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Devastation in Chinese Port City; Inside Syria's Refugee Camp; Cubans Prepare for New Era of Relations with U.S. Aired 3-4p ET.

Aired August 13, 2015 - 15:00:00   ET


[15:00:11] HALA GORANI, HOST: Tonight devastation in a Chinese port city after a series of terrifying explosions kills dozens of people.


GORANI: But what set off the deadly blast in Tianjin. We have a report plus desperation on a smug Greek Island as thousands of migrants are

corralled inside a stadium with little food or water.

And CNN goes inside Syria's Yarmouk camp to see the conditions that Palestinians are desperate to escape.

Plus it is party time on the streets of Havana as Cubans prepare for a new era of relations with the United States.


GORANI: Hello, everyone, I'm Hala Gorani, we're live at CNN, London, thanks for being with us. This is The World Right Now.

Let us begin in Tianjin, China where parts of the city are lying in ruin after a series of massive explosions. New images into CNN today captured

the terrifying moment of the blasts. Take a look.


GORANI: Amateur cell phone video there showing the impact, the size, the magnitude of these blasts. At least 50 people are among the dead, hundreds

more are injured. The exact cause of the explosion remains unclear at this stage. Tianjin is a major port city of more than 13 million people in

China's North East.

CNN's Will Ripley is in Tianjin and filed this report.

WILL RIPLEY, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Horrific video pouring in of a series of catastrophic explosions in a major Chinese port city late


Watch this surveillance video obtained by ABC News of a man standing near the entrance of a building, the blast decimating the wall, caving in right

on top of him.

The explosions felt miles away emanating from an industrial warehouse in Tianjin, a city of 15 million, 2 hours south of Beijing.

The chemical material inside, unknown and dangerous according to Xinhua, a state run news agency. Xinhua reporting firefighters are now suspended

from tending to the billowing flames in fear the mysterious chemicals might pose a further threat. This, as the death toll continues rising, dozens

now dead including fire fighters and more than 500 injured.

The house collapsed we didn't know what happened says one survivor. During my live report from outside the Hospital, tempers flare. A group of

apparently distraught survivors along with security officers demanding to see the pictures on my phone forcing me off the air. Police don't stop

them, emotions running high. The massive explosions equivalent to a small earthquake according to China Datacenter when you look around at all the

devastation here it's really remarkable. The aftermath found far and wide, buildings destroyed and cars are completely charred more than a mile away

from the blast site.

Will Ripley, CNN, Tianjin, China.


GORANI: Unbelievable images there. Well the real skill of the destruction near the blast sites in Tianjin can only be truly seen from above.

Take a look at this drone video from early today.


GORANI: It shows multiple fires still burning in the area near the explosions. I mean it just looks like post-apocalyptic doesn't it from the

air. Hours after the initial blast shook the City from miles around this still going on during daylight hours in Tianjin.


GORANI: Now to the Middle East. ISIS has claimed responsibility for one of the deadliest attacks in Baghdad in more than a year. Dozens were

killed when a truck bomb exploded in a crowded vegetable market in the east of the City. As CNN's Jomana Karadsheh reports at least one U.S. General

says it is time to consider sending in - sending again - sending in once again ground troops into the country.


JOMANA KARADSHEH, CNN INTERNATIONAL REPORTER: It was a scene reminiscent of Iraq's dark days, its sectarian war between 2005 and 2007, dozens killed

and wounded in one of the worst attacks to hit Baghdad in more than a year.

[15:05:06] A truck rigged with explosives (inaudible) Souk Jameela, a busy vegetable in the predominately Shia (inaudible) City, one of the capital's

most impoverished areas.

In a statement circulated online, ISIS claimed responsibility saying its target was Shia Militia men and members of the Popular Mobilization Units.

Terror military groups that have been at the forefront of the war on the terror group.

The attack comes after a number of other major bombings also targeting Shia's North East of Baghdad in Diyala Province. ISIS claimed

responsibility for the blasts there that killed and wounded hundreds in recent weeks. That province claimed liberated by Iraqi officials earlier

this year.


KARADSHEH: One year since the military campaign against ISIS began, U.S. officials are offering a grim assessment of the battle against the group in

Iraq describing it as "a stalemate with no certain outcome."


KARADSHEH: On Wednesday the United States top outgoing General Ray Odierno, suggesting the option of an expanded U.S. Military role in Iraq.

GENERAL RAY ODIERNO, U.S. ARMY CHIEF OF STAFF: I believe that if we find in the next several months that we're not making the progress that we have

we should probably absolutely consider inviting some soldiers with them to see if that would make a difference.

That doesn't mean they would be fighting but it would be, you know maybe bedding them and moving with them, I think that's an option we should

present to the President when the time is right.

KARADSHEH: Attacks like this aimed at stoking sectarian tensions also send a message that ISIS is still capable of carrying out devastating attacks

that can strike at anytime, anywhere.

Jomana Karadsheh, CNN, (inaudible).


GORANI: We'll be talking more about what to do to confront ISIS in the Middle East with our military expert later. Ground troops, would it even

make a difference and on what scale should it be considered?

To Greece now, we talk a lot about Greece because of the debt crisis but today the Government says that it's sending a ship to house thousands of

people as a wave of migrants overwhelms the small island of Kos.


GORANI: Local officials say 600 to 800 people many fleeing war have been arriving every single day. Greek ministers are meeting with EU Officials

in an effort to resolve the crisis or at least alleviate manage it. Thousands of migrants have been crammed inside a stadium with little food

and water for days now leading to scuffles with police. A lot of frustration, a lot of suffering.


GORANI: Let's get more insight now for the Head of Mission for Doctors Without Borders in Greece, Dr. Efstathios Kyrousis joins me now on the

phone from Athens.

You were in Kos not too long ago. What happened at the stadium yesterday?


GORANI: I understand thousands of migrants were just herded into a stadium and four people were fainting every hour. People were having seizures.

What was going through the official's mind just putting people in a sports stadium like this.

DR. EFSTATHIOS KYROUSIS, DOCTORS WITHOUT BORDERS: It was tough before yesterday there when all these (inaudible) and it's beyond any logic and

reasoning what's happened. The Island was overwhelmed with 7,000 people occupying every empty place not having any place to stay. No facility, no

toilet, no water, sleeping in sport tents, (mixed) with the tourists in the beaches, the parks, everywhere. And this is because these are the

(inaudible) islands has no reception system at all for the refugees (inaudible) that comes. (Inaudible). (Inaudible) any reception system at


GORANI: So there's no reception system in other words it means that people in their thousands, desperate migrants in their thousands are taking small

dingy boats from Turkey, they arrive in Kos and they have nowhere to be processed, right? So what is the .

KYROUSIS: Absolutely.

GORANI: What is the situation now? Are they still in that sports stadium these thousands of migrants?

KYROUSIS: They have, the authorities decided the first time they decided to take some action. (Inaudible) were ordering them to take action was

repression and violence. So they have put 2,500 in (inaudible) without explaining what is going to happen to them and the (inaudible) without any

organization at all with just two toilets that were blocked within two hours. Sleeping quarter is basic, they have used fire extinguishers in the

(inaudible), and then they have (inaudible) blocked inside the stadium more than 1,000 people for more than 24 hours without water, no food, no toilet.


GORANI: But what needs to be done? Let me ask your expert opinion on this. You're with Medicines Sans Frontier, you have a crew there in fact I

understand some of your colleagues had to evacuate the stadium for security reasons that they're able to provide medical care now. But what needs to

be done most urgently here?

[15:10:06] KYROUSIS: For me to tell you in the stadium they have used hand grenades and tear gases and these things to be used against people fleeing

war, (inaudible) is simply unacceptable. They are the last people on earth where these weapons should be used and this is very, very, worrying and

amazing for us. We're really, really very angry about it.

And second, everybody knows what has to happen, this is what happens in every state in the world. In every African state, in (inaudible) in

Bulgaria, in Turkey, everywhere, this does not happen in Kos that's create safe conditions, (inaudible) where these people can stay for a few days

(inaudible) and with protection of their health and safety until they get their paper and they come to the mainland. This is already happening in

other islands in Greece, it's happening on the mainland borders between Greece and Turkey. It's happening in so many countries, but it is not

happening in Kos and the other (inaudible) island.

GORANI: Yes, these are images actually difficult to see when you see the amount of human suffering there in Kos. Thank you Efstathios Kyrousis of

Medicines Sans Frontier who is in charge of Kos as well as other parts of Greece there for the organization describing some of the dire conditions

that the refugees face. And as well the reported use of stun grenades, sonic booms as well in that stadium where all these refugees were

essentially trapped for more than 24 hours and how psychologically damaging as well that can possibly be.

We'll continue to follow that story of course as well.


GORANI: And a lot more to come tonight; graffiti left at the scene of the crime leaves little doubt about the motive.


GORANI: We'll look at the latest attack against Palestinians by suspected Jewish extremists.

Plus well wishes poor in from around the world after former U.S. President, Jimmy Carter, announces he is fighting cancer. We'll be right back.




GORANI: An Israeli Human Rights group says it is time for the government to put all its effort into bringing right wing Jewish extremists to



GORANI: Authorities are investigating yet another attack against Palestinians in the West Bank. A tent in a Bedouin village was set on fire

overnight. No-one was hurt only because the family who live there recently moved to a cooler location. The attackers left Hebrew language graffiti at

the scene and attacks against Palestinians and their property have been going on for years as well as attacks on mosques and churches.


GORANI: Critics say the perpetrators are often given a slap on the wrist if they are apprehended at all but Israel has now taken a tougher stand

after that deadly fire bombing last month that killed a baby, and eventually that baby's father. Oren Liebermann joins us now from


Tell us Oren about this latest attack and why authorities seem so convinced from the outset that this is the work of Jewish extremists.

[15:15:10] OREN LIEBERMANN, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Well this latest attack happened early this morning where suspected Jewish extremists

lit a Bedouin tent on fire. As you mentioned no-one was injured only because the family in a bit of a heat wave here had moved to a cooler

location, but the fire did (inaudible) belongings.


LIEBERMANN: There's a suspicion here that this is a "price tag" attack and what a "price tag" attack is it's an attack by Jewish extremists normally

in response to something the government did or the Palestinians did that these extremists view as anti-settlements in the West Bank.

So very often in these attacks the words price tag or revenge are spray painted near the crime scene which is what happened exactly in this case.

Some of that graffiti read administrative revenge, and that's why it seems so clear here that this is the work of extremists.

We've seen a couple more of these recently; the one two weeks ago in Douma that killed two Palestinians and left two more critically injured also had

the word revenge sprayed there.


LIEBERMANN: And there was also one earlier this summer where suspected Jewish extremists torched a church in northern Israel. So there's been a

bit of a wave of these here recently.

In response the government has done what they can to crack down. They've used administrative detention against some of the suspects, that's a

measure rarely used against Israelis. Much more often used against Palestinians. It's where a suspect is held without charge or trial for

renewable six month periods.

I spoke with a lawyer of one of those held under administrative detention and he says it's very difficult to fight administrative detention, to argue

against it in any way. He also says if you suspect him of torching one of these churches or homes then prove the evidence - bring the evidence and

charge him is what here's what he had to say.


ITZHAK BAM, CHURCH ARSON SUSPECT'S ATTORNEY: They say well he is terrorist. OK, if he's terrorist indict him. They don't - unwilling or



LIEBERMANN: Hala at the moment police have arrested two and charged them with the arson from about two months ago against that church. They're also

holding three more on administrative detention so we are seeing an effort here, a bigger effort to crack down on this extremism.

GORANI: All right, Oren Liebermann in Jerusalem, thank you.

Sweden says two criminal investigations into WikiLeaks founder, Julian Assange have now expired.


GORANI: Allegations of sexual molestation and unlawful coercion have met the statute of limitations however the investigation into the allegation of

rape will continue.

Assange, who took refuge in the Ecuadorian Embassy in London released a statement saying "he's extremely disappointed and there was no need for any

of this." He says he is an innocent man. The U.S. - and there you have it, that is the end of the statement by Julian Assange.


GORANI: Now to the latest on Jimmy Carter. Barack Obama, the U.S. President says he is hoping for a fast and full recovery for the former

President, Jimmy Carter.


GORANI: The 90 year old announced he had cancer on Wednesday and said it had spread to other parts of his body. It was discovered after recent

surgery to remove a small mass from his liver. Mr. Obama and Vice President, Joe Biden, were among those who called Carter to wish him well.


GORANI: Well Carter only served one term in office before he was defeated by Ronald Regan but in the decade since his 1976 election Carter has become

just as well known for his outstanding humanitarian work, just as well known for his presidency.

Here's CNN's Martin Savidge.

MARTIN SAVIDGE, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Regardless of your opinion of President Carter when he was President of the United States, and

let's face it there are some very different opinions on that, most of them divided on political lines.


SAVIDGE: Americans are pretty much of the same mind when it comes to his post Presidency and that is that he has done a world of good for many, many

people. He and his wife. Which could explain why there has been such a tremendous outpouring of support now that President Carter has come forward

and says that he has cancer.

The question in the minds of many people is what kind of cancer does he have. He's admitted that it has spread and we know that in his family

(inaudible) a tragic problems. (Inaudible) both a brother, two sisters and his mother to cancer.

The treatment program when it begins is going to happen here in Atlanta at Emery Healthcare Systems. But beyond that we don't know a whole lot more.

We do know that among those who've been expressing their support, President Obama and his wife sent this message.

They said "Michelle and I send our best wishes to President Carter for a fast and full recovery. Jimmy, you're as resilient as they come, and along

with the rest of America, we are rooting for you."


SAVIDGE: Well it's not just America it is in many cases the world that is rooting for President Carter. Many people are also surprised when you tell

them that he is 90 years of age. We're so accustomed to seeing him going all around the world.


SAVIDGE: And of course his age is going to have some bearing on the kind of treatment that he endures. You don't treat a six year old the same way

you treat a 90 year old person.


SAVIDGE: That said medical experts say he can still have a very successful outcome.

At the Carter Center, Martin Savidge, CNN, Atlanta.

[15:20:04] GORANI: Well one newspaper is sending its own well-wishes to Carter in the form of an editorial cartoon.


GORANI: Mike Luckovich is someone we've had on our air before, he's from the Atlanta Journal Constitution. As you can see there it's a couple

putting up a sign in their yard and the sign reads Jimmy Carter for cancer survivor.

Carter's grandson, Jason, tweeted this response "my sentiments exactly." It was a lovely cartoon.


GORANI: Jimmy Carter served just one term as we mentioned as U.S. President but he's known around the world for his humanitarian



GORANI: During his presidency Carter helped spearhead the camp David Accords brokering a landmark 1978 peace treaty between Egypt and Israel.

Arguably really the only treaty that has ever held for any length of time.

After leaving office he founded the Carter Center dedicated to humanitarian causes. The organization has observed more than a hundred elections, I

myself met him for the Egyptian election in 2012.

The center's actually close to eradicating Guinea Worm disease in Africa. Carter was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize in 2002.

Well he has come under some criticism particularly for his outspoken views on the Middle East peace process by some reporters.

Well you can get all the news, the latest on the condition of Jimmy Carter and other stories on my Facebook page;, we love hearing from you.


GORANI: Coming up.


GORANI: As Greek law makers prepare to vote on whether to accept a new bailout there is finally some good news for the country's economy. A

surprising number came out today, we'll explain.




GORANI: There's finally some good news for the Greek economy.


GORANI: The country's GDP surprisingly grew by eight tenths of a percent. Shocking analysts who'd expected it to contract.

It is worth noting that these preliminary figures are for the three months to June before Greece closed its banks and restricted cash withdrawals.


GORANI: That encouraging news comes as lawmakers prepare to vote on whether to approve a third bailout package. Let's go live to New York,

Maggie Lake, is there.

So what contributed to this surprise expansion of Greek GDP Maggie?

MAGGIE LAKE, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: It was a shocking headline wasn't it Hala but I wish there was some good news in here.


LAKE: But a lot of people are thinking that that jump of eight tenths of a percent was largely due to consumption.


LAKE: Basically people going out and buying things afraid of what would happen if there was an exit that their money would have no value at all.

Or sort of anticipating the fact it would be hard to get their hand on some money. So it looks like it probably stole a bunch of purchases from the

(inaudible) bin to that quarter. Motivated by that it's not exactly great news. There may have been some other tourism, beginning of the tourism

season related in there but everyone thinking that it's just temporary. There's no doubt that Greece is in a very serious recession right now as it

tries to deal with the aftermath of that crisis. And of course facing a continued long road of austerity if they're able to get this bailout


GORANI: And what is the third bailout package? What does it contain, what is the vote expected to reveal? I mean in which direction are

parliamentarians expected to vote?


GORANI: This is bailout number three, correct?

LAKE: That's right. And it's one that they're not happy about but there is a sense that no-one wants to return to the financial chaos that we all

witnessed earlier this summer. So the vote, the debate as you say getting underway, the vote itself will probably happen sometime around midnight and

it is expected to pass. But it's not going to come without some political damage.

There may be a split, an official split within Syriza, the ruling party, that may prompt the need for snap elections perhaps as early as September.

So that's going to create you know an environment of political uncertainty that's layered now on top of all the economic uncertainty that's facing

this country.


LAKE: As we said in the bailout there are going to be demands for more austerity. Yes there might be some privatization or some reforms that will

help maybe at the margin longer term growth as they try to (inaudible) the economy but it's going to be very difficult. And Hala, a lot of people are

saying that even with this extra money, even with those funds that they're facing a debt that is really unsustainable and something has to be done

about it. So a lot of challenges both on the political front and the economic front still ahead for Greece.

GORANI: Well and there are many people, people in power even saying there has to be some level of debt forgiveness. We'll see how everything

develops. Thanks very much Maggie Lake, and I believe Maggie, you are hosting Quest Means Business at the top of the hour so we will see you


Still ahead after blasts leave parts of the Chinese City Tianjin smoldering.


GORANI: Residents raise concerns about the safety of the air. We have a report from the City.

And then a wasteland, no other word for it that symbolizes the tragedy of Syria's Civil War. We will re-visit a refugee camp near the heart of





GORANI: A look at your top story. The explosions that ripped through warehouses in the Chinese port city of Tianjin have killed at least 50



GORANI: Hundreds more have been hospitalized and dozens of fire fighters remain missing. Authorities are still working to determine exactly what

caused the explosions.


GORANI: ISIS is claiming responsibility for one of the deadliest attacks in Baghdad in more than one year.


GORANI: Dozens were killed when a truck bomb exploded at a vegetable market in a Shia dominated area in the east of the city.


GORANI: Greek officials are meeting with their EU counterparts in Athens, they're trying to figure out what to do about the non-stop flow of migrants

to the tiny island of Kos.


GORANI: Aid groups grew alarmed after saying thousands of people were packed into a hot stadium with no food, water, or sanitation.


[15:30:08] GORANI: A new audio message posted online indicates Al-Qaeda is throwing its support to the new leader of the Afghan Taliban.


GORANI: The message is purportedly from Al-Qaeda chief Ayman al-Zawahiri. He pledges allegiance to Mullah Akhtar Mohammed Mansour he took over the

Taliban last month.


GORANI: Let's bring you more now on our top story. The aftermath of that massive explosion, or I should say the massive explosions that rocked the

Chinese city of Tianjin.


GORANI: These dramatic images captured the moment the blast erupted in the City's port area. At least 50 people are among the dead and dozens of fire

fighters are missing. But as CNN's Will Ripley reports residents now have a new concern, the safety of the air debris.

RIPLEY: Right now we're about a mile from the epicenter of the explosion and even from this distance, and even as night has fallen here you can

still see how much damage there is. This is someone's living room window that has been propelled down onto the street.

Most of the windows of this building are shattered and the glass has been raining down on the pavement especially when there's a big wind gust. The

shifting winds are also of concern for folks who are worried about the air quality.


RIPLEY: There are several air monitoring stations up around the city right now because that plume of smoke that we've seen throughout burning

uncontrolled throughout the past 24 hours or so, that smoke plume is pushing chemicals, dangerous and toxic chemicals into the air. And city

officials do acknowledge that the levels of contaminants are higher than normal and could potentially be dangerous if there's long-term exposure.

And they say if you just breath it for a short period of time there's not as much of a risk.


RIPLEY: But obviously that's little comfort especially for parents with children so you see a lot of people wearing these protective masks, face

masks. You can see the security officials over here trying to get us to move away from the building so we'll just step over in this direction here.

We should point out that the Chinese government is trying to control the message a bit here.


RIPLEY: We were interrupted during a live shot by some civilians earlier in the day but there were also uniformed officers in the group as well.

And social media posts about this tragedy have been - have been deleted from some of China's major social media sites.

This is not an image that Beijing wants to show the world. This is an economy that's driven by industry but there have been concerns for many

years about not only the working conditions and the safety of people working at these factories but also the fact in this specific city there

have been concerns raised that some of these factories with toxic chemicals are simply just too close to people's homes.

And so the fact that you can have an explosion, a series of explosions and this much damage from a mile, more than a mile, from 2km away it certainly

is a troubling sign and something that the central government and the government here will have to address.

Will Ripley, CNN, Tianjin, China.


GORANI: In a country devastated by war one district symbolizes the tragic consequences perhaps more than many others.

The Yarmouk camp in Damascus, it was once a Palestinian community that was pretty vibrant, of course a refugee camp but it had become essentially a

mini city within a city. Now it is simply a wasteland. One of the images that symbolizes Yarmouk was shot last year, you see it behind me. It

brought Yarmouk to the world's attention, capturing the desperation of civilians as they lined up for food and water.


GORANI: Things have gotten even worse, much worse since then as rival fighters battle for territory street by street. As Frederik Pleitgen shows

us life has become unbearable for the civilians who remain behind.

FREDERIK PLEITGEN, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Few places epitomize the tragedy of Syria's ongoing civil war more than Yarmouk. This Damascus

district was home mostly to Palestinians but as we walked through the debris to the frontline all we see is a wasteland.

This Palestinian pro government fighter who didn't want to be identified tells me the battles are intense.

It's always difficult because our enemies are not only from ISIS but from Palestinian groups as well he says. So we're fighting each other even

though we know each other and they know this area, that's why it's difficult.

With pro-regime forces laying siege Yarmouk from the outside and various rebel and extremist factions hold up inside, civilians are caught in the

middle. Subject to the ongoing violence and starving with humanitarian aid often unable to reach them.

We were on hand when thousands were allowed to flee last year. One of the youngest this baby then only 15 days old.

[15:35:02] There's not enough food inside, I simply didn't have enough food for him his mother told us. Even worse ISIS took over Yarmouk for

several days earlier this year but its fighters have since withdrawn to other Damascus areas.

The fighting hasn't subsided though. It's impossible not to see the utter destruction that the years of fighting have caused here in Yarmouk camp,

and at the same time the fighters here acknowledge that the gains that they're making aren't very big, they say there might be a day when they

take a building and they might lose a little bit of ground, but by and large the frontline is pretty static.

The (inaudible) fighters keep geese on the frontline to warn them of rebels possibly trying to infiltrate their lines in this urban combat sign.

We believe and we're very sure that we will get all of Yarmouk back and very soon the Palestinian fighter says.

But even if they do prevail and take Yarmouk back, it seems clear their prize will consist mostly of rubble and ruins.

Fred Pleitgen, CNN, inside Yarmouk Camp, Syria.


GORANI: Well Syria is criticizing the United States expanded bombing campaign against ISIS on its territory.


GORANI: U.S. war planes began manned flights yesterday from Incirlik airbase in southern Turkey putting them in closer range to targets in


The Syrian Deputy Foreign Minister called the campaign a mistake. He spoke exclusively with CNN's Fred Pleitgen.

FAISAL MEKDAD, SYRIAN DEPUTY FOREIGN MINISTER: I believe the United States is committing again the same mistake. I think I mean six/seven fighters I

mean planes and so on will not affect unless there is real cooperation on the ground between the respective government of Iraq and Syria. With all

those who are trying to fight against terrorism nothing will happen.

PLEITGEN: Now the U.S. has said that there could be coordination with Syria if President Assad steps down.

MEKDAD: President Assad is the only guarantor of any victory. If they continue with this policy they are on the losing side. They are promoting

terrorism and they will allow terrorists to flourish. I mean up in the entire region and beyond the region. I think this has - this has failed.

This logic has failed, it will fail and it will not achieve anything.


GORANI: Faisal Mekdad is the Deputy Foreign Minister there in Syria, speaking to CNN. Now let's get some perspective on the expanded bombing

campaign against ISIS. We're joined by CNN Military Analyst Lieutenant General Mark Hertling, thanks for being with us.

Will flying out of Incirlik make much of a difference here do you think?

MARK HERTLING, CNN MILITARY ANALYST: It'll make a critical difference Hala, it gives the aircraft a much shorter flight time, a much longer

loiter time, many more opportunities to hit ISIS targets, better coordination in terms of hitting those targets.


HERTLING: Less tankers for refueling so you're basically reacting to instantaneous targets as opposed to traveling long distances in some cases

over 2 hours to hit pre-planned targets which by the time you get there often aren't there.

So this is a - this is a huge capability in the fight against ISIS.

GORANI: But top generals have said for the last year this cannot be an air campaign alone, you need ground coordination and in the last year this air

campaign in both Iraq and Syria from coalition fighter jets has not weakened ISIS at all to the degree I'm sure that the United States and its

partners would like.

The Top General Ray Odierno even said you might recommend ground troops if this thing doesn't you know really start showing results. Is that a



HERTLING: I was actually surprised by General Odierno's comments on that. Both he and I served in Iraq together and I think the current strategy of

ensuring the people on the ground in indigenous population take control of this fight, and regain control over their area is the most important thing.

You know putting America forces in as either ground controllers or as combat forces or even advisors in frontline troops I think runs counter to

what we're attempting to do over there and that is to get the respective governments to take control of this fight against something that's

traumatizing their countryside.


GORANI: But right now this hasn't worked because you have, and Syria and Iraq are two completely different cases, but you have the Kurds fighting in

some areas, you have the Iraqi Army not doing so well in others. You may even have Iranian interference in some cases. I mean Turks are now bombing

a few ISIS targets here and there. So I mean it's not like there's a functioning central government in any of those two countries that can take

charge of anything at this time.

[15:40:00] HERTLING: There is an increasingly functional government in Iraq. I think some of the things that have occurred this week with various

passages of laws by the Iraqi government is beginning to show signs of optimism. You're absolutely correct in Syria, it's been horrible. And

listening to your report just now about the refugee crisis this is the same refugee crisis that Mr. Assad caused. It has almost 400,000 Kurds inside

of Turkey.

So I think they are contributing to much of the chaos as well in their countryside. You're absolutely right, it has not gone as quickly and as

well as many would have hoped but I think you're beginning to see indicators of a containment strategy occurring. More members of coalitions

joining this fight to take the fight to ISIS. Increased capability within the Iraqi army and more specifically within the Iraqi government.

So there has been I guess I would say Hala, I don't buy the premise that there hasn't been success. There certainly is some still made (inaudible).

GORANI: But not significant. I mean - right. They're still controlling Mosul, they're controlling Palmera, they're in charges of large parts of

eastern Syria, I mean I don't have to tell you that. They're not being degraded or defeated or weakened in a significant way is what I'm saying.

I mean it - do you agree with .

HERTLING: Yes, and again I'm not sure I buy that completely the premise. We've always said this is going to be a very, very long campaign.


HERTLING: We have been about it for about a year. There have been some significant changes in terms of territory held, capabilities. ISIS has

attempted, or has had to change their tactic based on the air campaign and some of the ground campaign. They have lost significant amount of leaders

and fighters. And they're financial capability has been reduced.


HERTLING: It's still a long way to go. It has not certainly moved as fast as many would like but I think the pressure that has come to bear in terms

of what we're asking the Iraqi government to do to lead this and the containment of ISIS with some increasing capability due to the Turkish

joining of the force, will continue to degrade that force.

Again it's going to take a long time.


GORANI: We'll see if the Turks start targeting ISIS more than they're targeting the Kurds which seems to be the case now. In any case,

Lieutenant General - Lieutenant General I should say, Mark Hertling, always a pleasure. Thanks very much for being with us.

HERTLING: Thank you, Hala. Thank you very much.

GORANI: This is The World Right Now. Coming up he is not your traditional politician.


GORANI: And Ben Carson has been rising in the U.S. Presidential polls but can he pull through a new controversy? A live report is just ahead.




GORANI: Donald Trump is showing no signs of cooling off in the U.S. Presidential polls.


GORANI: And a CNN ORC survey of voters in the state of Iowa who's caucuses are a key test for candidates, the billionaire is on top among Republican

candidates with 22% of those polled. And coming up behind him, another non- traditional politician, retired neurosurgeon, Ben Carson.

[15:45:06] On the Democratic side in Iowa, Hilary Clinton sill the very obvious front runner although Bernie Sanders is continuing to gain traction

and is second in the poll with 31%.

Vice president Joe Biden who is not even a declared candidate is third with 12%. What is going on? Let's take a closer look at what these poll

numbers are telling us.


GORANI: Joining us now from Washington is Mark Preston the Executive Editor of CNN politics. Good to see you again, Mark.

Let's talk a little bit first about, we have Donald Trump so that's not a surprising frontrunner, he's been the frontrunner for weeks now but Ben

Carson, who is he? Why is he doing well?


MARK PRESTON, EXECUTIVE EDITOR, CNN POLITICS: Well Ben Carson is not your typical politician Hala, he is a neurosurgeon and arguably probably the

best in his field when he was practicing medicine.

He was the first person to separate co-joined twins at the head. He is very well respected in the medical community. He's also very conservative.

He's a social conservative and when we look at Iowa we specifically look at that CNN ORC poll, that's where his support is coming from.

He is somebody who really came from nothing and built his own life, built his own career, really an American success story. The question is can

someone like Ben Carson with no political experience whatsoever, can he move beyond the support that he has right now? Could he become the next

President? I'd have to say it's a longshot.



GORANI: Yes, and you know there's a name I'm not seeing in that poll if we could put it back up for Iowa, Republican voters in Iowa, and that's Jeb

Bush. Is he not in the top five?

PRESTON: Well he is not, he is in the lower tier right now I believe he's at about 5% right now. Iowa is for our international viewers is a social

conservative state. Jeb Bush when you're looking at the lanes of people who are running for president Jeb Bush is running in the more centaurus

lane. So Jeb Bush would appeal to voters more likely in states like New Hampshire where voters there are more focused on fiscal issues and social

conservative issues.

It is surprising how much he has dropped but he certainly will never be a front runner, certainly not at this point, Hala.

GORANI: Let's look at the Democrats and we had the - we had the name of the Vice-President up here in a poll even though he's not a declared

candidate. Joe Biden, at 12% among likely Democratic caucus goers.

So will he - is it not too late even if he did decide to run Mark?

PRESTON: Well what we're hearing is that in fact he is considering right now about getting into the race for President. He has been putting it off

for some time. One of his son's has just died within the past month or so, he was very close to him and one of the stories is that his son said that

Dad, I want you to run for President again.

The problem with Joe Biden running for President, even though he's the sitting Vice President, he has no political network established in these

key early states let alone across the country. He would also need tens, and tens, and tens of millions of dollars in order to compete against

someone like Hilary Clinton. He's not going to appeal to the real liberal progressive voters, much like we're seeing from Bernie Sanders that helps

fuel the Sanders candidacy. In fact Joe Biden would be competing for the same voters as Hilary Clinton.


PRESTON: So that could probably give him, if it doesn't probably it absolutely should give him some pause about getting into the race Hala.

GORANI: And what is - is there a time limit on when he's going to have to make a decision? I mean I presume there is one. What time limit would

that - would that be? When is the latest he could declare?

PRESTON: Well I think we're probably going to hear if he's in or if he's out by the end of August. You can't wait much longer than that. The first

Democratic Presidential debate that will be seen here on CNN International will be held in October, so you would think that, you know, Joe Biden would

have to make a decision soon and in fact that's what we're being told.

But again, it would be quite a mountain for him to climb if he did decide. Having said that, if Hilary Clinton were to stumble perhaps he could step

right into that role.

GORANI: All right, Mark Preston, thanks very much, joining us from Washington.

PRESTON: Thanks, Hala.

GORANI: Coming up -


GORANI: Cuba is getting set for a diplomatic milestone in its relations with the United States, we're live in Havana after this.




[15:50:58] GORANI: Former Cuban leader Fidel Castro turns 89 today and he's used the occasion to take a swipe at an old foe.


GORANI: He's written a newspaper column saying that the United States owes Cuba "many millions of dollars because of its half century old trade

embargo." Fidel Castro of course seeded power to his brother Raul in 2006.


GORANI: This comes just a day ahead of the official re-opening of the American Embassy in Havana. As Patrick Oppmann reports there's a lot of

excitement among Cubans.


PATRICK OPPMANN, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: They play with hearts and on a shoestring budget. Havana's carnival isn't an over the top affair

like (inaudible) or Mardi Gras. Those lavish festivities are beyond the reach of this island's battered economy.

But perhaps this year Cubans are in the mood to celebrate just a little more. The procession of floats begins down the street from the newly

reopened U.S. Embassy.

We want this (Johandri) says of the restoration of relations between the two countries and we hope it continues like this he says. Cuba has a lot

of love for the United States.

Despite the easing of travel restrictions there don't appear to be many Americans in the crowd. They can consider themselves invited to next


The Americans should come and join carnival here and then invite us to theirs, dancers (Orise and inaudible) tell me.

The U.S. and Cuba are engaged in a diplomatic dance, neither side completely sure where it will lead too.

Some Cubans (inaudible) that the relationship between their country and the United States is a little bit like the conga, you take one step forward,

one step back, you don't go very fast but eventually you get where you need to go.

What's clear is the restoration of relations is a hit with many Cubans like Francisco who proudly wears his American flag t-shirt.

We should have done this a while ago. If we are neighbors why are we always fighting he asks. Let's act like neighbors and be at peace.

Carnival supposed to be a beautiful but fleeting dream, but in Cuban there is new hope of waking up to a better reality.


GORANI: Preparations are underway in Havana ahead of Friday's historic ceremony. Take a look at the finishing touches being made here.


GORANI: U.S. Secretary of State, John Kerry, will travel, well if you remove the banner maybe you could see that gentleman actually painting his

steps. But there's moving video with the (saw).

The Cuban capital is waiting to see the stars and stripes raised over the U.S. Embassy. Let's press over live to Havana. My colleague Patrick

Oppmann, joins me now live.

All right, talk a little bit about the excitement because there's a younger generation of Cubans who don't have a living memory of all the tension

between the countries. Are they excited?

OPPMANN: Oh absolutely they're tremendously excited but just about every Cuban I know Hala, tells me they're going to come here tomorrow to see the

flag come up. I imagine it will be enormous crowds where we're standing right in front of the U.S. Embassy. And you're talking about the work

that's been going on to get this building ready. Well that work is still going on and will probably go on late into the night. We're seeing

painting, we're seeing hammering, satellite dishes going up.

Still working on that flagpole which we thought would have been ready by now. But U.S. Diplomats tell us not to worry everything will be ready for

the big day tomorrow when John Kerry lands in Havana, the first Secretary of State of course to visit Cuba since the Cuban Revolution. He'll come

here, he's unveil a sign that says the United States (inaudible - technical difficulties) over the doors, he'll walk over to the pole just over my

shoulder here and run the (inaudible - technical difficulties).

GORANI: OK, sadly we lost Patrick Oppmann, so much excitement and electricity in the air it actually disrupted the satellite signal, but

there you have it. You're seeing workers it looks like in and around the embassy there preparing it for the big day. Hopefully the flagpole will be



[15:55:10] GORANI: Join us Friday by the way when the American flag is symbolically raised for the first time in more than half a century. It

starts at 10:30 p.m. in London, 3.30 p.m. Central European time, on CNN.

And finally one man in Australia learned not to mess with birds of prey after an Eagle picked a fight with his drone. And that eagle is not alone.

Jeanie Moos has some cautionary tales about what happens when animals and drones collide.


JEANNE MOOS, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: When we send in the drones what must the animals think? It's enough to make a gator glare and a ram

wonder. Does that thing bite? The latest confrontation headed an Australian eagle against a drone, the eagle used its talents to knock the

drone out of the sky.

The video of the (inaudible), this is the last thing a small bird sees when a wedge tailed eagle the size that you are dinner. The eagle was said to

be uninjured.


MOOS: The drone operator had some advice for his fellow pilots, if you see a bird of prey while flying, land.


MOOS: The same could be said if you see a chimp waving a branch at a zoo in the Netherlands. Touchie demolished a $2,000 drone then she and her

friends had their mug shots taken as they examined the debris.

Who needs a stick when you've got horns. A New Zealand ram named Rambro headed butted a drone then went after the guy who came to retrieve it.

At a zoo in Naples, Florida, an agitated alligator could do nothing but lunge. While elsewhere in Florida, a swarm of bees engaged in aerial

combat with a T.V. news drone.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: When you see the video it looked like, you know Star Wars.

MOOS: Even landing.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: He's sitting there trying to sting the lens.

MOOS: For a pair of weeping labs a drone was nothing but an expensive dog toy, a Frisbee with blades.

Perhaps the most futile effort to down a drone was made by a golfer who missed by a mile when he threw his club. That doesn't count as a birdie,

but this does.

Jeannie Moos, CNN, New York.


GORANI: This has been The World Right Now, I'm Hala Gorani, Quest Means Business is next.