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YOUR WORLD TODAY
10 U.S. Marines Killed in Iraq; Pentagon Accused of Planting Positive Articles
Aired December 2, 2005 - 12:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
ANNOUNCER: Live from CNN Center, this is YOUR WORLD TODAY.
JIM CLANCY, CNN INTERNATIONAL ANCHOR: The war in the streets and the propaganda war, efforts on two fronts in Iraq, both involving the U.S. military and insurgents.
COLLEEN MCEDWARDS, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: French doctors face ethical questions head on after conducting the world's first partial face transplant.
CLANCY: And an execution criticized in Singapore, one of several raising the death penalty debate to new levels.
Right now it is 8:00 in the evening in Baghdad, 12:00 noon in Washington, D.C.
I'm Jim Clancy.
MCEDWARDS: And I'm Colleen McEdwards.
Welcome to our viewers throughout the world. This is CNN International. And this is YOUR WORLD TODAY.
CLANCY: Iraq tops our coverage this day with two weeks to go before crucial elections.
MCEDWARDS: That's right, and not much time left anymore. There is a new U.S. operation against insurgents to talk about. Upbeat talk from generals and also questions about a Pentagon effort to plant positive articles in Iraqi newspapers.
CLANCY: Yes. They've also got to deal with congressional scrutiny on the ground in Iraq. There's a visiting delegation of lawmakers there right now.
First, though, let's begin.
There was a major blow that was announced by the U.S. military in Iraq just minutes ago. Ten U.S. Marines were killed near Falluja by an improvised explosive device, as the military calls it. Really a roadside bomb.
The attack came as and U.S. and Iraqi forces were launching a new operation to try to take control of Ramadi before upcoming elections.
Senior International Correspondent Nic Robertson joins us now live from Baghdad.
Nic, the latest on these deaths, as well as those ongoing operations?
NIC ROBERTSON, CNN SR. INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, Jim, the deaths occurred yesterday just outside the town of Falluja. It was several very large artillery shells, we are told, that constituted this improvised explosive device. Ten Marines were killed.
They were on a foot patrol. Marines tend to space themselves out quite a bit when they do those foot patrols. The indications are, therefore, that this must have been a very large blast.
Eleven other marines wounded. Seven of them, we're told, have now returned to active duty.
But it is just a few miles, kilometers down the road, the town of Ramadi, is where an insurgent or what purports to be an insurgent videotape, at least, was released yesterday. And it is proving very controversial.
ROBERTSON (voice over): This is video that has the U.S. military fighting mad. It supposedly shows insurgents roaming freely on Thursday in the city of Ramadi, western Iraq. Cameramen filmed the event and sent different videotapes to two TV news agencies.
It could be propaganda. And that's what angers coalition commanders. Abu Musab al-Zarqawi, they say, is an expert propagandist.
MAJ. GEN. RICK LYNCH, COALITION SPOKESMAN: Conducting these kidnappings, these beheadings, these explosions so that he gets international coverage to look like he has more capability than he truly has. He is lying to the Iraqi people.
ROBERTSON: And that's the point of the videotape from Ramadi. Is it real or staged? It's certainly designed to show that the insurgents can move about at will in the town. But the coalition says that's not the reality.
LYNCH: Over the course of the day we've had one attack. It was an RPG attack, and it was ineffective. That shows you disparity between the perception of security in Ramadi and what is happening on the ground.
ROBERTSON: On the streets of Ramadi, where CNN is not safely able to go alone, a man identified as an insurgent claims to control the streets and vows to crack down on U.S. troops. Leaflets distributed by the gunman claim Zarqawi, the head of Al Qaeda in Iraq, is taking over Ramadi. That he may be close to the city is not disputed by U.S. officers, but they claim is on the run.
LYNCH: No doubt that Zarqawi tried to gravitate him and his forces toward Ramadi. I know it to be true. Our operations are focused on taking him out in Ramadi.
ROBERTSON: Well, propaganda is becoming critical for both sides here. General Lynch says U.S. commanders are empowered to inform the Iraqi people. But he stresses, unlike the insurgents, the U.S. military always bases what it says on fact -- Jim.
CLANCY: All right. We look at that video tape, and as you noted, nobody can say whether this is authentic or not. But it shows not a battle but really bravado on the streets.
The motive, you think, for distributing this video just less than two weeks away from the election?
ROBERTSON: The motive is, if you believe the statements, and you believe the location that it was, Ramadi, and you believe the statements that they are in control of the streets, the motive is to instill fear into the people of Ramadi, is to instill the impression in the international community that the insurgents are able to control, as the U.S. forces put it, battle space.
Now, the U.S. military says this is not the case, they control Ramadi, the insurgents don't. But there are residents of Ramadi who have expressed concerns about the ability of the insurgents to influence what happens in the city.
This, after all, was why the U.S. military and the Iraqi army went into the town of Falluja last year, when the residents were essentially being run, to a large degree, by the will of the insurgents. So it's a real question, and it's -- one of our problems, Jim, is to be able to go to these places independently and find out. The country is not as safe as -- as one might like to go and check -- Jim.
CLANCY: All right. Nic Robertson, as always, our senior international correspondent there in Baghdad, reporting to us live.
MCEDWARDS: Well, as Nic was reporting there, Iraqi insurgents aren't the only ones involved in a propaganda war. It appears the U.S. military may also be taking part.
The Pentagon is accused of placing positive articles written by the military and placed in Iraqi newspapers. Well, the Pentagon is not exactly denying the report. Members of the U.S. Senate want some answers.
Our senior pentagon correspondent, Jamie McIntyre, joins us now live with more on this.
Jamie, a demand for answers and a call for a meeting, too.
JAMIE MCINTYRE, CNN SR. PENTAGON CORRESPONDENT: Yes. Interesting dynamic going on here in Washington today, Colleen, as the chairman of the powerful Senate Armed Services Committee is asking for an explanation of these reports that the Pentagon paid a contractor to get stories, favorable stories placed in the Iraqi media. But the Pentagon so far has not provided those answers.
It has not responded to the call for a meeting, a briefing on Capitol Hill to explain. They are saying that the answers to these questions will be provided by U.S. military commanders in Baghdad perhaps sometimes today.
The specific charges, that a contractor called the Lincoln Group based here in Washington paid specifically to have articles written secretly by the U.S. military, then translated into Arabic and put into Iraqi publications as if they were stories written by Iraqi journalists. That's the allegation.
So far, the Pentagon has not been able to provide any response. And the result has been a loss of credibility, as former Pentagon spokesman Ken Bacon told Soledad O'Brien this morning on CNN's "AMERICAN MORNING."
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
KENNETH BACON, FMR. PENTAGON SPOKESMAN: We have the State Department and the Agency for International Development, on the one hand, working to train journalists and to create a sense of a free, independent press in Baghdad. On the other hand, we have the Pentagon paying to have good news stories printed in the press. So we have a bifurcated, confusing policy. It's no wonder that the Iraqis don't believe in a free press at this stage given what they've been through and given what we're showing them.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MCINTYRE: The problem here is the tension that has arised -- arisen within the military and the Pentagon between what is seen as legitimate public affairs and the clear guidelines that oversee what the U.S. military can say in its public affairs press releases and how that information is handled, and other guidelines which aren't as clear about what so-called information operators, psychological operations teams, how they can try to use information and get information into the media to advance the cause of the U.S. military.
Because there's this dual track which is not always adhering to the same policies, that's apparently at the root of what this is all about. And one of the things the Pentagon is scrambling to do now is to provide a better explanation of how this information operation system works as compared to the public affairs operation and explain that to Congress and to the public.
MCEDWARDS: Interesting, Jamie. We are going to have more on this issue in just a few minutes on this program. But before you go, Jamie, just any more information there on this blast that we've been reporting on? We heard Nic Robertson say that indications are it was a big blast, given that 10 Marines were killed, 11 injured.
MCINTYRE: Exactly right. This is the deadliest since the one that happened back in August, when a large number of Marines were killed at one time. They were in vehicles. These marines were on foot.
And as Nic Robertson pointed out, I mean, they usually space themselves out. They are not usually bunched in a group. And that would indicate that these artillery shells that were apparently wired together and detonated all at once must have created a very huge shock wave in order to kill 10 Marines at once and wound 11 at the same time.
Again, this was a nighttime patrol. It appears that these Marines were on some clearing operation when this happened. And it again demonstrates the lethality of these roadside bombs, these improvised devices that are the weapon of choice of the insurgents who are fighting the U.S. and Iraqi forces.
MCEDWARDS: Indeed. Jamie McIntyre at the Pentagon.
Thanks very much, Jamie -- Jim.
CLANCY: You know, we talk about the crossfire in Iraq, and certainly I think it's fair to say that you, the viewers around the world, particularly the people in Iraq, are caught in a crossfire of propaganda in this war. Who's winning? What's going on there right now?
Let's get some help and understanding now.
We are joined by Sajjan Gohel, the director of international security at the Asia-Pacific Foundation. He joins us from London.
Now, we have -- I have some more video that was shot in Ramadi by the insurgents. We do not know whether this video is authentic, was actually shot in Ramadi. But this is the kind of material that's being produced. And if we can show this, you'll see a bomb go off here, you'll see one of these devices go off.
It shows you some of the -- you know, the intensity of all of that. And then it goes on to show the young men, you know, all over in the streets.
Sajjan, what is this for? What is this video going to accomplish for Abu Musab al-Zarqawi or any other group?
SAJJAN GOHEL, ASIA-PACIFIC FOUNDATION: Well, Jim, in a propaganda war, whether it's myth or reality, perceptions are very important, because they tell a story, a certain dimension that perhaps insurgents like Abu Musab al-Zarqawi want to show, that they are undermining the security apparatus, that they're able to launch attacks at a time of their choosing.
And as we've seen, visual images have been very powerful in Iraq, whether it's abducting people and beheading them on camera, or launching an improvised explosive device, as we saw today, which killed 10 U.S. Marines. The problems are that the terrorists are very much in power of the media and the propaganda. And that serves their purpose very well, because images are translated to millions around the world.
CLANCY: But wait a minute, Sajjan. You know, there's real pictures. You don't -- you don't have to pay somebody to put them on.
Iraqis going to the polls and voting, those were powerful images that really, I think, for a while it changed a lot of people's perspectives last January when they saw that. They are about to see it again here in the middle of this month.
GOHEL: Those were, of course, very important events. And seeing Iraqis vote, despite all the violence, is a significant factor. As we saw with the elections earlier in the year, they were not deterred by the violence. The U.S. troops and the Iraqi forces were able to implement an effective strategy that curtailed the activities of the insurgents during the elections. They'll want to try and implement something similar this time.
The best way to defeat the insurgents is to show that they are not able to intimidate people from going on their daily lives. Of course violence will be there. And in the build-up to the elections, we'll probably see an increase in a whole spate of attacks.
Westerners will probably be abducted, there'll be car bombs, suicide bombers. But nevertheless, if the Iraqis continue in the way they are doing in terms of voting, in exercising their right, turning out, it is an important development.
And what is also encouraging is the sounds that are coming out of the Sunni community in that they are willing to take part in the election. And that is a significant step.
CLANCY: You know, he's come under a lot of criticism, Abu Musab al-Zarqawi, for the kinds of attacks that he has launched that have killed innocent Muslim civilians, innocent Iraqis. Has been scolded by al Qaeda, by Zawahiri, if you believe the letter that was sent -- purportedly sent to Zarqawi about it. But then you have the situation in Jordan, his own country, where the bombs went off in wedding parties, and you had thousands of people out on the streets.
Who is winning this propaganda war?
GOHEL: The problem is that propaganda is also often associated with conspiracy theories. It's a question of whether people are willing to believe one side or not, whether they believe certain events are staged.
Now, al-Zarqawi made a fatal mistake in the attacks in Jordan last month. As you mentioned, he is a Jordanian national. The fact that innocent Muslims were killed, that dealt a major blow to his own image, because in the past, many Muslims believed that he was fighting against occupation.
The fact that he killed innocent Muslims, people that were actually at a wedding, showed that this individual is really out to just target any person that serves his own propaganda to create fear, panic. And of course, as we've seen, he will -- he's depended heavily on the Sunni population in Iraq to provide him sanctuary. That could be now put under question.
But of course, what we'll see in Iraq is that the propaganda will continue. And not just for this year, but it will go on for some time.
And as we've seen with the terrorists, as modern communications improve, whether it's filming something or putting it up on the Internet, the terrorists' understanding of that also increase, and they'll learn to adapt and know how to use it. And this propaganda war is as much important as fighting the insurgency, because if you can defeat the perceptions that the insurgents are able to carry out these devastating attacks, that they are in control of cities like Ramadi, if you defeat that perception, then there's one step forward in the rebuilding of Iraq.
CLANCY: Sajjan Gohel, director of international security at the Asia-Pacific Foundation.
Thank you for lending us your expertise and understanding here.
GOHEL: My pleasure.
CLANCY: Well, we've got to take a break. But still ahead, a first-of-its-kind surgery in France stirring debate over the ethics of such procedures.
MCEDWARDS: Yes. Also under scrutiny, the death penalty. Singapore hangs an Australian who was convicted of drug trafficking just as the U.S. reaches a grim milestone of its own. A debate over this issue and a look at the big picture worldwide coming up in just a moment.
CLANCY: Welcome back. This is YOUR WORLD TODAY.
MCEDWARDS: An hour of world news on CNN International.
Well, doctors in France say a 38-year-old woman, the first to have a partial face transplant, is doing well physically and psychologically after her breakthrough surgery. Doctors say her first words were "Merci" after she regained consciousness about 24 hours after the unprecedented operation. It happened on Sunday.
CLANCY: The details.
The woman received a transplanted nose, lips and chin from a brain-dead woman. She was mauled by a dog last May. Her surgeons held their first press conference a little bit earlier today. They say they faced tough ethical questions but decided to go ahead when they saw the extent of her injuries.
MCEDWARDS: Well, did French surgeons cross a line here by doing one of the most radical transplants ever tried?
For more on the ethical and medical issues surrounding face transplants, we go now to Dr. Arthur Caplan. He's the director of the Center for Bioethics at the University of Pennsylvania.
Doctor, thank you very much for being here.
The big question here seems to be, you know, should they have tried to reconstruct this woman's face first? What do you think?
DR. ARTHUR CAPLAN, CENTER FOR BIOETHICS, UNIV. OF PA.: Well, the need to have these procedures is very real. I'm not against doing face transplants. There are people who have real difficulty breathing and eating because of facial damage, and obviously appearance and being able to go out in public and socialize.
These are very real problems. But, the issue is, is the science ready to support doing it right now on this person? And a lot of people worldwide have said not quite yet.
We haven't had a lot of animal studies. And we are not really quite sure how to do the surgery to make sure that the face functions. So it could be a bit premature to try it right now.
MCEDWARDS: Well, the first issue you raise, I mean, the fact that, you know, these are real issues, how you look, whether you can breathe properly through a reconstructed nose or a transplanted nose, real issues, to be sure. But some people still say, look, that is still different than needing a lung transplant, dying from a failing kidney.
What do you think?
CAPLAN: Well, the differences fall into three areas. First of all, you are not going to be satisfied if you get a face put on that doesn't innervate, that doesn't work right. If you can't chew, if you can't breathe with it, it's going to be a tremendous dissatisfaction for you, because the face won't look right. You'll look almost as abnormal as you did before things started.
So that's an issue. Quality counts here in a way that if only your half your transplanted liver works, you can still get by with it.
The second issue is there are issues for how others are involved here that don't arise for a kidney transplant. The donor family is going to see this face, is going to see part of this face. The public is thinking, am I signed up for facial transplant here? Can I -- if I sign a donor card, is this going to include this?
And let me say right now, it shouldn't, and it won't. It would only be done in the United States with an explicit consent. But I'm not sure that happened in the French experiment.
And then lastly, you have to take a ton of drugs to keep this thing working. They cause cancer, they cause heart disease. There are lots of problems with the drugs that you need to take.
You could die even when you weren't going to die. You might accept that risk for a heart transplant. For face transplant, a bit trickier. MCEDWARDS: Well, the woman in France has accepted that risk, and we'll be watching closely what happens moving forward from here.
Dr. Arthur Caplan, thanks a lot. Appreciate your thoughts.
CAPLAN: My pleasure.
CLANCY: Everybody's got an opinion on -- about this face transplant. We want to know what your opinion is. We have our question of the day.
MCEDWARDS: That's right. I mean, imagine putting yourself in this woman's shoes, for example. What would you have done if you were in her place. Apparently, hideously attacked in need of this, the French doctors say.
E-mail us your thoughts to email@example.com. Don't forget, include your name and where you are writing from as well. And we will get some of these on the air as well.
We're going to take a short break. We'll be right back.
DARYN KAGAN, CNN ANCHOR: I'm Daryn Kagan at CNN Center in Atlanta. More of YOUR WORLD TODAY in just a few minutes. First, though, a check on stories making headlines here in the U.S.
The U.S. military confirms the deaths of 10 Marines killed yesterday in a roadside bomb attack. An improvised device exploded while the Marines were on foot patrol near Falluja, Iraq, while conducting counterinsurgency operations. Another 11 marines were injured by the bomb, which the Marine Corps says was fashioned out of several large artillery shells.
This incident brings the U.S. death toll in Iraq to 2,123.
President Bush says there's every reason to be optimistic about the economy. The president is clearly relishing today's Labor Department report that 215,000 new jobs were created last month. And unemployment remains at just 5 percent. The news drew Mr. Bush briefly into the rose garden.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
GEORGE W. BUSH, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Our economic horizon is as bright as it's been in a long time. The foundation for growth is strong. It's based upon low taxes and restrained government spending, legal reform, incentives for saving, and investment.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
KAGAN: The nation's top economist is issuing some stern words of warning. Federal Reserve chairman Alan Greenspan says the U.S. economy faces severe consequences if federal budget deficits are not trimmed. Two specific issues of concern to him are the surging costs of Social Security and Medicare.
In news about your security, you'll see some changes in your upcoming airline trips. The government today announcing new airport screening rules. Passengers will be able to take small scissors and tools on board planes. But there will be more random checks. And screeners will be allowed to pat down arms and legs below the mid thigh.
The changes go into effect December 22, during the busy holiday travel season.
Be sure to stay tuned to CNN day and night for the most reliable news about your security.
The young man accused of shooting six people at a Tacoma, Washington, mall apparently signaled his intentions to a 911 operator just beforehand. The shooting rampage and hostage drama was eventually resolved with no one getting killed. The alleged gunmen has pleaded not guilty and is being held on $2 million bail.
Before the attack, 911 operators received this disturbing call.
(BEGIN AUDIO CLIP)
OPERATOR: Sir, what is it we can do for you here at 911?
SUSPECT: Oh, I'm just alerting you that I'm about to start shooting right now.
OPERATOR: Where are you located? Sir, where are you located?
SUSPECT: Follow the screams.
OPERATOR: I'm sorry, you're on a cell phone. I don't know where you are.
SUSPECT: Follow the screams.
OPERATOR: The cell phone doesn't give me any location, sir.
SUSPECT: Follow the screams.
(END AUDIO CLIP)
KAGAN: Six people were shot, one was critically wounded. According to court documents, police also found bomb-making plans and a recipe for the poison ricin in the alleged gunmen's car and bedroom.
He said he didn't want to be remembered as a milestone. But today, convicted double murderer Kenneth Lee Boyd became number 1,000. That is how many people have been executed in the U.S. since capital punishment resumed in 1977. Boyd was put to death in North Carolina for the murder of his estranged wife and her father.
In the aftermath of Katrina, most of New Orleans residents are living elsewhere. Tomorrow, their mayor, Ray Nagin, will hold another town hall meeting with displaced residents, urging them to come home to help rebuild their city. He'll host a gathering in Atlanta tomorrow.
CNN's live coverage begins at noon Eastern, 9:00 Pacific.
Fans of Oprah Winfrey may have stayed up past their bedtimes last night to see the queen of daytime TV appear on CBS's "Late Show With David Letterman." It's been 16 years since Winfrey last visited David Letterman and his often-pointed jabs. But last night both TV titans downplayed talk of any strange relations.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
OPRAH WINFREY, TALK SHOW HOST: Could you tell me, please, what has transpired? This -- I am really so curious, because for years I've heard you talk about, and now the press talks about this big feud that we have.
DAVID LETTERMAN, "THE LATE SHOW": Yes. Yes.
WINFREY: I have never had a moment feud with you, as far as I knew.
LETTERMAN: I think you're right about that.
WINFREY: I think it takes two people to feud.
WINFREY: I did not know we were feuding.
LETTERMAN: No. As far as I'm concerned, it's not a feud because I think the world of you.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
KAGAN: Winfrey's motives may go a little bit deeper than mutual admiration. She has a new project. She is producing a musical version of "The Color Purple." In fact, after her appearance, Letterman walked her across the street to the opening of her Broadway show.
And also from the world of entertainment, Hollywood couple Ben Affleck and Jennifer Garner have some news of their own. The "Alias" star gave birth to their first child yesterday. The baby girl is said to be doing fine, along with mom and dad. Garner and Affleck were married in June.
We will have more on the 1,000th execution since the death penalty was reinstituted. It took place last night, as I was mentioning. That fuels the latest debate over the issue of killing murders. "LIVE FROM" goes in depth at the top of the hour. Meanwhile, "YOUR WORLD TODAY" continues after a quick break.
MCEDWARDS: Welcome back to YOUR WORLD TODAY on CNN international. I'm Colleen McEdwards.
CLANCY: I'm Jim Clancy.
MCEDWARDS: Three U.S. lawmakers visiting Iraq say the upcoming elections will be crucial to helping Iraqis defend and govern themselves. The bipartisan delegation met with Iraqi Prime Minister Ibrahim Al Jaafari and U.S. officials in Baghdad. They say the United States wants to help, but not impose its will on the Iraqi people.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
CHUCK HAGEL, U.S. REPUBLICAN SENATOR: The United States is not an occupier. We never intended to be an occupying nation. That's not who we are or why we're here. And I think the government, the interim government of Iraq, understands that, and I hope the people of Iraq understand that.
ELLEN TAUSCHER, U.S. DEMOCRATIC REP.: As much as my constituents at home believe that it is important that Saddam Hussein is gone, they want our troops to come home. But they also do not want to leave a security vacuum here in Iraq. And they want the Iraqi security forces to be trained as quickly as possible.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MCEDWARDS: And other U.S. lawmakers say they hope other nations in the region realize that, "Iraq embroiled in civil war" -- and that is a quote -- "is not in their interests."
CLANCY; Singapore executed an Australian citizen who was convicted of drug trafficking. The execution of Van Nguyen went ahead despite many calls for clemency that echoed from Australia. It drew an outcry there. Thousands of people took part in vigils around the country.
Adrian Brown now has more for us from Singapore.
ADRIAN BROWN, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): She had just faced the worst moment of her life. Convulsed by grief, another lay ahead. Kim Nguyen's public exit from jail and from Changi Jail, and from what remained of her son's life. Protective arms guiding her gently to a waiting car. The failed fight for clemency was over. A long, painful night beckoned.
As the hours passed, there was a mood of subdued reflection among Van Nguyen's his supporters. It was never going to be a big vigil. And to get around the law that prevents spontaneous gatherings of more than five people, they arrived and left in pairs.
And another arrival. Van Nguyen's His twin brother, Khoa, alone in his thoughts, living forever with the knowledge that Nguyen became a drug mule to help pay off his debts.
Also there, the closest of friends. They were allowed inside the jail one last time, but only as far as the visitors center. A small gesture of compassion, like the earlier decision to allow Nguyen's mother to hold her son's hand.
JULIAN MCMAHON, NGUYEN'S LAWYER: She said to me she was talking to him and able to touch his hair and his face, and that was a great comfort to her.
BROWN: Six a.m., the exact moment, an eerie silence.
(on camera): Well, it's now just after 10 minutes past 6:00, so it's fair to assume that Van Nguyen is now dead. After being read the last rights by a prison chaplain, he was led hooded and handcuffed to the gallows, where the noose was then tightened around his neck, the trap door lever pulled, plunging him to his death.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: And who are witnesses to this murder? the government of Australia and Singapore.
BROWN (voice-over): And there's someone who knows what Nguyen's mother is going through now.
Her son, a cell mate of the Melbourne man, was hanged for drug trafficking last may.
Singapore says the mandatory death penalty for drugs will stay, whatever Australia says.
LEE HSIEN LOONG, SINGAPOREAN PRIME MINISTER: Barbaric? Well, the Australian press is colorful. Many adjectives have been used. But we have to -- we uphold the rule of law, and the rule of law has to apply impartially to Singaporeans and foreigners alike.
BROWN: Nguyen knew the risk he was taking when he flew in to Singapore with 390 grams of pure heroin, the estimated street value, more than a million dollars. And the warning is right there on the landing card. If he looks out of the window, he might even have seen Changi Jail.
Four hours after his execution, his body was removed from the prison in readiness for the flight home, exactly three years to the day that he set out on his fateful journey.
In Singapore, Adrian Brown, Seven News.
MCEDWARDS: Well, a man who kills his wife and father-in-law became the 1,000th person executed in the United States ever since capital punishment was reinstated in 1976. Kenneth Lee Boyd's death- by-lethal-injection sentence was carried out early Friday. On the eve of the execution, more than 100 people held a vigil at a nearby church. Some anti-death penalty protesters were arrested when they blocked the road after marching from the church to the prison. CLANCY: Executions in the U.S. and Singapore have turned attention of course back to the issue itself. The death penalty.
Our guests, George Lynn, is an analyst from the Eurasia group. He joins us now live from our Washington bureau. Everyone has heard the arguments. Everyone has heard that it doesn't work. The death penalty doesn't deter crime.
At the same time, there are peoples and societies that say, yes, but it is a just punishment. What's the logic at work?
GEORGE LIN, EURASIA GROUP: Well the logic at work is cultural conservatism of different countries. The U.S. has always trended conservative compared to its European counterparts. And even more so, and as long as the U.S. remains what it has been, I don't foresee a change in the American stance on the death penalty. There's been a decline in popularity in the last 10 years for various reasons within the U.S., but the U.S. increasingly stands alone, with only Japan as the other industrial democracy to carry out executions.
CLANCY: All right, you know, so much is made about the United States. But let's put it in a little bit of perspective here. When it comes to executions around the world, the U.S. is hardly the leader. Yes, it's got, what, almost four times as many as many people, but China carries out 3,400 executions a year. Iran, with far fewer people than the United States, carries out 159. Vietnam, 64. And there, 59 for the United States.
I mean, that top number there, 3,400, speaks volume, doesn't it, about the situation elsewhere and who's being targeted?
LIN: Right, but this chart, if used by opponents of the death penalty, puts the U.S. among the group of what are arguably human rights violators. And with only Japan as an industrial democracy that carries out their execution, the U.S. is increasingly lonely.
Russia abolished the death penalty in 1999. And Turkey is coming under increasing pressure, in its campaign to join the E.U., to abolish the death penalty, too.
The fact of the matter for the U.S. is that I foresee it continuing to carry out the death penalty. But much of the world, other than the countries that you have named, considers the death penalty barbaric. And that's just something that the U.S. will have to live with in its geo-political dealings.
CLANCY: Is this going to become a public relations embarrassment -- perhaps it is already -- and that's what's going to force change? Because I do not see a groundswell of support in the United States itself of people saying we've got to get rid of the death penalty.
LIN: No, there won't be. There are a couple of reasons that the death penalty has slipped in poll ratings in the United States in the last 10 years. One is the fear of executing the wrong person, as DNA evidence becomes more sophisticated. And the other is the decreasing rate of crime, which had not fallen so precipitously in the early '90s.
But the death penalty is carried out state-by-state, which allows culturally conservative states pretty much to do what they want. The U.S. has already taken some public relations blows. I mean, there have been periodical appeals by the Vatican. There have been controversies about actual or threatened executions of juveniles or the retarded.
But states like Florida, Texas, Missouri and Virginia don't have their own diplomacy, and they're going to be largely insulated from that kind of international pressure. So I don't see any change.
CLANCY: George Lin, we'll leave it there. And thank you very much for being with us.
LIN: Thank you.
MCEDWARDS: Well, despite the controversy, the U.S. public remains strongly behind the death penalty. And George Lin just referenced the poll numbers saying that support for the death penalty in the United States did go down in the early '90s.
But let's look at a bigger picture of time here. A recent poll found that 64 percent favored execution of convicted murders. The Gallup Polling Group has surveyed Americans on this topic for more than five decades. So there's a good look at it. Support was highest in '94, 1994, and that was when 80 percent favored the death penalty. It was lowest in 1966, when only 42 percent were in favor.
CLANCY: Interesting numbers on all of those reports.
Well, still to come right here on YOUR WORLD TODAY...
MCEDWARDS: Fighting for survival in Southern Africa. We're going to look at the crisis in Malawi right after the break. This story will touch your heart. Stay with us.
MCEDWARDS: Welcome back. This is YOUR WORLD TODAY, an hour of world news on CNN International.
In the Southern Africa country of Malawi, time is running out for the youngest generation. Hunger and disease plague the children and less than a quarter of the needed funding is actually making it there.
CNN's Jeff Koinange takes us inside a hospital to show us what these young children face.
JEFF KOINANGE, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Mercy Mujumbay (ph) is nine months old and she'll be lucky to live another nine. She weighs about five kilograms, or ten pounds, not much more than a newborn in the West. Her skin is wrinkled by malnutrition. Her bones protrude. Mercy opens her mouth to cry out during this routine examination, but even that is a challenge; eventually, the faint cry of an infant fighting for life.
It's the same throughout this pediatric ward of the Queen Elizabeth Hospital in Blantyre, every bed taken up with the youngest victims of Malawi's multiple crises. Drought, food shortages, poverty, and disease.
DR. PAUL TEMBO, QUEEN ELIZABETH HOSPITAL: It is frustrating. Because you know you know what you're dealing with, but then to deal with a thing, it's like, we don't have the resources to even deal with them. So it is kind of frustrating, yes.
KOINANGE: Dr. Paul Tembo has been doing the rounds here for the past 18 months. He and most aid workers here agree that by the time parents bring their children here, it's usually too late.
ROGETHER MATHIESON, UNICEF: We have seen increase admissions, drastic increase in admissions, of severely malnourished children to the nutrition rehabilition units the last three months. And those numbers are expected to triple in the next months.
KOINANGE: Doctors here at the Queen Elizabeth Hospital tell us that they are admitting an average of four civilian malnourished cases every single day, and they're also quick to admit that if the hunger doesn't kill these children, then any number of diseases, from HIV/AIDS to malaria to tuberculosis, surely will.
The United Nations Children's Agency UNICEF has desperately been trying to set up feeding centers for children at risk. But UNICEF says the funding simply isn't coming fast enough. It's politely known as donor fatigue.
MATHIESON: UNICEF in Malawi has appealed, for $13 million U.S., to be able to implement these interventions, life-saving interventions. So far we have received $2.5 million U.S. That's 19 percent of what is required to help the Malawi children from the suffering and death of malnutrition.
KOINANGE: In the drought-stricken south of Malawi, more and more mothers are bringing their sick and dying children to feeding centers like this as food supplies continue to dwindle.
Mothers like Judith Fernando, who's brought 2-year-old Jessica, the youngest of six children. Jessica is half the average weight of a girl her age and is in urgent need of nutrition. Her mother admits she's never felt so helpless. "I am so worried for my children," she says. "If the food rations run out, then we are all going to die."
In a joint operation run by UNICEF and the World Food Program, children get a week's supply of high energy nutrition, just enough to hold malnutrition at bay, but hardly enough to stay healthy. And to local doctors, time is running out for Malawi's youngest generation.
FREDDY ZAINGA, CHIKWAWA HOSPITAL: We wish the (INAUDIBLE) to come, that they are available during this month. Otherwise, we're going to lose lots and lots of people dying of hunger. KOINANGE: Four in ten Malawian children are already severely stunted, the sign of acute malnutrition. That number seems set to increase. The next harvest is not due for months, and the price of maize, the country's staple food, is skyrocketing. Malawi's future, it seems, is withering before the world's eyes.
Jeff Koinange, CNN, Chikwawa in southern Malawi.
KAGAN: I'm Daryn Kagan in Atlanta. We are going to break into our CNN International news coverage to talk about a situation that's happening in Connecticut right now. We are getting word here at CNN that a number of courthouses across the state of Connecticut and other judicial facilities have been shut down and some evacuated, this coming after state police say they received a general, non-specific threat directed toward the state's judicial department.
Now, the state troopers' department not saying exactly what that threat might have been. They said it came in about -- more than two hours ago, 10:30 a.m. Eastern. And for that, they've chosen to clear some facilities, some judicial offices and buildings.
The picture you are looking at right now is New Haven, Connecticut, but we understand that this is taking place in other towns across Connecticut as well. They are clearing the buildings for the purposes of sweeping, but they are being careful in some situations to say it's not an evacuation.
So once again, a number of judicial buildings and courthouses across the state of Connecticut have been cleared out for the purposes of sweeping after they received a non-specific threat about something that might be taking place in one of those buildings.
We are going to have a lot more on this situation in Connecticut on CNN's "LIVE FROM" with Kyra Phillips. That will start at the top of the hour. For now, we go back to our international news coverage.
CLANCY: Well, it's time for us to check on our e-mail inbox.
MCEDWARDS: Yes, we have it here.
CLANCY: The partial face transplant of the woman in France was the subject of the question today.
MCEDWARDS: What would you have done if you were in her place?
Well, Jason writes from France, "if it improves the quality of life for the woman then it's a good thing. Of course, there are dangers attached to the procedure. But clearly the doctors have considered these and expressed them to their patient."
CLANCY: Now, Harry wrote us from the U.S. state of Maryland saying, "why is her decision to have the transplant any of your business? It certainly is not on my agenda." Well, thank you.
MCEDWARDS: Yes. Will from New York writes, "would it be ethical to not do everything possible to help this woman? If she needed a lung, without a doubt do the transplant. I see no difference at all in this case."
CLANCY: Well, Seymour from California had something interesting to say: "Science would never progress if it weren't for people like the lady having the facial transplant." The controversial case, we've got a whole lot of e-mail that came in here.
MCEDWARDS: Yes, we got so many we didn't have time to get more of them on. I'm sorry for that. But overall people tended to be very supportive of the procedure and supportive of the woman who chose to do it.
CLANCY: All right. That has to be it for YOUR WORLD TODAY. For now I'm Jim Clancy.
MCEDWARDS: And I'm Colleen McEdwards. Thanks for watching.
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