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FAREED ZAKARIA GPS
Interview with President Hassan Rouhani; Interview with Shimon Peres; Interview with Colombian President
Aired September 28, 2014 - 10:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
FAREED ZAKARIA, HOST: This is GPS, the GLOBAL PUBLIC SQUARE. Welcome to all of you in the United States and around the world. I'm Fareed Zakaria.
This is a crazy week for us. The leaders of the world gathered this week in New York, and we gathered some of the most interesting ones right here for you.
First up, Hassan Rouhani. The president of the Islamic Republic of Iran. I asked him about ISIS, the state of the nuclear talks, and the harsh judgment handed down against those people who made Iran's "Happy" video.
Then Iran's enemy, of course, is Israel, and I sat down with the man who for the last 60-plus years has worked at the highest levels of that nation's government. Shimon Peres on the prospects for peace in the Middle East and why at age 91 he's considering a new career including delivering pizza.
Also, the Ebola outbreak. 1.4 million infections are possible says the CDC, and that's by January in just two nations. What could be done to contain the crisis? I put that crucial question to Chelsea Clinton, Paul Farmer, and Liberia's foreign minister.
But first, here is my take. If President Obama truly wants to degrade and destroy ISIS, he's going to have to find a way to collaborate with Iran, the one great power in the Middle East with which America is still at odds. Engagement with Iran, while hard and complicated, would be a strategic game-changer with beneficial effects spreading across the region from Iraq to Syria to Afghanistan.
We're now in the air power phase of the campaign against ISIS. These actions usually go well. Think of the air wars against Afghanistan, Iraq, and Libya. The United States has the world's most advanced planes, rockets, and drones and an extraordinarily capable military, but what usually follows is messy.
Think of Afghanistan, Iraq, and Libya. Ground forces have to fight locals and guerrillas in irregular combat. The most important questions turn out to be political.
Are the local groups, tribes, and sects fighting with the Americans or against them? In Iraq the most important problem remains that the Sunnis do not feel represented by the Baghdad government. President Obama keeps saying that we have a new government in Iraq,
but the implication that it is now inclusive is false. Sunnis continue to have ceremonial posts with little power. The army continues to be dominated by Shiites at the upper echelons.
The result is visible on the ground. A recent article in "The New York Times" points out that after six weeks of American airstrikes, the Iraqi government's forces have scarcely budged the Sunni extremists of the Islamic State from their hold on more than a quarter of the country, "in part because many critical Sunni tribes remain on the sidelines," end quote.
The United States has some influence with the Iraqi government, but Iran has far more. The Shiite religious parties that today run Iraq have been funded by Iran for decades. If the goal is to get the Iraqi government to share more power with the Sunnis, Iran's help would be invaluable, perhaps vital.
In Syria, Washington's strategy is incoherent. It seeks to destroy ISIS, attack al-Nusra and Khorasan but somehow not strengthen these groups' principal rival -- the Assad regime. This is simply impossible. If there is some way to make this strategy less contradictory, it would be to work towards some power sharing deal in Syria and toward a post-ISIS, post-Assad future with other elements of the Assad government, perhaps generals and intelligence heads.
But Washington has no contact or credibility with anyone in the Assad regime. The government that does is Tehran. In both Iraq and Syria, military action can only do so much. Creating and sustaining stability will require ongoing political efforts, not one shot actions by the United States.
Iran is perfectly positioned to play a positive role. Now obviously engagement will not be rapprochement. Iran and the United States have too many issues that divide them unless things really change in Tehran.
Iran's president, Hassan Rouhani, said to me this week in an interview you will see in a moment that in their phone conversation last year, President Obama and he had agreed that there were many areas where Iran and the United States could cooperate, but first we must get past the nuclear issue he said.
I asked him to describe the contours of such cooperation assuming the nuclear deal happened, and he quoted an Iranian proverb that he says goes like this.
"Let's first raise the baby that we just gave birth to and then let's go on to number two."
When Richard Nixon and Henry Kissinger decided that Iran would be one of its regional policemen in the 1970s, they did so out of a recognition of Iran's geostrategic importance, not simply because they liked the Shah of Iran.
Vali Naser, a leading scholar of Iran, notes that if the United States, quote, wants to limit its micromanagement of the Middle East, it will have to find countries that are stable, influential, and effective with which it can work. And potentially Iran is one of those countries. But as Rouhani made clear, all this waits on the nuclear deal.
For more go to CNN.com/fareed and read my "Washington Post" column this week and let's get started.
Earlier this week I had the opportunity to sit down with Iran's president, Hassan Rouhani. This is a critical moment for Iran's relations with America and the world. Not only is crunch time quickly approaching in the nuclear talks, but there is also ISIS. Tehran has as much to fear from ISIS as Washington does, so will it help battle the terrorists?
The conversation was convened by the New America Foundation on whose board I sit. Listen in.
ZAKARIA: Thank you for joining us, Mr. President. Do you believe that the United States is correct in its strategy to fight ISIS?
PRES. HASSAN ROUHANI, IRAN (Through Translator): I am not aware of the American plans and the formulas and what they intend to execute. I can only tell you about the plans of the Islamic Republic of Iran.
Iran from the very first moment did not hesitate in fighting against terrorism. Other countries apparently had their doubts for quite some time. They were under the impression that, be it as it may, they acted quite late in the game. From the first day when Da'esh attacked Mosul and Mr. Maliki contacted me -- former Prime Minister Maliki contacted me and informed me of the grave situation in Iraq, I did tell him that whatever aid and assistance you see necessary and you need, we will render that assistance and aid to you so as to help you to stand up against this tide.
If immediate -- if it wasn't for the immediate and whole-hearted help of the people of Iran to the people of Iraq and if it were not for the Fatwas issued by the religious authorities in Iraq, I have no doubts that Da'esh today would be residing in southern Baghdad, not in the northern territory of the country.
Therefore, we do believe that we did live up to our responsibilities and we will continue to do so steadfastly and others who have decided to act as well, and if those actions can lead to the eradication of terrorism, we welcome those actions.
ZAKARIA: In his speech today, President Obama had a direct message to Iran. He said don't let this moment pass. We can reach a solution. Is he right? Is the United States negotiating in good faith?
ROUHANI (Through Translator): Well, you see today we have -- we are faced with a very good opportunity vis-a-vis the nuclear talks and negotiations. This good opportunity was created in reality only last year in result of the expression of the political will of the majority of the people of Iran and their vast participation in those elections and the mandates received out of those elections.
A new atmosphere was created and as a result of all of that, we must all make good use of it. Our side as well as five plus one. Everyone together must make good use of this historic opportunity.
ZAKARIA: You said something in a -- in the conversation you had with a group of journalists a couple of days ago which intrigued me, and I was lucky enough to be at that meeting. You said that in your phone call with President Obama last year, you had talked with him about potentially cooperating on a number of issues, but you said all that waits for the nuclear issue to be resolved.
Can you give us a sense -- paint for us a picture of what life would look like between Iran and the United States if the nuclear deal was resolved?
ROUHANI (Through Translator): Yes. During last year's telephone conversation we did speak of extended -- potential extended cooperation between Iran and the United States. President Obama was of the opinion that we can indeed collaborate and cooperate in various fields, and I told him that I agree with you wholeheartedly that in the future we must cooperate with one another.
We do have a saying in Farsi that if you translate it as the following, let's first raise the baby that we just gave birth to and then let's go on to number two. So let's not compare any scenarios. Let's first finish the path that we've embarked upon, then there may be other issues, a multitude of issues important to both sides, we can cooperate on those.
ZAKARIA: Next on GPS more with President Rouhani. I'll ask him about these young Iranians. Why do they face six months in prison and 91 lashes? Apparently just for being happy.
When we come back.
ZAKARIA: More now of my interview with Iran's President Rouhani. He has been in office for just under 14 months. Those have been crucial months for changing the way the West sees and deals with Tehran, but there are still many hurdles to get over.
ZAKARIA: Mr. President, let me ask you about something that has to do with the image of Iran. In the world, in America, but also among younger Iranians, and it makes it difficult for people to perhaps -- to trust Iran or to feel, you know, you were talking about the atmosphere getting better. This is I think the kind of thing that makes the atmosphere difficult to improve.
You had six Iranians, young Iranians who made this video of the song "Happy." They have been sentenced, they have been sentenced to lashes which have been commuted. They have been forced to recant on television. Why make them go through this punishment for making a harmless video about a song?
ROUHANI (Through Translator): We do have a multitude of problems in the region and the world at large today than to speak about prosecution of certain individuals, but be that as it may, I as the president of Iran have been sworn and put there by the will of the people to protect the constitution. If the constitution is ever violated, it is my legal responsibility to take the appropriate steps and implement appropriate actions, but as you know in Iran we do have an independent judiciary.
Perhaps an individual does something that legally may not be allowed in Iran. Whether I like it or you like it or not. So I am not certain what this thing that you're referring to was, how many people danced, and because of that what happened, happened. I don't think the problems are such in Iran that if a group wants to have fun somewhere they are then arrested or become targets.
ZAKARIA: You haven't seen the video? It's completely harmless.
Mr. President, I have one last question, and it's one I have asked you before but please indulge me.
Jason Rezaian, the correspondent for "The Washington Post" and his wife have both been arrested. Nobody knows what the charges are, nobody knows why. Your own foreign minister has said that Jason is a good reporter. People have attested to you personally that he is a decent person.
I know you say it's with the judiciary and you can't comment. My question is, I'm trying to get at this a different way, can you give us hope that this case will be dealt with fairly, with leniency and speedily? That this will be resolved quickly and that Jason will be able to come back to the United States?
ROUHANI (Through Translator): Listen, leniency and everything you just went over, these are topics to be thought about or spoken of after the final judgment is rendered, and any individual who is brought up on any charges or detained or questioned, all of the different steps must be in accordance to the constitutions and the laws of the country.
If that individual has not committed any crimes, it will be determined that he or she or they are innocent and they will be freed and it would be announced openly. So we must not prematurely express opinions about a case file that hasn't reached the court yet. Sometimes the minister for the judicial affairs sometimes does inquire -- a member of my cabinet sometimes does inquire as to the conditions of folks who are detained from time to time.
ZAKARIA: Will you make an inquiry from your office about that condition? It would -- I think it would carry some weight.
ROUHANI (Through Translator): Generally speaking for everyone what I said goes for everyone, not targeted towards a certain case file or a certain individual.
ZAKARIA: Well, it's my full hope and expectation that he will be released soon.
Mr. President, thank you so much.
ZAKARIA: That was Iran's president Hassan Rouhani.
Next up, a 91-year-old statesman who is wiser than ever. Israel's former president and former prime minister, Shimon Peres. We talk about the Middle East and his next job when we come back.
ZAKARIA: Sixty-five years ago Shimon Peres got his first major position in Israel as head of its Navy. 66 days ago he finally left government at the ripe young age of 91.
In between there was an extraordinary career filled with wars and many attempts at peace, tragedies and triumphs, including a Nobel Peace Prize. 48 years in Knesset, stints holding seemingly every high office in Israel including prime minister, including president.
That last one was his final government job from which he stepped down in July. So what is he going to do next?
This week he released a humorous video that shows he's working on an answer to that question.
Here now, our conversation at the Clinton Global Initiative earlier this week.
ZAKARIA: You were a very good pizza delivery person I have to tell you, and that part I thought you particularly showed skill.
SHIMON PERES, FORMER PRESIDENT, ISRAEL: Well, this is an unexpected compliment for me.
ZAKARIA: When you look at the Middle East today, do you think that Israel's position is less secure? And let me preface it by asking it to you this way. When I was in graduate school, we would study the military balance of power in the Middle East. We would see that Israel was up against the great Egyptian army, the great Iraqi army, the great Syrian army, and those were the countries that Israel worried about having to go to war with.
Now, you know, Egypt is internally convulsed, Iraq is internally convulsed battling ISIS and Syria is in free fall. Does that reality mean that Israel is more secure? PERES: In a way, yes. You know, actually I don't think there will be
more wars. It's being replaced by terror. It's a different sort of a conflict. Usually there are two armies, one won, the other lost, but now we have hundreds and hundreds of small terroristic groups, they don't have a policy, they're more of a protest. They don't have a tomorrow. They're going back to yesterday. And they became the real problem for the world more than for Israel, and we stand informally, in the future it will be more formal, at the same front against terrorism.
ZAKARIA: Do you believe that as a result of this, these relations -- with this common enemy of terrorism, relations between Israel and the Arab countries and Middle Eastern countries are inevitably going to get better?
PERES: Undoubtedly in my eyes. You know, we live in a global world. I don't -- I'm not sure that the globality had it in mind or planned it. The fact is globality put an end to racism. You cannot be global and racist finish. We cannot be globality and nationalistic finish. Globality doesn't hang on power but on goodwill.
ZAKARIA: If you would -- if I would be talking to an Arab statesman, even somebody well disposed toward Israel, what he I think would say to me was yes, Arabs and Israelis could be friends, but Israel has to give the Palestinians a state.
PERES: I agree with him. I think we have to give to them the state. I don't have the slightest doubt about it.
You know, I am too young or too old to pay too much attention to what people say. I would rather see what they do. And maybe in the conversation some people will say this and that, but the official position and the real desire of Israel is to have two states, an Arab state and a (INAUDIBLE) state, and I think that's also the conclusion of the Arabs.
ZAKARIA: Who was the first American president you met?
PERES: Kennedy, President Kennedy. You are too young. Yes.
ZAKARIA: Do you think there are a number of people who feel that President Obama has been too passive or disengaged in the Middle East? Do you agree with that assessment?
PERES: No, no. I think President Obama met all the serious requests we have had, and I think he has his own style, and he's in a different position as well. The other presidents never had such a China, never had such an India, never had the world crisis, never paid so much for wars. Several presidents is not just a new president but he comes in a new age.
ZAKARIA: So we have seen the video, so we know the options available, but you're not looking for another job, you're not looking for another post.
PERES: I'm busy, no. I'm very busy. I don't need -- you know, when you're president, you live in a golden cage. Now if you like gold, stay. If you like to fly and leave the cage and fly like a bird. So I prefer flying. I think it's a better employment than watching gold, and I'm busy as ...
ZAKARIA: Shimon Peres, the one and only Shimon Peres. Thank you so much.
PERES: Thank you.
ZAKARIA: Next on "GPS," the Ebola outbreak. The worst case scenario put out this week by the CDC, the Centers for Disease Control, is terrible. So what can be done? I will talk to three people who are working on it, Chelsea Clinton, Paul Farmer, and Liberia's foreign minister. A fascinating conversation when we come back.
ZAKARIA: The Centers for Disease Control say that by January, just four months from now, there could be 1.4 million cases of Ebola in just two countries, Liberia and Sierra Leone. Now, that is the worst case scenario but it's pretty frightening. So, at the Clinton Global Initiative this week, I sat down with the panel of people who are working on the issue. Paul Farmer is a famous doctor, a professor at Harvard Medical School, a tireless activist working on improving health care in poor areas of the United States and around the world. Chelsea Clinton's recent Ph.D. from Oxford focused on global health governance. She's a vice chair of the Clinton Foundation where she's worked to find solutions to health problems around the world and Liberia's foreign minister, Augustine Kpehe Ngafuan. Remember, his nation is one of the two where the CDC foresees a huge potential uptick in Ebola cases.
Paul Farmer, you were just in Liberia. Give us a sense on the ground. What does it look like?
DR.PAUL FARMER, HARVARD MEDICAL SCHOOL: Well, I think one of the images that people have in mind is of some, you know, chaos that's visible. That's not really what we saw either in Monrovia, the capital, or in the rural areas. You know, there is a health crisis, there's that's affecting the travel and economy. It's difficult to get in and out of Liberia. We got in with the help of the United Nations as a group of physicians, but there seemed to be a calm and resolve, you know, that something dramatic needs to happen, but there's also a sense, I think, quite correct that the staff, the stuff, the space to do the work and the systems are not yet there.
ZAKARIA: The CDC, the Centers for Disease Control, has just put out a model, a simulation that says if we continue on our current trajectory, I think it's by the middle of 2015 we could have maybe 1.5 million people affected. Do you think that's true?
CHELSEA CLINTON: So, I mean mot even by the middle of next year. By the middle of January of 2015. The caseload in Liberia doubles every 15 to 20 days. The case load in Sierra Leone doubles every 30 to 40 days. And so, we're truly watching exponential growth, which is why we need to have an exponential acceleration in our coordinated efforts to combat Ebola, particularly in Liberia and Sierra Leone as well as in Guinea. To build a little bit on what Paul was saying, I think we look at both historical and contemporary examples and we see that that pace of Ebola case growth doesn't have to be. I mean, Uganda has had five Ebola outbreaks in the last 14 years, none of which have become epidemics because there's a strong health care system in place. There's a reason that there's been one isolated case in Senegal and it's been geographically contained in Nigeria, because there are more robust health systems in place. So, certainly, our collective hope is that this is a call to action not only to combat Ebola, but to help these countries build their health care systems to better prevent the next Ebola case from becoming an epidemic and to better serve the needs of their populations more broadly.
ZAKARIA: Minister Ngafuan, explain to us what is happening on the ground. You know, with the health care as the developing country, a poor country with a rudimentary health care system. What do you think could be changed to make this problem be addressed more effectively?
AUGUSTINE NGAFUAN, LIBERIA'S FOREIGN MINISTER: Thank you, Fareed. We are a small country. We have had our own history of difficulties. For upwards of 14 years we were embroiled in one of the worst civil conflicts on the African continent that decimated our small population. Now, we are rebuilding. We are experiencing growth. Now, Ebola attacked us at a very time when we were taking off, and our health system was not robust as we wanted it because we had competing challenges, and the rule sector, the energy sector and every sector. So it met us at this time. Now, we are a traditional society. Our people have clung to cultures for the ages. In Ebola environment, burial practices that our people have clung to for ages, they cannot do that because in some of our environments when a person dies, the ritual will entail that they wash the body and some family members will have to wash their faces with the water of the dead. That's part of the practice. But our people have to start to now know that the challenge requires us changing the culture a little bit.
ZAKARIA: Paul Farmer, you have traveled all over the world, worked in so many different places. What is a good health care system look like?
FARMER: A good health care system goes from communities, community health workers, to clinics where the majority of health care can be delivered. You don't need to go to a hospital, but you need hospitals, too, when you're critically ill. Ebola is a classic example, right, of some people do get - do get really critically ill with the hemorrhagic fever, but when we see -- pardon a little bit of jargon, case fatality rates, so fatality varies so much from place to place and epidemic to epidemic, that's a sure sign that the health system is weak.
FARMER: Because most people with Ebola should not die.
CHELSEA CLINTON: And to build on what Paul was saying, you know, it is, of course, about the human resources for health, but it's also about the system in which those doctors and nurses and lab technicians operate. So although the kind of current doctor to population ratio is rather staggering, so in the United States, for example, we have more than 240 doctors for over 100,000 people. In Liberia it's less than one for every 100,000 people. That is clearly a significant challenge, but what is also significant challenge is the environment, in which health workers operate.
So as one example, the minister and I were talking backstage about an airlift that we helped organize through CGI that left on Saturday that thus far is the largest airlift to leave from the United States to the Ebola infected countries and we're incredibly grateful to our CGI partners direct relief, to Merck and to Becton, Dickinson who donated more than 100 tons of medical supplies and protective material. Only now are those supplies being distributed effectively to more than 100 partners in Liberia and Sierra Leone because when the plane landed there weren't enough trucks to load all the materials on for immediate distribution. So it's important to focus on the health care workers, it's necessary, but it's not yet sufficient. It's also about kind of the larger environment, in which the health care workers operate both for this immediate response, ensuring that, you know, there's enough transportation support to get people there, and the commodities needed, but also then enough support to distribute those people and commodities to the areas where they're most needed.
ZAKARIA: Minister, let me give you the last word. What is it that you want the world to know about Liberia in this situation?
NGAFUAN: We appreciate the solidarity that has come from the international community, governments, NGOs, private sector. We've done much, but we need to do more. Every day that passes, people are dying. So like some of us, I lost my administrative assistant some three weeks ago. Every day we -- even out of the country we are afraid to take our phones because it might just be someone telling you that a friend or relative or compatriot has fallen. So, we want a surge of action, we want solidarity, we want empathy. If anyone in the world can do anything to save one life, it is one life very precious. We would be very grateful for that.
ZAKARIA: Thank you all very much.
CHELSEA CLINTON: Thank you, Fareed.
ZAKARIA: The U.S. war on terror has only been going on for 13 years. How in the world do you end a 50 year war with terrorists? The next head of state you will meet seems to be on the verge of doing just that when we come back.
(COMMERCIAL BREAK) ZAKARIA: For 50 years the government of Colombia has fought its own war on terror, but peace might be on the horizon. Since 1964 the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia or FARC has been trying to overthrow the nation's government. The State Department says FARC is Latin America's oldest largest, oldest, most violent and best equipped terrorist organization, which is heavily involved in illicit narcotics production and trafficking. Now 50 years later, the FARC is quite far down the road in peace talks with the nation's president. That president is Juan Manuel Santos. He's recently been re-elected with a mandate to continue those peace talks, and he joins me now.
So how were you able to negotiate with people that your government has been battling and that have been afflicting huge terrorist attacks. I mean, politically, that must be difficult.
PRES. JUAN MANUEL SANTOS, COLOMBIA: It is very difficult, very difficult to explain to the people that why are you talking about peace and the war continues because one of the conditions I put in the initiation of the conversation was there's no ceasefire until we reach an agreement because they always take advantage of ceasefires, and I don't want to be signaled if they fail, if the conversations fail, as another president who attempted to have peace and failed and left the FARC stronger and the state weaker. That is something that I will not allow and, therefore, it is difficult to explain, but it's the shortest way to achieve peace.
ZAKARIA: What lesson do you draw from talking to terrorists? What would you say you've learned?
SANTOS: Well, first of all, that you have to have a very clear objective. You have to have some red lines, and you have to have determination and persevere. And plan very carefully for where you want to go. And this is what I have done in the last two years. And we have advanced much further than any attempt before, and I am quite optimistic for the first time in 50 years of war that we will reach peace.
ZAKARIA: And the situation on the ground is dramatically improved. I was in Colombia last year and I was struck by how these war ravaged and drug ravaged cities, at least the ones that I'd heard of as - as such (ph) were booming. I mean your economy is now leading the pack rate in Latin America.
SANTOS: Well, we are, yes, the country that is growing the fastest in this first half of this year we were the third in the world, the first in Latin America, but the third in the world after ....
ZAKARIA: Third fastest growing economy in the world.
SANTOS: Yeah, after China and Indonesia, but not only that growth by itself doesn't mean anything. We grow to give the people a better life, and we have been able to reduce poverty by almost 10 percentage points, which is unprecedented and extreme poverty by almost six. And we have been able to create employment, the former employment much more than any other country in Latin America and that has allowed us to be a little less unequal, but we have a long way to go still but the economy, thank God, is in good shape.
ZAKARIA: What will you do with these former terrorists once you get a peace? Will they be forgiven? Will they be tried in some fashion? Will there be a truth and reconciliation commission?
SANTOS: There will be a truth and reconciliation commission and they will be submitted to the transitional justice system and most probably what will happen is that the most responsible of the crimes, the war crimes, will be held responsible and will be judged, and the common soldier, the common combatant will probably get away without any sentencing. It would be --
ZAKARIA: A kind of amnesty.
SANTOS: Yes. It's impossible to submit to the justice system every single member of the FARC because it will take 100 years.
ZAKARIA: Mr. President, good to have some good news and thank you for bringing it.
SANTOS: Thank you for having us here.
ZAKARIA: Up next, what percentage of American children live in poverty? Think about it, and I'll tell you when we get back.
ZAKARIA: Last week the U.S. Census Bureau released its annual report on poverty. It brings me to my question of the week. How many children live in poverty in this country, the United States? 1 in 20? 1 in 15? 1 in 10? Or 1 in 5? Stay tuned and we'll tell you the correct answer. This week's book of the week is Mark Whitaker's "Cosby: His Life and Times." If you want an interesting sideways answer to the question, how did America elect its first black president, read this book? Whitaker's fascinating and well written biography reminds us that beyond politics and laws it is American culture that has changed over the last three decades and transformed race relations. Bill Cosby and "The Cosby Show" were crucial to that change.
The correct answer to our "GPS Challenge" question is "D," 1 in 5 children live in poverty in America. That percentage did fall slightly from 21.8 percent in 2012 to 19.9 percent in 2013. According to a 2013 UNICEF report, the United States fares worse than almost every other economically advanced country when it comes to relative child poverty. That includes countries like Slovakia, Greece, and Bulgaria. Thanks to all of you for being part of my program this week. I will see you next week.
ERIN MCPIKE, CNN ANCHOR: Good morning. I'm Erin McPike. And here the big stories we are following this hour. Ferguson, Missouri, is still on edge since an unarmed black teenager was shot and killed last month by a white officer, and now the shootings of two officers overnight stirred up emotions once again. One officer was shot in the arm while on patrol. Authorities say there's no reason to believe that shooting was connected with protests over Michael Brown's killing. The suspect is still at large and in a separate incident three hours later, police say someone opened fire on an off-duty officer who was in his personal car on an interstate. The officer did not appear to get hit by the gunfire.
In Hong Kong, more than two dozen people are injured following a violent standoff between police and tens of thousands of protesters. Pro-democracy students are demanding the resignation of several Chinese politicians. Police responded with tear gas and batons before backing off. The clashes follow a week of boycotts and protests against what students see as growing interference in Hong Kong politics by mainland China.
In Japan, at least 30 people are presumed dead in a massive volcano eruption and dozens more may be trapped or buried underneath the ash. A rescue and recovery operation is under way at Nantucket right now, but officials have no idea exactly how many people are missing or where they might be and what's more, the volcano is still active unleashing clouds of ash as we speak.
Now to Venice. George Clooney and his new wife have just made their first public appearance as a married couple. The mega star and British human rights lawyer Amal Alamuddin exchanged vows in Italy yesterday. Guests included Matt Damon, Bill Murray, and Vogue editor Anna Wintour. The couple boarded a boat and Mrs. Clooney could be seen glancing at her wedding ring. I'm Erin McPike in Washington. "Reliable Sources" starts right now.