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U.S. Considers Moving Troops to Front Lines; Kurdish Fighters Try to Hold Off ISIS in Northern Syria; U.S. Warship Sails Near Manmade Chinese Islands; Carson Leads Trump in New Nationwide U.S. Poll; Taliban Urge Agencies to Push Ahead after Quake; Outcry over Shocking Video; U.S. Police Departments See Decline in Applications; On the Front Lines of the Syrian War; Apple Set to Report Earnings. Aired 10-11 ET
Aired October 27, 2015 - 10:00:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
ROBYN CURNOW, CNN HOST: Hi, there, everyone, welcome to the INTERNATIONAL DESK. I'm Robyn Curnow at the CNN Center.
We begin with moves involving the U.S. military in very different situations in two very different parts of the world.
A U.S. Naval destroyer passed within kilometers of a disputed island chain in the South China Sea. We'll hear how Beijing strongly responded.
Now that's in a moment.
First, though, the U.S. is considering expanding its role against ISIS. "The Washington Post" reports one plan would bring American forces
closer to the front lines, the battle lines in Iraq and Syria. Pentagon correspondent Barbara Starr says the final decision is up to President
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
BARBARA STARR, CNN PENTAGON CORRESPONDENT: Pentagon officials telling me there are a number of ideas out there, a number of options. The
president has told the Pentagon, they say, he wants to see some options for more rapid action for more success for trying to build on what they've
Carter, in fact, hinted at some of this last week after that special operations raid in Northern Iraq, saying there would be more raids like
that, that U.S. troops might again go into the field. They are advising, assisting and accompanying Iraqi forces.
We might see more of that but right now we're told no final decisions have been made.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
CURNOW: Barbara Starr there. Meantime, Kurdish fighters in Syria have pushed ISIS out of their territory and are preparing for a U.S.-backed
offensive toward the group's stronghold.
CNN's Clarissa Ward has been touring the front lines held by the Kurds in Northeastern Syria. She found that the poorly equipped fighters are
trying to hold off frequent nighttime attacks by ISIS, which still has hundreds of men in the area.
CLARISSA WARD, CBS NEWS CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): These men are at the core of America's latest strategy to defeat ISIS, manning positions
along a vast and desolate front line with ISIS entrenched in villages just through the haze. They're fighters with the YPG, a force of roughly 30,000
Syrian Kurds, which, backed by coalition airpower, has dealt decisive blows to Islamic State militants across Northern Syria.
Commander Bahuz (ph) is in charge of this front line position in the city of Hasakah, which the YPG took from ISIS in August after months of
COMMANDER BAHUZ (PH) (through translator): They tried to attack us again 10 days ago. We were prepared, so they didn't reach their target.
WARD (voice-over): But they keep trying.
WARD: Is has control of the next village along, which is just over a mile in that direction. But the men at this base tell us that ISIS
fighters often go at night to that building just over there so that they can launch attacks on these positions.
WARD (voice-over): The U.S. hopes the YPG will soon move from defense to offense, taking the fight to ISIS' stronghold in Raqqa. But at
makeshift bases across the front line, the fighters we saw were lightly armed, poorly equipped and exhausted by months of fighting. Senior
Commander Lawand (ph) knows the battles ahead will be even tougher.
WARD: Can you take Raqqa without heavier weapons from the coalition?
SR. COMMANDER LAWAND (PH) (through translator): The weapons we have are not high quality. For this campaign, we'll need new heavy weapons.
WARD (voice-over): The most important weapon they do have but don't want to talk about is this device, which helps the YPG get exact
coordinates for enemy positions. Those coordinates are sent to a joint U.S.-Kurdish operations room and minutes later fighter jets come screaming
Rezan (ph) told us he was given a week of training before using the device.
WARD: Who trained you how to use this?
REZAN (PH) (through translator): Believe me, I can't say. When you finish the training, it's a secret. But they weren't speaking Kurdish.
WARD (voice-over): A mystery, as is so much of the unfolding U.S. strategy in this critical corner of Syria -- Clarissa Ward, CNN, Hasakah,
CURNOW: Well, we're going to hear much more from Clarissa later on in our broadcast. She'll join us from Iraq with the battle against ISIS
there. That's in about 30 minutes from now.
Now to that stern warning from China to the U.S., Beijing telling the U.S. military to stay out of what it claims are its territorial waters.
This dispute erupted --
CURNOW (voice-over): -- after a U.S. Navy warship sailed near a manmade Chinese island in the South China Sea. But as Jim Sciutto
explains, the U.S. believes it does nothing to violate international law.
JIM SCIUTTO, CNN CHIEF U.S. SECURITY CORRESPONDENT: The U.S. would like to make these trips routine to demonstrate that in their view these
are not Chinese waters, these are international waters; those manmade territories are not territory. They are illegal but they're seen as
anything by routine by China, the equivalent of sailing a Chinese navy ship within 12 miles of New York City, from their point of view.
And you had an angry reaction today. This is the second time this year the U.S. has delivered a message like this.
SCIUTTO (voice-over): You may remember in May, when we were in a spyplane, those pictures you're seeing right now are from that trip, over
those islands, to demonstrate from the U.S. perspective that the airspace over those islands is international as well.
And I'll tell you, the bridge of that U.S. Navy warship is likely to have gotten a warning like we got in the cockpit of that USPA Poseidon
spyplane. Listen to what we heard then.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Foreign military aircraft, this is Chinese navy. You are approaching our military alert zone. Leave immediately. You go!
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: This is the Chinese navy. This is the Chinese navy. Please go away quickly.
SCIUTTO: That very much a demonstration of how China sees these islands as their own. And I'll tell you today, I've seen a lot of messages
from the Chinese foreign ministry from Beijing, usually parsing words, but their reaction today did not parse words.
Here's what the Chinese foreign ministry had to say in reaction to this U.S. Navy ship sailing within those 12 miles.
It says, "If relevant parties insist on creating tensions in the region and making trouble out of nothing, it may force China to draw the
conclusion we need to strengthen and hasten the build-up of our relevant capabilities. I advise the U.S. not to create such a self-fulfilling
China there saying, in effect, they may have to militarize these islands more in response to the U.S. action.
CURNOW: Jim Sciutto reporting there.
Now the U.S. action comes after President Barack Obama and Chinese President Xi Jinping failed clearly to reach agreement on the South China
Sea during their meeting in Washington last month.
Well, now to the U.S. presidential race, where there's been a shift in support for the Republican nominee. Businessman Donald Trump is for the
first time since he entered the race no longer in first place nationwide.
In a new poll just released, neurosurgeon Ben Carson is now in the lead. CNN politics executive editor Mark Preston joins me now from
Hi, there, Mark.
This is really about Donald losing ground, isn't it?
MARK PRESTON, CNN POLITICAL DIRECTOR: No doubt. And this new national poll that was just released in the last few hours, Robyn, is not an
outlier. We can say that because we have seen similar polling out of the important state of Iowa. That is the first state here in the U.S. that
actually votes, where Ben Carson has gone in the lead in that race. Donald Trump is losing some ground.
And, yes, as you said, this is the first time Donald Trump in a national poll is no longer the leader. You have to wonder why is it.
Is it because of his bombastic comments?
Is it because of his lack of policy proposals?
Or is it because what we saw this past week, Robyn, he might be out of touch with the American people?
And when I say that, he talked about some of the struggles he had as a young man. One of those struggles was getting a $1 million loan from his
father that he had to pay back with interest. Not many people can say they can get that from their parents -- Robyn.
CURNOW: Yes, and he said it was a small loan, which I think really rubbed things in.
So with this whole Donald Trump few months we've had, the summer of Donald, one analyst I was listening to said this has been the primal scream
phase, the venting, the anti-politics but, really, that, come February, cooler heads will prevail.
PRESTON: Well, history shows that. And in many ways, if you're leading in the Republican primary at this time, you're not necessarily
going to be the eventual nominee.
We saw that back in 2011, when we had the likes of Herman Cain and Michele Bachmann, several others, Newt Gingrich. You haven't heard from
them anymore. Mitt Romney eventually went on to win it.
But there is something to be said about the anti-government, anti- Washington mood right now in the United States. You're seeing that from the likes of Donald Trump and Ben Carson, two outsiders who have never held
any government office or had any government experience that are now leading in the polls.
CURNOW: OK. So let's then talk about the next Republican debate. That's coming up.
A few of these players really need to pull a rabbit out of the hat, don't they? Jeb Bush in particular.
PRESTON: Jeb Bush in particular. And Carly Fiorina, the only woman right now who is seeking the GOP nomination. She did very well in the CNN
debate that was held back in September.
That helped -- vaulted her up in the polls. However, she has since fallen. Jeb Bush, as we've seen over the past week, there's a lot of --
PRESTON: -- concern within his campaign that he is not running a very efficient campaign, not a lot of enthusiasm. But I will tell you in this
debate tomorrow, a lot is on the line.
But there is something to be said about this national poll we've seen, Robyn. Only seven in 10 Americans are firm in who they're going to
support. It is very fluid and there's still a lot of road ahead.
CURNOW: OK, Mark Preston, thanks for the analysis. We're going to leave it at that. Thanks so much.
The death toll from Monday's powerful earthquake soars above 300 in Afghanistan and Pakistan. We'll update you on the rescue and relief
efforts. That's up next.
CURNOW: Welcome back.
Well, the Taliban say they won't stand in the way as aid agencies struggle to assess the damage from Monday's earthquake in North Afghanistan
and Pakistan. The death toll from the powerful quake has soared to 345 people and officials warn it could rise as rescue workers reach more remote
Saima Mohsin is tracking the rescue and relief effort. She joins me now from Bangkok.
You know this region very well. Hi, there, Saima.
Why would the Taliban make an announcement like this?
SAIMA MOHSIN, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Yes, it would seem incredibly bizarre, wouldn't it?
But, first of all, of course, Robyn, they're trying to make themselves be a part of the state, a part of the important machinery that speaks from
a position of gravitas and authority. They're trying to legitimize themselves as an entity in Afghanistan that is overlooking Afghanistan for
In a press release they released today, incredibly interesting how they're doing this, talking about how they are praying for all those killed
who they referred to as martyrs, how they want all their mujahedeen across Palestinian to go and help the people --
MOHSIN: --- who have been affected. This is an incredibly important part of that press release because I've known the Taliban both in
Afghanistan and Pakistan to do this at times of crisis.
Now back in 2010 when there was flooding and as far ago as 2005 in the last South Asian quake, it was members of the Taliban who were amongst the
first in the remote areas where, of course, a lot of rescue workers couldn't get to, they were setting up soup kitchens, handing out tents,
It's their way of not only legitimizing themselves but trying to get people on board and gain support. It's incredibly worrying. That's why
people need to get to those remote areas very quickly -- Robyn.
CURNOW: Fascinating. Also, though, with that in mind, bad weather threatening survivors not just in the coming days but the coming weeks, the
coming months. Winter is around the corner.
MOHSIN: Yes, and that's a huge worry. First of all, not even knowing where those people who are injured or have been killed or might still be
trapped, Robyn, in those mountains and valleys.
Where are they?
How can they be located?
A lot of the roads you and I have been discussing since the earthquake struck have been blocked by glacial falls, avalanches, landslides.
People have been posting pictures across social media, sending them to me on Twitter and Facebook of huge boulders coming down and hitting their
cars, blocking the roads. People can't get to them. And then, of course, as you say, winter is coming.
In fact, in many areas, winter is there already. There is snowfall already. An of course in the north of Pakistan, we always think of
Pakistan and Afghanistan as very hot countries but actually the mountainous areas are incredibly cold. Temperatures drop below freezing. There is
And people are scared to sleep in their homes. Therefore, they're sleeping in the outside. That's why people like Oxfam and groups like
Oxfam are saying that they really need to get to them and give them help -- Robyn.
CURNOW: OK. Saima Mohsin, huge humanitarian concerns there. Thanks very much.
Well, you're at the INTERNATIONAL DESK. Still ahead, another shocking video. This time shot in a classroom. Again, raises the issue of police
brutality in the U.S. We'll have details and reaction. Stay with us.
CURNOW: Once again there's disturbing cell phone footage of what appears to be heavy-handed policing in the U.S. Often these videos go
viral, giving the public a first-hand view of incidents that would otherwise not be seen.
Now the latest footage shot in a South Carolina classroom shows a law enforcement officer manhandling a student. CNN's Jason Carroll has the
story that has touched a nerve again.
BEN FIELDS, SOUTH CAROLINA SHERIFF'S DEPUTY: Are you going to come with me or am I going to make you?
JASON CARROLL, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): South Carolina sheriff's deputy Ben Fields, seen here, is on administrative duty this
morning after his violent takedown of a high school student was caught on camera Monday afternoon.
You can see the sheriffs deputy tossing a female student to the ground after she refused to get up from her desk, then throwing her across the
FIELDS: In behind your back, give me your hands. Give me your hands.
LIEUTENANT CURTIS WILSON, RICHLAND COUNTY SHERIFF'S DEPARTMENT: We don't want everyone to rush to judgment but we also feel that the video was
very, very disturbing.
CARROLL (voice-over): According to police, the Richland County student was asked to leave the classroom. When she refused, Fields was
called in to arrest her for disturbing class.
School officials say the video is, quote, "extremely disturbing" and has "banned the deputy" from all district schools pending an investigation.
The sheriff's department, who's also looking into the matter, says it's still unclear what happened before the camera started rolling.
WILSON: We'll have to look at this in its totality to understand what happened.
Is this a pattern?
Is this something that he's done before?
CARROLL (voice-over): The deputy has been the subject of two lawsuits in the last 10 years. In 2007, a couple claimed he used excessive force in
questioning them about a noise complaint. The husband says Fields slammed him to the ground, cuffed him and began kicking him. But the jury ruled in
Fields' favor in 2010.
In 2013, a student claimed Fields falsely accused the teen of being involved in a gang, the school expelling him. That lawsuit is ongoing.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: When you see a video like what we've seen earlier today, it certainly alarms you and it makes you a little bit afraid of
what's actually happening within our schools.
CARROLL (voice-over): The deputy has been working for the school district for seven years and was recently awarded the Culture of Excellence
Award in 2014 for proving to be what they say was an exceptional role model to the students.
CURNOW: Well, these types of incidents could be having an impact on the number of future police officers. Major cities across the U.S. are
reporting double-digit declines in police department applications.
CNN's Kyung Lah has that story.
KYUNG LAH, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): The Los Angeles Police Academy, where the next generation of cops learn how and when to fire.
High-speed pursuit tactics --
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Go ahead and cuff him up.
LAH (voice-over): -- and takedown moves on armed suspects.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Suspect, put your hands up.
LAH (voice-over): A tough job, yet recruit officer Asia Hardy longs to wear the badge, even if others around her don't support her career
ASIA HARDY, LAPD RECRUIT OFFICER: I think that it's not as easy for the -- you know for our family members or friends to actually accept the
profession that we're going into just because of the perception that African Americans have towards law enforcement.
LAH (voice-over): A perception affected by high-profile officer- involved shootings from Ferguson, Missouri, to North Charleston, South Carolina, to Cincinnati, Ohio.
Outrage leading to high-profile targeted killings of police officers. The fallout seen across the country as police departments struggle to
attract new officers.
In Philadelphia, the number of police recruits has dropped 47 percent in 2014 compared to 2008. Since 2013, New York, the country's biggest
police force, applications are down 18 percent. In Los Angeles, 16 percent.
Lieutenant Aaron McCraney joined the LAPD at another tough time for cops, the Rodney King era. He's now in charge of trying to convince future
cops to join.
LAH: When you go out and talk to recruits, potential recruits --
LAH: -- are you hearing them mention news events?
LIEUTENANT AARON MCCRANEY, LAPD RECRUITMENT SECTION: Sure. It's one of the first questions they want to know.
OK, why should I be a police officer when all these bad things are going on?
Why should I put myself at risk?
LAH (voice-over): Coupled with relatively low pay and tough entrance standards and that chance that they could be hurt or killed, this is a hard
sell, especially for women and minorities.
But not for Asia Hardy. She wants to improve not just her community but how others view her and her brothers in blue.
HARDY: Despite all of the backlash that law enforcement is getting, this is a personal choice of mine. This is my passion. So I'm just moving
forward with it, despite everything that's happening right now.
LAH: A number of the police departments we spoke with say it's not just public perception affecting the applications. It's also the job
market as well as the economy. They say these things are cyclical and they hope this is the bottom -- Kyung Lah, CNN, Los Angeles.
CURNOW: Additionally, FBI director James Comey has thrown his weight behind the idea that the fact some U.S. cities are seeing a surge in
violent crime is partly because of growing restraint by police officers, who are holding back on making arrests because they're under such intense
scrutiny and increased criticism.
A debate about policing techniques and crime that really continues here in the U.S.
Well, this is the INTERNATIONAL DESK. Ahead, CNN on the front lines of the war in Syria. Correspondent Clarissa Ward will tell us what she saw
there. That's next in a live report.
CURNOW: Welcome back to the INTERNATIONAL DESK. I'm Robyn Curnow at the CNN Center. Here's a check of the headlines.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
CURNOW (voice-over): China has issued a stern warning to the U.S. after it says a U.S. Navy warship illegally entered Chinese waters. The
U.S. ship came within about 20 kilometers of a manmade Chinese island in the disputed South China Sea. The U.S. says since the island was created
artificially, its ship did not breach international law.
A new poll shows Ben Carson has surged ahead of Donald Trump in the Republican U.S. presidential race. The CBS "New York Times" poll has the
retired neurosurgeon with a 4-point lead over Trump. It comes just days after another poll showed Carson leading Trump in the key state of Iowa.
The U.S. is considering stepping up its role against ISIS. According to "The Washington Post," one plan would put special operations forces on
the ground in Syria and put advisers closer to the battle in Iraq. The final decision would have to be made by President Barack Obama.
Earlier on in the show, we heard from our senior international correspondent, Clarissa Ward, on the front lines in Northern Syria. She
brought us the scene as Kurdish fighters prepared for a U.S.-backed offensive towards ISIS strongholds. Clarissa has a first-hand
understanding of what a change in U.S. strategy would mean. She joins us now from Northern Iraq.
Hi, there, Clarissa. You're back in Erbil.
What do you think are the implications of more U.S. engagement in the region, particularly putting U.S. troops closer to front lines?
WARD: Well, Robyn, I think it really depends what specific type of engagement we're talking about because certainly the Kurds who are fighting
ISIS on the front lines in Northern Syria that we just spent time with, they would very much like to see more U.S. support in the form of heavier
weapons, armor-piercing weapons.
But you won't hear them calling for the U.S. to join them on the front lines. That's partly because they're proud people but, primarily, I think
it's because they're concerned that, fighting alongside America, having U.S. troops on ground, on the front lines will only invite more attacks,
particularly from the Islamist groups that are operating inside Syria.
And I would say that's a theme you're hearing among a lot of different factions here in Iraq and also in Syria with regards to American
Yes, please, to your heavier weapons. Yes, please, to your superior technology. Yes, please, to your air support. But no, thank you, to boots
on the ground.
CURNOW: So also then from an American perspective, why are they being so circumspect, so reluctant to show their hand in terms of the support
they're really giving on the ground?
WARD: Well, when it comes to the YPG, the U.S. is walking a very difficult balancing act with Turkey because the YPG is very closely
enmeshed with its Turkish counterpart, which is the PKK. The PKK is designated a terrorist group and Turkey considers it to be the primary
domestic threat that Turkey faces.
So essentially the U.S. really trying to balance between pursuing a policy in Syria that it thinks gives it a better chance of defeating ISIS
but also not destroying the very important diplomatic relationship that it has with Turkey.
CURNOW: All of this also focused -- perhaps the next focus -- is some sort of push, some sort of offensive on Raqqa.
WARD: Well, that's what everybody is talking about. But I have to tell you, Robyn, from what we saw on the ground, that just does not seem
possible any time in the near future primarily because the Kurdish YPG fighters don't really have the ability to pull off an operation like that.
They're exhausted from months of fighting. They're poorly equipped. They're lightly armed.
But also, it's not clear necessarily that they even have the political will because what's important to remember is that victories against ISIS
that the YPG has achieved have been in Kurdish areas.
Raqqa is not a Kurdish area. It's an Arab area. It's very much unclear how Arabs living in Raqqa, even if they don't support ISIS, how
they would feel about Kurdish fighters coming in there on some sort of a large-scale offensive. So still a big question mark hanging over that.
CURNOW: OK. So the politics, the military angle here but we've seen also the dire humanitarian costs of the conflict.
What did you see when you were in Northeast Syria?
Particularly when it came to the number of people who were there.
What did the landscape look like?
WARD: Well, I tell you what was so striking --
WARD: -- Robyn, is that this area, which is an area to be celebrated essentially, these are victories against ISIS but it doesn't look or feel
like victory on the ground. There is nothing but devastation, partly because ISIS, when it beats a hasty retreat, it makes sure to plant booby
traps and land mines and leave car bombs all around.
But also, the coalition airstrikes have done an enormous amount of damage. Neighborhoods have been flattened by these airstrikes. And the
end result is there are entire villages that are now completely abandoned, completely deserted.
We would drive for miles along some roads and not see another human being. And it's just not clear where those people are now.
CURNOW: Yes, I think many of them are in Germany or trying to get there.
Clarissa Ward, thank you very, very much. Appreciate you joining us here at the IDESK. Great reporting, thanks.
Well, you're at the INTERNATIONAL DESK. Still to come, with Apple about to weigh in on earnings, we'll look at whether its music streaming
service is hitting a high note. Stay with us.
CURNOW: Welcome back. Apple is set to report its latest quarterly results after the markets close. Now the tech sector has been doing well
with strong showings from Microsoft and others.
Investors, though, will no doubt be watching iPhone sales but they'll also be concerned about the company's other ventures as well, including its
music streaming service.
Samuel Burke looks at how Apple Music is doing.
SAMUEL BURKE, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): From the phonograph to the compact disc and the download, Apple believes its streaming service is
the next big thing in the evolution of music.
TIM COOK, CEO, APPLE: Today we're announcing Apple Music.
BURKE (voice-over): Apple Music launched in June. Of the 11 million people who signed up for an initial three-month trial, only 6.5 million
became paying customers.
Still, some Apple watchers are calling the rollout a success.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I think it's a home run out of the gate with the 6.5 million number they came out with. We were looking for 5 million. I
think a year from now Spotify is looking over their shoulders, as Apple tries to replace them as the market share leader.
BURKE (voice-over): That may be optimistic. Spotify has more than --
BURKE (voice-over): -- 20 million paying customers and tens of millions of other users who could convert to a paid subscription. But
Apple does have a secret weapon: The iPhone.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Start by opening the music app.
BURKE (voice-over): New models come with Apple Music preinstalled. And if Apple can convert only a fraction of those customers to Apple Music,
it could dominate over time and strengthen its brand.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I think Apple could care less about making money on this, to be honest. I think they just want to keep people in their
ecosystem, whether it's Apple Pay, whether it Apple TV. It all connects. And that's why this is very, very important.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: By combining the catalog of the world's music --
BURKE (voice-over): Streaming remains an intensely competitive business. In addition to Spotify, there's Rdio, soon-to-be-public Deezer
and Jay Z's fledgling Tidal, which just crossed the 1 million paid subscribers' mark.
But Apple has the deepest pockets in tech and its plans for streaming don't end with the music.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Apple Music is key to the whole ecosystem because when you think about Apple TV, that really now gives them the entree to get
further into the consumer living room. And that's really the vision for Apple here. It's going from iTunes to streaming music to streaming TV.
BURKE (voice-over): In the words of Taylor Swift, whose 1989 album streams exclusively on Apple Music, this new service could one day surpass
Tim Cook's wildest dreams.
CURNOW: Samuel had to throw in a bit of Taylor Swift there, didn't he?
Well, that does it for us here at the INTERNATIONAL DESK. I'm Robyn Curnow. Don't go anywhere. WORLD SPORT with Rhiannon Jones is up next.