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China Ends Controversial One Child Policy; Diplomats Search for Way to End Syrian Civil War; ISIS Holding Large Parts of Syria and Iraq; Jailed Saudi Blogger Wins Human Rights Award; Eco-Police Raid Illegal Loggers and Miners; Paul Ryan Elected as New House Speaker; Candidates Square Off in Third U.S. Republican Debate; Prince Harry Promotes Invictus Games. Aired 10-11a ET

Aired October 29, 2015 - 10:00   ET




ROBYN CURNOW, CNN HOST: Hi, there, everyone, welcome to the INTERNATIONAL DESK. I'm Robyn Curnow at the CNN Center.

Our top story this hour, a major policy and cultural change in China as Beijing ends its controversial one child rule.

According to the state-run Xinhua news agency, Beijing says it's proactively responding to an aging population and implementing a one-

couple, two-children rule.

The Chinese government says the country could have the most elderly population on the planet in just 15 years.

Kristie Lu Stout joins us now from Hong Kong.

Hi, there, Kristie. Now this is a policy Chinese families have been struggling with for decades; it's impacted millions of children.

I want you to listen to part of a piece our Will Ripley did a little earlier on this year about one orphanage in China. I want to get your

reaction at the end of it. Take a listen.


WILL RIPLEY, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): The oldest of 23 orphans at Alina's home in Beijing, Zha Zha is the de facto big brother. No parents



RIPLEY (voice-over): Only staff and volunteers like Canadian missionary Christina Weaver.

CHRISTINA WEAVER, CANADIAN MISSIONARY: They don't deserve this kind of life.

RIPLEY (voice-over): China's hundreds of foster homes are no longer full of healthy girls, as they were at the height of the one child policy.

Today, nearly all of China's unwanted children have disabilities.

WEAVER: When I look in their eyes, I see stories, I see sadness, I see hurt.

RIPLEY (voice-over): Despite rapid economic growth, welfare experts say the world's second largest economy lacks an adequate social safety net,

resulting in hundreds of thousands of orphans.

RIPLEY: How big is this problem?

WEAVER: It's huge.


CURNOW: It's huge.

So will this have an immediate impact on the number of children who have been given up or abandoned?

KRISTIE LU STOUT, CNN ANCHOR: Robyn, I'm afraid it won't. Maybe a few of these children have been abandoned due to the harsh enforcement of the one-

child policy which has just been scrapped.

But a vast number of these children, as you heard Will report just then, they have been given up because of a lack of a social safety net in China.

This is something that the end of the one-child policy is not going to change.

In China, you have a lack of a social safety net, lack of care for children with disabilities and the cost of living is getting higher and higher. The

rich-poor gap in China is widening, a major issue facing the country. And I'm afraid that those heartbreaking scenes that you're seeing in Will's

report aren't going away anytime soon.

CURNOW: Indeed. And CNN's covered the story exclusively. I want to show you another CNN report, this time by David McKenzie, really pointing to the

issue you're alluding to, that families who do want another child just can't afford it.


DAVID MCKENZIE, CNN CORRESPONDENT: They should be ideal candidates. But housing in Beijing is costly. And they say China is too competitive, good

schools, too expensive to even contemplate a second child.

"Money is only part of the problem," she says. "Your energy and your time is also important. We both have to work. It's hard enough to raise her as

a success. It will be miserable if we have to go through that again."


CURNOW: So again, pointing to larger struggles around the economy.

STOUT: Absolutely. It has become just too expensive for many couples in China to have multiple children, one because of a lack of a social safety

net they have to rely on their own earning power and their own earning potential to look after themselves, their children and their parents as


And the economy, Robyn, is the reason why China is ending the one-child policy. China's demographics have changed incredibly since it first

implemented the policy 30 years ago. It's now become an aging population. That means a graying workforce.

So what Beijing is trying to achieve here is to have a younger, revitalized workforce, especially now during a slowing economy. But, Robyn, let's be

very clear here; the end of the one-child policy does not mean that China's population control measures are over. There's a new policy. It's called

one-couple, two-children. And the party has said that it will uphold this basic national policy of population control. Back to you.

CURNOW: OK. Thanks so much, Kristie Lu Stout there, coming to us from Hong Kong. Appreciate it. Thanks.

Now to Vienna, where foreign ministers from several countries are trying to end the war in Syria. Western powers are pushing for a way forward without

President Bashar al- Assad. But two of his biggest supporters will be there, Russia and, for the first time, Iran.

Our Fred Pleitgen joins us now live from Vienna.

Hi, there, Fred. One analyst we spoke to said that there is actually a common agenda here, that this is about setting up some sort of realistic

timetable for Assad to go eventually.


PLEITGEN: That's going to be the very big question. It's not clear whether or not Russia and especially Iran are going to play along with such

an agenda. But it's certainly something that all these sides will scope out. The big thing about this meeting that's taking place here is the fact

that for the very first time, Iran is participating in the meeting.

And I think that this meeting probably would be considered a success if it doesn't fall apart within the first couple of hours of all these countries

getting together.

We know the Saudis have been very pessimistic about bringing the Iranians on board, have been highly critical of that move, saying all they want to

see at this meeting here is whether or not the Iranians are serious about trying to find a way forward.

However, Secretary of State John Kerry has said he believes it's very important for the Iranians to be on board simply because both the Russians

and the Iranians have significantly increased their support for Bashar al- Assad, for the Syrian forces there, who are fighting the civil war.

So certainly it is for the very first time in a long time, and all diplomats have said this, somewhat of a promising meeting that could lead

to at least some sort of forward progress on the agenda.

Whether or not in the end this will mean a transition away from Bashar al- Assad, whether they'll come up with some sort of timetable, whether there will be any agreement at all is still something that's still very much up

for grabs.

However, the diplomats are descending on Vienna. We know that already today there will be meetings between Secretary of State Kerry as well as

the Iranian foreign minister, Javad Zarif, also between Sergey Lavrov and various other foreign ministers.

So they certainly are trying to make headway. But the various parties that are involved in all this, as I said, the Turks, the Saudis, the U.S. on the

one side and the Iranians and the Russians on the other side, they're still quite far apart on many of the issues that have been talked about over the

past couple of months, Robyn.

CURNOW: We're obviously focusing on the role of Iran at the table but also Russia very much a player here.

PLEITGEN: Yes. Certainly. Russia is probably one of the main reasons why this meeting came into being in the constellation that we're seeing right

now why the Iranians, for instance, have been invited, why many of the parties involved in this process for such a very long time -- the civil war

has been going on since 2011 -- why all of them now have this increased urgency to try to bring about some sort of solution. The Russians have

been interesting in the statements they've been making. They've stepped up their airstrikes in Syria, drawing a lot of criticism from the United

States, from some other countries as well.

But they've also said that they are not necessarily tied to Bashar al- Assad. They said they want to see if there could be a transition there. Whether or not Assad is part of that, they don't know. They always have

that very statement in the sentence, that you hear from Syria and Lavrov, that it needs to be up to the Syrian people to decide who's going to lead

them in the future.

We'll wait to see whether or not all these powers can come together and find a common solution and see if there will be that sort of transition.

But the Russians very much in a very strong position here at these negotiations, playing a key role.

There is also going to be a meeting between Sergey Lavrov and Secretary of State Kerry, where they are going to try and align their positions to the

extent they can -- Robyn.

CURNOW: Interesting. Fascinating diplomatic political theater going on. Thanks so much as always, Fred Pleitgen.

Just ahead here at the INTERNATIONAL DESK, the rise of ISIS and its future in Syria and Iraq. Stay with us for live analysis.





CURNOW: The ISIS threat to Britain has never been higher and there's no end in sight. That's coming from the U.K. domestic security chief, Andrew


Parker says plots against the U.K. are increasingly being directed by militants in Syria via the Internet. His comments come ahead of a draft

bill on beefing up communication surveillance and after more than 750 Britons traveled to Syria to support ISIS.

Let's get some analysis on this. Joby Warrick is a national security reporter for "The Washington Post" and author of "Black Flags," a

fascinating book on the rise of ISIS. He joins us from Washington.

Thanks for joining us here at the IDESK.

Just how capable is ISIS, particularly with regard to this external threat that MI-5 is warning about?

JOBY WARRICK, "THE WASHINGTON POST": Yes, the semi threat that MI-5 just did is really interesting and very serious but of course Britain's not the

only one with this problem; 700 Britons have traveled to Syria or Iraq to join ISIS. But there have been a similar migrations from Germany, from

France, from other countries, including the United States.

You've got this perennial problem of people traveling back to their homelands perhaps to do attacks at home but also this much larger problem

of others who are inspired by ISIS propaganda and who would like to do the same thing without necessarily being coordinated or trained.

CURNOW: But what is important here, ahead of MI-5 saying the threat to Britain has never been higher. And as you said, this is a concern

elsewhere. The fact is that these threats are being coordinated via the Internet from Syria. It's very murky.

WARRICK: It is very murky. But there's no question that ISIS has capabilities that other groups have not. I think you can compare them with

Al Qaeda in its heyday and maybe more ominous than that.

This is an organization that has vast resources to the degree no other terror organization has ever had. They command not only a safe haven, a

sanctuary but incredible amounts of wealth, money, weapons. So they have the command and control apparatus to sponsor a big plot.

CURNOW: Indeed in the sort of pseudo-state.

But let's talk then about Syria and Iraq.

How capable is ISIS within their so-called Islamic State?

Have airstrikes been successful?

Have they worked?

WARRICK: It's truly interesting to see in some areas in Aleppo and places -- cities where the Russians are helping with an offensive, some of the

rebels are being driven back.

But ISIS has reaped benefits from some of this because they've been able to broaden control over some of the supply lines; they're able to control

larger amounts of their territory. They've been able to gain ground from some of the rebel groups beaten back in other areas.

So it's not clear that they've been hurt by this offensive. It's early on. There's talk of pressure from other forces, from Kurdish groups and Syrian

Arabs coming against them specifically. We haven't seen them losing significant ground in a significant way so far.

CURNOW: At the moment, is it about containment?

WARRICK: I think a lot of the regional leaders look at this as a long-term containment issue. The big cities where they're entrenched right now

particularly Raqqa but also some of this, the Iraqi cities, Ramadi and Mosul, this is going to be a really difficult challenge to dislodge ISIS,

not because they have great local support as they during the 2000s when Zarqawi was running the organization, but they're just so well entrenched

and they're so powerful and they --


WARRICK: -- also have the local populations completely cowed. No one wants to stand up to them.

CURNOW: Nobody wants to stand up to them. You mentioned Zarqawi and his brutality, which still is very much inspired by him.

What is the way out here?

Communities are not going to rise up because they are so cowed and brutalized.

Is the only solution an outside kind of beating-down in a way?

What's happening in Vienna, for example?

WARRICK: Exactly. That's really an interesting soup right now. It's interesting you have the powers together finally that could broker a deal

with the Iranians at the table, the Russians and the Americans at the table.

But at the same time, you've got efforts on the ground that are working against a settlement. The more the Russians become involved in fighting

rebels, the less likely some of the moderate rebel groups will want to sit at the peace table and make a deal. They certainly aren't going to make a

deal with Assad still at the table.

So is there a diplomatic solution? That's the easy way out. But I'm not sure we're moving closer in that direction right now.

CURNOW: OK. Your book was fascinating. What was so insightful was the role of Zarqawi and how ISIS in a way was generated in this very remote

prison in Jordan. Give us some sense of the beginnings of this organization that really has changed the face of terror in a way.

WARRICK: People think of this as like an epidemic that came out of nowhere. But like every epidemic, there are root causes that go back

sometimes for years. That's the case with ISIS.

They called themselves by different names in the 2000s. It was Al Qaeda in Iraq, but the inspiring figure, the transformational figure behind this all

was this guy named Zarqawi, a terrorist from Jordan, who had this crazy idea that don't wait for some future day to create a caliphate. Do it

right now. Declare it and people will come to you.

So he did that. He also pioneered this idea of using the Internet to put out these vicious, horrible images that we now see all the time with ISIS.

This is the man that first captured an American civilian in Iraq and literally, physically with his own hands, cut the man's head off and posted

the images all around the world.

It offended and shocked most of us but it also radicalized, excited his base. These people that came to help him fight, they gave him money and

weapons. ISIS uses the same model today.

CURNOW: Indeed. And how do you fight that?

Joby Warrick, thanks so much, author of "Black Flags," thanks so much for joining us. Fascinating --

WARRICK: Good to be with you.

CURNOW: A jailed Saudi blogger lashed for insulting Islam wins a prestigious human rights prize. What his wife had to say about the award.

That's next on the IDESK.





CURNOW: A jailed Saudi blogger lashed for insulting Islam has won the prestigious Sakharov Prize for Human Rights from the European parliament.

The president of the parliament urged the Saudi King to release Raif Badawi immediately so he can accept the award.

I got reaction from Badawi's wife earlier today. She told me she hopes the award leads to her husband's freedom, saying the award has, quote, "huge

positive impact not only for Raif but also for all."

I also interviewed Ensaf Haidar back in September when she was lobbying for her husband's release in Washington. Take a listen.


CURNOW: What is your message?

What is his message?

Why are you in Washington?

What are you trying to achieve?

ENSAF HAIDAR, WIFE OF RAIF BADAWI (through translator): My message to Washington and the whole world is to support Raif's case and to demand his

release because, overall, Raif is a peaceful man. He did nothing but express his opinion in a peaceful way, in a different way.

I hope governments from around the world intervene in his case.


CURNOW: Previous winners of the prize include Nelson Mandela, Aung San Suu Kyi and Malala Yousafzai.



CURNOW: Burning rain forests are responsible for as much as a fifth of the greenhouse gas emissions each year. Over the past decade, Brazil has

reined that in by designating some rain forests as national parks.

But some loggers, ranchers and miners are just ignoring the rules. CNN's Shasta Darlington joined eco-police on a mission to stop illegal

deforestation. Here's her exclusive report.


SHASTA DARLINGTON, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Lying low over the Amazon rain forest with agents from Brazil's IBAMA environmental police.

We zero in on the target, the turquoise waters of an illegal gold mine, carved into the heart of the jungle.

First chopper down. Now the hunt is on.

We follow as IBAMA agents search the camp, prepared for retaliation. They arrest the leader of the mine and seize weapons.

DARLINGTON: The first helicopter came down with a number of men armed. They came out, secured the area and make sure nobody else here had any

weapons that they were pointing at the helicopter, something that has happened in the past. Now it seems to be fairly under control.

DARLINGTON (voice-over): The man in charge, shows us the precarious tent they all share.

"I know we're destroying the trees," he says, "but, unfortunately, it's the only way for those of us who live here and don't have jobs or studies."

He says the gold they have mined is barely enough to survive on. But the excavator he bought is worth over $100,000. IBAMA agents say it's big

business, tearing up the rain forest, contaminating rivers for generations to come.

"We're fighting a war," he says, "a war to protect the environment in Brazil."

They destroy the camp although the workers were set free.

And we head back to the base to gear up for a night raid on illegal loggers led by a 32-year old, known by her many enemies as the Blonde Devil.

"They're hauling out 19 trucks a day from indigenous territory," she says. "They're stealing from the country and it's our job to stop them."

The first truck takes them by surprise. State agents shoot at the engine to stop it. Then the first arrest of the night. Agents now hunker down

and wait.

DARLINGTON: We're waiting for a second logging truck. But in the meantime we've heard on the radio that the order has been --


DARLINGTON: -- given to run over anybody who gets in their way.

DARLINGTON (voice-over): But the next series of trucks are halted at the barricades without confrontation. More arrests follow.

DARLINGTON: The operation has just come to an end. They managed to get five trucks. If you can come along here with me, I know it's really hard

to see because it's dark, but these are absolutely enormous logs. They've come from an indigenous territory about 15 kilometers away. And they go

for thousands on the retail market.

DARLINGTON (voice-over): Overwhelmed and underfunded, the eco-police then use one of the few effective tools they have. They torch it all the

illegal logs, trucks included and take a few minutes to savor their small victory in a very long ecological war -- Shasta Darlington, CNN, Novo

Progresso, Brazil.


CURNOW: Great piece there by Shasta.

It's just 2 degrees; a special section of our website looks at the huge impact that small change can bring. Take a quiz to see how much you know

about climate change and find out why beef is one of the major contributors and tell us what you want us to cover. It's all at

You're at the INTERNATIONAL DESK. Still ahead we'll have the winners and losers from the latest U.S. Republican presidential debate.

Also ahead, Prince Harry visits the U.S. to talk about wounded warriors on both sides of the Atlantic. Stick around.





CURNOW: Welcome to the INTERNATIONAL DESK. I'm Robyn Curnow. Here's a check of the headlines.


CURNOW (voice-over): China has ended its controversial one-child policy. The state-run Xinhua news agency says Beijing will now allow every couple

to have two children. The one-child rule was put in place in the 1970s to control population growth. It led to abortions, heavy fines and forced


U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry is among diplomats meeting in Vienna to find a way to end the war in Syria. Western powers are pushing for a

future without President Bashar al-Assad. But two of his biggest supporters will be there, Russia and, for the first time, Iran.

A jailed Saudi blogger lashed for insulting Islam has won the prestigious Sakharov Prize for Human Rights from the European parliament. The

president of the parliament has urged the Saudi King Salman to release Raif Badawi immediately so he can accept the award.


CURNOW: The U.S. House of Representatives is in the process of choosing a new Speaker. The announcement that Republican Paul Ryan has been elected

to the powerful leadership post is expected shortly. It comes after weeks of infighting in the wake of Speaker John Boehner's sudden retirement


Boehner is saying his farewells and reflecting on one of the secrets to his tenure -- patience. Take a listen.


JOHN BOEHNER, SPEAKER OF THE HOUSE: Real change takes time. Yes, freedom makes all things possible but patience is what makes all things real.

CURNOW (voice-over): Ryan will face a divided Republican Party and a plate full of highly contentious issues.


CURNOW: Speaking of the Republicans, amidst all of this, the party's presidential candidates squared off in their third debate Wednesday night.

Now there were also some contentious exchanges there, also some of the fire was aimed at the moderators.

Let's bring in CNN politics executive editor, Mark Preston for post-debate analysis.

Two words: Jeb Bush.

MARK PRESTON, CNN POLITICAL DIRECTOR: Yes, two words. Jeb Bush, who was trying to pick up the pieces of his campaign and for our international

viewers who didn't see this debate last night, it was a slugfest. In many ways it wasn't even a debate. It was a fight between the candidates and,

in many ways, it was a fight between the candidates against the media.

But Jeb Bush, who really needed a strong, strong showing, Robyn, did terrible last night. He was not able to effectively deliver his message

and when he did try to criticize his one-time protege, Marco Rubio, he failed miserably.

Rubio, on the other side, though, did very well last night. It's ironic we're seeing Paul Ryan who is now going to be third in line for the

presidency ascending to the Speaker of the House. A lot of people think that Ryan and in some ways Rubio may be the future of the Republican Party.

CURNOW: Indeed. I was going to ask you. Tell us a bit about Marco Rubio because Democrats I've spoken to are worried about him in terms of him

being the ticket against a possible Hillary Clinton candidacy.

PRESTON: They are. And they're worried for a couple of reasons. He really has a rags-to-riches story. He is in his mid-40s right now. His

parents were Cuban refugees. They came over; his father was a bartender. I believe his mother cleaned hotel rooms.

He is somebody who has fought against the Republican establishment. When he ran for the U.S. Senate in 2010, he took on the very popular Florida

governor, a Republican that many people thought would have run for president himself one day. Republicans did not want Marco Rubio to do


What happened?

Marco Rubio won. That governor of Florida right now is now a Democrat. No longer a Republican.

Rubio is a fighter. He was well-prepared last night. A lot of people think that his ethnicity, his ability to reach out to Latino voters, could

help the Republican Party grow at a time when there's a lot of criticism amongst Republicans reaching out to minority groups.

CURNOW: Focus on those two, but also a lot of noise, of course, we've spoken about it lot, you and I, Mark, coming from Donald Trump in the last

100 days or so.

Tell us about him and Ben Carson.

What happened there?

PRESTON: Can I say this, Robyn? Please don't laugh. Donald Trump, not talking a lot last night, might have been his best political strategy.

Trump has risen to the top of the polls, Robyn, as we know by being bombastic and being -- criticizing his rivals.

Last night, the spotlight wasn't on Donald Trump. The spotlight really was turned on the moderators and the network that was airing the debate. But

at the same time, it was focused across the span of the stage.

While Donald Trump did offer some zingers and did OK, he was --


PRESTON: -- quiet largely.

Ben Carson, on the other hand, again, did what Ben Carson does. He is a surgeon. He's very quiet. He didn't say a whole lot during the debate.

And we were tipped off right at the top of the debate, when Ben Carson told the moderators, I'm not going to attack anybody on stage tonight. Really

set the tone for Ben Carson's debate.

CURNOW: Either way, fascinating because we wonder if this is the tipping point in whether this conversation or this road has changed direction.

We'll come back to you. There's lots to talk about in the coming months ahead. Mark Preston from Washington, thank you.

PRESTON: Thanks so much.

CURNOW: Still to come at the INTERNATIONAL DESK, Prince Harry charms the audience as he visits the U.S. to promote his Invictus Games for wounded





CURNOW: Welcome back, everyone.

Now Prince Harry has wrapped up a short visit to the U.S. to promote his Invictus Games.


CURNOW (voice-over): On Wednesday, Harry was joined by first lady, Michelle Obama, and the vice president's wife, Jill Biden, at a military

base in Virginia, where they watched wounded veterans play a wheelchair basketball game.

Harry served two tours in Afghanistan and said the experience changed the direction of his life. He started the Invictus Games last year in London

after seeing the American Warrior Games.

The 2016 Invictus Games will be played in Florida.


CURNOW: I want to bring in Emily Heil, reporter for "The Washington Post" and she joins us from Washington.

You've been charting his visit.

What was clear was that this wasn't the party prince, was it? This was anything but wild, said the headline in your piece in "The Washington


EMILY HEIL, "THE WASHINGTON POST": Exactly. We were hoping to see that roguish Harry that we've seen in the tabloids at pubs or at clubs. But

this was a ceremonial Harry. He was very charming and there were a few light moments with the first lady. There was a little bit of playful

interaction when they were kind of talking about -- he said the U.S. better bring it at the games.

But in general, he was a very sort of ceremonial prince. And did a very sort of dignified job visiting with the wounded warriors at Fort Belvoir,

which is the military base in Virginia.

Later in the afternoon, he was at the British ambassador's residence for a meeting of the Invictus board.


HEIL: And then went to the White House for a visit with President Obama in the Oval Office. And the two of them chatted. But there were moments of

levity. But in general, he was sort of a dignified prince.

CURNOW: Indeed. I think it was his first trip to the Oval Office to visit President Obama. What's clear is that he really made a point of explaining

just how his tours in Afghanistan had impacted his life.

Did that resonate deeply with those who listened to him?

HEIL: I think so. Twice yesterday he told a story about how he came to launch the Invictus Games and it was very powerful and I think really did

connect with the audience.

He talked about coming home from a tour, from Afghanistan, with the body of a Danish fighter and with several British soldiers, who were in medically

induced comas and he was riding with their bodies back home.

And he said, at that moment, that was the moment that he really knew he had to do something for the men and women who were returning home. And it was

a very powerful story and I think really explained his passion for the cause and also the genesis of this Invictus Games, which encourages sport.

And he also told a story at the British ambassador's residence at a reception yesterday that was very touching. It was about the wife of a

participant, a U.S. competitor to the games, who wrote to the organizers, saying this was the first time I saw my husband smile, was when he was


And so it gives these wounded vets, these men and women returning home, something to focus on, something to take them away from the scars that

they've brought back with them.

CURNOW: Indeed. I've covered Harry when he's been at his HIV/AIDS charity in Lesotho and what's clear about it is that he seems to be embracing these

big issues, whether it's HIV or wounded veterans, perhaps in the same was as his mother, Diana, embraced the land mine issue.

HEIL: Yes. And I think this is a prince, a young prince. He's only 31, sort of finding his role in the world and what will be the cause that he

devotes his life to.

I think we're seeing some of that now. Yes, we can see the roguish Harry peek through every now and then and, of course, I think he'll be the

subject of tabloid headlines and we want to know about his beard, frankly. I saw it up close and it's pretty magnificent.

But this is some serious work that he's taking on and I think he's carving out a role for himself for many years to come.

CURNOW: Emily, thank you so much, appreciate your joining us here on CNN.

You're watching the INTERNATIONAL DESK. I'm Robyn Curnow. Thanks so much for watching.