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Havoc in Hungary; Coup in Thailand; Spike in Violence in Iraq
Aired September 20, 2006 - 11:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
HEIDI COLLINS, CNN ANCHOR: Spend a second hour in the NEWSROOM and don't miss a thing.
I'm Heidi Collins.
TONY HARRIS, CNN ANCHOR: And good morning, everyone. I'm Tony Harris.
New space trash floats by the shuttle this morning. New safety worries crop up. NASA takes a good outside look at the shuttle.
COLLINS: And a new judge, but the same old Saddam Hussein. Another finger-jabbing argument gets him tossed from his trial on Wednesday, September 20th.
You're in the NEWSROOM.
He won't deny his lies, but he won't budge either. Hungary's prime minister vows to stay in office despite this, another night of violent protests.
CNN Senior International Correspondent Nic Robertson filed this report from Budapest.
NIC ROBERTSON, CNN SR. INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT (voice over): At first, an impasse. Police stand-off from rioters, fire tear gas. It's past midnight in the center of Budapest, on the second night of violent demonstrations, fueled by anger their prime minister, Ferenc Gyurcsany, lied to them. Both sides seeming to get the measure of each other.
Then, the demonstrations have turned much more angry and violent now. There's been tear gassing down the street here. The police are moving in on the road here. They're moving in from the back here. It appears as if they're trying to get around and encircle the crowd.
The crowd pulls back, tortures a police car. These protesters are mostly men, mostly young, mostly very angry. Police on horse back advance. A water cannon fires. The crowd runs again. A violent version of cat and mouse in shoes.
The prime minister's headquarters are down the end of the street there. The police are trying to advance up, firing wave after wave of tear gas, forcing the crowds back. Everyone here, the eyes are streaming, their throats are sore. But only a few hours earlier, a few miles away outside the parliament, the protest had been far more controlled. Ten thousand people, young and old, men and women, bigger, louder, not as violent as the previous nights. After three days, the protesters, far more focused in their demands, calling the prime minister to quit.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: They have power because of their lies. So we want to -- the prime minister to go away and with the government as well.
ROBERTSON: Even as the demonstrators called for him to step down, not far away, in a secure TV station, the prime minister upped the ante, refusing to go.
FERENC GYURCSANY, HUNGARIAN PRIME MINISTER: The majority of the people are supporting us.
ROBERTSON: So you won't step down?
ROBERTSON: So you won't step down?
GYURCSANY: I won't.
ROBERTSON: In interview after interview, he defended the revelation he lied to the country, claiming lying is endemic in the political elite and that only he can fix the country's broken economy.
GYURCSANY: Many believe that I am the only one who is able to fool (ph) through program and to execute these changes.
ROBERTSON: At the peaceful rally, a growing acceptance the prime minister may, as he predicts, be able to live through this political storm.
Do you think they will? Do you think the prime minister will resign?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: No.
ROBERTSON: With more demonstrations planned, the violent crowd seems to be putting their faith in their muscle. The city seems far from peace.
CARLSON: And coming up next hour, we're going to be talking -- this hour, I should say -- with Nic Robertson live from Hungary. He's going to tell us a little bit more about what he's seeing happening there today, 5:00 p.m. now in that country, and see what took place this morning.
HARRIS: On the streets of Bangkok, relatively quiet today after what's being called a bloodless coup in Thailand. Today the army chief is laying out his plans for the nation. Details now from CNN's Stan Grant.
STAN GRANT, CNN CORRESPONDENT: On the streets of Bangkok, Thailand, support very much in force for the army. I'm outside the military headquarters here, where the generals have launched a coup ousting for Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra. They've taken charge of the country.
The general in charge, General Sonthi, holding a news conference saying that he is not in the long-term business of governing. He will hand over, he says, to an interim prime minister in two weeks, then full democratic elections will be held in a year.
As for the ousted prime minister, Thaksin Shinawatra, he's being accused of corruption and dividing the country. This coup taking place while he was in abroad in New York. He's now en route to London. The generals here saying that he is welcome as a Thai citizen to return to Thailand but not, they say, as prime minister.
Stan Grant, CNN, Bangkok, Thailand.
COLLINS: And to Iraq now, and more violence. Today, details about suicide bombings, a mortar attack and the discovery of more bodies. A U.S. military spokesman says there's been a spike in violence over the last week.
Our Pentagon correspondent, Barbara Starr, is watching it. She joins us now live -- Barbara.
BARBARA STARR, CNN PENTAGON CORRESPONDENT: Good morning to you, Heidi.
Indeed, the U.S. military spokesman in Baghdad earlier today saying attacks are on the rise again over the last several days, especially in Baghdad. This following a call for violence by Al Qaeda in Iraq.
General Caldwell talking about attacks being on the rise against U.S. forces, also against citizens, Iraqi citizens. More attacks expected, he said. Another increase as the holy month of Ramadan approaches.
General Caldwell talking in some detail about what all of this is doing to the people of Baghdad.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
MAJ. GEN. WILLIAM CALDWELL, U.S. MILITARY SPOKESMAN: Through our interaction with local citizens and community leaders, indications are the public perception of security and confidence in the Baghdad security plan is, in fact, increasing. However, we have a sense from them that most Baghdad residents do not feel safe traveling outside of their neighborhoods because of the current security situation.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
STARR: So a pretty grim assessment of how the people, the citizens of Baghdad feel. There was one other curious note.
The general, the commanders going on to say that the people they are arresting for sectarian violence, for those attacks, they're not seeing evidence that those people really are tied to the Ministry of Interior, which is what had been the suspicion. So it's not exactly clear who's backing all of these sectarian attacks -- Heidi.
COLLINS: Barbara, also, we're learning some news coming our way about Afghanistan from the military as well. What can you tell us on that note?
STARR: Heidi, another briefing from another commander, this time General Jim Jones, who is the top commander of NATO who's overseeing the operations in Afghanistan, especially NATO's offensive against the Taliban in southern Afghanistan. General Jones, having a briefing here in the Pentagon this morning, talked about the surprise that he felt about the violence in southern Afghanistan.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
GEN. JAMES L. JONES, SUPREME ALLIED COMMANDER, Europe: I think it's fair to say that it's primarily the Taliban that decided to make a test case of this region. And I have said that we were surprised by the level of violence, and that's true, but what's really most surprising is the change in the tactics, because they decided to stand and fight in a fairly conventional linear sense, and they paid a very heavy price for it.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
STARR: But what General Jones is really talking about, Heidi, is five years after the war in Afghanistan, what they are, again, seeing is the Taliban fighting in an organized fashion, larger formations of people, with command and control. And the Taliban have really made a push in southern Afghanistan. That is something that has surprised both U.S. and NATO commanders -- Heidi.
COLLINS: Yes. Wondering if that September 5th agreement that was signed between Pakistan and the Taliban might have anything to do with it. We'll find out more as we listen to Hamid Karzai's comments about Afghanistan and his country.
Barbara Starr from the Pentagon.
United Nations, but divided interests. The international spotlight is shining at the U.N. once again today. Taking the world stage, one of Washington's top allies and a couple of its harshest critics. Last hour, the president of Afghanistan, as we mentioned, Hamid Karzai, opened this second full day of the U.N. General Assembly. This hour, the world body is set to hear from Venezuela's president. Hugo Chavez is a fierce critic of the Bush administration.
Then this afternoon the podium will be turned over to another critic of the United States. Robert Mugabe is the president of the African nation of Zimbabwe.
You can hear all of the speakers live uncut on CNN's Pipeline. Just go to CNN.com/pipeline to check out the speeches.
HARRIS: More objects found floating near space shuttle Atlantis, but close inspections find no reason for alarm. NASA is now aiming for a Thursday landing and plans for a briefing today at noon. You'll see it here live on CNN.
Our Daniel Sieberg is at the Kennedy Space Center in Florida with the latest.
Daniel, good morning.
DANIEL SIEBERG, CNN TECHNOLOGY CORRESPONDENT: Hi, Tony. Good morning.
Yes, NASA optimistic at this point after wrapping up those inspections, not finding, we believe, any problems with that protective heat shield.
Let's give people a recap of what prompted all of this increased scrutiny with these mysterious objects.
It started early yesterday about 2:45 a.m. Eastern Time when this dark-colored object was spotted near the shuttle Atlantis. Tough to say how big it is or anything like that because there's nothing to compare it to up there in space.
That was the first thing that they spotted. Several hours later, astronaut Dan Burbank snapped some photos of what they now believe is a plastic bag that came free, possibly from the space shuttle payload bay. And then this morning, very early, Commander Brent Jett remarked that he had seen what he described as two rings and some -- a piece of foil. So, a shiny or metallic object of some kind near the space shuttle.
He had a good look at that and remarked on it with ground control. But the concern has more to do with this protective heat shield.
The cause, or what these objects are, the mystery, may never be solved. But one of the leading candidates for that first object is possibly this piece of plastic. It's basically a tile spacer that's used between these protective heat shield tiles. It was first spotted a few days into the mission.
It actually was not supposed to be there, but it's not anything serious or that would cause harm. And they believe that when they were test-firing some of the maneuvering jets yesterday morning it may have wiggled free.
When they were doing this inspection today, it was not seen. So it's possible that was one of the things they saw floating around.
This additional inspection involved this extended robotic arm. It gives them about 100 feet to get a really good look at the nose cap, the wing-leading edge, make sure that there is no problem with this protective heat shield. Of course, you'll remember after Columbia back in 2003, it was some foam that pierced this heat shield that cause it to break apart during reentry.
So, what they have to be concerned with now is the weather here at Kennedy Space Center. The first landing possibility tomorrow, if it's cleared to land, would be at 6:21 a.m. Eastern Time. After that, 7:57 a.m.
This briefing scheduled to start about an hour or so from now. The only thing that could -- other than the heat shield concerns that could possibly delay the landing would be that the crew might need some additional rest time or preparation time. But they're sounding pretty optimistic that they would go ahead with landing tomorrow -- Tony.
HARRIS: OK, Daniel. And more on all of this that you've just covered expected next hour in a briefing with reporters from NASA?
SIEBERG: That's right. We should know more in the next hour or so.
SIEBERG: And we'll get a word on whether they will proceed with this landing.
HARRIS: Daniel Sieberg.
Appreciate it. Thanks, Daniel.
SIEBERG: You bet.
COLLINS: And coming up next, a happy ending to a very bizarre kidnapping. A Missouri baby is now back with her family. The woman suspected of stealing her in custody.
The latest coming up in the CNN NEWSROOM.
HARRIS: Mixed-up medications, medical mistakes that can be deadly doses. We will tell you how to protect yourself.
COLLINS: And world leaders confront the suffering in the Sudan. The crisis in Darfur in the spotlight at the U.N. Live to Africa for the very latest on the crisis right here in the NEWSROOM.
You're watching CNN, the most trusted name in news. (COMMERCIAL BREAK)
HARRIS: Back to New York now, and the 61st meeting of the U.N. General Assembly. And as you can see, taking his turn to speak to world leaders is Venezuelan president Hugo Chavez, holding up a book from Noam Chomsky.
Will he be a statesman or a bad boy of the U.N., taking on the Bush administration? We understand no one from the Bush administration is in the hall listening.
Why don't we listen for just a moment to give you a bit of the flavor of the speech.
(JOINED IN PROGRESS)
HUGO CHAVEZ, PRESIDENT OF VENEZUELA (THROUGH TRANSLATOR): ... over our heads. I had considered reading from this book, but for the sake of time, I shall just leave it as a recommendation. It reads easily. It's a very good book. I'm sure, Madam, you are familiar with it. (APPLAUSE)
The book is in English, in Russian, in Arabic, in German.
I think that the first people who should read this book are our brothers and sisters in the United States, because their threat is in their own house. The devil is right at home. The devil -- the devil, himself, is right in the house.
And the devil came here yesterday.
Yesterday, the devil came here. Right here. Right here. And it smells of sulfur still today, this table that I am now standing in front of.
Yesterday, ladies and gentlemen, from this rostrum, the president of the United States, the gentleman to whom I refer as the devil, came here, talking as if he owned the world. Truly. As the owner of the world.
I think we could call a psychiatrist to analyze yesterday's statement made by the president of the United States. As the spokesman of imperialism, he came to share his nostrums, to try to preserve the current pattern of domination, exploitation and pillage of the peoples of the world.
An Alfred Hitchcock movie could use it as a scenario. I would even propose a title: "The Devil's Recipe."
As Chomsky says here, clearly and in depth, the American empire is doing all it can to consolidate its system of domination. And we cannot allow them to do that. We cannot allow world dictatorship to be consolidated.
The world parent's statement -- cynical, hypocritical, full of this imperial hypocrisy from the need they have to control everything.
They say they want to impose a democratic model. But that's their democratic model. It's the false democracy of elites, and, I would say, a very original democracy that's imposed by weapons and bombs and firing weapons.
What a strange democracy. Aristotle might not recognize it or others who are at the root of democracy.
What type of democracy do you impose with marines and bombs?
The president of the United States, yesterday, said to us, right here, in this room, and I'm quoting, "Anywhere you look, you hear extremists telling you can escape from poverty and recover your dignity through violence, terror and martyrdom."
Wherever he looks, he sees extremists. And you, my brother -- he looks at your color, and he says, oh, there's an extremist. Evo Morales, the worthy president of Bolivia, looks like an extremist to him.
The imperialists see extremists everywhere. It's not that we are extremists. It's that the world is waking up. It's waking up all over. And people are standing up.
I have the feeling, dear world dictator, that you are going to live the rest of your days as a nightmare because the rest of us are standing up, all those who are rising up against American imperialism, who are shouting for equality, for respect, for the sovereignty of nations.
Yes, you can call us extremists, but we are rising up against the empire, against the model of domination.
The president then -- and this he said himself, he said: "I have come to speak directly to the populations in the Middle East, to tell them that my country wants peace."
That's true. If we walk in the streets of the Bronx, if we walk around New York, Washington, San Diego, in any city, San Antonio, San Francisco, and we ask individuals, the citizens of the United States, what does this country want? Does it want peace? They'll say yes.
But the government doesn't want peace. The government of the United States doesn't want peace. It wants to exploit its system of exploitation, of pillage, of hegemony through war.
It wants peace. But what's happening in Iraq? What happened in Lebanon? In Palestine? What's happening? What's happened over the last 100 years in Latin America and in the world? And now threatening Venezuela -- new threats against Venezuela, against Iran?
He spoke to the people of Lebanon. Many of you, he said, have seen how your homes and communities were caught in the crossfire. How cynical can you get? What a capacity to lie shamefacedly. The bombs in Beirut with millimetric precision? This is crossfire? He's thinking of a western, when people would shoot from the hip and somebody would be caught in the crossfire.
This is imperialist, fascist, assassin, genocidal, the empire and Israel firing on the people of Palestine and Lebanon. That is what happened. And now we hear, "We're suffering because we see homes destroyed.'
The president of the United States came to talk to the peoples -- to the peoples of the world. He came to say -- I brought some documents with me, because this morning I was reading some statements, and I see that he talked to the people of Afghanistan, the people of Lebanon, the people of Iran. And he addressed all these peoples directly.
And you can wonder, just as the president of the United States addresses those peoples of the world, what would those peoples of the world tell him if they were given the floor? What would they have to say?
And I think I have some inkling of what the peoples of the south, the oppressed people think. They would say, "Yankee imperialist, go home." I think that is what those people would say if they were given the microphone and if they could speak with one voice to the American imperialists.
And that is why, Madam President, my colleagues, my friends, last year we came here to this same hall as we have been doing for the past eight years, and we said something that has now been confirmed -- fully, fully confirmed.
I don't think anybody in this room could defend the system. Let's accept -- let's be honest. The U.N. system, born after the Second World War, collapsed. It's worthless.
Oh, yes, it's good to bring us together once a year, see each other, make statements and prepare all kinds of long documents, and listen to good speeches, like Abel's (ph) yesterday, or President Mullah's (ph). Yes, it's good for that.
And there are a lot of speeches, and we've heard lots from the president of Sri Lanka, for instance, and the president of Chile.
But we, the assembly, have been turned into a merely deliberative organ. We have no power, no power to make any impact on the terrible situation in the world. And that is why Venezuela once again proposes, here, today, 20 September, that we re-establish the United Nations.
Last year, Madam, we made four modest proposals that we felt to be crucially important. We have to assume the responsibility our heads of state, our ambassadors, our representatives, and we have to discuss it.
The first is expansion, and Mullah (ph) talked about this yesterday right here. The Security Council, both as it has permanent and non-permanent categories, (inaudible) developing countries and LDCs must be given access as new permanent members. That's step one.
Second, effective methods to address and resolve world conflicts, transparent decisions.
Point three, the immediate suppression -- and that is something everyone's calling for -- of the anti-democratic mechanism known as the veto, the veto on decisions of the Security Council.
Let me give you a recent example. The immoral veto of the United States allowed the Israelis, with impunity, to destroy Lebanon. Right in front of all of us as we stood there watching, a resolution in the council was prevented.
Fourthly, we have to strengthen, as we've always said, the role and the powers of the secretary general of the United Nations.
Yesterday, the secretary general practically gave us his speech of farewell. And he recognized that over the last 10 years, things have just gotten more complicated; hunger, poverty, violence, human rights violations have just worsened. That is the tremendous consequence of the collapse of the United Nations system and American hegemonistic pretensions.
Madam, Venezuela a few years ago decided to wage this battle within the United Nations by recognizing the United Nations, as members of it that we are, and lending it our voice, our thinking.
Our voice is an independent voice to represent the dignity and the search for peace and the reformulation of the international system; to denounce persecution and aggression of hegemonistic forces on the planet.
This is how Venezuela has presented itself. Bolivar's home has sought a nonpermanent seat on the Security Council.
Let's see. Well, there's been an open attack by the U.S. government, an immoral attack, to try and prevent Venezuela from being freely elected to a post in the Security Council.
The imperium is afraid of truth, is afraid of independent voices. It calls us extremists, but they are the extremists.
And I would like to thank all the countries that have kindly announced their support for Venezuela, even though the ballot is a secret one and there's no need to announce things.
But since the imperium has attacked, openly, they strengthened the convictions of many countries. And their support strengthens us.
Mercosur, as a bloc, has expressed its support, our brothers in Mercosur. Venezuela, with Brazil, Argentina, Paraguay, Uruguay, is a full member of Mercosur.
And many other Latin American countries, CARICOM, Bolivia have expressed their support for Venezuela. The Arab League, the full Arab League has voiced its support. And I am immensely grateful to the Arab world, to our Arab brothers, our Caribbean brothers, the African Union. Almost all of Africa has expressed its support for Venezuela and countries such as Russia or China and many others.
I thank you all warmly on behalf of Venezuela, on behalf of our people, and on behalf of the truth, because Venezuela, with a seat on the Security Council, will be expressing not only Venezuela's thoughts, but it will also be the voice of all the peoples of the world, and we will defend dignity and truth.
Over and above all of this, Madam President, I think there are reasons to be optimistic. A poet would have said "helplessly optimistic," because over and above the wars and the bombs and the aggressive and the preventive war and the destruction of entire peoples, one can see that a new era is dawning.
As Sylvia Rodriguez (ph) says, the era is giving birth to a heart. There are alternative ways of thinking. There are young people who think differently. And this has already been seen within the space of a mere decade. It was shown that the end of history was a totally false assumption, and the same was shown about Pax Americana and the establishment of the capitalist neo-liberal world. It has been shown, this system, to generate mere poverty. Who believes in it now?
What we now have to do is define the future of the world. Dawn is breaking out all over. You can see it in Africa and Europe and Latin America and Oceanea. I want to emphasize that optimistic vision.
We have to strengthen ourselves, our will to do battle, our awareness. We have to build a new and better world.
Venezuela joins that struggle, and that's why we are threatened. The U.S. has already planned, financed and set in motion a coup in Venezuela, and it continues to support coup attempts in Venezuela and elsewhere.
President Michelle Bachelet reminded us just a moment ago of the horrendous assassination of the former foreign minister, Orlando Letelier.
And I would just add one thing: Those who perpetrated this crime are free. And that other event where an American citizen also died were American themselves. They were CIA killers, terrorists.
And we must recall in this room that in just a few days there will be another anniversary. Thirty years will have passed from this other horrendous terrorist attack on the Cuban plane, where 73 innocents died, a Cubana de Aviacion airliner.
And where is the biggest terrorist of this continent who took the responsibility for blowing up the plane? He spent a few years in jail in Venezuela. Thanks to CIA and then government officials, he was allowed to escape, and he lives here in this country, protected by the government. And he was convicted. He has confessed to his crime. But the U.S. government has double standards. It protects terrorism when it wants to.
And this is to say that Venezuela is fully committed to combating terrorism and violence. And we are one of the people who are fighting for peace.
Luis Posada Carriles is the name of that terrorist who is protected here. And other tremendously corrupt people who escaped from Venezuela are also living here under protection: a group that bombed various embassies, that assassinated people during the coup. They kidnapped me and they were going to kill me, but I think God reached down and our people came out into the streets and the army was too, and so I'm here today.
But these people who led that coup are here today in this country protected by the American government. And I accuse the American government of protecting terrorists and of having a completely cynical discourse.
We mentioned Cuba. Yes, we were just there a few days ago. We just came from there happily.
And there you see another era born. The Summit of the 15, the Summit of the Nonaligned, adopted a historic resolution. This is the outcome document. Don't worry, I'm not going to read it.
But you have a whole set of resolutions here that were adopted after open debate in a transparent matter -- more than 50 heads of state. Havana was the capital of the south for a few weeks, and we have now launched, once again, the group of the nonaligned with new momentum.
And if there is anything I could ask all of you here, my companions, my brothers and sisters, it is to please lend your good will to lend momentum to the Nonaligned Movement for the birth of the new era, to prevent hegemony and prevent further advances of imperialism.
And as you know, Fidel Castro is the president of the nonaligned for the next three years, and we can trust him to lead the charge very efficiently.
Unfortunately they thought, "Oh, Fidel was going to die." But they're going to be disappointed because he didn't. And he's not only alive, he's back in his green fatigues, and he's now presiding the nonaligned.
So, my dear colleagues, Madam President, a new, strong movement has been born, a movement of the south. We are men and women of the south.
With this document, with these ideas, with these criticisms, I'm now closing my file. I'm taking the book with me. And, don't forget, I'm recommending it very warmly and very humbly to all of you. We want ideas to save our planet, to save the planet from the imperialist threat. And hopefully in this very century, in not too long a time, we will see this, we will see this new era, and for our children and our grandchildren a world of peace based on the fundamental principles of the United Nations, but a renewed United Nations.
And maybe we have to change location. Maybe we have to put the United Nations somewhere else; maybe a city of the south. We've proposed Venezuela.
You know that my personal doctor had to stay in the plane. The chief of security had to be left in a locked plane. Neither of these gentlemen was allowed to arrive and attend the U.N. meeting. This is another abuse and another abuse of power on the part of the Devil. It smells of sulfur here, but God is with us and I embrace you all.
May God bless us all. Good day to you.
HARRIS: Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez wrapping up his speech. What was it, Heidi, 20-plus minutes?
COLLINS: Yes, a little long, a lot of empty seats there.
HARRIS: Yes, to a nice ovation. What to make of that.
At the top, we wondered if he would be a statesman or sort of the bad boy of the U.N. taking on the Bush administration. Well, I think we found out. And whatever his plan was in terms of pushing forward Venezuela's agenda to the world body, raising its stature, one would have to say those comments are going to be overshadowed by the name- calling, frankly. If you're just joining us, at the top of the speech, the Venezuelan president called the president of the United States the devil. Have a listen.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
HUGO CHAVEZ, VENEZUELAN PRESIDENT (through translator): I think that the first people who should read this book are our brothers and sisters in the United States, because their threat is in their own house. The devil is right at home. The devil, the devil himself is right in the house. And the devil came here yesterday. Yesterday, the devil came here, right here, right here, and it smells of sulfur still today.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
HARRIS: Interesting. I am very curious to know whether or not the Iranian president, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, was in that audience as he spoke. If you may remember, we saw some pictures a couple days ago of the two of them sort of in a warm handshake. They had been talking quite a bit in their two-day visit about coming together for -- Chavez is actually quite a supporter of the Iranian nuclear program, and has come out and said that. I want to go straight to Richard Roth. Questions on that front, as well. Richard, as we heard Chavez speaking there and addressing the General Assembly -- that mixed with the nonpermanent member that they have become at the U.N. Security Council, and also again mixed with what I was just mentioning, the support that Chavez has shown for the Iranian nuclear program -- your thoughts. Is that seat in jeopardy in any way, shape or form?
RICHARD ROTH, CNN SR. U.N. CORRESPONDENT: Well, Venezuela is in a close race with Guatemala for the seat on the Security Council, one of the five nonpermanent two-year seats. Venezuela has been lobbying hard. President Chavez has toured the world, from Beijing to Moscow, to Fidel Castro's bedside, looking for support. And he could be getting a good reception, as the war in Iraq and other aspects of U.S. foreign policy take a big stumble.
In this speech, Chavez was speechmaker, statesman, book reviewer. The book he was holding up is by author Noam Chomsky, which is called "Hegemony or Survival," which dissects what he calls the United States imperial grand strategy. Very undiplomatic, frank talk in the General Assembly hall, rarely heard, accusing President Bush of being the devil, a smell of sulfur in the air, and that a psychiatrist should have been called in.
Venezuela and the U.S. at odds on almost everything. In fact, if you now look back, the real rivalry that was hyped up about a big wrestling match debate should not have been about President Bush and the president of Iran, it should have been about President Bush and President Chavez.
The president of Iran was not in the hall during this speech, but they are very close. The Venezuelan leader and the Iranian leader were together in Caracas and at the Nonaligned Summit in Havana. Many of their themes -- anti-United States policy; themes about the United States wrecking the world, that the youth of the world, the new generation is totally opposed to American aggression -- they are in lockstep on that proposal.
There have been other very controversial incidents. The Venezuelan government seizing some diplomatic pouches that were on their way out of Caracas back to the United States. So there's a whole range of issues that they -- the United States and Washington are at odds on. U.S. officials have accused Venezuela of fomenting anti-democratic principles around the world, linking Venezuela now to terrorism, rebel groups in Colombia and drug trafficking -- Heidi.
COLLINS: Richard, I think you make an excellent point that maybe we should have been looking closer at the exchanges that would happen coming from President Bush and then from Chavez. Also probably worth pointing out here, this new $1 billion arms deal that Chavez has made with the Russians. Talking about fighter jets, gunship helicopters. And then mentioning at the end of his speech, which I'm sure you saw him say this is the new strong movement of the south, we are the men of the south. Very threatening.
ROTH: And the United States is accused of using its immoral veto inside the security council to allow Israeli aggression on Lebanon. That is the theme Iranians and others have used. And he got a lot of applause in the hall. He got a lot of applause last year. There is a lot of anti-American sentiment because of the policies of the Bush administration here at the U.N..
But not everyone is standing and applauding. As you noted, there were some empty seats. Those who want to hear send high-level people or fill up the tables. The United States table, one lower ranking U.S. official. Venezuela, with its oil wealth, has been accused by Washington and others -- if you look at it, Venezuela wants to be a major player on the world stage, to be a rival in this hemisphere to the United States. It's seizing an opportunity. Castro is older, ill. He is not Iran, but he certainly supports the Iranian nuclear ambitions.
If Venezuela got a seat on the council, Venezuela would not have a veto, but could be a major irritant to U.S. foreign policy agendas inside the Security Council, because at times, the U.S. would need Venezuela's vote or other nonpermanent members to get certain resolutions or other things moved forward.
COLLINS: And it all happened at a place called the United Nations. Richard Roth, thank you so much for that.
HARRIS: And why don't we do this? Why don't we expand our conversation of this speech and sort of dissect it a little bit? One of the strengths, obviously, of CNN, is that we can turn to our sister networks in help in analyzing events like this.
Carlos Montero is with us from our sister network, CNN Espanol. Carlos, good to see you. And in just a moment, we'll talking to Jim Clancy, as well, from CNN International.
Carlos, let's start with you. If Hugo Chavez wanted to move forward, raise the stature of the country of Venezuela, not his own personal agenda, it seems to me that perhaps this was not the way to do it, to start off at the top of the speech, and at the bottom of the speech by calling the president of the United States the devil.
CARLOS MONTERO, CNN EN ESPANOL: Absolutely, Tony. He started very strong. But you have to know what Chavez does, the way he talks. And they're really pleased, like what Richard was saying, that a lot of people in Latin America, a lot of people in the world, they agreed with him.
The way he say that on the floor of the United Nations maybe wasn't the right way. But we were following the story, we've been following the story for a long time in CNN Espanol. And honestly, we're not expecting anything less from him. We were expecting him to come up strong, going against President Bush, that you look at him like he was the devil, like he said in his speech.
COLLINS: But what is it you say that a lot of people agree with, as far as Chavez is concerned, about President Bush? That he's trying to take over the world? MONTERO: What they see right now -- I mean, a lot of people in the world, a lot of people in Latin America, they are against about politics of the USA. They are against about the USA when they go to war with Afghanistan. They are against the USA when it went into the Iraq. And in a way, they agree. There are a lot of people who don't agree with him.
Like Latin America, something very amazing, interesting, politically is going on. A lot of the (INAUDIBLE) are going toward left side. We've got a lot of person who are the left side of spectrum. We were listening before -- Michelle Bachelet, the president of Chile, she's a moderate left. And she said from the south, we see everything different. And that's a different point of view. You know, from the south, we see everything different.
COLLINS: Are they against the war...
MONTERO: I mean, and also I would like to say that a lot of people in Latin America and Europe, they don't agree with Chavez.
MONTERO: They don't think...
COLLINS: They -- against the war on terror?
MONTERO: They understand that it's a very complicated situation. Everybody was -- they feel very sorry for the United States after 9/11. It was something crazy. But then they wait (INAUDIBLE) everything, you know, when the U.S. went into Afghanistan, they went into Iraq. That situation, it put a lot of people in the war against the politics of George W. Bush.
HARRIS: But how does this speech -- I have to ask it. I'm just curious. And give us your best sense on this. How does a speech like this play in Latin America, in Venezuela, when the president of that country, in such strong -- and as Richard pointed out, undiplomatic -- language, takes on the president of the United States in very personal terms? That doesn't seem to be necessary.
MONTERO: It was really strong, I agree with you. But like I was saying before, he's a special character, Hugo Chavez. That's the way he talks. He did before. I mean, he said awful things about the president of the United States before.
HARRIS: Awful things.
MONTERO: Awful things, absolutely.
COLLINS: This is not new.
MONTERO: Oh, not at all. Like I said before, on CNN Espanol, we've been following Chavez for a long time. And that's the way he talks about President Bush. I mean, it's not nothing new. It's new, he said that in this forum, you know, in the United Nations.
MONTERO: But Venezuela (INAUDIBLE) elections at the end of this year. I mean, the position, of course, in Venezuela, want to be against of what Chavez said today. But the reality that is like some people are going to agree with him.
COLLINS: Okay, Carlos, stick around for just a minute, if you would. We want to go ahead and take a moment to bring in Jim Clancy of "YOUR WORLD TODAY," CNN International, as well.
Jim, you tell us your thoughts on how you think the speech played around the world, not just in the United States.
JIM CLANCY, CNN ANCHOR: Well, you know, Carlos was making the point there, obviously a lot of people aren't happy with U.S. foreign policy. But you've got to look at it in context. This is, as Carlos says, classic Hugo Chavez. He lifts him up -- himself up -- in his own eyes, to the level of President Bush when he can talk about Bush and talk down to him in an insulting manner, as we heard there.
It's an interesting way that he did it. You've got to remember, he's full of himself, but he's also full of oil money. He's feeling a lot of power. You talk about that billion-dollar Soviet arms deal. The money's coming straight from oil, and yes, some of it's coming from right in the United States.
HARRIS: And Jim, what are your -- I'm just curious as to where this speech plays best for him. We understand that he's also, you know, trying to enter into economic deals with Iran, as well. Give us a sense where these words, where that oil money, the capabilities with regard to oil, where do these discussions and his base, where does it play?
CLANCY: Well, it plays out well. Look, he absolutely wants to oppose the White House. And it really doesn't matter who's in the White House. He wants to oppose the United States wherever it is, in whatever country it's having a problem.
You know, when Iran was called on the carpet for having a nuclear enrichment program that they hadn't revealed to the IAEA or anyone else, well, he stood up instantly and said, no, they should have nuclear weapons; and in fact, I want nuclear weapons, too. Look for him to go down that road, that he wants a nuclear program, nuclear power. He wouldn't say nuclear weapons, of course. All of these things play out in any place where there's some anti-American sentiment.
Is he taken seriously? Not even by some Latin Americans, but they do enjoy it. They love seeing him do this. It's an act, a performance. And as Carlos is pointing out, everybody expects him to stand up and do something spectacular, even if it's in spectacularly bad taste. COLLINS: And Carlos, while we still have you here as well, you'd be a great person to point out a little bit for us about the life of the average Venezuelan as they look to Hugo Chavez as their leader. What is life like for them?
MONTERO: Like, I mean, they need a leader, they look at him as a strong leader. We have to realize that in Venezuela, like in a lot of countries in Latin America -- I just came from Nicaragua -- there is a lot of poverty. There is a big difference between people who have a lot and people who have nothing.
And those people who have nothing, they look at those populist leaders like as a solution for them. So, I mean, they want to be an election before the end of the year, and everything looks like he's going to win again.
COLLINS: And he is offering them a lot as far as getting out of poverty?
MONTERO: He's offering a lot. I don't know if he can do it, but he's offering them a lot.
COLLINS: All right. So much appreciate you being here.
MONTERO: Thank you very much. It's a pleasure.
COLLINS: Carlos Montero.
HARRIS: And Jim Clancy.
Of course, more analysis on the speech from Venezuela's president, Hugo Chavez coming up at the top of the hour. With Jim Clancy and Hala Gorani. "YOUR WORLD TODAY" at the top of the hour.
COLLINS: Also wanted to tell you about a briefing that NASA will be having at the top of the hour. You've been learning a little bit about the shuttle and the debris. And it sounds really bad, but according to NASA, this has happened before, not a lot they can do about it, and they are not as concerned as you might think they would be. We'll get to that coming up in just a few.
HARRIS: And still ahead in the NEWSROOM, California jewel thieves ready for their close-up. A heist worthy of Hollywood. Watch it unfold straight ahead.
COLLINS: A quiet community, a horrific crime. A woman dragged more than a mile behind a vehicle.
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UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: She has a family, and they can't even identify her? That is sad.
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COLLINS: The investigation ahead in the CNN NEWSROOM. You're watching CNN, the most trusted name in news.
HARRIS: How about this? Live pictures now from the Johnson Space Center. On Mission Control right now, we are awaiting a noon press conference, a briefing with reporters. We'll carry that, of course, live here on CNN. We expected the news to come out of this to be that the shuttle will be cleared for landing tomorrow.
HARRIS: But there is still this slight issue, but not much of an issue, it seems, to me, Heidi, with this debris that's been seen in front of the shuttle itself. But we will get all of that cleared up in the news briefing. We will bring it live to you here in the NEWSROOM. Expect it to start straight up at noon, Eastern time.
COLLINS: Sounds worse than they're telling us.
HARRIS: Yes, yes.
COLLINS: They're not as concerned. We'll have that in just a minute. Meanwhile, Carol Lin, sitting in for Kyra Phillips this afternoon in the NEWSROOM.
CAROL LIN, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Hi there.
HARRIS: Hi Carol.
LIN: While you guys have been doing a range of stories, we have been watching what's been happening at the United Nations, and you are not going to believe what the Venezuelan president has been saying about the president of the United States.
We've seen seeing a lot of strong words directed against President Bush there. Venezuelan president Hugo Chavez today and Iranian president, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, last night. What is behind the war of words and what about Iran's nuclear ambitions? This afternoon, in the NEWSROOM, terrorism expert Jim Walsh joins me live to talk about his meeting this morning with Iran's president. They had breakfast together.
And the F-14 makes its final fight. The fighter plane made famous in "Top Gun" is retiring. And Kyra Phillips will fly along -- yes, you heard me -- will fly along and report live from Norfolk, Virginia, tomorrow as the Tomcats fly off into the sunset.
COLLINS: She's flying in the 14, she's not flying not in the AWACS, the little guy we're looking at right there, right?
LIN: You should know, because your husband's a pilot.
COLLINS: She's in the 14. LIN: Yes. She's in the F-14, yes, because it's retiring.
HARRIS: She loves that stuff.
LIN: I know. She's going to be with us.
HARRIS: See you, Carol.
COLLINS: Thanks, Carol.
Meanwhile, a story that we're keeping a close eye on here in the CNN NEWSROOM, baby Abby has come home. The Missouri infant is back in her family's arms after a five-day kidnapping ordeal. Suspect is now in police custody. She is accused of stealing Abby after attacking the baby's mom with a knife. Police say the suspect's sister-in-law is a hero for turning the baby over to authorities. For Abby's family today, a huge feeling of relief.
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KENNY OCHSENBINE, ABBY'S GRANDFATHER: Emotions are flying. Everybody's just happy that Abby was able to come home safe and be with Stephanie (ph). I myself tried to keep a positive attitude. I believe in God. And I prayed and prayed and prayed. And the whole family has prayed. And everybody's prayed. And I believe that God was going to bring her back. She he succeeded.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
COLLINS: A possible break in a terrible crime in Colorado now. A woman dies a horrible death, dragged behind a vehicle. Local affiliates report an arrest has been made. People there have set up a small memorial to the unknown victim at the spot where her body was found. The coroner's office says she dies of strangulation and head injuries. The woman's face was severely disfigured, slowing the identification efforts.
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UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: We'll use fingerprints, dental records, composites of her photograph, marking scars, tattoos.
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COLLINS: Again, local affiliates report and arrest has been made. Stay with here for more details as they come in to the CNN NEWSROOM on this one.
HARRIS: Well, it sounds like a movie plot, it was even filmed. But this jewel heist in Laguna Hills, California was very real. While two men posing as customers distracted the clerks, police say a third crouched behind the counter, swiped a key, and opened a diamond. He cleared it out, stuffing half a million dollars' worth of wedding ring sets and diamond solitaires into his pockets. The whole thing took less than five minutes. As you can see, it was all caught very nearly by a surveillance camera. Police say that the thieves may be responsible for two other heists. They are still on the loose at this hour.
Tiger Woods is coming swinging. It's what he does for a living, but he's pretty ticked off this time. The golf superstar is rushing to his wife's defense just days before the Ryder Cup gets underway in Ireland.
A Magazine there accused the Swedish model, Tiger's wife, of doing softcore Internet porn. Tiger says it's not true, and a topless woman shown in the newspaper article is simply not his wife.
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