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YOUR WORLD TODAY

Bush Ends Tour With Six-Hour Stopover in Indonesia; Tony Blair: Afghanistan Battles Will Decide World Security; Kremlin Dismisses Claims it Tried to Poison Ex-Spy

Aired November 20, 2006 - 12:00   ET

THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.


HALA GORANI, CNN INTERNATIONAL ANCHOR: A hostile reception for the U.S. president as he wraps up his Asian tour with a lightning-fast visit to the nation with the world's largest Muslim population.
STEPHEN FRAZIER, CNN INTERNATIONAL ANCHOR: Real-life Russian spy drama. Suspicion now falling on Moscow as an outspoken ex-KGB agent fights for his life in a hospital.

GORANI: More than 35 years after the breakup, the Beatles are back with a new album. With a little help from the latest technology, the Fab Four as you've never heard them before.

FRAZIER: And she's twice as old as Madonna, but this self- described little old lady with a big voice can still bring down the house and bring back memories of a golden age in a country scarred by war.

It's 7:00 in the evening in Beirut. It's midnight right now in Jakarta.

Hello everyone, and welcome to our report broadcast around the globe.

I'm Stephen Frazier.

GORANI: I'm Hala Gorani.

This is YOUR WORLD TODAY.

Well, as more and more Iraqis bury loved ones killed in sectarian attacks, the prime minister suggests some politicians are fueling the violence there.

FRAZIER: Here are the latest developments now.

More than 100 deaths have been reported across Iraq in only the past 24 hours. A popular television comedian and a college professor are among the dead. Two top government officials managed to survive assassination attempts.

GORANI: The prime minister, Nouri al-Maliki, is accusing some lawmakers of having ties to terrorists, saying, "We cannot be politicians during the day and with the militias at night." Mr. al- Maliki met with Syria's foreign minister in Baghdad on Monday. He's the highest ranking Syrian official to visit since the war began. FRAZIER: And more diplomacy involving Iraq's neighbors could be only days away. The Associated Press is reporting that Iranian president Mahmoud Ahmadinejad has invited his Iraqi and Syrian counterparts to join him for a weekend summit in Tehran.

GORANI: Now, a former U.S. secretary of state who advises President Bush on Iraq says a full military victory is no longer possible. Henry Kissinger says the U.S. should "redefine the course," but advises against a hasty withdrawal, saying the consequences of that would be disastrous.

He spoke to the BBC on Sunday.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

HENRY KISSINGER, FMR. SECRETARY OF STATE: If you mean by clear military victory an Iraqi government that can be established (INAUDIBLE) across the whole country, that gets the civil war under control and sectarian violence under control in a time period that the political processes of the democracies will support, I don't believe that is possible.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

GORANI: Well, Kissinger was one of the architects of the U.S. war against Vietnam. He won the Nobel Peace Prize for brokering a cease-fire -- Stephen.

FRAZIER: Hala, it was only a six-hour stopover, but security was extremely tight for the final stop of U.S. President George W. Bush's tour through Asia. Indonesia that last stop, the world's most populous Muslim nation. And it's a place where Mr. Bush's policies on Israel and the war in Iraq are not popular.

More now from Ed Henry, traveling with the president.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

ED HENRY, CNN WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT (voice over): Thousands of protesters in the streets of Bogor, Indonesia, a Muslim country seething about President Bush's invasions of Iraq and Afghanistan. During a brief joint press conference with his Indonesian counterpart, Mr. Bush tried to downplay the protests with a quip.

GEORGE W. BUSH, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: It's not the first time, by the way, where people have showed up and expressed their opinions about my policies.

HENRY: Perhaps a fitting end to a weeklong swing through Asia that highlighted the unpopularity of the war in Iraq, attending the APEC summit in Vietnam, inviting inevitable comparisons between two unpopular wars. The president's final day in the region began in Vietnam, banging the gong at the stock exchange in Ho Chi Minh City to highlight a former enemy's burgeoning economy.

After criticism he had not been mingling with ordinary people on his trip, the president was bobbing to the beat as children performed traditional Vietnamese dances and songs. But a much more hostile reception was waiting in Indonesia, where there's anger about the war in Iraq.

BUSH: I haven't made any decisions about troop increases or troop decreases, and won't until I hear from a variety of sources, including our own United States military. So I haven't -- no need to comment on something that may not happen. But if it were to happen, I would tell you the upsides and downsides.

HENRY: And when the Indonesian president was asked if he had privately urged the U.S. president to begin withdrawing troops from Iraq, Mr. Bush jumped in.

BUSH: I'll be glad to answer it for him. No, he didn't. But he can answer it for himself.

HENRY (on camera): There was so much concern here about the president's security, that he would not even stay overnight in Indonesia. The White House choosing instead to fly him for 13 hours so he could sleep safe and sound in Hawaii.

Ed Henry, CNN, Bogor, Indonesia.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

GORANI: Well, while the international community keeps its eye on Iraq, the British prime minister, Tony Blair, says battles in the deserts of Afghanistan will decide the future of world security. He flew to Afghanistan on Monday to see for himself the state of anti- Taliban operations.

Tom Bradby is in Kabul and brings us the details.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

TOM BRADBY, REPORTER, ITV NEWS (voice over): Not very long ago, this was a forgotten war. But no longer. Tony Blair crossed the forbidding Afghan mountains and made the steep descent into Camp Bastion, home now to more than 2,000 British troop.

Bastion is a temporary camp in a desolate plain. But as these pictures shot recently by ITV News graphically show, the fighting around it is up close and visceral.

In recognition of that, Tony Blair said his main purpose in coming here today was to say thank you.

TONY BLAIR, BRITISH PRIME MINISTER: Here, in this extraordinary piece of desert is where the future in the early 21st century of the world's security is going to be played out. And you're the people that are doing the difficult work. And you should know not just that you're appreciated, but the importance of the work you do is appreciated as well.

BRADBY: The soldiers here appeared relatively upbeat, but the question is whether the situation in Afghanistan as a whole is going forwards or backwards.

(on camera): Tony Blair has one aim here, and that is to show he has his eye on the ball. Critics said that after the invasion of Iraq, the coalition powers took their eyes off the ball here and allowed the Taliban back in. These men and women now have the task of pushing them back. And no one is suggesting that that's easy.

(voice over): It says something about the situation that a visiting Western leader and his delegation have to be helicoptered into the presidential compound in Kabul, rather than driving by in road. But in a press conference here, the prime minister insisted a corner had been turned.

QUESTION: Can I ask the prime minister, first of all, would you acknowledge that the Western powers lost focus a little bit in Afghanistan for a while?

BLAIR: The last few months have seen us refocus in a strong way. And, I mean, we have been present and doing things the entire time. But I think certainly from our perspective, it is important both now that we show the progress that is big made and reenergize people that this is something that is worth doing.

BRADBY: The message for political and military leaders alike is a simple one here: There has been some progress. This is a different scenario to Iraq.

Tom Bradby, ITV News, in Kabul.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

FRAZIER: The Kremlin is brushing aside allegations that it had anything to do with the poisoning of one of its former spies. He is Alexander Litvinenko. Here's how he looked before he was poisoned. And we have just now received a picture of how he looks now, in serious condition, under guard in a hospital in London.

As for how he got to this stage, Paula Newton has that story.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

PAULA NEWTON, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice over): From his bed in a London hospital where Alexander Litvinenko is fighting for his life, the former Russian spy is giving even the best Cold War conspiracies a run for their money. So intriguing, because he implicates the Kremlin itself.

The plot begins here at a London sushi spot earlier this month, where Litvinenko says he was poisoned as he met with an Italian informant who claims he had information linking the Russian government to the murder of journalist Anna Politkovskaya. Within hours of the meal, Litvinenko was admitted to hospital with what he thought was food poisoning. But over the next few days, the 41-year-old suffered severe pain, vomiting, dehydration, heart complications. And finally, doctors say, the dead give away Litvinenko had been poisoned with thallium, he lost all his hair. DR. JOHN HENRY, CLINICAL TOXICOLOGIST: You could call thallium poisoning chemical torture. It really is a way of causing harm to somebody without ever being near them. The damage has been done. The assailant is gone, and somebody is suffering seriously for many months.

NEWTON (on camera): And yet, it takes just a pinch of thallium to kill or seriously hurt someone. It is a toxic metal that actually looks a lot like salt or sugar. It is odorless, colorless, and tasteless, and dissolves easily into water.

HENRY: In a way, it's a very ideal -- I shouldn't use that word -- but it's an ideal homicidal poison, and it's been used as such for many years.

NEWTON: Toxicologist John Henry has examined Litvinenko and says there is no doubt he was poisoned with thallium and could still die.

Despite his condition, Litvinenko agreed to be questioned by Scotland Yard, and the investigation continues. The police will only say they're examining his movements in and around the time of the suspected poisoning and "... examining CCTV footage."

But Litvinenko's friends are pointing the finger at Russian president Vladimir Putin and the secret services they say he now employs to silence critics.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Any journalist or any politician who is critical of the government policy can be interpreted as an extremist. So my first point, all of this is perfectly legal under Russian law.

NEWTON: Russia recently extended its powers to deal with so- called extremists, but to be sure, Litvinenko was involved for years in a murky underworld few have knowledge about.

He left Russia in 2000, saying he feared for his life. He is an ardent defender of Chechen separatists. He accused the Russian government of blowing up hundreds of Russians as they slept in their apartments in order to make up a pretence to invade Chechnya.

ALEXANDER GOLDFARB, LITVINENKO'S FRIEND: He was working amongst terrorists, against gangsters. So he knew -- he lived in that world. He was very aware not only with the enemies he made in his professional life, but, of course, he was now making an enemy of the Russian state.

NEWTON: It is a tangled Web of intrigue in the greatest Cold War tradition. The Kremlin refused to comment, but as Litvinenko struggles for his life one thing is certain: The final chapter in this spy story is yet to be written.

Paula Newton, CNN, London.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

FRAZIER: Next, putting their bodies in harm's way. GORANI: Some Gaza residents risking their own lives to protect Palestinian militants targeted by Israel.

FRAZIER: And the granny with the nightingale voice. At the age of 82, she can still fill Beirut's fashionable nightclubs.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

TONY HARRIS, CNN ANCHOR: And hello again, everyone. I'm Tony Harris in the CNN NEWSROOM.

We will get you back to YOUR WORLD TODAY in just a moment. But first of all, we want to take you to Huntsville, Alabama, where we have some breaking news unfolding right now.

It appears that a high school bus has apparently flipped over and off the I-565 ramp, a major interstate in the Huntsville area. This occurring at the Church Street overpass, if you are familiar with that area. Huntsville police, as you can see, are on the scene, as well as rescue teams as well.

A number of individuals have been injured. Several of the injured have been transported to a Huntsville hospital.

Just a short time ago, an affiliate reporter with WAAY in Huntsville spoke to Keith Ward of the Huntsville schools, and here is a bit of that interview.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

KEITH WARD, HUNTSVILLE CITY SCHOOLS: Well, we know that there were approximately -- and this is an approximate number now -- 20 students or so that were on a bus that were Lee High School students that were en route from the Huntsville Center for Technology. We know there was an incident and overturned bus, and we've got, you know, a very serious situation.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: At this point, do we know if all of the students have been transported? Wendall had told us there were still some students here on the ground.

WARD: I think they've -- I think they have just about got all of the students transported. They were asking any parent to go to Huntsville hospital. They have got a waiting area set up there.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

HARRIS: OK. So let's try to put the pieces of this story together for you.

One of the local television stations in the area, WHNT, is reporting that parents had actually started to arrive at the wreck site under the interstate there, 565, under that overpass. And you just heard from Keith Ward, the representative from Huntsville schools, that as many as 20 students were actually on the bus.

There was some kind of an incident on the bus. Obviously, the driver lost control of the bus and then overturned the bus.

The bus then falling off of that overpass. This is the I-565 ramp at the Church Street overpass.

Let us take you back now to some more of the coverage now being provided by our affiliate there, WAAY.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Approximately 40 patients that were transported from the scene. And we did transport the life-threatening injuries at first.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Of course we don't like to talk about this at this point, it's supposition. But we did have several Lee High School students here that came immediately that had talked about fatalities. Do we know at this point if there are fatalities?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I can't -- I can't confirm whether there are fatalities, but we do have a bad accident. And we do have a lot of serious injuries.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: And of course, a school bus, no seatbelts, no airbags, anything like that. How -- how did that play into this?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Well, I'm sure -- you know, it looks like to me that the bridge is approximately -- I would say probably 30 feet. So the bus fell approximately 30 feet and fell on its front and top. And so naturally those people towards the front of the bus had more serious injuries.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: One of the witnesses had told us that maybe there was a car that swerved in front of it. I know it's very early in this. Any idea house the bus actually ended up hitting that portion of the interstate and coming over?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: No, don't have any idea. Like I say, when we arrive on a scene, our primary focus is on the patients and extricating the patients out of the bus.

Of course, we're having to deal with the cold, and -- but we had a great effort from Hemsi, working with volunteer -- Madison County Volunteer Rescue Squad. We immediately called in for some additional personnel in case we needed them, but Hemsi has probably got an idea of how many ambulances responded.

But it really went, I thought, very well.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Very quick work on your part today. Have you worked scenes like this?

You have been around a long time. But this -- this is a pretty -- pretty amazing scene. This is pretty scary stuff here. Have you seen a scene like this in downtown before?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Well, no, I have not. But, you know, they have had the tornadoes that have come through. But we do have exercises occasionally to practice stuff like this. So, to some people, it may look like utter chaos. But one of the big advantages that we had is we had a large area that we could work, and there was also confined in a fenced-in area that we keep the bystanders and all that. So that helped tremendously.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: You mentioned that -- we have actually even covered events where you have practiced for events like this. How did that play into your response today?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Well, everybody has got their own part. And I think the first thing that -- when I arrived on the scene, I got with the folks from Hemsi, Don Webster (ph), and we made sure that we had a unified command post with Huntsville Police Department, Hemsi, Huntsville Fire, and then we made sure that we had an orchestrated effort.

It really went well. I mean, they primarily -- our folks helped with the triage and treatment, and their folks coordinated all the transportation.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: And for people watching at home, trying to get information, what do we need to tell them about the interstate at this point, or church street, and areas to avoid?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Well, right now we've pretty much turned it all over to Huntsville Police Department, because it is an accident scene. And about the only information I can give you is as far as all the way up to the point where all the patients were transported.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Great. Thank you very much, sir.

HARRIS: OK. Let's -- let's see if we can recap this story and then move it forward just a bit.

We're in Huntsville, Alabama, right now, where a high school bus has apparently flipped over and off of the I-565 ramp, an interstate there in the Huntsville area. This is a ramp at the Church Street overpass.

Let's get more information on this now.

Wendall Johnson is on the line with us. He is with the Huntsville Police Department.

Wendell, thanks for your time.

WENDALL JOHNSON, HUNTSVILLE, ALABAMA POLICE: Thank you, Tony.

It's not a good day in Huntsville. Right now, all of the students, I think around 30 or so, have been transported to the Huntsville Hospital emergency room. Now they are overflowing, the emergency, and on to Crestwood Medical Center (ph).

But all of the students have been transported from the scene. The bus apparently is severely damaged in the front, which means that it either hit the guardrail and crashed down on top of that -- Huntsville Fire and Rescue did have to use some equipment to open up the box -- the box -- school bus because it was -- the children were damaged in here. It's quite cold down here for Huntsville, so we had to get them to a warm place and emergency room as quickly as possible.

HARRIS: My understanding is -- and I guess we can make this out. You mentioned just a moment ago that the front of the bus is heavily damaged. And I may have heard you or someone else just a moment ago saying that most of the injuries were sustained by the young people who were at the front of the bus.

Is that correct?

JOHNSON: Now, I don't know that. I will try to see if I can get Don Hemsi (sic) -- or Don Webster (ph) with our Hemsi Ambulance Service.

HARRIS: OK.

JOHNSON: We've got fire and rescue, and then talking about the rescue operations. And let me see if I can...

HARRIS: No, no, no. Wendall -- Wendall, stay with me. I have more questions for you.

Just orient us, if you would, with the area. We're talking about the I-565 ramp at the Church Street overpass. How much of a drop are we talking about here?

JOHNSON: I'm not a good judge of distance, but it looks like three to four car lengths.

HARRIS: OK. OK. That...

JOHNSON: Or larger. Or longer.

HARRIS: The earlier number that we heard was that 20 students may have been taken to local hospitals. Are you giving us an updated number that as many as 30 students were on the bus?

JOHNSON: We don't -- we don't have an accurate account yet. That's what I'm waiting for officials at the Huntsville Hospital to call me and give me an idea of how many students we have.

HARRIS: Got you.

JOHNSON: But right now we are -- we do have personnel who are talking to the media now about the rescue operations.

HARRIS: What can you tell us about the rescue operation?

JOHNSON: It took a while. It took a while.

This is a very -- it's a three-lane street. It's very convoluted, small. Huntsville has never seen an accident like this involving students or anything like that. HARRIS: And clear, this is -- this is a difficult rescue operation with young people on the bus in various stages of distress, correct?

JOHNSON: Right. And you have seen on CNN and other national broadcasts how school buses are not equipped with safety belts. So I don't know if the driver had a safety belt, but obviously the students, when they were hurled over the side of I-565, crashing to the ground, they were just tossed around inside the school bus.

HARRIS: Did you have to establish any kind of a triage area right there immediately at the scene, or were you able to take the injured off the bus, put them on an ambulance and get them to the local hospital?

JOHNSON: Right. Now, the emergency personnel, medical personnel did establish some points. We transported the most serious first, and then the others came second.

So it was -- it took maybe over an hour to get all of the students just out and transported to the hospital. I have been out here for about an hour and a half. So they just cleared that area.

HARRIS: And Wendall, thanks for your time. Just a couple more questions for you. My understanding is this -- this was a bus from Lee High School. Do we know where the bus was going?

JOHNSON: OK. Lee High School, the students twice a day, they transport students to the Huntsville Center for Technology, which is about maybe four to eight miles. I'm not a good judge of distance there, but they go to classes there, to the technology center.

One busload in the morning and a busload in the afternoon. I still have not established whether they were coming or going.

HARRIS: And do you know whether or not you're dealing with life- threatening injuries for some of these young people, the driver and the young people?

JOHNSON: I have been informed unofficially that -- what some of the conditions are, but we're not ready to release that yet. I have got some people down there at the Huntsville emergency room trying to determine how many numbers we have in terms of their -- and their condition that they're in.

HARRIS: And Wendall, let me just press you on this just a little bit. In the description that was given to you, are some of these injuries being described as life-threatening?

JOHNSON: I would say so.

HARRIS: OK, Wendall.

You have a lot on your hands right there. And what's the advice for parents right now? Because we understand some parents have actually started to arrive at the scene. JOHNSON: The parents are gone. All of the parents right now -- the scene is pretty clear. The parents and students, all of the parents, we have instructed them to go to the Huntsville Hospital emergency room so they can contact school personnel, so that we can compile a list of students, the injuries, the conditions.

It was a very chaotic scene. And the parents are just frantic.

So we tried to get as much information out as possible to show that it was students from Lee High School, so most of the city would not be just shaken and confused. We have five high schools in Huntsville.

HARRIS: All right, Wendall. I will leave you to your work. It sounds like you have a lot on your hands today.

And our best to everyone involved in this.

JOHNSON: Thank you, Tony.

HARRIS: Wendall Johnson, Huntsville Police Department.

I'm Tony Harris in the CNN NEWSROOM.

YOUR WORLD TODAY continues after a quick break.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

GORANI: Welcome back to YOUR WORLD TODAY.

I'm Hala Gorani.

FRAZIER: I'm Stephen Frazier.

Here are some of the stories we have been tracking.

The Associated Press is reporting that four Iraqi lawmakers say Iran has invited the presidents of Iraq and Syria for a weekend summit in Tehran. This meeting would focus on the continuing violence in Iraq.

The AP is reporting that the president of Iraq, Jalal Talabani, has already accepted.

GORANI: Security was extremely tight during a brief visit by U.S. President George Bush to Indonesia. Thousands of protesters let the president know they strongly oppose his Middle East policies. During a news conference with Indonesian President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono, Mr. Bush said the two leaders discussed North Korea and Iran.

FRAZIER: British Prime Minister Tony Blair pledged his country's commitment to the mission in Afghanistan during a quick visit to Kabul. Mr. Blair said Britain will stay committed to the job in Afghanistan until it is done. He also highlighted the progress that country has made under difficult circumstances. GORANI: Now the founder of the only Holocaust museum aimed at an Arab audience has been invited to attend a conference in Teheran, but will Israel let him go. As Ben Wedeman reports from Nazareth, Israeli authorities think the museum founder's heart is in the right place, but they may not like what he has to say once he gets to Iran.

(BEGIN VIDEO TAPE)

BEN WEDEMAN, CNN CORRESPONDENT: As museums go, it's pretty simple. One room and a hallway with posters and pictures of the Holocaust. What it lacks in presentation, it makes up for in significance. It's the only holocaust museum founded and run by an Arab for an Arab audience. When Arab Israeli lawyer Khaled Mahameed opened it last year in Nazareth, he came under withering criticism from fellow Arabs who accused him of acting as a shill for Israel.

KHALED KASSIB MAHAMEED, ARAB-ISRAELI LAWYER: It was a big attack, a very huge attack. And the level of family, the level of friends, the level of customers.

WEDEMAN: Mahameed stresses that if Palestinians understand the Holocaust, they'll better understand what motivates Israel. Sometimes his ideas come across in an odd manner.

MAHAMEED: You don't need to pump Palestinians with (INAUDIBLE). It's enough that you pump the Palestinians with pictures of the Holocaust. And (INAUDIBLE). What do you want to do? You can't change minds by pictures of the Holocaust.

WEDEMAN: And now those ideas have brought him some unlikely attention.

MAHAMEED: You are kindly requested to not to contact Iran's embassy for your visa issued two weeks before conference.

WEDEMAN: The conference, to be held in Iran early next month is entitled 'Review of the Holocaust -- Global Vision.' Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad has publicly questioned whether the Holocaust ever took place and has called for Israel to be wiped off the map. But Mahameed believes he can bring conference participants over to his point of view.

MAHAMEED: Everyone comes to me, I only need two minutes to convince them.

WEDEMAN (on-camera): All you need is two minutes to convince them?

MAHAMEED: Yes. two minutes.

WEDEMAN: You think, Ahmadinejad, you can convince him in two minutes.

MAHAMEED: No, in forty-five seconds.

WEDEMAN (voice over): But some in Israel worry about the message he'll deliver.

ARIEH O'SULLIVAN, ANTI-DEFAMATION LEAGUE: If he goes to ran it would be great if he talked about the Holocaust and he would be ammunition for those who say the Holocaust never happened. And he would say this did happen. If he goes to Iran and he says the Holocaust happened and the Palestinians paid the price for it, then that's not good.

WEDEMAN: Israeli officials have yet to give Mahameed the green light to travel to Iran. If he gets it, he'll have well over two minutes to get his ideas across.

Ben Wedeman, CNN, Nazareth, Israel

(END VIDEOTAPE)

GORANI: You know it's been nearly 30 years since radical students stormed the U.S. embassy in Teheran, taking 52 American hostages and really permanently changing the relationship between the two countries.

FRAZIER: Ever wonder what happened to that battered embassy building we looked at some many nights where those hostages were being held. Well our Aneesh Raman has been there, he can show us now. Here's his report.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

ANEESH RAMAN, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice over): November, 1979, the beginning of the end for U.S.-Iran relations. Amid the Islamic revolution, hordes of students took control of the U.S. Embassy in Tehran. Fifty-two Americans were taken hostage, and within months, the U.S. broke off all diplomatic ties with Iran.

RAMAN (on camera): Nearly three decades later, the embassy is now home to a government-backed militia. They rarely let any cameras on the inside, but there's plenty to see on the outside. This is the main gate. And you can still make out America's seal, battered by age and by protest. It's barely visible, but there it is: Embassy of the United States of America.

RAMAN (voice over): Walls which once protected American diplomats are now canvasses for anti-American banners. An odd exterior given the U.S. technically still owns the embassy. But now even that last link could vanish.

This is the Iranian man who may soon hold the deed to the American Embassy. In 1992, Hossein Alikhani spent 105 days in a U.S. jail after being captured in the Bahamas for allegedly violating sanctions on Libya. But the sanctions didn't apply to non-Americans living outside the U.S., so he sued and was awarded more than $500 million by an Iranian court, which just a few days ago gave this option to the U.S...

HOSSEIN ALIKHANI, IRANIAN PLAINTIFF: If they don't pay, OK, then either they have to come up with a list of assets or they have to prove that they have nothing.

RAMAN: The U.S. has something, its old embassy, which could, in a matter of weeks, being handed over to Alikhani in lieu of payment. A prospect the State Department is warning against.

GONZALO GALLEGOS, STATE DEPT. ACTING SPOKESMAN: Under the Vienna Convention on Diplomatic Relations, even where there are no diplomatic relations, states have an obligation to respect and protect embassy premises from actions such as these.

RAMAN: Iran has no immunity in U.S. courts from prosecution because it is deemed a state sponsor of terror. It is because of that that Alikhani brought his case.

ALIKHANI: If Iran has to pay a penny, the U.S. has to pay as well.

RAMAN: And now U.S. could end up paying with the very place where things first soured between Iran and America.

Aneesh Raman, CNN, Tehran.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

FRAZIER: Well, still ahead, it's not just another run of the mill remix.

GORANI: A legendary band comes together decades after their breakup in 21st century style. All you need is love to make the magic work and a bit of technology really. Stay with us.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

GORANI: Welcome back, everyone. We're seen live in more than 200 countries across the globe. This is YOUR WORLD TODAY" and you're with CNN International.

GORANI: Well, take some of the best known songs of the Beatles and modern state of the art production techniques and all you have is love. Stephen Frazier joins us with more on a new album being released today and a bit more love. We always need it don't we Stephen?

FRAZIER: That's what they're calling it and we sure do need it in both terms, both musically and also metaphysically. A lot of fans though could cringe at the thought of yet another new spin on timeless songs. Why mess around with such perfection, but it was all a labor of love says legendary producer Sir George Martin. It is he who created the album along with his son Giles. Jim Boulden joins us now from a central London record store where he has his hands on one. This would be greatly sought after Jim, don't you think?

JIM BOULDEN, CNN CORRESPONDENT: That's right Steven. We've been watching people buy this album all day. Here it is. As you say, it is called "Love." It was created by George Martin and his son believe, it or not, for a cirque du soleil show in Las Vegas. The idea was to remix this music for a continuous backtrack. You might be able to hear some of it. It's being played here in this shop in west London. Now as you say, some Beatles fans may not be crazy about this, but people have been coming in here all day to buy it, to indeed find out if all you need is love.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

BOULDEN (voice-over): It's called a mash up. Beatles legendary producer George Martin and his son Giles have been remixing classic Beatles tunes, mashing songs together and digitally splicing and dicing in-studio chatter and other sounds, all recorded by the fab four back in the 1960s.

GEORGE MARTIN, BEATLES PRODUCER: You can do extraordinary things now which we couldn't do in the '60s. We just had to play around with bits of tape and razor blades in those days. But now you can do all sorts of things.

BOULDEN: The album called "Love" was produced to be the continuous backtrack for a Cirque du Soleil show in Las Vegas.

PAUL MCCARTNEY, SINGER: Only Cirque have their live artists to play. With the Beatles, we didn't want them to just be sound-alikes. So we wanted them to use the actual recordings.

BOULDEN: Paul and Ringo Starr were happy to have their music updated for the 21st century. So now you can hear "Strawberry Fields Forever" with "Penny Lane" mixed in and more.

RINGO STARR, SINGER: Some of my drum patterns were put on tracks they weren't on originally.

MCCARTNEY: We encouraged them to mess around as much and more than they wanted.

BOULDEN: Some critics say that Beatles songs should be untouchable. The Martins are telling purists rest assured, there are no other artists mashed in and no digital distortion.

This man bought three CDs Monday morning.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: In the face of digital now, people can take music and basically do what they like with it in any case. So why not get professionals in who know the music and have known it for years to do it properly and with the Beatles permission?

BOULDEN: The "Love" album has been released in time for Christmas.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

BOULDEN: Now, don't worry if you're a purest for the Beatles. The Martins are insisting that if you buy one of these, you'll realize that everything that was produced on this album was actually recorded in the 1960s. And as I said earlier, No distortion. This isn't some crazy dance mix of the Beatles music. Stephen? FRAZIER: Looks kind of expensive there, Jim, almost 10 pounds, that's almost $20, isn't it?

BOULDEN: It is almost $20, but you must remember when the Beatles had their album called "One" that came out a few years ago, it was a lot more expensive. I think it's costing a little bit less than maybe for a normal Beatles album because it is very different, it is unusual, and it is a bit controversial. So believe it or not in London, this is not a bad price.

FRAZIER: All right, Jim Boulden. We've got requests for you to buy out the whole rack for us, so we'll talk after the program. Thanks very much.

In the meantime, though from the hottest selling singles decade after decade to actually having a small planet named for them, the Beatles long ago rewrote all of the rules of pop fame and their affect of course has been immense. The Beatles topped "Variety's" list of the most influential entertainers of the 20th century. Their very first top single in the United States was "I Want to Hold Your Hand," early 1964.

And that year, they set another record. They occupied all five of the top positions on "Billboard's" pop singles chart in the same week. "Can't Buy Me Love" was No. 1 that week.

When all it said and done, the Beatles charted 20 No. 1 singles in the United States. That's a number even greater than runner up Elvis Presley. Now, their musical legacy reaches a new generation with this album and Beatles historian Matt Hurwitz has had a bit of a preview of the new CD and we're grateful that he joins us now from Los Angeles. You've actually heard all of it at a party. What did you think?

MATT HURWITZ, BEATLES HISTORIAN: It was amazing. I was at Capitol Records, just about a block and a half north from here on Vine Street and it was all music press a few weeks ago. And Sir George and Giles came in afterwards for a Q+A and we all stood up and gave them a standing ovation. It was absolutely amazing.

FRAZIER: Give us more of a sense of what we're going to hear, how this works. We had a little taste from Jim's report. Tell us more.

HURWITZ: What it is is he's carefully -- they have carefully crafted this beautiful collage of a little drum track off of get back onto "Octopus's Garden" or another. I can't remember exactly which one.

But just little pieces, little things that we're all listening in the studio going, wait a minute, what was that? That's from "Good Day Sunshine," what have you. It was just amazing. It was fascinating. And we were hearing it in surround, 5.1 surround, which I don't know if the 10-pound version you saw there, it's also being released as a special edition, a two-disc edition. The second disc of which is DVD audio, it's available to play in 5.1 as we heard it. FRAZIER: Yes, what is that like, having it all around? I mean, people have been clamoring for remixes that would just do that, just put it into all of the six or seven speakers of a home theater program.

HURWITZ: Yes, it was great, we were all turning around going, did you hear that thing in the back? That was Paul, you never heard that vocal. And interesting thing, my girlfriend Rosie (ph) and I just went a few weeks ago to see the show in Las Vegas. It was interesting because I heard the play back of the disc before I saw the show, which is really how most Beatles fans will probably experience it.

It's really only part of the picture. When you're there in the theater, there are 6,000 speakers in the theater, three of which are in your own seats. There's two behind you. I crock my head and go, wait, there's that harmony vocal of Paul's I never heard before. It's just amazing.

FRAZIER: Very, very cool. Well this sounds like an extension to what the Beatles have become. Isn't it true they came in off the road and became experimenters in the studio themselves so they could focus on the music, not the crowds.

HURWITZ: That's right. They really focused on recording craft after 1966. And the recordings are so clean here. They have done such a good job, I think Sir George made a reference to the recording technology available. This was done on ProTools, which is a studio computer program. And it enables them to -- it enabled Giles to lift a vocal that may have been too fast or in a wrong key and place it another song and stretch it in places so it fits perfectly.

FRAZIER: Doesn't that make it speed up or get deeper like that?

HURWITZ: No, because with ProTools, you can change the speed but not the pitch or vice versa.

FRAZIER: Very cool. Now Sir George certainly has the props. Wasn't it he who suggested violins behind "Eleanor Rigby" and arranged them, really kind of broke the mold for pop singers?

HURWITZ: Sure, that's right. I think yesterday was the first to have -- it says the Beatles on it, but it's Paul playing the guitar with a string quartet.

And "Eleanor Rigby" by the way is beautiful in this. You really get to hear -- we again heard his -- the strings are all separated. Another thing that the technology enables them to do is they have got a lot of these, they were recording on four-track recording.

We have ProTools today enables a multitude of tracks, almost limitless. So they were able to take what was -- he would record the strings on three tracks, mix them down to one, and they were in mono from then on. But with ProTools the folks at "Abbey Road," Paul Heza (ph), who's another son of a veteran of the '60s, the engineer that worked with Giles is the son of Tony Hicks from the Hollies. FRAZIER: Wow.

HURWITZ: So we've got quite a pedigree working on this.

FRAZIER: Well, we are so jealous that you had a chance to hear this, but we're grateful for this early read on how it sounds. Matt Hurwitz, thank you for giving us that insight today.

HURWITZ: Thanks, Steve.

FRAZIER: So Hala, I'll race you to the record store.

GORANI: I think you'll win.

All right, coming up, well she may not be that young anymore, but this nightingale can still bring down the house. Well, we'll visit the night clubs of Beirut to see how a long-lost talent is still stealing the show. Stay with us.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

GORANI: What do you say when you want to congratulate someone? Stephen?

FRAZIER: I have a lot of phrases, but some people say give that man a cigar, which makes it difficult to figure out what to do when you want to congratulate someone for making the world's largest cigar. Cigar makers in Tampa have almost concluded their 33 meter cigar, 101 feet.

GORANI: Well, they're pretty sure they've got the world's record all wrapped up. After all, the current record-holder for the world's largest cigar is just a puny 22 meters, that's 66 feet long, made last year in Cuba.

She needs a little help getting there, but every time she steps foot on the stage, she steals the limelight.

FRAZIER: A 82-year-old singer in Lebanon can still draw big crowds despite personal hardships that for a while sapped her popularity.

GORANI: Well, now her comeback is actually helping her as she struggles with a much more serious battle. Brent Sadler is in Beruit and has her story.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

BRENT SADLER, CNN CORRESPONDENT: The Beirut night is young, but a fragile star of Arabic song and stage is feeling her age. In the back of a shoufer-driven car, 82-year-old Naithawan (ph) heads for the bright lights of Lebanon and this throbbing Beruit nightclub called Music Hall.

Her powerful voice singing decades old songs, steals the limelight.

MICHEL ELEFTERIADES, PROMOTER MUSIC HALL: People want to see talent. No matter the age. And talent works.

SADLER: It was some six years ago that Michel Elefteriades heard incredulous stories that Naithawan (ph) sang spiritual songs to appreciative church congregations.

ELEFTERIADES: I'm someone who works in show business. I usually look for people with big charisma, with weird looks, with a -- so I never expected to find an artist here.

SADLER: Born Loretta Keruz (ph) in the early 1920s, she was a pinup beauty with a golden voice. But during decades of failed relationships it said, poor management and gambling, she lost it all. But the rediscovery of her long-lost talent suffers renewed tragedy.

Naithawan (ph) is slowly losing her mind from Alzheimers Disease. This night, she feels a little tired. A bruise swells on her forehead after a fall she cannot remember.

So every few months, Naithawan (ph) undergoes a medical assessment. The doctor says singing helps her stay alert.

SADLER (on-camera): It is a heart-warming spectacle every time sets foot on this stage. Music Hall is pulsating with Lebanon's glitteratii beyond the curtains out there. This really is the last place on earth you would expect to find a little old lady way past her bedtime, poised to bring the house down.

Reina Sarkis, a psychoanalyst and ardent fan, often watches the performances.

REINA SARKIS, PSYCHOANALYST: I think something is triggered when she is on stage. Everything comes back. Her mental strength, her psychological alertness, her love of life, her talent, voice, energy, all comes together and it's a magical moment.

ELEFTERIADES: Today, I feel that she does not want it anymore and not asking for it anymore, I would stop immediately. So, even if she's not capable of singing anymore, it's my responsibility to keep on looking after her.

SADLER (on-camera): When you see everybody standing on the tables clapping and dancing and everybody going absolutely crazy at your singing? What do you think about that?

(through translator): Sometimes my tears fall, she whispers. It's a great feeling and I thank God.

SADLER: And sometimes she appears reluctant to leave her stage captured by the excitement. Motivated by what Naithawan (ph) can still do best, for as long as she can.

BRENT SADLER, CNN, Beruit.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

GORANI: We'll have the full story on Naithawan (ph) and that would be on "Inside the Middle East," which airs on CNN International on December 2nd. That and other of course, fascinating stories from across the region. Hope you can join us for that. And now, to vocal talents of a very different kind.

FRAZIER: Walt Disney company is looking for one of its next stars for the new "Pirates of the Caribbean" movie. So parrots and their owners came for auditions in London last week. A role was open to birds who can speak and who can learn a script, which is more than we can do some days.

GORANI: Right. The winning parrot and its family -- the winning parrot goes to the Island of Dominnica (pa), where the third Pirates film is being shot.

FRAZIER: Steal the limelight from Johnny Depp.

GORANA: That is it for this hour. Your with YOUR WORLD TODAY. I'm Hala Gorani.

FRAZIER: I'm Stephen Frazier. And this is CNN.

TO ORDER A VIDEO OF THIS TRANSCRIPT, PLEASE CALL 800-CNN-NEWS OR USE OUR SECURE ONLINE ORDER FORM LOCATED AT www.voxant.com

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