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NEWS STREAM

Has Damage Been Done To U.S. Reputation?; New Images Of Kenya Mall Attack; South Park Misses Deadline; Russian Scientists May Have Found Meteor In Lake; Microsoft Searches For New CEO; WHO Names Outdoor Air Pollution Carcinogen

Aired October 17, 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 the U.S. government is open again, but for how long?

Also ahead, we have newly obtained disturbing images of just what happened inside the Kenyan mall under siege by gunmen.

And the World Health Organization officially classifies air pollution as a leading cause of cancer in humans.

Now the threat of what many warned would be global financial calamity has been averted, at least for now. Washington passed a last minute deal to end the partial shutdown of the U.S. government and avoid a damaging debt default.

But it could be back to square one in just a few months. Now the legislation only funds U.S. government through January 15 and it extends the debt ceiling until February 7.

Now still for hundreds of thousands of furloughed federal workers, the deal means it is time to head back to work after days of forced vacation.

And Jim Acosta looks at how the deal was finally struck.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: The motion is adopted.

ACOSTA: Just as the nation was on the brink, the House of Representatives blinked and passed the bipartisan Senate compromise to raise the nation's debt ceiling. And after a 16-day shutdown, the federal government will come back to life from thousands of employees returning to work, to critical research programs, to national parks, even the panda cam and the national zoo.

BARACK OBAMA, (D) PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: We'll begin re- opening the government immediately.

ACOSTA: President Obama, who signed the bill into law just after midnight, came out early in the evening to say he's ready to roll up his sleeves to work with both parties.

OBAMA: I'm willing to work with anybody. I am eager to work with anybody, Democrat or Republican, House or Senate members, on any idea that will grow our economy, create new jobs, strengthen the middle class, and get our fiscal House in order.

ACOSTA: House speaker John Boehner gave the green light for the deal when he dropped GOP demands for big changes to Obama care in exchange for an end to the standoff.

REP. JOHN BOEHNER, (R) HOUSE SPEAKER: We've been locked in a fight over here, trying to bring government down to size, trying to do our best to stop Obamacare. We fought the good fight. We just didn't win. ACOSTA: Even some Tea Party backed Republicans agreed, the strategy failed.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The folks that said we were going to lose turned out to be correct. I can't argue with that.

ACOSTA: But in a sign of potentially more battles to come, one of the architects of the Obama care robust plan, Texas Senator Ted Cruz, vowed to keep fighting.

SEN. TED CRUZ, (R) TEXAS: The way we are going to stop the sufferings, the harms that are being visited on millions of Americans is the path we have seen these past couple of months, is the American people rising up.

ACOSTA: Cruz may get his wish. The deal only reopens the government until mid-January and pushes back another potential default to February. The president told CNN not to worry.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Mr. President, isn't this going to happen all over again in a few months?

OBAMA: No.

ACOSTA: Jim Acosta, CNN, Washington.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

LU STOUT: And while there's relief among many that a deal was reached, it does not address the deep-seated issues that bitterly divide Democrats and Republicans. And some are predicting we will see the same showdown again in just a few months.

Athena Jones joins me now live from Washington with the very latest. And first, Athena, what are the core issues that still divide the two parties?

ATHENA JONES, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Hi Kristie, well this is all about the long-standing debate over the size of government. You have folks on the Republican side who want to see big reforms to entitlement programs like Medicare and Social Security. Also a bunch of Republicans who have pledged never to raise taxes.

On the Democratic side, you see people saying we've got to make sure we get parts of our government funded like education and research and development. And that's going to have to include some sort of tax revenue.

And so right now, starting today, the budget chairs on the Senate side and the House side are going to be meeting for breakfast to begin these conversations on a budget for fiscal year 2014. That ends next -- or this coming September 30, almost a year away. And yet those big sticking points remain.

They're supposed to have a budget report out by mid-December, but that does not mean of course with that deadline that's going to happen, because these deadlines have slipped in the past as have budget committees failed to come together on an agreement, Kristie.

LU STOUT: That's right. I mean, there is just so much fear and concern about more political brinksmanship. And for now, we have a deal that buys us some time, a few months until January, but what really fundamentally can be done to prevent another fiscal showdown?

JONES: Well, what needs to happen is some sort of agreement. There's a big question mark about how that can be done, whether that will be done, what it will involve. I can tell you that Democrats are glad that this deadline is January 15, because they're trying to get rid of these forced budget cuts, these big spending cuts to departments and agencies. And they were set to kick in another round of even deeper cuts after January 15.

So on the Democratic side, the hope is that they can come to an agreement that at least partially undoes those cuts. Of course we've already heard from the Republican side, minority leader Mitch McConnell in the Senate saying we've got to make sure we keep that budget control act, that law that put those cuts in place in tact.

We also know from Speaker Boehner's side of things this whole fight was about Obamacare. And Speaker Boehner posted a message on his Facebook page saying that the fight continues.

So there are a lot of issues that could still come into play, many of the same issues we have already been seeing over the last few weeks, months and years for that point -- Kristie.

LU STOUT: And also just how tarnished are the reputations of America's lawmakers? I mean, how many American trust congress after this crisis?

JONES: Well, not a lot. One of our recent polls from CNN earlier this month right before it came out right as the shutdown was beginning showed that congress had approval rating of 10 percent, that's at a historic low. There have been multiple polls out since then showing similar numbers. And I can tell you that Republicans have really taken the bigger brunt of the blame on this. And so certainly there are a lot of folks who say that their party has a lot more rebuilding to do and could even face a tougher time in the 2014 elections than they would have otherwise in both the House and the Senate.

So, Americans -- members of congress are not too popular among voters these days, especially probably some of these furloughed workers who are just going to be going back to work today, Kristie.

LU STOUT: Yeah, safe to say it's not America's finest moment.

Athena Jones joining us live from Washington. Thank you, Athena.

Now for the most part, the debt deal, it failed to impress world markets on Thursday. And earlier, it got reaction from CNN's emerging markets editor John Defterios.

JOHN DEFTERIOS, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, the news from Washington crossed about 90 minutes before the trading day. So there's this relief coming in -- so a relief rally for the first 90 minutes of the trading day, we had the NIKKEI up better than 1 percent, but it finished off of that, up .8 percent.

But this is what's interesting, Hong Kong down better than a half a percent. Shanghai, after losing turf yesterday down a fifth of a percent. And Australia up just a third of a percent.

Then the dollar based assets, that was watching yesterday, thought it was interesting, oil rallied because people want to buy dollar based assets when there's confidence in the U.S. economy. That faded away. The dollar rallied in the first two hours of trading and it fell against the euro, the British pound and the Japanese yen.

It's tell us there's a relief that the worst is over, they're not going to jump over the cliff, but there's some very nasty work and huge divisions between the White House and Capitol Hill, but also very importantly, within congress itself. The House and the Senate don't see this eye to eye.

LU STOUT: Yeah, and core budgetary divisions between the Republicans and the Democrats.

Now, what is going to be the cost of this crisis to America's reputation?

DEFTERIOS: Well, it's interesting, because people were focused on this S&P analysis and said we lost $24 billion in output in the three weeks since the budget showdown and the closing of government. I think that's a drop in the bucket (inaudible). It's a $13 trillion economy, as you know, so that's one thing.

Reputationally, I was at the world energy congress in South Korea, spoke to the energy minister of Russia, for example, and we know the tete- a-tete here with Mr. Putin and Mr. Obama, they compete. But he suggested this undermines confidence in the U.S. system, not so much the president himself, but the U.S. system. Why can't they see eye to eye?

Another question they came up with the South African power company chief, why are you going back and opening up legislation with Obamacare that passed. And it passed a long time ago. Why do we have to go back to such a messy business? And it's not the behavior of a country that has the world's reserve currency.

And then I thought this was interesting, Christine Lagarde weighed in to the debate, Kristie, and she was not all that positive. Again, a relief that it came through, but let's see what she had to say here. She's basically suggesting, looking forward it would be essential to reduce uncertainty surrounding the conduct of the budget process, fiscal policy by raising the debt limit in a more durable manner. In political speak, that means can we get a long-term deal so we don't have the reserve currency government holding everybody hostage. That's what she's suggesting here.

But right now, I don't see that around the corner.

LU STOUT: And historical context here, how does this crisis compare to previous crises like the Lehman Brother's crisis, or the Gulf War in terms of confidence?

DEFTERIOS: Well, this surprised me actually. There's a group called Policy Uncertainty.com. And it's worth looking at. They're suggesting that the 2011, 2012 and now 2013 crises about the deficit and the debt limits more damaging, more damaging than what we saw in 1987 with the stock market crash, the 1991 Gulf War, even the Lehman crisis in 2008, 2009, because they had confidence that the U.S. government, even if it was in deep crisis, they could deal with it.

We don't feel that you can deal with the $16 trillion debt that they have right now, but worst that the polarization America is nothing like we've ever seen before. So these events continue to drag on and start to dent the long-term viability of The States.

I know it sounds like an overstatement, but think about this, drawing a red-line on Syria and having to back off, drawing the line on the debt limit and then have to nearly jump over the cliff. Not showing up to an APEC meeting twice is not the sign of leadership that others around the world are looking for from the United States.

And I think it's fair to say that China and Russia when they get the opportunity to offer their criticism of the United States when they show weakness they'll come right in. I think that's a little of what we see right now.

LU STOUT: John Defterios there.

Let's talk more about China, which holds more than a trillion dollars in U.S. debt, China did indeed react to the deal. A spokeswoman for the ministry of foreign affairs said on Thursday that China welcome the resolution of the crisis, but a credit rating agency with close ties to the Chinese government has cut its U.S. rating saying that the U.S. only remains solvent by raising new debts.

Now, as we've been saying the U.S. fiscal battle, it has global ramifications. The European stock markets moved sharply higher on Wednesday on speculation of a deal. And here is how things look today.

Now they're still concerned that the root of the problem has not actually been addressed. Many are worried that we could see another budget showdown in the U.S. a few months from now.

Now World Business Today will have more analysis of the debt deal, including a look at whether it's just a short-term solution to a much larger, long term budget problem as well as the early numbers from U.S. markets when they start trading. So World Business Today coming up at the top of the hour.

Now right now, you're watching News Stream. Coming up next, terror at Kenya's Westgate Mall. Now CNN obtains access to surveillance video of last month's attack and what it shows about the depravity and brutality of the attackers that's shocking.

Also next, preparing for the worst: chemical weapons inspectors get specialized training for their very dangerous mission in Syria. And we'll take you behind the scenes of one drill.

Also ahead, we have the shocking results of a new global report showing slavery is far from a thing of the past.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

LU STOUT: Now, it was a terror attack that shocked Kenya and much of the world. At least 67 people were killed when gunmen opened fire in Nairobi's Westgate mall last month. The siege lasted four days. Much of what we know about the horror inside that mall has come from survivors.

Now CNN has obtained access to some surveillance video of the attack. And a warning, this video, it is graphic and it is frightening. And it is certainly not suitable for children.

Now we are reporting on the videos to better understand what happened and to witness the attackers who showed no hesitation about taking lives.

Now CNN's Nima Elbagir has been going through hours of this video. She joins me now live from Nairobi. Nima, what did you see?

NIMA ELBAGIR, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: It really is an excruciating watch, Kristie, but what it does give you is a sense of what happened on that Saturday here in Nairobi and really also a sense of just how well equipped and how well coordinated this attack really was.

Take a look, Kristie.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

ELBAGIR: This is the scene moments before the al Shabaab attack. Suddenly, men, women and children begin to run for their lives. This man on the floor thought he'd found safety. Wounded, he gathers the strength to try and crawl for help. Another gunman returns without mercy.

The security camera spotted two other attackers making their way to the top parking lot, walking towards the children's cooking competition held there. Just beyond the cameras view, they open fire.

This edited silent video obtained by CNN shows what happened during the attack in Nairobi on September 21st. As the attackers go through the mall, you see people desperate, trying to run and crawl to safety as bullets streak by.

A body on the floor gets barely a glance and another bullet.

This is only a fraction of the surveillance video recorded during this day, most of it too horrifying to broadcast.

In the supermarket, the hostage roundup has begun. A mother and her two children push an injured child in a shopping cart, a teenage girl follows, her hands in the air. She's bloody. A gunman points the way.

Kenyan authorities say they closely watched the security cameras as the attack was happening. The hostage takers are spotted on the phone. Authorities believe they are receiving instructions from outside the mall.

Here, one of them even appears to look for surveillance cameras.

Only four attackers are seen in the video. There are long periods of time where they appear almost relaxed. At one point the attackers take turns for prayers.

Elsewhere, in a mall restaurant, a western man, gun in hand and what appears to be a plain clothes Kenyan police officer take position to try to protect the staff and customers cowering behind a counter. And this was just the first day of what would become a four day nightmare for Kenya.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

ELBAGIR: For many of the families of those who were caught up in that horrific attack, Kristie, there are still no respite. The Kenyan Red Cross told us that there are still 25 people unaccounted for, Kristie.

LU STOUT: You know, that video is just so chilling to watch. And I can't get over watching or remarking about the banality of evil. You know, watching the attackers strolling along in that mall, holding their weapons, using their cell phones, even stopping to pray, it's just so shocking.

And Nima, we know that there's so many unanswered questions about what happened, about the militants involved. What have you learned?

ELBAGIR: Well, we're still just receiving so much conflicting information, Kristie. We're hearing there were four, and we saw there were four. But then we're also hearing from other arms of government that there might have been 10 to 15. We still don't yet have a number for the dead, a conclusive number. We don't know what happened to the gunmen that some arms of government the police and the ministry of interior believe could have escaped.

They put out an alert for two men that they believe could have been part of the broader organization of this. We still don't know how that's going. And you can imagine for the families here for the people here, who are searching for answers, even three weeks on from this attack, you know, that agony is still unabated, Kristie.

LU STOUT: That's right, many families, many survivors desperate for answers. Nima Elbagir, we thank you for your reporting.

Now you're watching News Stream. And still to come on the program, they are operating in a war zone, but they are not soldiers. Find out how chemical weapons inspectors are preparing for their mission in Syria. Stay with us.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

LU STOUT: Coming to you live from Hong Kong, you're back watching News Stream.

Now a UN worker kidnapped eight months ago in Syria has been released, that's according to Syrian state run media. Now Canadian Carl Kempo (ph) was abducted in the countryside near Damascus in February by what the Syrian government calls terrorists. Now Syrian media report that he has now been handed over to the UN representative in Damascus.

And amid the civil war, international inspectors continue to dismantle Syria's chemical weapons stockpile. And to prepare them for that dangerous environment, they're undergoing rigorous training.

Now Fred Pleitgen went to see just what that entails.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

FRED PLEITGEN, CNN INTERNATOINAL CORRESPONDENT: A sudden explosion during a chemical weapons inspection. Chaos, fear, this is a training exercise, the lessons potentially lifesaving for inspectors as they do their work in war-torn Syria.

Franz Ontal is the head of inspector training.

FRANZ ONTAL, HEAD OF INSPECTOR TRAINING, OPCW: We are performing our inspections in the middle of a conflict. We've never done this before. It's not something that you could have foreseen two years ago and planned for.

PLEITGEN: These inspectors from the Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons are being trained to identify dangerous situations to avoid getting kidnapped, but also to help as they witness violent events.

This hostile environment's training course is conducted by the German army.

(on camera): The German military makes this exercise as realistic as possible: the sounds, the pops that you hear, the hectic is exactly the same way it would be on the battlefield. And in this sort of environment, the weapons inspectors from the OPCW have to keep their composure and administer first-aid in a correct way.

(voice-over): The knowledge could be vital to these inspectors very soon.

OPCW has been tasked with cataloguing and monitoring the destruction of Bashar al-Assad's chemical weapons after a major chemical attack in the Damascus suburbs, though the regime denies it was responsible.

In August, snipers opened fire on a convoy of UN experts investigating suspected chemical weapons attacks. One vehicle was disabled in the attack. The inspectors were forced to turn back.

The German army's head of hostile environments training believes the biggest threats could be heard with the inspectors move in areas can (inaudible) regime forces and the opposition.

COL. REINHARD BARZ, GERMAN ARMY: We have different players in Syria. And I think that is not easy for the trainees here and for the job in Syria.

PLEITGEN: After the inspectors dressed all the pretended wounds in the exercise, the head of inspector training says he was satisfied with their performance.

ONTAL: Given a situation, a crisis situation, and a chaotic situation and people screaming in language that you don't understand, they were able to stop and assess the situation before they performed any action. And that, I think, was successfully done today.

PLEITGEN: But as realistic as this scenario was, it was just an exercise. The next stop for some of these chemical weapons experts could be Syria, one of the most dangerous places in the world.

Fred Pleitgen, CNN, Germany.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

LU STOUT: Now, still to come on News Stream, we'll go live to the White House and gauge the chances of another bitter fiscal fight in the not too distant future.

And bad news for millions of people inhaling bad air every day. The World Health Organization classifies air pollution as a carcinogen. We'll have the details.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

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

Now the U.S. has averted what many predicted would have been a financial disaster with only hours to go before a midnight deadline. Congress passed legislation raising the debt ceiling and reopening the U.S. government. Now Obama signed it. That means federal offices across the country can reopen along with parks and monuments that have been closed since October 1.

Now investigators are focusing on the weather in a plane crash in Laos that is believed to have killed everyone onboard. Now 44 passengers and five crew members were on the plane when it crashed near the Mekong River on Wednesday. Now five bodies have been recovered. And the rest are still missing.

Now witnesses say the plane was buffeted by strong winds.

Now it is estimated that 30 million people are enslaved around the world, that's according to a new report from the walk free foundation. It says more than three-quarters of those enslaved are in just 10 countries, including India, China and Pakistan. Now Haiti and Mauritania were found to have the highest proportions of slaves.

Now the temporary debt deal reached in Washington has given lawmakers a few months of breathing room, but Republicans and Democrats on Capitol Hill are still very much divided. Now Jim Acosta is at the White House. He joins me now live with the latest.

And Jim, we've got a deal, but outstanding issues remain. So how will the president attempt to bridge this divide?

ACOSTA: Well, we're going to hear the president speak later this morning here at the White House. He's going to be basically in non- celebratory mode, according to some folks we're talking to here at the White House. He's not going to be spiking the football here in the United States. Football involves spiking it on occasion, not kicking it, Kristie.

But, no, what we hear -- we're going to hear the president say basically is that there's a lot of room for agreement on these larger budget issues. And the clock is running once again. As you mentioned, the government is only funded until January 15, but tucked into the legislation to reopen the government is a provision that requires Democrats and Republicans in congress to start working on a new budget, but to start working on a budget that achieves longer term budget goals. And they have to get this done. They have to reach an agreement by mid-December in order to avert another government shutdown in January.

So a bit of a safety cache that's built in there. I think we're going to hear the president talk about how he's willing to work on some issues that even Democrats aren't comfortable with, mainly curbing entitlement spending, that is something the president talked about before we got to this point of a government shutdown and averting a debt default. He was basically saying, look, if you open up the government, if you avert a default, I'm willing to talk about everything. And now that pledge is going to be put to the test.

LU STOUT: Now, this is the question that viewers around the world have especially investors. I mean, are we going to see more political brinksmanship like this again, not just in a few months, not by January 15, but every time we reach the debt ceiling or a federal budget needs to be approved?

ACOSTA: Well, there is a provision in this legislation that will hopefully prevent that from happening next time, although we should mention there's no teeth in it. Members of Congress are not going to get hauled off to jail if they don't meet this deadline of mid-December.

But one thing that I think is more of a practical political matter, Republicans understand that they've been beaten soundly in all of this. The public opinion polls here in the United States show that 74 percent of Americans do not like the way that the Republicans handled budget negotiations, contrast that with 53 percent who say the same thing about President Obama.

And now there is some talk that the Republican control over the House of Representatives could be in jeopardy next year. So the question becomes do Republicans again risk that sort of scenario, angering the American people, taking a nose-dive in the polls as we inch closer to the mid-term elections next year. So that is another safety mechanism that's been built into all of this. The political safety mechanism. We'll just have to see if it holds.

LU STOUT: Yeah, important to know the political fallout, as you just mentioned, a lot of negative opinion there in the U.S. directed squarely at the Republican Party. But what about the Democrats, Jim? Do you think the Democrats actually gained politically from this showdown?

ACOSTA: Well, we're going to have to wait and see. The last time the government shut down was back in the mid-90s. There were two, one in late 1995 and one in early 1996. And while the House of Representatives was still controlled by Republicans in those mid-term elections in that actually was a general election year. The presidency was on the line that time and Republicans held on to the House. Republicans lost the White House.

Bill Clinton was reelected. He beat Bob Dole. And the conventional wisdom at that time, the post-election analysis was that the government shutdowns of late 1995 and early 1996 had an impact on that presidential race and helped Bill Clinton get reelected. And so that is something that -- some of the long time veterans here in Washington, people like John McCain have been saying, listen, we learned this lesson last time around. We told you this was going to happen this time around. You didn't listen to us. You have to listen to us next time. And I think that is a dynamic that we'll see play out over the next couple of months.

LU STOUT: Really appreciate your political insight here. Jim Acosta joining us live from Washington. Thank you.

Now in the end, House Republicans largely backed down on their key demands. But the fight has left the party bruised and divided. And Brian Todd has more on that.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

BRIAN TODD, CNN CORRESONDENT (voice-over): On the Senate floor, John McCain slammed the partisanship on both sides during this shutdown.

SEN. JOHN MCCAIN, (R) ARIZONA: It's one of the more shameful chapters that I have seen.

TODD: But in print, he was much tougher on his own caucus, telling "The New York Times," Republicans have to understand we have lost this battle as I predicted weeks ago that we would not be able to win. McCain's Republican ally Lindsey Graham says the GOP "really did go too far, we screwed up."

Former Republican Congressman Mickey Edwards says while he believes President Obama was too inflexible in this standoff, it's the Republicans who overreached by hammering on Obama care.

MICKEY EDWARDS, THE ALGIERS INSTITUTE: The public is not going to believe that the president is responsible, especially when they are trying to undo a law that has already been enacted. When you tie it in with the threats about the debt ceiling and possibly reneging on the people the American people spent and owe, you know, I don't think it's a message Republicans can win.

TODD: Senator Ted Cruz has been skewered from within the party and by his hometown newspaper which had endorsed him, comparing him to his predecessor Kay Bailey Hutchison, "The Houston Chronicle's" editorial page says, Cruz has been part of the problem in specific situations where Hutchison would have been part of the solution.

(on camera): Another conservative group whose tactics under fire, Heritage Action for America. It pressured wavering Republicans to keep fighting against Obamacare, keeping tabs on those who didn't by blasting out their scorecards.

(voice-over): Their leader dismissed McCain's criticism that this was a losing battle.

MICHAEL NEEDHAM, CEO, HERITAGE ACTION FOR AMERICA: I think that the Senate Republican should spend their energy focusing on Obamacare and the way it's ruining American peoples' lives and not trying to settle scores about policy -- tactical differences that they disagree with.

TODD: But analysts say the party will still question the tactics of its own hard liners.

RON BROWNSTEIN, CNN SENIOR POLITICAL ANALYST: Has that line of argument, that political strategy been discredited by this defeat? There's no other word for it. And does that then allow other voices in the caucus to argue for a different direction?

TODD: Another big question coming out of this? Does John Boehner keep his speakership? GOP strategists we spoke to said he likely will, that he's got the votes to stay in, and who would want the job any way, especially after this?

Brian Todd, CNN, Washington.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

LU STOUT: Now, every day we make choices that affect our health, but one choice that we can't make is whether to breath. Now the World Health Organization has now officially declared outdoor air pollution, the world's most widespread environmental carcinogen.

Now the director of the organization's cancer research wins says the report should send a strong signal to the international community to take action.

Let's get more now on this stunning survey from the WHO with Mari Ramos. She joins us from the world weather center -- Mari.

MARI RAMOS, CNN WEATHER CORRESPONDENT: Kristie, really, scary situation to think, you know, this is the most widespread carcinogen out there. If there was another -- if you hear about something that can make you sick or could give you cancer, people would try to avoid it. But this is something that is highly unavoidable. It's in the major cities all over the world. And every year we get these lists of the cities that are polluted. And in this case, we're talking about outdoor air pollution. And most of that has to do, of course, with industry and automobiles and people, all of these things that make the cities what they are also make the cities as dirty as they are.

I want to show you something from -- this is showing us the actual air quality right now. This is in real-time. I'm going to go ahead and step out here just so I can get in a little bit closer across some of these. Do you see those numbers? The darker the red, the darker the color, the more intense the pollution is.

I want to show you here in Tianjin (ph) it's about 500. And that number right now -- I know it's hard to see. This one is over 400. Beijing also had the numbers up in the 200s.

You can see all these reds across eastern parts of China.

Notice across the Korean peninsula and much of Japan, a lot of greens. Air quality relatively good. Today is starting to see some oranges pop up around the Tokyo area. This is happening, because we had that big, of course, weather system that had been moving through here and that helps clear out the air at least on the short-term basis, but when we get that stagnant air across these areas.

and look all the way down to Hong Kong, Kristie. There you see a lot of reds. That's about in the 180, close to 200 range as far as -- as far as air quality and conditions. And even across Taiwan, there's a 159 right there across the central portion of Taiwan, which is a little bit more unusual.

I want to show you one more thing, let me just come over here to my computer, which is acting a little slow. But this is what I wanted to show you. You see that right there? That's the actual picture taken earlier today by NASA. This is on Google, but we've overlaid an image. And this shows that just horrible air quality that is just sitting across these areas. And unfortunately this is not a one-day thing, this is a situation that happens over and over. This is just one small part of the world. Unfortunately, this is something that happens a lot.

Talk about bad air quality, this is from Sydney. Normally you have pretty good air quality, but the smoke and haze from nearby fires is a huge concern.

Let's go ahead roll the pictures very quickly, I only have a few seconds to tell you about this. These fires have been burning out of control in an emergency, really, in New South Wales because of these fires.

The Springwood fire has burned at least 100 homes, they think. Scary situation, the fire was burning out of control, jumped the river. They were looking for students in two primary schools, but they were all accounted for, fortunately.

There's also the state mine fire, that one is a large brush fire, very dangerous conditions with that one as well. And the Hang Street fire, also causing serious problems.

We had a cold front that came through here, winds up to 80 kilometers per hour earlier today. Very warm conditions. It's cooler now that the front came through. The air is better, but the fire danger remains high.

Those three fires that I mentioned, the three larger ones, Kristie, are still burning in that region. Back to you.

LU STOUT: Well, fast moving bush fire, bad air quality across the region. Very alarming stuff. Mari Ramos there, thank you.

Now you're watching News Stream. And still to come, as Microsoft releases its latest Windows update today, the company is on the hunt for a new CEO. We'll have more on that after the break.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

LU STOUT: Welcome back. This is News Stream. Let's take a look at a visual version of all the stories from the show today.

Now we have discussed the deal to end the U.S. government shutdown, later we'll tell you why South Park made history this week. But now a big day for Microsoft.

Now Microsoft is releasing the latest update to Windows today. Now Windows 8.1, it is supposed to fix some of the issues people had with Windows 8, a radical reimaging of its flagship operating system that replaces the desktop with an interface more suited to tablets.

Now instead of folders and files, that interface has colorful tiles.

Now Windows 8.1 brings back more familiar features like the start button. Now it's available as a free update for Windows 8 users starting today.

And while that is going on, Microsoft is still searching for a CEO to take over from the retiring Steve Ballmer.

Let's get more now on who the next Microsoft boss might be from our regular contributor and editor of the New Yorker.com Nicholas Thompson. He joins me now live from New York.

Nick, good to see you. Let's talk about Microsoft's quest for a CEO. What factors does it need to consider?

NICK THOMPSON, NEW YORKER.COM: Well, Microsoft really needs someone who can do two things: they need someone who can be a product visionary, someone who can figure out how to build all these products they've had a lot of problems with, so the launch of Windows 8.1 is a good time to recognize that there were significant mistakes they made in the launch of Windows 8. They didn't quite know exactly what people would want, how far they could push them. The return of the start button is a great example of something where Microsoft moved too fast in trying to push people in a direction they didn't want to go. So they need a product person.

And they also need someone who can run a sprawling organization. Microsoft has had a lot of issues with internal dysfunction, which team is doing what, are people being ranked in strange ways. So they need someone who can run this behemoth. And they need someone who is a visionary. And it's hard to get both of those in the same package.

LU STOUT: So they need a business fixer and they need sort of the product person, the innovator. So who is going to be? Who is in the running?

THOMPSON: Well, there are a whole -- there's a sort of a set of tiers of candidates, right. So there's starting from sort of the most extreme, there's the notion that Bill Gates might come back. I don't think that's implausible at all. He might decide to just come in.

Then there's the kind of heroic star of other companies that people talk about. Reed Hastings, or Cheryl Sandberg at Facebook, these sort of tech visionaries who would be great, but actually probably wouldn't take the job.

Then there's CEOs outside of Microsoft, so Alan Mulally of Ford is talked about a lot. He's clearly somebody the board has reached out to, has talked to. He's a serious candidate. There have been serious conversations at Ford. People like him a lot. He had a very good record at Ford, but it's not clear he has the technical chops. He also seems that he may be a little bit old. They want somebody who is going to run this for the next 10 years. So it's not clear how they'll do that.

Then there are internal candidates. Paul Maritz, who was senior executive for Microsoft for a long time is somebody they talked about. He left and went and ran Vmware. Tony Bates who runs Skype.

So there are a lot of people in the mix. And unfortunately for Microsoft, details have started to leak out.

Oh, and of course there's Stephen Elop who ran Nokia who when Ballmer resigned was immediately talked about as the frontrunner. He seems to have drifted a little bit out.

LU STOUT: Yeah, so we'll wait and see to find out if it's going to be an internal candidate or an outsider.

Let's talk next about Microsoft in general. I mean, Microsoft has a CEO problem. It also has a Windows 8 problem. I mean, it has been pretty much a big flop. So do you think the latest update will fix it?

THOMPSON: No, it won't fix it. I mean, I don't think it's been quite as big a flop as some people say. It was clearly a set of mistakes, but it wasn't like the -- you know, the Microsoft tablet, that was a major flop. Windows 8, it's had OK numbers. I mean, certainly disappointing numbers, but it hasn't been a devastating failure.

I think this fix actually will make a difference. It will -- the biggest complaint about Windows 8, right, was that you start up and you're confused. Am I in tile more or in my traditional Microsoft Windows mode. I don't know where I am. I don't know what to do.

And now in this system there's a way to sort of entirely skip the tile mode.

What Microsoft had done with Windows 8 it said, hey, we have a new vision -- a new way we want to present Windows to you and we're going to force you into it. And it may confuse you for a little while, and you'll figure it out. And people just didn't want that. And so now Microsoft has given them a way to get around that. I think it's an improvement.

They've also improved the apps. They've improved some integration with Bing and Skype. So I think it will -- it will help, but it won't turn everything around.

LU STOUT: But it's an improvement. It's a fix of sorts.

Now Microsoft...

THOMPSON: It certainly seems that way.

LU STOUT: Yeah. Microsoft, I think it's pretty safe to say, that it has sort of an innovation problem, right. I mean, you mentioned Surface. Tablets has not sold well. It's basically missed out on the tablet revolution. Do you think -- I mean, are you bullish about its future? What do you think about the future of Microsoft as an innovator?

THOMPSON: No, I'm not bullish at all about their future as an innovator. I mean, they've missed almost every major trend in technology over the last decade. They completely missed social. They missed the turn to mobile. They came much too late. They -- you know, they bollixed search.

The one thing where they have been extremely innovative is in video game with the Xbox One, which I think is an excellent platform. And they've done a really good job with being the company that takes over your living room just by its own problems with the recent Xbox.

But, no, they've missed most of the things they should not have missed.

I blame a lot of that on Ballmer. I think he set up a poor organization. I don't think he was personally a visionary. So I do think that there's a chance -- I mean, this is a company that still makes tons and tons of money. People still use Windows. There's still people sending checks all the time. They've got lots of time. They've got lots of good developers. They've got a, you know, they've got a good platform. You come in with a visionary, you get someone who can, you know, see around corners, figure out what's coming next, and not miss the next big trend, not miss the next big social, this company could have a bright future. But it also, it could continue a slow decline as well.

LU STOUT: Yeah, a new CEO will definitely be a much needed reset for Microsoft. Nick Thompson of New York.com, thank you. Take care.

Now slavery is often regarded as a thing of the past, but a new report from anti-slavery movement walk free shows that is far from the case with nearly 30 million people enslaved worldwide.

Now Becky Anderson reports on these shocking statistics.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

BECKY ANDERSON, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Child brides...

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE (through translator): Even in front of the police, my father said he would kill me if I don't go back.

ANDERSON: Bonded laborers...

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE (through translator): They hit me if I didn't work. The owner said we'll have to work as long as we live.

ANDERSON: Sex slaves...

CHONG KIM, FRM. SEX SLAVE: I was forced to watch a young child being raped and sodomized in front of me.

ANDERSON: All exploited and robbed of their free will. Sadly in 2013, their stories are farm more prevalent than you'd expect. 28.9 million, that's the staggering estimate of how many people around the world are living as modern-day slaves according to Walk Free Foundation. The number is cited in the foundation's global slavery index, which for the first time provides a map country by country of the depth and breadth of the scourge.

These 10 countries account for 76 percent of the world enslaved people: China, Russia, Nigeria, Pakistan are all in there. But India, the world's second most populous nation has by far the highest number of slaves, estimated at between 13 and 14.5 million people.

NICK GRONO, CEO, WALK FREE FOUNDATION: A lot of experts would say that's a conservative number. India has a massive problem with forced labor, bonded labor. There are whole communities that are forced to work on brick kilns or forced to work in stone quarries, kids who are working in carpet factories. So it's a massive problem.

ANDERSON: But the index found that it is Mauritania, which was the last country to outlaw slavery in 1961, where the problem is most prevalent. With an estimated 1 in 5 citizens bonded to a master, tradition is proving hard to break.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE (through translator): Chains are for the slave who has just become a slave. But the multigenerational slave, he is a slave even in his own head.

ANDERSON: Equally, Haiti, which is famous for one of the first successful fights against slavery in the 18th slavery has regressed.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: In the shameful conditions of Haiti's slums, as many as 300,000 children work as domestic servants.

ANDERSON: According to the index, poverty, exacerbated by environmental disasters, has made slavery especially common in Haiti.

What makes this index such a valuable tool in the fight against modern-day slavery is that it identifies key risk factors for countries and measures they can implement in order to reduce them, whether that be singing up to an anti-slavery convention or introducing policies that might challenge cultural perceptions that it's OK to deny somebody their freedom.

Becky Anderson, CNN, London.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

LU STOUT: A stunning and shocking report there.

Now you're watching News Stream. And still to come, in the depth of this lake in Russia, have divers found a little piece of outer space?

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

LU STOUT: Welcome back.

Now, you might remember earlier this year a meteorite rocketed to earth in Russia. And part of it may have wound up at the bottom of a lake. Isha Sesay has more.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

ISHA SESAY, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: This was the scene back in February as a massive meteor streaked across the sky. Turning night into day, the fireball sent shockwaves across Russia, shattering windows, injuring some 1,200 people and causing millions of dollars in damage.

Scientists say fragments of the space rock crash landed here, beneath the ice of this frozen lake near the city of Chelyabinsk. Now, eight months later, the ice is gone. And on Wednesday, in an operation covered live on Russian TV, divers entered the murky water. At the bottom of the lake they found what is believed to be the largest single fragment of the meteorite.

The 1.5 meter long boulder was dragged ashore, then weighed where it literally tipped, then broke the scales.

AMDREI KOCHEROV, CHLYABINK UNIVERSITY (through translator): It if weighs more than 500 kilograms, then the object is unique in itself and is likely to be one of the biggest meteorites ever found.

SESAY: The suspected space rock crumbled into several chunks, but still weighed in at more than 570 kilograms.

Now scientists want to confirm this is indeed the meteorite they've been searching for.

KOCHEROV (through translator): The initial visual survey, which we are talking about now, doesn't give us 100 percent certainty. We still need to conduct more research, a structural analysis, and other tests.

SESAY: When it entered Earth's atmosphere, scientists estimate the meteor weight about 10,000 tons. It's just a fraction of that size now, but scientists seem confident they've made an out of this world discovery.

Isha Sesay, CNN.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

LU STOUT: That's definitely reason to celebrate there.

Now history was made on Wednesday. For the first time ever South Park missed their deadline to deliver a new episode. Now the show's creators famously create each episode only days before it airs and usually only finish right at the deadline. But they said a power cut at their studios held them up this week and they tweeted some nightvision pictures of the scene as they sat around in the dark just waiting for the power to come back on.

Now the co-creator Trey Parker said this, quote, "it sucks to miss an air date, but after all these years tempting fate by delivering the show last minute, I guess it was bound to happen."

Now given that they have delivered 240 episodes on time over 17 years, they've done a pretty good job tempting fate.

And that is News Stream, but the news continues at CNN. World Business Today is next.

END