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YOUR WORLD TODAY

Major Offensive Under Way in Afghanistan; Shock Over Chinese Factory Owner's Apparent Suicide; Germany Shootings: Six Italian Men Killed Execution-Style

Aired August 15, 2007 - 12:00   ET

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


JIM CLANCY, CNN INTERNATIONAL ANCHOR: China responds. A day after the latest mass toy recall, Beijing says some of Mattel's accusations are unfair.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: This is an act of ethnic cleansing, if you will, almost genocide, when you consider the fact...

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HALA GORANI, CNN INTERNATIONAL ANCHOR: Strong words from a top U.S. official after a string of suicide bombings kill 200 in Iraq.

CLANCY: A hoop nightmare. A former NBA referee pleading guilty in a betting scandal.

GORANI: And a wonder down under. An Aussie rancher spends a week threatened by hungry crocodiles and lives to tell about his experience.

It is noon in New York City, 2:00 a.m. Thursday morning in Cairns, Australia.

Hello and welcome to our report. We're broadcast around the globe this hour.

I'm Hala Gorani.

CLANCY: I'm Jim Clancy.

From New York to Nairobi, Cairns to Cairo, wherever you're watching, this is YOUR WORLD TODAY.

We will get more on all those stories in just a moment, but first, we're getting word of a major offensive under way in Afghanistan.

Our Barbara Starr brings us the latest from the Pentagon.

Barbara, what do we know?

BARBARA STARR, CNN PENTAGON CORRESPONDENT: Well, Hala, hello to you. If you remember a place called Tora Bora, well, U.S. officials are now confirming today that the U.S. and Afghan military has a major offensive under way in Tora Bora, those very remote mountains of eastern Afghanistan where back in late 2001, the U.S. launched an attack there to try to find Osama bin Laden. He apparently escaped at that time, but the U.S. now is back in Tora Bora.

Hundreds of U.S. troops are said now by officials to be going against hundreds of al Qaeda and Taliban fighters in that remote mountain region, dug in positions there. There are both U.S. ground troops and air strikes going on.

U.S. officials are making it very clear, they say they're taking as many precautions as they can to avoid any civilian casualties in the region. That is a very sensitive matter.

We will see how this operation sorts out, whether there really are hundreds of fighters dug in. That's the U.S. intelligence at the moment, but it all remains to be seen -- Hala.

GORANI: All right. Barbara Starr at the Pentagon.

And we'll bring our viewers more as soon as details emerge on this operation, from the ground and also from Washington.

Thank you.

CLANCY: All right. Let's shift the focus now to China, where officials are vowing to improve the safety standards in the wake of a U.S. toy giant's massive recall.

GORANI: Well, the Chinese government says it will step up supervision and spot checks, as 18 million Chinese-made toys are pulled from shelves and play rooms around the world because of toxic paint and magnetic parts that could be swallowed. The government says it will not tolerate what it terms rare cases of illegal production and exports.

CLANCY: China is insisting the vast majority of its exports do conform to U.S. standards. A Chinese export watchdog says U.S. firms must accept some of the blame for the unsafe projects because Chinese manufacturers followed the design of the importers.

GORANI: Well, now we have this story for you from China. Workers at the very factory where some toxic toys were made are reeling from the news that their boss may have taken his own life.

CNN's John Vause has more now on the scandal from Foshan in southern China.

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JOHN VAUSE, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice over): No one is working at the Shai Mung (ph) toy factory anymore. These employees are waiting for details about a memorial service for their old boss, Zhang Shuhong. Authorities said he killed himself over the weekend. "After I heard the news, I cried. Everyone cried. It was a shock. I couldn't eat," this man told me.

"He made sure we were all paid before he died," says another.

But many of the toys made here for the U.S. giant Mattel were coated in lead paint. And earlier this month, more than a million were recalled.

Police say Zhang's body was found hanging in his warehouse a day after the Chinese government suspended his company's export license. But the real culprit in all of this, according to these employees, is not Zhang, but his best friend, a man named Leang (ph), who supplied the lead paint for the toys. His factory is part of the same complex.

"After the media coverage he just disappeared with his family," this woman says.

"He's destroyed the future for thousands of families," says this man.

Analysts say it's not unusual for subcontractors to secretly take shortcuts, even if they are your best friend.

JIANG WENRAN, ANALYST: They're not aware of the very highly cautious nature of the Western consumers.

VAUSE: Workers have now started a collection for their boss's family. While security guards and heavy gates now keep out those who are not welcome, this is the scene of another product scare China could well do without.

(on camera): Zhang's suicide, it seems, has taken many here by surprise. According to state media, he happily chatted with employees last weekend, before taking his own life. And in so doing, he's perhaps shown the high stakes for businessmen here who have been tainted by scandal and are facing economic ruin and the possibility of being severely punished by the Chinese government.

John Vause, CNN, Foshan, China.

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GORANI: All right. Let's check some of the other stories in the news this hour.

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CLANCY: Italian police call it an unprecedented settling of scores by rival Mafia clans on the streets of another European country. Six Italian men shot and killed execution-style in the German city of Duisburg. Officials believe the crime was linked to a longstanding feud between clans rooted in Calabria, in southern Italy.

Let's bring in Frederik Pleitgen right now in Berlin for more details on these killings -- Frederik. FREDERIK PLEITGEN, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Jim, you're absolutely right. Italian officials say they are very worried that mob turf wars in Italy could be spilling over to other countries, and in this case to Germany. And many people in the German town of Duisburg are very worried about their security.

Here is what happened.

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PLEITGEN (voice over): Bystanders weep as police specialists investigate the crime scene. The six men of Italian origin were gunned down at close range, killed by shots to the head near an Italian restaurant in central Duisburg.

In the early morning hours, pedestrians heard shots and called the police. The officers then found two vehicles with six people inside. Five were already dead. One then died on the way to the hospital.

Specialists are analyzing surveillance camera footage from a nearby office building, hoping to find clues. While police report no leads yet, they believe there must have been more than one shooter and they're investigating possible links to the Italian Mafia.

Italy's interior minister says the six victims were members of what he calls a clan in Italy's southern region of Calabria. He fears Italian Mafia turf wars might be spilling over into other countries.

GIULIANI AMATO, ITALIAN INTERIOR MINISTER (through translator): This is revenge for a murder among different criminal families which took place in San Luca and Calabria, as one of the perpetrators of the crime is among those killed in Duisburg tonight. This man probably feared that something could happen to him. As it was reported, he was looking for guns to protect himself before the shooting happened. It is very likely that he was caught by those who were seeking revenge.

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PLEITGEN: Now, Jim, the German police here have not confirmed that there are any links to organized crime in Italy, but they certainly aren't ruling it out. They say that they are very much in touch with Italian investigators, and certainly the Italian politicians that we've been hearing from today were very, very specific, saying that has this has been a feud that's been going on for over 15 years and that they are certain that this is Mafia-related -- Jim.

CLANCY: Now, in (INAUDIBLE), that's the Mafia group, the web, the spider web, if you want to call it that, does have ties, works in and out of the eastern bloc, all the way into Russia. They've been active there, but are they particularly active in Duisburg?

PLEITGEN: Well, certainly, there is a big history of Mafia activity in Duisburg, and especially Italian Mafia activity. I talked to an expert about this today, and he said that that area is firmly saturated with Mafia activity.

He's talking about things like people trafficking, drug trafficking, and also prostitution. So, a lot of people -- we talked to a lot of experts that say they are pretty sure that this is a Mafia feud. And certainly, they also are very worried that this appear to be spilling over from an Italian feud that's also going on -- Jim.

CLANCY: All right. Frederik Pleitgen reporting to us there live.

Our thanks to you for that report.

GORANI: All right. A short break here on YOUR WORLD TODAY.

When we come back, hundreds of people are dead after a series of devastating suicide bombings in Iraq.

CLANCY: Coming up straight ahead on YOUR WORLD TODAY, the religious group targeted, who U.S. and Iraqi officials are now blaming for this massacre.

GORANI: And rocking Venezuela's world. President Hugo Chavez prepares a plan. We'll tell you how he says he's going to transform his country.

CLANCY: And four powerful storms threatening different parts of the globe right now. We'll have the areas at risk, straight ahead.

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CLANCY: Hello, everyone, and welcome back to CNN International and YOUR WORLD TODAY.

GORANI: All right. From all over the globe and also our U.S. viewer this hour, welcome to you.

Now, we move on to this story, Jim.

CLANCY: The "Los Angeles Times" reports that the top U.S. commander in Iraq likely to recommend a pullback of U.S. troops from areas where security has been showing signs of improvement. General David Petraeus is to submit a report to Congress next month.

The newspaper says he is expected to recommend that troops be moved to other parts of Iraq or kept in reserve, not pulled out of the country. The Times says the Bush administration hopes this will persuade Congress not to press for a major troop withdrawal.

GORANI: Now, U.S. and some Iraqi officials are blaming Al Qaeda in Iraq for a series of bombings near the Syrian border. They were coordinated attacks, and they targeted members of the Yazidi religious sect.

Two hundred people were killed and more than 300 wounded. The head of the multinational forces in Iraq says Tuesday's attacks near the Syrian border have the hallmarks of Al Qaeda in Iraq from what he called its spectacular nature to the complete disregard for human life.

CLANCY: Now, the Yazidi community in Iraq is a minority group. It mixes elements of Islam and an ancient Iranian religion, Zoroastrianism. The Kurdish-speaking sect has been in the international spotlight ever since a Yazidi woman was stoned to death earlier this year.

She had been dating a Sunni-Muslim man. The gruesome video that was captured on a cell phone found its way to the Internet. Soon after, there were reprisal attacks by Sunni groups.

Many Yazidis have migrated in recent months to villages close to the Syrian border looking for some safety in numbers. That hope obviously shattered by the latest explosions.

GORANI: The ongoing tension between the U.S. and Iran may soon spike even further. At issue, whether Washington will label Iran's Revolutionary Guard Corps a terrorist group. If it's reclassified as such, then the U.S. Treasury Department would have the power to go after the group's finances.

White House Correspondent Elaine Quijano hos more on the debate within the Bush administration.

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ELAINE QUIJANO, CNN WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: This is a president who has repeatedly said that he believes Iran is a destabilizing force in the world. At the same time, President Bush has been sharply criticized for not being tough enough on Iran.

Well, now the Bush administration is looking to financially target, as you noted, Iran's elite military branch. Senior U.S. officials say that the administration is in serious discussions over naming all or part of Iran's Revolutionary Guard Corps a specially- designated global terrorist group.

Now, "The Washington Post" first reported this last night.

The White house is not officially commenting. A spokesman in a statement saying today only, "It's not appropriate for us to discuss potential future actions. We continue to urge Iran to play a constructive role in the region and to stop providing support to terrorist organizations."

Now, this designation, though, would be significant, because it would mark the very first time that the Bush administration has really decided to go after a group tied in to larger government, tied in essentially to a sovereign government. In the past, we have seen the Bush administration target individuals, target institutions, banks, and so on, but we have not seen this before.

Now, we should mention that with this designation, of course, the Treasury Department would be able to go after essentially any businesses that conduct transactions with this elite military branch of Iran's forces. Officials, though, are emphasizing, though, Stephen, that a decision has not been made yet, as you noted, on whether or not they're going to target the entire Revolutionary Guard Corps or just elements of it.

So discussions still continuing even as we speak.

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CLANCY: Elaine Quijano at the White House. There she was talking with our colleague, Stephen Frazier, a little bit earlier.

Now, the attacks against the Yazidiss that we were talking about a moment ago come as the United States and Iraqi forces are continuing their offensive against al Qaeda-affiliated insurgents in Diyala province.

Joining us now from Baghdad to talk a little bit more about the fight against Al Qaeda in Iraq and the possibility of troop pullbacks, U.S. Brigadier General Kevin Bergner, spokesman for the multinational force in Iraq.

General, welcome to YOUR WORLD TODAY. Good to have you with us.

Let me start with that pullback. There's a sense here that there's politics at play. Obviously, it would be to the administration's advantage to turn back the Democratic challenge that wants to see some kind of a wider pullback to show some kind of a pullback.

Is General Petraeus, is the military in Iraq making their decisions based on what's going on the ground or what's going on, on Capitol Hill?

BRIG. GEN. KEVIN BERGNER, MULTINATIONAL FORCE SPOKESMAN: Well, Jim, that's real straightforward.

We're focused strictly on the enemy here that's both al Qaeda and these special groups. Our focus is on really sustaining and pressing forward with the tactical momentum that's been achieved just in the last few weeks. And so, there is no talk here about anything other than continuing this offensive operation and keeping the pressure on both al Qaeda and the other extremist groups that we're operating against, and making some significant progress against, I should add.

CLANCY: Well, you know, when you look at this bombing today, that Yazidi community that killed more than 200 people, just -- it looked like a nuclear strike, according to some of the Iraqis that first came to the scene on those villages. You see how areas that are soft targets are being targeted, and the message seems to be you need more troops in more places, all at the same time.

It seems impossible to do, but what will be the military response?

BERGNER: Well, Jim, remember that one of the -- one of the signature aspects of these al Qaeda attacks has been they're selecting spectacular attacks that would tend to incite ethnic sectarian tensions. They have preyed upon those who are frequently the most vulnerable and they've used, as you've seen in the last day or so, some absolutely barbaric attacks.

I used to -- I spent my last tour in Iraq up in that area. I understand the nature of the people out there.

These are grassroots, salt of the earth kinds of people. And so this has really been a very, very devastating attack on them, which again, goes back to the nature of this enemy we're dealing with.

I want to add one other thing, Jim, real quickly, if I could.

CLANCY: Go ahead.

BERGNER: I want to just add one other thing. I have talked to the leaders on the ground up there, and in the wake of this attack, what we have seen is Arab, Kurdish, Yazidi, all pulling together. Casualties being treated in Kurdish hospitals, in Arab hospitals.

The mayors of the three communities of Sinjar (ph), Biaj (ph) and Tal Afar all pulling together to work very well in a unified way to deal with the consequences of this. So, if anything, this attack, as tragic as it is, is unifying the people of western Ninua (ph) province tonight.

CLANCY: Let me ask you about the military intelligence. What is it pointing to?

You've mentioned al Qaeda, but is it possible this community was targeted because, number one, they're very close to the Saudi -- to the Syrian border, where a lot of the Saudi -- Saudi Arabia says its own nationals are coming in and infiltrating? And number two, that incident that occurred some months ago with the woman who was killed for apparently dating a Saudi Arabian man.

BERGNER: Yes. It's really tough to connect some of those data points at this stage. And as I mentioned earlier, our focus is really on the humanitarian aspect of this, and that's what our focus is at the moment.

But I would also say that the Iraqi forces and coalition forces there have really made some improvements, and in protecting the major population areas. And so, how that might have been a factor in the selection of this target, out in a very rural area, is something we'll learn more about.

CLANCY: Well, right now, there is an offensive under way that aims to undercut the organization of al Qaeda and other groups working in Iraq against the coalition, against the Iraqi government.

How is that proceeding? How is it succeeding?

BERGNER: Well, we have seen significant progress with multinational division north, particularly in the Baquba area, the Diyala provincial area, if you will. And they have conducted a series of operations that are now expanding on the intelligence and the information that the local citizens are providing. So, over the last eight weeks of this offensive operation, it has created some momentum and some opportunities to further the attacks against these extremists.

CLANCY: How would it help if the U.S. government labels the al- Quds Force, the Revolutionary Guards of Iran a terrorist group and starts tracking down their money? How would that help you?

BERGNER: Well, that's really a tough question to answer from here, Jim. That's very much a policy decision and it's one that our national leadership and our leaders in Washington really have to come to grips with.

CLANCY: All right.

Major General -- Brigadier General Kevin Bergner, as always, thank you so much for joining us, giving us a bit of an update of what's going on, on the ground in Iraq.

BERGNER: Thanks, Jim.

GORANI: All right. A break here on YOUR WORLD TODAY.

When we come back, we are tracking major storms around the globe today.

CLANCY: And coming up, Hala, we're going to see what's brewing and where in a live weather update.

GORANI: And then Venezuela's president is planning sweeping reforms. What are they, and will they give him even more power?

Stay with us.

(NEWSBREAK)

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

JIM CLANCY, CNN ANCHOR: Welcome back to our viewers in the United States and around the globe. This is YOUR WORLD TODAY. I'm Jim Clancy.

HALA GORANI, CNN ANCHOR: I'm Hala Gorani. And here are some of the top stories we're following for you.

CLANCY: U.S. and Iraqi officials blaming al Qaeda in Iraq for a series of bombings that killed or wounded hundreds of people near the Syrian border. A U.S. military commander says the attacks show a complete disregard for human life.

GORANI: Also in the headlines, Italy's interior minister says six Italian men shot to death in Germany were victims of a mafia feud. The execution-style slayings took place near a train station in Duisburg. Authorities say it's the first time such mafia killings happened in another country. CLANCY: Well, China is responding to the latest massive recall of Chinese made toys. Mattel is recalling more than 9 million toys in the United States, another 11 million worldwide, all of them made in China. But on Wednesday, the Chinese government said all of the toys were made in accordance with Mattel's instructions.

GORANI: Now critics of Hugo Chavez, the Venezuelan president, are going to have something to talk about today. He plans to take another major step in his socialist transformation of Venezuela. He's expected to unveil plans for sweeping constitutional reform later in the day. And some of those might include the elimination of presidential term limits. Critics say he is obsessed with power and wants to become a lifelong leader, like Fidel Castro in Cuba, who is a friend. But President Chavez rejects charges that he poses a threat to democracy, saying that his reforms will actually respect fundamental freedoms.

CLANCY: And let's get a little bit more on this story -- of course he's long at odds with Washington -- and bring in Juan Carlos Lopez with CNN Espanol. He is in the U.S. capital. The first question has to be whether Hugo Chavez has popular support for this move, to extend his term perhaps indefinitely.

JUAN CARLOS LOPEZ, CNN EN ESPANOL: Well, he, obviously, believes that he does. And this will be a long process, Jim. First of all, it's going to go to the national assembly, which is controlled by Chavez loyalists. After they approve it, this should go to a national referendum. And that's where Chavez is going to know if people support him or not.

There was a controversy in Venezuela recently over the non- renewal of the transmissions license for a private TV station. And that might have changed support for the president. But there won't be any way of telling it until it comes to this referendum.

The opposition has called for protests. They have said that this is a -- these proposals just are mimicking the Cuban constitution and President Chavez says that he wants to give power to the people and that's what he will propose in this document that, as I said, will have to be discussed by the national assembly.

CLANCY: Is there a risk here for Chavez, that, you know, that television channel, a very important move by him to jerk it off the air. But they're back on the air now with a lot of support. They're on the air on cable, not on broadcast. But is Hugo Chavez at risk of overstepping, overreaching here?

LOPEZ: Well, he's been taking steps for a long while in Venezuela. He said that one of the main changes in this constitution would be to end the term limits for presidents only, not for governors and mayors. Now the question is if the opposition will be able to organize enough presence to counter this proposal by the president, who is widely supported by the Venezuelan people. And this controversy will probably deepen those -- that controversy, Jim, because the opposition is looking for a voice, but the president has support in the country. So even the catholic church has been criticizing the proposal. It's a very controversial issue in Venezuela and we'll see whether people take the streets to protest these changes or they take them to support, as we've seen in other issues where the country goes out and marches.

CLANCY: All right, Juan Carlos Lopez there with CNN Espanol joining us from Washington.

Juan Carlos, thank you.

GORANI: Now a former referee for the NBA, the National Basketball Association, faces up to 25 years in prison after pleading guilty to felony charges in a betting scandal. Allan Chernoff joins us now from New York with more on the downfall of Tim Donaghy.

Allan.

ALLAN CHERNOFF, CNN CORRESPONDENT: That's right, Tim Donaghy has pled guilty to involvement in a gambling ring that was betting on NBA basketball games, including games that Donaghy himself was reffing. Inside of the courthouse he described exactly how the ring worked. He would select winners from upcoming ball games and then call them in to his co-conspirators. If his picks were correct, if they were winners, than he would get paid off in cash. He conceded that he had been paid at least one time in the state of Pennsylvania, another time in Toronto, Canada. Legally he pled guilty to two felony counts, one being conspiracy to engage in wire fraud, another transmitting wagering information. The two together carry a maximum sentence of 25 years in prison.

Now all of this came up as a result of the U.S. attorney here in Brooklyn investigating organized crime, specifically the Gambino family's gambling ring. And, in fact, within the hour, two more people are going to be charged in this ring, the conspirators, James Battista and Thomas Martino. They will be charged with gambling offenses and they will face a maximum of 20 years in prison. We did speak to an attorney for Mr. Battista who said that his client intends to fight those charges.

Hala.

GORANI: Now, Allan, for our international viewers, and perhaps you might remember it as well, there were all these scandals regarding the Tour de France and doping and the rest of it. And some were concerned that that might really affect the sport. What about the NBA? Could this have a long lasting, negative impact?

CHERNOFF: Absolutely, Hala. This is a major crisis for the National Basketball Association. In fact, David Stern, the commissioner, when he made the announcement that Donaghy was resigning on July 9th, he said that this was the worst thing that had happened to the league in his 40 years involved with it. There is no question that the NBA is in major damage control right now. The federal government is investigating to see if any other referees might be involved with gambling. The NBA has said it believes Donaghy is the one, rogue official, the one official who actually did get involved in gambling on NBA games.

GORANI: OK, Allan Chernoff, live in New York. Thanks so much, Allan.

Jim.

CLANCY: And we are not done hearing about sports scandals. This one from the ancient art of sumo and a grand champion, slapped for the first time in sports history for his behavior outside the ring. Kyung Lah reports from Tokyo.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

KYUNG LAH, CNN CORRESPONDENT, (voice over): The scandal is gripping Japanese headlines. The country's number one tough guy sits in super size shame. The fans fearing this could bring down the nation's prize sport. His name is Asashoryu, the 350-pound grand champ of sumo, crowned the title yokozuna. A native of Mongolia, the Japanese hungrily adopted their new sumo king, until this.

Asashoryu, the picture of sumo athletic health, head butting a soccer ball and hamming it up in front of Mongolian TV cameras. The problem? He told the Japanese sumo association he was hurt, too injured to show up for a summer exhibition tournament. A shocking lie to fans who prize the yokozuna for honesty and integrity.

"He's like a big baby," says this sumo fan.

Sumo officials ordered Asashoryu back to Japan and, for the first time in the sports history, suspended a yokozuna for an unprecedented two tournaments and cut his pay 30 percent for four months. With top knot in tow, Asashoryu returned but with an even bigger shock for fans. The mighty man began melting down.

Dr. Takahisa Heraishi (ph) is Asashoryu's doctor. He says Asashoryu is at the brink of a nervous breakdown from the punishment and needs to return to Mongolia, but this former sumo wrestler says he needs to stay.

"If we allow him to go back," he says, "sumo would be damaged eternally. We cannot tell him to go home and rest well. We cannot keep the discipline like that."

The sumo association agrees, ordering Asashoryu to remain in Japan and show remorse. So how is he doing that? Well, he's holed up in his home basically under house arrest. A horde of Japanese media outside waiting to see what his next move will be.

"He better go back to Mongolia," says this man.

Many for now turning away from the man and saying sumo is a matter of culture and tradition. The epitome of physical and moral strength.

Kyung Lah, CNN, Tokyo.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

GORANI: All right. Some bad news for the White House and the U.S. Congress, while we're at it.

CLANCY: That's right. The Democratic-controlled Congress, ahead on YOUR WORLD TODAy. We're going to ask CNN's political senior analysts why many members of the American public appear frustrated with their leaders.

GORANI: An interesting look at the numbers then.

Then, an encounter with a croc down under lands a rancher up a tree that turned into a prison, hey, but saved his life. We'll bring you that after this.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

CLANCY: Time to talk about politics. Welcome back. You're watching YOUR WORLD TODAY on CNN International.

GORANI: All right. And we're going to talk about some poll numbers and figures that have just come out and some new surveys indicating that the majority of Americans are far from satisfied with their leaders. In fact, I think we can safely say they're very frustrated. And it really doesn't matter whether they're Democrat or Republican. Let's get more on that. Our senior political analyst Bill Schneider is in Washington and joins us with these new survey numbers. And Americans saying they are frustrated both with the White House and the Democratic-controlled Congress.

BILL SCHNEIDER, CNN CORRESPONDENT: That's right. Congress is in recess right now. They're going home to assess how the voters are responding and they're going to get a very negative response because our latest poll shows that 55 percent of Americans consider the Democratic Congress, just elected last November for the first time in more than 10 years, the Democratic Congress they believe is a failure, 55 percent. A very low number indeed. There were a lot of high hopes for this Democratic Congress, but so far, they've been borne out.

What about President Bush? Well, 57 percent consider his presidency a failure. So he's certainly no better off and probably a little bit worse off. That 57 percent is the largest number who have said his presidency is a failure since the beginning of his second term. So there's a lot of frustration with Washington, with politics, and with the leadership in both parties.

GORANI: But, Bill, at least the Democrats can find some comfort in this result, which is that as far as the American voters and public is concerned, confidence in solving problems goes a little bit more toward the Democrats, 48 to 35.

SCHNEIDER: That's right. Exactly. We asked, do you have more confidence in President Bush or the Democrats in Congress to deal with major issues facing the country? And you can see the Democratic Congress still has an edge, as you said, 48 to 35. That's not as big as it was immediately after last fall's midterm when a majority, 54 percent, said they preferred the Democrats in Congress. But it's still an edge because, in the end, in an election you have to pick Democrats or Republicans, in most cases, and right now the Democrats still have the edge because people want change and they still associate the change more with Democrats than with Republicans simply because they've been in power less longer than the Republicans have.

GORANI: We have 20 seconds, but does the fact that the trend is not in the Democrats' favor mean they're not capitalizing on their position of strength?

SCHNEIDER: Exactly what it means. People expected big changes from the Democratic Congress -- most particularly in the war in Iraq -- and they're not getting them. The Democrats say that the Republicans are obstructionists. The Democrats say they don't have a big enough majority to override the Republicans' obstruction. And, in the end, for whatever the reason, Americans say the Democrats just have not delivered.

GORANI: All right, Bill Schneider, thanks so much.

Jim.

CLANCY: Striking out against Iran and the revolutionary guard. As we've been reporting, the Bush administration planning its next steps that could see it soon naming Tehran's revolutionary guard as specially designated terror group. Now what we may be wondering right now is, how could it help to impose economic sanctions on what many think is just an army? Jonathan Mann has some insight.

JONATHAN MANN, CNN CORRESPONDENT: The revolutionary guards are not Iran's regular army. They're more important than that and they're more profitable. They're actually a big business conglomerate that you could call revolution incorporated.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

MOHSEN SAZEGARA, CO-FOUNDER, REVOLUTIONARY GUARD: Right now, revolutionary guard is a kind of combination between KGB, red army, the communist party, and, of course, like the big industrial and the commercial complexes.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

MANN: Nearly 30 years ago, when the Islamic revolutionaries took power in Iran, they didn't trust the existing army. They created their own force, the Army of the Guardians of the Islamic Revolution. The revolutionary guard.

The guards got their own intelligence wing. They got their own air, naval and ground forces. Take a look at these military exercises from earlier this year. That is not Iran's regular army. That's the revolutionary guard.

The guard itself is pretty big. It's about 150,000 men. Less than half the size of the regular army, but much better equipped. What you don't see when they parade is all the money in their pockets. The guards are rich, as revolutionary organizations go. They actually run commercial companies. The ones the Bush administration is thinking of targeting. Dozens of companies, from car parts, to construction. One former U.S. official estimates that they take in $1 billion a year. Their official business, though, is protecting and extending the Islamic revolution. They clamp down on domestic opposition and they go abroad to infiltrate.

The guard's international wing, the Quds force, has been active to the east in Afghanistan. They've gone as far west to Europe, to Bosnia. They are in Lebanon in elsewhere in the Middle East. And, of course, they are famously or infamously just next door in Iraq.

The U.S. has already got sanctions in place against the Iranian government and the United Nations has sanctions as well against the guard's top officials. But apparently the U.S. administration is looking to do more.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

GEORGE W. BUSH, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: But because of the actions of this government, this country is isolated and we will continue to work to isolate it, because they're not a force for good as far as we can see. They are a destabilizing influence wherever they are.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

MANN: Iran denies the administration's accusations and it has another advocate who also publicly disagrees with what the Bush administration has been saying. Iraq's own prime minister, Nuri al- Maliki. He's publicly thanked Iran for its help in fighting terror in his country and Iraqis still plan to do a lot of business with Iran. A whole lot more of it, in fact.

Back to you, Jim and Hala.

CLANCY: All right. We're going to take a short break. Our thanks to Jonathan Mann for that insight there.

Coming up, a real live Crocodile Dundee story.

GORANI: Only this time the croc had a bit of an edge. We'll tell you why this bloke's walkabout wound him -- wound with him spending a week in a tree. Stay with us.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

GORANI: Welcome back to YOUR WORLD TODAY.

A layer of dust has settled over several Indonesian villages and that is the calling card of Mt. Soputan. It's erupting on Indonesian's Sulawesi Island.

CLANCY: There were no reports of any injuries or any major damage from Tuesday's eruption. But as you can see there, many of the locals forced to wear face masks as they walk the streets. A volcanologist says there's no need for an evacuation because the villages are out of the danger zone.

GORANI: Someone also out of the danger zone. We told you yesterday about the Australian rancher whose trail ride ended with a week up a tree.

CLANCY: Now this story is so unusual, we had to hear it from the rancher himself. Melissa Downes introduces us.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

MELISSA DOWNES, CNN CORRESPONDENT, (voice over): He's had nearly a week to recover, but still David George is finding it hard to shake that feeling of being watched.

DAVID GEORGE, STOCKMAN: Every night, except for last night, I two sets of eyes. Well, I just naturally thought that out to be crocs.

DOWNES: The stockman had fallen off his horse in remote Cape York (ph), straight into a croc's nest. With his tucker (ph), he sought refuge in the tree, but the unwanted attention turned it into a prison.

D. GEORGE: He'd make a bit of a game out of it. But, you know, I told him, you know, and tell him, not tonight, brother.

DOWNES: Frustratingly, the 53-year-old saw search planes flying overhead. They didn't see him. He knew his family would never give up, but wrote them a farewell message on his tobacco tin.

D. GEORGE: Make a decision whether to try to get eaten by a croc or go to a safe place and wait.

DOWNES: His prayers were answered on day eight. The good news immediately radioed to his family.

LIZ KYLE, DAVID'S PARTNER: It was just great. It was one of the best feelings. I'll never forget the voice over the radio that says "I've found him" and the smile on people's faces.

ZYRON GEORGE, DAVID'S SON: It was really good. Mom comes screaming back. She says, "Zyron, Zyron, they found him, they found him." And, you know, I was laying down, so when I got up, I was a bit dizzy and I ran to the door and fell down the stairs. It was pretty good.

DOWNES: Now don't think this experience will put David off his job. He's back to work next week, admittedly with a little more caution tucked under his belt.

D. GEORGE: No, I'm too young to die yet.

DOWNES: Melissa Downes, National 9 News. (END VIDEOTAPE)

GORANI: So he smokes a cigarette.

CLANCY: All right.

GORANI: All right.

Well, there is one happy story to end the show with.

CLANCY: That's right. More on that postal worker from Scotland who has become now Britain's biggest ever lottery winner.

GORANI: Well, her name is Angela Kelly. She won $70 million after matching all six numbers on her euro millions ticket. And in Europe, here's the thing, it's tax free. She was still at work when her son heard that his mom had some good news.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

ANGELA KELLY, $70 MILLION LOTTERY WINNER: And I says, well I've had a wee win in the lottery. And don't (ph) tell me how much. I says, I'll speak to you tonight. I said I don't know yet. It's not been confirmed. So he couldn't wait. He phoned me back (INAUDIBLE) 10 minutes. Do you know how much it is yet? And . . .

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: When did you tell him?

KELLY: That was when I told him, because he said, is it $1 million or something? I said, no, it's 35. He was like, ah! He was taking a breath and enjoying it. That was it.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

CLANCY: When she's talking about 35, she means 35 million pounds. So that's $70 million, more than $70 million U.S. dollars.

GORANI: Right. When reporters asked Kelly how she was planning to spend the cash, she said she may upgrade her airline ticket to first class when she visits relatives in Canada.

We've got to go. I'm Hala Gorani.

CLANCY: I'm Jim Clancy. That was YOUR WORLD TODAY.

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