevin Rudd for good.
GILLARD: I believe anybody who enters the ballot tonight should do it on the following conditions, that if you win you're Labor Leader, that if you lose you retire from politics.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We have just conducted the ballot. It was a spill (ph) for the position of leadership. I'm going to announce the result. It is Kevin Rudd 57 votes, Julia Gillard 45 votes.
STEPHENS: True to her word, Gillard retired from politics, taking some of her key front benches with her.
GILLARD: Kevin Rudd has been elected as leader of the Federal Parliamentary Labor Party. I congratulate Mr. Rudd on his election.
STEPHENS: Kevin Rudd was sworn in as prime minister for the second time. He could now take aim at his bitter rival, the conservative Liberal Party leader Tony Abbott, a Rhodes scholar, devout Catholic, and if the opinion polls are anything to go by, Australia's next prime minister.
Andrew Stephens, CNN, Hong Kong.
MANN: And now the silver screen's best known newscaster has delivered a message to the Australian people. Anchorman's Ron Burgundy, portrayed by actor Will Ferrell, has weighed in on the political scene in a spoof news bulletin that's gone viral.
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WILL FERRELL, ACTOR: Well, Australia. While the battle of the titans has come to an end we will never forget the mental fisticuffs in which Kevin Rudd and Julia Gillard were engaged. We laughed. We cried. We became distracted by Tony Abbot's banana hammock. I certainly did. And forgot a Labor Party ever existed.
Good times, Australia.
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MANN: And for many heading out to vote this election day, there's another key question: where is the best place to get your sausage sizzle? It's an Australian polling day tradition with most voting stations actually providing a barbecue serving sausages, or snags, to hungry voters. There are even websites -- I think we've got one we can show you -- listing the best sausage sizzles across the country.
Well, for more election coverage, join us Saturday. Stan Grand joins CNN's Rosemary Church for our own sausage sizzle of a kind. Live results and analysis of the vote Saturday after the polls close starting at 8:00 pm in Sydney, 6:00 in Hong Kong, 11:00 am in London right here on CNN.
The latest world news headlines are just ahead. Plus, we'll take a look at the alleged use of chemical weapons in Syria. The investigations and the evidence.
And an interview with the director of a documentary that finds common ground between two different Indian women and their fight for equality and empowerment.
And we take a look at the world premiere of Diana and two of motor racing's most colorful characters are depicted on the silver screen as well. That and more coming up on CNN Preview.
MANN: This is Connect the World. I'm Jonathan Mann with the top stories this hour.
The G20 summit in Russia has ended with no consensus on Syria. 10 of the 20 leaders joined U.S. President Barack Obama in calling for a strong response to an alleged chemical attack. Although their statement did not stress military action. Russia and China strenuously oppose intervention.
Audio recorded in the aftermath of a deadly train crash in Spain suggests the driver had concerns about the curve where he crashed. In a call to controllers, the driver is heard saying he had warned authorities the curve was dangerous. The recording was obtained by the El Pais (ph) newspaper.
Data released from the U.S. Department of Labor today shows the U.S. economy added 169,000 jobs in August. That figure well below economist expectations. The unemployment rate did fall to 7.3 percent, but 312,000 Americans dropped out of the world force in August.
Australian voters head to the polls just hours from now to decide which party will take the reins of their government. If public opinion surveys up to now hold true, Tony Abbot's liberal national coalition is headed for certain victory.
It may be enough to move Washington to the very edge of war.
Let's get more now on the alleged use of chemical weapons in Syria. U.S. President Barack Obama has said the suspected attack last month crossed what he called a red line. It's a debate between world leaders about what action, if any, should be taken.
So what do we know about the alleged use of chemical weapons inside Syria? Nic Robertson has the story.
NIC ROBERTSON, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORREPSONDENT: August 21, thousands injured, hundreds dead, a chemical weapons attack. On this, Presidents Putin and Obama agree. Almost everything else about this heinous crime is contested.
But this wasn't the first chemical weapons attack since the Syrian conflict began. A study by Harvard and Sussex Universities compiled claims of chemical use in combat as far back as February last year. Reports by individuals and groups increased. By March this year there were seven such claims, seven more in the month of April. The blame mostly falling on the government.
Paul Schultz (ph) is with the organization that advises the British government on military issues.
UNIDENTIIFED MALE: The Syrian government has made various statements that there have been chemical attacks by the rebels, but those don't seem to have been supported very much.
ROBERTSON; The universities site a separate Russian study that implies rebels were behind one of the March attacks, both chemicals and munitions were not consistent with government stockpiles, they say.
Syria denies using chemical weapons in the fighting. And in June this year, Assad's friendly neighbors in Iraq announced they had arrested an al Qaeda cell they claim were making nerve agents. Agents that could easily have been given to al Qaeda cells in Syria. So, who really knows who has what?
SCHULTZ: We know little or nothing about what the rebels have. On the government side, we should remember that the government denied as late as 2012 that they had any at all, and they believe that they may have to fight the Israelis as well as the Americans, so to do that, you'd want quite large stocks. And the chemicals which were reported are nerve gas.
ROBERSTON: The Harvard-Sussex report says the first tip-off to alleged chemical weapons use came from a low-level government chemical weapons defector. This video, recorded at a Homs hospital, showing victims, he said, of a government attack as the regime began a bitter battle with rebels for the city seemed to back up his claim.
ROBERTSON (on camera): As alleged chemical attacks mounted over the year, one narrative became clear: the international community was in no mood to rush in. The perpetrators content to continue, apparently interpreting international inaction as a green light for more.
ROBERTSON (voice-over): And until there is consensus on who has what -- and more to the point, what to do about it -- the evidence so far shows the mounting misery from chemicals will only grow.
Nic Robertson, CNN, Beirut, Lebanon.
MANN: Samples collected by UN weapons inspectors at the site of one alleged chemical attack are now being meticulously analyzed in the Netherlands, but Russia also collected samples after an earlier attack and submitted its own report to the UN concluding that rebel forces used their own crude chemical weapons.
Joining us now live via Skype is a former UN weapons inspector, Tim Trevan, in Washington, DC. Thanks so much for being with us. Much has been made of what happened in August, and President Obama is leading his country towards military intervention because of it, but I wonder if we can talk a little bit about what the Russians say happened in March.
They went in, they collected samples, and what they say they found was a kind of sarin that would not have been expected to be in Syrian military stocks, delivered with a kind of missile that would not have been expected to be in Syrian military stocks, using a kind of explosive, once again, that the Syrians would not have been expected to use. What do you make of their findings?
TIM TREVAN, FORMER UN WEAPONS INSPECTOR: Well, I would expect them to share their findings with others so it could be corroborated. But we have to remember that Russia is playing a very political game here, and they themselves are not averse to breaching international treaties.
After all, the Biological Weapons Convention came into force in 1975, which is exactly when they started their second program, which ran until 1990 in flagrant breach of the BWC.
So, I would not take at face value anything the Russians say unless they share that evidence and allow others to analyze it as well. They are playing a political game.
MANN: Well, they say they have submitted it to the United Nations, but you're making an important point. Since they made this announcement, it has gotten very little attention. It doesn't seem to be attracting much interest, the presumption being -- and I don't mean to exaggerate what you've just said -- is the Russians are patrons of the Syrians so they would lie about something like this.
Is that a fair assumption, or do you think their evidence really does deserve to be looked at and that the world might wait to do that?
TREVAN: I think unless they share that evidence and allow others to do the analysis, the presumption has to be that they're lying because of their past history and because they are playing and make no bones about playing a very political game with the Syria issue at the moment.
MANN: Should the same presumption apply to the United States? They have shared their arguments, but they haven't shared their evidence. Should the world see the US and the UK and France's evidence before they are encouraged to intervene?
TREVAN: Well, I think the evidence is -- that that is, in fact, happening, that there is a reluctance to accept evidence at face value unless it's shared and corroborated through analysis by others. Which is why, of course, the UN results of their analysis is going to be very important.
But again, we have to remember that the mandate of the UN inspectors is not to apportion blame, but only to ascertain whether these chemicals have been used or not. And that seems rather redundant now, given that the world consensus seems to be that there has been chemical weapons used. It's just arguing over who has done it.
MANN: And that's the crucial fact, isn't it? And so I want to ask you, because you have some experience with what the world tried to find out in Iraq, could this be Iraq all over again?
Could the evidence of our senses be deceiving us? Could the best information of well-intentioned people be wrong? And could the president, and the prime minister of the UK, even if not the government of the UK, be sorry six months or six years down the line for what they're doing?
TREVAN: I think it's highly unlikely in this case, frankly, because of the scale of the attack. One of the things that you have to remember when undertaking a large-scale chemical weapons attack is you don't just release a small amount of chemical, you have to release a large amount of chemical over a relatively short period of time in a relatively confined area.
So, that speaks to there being a fairly significant battery barrage rather than one or two shells being exploded by the side of the road and just -- the gas drifting out of those one or two shells.
So, my sense is, given the number of casualties, it's very hard to imagine that the rebels actually had the capability to lay down that much chemical weapons in that period of time in such a concentrated quantity in a fairly large area.
I think that speaks much more to a more organized military capability. Sorry, my lights just went off there.
MANN: Well, we're grateful for your time. You can fix your light. Tim Trevan, thanks so much for talking with us.
TREVAN: Thank you.
MANN: All eyes will be on the US Congress in the coming days. It is due to decide whether to approve plans for military action in Syria. If it does decide on a military strike, what will the consequences be? CNN's Brian Todd is following one aspect of that story for us. And the US government, I think it's fair to say, is concerned about Americans.
BRIAN TODD, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: That's right, Jon. We've been speaking with US officials and with security experts about the possible brush-back, the possible retaliation against American interest in the region if the US does strike Syria.
Now, the Syrians do have some Russian-made missiles with some impressive range. US commanders have said American ships in the Mediterranean will keep a safe distance, but US forces in Turkey are vulnerable. The US base at Incirlik in Turkey is less than 100 miles from the Syrian border. That's well within range of Syrian missiles.
But also, less-conventional forms of retaliation are more likely. Remember when US embassies in the Middle East were attacked last year? Well, that could well happen again. And of course, the terrorist threat is always there. The militant group Hezbollah, which has hit US targets in the past, can certainly strike again. They are a close ally of the Syrian regime.
And also, Jon, Iran is now in the mix. "The Wall Street Journal" reports the US has intercepted a message from a man named Qasem Soleimani, he is the head of the Qods Force, that is a unit of Iran's Revolutionary Guard, known to have carried out attacks abroad. According to "The Wall Street Journal," that message ordered militants to attack the US embassy in Baghdad if the US strikes Syria, Jon.
MANN: That is a daunting array of threats --
TODD: It sure is.
MANN: -- Qods in Iran, Hezbollah in Lebanon, jihadist groups who knows where? The president keeps saying it will be a limited strike with limited impact. Are they hoping that they'll just be a limited threat from that multitude of potential enemies?
TODD: It's hard to say what they're calculating as far as what the retaliation could be. I think what they want to get across is the message that all US officials, all Americans in this region, all of America's assets, have to be ready, have to be on guard.
The US intelligence community has to be on its game to pick up any potential threat before, during, and after this potential strike, so that's what they're doing. It's interesting, these are asymmetrical threats, Jon, as you know, and there's just -- there's almost no way to really anticipate long-range when they're going to come and in what form.
MANN: It's trying to predict the future in a bad time. Brian Todd, thanks very much.
TODD: Thanks, Jon.
MANN: You're watching CONNECT THE WORLD. Still to come tonight, an Indian beauty pageant contestant and a fundamentalist fight of two Indian women with vastly different lives. What's the one thing they have in common?
And after today, only two of these women will still have a shot at taking this year's US Open title. Four competitors, two on their way up, two on their way home. We'll bring you the latest from today's matches just ahead.
MANN: In India, gender equality and women's safety have become visceral even life-and-death concerns after a number of widely-publicized crimes in just the past few months. In that atmosphere of discontent with current attitudes towards women, an award-winning documentary has explored what the future might hold.
Despite vast differences between two Indian women, it discovered a common yearning for freedom and for empowerment. CNN's Becky Anderson spoke with the director of "The World Before Her," Nisha Pahuja.
BECKY ANDERSON, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Director Nisha Pahuja set out to make a film about the changing face of India by taking her camera behind the scenes of the Miss India pageant.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: It's a manufacturing unit where you go inside and you're polished like a diamond to the best that you can be polished to. That's it. A modern Indian woman.
ANDERSON: But she quickly discovered there were two faces.
(GIRL SPEAKING HINDI)
ANDERSON: Also determined to progress, young girls at a Hindu fundamentalist training camp.
NISHA PAHUJA, DIRECTOR, "THE WORLD BEFORE HER": What became clear to me was that it was really a film about the conflict that women are still facing in India and how identity, Indian national identity is sort of playing itself out on the bodies of women.
ANDRESON (on camera): Let's break it down, then. How would you describe the beauty contestants in terms of their ideals?
PAHUJA: What was interesting about the film were the commonalties between the two different worlds. So, the women in the pageant, they were a mixture. So, some of them were extremely progressive, extremely secular.
And then others were traditional, conservative, terrified of being there, ashamed to show their bodies. Nervous about being in bikinis. Whatever India is going through, they embody that.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: If you're standing, you should not stand this way. Your energy has to be here. You must push it forward.
ANDERSON: I can't imagine that there would be any similarities between those in a competition like that and women training to be militant Hindu fundamentalists. And yet, you say there were similarities.
PAHUJA: Absolutely. And that's what was so interesting, because in the end, you realized, actually, that both of those paths for women, for some of the women, were about achieving a certain kind of empowerment, were about attaining a level of freedom.
ANDERSON: Is there any one character that you enjoyed more than any other?
PAHUJA: Yes. Prachi. Prachi Trivedi, who's the -- at the time, she was 24, and she was sort of the drill sergeant at the Hindu fundamentalist camp. And in -- she's extraordinary because she's so honest and so up front and also so funny and charismatic and terrifying.
And in many ways, she really was the perfect embodiment of the country and the conflict that so many women are facing in that country between being traditional and being modern. Being subservient and becoming independent.
ANDERSON (voice-over): A fierce fighter she may be, but Prachi also accepts her father's beatings, illustrating how the culture of violence of women has been able to endure.
PRACHI TRIVEDI, "THE WORLD BEFORE HER": He has the right. He has given me birth. Knowing that I'm a girl child, he let me live. In a traditional family, people don't let girl child live. They kill the child.
ANDERSON (on camera): As you looked to the identity of India and describe that through the sort of changing nature of women and the way they see their role, it's a fascinating time, not least through the sort of headlines that we've seen about rape, for example.
Within Indian culture, what is it, do you think, that leads to the sort of stories, leads to men raping women, men accepting that's an acceptable act? What have you learned?
PAHUJA: Primarily, it's because women are considered second-class citizens.
ANDERSON: Is that changing?
PAHUJA: Yes. Yes.
PAHUJA: Not quickly enough. But it is -- it is changing. And what's happened with the Delhi gang rape, in some ways it was, as somebody put it to me the other day, it's sort of like India's Rosa Parks moment. It really is kind of a watershed moment in the history of that country. It'll never go back.
MANN: Remarkable film, remarkable women. Coming up after this short break on CONNECT THE WORLD, it is the last major of the tennis season, and four women are battling to win a spot in the final. Your sports update, just ahead.
Plus, Naomi Watts on what it's like to portray the queen of people's hearts, as well as your weekly wrap from the red carpet, coming up next.
MANN: In this week's edition of CNN Preview, Becky Anderson reports from London's red carpet, where Hollywood A-lister Naomi Watts reveals just how difficult it is to portray one of the world's most iconic women.
ANDERSON (voice-over): On this week's edition of CNN Preview, royalty and racing drivers compete to take the checkered flag at the box office.
The controversial film "Diana" received its world premier this week, with Naomi Watts playing the role as the Princess of Wales, who died in a car crash in 1997. The film focuses on Diana's relationship with the heart surgeon Hasnat Khan, portrayed by Naveen Andrews.
Watts says she was so worried about royal reaction, she turned down the role twice before finally accepting the part.
NAOMI WATTS, ACTRESS: Everyone feels they know her, so they're sure that she belongs to them. So it was very -- it was tough to take possession of the character. It's much easier to re -- to invent a character from the ground up.
ANDERSON: The film opens around the world from September through to December.
TOM HANKS AS RICHARD PHILLIPS, "CAPTAIN PHILLIPS": This is the Maersk Alabama. We are an unarmed freighter. We have a potential piracy situation.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Copy, Alabama. You should alert your crew, get your fire fighters ready.
ANDERSON: Tom Hanks is to bookend the London Film Festival in October with two contrasting films.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Look at me.
HANKS AS PHILIPS: Sure.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Look at me. I'm the captain now.
ANDERSON: Opening night presents "Captain Phillips," based on the true story of the hijacking of an American cargo ship by Somali pirates.
HANKS AS WALT DISNEY, "SAVING MR. BANKS": Well, Pamela Travers. You can't imagine how excited I am to finally meet you.
EMMA THOMPSON AS P.L. TRAVERS, "SAVING MR. BANKS": Would you mind? My name is Mrs. Travers for business.
HANKS AS DISNEY: Oh, Walt, then, you've got to call me Walt.
ANDERSON: And the closing film features Hanks as Walt Disney, trying to secure the film rights to "Mary Poppins" in "Saving Mr. Banks."
(MEN SINGING "SUPERCALIFRAGILISTICEXPIALIDOCIOUS")
THOMPSON AS TRAVERS: Stop! Mary Poppins is not for sale!
ANDERSON: Filmmakers and festival organizers reveal the program this week and say they're confident London can compete well with the likes of Rome and New York on the autumn festival circuit.
CLAIRE STEWART, HEAD, LONDON FILM FESTIVAL: I think London had an increasingly important and significant role to play in the awards season campaigns for films like "Argo," "The Artist," "The King's Speech," all of which had premiers here at London Film Festival.
PAUL GREENGRASS, DIRECTOR, "CAPTAIN PHILLIPS": The range of films from all over the world, brilliant, brilliant films, offering new perspectives screened here in London in a short period of time.
But it's also a mirror, where we can look at ourselves and you can see there in the strong, British spine in the film festival. And when you get those two things together, that's what a film festival should be.
ANDERSON: Fans of Formula 1 will soon be able to see two of motor racing's most colorful characters on the big screen in "Rush." Director Ron Howard's film tells the story of the rivalry and eventual respect between the British playboy James Hunt and Austrian driving sensation Niki Lauda before and after the crash which left him severely burned.
Daniel Bruhl plays Lauda with Chris Hemsworth swapping Thor's hammer for a set of wheels.
CHRIS HEMSWORTH, ACTOR: The rivalry that existed between them might have taken the limelight, but the bigger trait that the two of them shared was the respect they had for each other. And the similarities, you're right, about their incredible honesty they both had and need to say what was on their mind and stand by what they thought and not conform to some sort of standard of expectation that the industry had. And that's refreshing, I find, that kind of take it or leave it, this is who I am attitude.
DANIEL BRUHL, ACTOR: Nikki's a living legend and a hero in my -- in Germany. And of course, I felt a lot of pressure. But then, if you have the luck that the living person is willing to answer you any question and likes you, then it makes life much easier, because you don't get better information than from the actual living source.
MANN: That's your Preview. It is a big day for tennis fans, with the women's semifinals taking center stage at the US Open. With more on the four contenders to take the title, Patrick Snell joins us now. And they're still playing, right, some of them?
PATRICK SNELL, CNN SPORTS CORRESPONDENT: They are, yes. So, good news for Victoria Azarenka, though, Jon. She's just booked her place in her second straight US Open final. She won her semifinal a little earlier against the Italian veteran Flavia Pennetta. This one, as we thought, going in straight sets, 6-4, 6-2 in the end.
So, really for Azarenka, it's a chance to go on, and she hopes, finally win a Major outside of the Australian Open. She is a two-time and defending Australian Open champion. She wants to prove to herself that she can actually win outside of Melbourne, win one of the game's big four.
And of course, it could be a chance for a rematch, and players don't typically like to talk about revenge, but I'm sure she will view it as a chance for revenge against Serena Williams, who beat her in last year's final. But of course, Serena has to do her part.
MANN: Well, we were expecting before these ladies went into play that it would be Azarenka, Serena Williams in the final. How is Serena doing? They're still at play.
SNELL: Yes. This one is just getting underway, already Serena Williams, Jon, I'm reliably informed, has a break very early on in this second semifinal of the day at Flushing Meadows.
Of course, Ms. Williams is the top seed. She's currently playing the fifth-seeded Chinese player, Li Na, who created history, of course, for her country, the first-ever player -- first-ever female player from her country to win a major when she won the 2011 French Open title at Roland Garros in Paris.
I'm expecting Serena to win this one rather comfortably. Who knows? Maybe even another bagel-bagel, double-bagel, as they call it. That's the 6-love, 6-love, which is what Serena did in her semifinal -- in her quarterfinal, I'm sorry, when she advanced, barely breaking sweat in that one.
Serena Williams has yet to be tested. If she gets through to the final, which I'm sure she will, she'll be up against Victoria Azarenka, the world number two. Azarenka is one tough cookie, and I'm certain she's going to come back and try and push Serena all the way.
And a little age stat for you, and this is going to make us feel a little old --
MANN: I know what you're about to say --
SNELL: Victoria Azarenka at 24 is the only semifinalist not in her 30s. How incredible.
MANN: The elderly are taking over the sport, so we have a chance.
SNELL: We do.
MANN: We'll talk about that later. One of the surprises here, still mystifying, Andy Murray will not be advancing.
SNELL: Big shock. Yes, defending champion from Scotland had a superb last 12 months. He became Olympic champion, he won his first Major title this time last year when he won the US Open. Then he won Wimbledon, of course, becoming the first British man to win it since 1936.
So, I think it's a case of, look, so much has been going on in his life in recent months. We want to pay tribute, of course, to Stan Wawrinka, the 28-year-old from Switzerland who, for much of his career, of course, has played second fiddle to a certain Roger Federer.
But this is a player, Wawrinka, Jon, who's developing, who's a late bloomer, as they say, who as they say, as he approaches 30, seems to be getting better, like a fine French wine is maturing with every slam tournament he plays.
And he has a good record, too, against Andy Murray. He's beaten him before. He doesn't have a winning overall record, but he's beaten the stump before, and I just wonder on some level if Murray perhaps went into it a little too overconfident. Wawrinka is a top, top player and should never be underestimated.
I don't believe that Murray was underestimating his opponent, but sometimes players can get into that comfort zone and they don't kick on as they should. And Murray just looked flat. He lost in straights. This was a very, very easy win for Wawrinka. He was well in command throughout and Murray just looked flat and out of ideas and well-beaten in the end, Jon.
MANN: Makes you wonder. Patrick Snell.
MANN: Thanks very much.
In tonight's Parting Shots, dogs bark, cats meow, cows moo, but what sound does a fox make? The latest viral video may have your answer.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
(MUSIC - "WHAT DOES THE FOX SAY" BY YLVIS)
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MANN: The fox comes form a Norwegian comedy duo, two brothers who call themselves Ylvis. The video, featuring Gangnam-style dancing and, of course, that man in the fox costume, is exploding online. Of course, entirely silly stuff, but the fox has racked up nearly 2.5 million views on YouTube since its premier just a few days ago.
I'm Jonathan Mann and you've been watching CONNECT THE WORLD. The Ylvis has left the building. Thank you.