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Terror in Bangkok; Desperation in the Mediterranean; Interview with U.N. Emergency Relief Coordinator

Aired August 17, 2015 - 15:00:00   ET


[15:00:11] HALA GORANI, HOST: This hour on the World Right Now, terror in Bangkok.


GORANI: We'll show you the moment a blast ripped through a street popular with tourists.

Plus this hour desperation in the Mediterranean. Some arrive in an Italian port safely, dozens of other people die inside the same boat.

And it's been a particularly deadly weekend inside Syria. I will ask the United Nations Emergency Relief Coordinator what he witnessed on a visit

there just hours after he left the war torn country.

And later this hour Amazon's CEO is firing back at damning accusations about his company's corporate culture.


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

More on our breaking news out of Thailand. There has been no claim of responsibility so far in the horrifying bombing of a Hindu shrine in



GORANI: That was the latest video coming to us at the moment the explosion occurred. Medical authorities say the blast killed at least 18 people and

injured more than 118 some of them extremely critically.

It happened in a crowded district that is popular with tourists, lots of shops, restaurants etc, hotels, the Hyatt is meters away. And

investigators believe whoever was responsible new that.

Saima Mohsin has our story.

SAIMA MOHSIN, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: A chaotic scene in Central Bangkok after a bomb ripped through a busy intersection and tourist

attraction just after 7pm local time.

Videos posted to social media appeared to capture the moment the bomb went off.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: [Video] There was an explosion that was heard throughout Central Bangkok.

MOHSIN: The bomb detonated near the Erawan shrine dedicated to a Hindu God popular with locals and tourists. Journalist, Steve Herman, was nearby

when he heard the blast.

(STEVE HERMAN, JOURNALIST): I was in the Bureau on the 18th floor and heard this boom. I thought it was thunder.

MOHSIN: He describes the bloody aftermath of the bombing seeing at least six bodies covered with sheets and body parts scattered through the


Whilst there's been no claim of responsibility so far Herman says police tell him they believe this was a deliberate act of terror targeting a major

tourist attraction.

(HERMAN): Normally this intersection would be extremely crowded with tourists; we're right across the street from two major shopping malls where

thousands and thousands of tourists from all around the world come every day.

MOHSIN: Security remains tight around the blast scene. Police initially feared there was a second bomb in the area although no additional

explosives have been discovered.

Saima Mohsin, CNN.


GORANI: Well CNN's Senior Cameraman, Marcus Phillips, has more by phone from Bangkok. The police haven't given us more details right and no claim

of responsibility Marcus?


MARCUS PHILLIPS, CNN SENIOR CAMERAMAN: Not so far we haven't heard anything from the police claiming - saying who's responsible for this

(inaudible) the bombing. At the moment on the streets of Bangkok it's very quiet, it's 2 o'clock here. I'm looking at the scene at the moment most of

the debris has been cleared away, there is still a big police presence here but the intensity is there's not as much as there was earlier in the


Back to Hala, sorry.

GORANI: Yes. And the - just describe a little bit the area. Because we - it's popular with tourists, is it the understanding of authorities that the

target was this shrine, the Erawan shrine?

PHILLIPS: That's not confirmed yet, nobody knows for sure. Until somebody takes responsibility for this bombing nobody knows who's done it. So this

is the center of Bangkok shopping district, you have a large mall - there's actually two large malls across from the shrine and there's a lot of hotels

around here.

So this place is very, very popular, very, very busy. I've in the past taken my children down to this shrine. It's the kind of thing when you

come to Bangkok you go to the shrine because it's the tourist thing to do. It's right in the middle of the tourist center, it's an easy thing to do,

its quiet colorful. There's usually Thai dancers in there, you know there's a - you can put flowers out, light incense, you can pray. And it's

a very Thai thing, and the Thai's are very welcoming. Everybody comes in to kind of embrace the culture and wonderful experience.

[15:05:00] So it would always have been busy. There was always traffic going through this place. And also it's the end of the school holidays

here and there would have been a lot of tourists wandering through. So whoever set this bomb off at 7 o'clock knowing people were leaving as well

he got the maximum amount of damage and carnage. And that's what this bomb has achieved.

GORANI: All right, Mark Phillips, CNN Senior Photo Journalist joining us from Bangkok. Marcus is based there in Bangkok, he knows the area well.

7pm in a popular tourist district. Apparently targeting a very revered shrine. Whoever did this wanted to cause maximum damage, maximum

casualties and it appears as though at least 18 people have lost their lives. And among the 118 injured some of them are critically hurt.


GORANI: Let's get more about the shrine that was the scene of Monday's bombing.


GORANI: The Erawan is a hugely popular tourist attraction. It is said to be one of the most revered spots in Thailand, here's a picture of it by the

way before the blast, it gives you an idea kind of the lay of the land. Streams of people pay respects there from early morning until late at


Here's what the scene of the explosion looked like last year. It's on a street corner there you can see behind it are shops and it's a big shopping

mall. In fact behind it and across the street I understand is the Hyatt hotel. (inaudible) one shrine behind the sense and the umbrella. Pan up

and you can see the Grand Hyatt hotel, now we're looking south and across the street is the Police General Hospital.

Now we're looking West down (Rama Road), and above us, if you look up are the rail lines. Let's bring in another journalist who was at the scene

shortly after the blast.

Oliver Holmes is a Southeast Asia Correspondent for the Guardian Newspaper. Oliver Holmes thanks for being with us.

Is it your understanding that police are now saying that there is no second device, there were some reports earlier that perhaps they were checking

another potential device.

OLIVER HOLMES, SOUTHEAST ASIA CORRESPONDENT, GUARDIAN NEWSPAPER: Well when I arrived at the scene I passed the Royal Thai Police Station and I saw

three policemen with torches looking underneath bushes.


HOLMES: Looking around the different buildings so they are - they are looking for other explosive devices but so far they haven't announced that

they've found any.

GORANI: And do they have any suspicion, I mean is their investigation even though it's early days pointing them in any direction right now?

HOLMES: Not at the moment. I mean there are - there are several - there are several pieces at play. In the south of Thailand there's an insurgency

that's been going on for many years and there have been bomb attacks in the south but rarely do they come to the capital.

The political situation in Thailand has been calm over the past few months but it was only last year that the current administration came to power in

a military coop.

GORANI: I was going to say but this is not the usual (inaudible) the MO of sort of a political opposition. I mean this is not how internal political

disagreements play themselves out in a city like Bangkok.

HOLMES: Absolutely not; there have been violent protests and people have died in those protests over the past two years but as far as a large scale

bomb attack on civilians, and tourists, and foreigners, no this isn't something that happens very often at all.

GORANI: When was the - I mean has it happened before on this scale?

HOLMES: No. In 2006 on New Year's Eve there were a series of bombs that killed three people. And even in February this year there were two pipe

bombs which went off in the nearby area but it didn't injure anybody.

But a coordinated attack like this you know on a large scale, when I arrived there I saw bits of debris 50 meters, 60 meters away from - away

from the shrine. It hasn't happened in recent (inaudible).

GORANI: And according to your sources, the people you're speaking with the police et cetera, is there concern now that this may be the beginning of

sort of a new terrifying chapter in Thailand? I mean what are they saying in terms of what their concerns are going forward here?

HOLMES: Possibly the government has said that it's opened a war room to deal with this and they're very serious about dealing with this crisis

immediately. It's a real test of their leadership you know. It's been just over a year since they took power.

I think it depends on who carried out the attack whether we'll be seeing more of them or if this is an isolated event. Because right now you know

just a few hours after the attack very, very few details on who carried it out.

GORANI: All right, thanks very much. Oliver Holmes, he is the - a correspondent for the Guardian, he's joining us live from Bangkok. Thanks

very much Oliver I know it's quite late for you, it's almost ten minutes past two in the morning. Thanks for joining us here live on CNN we

appreciate it.


GORANI: A lot more to come on what happened in Bangkok. And also just months after agreeing on a ceasefire.


GORANI: . fighting in war torn Ukraine is intensifying, we'll have much more on that.

[15:10:00] And Israel says it will free a Palestinian prisoner who is currently on hunger strike if he goes into exile for four years. We'll

have more on that when the World Right Now continues and the latest on Thailand as well.




GORANI: A quick update on the latest from Thailand where at least 18 people are dead and more than 100 are injured after a bomb attack at a

Hindu shrine in Bangkok.


GORANI: Here scenes of the chaotic aftermath. We're hearing that three Chinese nationals were among those killed in the explosion with another 15

injured, that is according to Chinese media.

We'll bring you the very latest as we get it.


GORANI: Well more tragedy, more despair, more frustration in the Mediterranean, and this time imagine the families of these individuals when

they hear the news what they will be going through.

Because the bodies of 49 migrants who died at sea trying to reach Europe have been brought ashore.

It is believed, and listen to this, it is believed that they suffocated in the hold of a fishing boat while trying to cross the Mediterranean.


GORANI: 300 migrants who survived the journey arrived in Sicily today. They were rescued at sea by the Italian Navy. More than 2300 migrants have

died so far this year trying to make it to Europe. We'll have more on what's going on in Italy as well as in the Greek Island of Kos where so

many migrants have arrived and have really nowhere to be processed or find food or water or sanitation for many of them. So stay tuned for that.


GORANI: Now for the latest on Ukraine. The Russian President, Vladimir Putin is visiting Crimea, the Kremlin says he's there to promote tourism,

but Ukraine's President says he's there to further stir up tensions in eastern Ukraine.


GORANI: That's where fighting between pro-Russian separatists and Ukrainian troops has actually intensified in recent days (inaudible)

February's ceasefire agreement that was already teetering on the brink of collapse.

Phil Black has more.

PHIL BLACK, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: This is just the latest evidence which proves a so called peace deal often means very little on the

ground in Eastern Ukraine. The national government says two people were killed, six injured and more than 50 homes damaged near Mariupol by

artillery fired by pro-Russian separatists. And in Donetsk, the separatist's capital, officials say five people were killed and more than

40 homes damaged over the same 24 hour period in shelling launched by Ukrainian military forces.

These incidents aren't rare. Deadly violence, distraught locals, and competing claims about who's really breaking the peace deal known as the

Minsk Agreement have remained a reality ever since the document was signed in February.

But over the last week the conflict has escalated inspiring dark predictions about what might happen next.

[15:15:05] Russia's Foreign Minister, Sergey Lavrov, says Russia is worried Ukraine is preparing for a military offensive. While Ukrainian

officials are throwing the same accusation at Russia and the separatists.

On Monday Russia's President, Vladimir Putin visited Crimea, the large peninsular Russia annexed from Ukraine early last year.

Putin's visit was to talk up tourism and Crimea's economic development but the region's prosperity as part of the Russian Federation is made harder by

the fact there's no physical link between the two. Ukraine has long feared a new military offensive by Russian backed separatists would aim to change

that by calving out a land corridor between Russia and Crimea.

But even without such a dramatic move this deadly increasing almost daily violence could lead to the total collapse of the already tenuous peace


Phil Black, CNN, London.


GORANI: Israel has offered to free a Palestinian prisoner but only if he goes abroad for four years.

Mohammed Allan's lawyers have reported rebuffed the offer of exile and are calling for his immediate release.

Allan has been on a hunger strike for two months and lapsed into a coma on Friday. Oren Liebermann has his story.


OREN LIEBERMANN, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Israel offered to release Mohammed Allan but only if he would leave the country for four

years, an offer his lawyers refused. Allan remains in the hospital in a medically induced coma, he's receiving an IV drip with fluids, salts,

electrolytes, and vitamins.

Mohammed Allan was a relatively unknown name until very recently. Now everyone here, Israelis, Palestinians, everyone knows who Mohammed Allan


Palestinian lawyer Mohammed Allan the newest face of resistance for Palestinians. Israel has held the 31 year old on Administrative Detention

since November 2014 without charge or trial on suspicion of involvement in terrorism and of membership in the militant Islamic Jihad, a claim his

lawyer and his family deny.

In protest Allan began a hunger strike in mid-June only drinking water. Addameer, a Palestinian Advocacy Group says there are more than 400

Palestinians held on Administrative Detention, a law that allows Israel to hold someone for security reasons for six months at a time renewable as

deemed necessary.

Hunger strikes have been a common way to protest detention. The Israeli Medical Association says more than 1,000 prisoners have gone on hunger

strikes over the past several years. But Mohammed Allan's refusal to eat also put a spotlight on Israel's new Force Feeding law.

QADURA FARES, PALESTINIAN PRISON SOCIETY: He believes that the Israeli Government in implementing these two laws they are against the

international barometers, the international grievance.

LIEBERMANN: This law just passed by the Knesset in July allows the Government to force feed hunger strikers if their lives are in danger. But

the new law has been criticized inside and outside the country. The UN called it a "cause for concern", and the Israeli Medical Association says

its "equivalent to torture." But the Israeli Government says it can't allow prisoners to commit suicide, and it will not allow prisoners to

threaten the country's security or put pressure on the government through hunger strikes.

Palestinians have held near daily solidarity protests outside the hospital in Ashkelon where Allan is being held and treated. There have been

additional protests in Israel, Jerusalem, The West Bank, and Gaza.


LIEBERMANN: We asked Mohammed Allan's lawyers about this IV drip with fluids, vitamins and minerals and asked him does that qualify as force

feeding? His lawyer said legally that is a gray area but for right now they won't fight it.

Oren Liebermann, CNN, Jerusalem.

GORANI: Questions are being raised over China's lax industrial safety procedures following the explosion at a chemical warehouse in Tianjin.


GORANI: The death toll from the blast has risen now to 114. China's President is now urging authorities to learn from the mistake. It is the

latest in a string of deadly factory accidents in recent years.

Local residents are afraid, they're concerned for their health, they're demanding answers from the government but officials say they still do not

have a complete list of chemicals that were stored at the facility that exploded.

Will Ripley is in Tianjin.

WILL RIPLEY, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: With terrifying force the fireball sent shockwaves through Tianjin leaving massive destruction, piles

of debris and something else.

Small mounds of unknown chemicals omitting heat and what looks like steam when exposed to water raising fears of what could happen when it rains.

(SHEWEN JING): We're not going to move back until we're sure it's safe. Because there are so many kids in there.

RIPLEY: (Shewen Jing) is one of thousands of blast zone homeowners now homeless. Families and the government don't know the full list of toxins

propelled through bustling Chinese port city.

[15:20:08] Do you feel safe going back home?

(SHEWEN JING): No, no, no `cause the chemical stuff is all over. I saw, it was like a fire - firework you know exploding, flying through

everywhere. Some parts might fall to our homes.

RIPLEY: More than 2,000 Chinese soldiers and hundreds of biochemical experts are working to neutralize the threat searching up to three km from

the immediate blast area taking air, soil and water samples.

These stray chemicals sitting in an unsecured area less than a km from the blast zone. Do you know what this is? Do you know if it poses a danger to


Tianjin's Chief Environmental Officer tells me searches have not yet entered residential areas due to safety concerns about broken glass. He

says they'll begin searching those areas if needed.

Chemical experts say it's impossible to know exactly what that is or what if any danger it may pose without further testing.


RIPLEY: But we do know around here there's a lot of it scattered about and it's sitting close to thousands of homes.

(Inaudible) owns an apartment under construction next door. He takes us through the dark ravaged building he was supposed to move into in less than

two months. He wonders if it will ever be safe.

After the explosion he says I worry about the pollution, the water, and soil, the whole structure of these buildings. Like most Chinese homeowners

(Chow) and his family saved for years to buy an apartment unaware it was sitting near a hazardous chemical warehouse now the focus of a criminal

investigation by China's highest prosecuting authority.

Are the officials corrupt or what asks homeowner (Li inaudible). She and others are demanding the Chinese government buy back their apartments

afraid of living next to what they call a ticking time bomb.

Will Ripley, CNN, Tianjin, China.


GORANI: Still to come tonight seeking a new start but finding a tough life.


GORANI: We'll take you to the Greek Island of Kos where Doctors Without Borders shows up - shows us the hardships faced by Europe's newest

arrivals, and youngest.

Plus condemnation is coming fast and strong against Syrian airstrikes that killed more than a hundred people over the weekend. I'll speak to a UN

Representative who just witnessed some of the carnage in the devastated country and spoke with officials there when The World Right Now continues.





GORANI: An update now on our top story, you're seeing images of the aftermath there on your screens that deadly bombing in Bangkok. The number

of dead stands at 18, over a hundred people were injured after a bomb exploded at a busy shrine in the center of the Thai capital.

Earlier we spoke to Sajjan Gohel from The Asia Pacific Foundation to get his analysis on the situation.

SAJJAN GOHEL, ASIA PACIFIC FOUNDATION: All options are possible, I would say though that it's less likely to be politically motivated based on the

type of attack that we witnessed.

It took place in a central artery area of Bangkok, security was minimal, virtually non-existent. There was a large concentration of people

especially in the evening. And the location of the target where the Erawan Temple was, it's a symbolic target.


[15:25:16] GORANI: Sajjan Gohel there. Earlier in the show we told you about the bodies of 49 migrants being brought ashore after they perished

trying to make the journey to Europe.

While many die attempting to across the Mediterranean from North Africa, thousands do make it on a route perceived to be safer from Turkey to

Greece. In fact the death toll there is a lot lower because the stretch of water is actually a lot smaller.


GORANI: The Greek Island of Kos is a common destination and it's visible from Turkey's shoreline but the migrants who make it to Kos face rough

living conditions and a very difficult bureaucracy.

Doctors Without Borders gave CNN an inside look into their work on Kos.

JULIA KOURAFA, MEDECINS SANS FRONTIER: With our medical team here with a minivan we are treating the people, you see there are many women and

children. The main medical programs right now are related to the heat and to the fact that all these people they have to stay out in the park without

any proper shelter and any proper conditions. And of course no toilet, no water, no food provided by anyone, no meal for the baby.

We see many (inaudible) problem. There are all these refugees coming and there is no official authority to actually take care of them.

There is a clear lack of political willingness to deal with this issue. So, this is the main beachfront road of Kos, it's a very touristic island,

Kos, and this image is not the image of a touristic island.

Well this is not a camp, this is a public square, you know people have to stay here because there's no official reception center for them to stay.

They don't want to stay here, they are completely shocked by these conditions you know the fact that they have to stay here for so many days

without even knowing when they will get their papers. They have - they have been fleeing their country because of war, because of the bombs, and

now they cannot have even a proper toilet. So you know they are seeing that maybe the bombs have been better than to be staying in this



GORANI: Still ahead, we'll bring you the latest details on today's deadly bomb blast in Bangkok.


GORANI: And hear from an expert on the region. Plus condemnation is coming in fast and it is coming in strong against Syria after the regime

conducted airstrike on a rebel held town killing nearly 100 people. I'll speak to a UN Representative who just visited Syria and spoke to officials

there. We'll get his reaction when The World Right Now continues.




[15:30:23] GORANI: Welcome back, here's a quick look at your headlines and the latest on our breaking news. Thai officials say at least 18 people

are dead in the bombing of a Bangkok religious shrine.


GORANI: You're seeing the latest amateur video of the moment the explosion actually occurred. It was around 7pm in Bangkok. No-one has claimed

responsibility so far for the attack. It happened in a very crowded area popular with tourists. On top of the 18 killed more than 117 have been

wounded by the blast.


GORANI: Also among the top stories this day the bodies of 49 migrants who died at sea trying to reach Europe have been brought ashore. It's believe

they suffocated in the hold of a fishing boat.


GORANI: 300 migrants who survived the journey arrived in Sicily today, they were rescued by the Italian Navy.


GORANI: More clashes between Pro-Russia Separatists and Ukrainian soldiers flaring up once again in Eastern Ukraine.


GORANI: Both sides are reporting causalities. At least two soldiers and five civilians were killed overnight. Shelling also destroyed dozens of

homes and remember a peace deal was signed just a few months ago in Minsk.


GORANI: The search for a missing passenger plane in Indonesia Papua Province will resume Tuesday weather permitting.


GORANI: A search plane spotted scattered debris in a remote mountainous area but dense fog made a ground search impossible. 54 people were onboard

the Trigana Air flight when it disappeared Sunday.


GORANI: Let's bring you up to date quickly on our main story tonight, that deadly bombing in Thailand which has killed at least 18 and injured more

than a hundred others.

Let's bring in Joseph Liow, for more analysis. He's a Senior Fellow and the Lee Kuan Yew Chair of Southeast Asian Studies at The Brookings

Institution. I got all that out. Thanks very much for joining us from Washington.

First I'm going to ask you what I asked my other guest you know being a specialist of the region when you heard of this particular bombing of the

target, it looks like a shrine in a popular tourist area, what went through your mind?

JOSEPH LIOW, SENIOR FELLOW, BROOKLINGS INSTITUTE: Well the first thing we've got to bear in mind is that we don't know the identity of the

perpetrators yet, so that remains to be seen.


LIOW: Also we have to realize that it is not something that is new on the political terrain in Thailand. We've seen such bombings before, most

notably just earlier this year outside a shopping mall quite close in the vicinity of this particular attack.

But having said that, I think this attack is more significant on at least two counts. Number one, it's a desecration of religious space and that is

something that will have implications. And secondly just the devastation of the attack. It is by far I think the most devastating attack that

Bangkok has seen, or Thailand has seen for that matter, as far as I can remember.

So there will be quite severe implications and I think the government is of course very much on alert and very much concerned that they are groups out

to sow instability.

GORANI: Right, now let's talk about the government. It's a military government right now, it's been in charge for about a year give or take.

What's it's likely reaction going to be here because certainly this is something that is going to be of great concern to the military rulers in


LIOW: Oh definitely. I think it is going to move very fast to tighten the security reigns in the country, certainly in Bangkok itself. There will of

course be some concerns about whether this attack has any link to an ongoing insurgency in the southern provinces, and that has been going on

for a number of years, number of decades in fact.

But secondly also as we know the situation, the political situation in Thailand remains quite heavily polarized and with opposition to the

government still brewing beneath the surface - the calm surface that we see today.

So I think the government will be particularly concerned about the possibility of political violence flaring up again.

GORANI: But this isn't usually the way political - internal political violence manifests itself in Thailand. And that insurgency in the south

you mention has remained contained for a very long time, only very sporadically unfolding outside of that southern region. So this is quite

puzzling isn't it?

[15:35:09] LIOW: Yes you're right. I mean for a number of years people have been speculating about whether the elements involved in the insurgency

in the south will be hitting other targets beyond the southern provinces but we've never seen that happen. And it will be intriguing, if indeed

there's any link, why it happens now.

But I think eyes are actually on the sort of the Bangkok political climate itself and whether this particular act of violence has spawned from that


GORANI: Could you expand on that? What do you mean Bangkok itself?

LIOW: I think.

GORANI: Are you suggesting that it's political disagreement with the military rulers or could be on that level?

LIOW: Yes, well for a number of years now Bangkok, as I mentioned has been polarized because of opposition to the military government on the part of a

number of groups including pro-Thaksin, Thaksin being the former Prime Minister of Thailand. And these groups have taken to political violence,

have taken to the streets on a number of occasions over the last few years and all indicators are that despite attempts by the government to quell

this resistance, to quell this opposition, it is still very much brewing beneath the surface. And analysts are a bit concerned that things might

boil over.

And we've seen sporadic violence, as I mentioned earlier taking place on and off over the last few months. So I think everyone is very curious as

to whether this unfortunate tragic incident has anything to do with that.

GORANI: All right, we shall see. Joseph Liow, Brookings Institution, thanks very much for joining us, an expert there on the region.

LIOW: Thank you.


GORANI: More than four years into Syria's Civil War the UN is condemning a fresh attack that killed nearly 100 people in a single district.


GORANI: Activists say Government war planes dropped a series of bombs on a marketplace Sunday in the rebel controlled town of Douma.

Video of the aftermath shows the massive devastation. The town is about, and by the way, some images we cannot show you there are far too graphic

bodies lined up one after the other, after the other.

This town is only 15km northeast of Damascus, it's a short drive. Most of those killed were civilians, some 250 people were wounded. The U.S. is

also slamming Syrian President Bashar al-Assad's regime saying Assad has no legitimacy to lead Syria.


GORANI: Let's go straight to Stephen O'Brien. He's the U.N. Under Secretary General for Humanitarian Affairs and Emergency Relief Coordinator

who was just in Syria for his reaction to that, to this attack, Mr. O'Brien as well as your visit to Syria.

What - when you heard the news that regime war planes apparently dropped a series of bombs and killed almost a hundred people in Douma, what was your

initial reaction?

STEPHEN O'BRIEN, U.N. EMERGENCY RELIEF COORDINATOR: I was absolutely horrified and desperately distressed for the loss of life, for the numbers

of injured, these were civilians and it was absolutely crucial that we recognize that this is an unacceptable, illegal, form of war. It's true of

the shelling that took place from Douma back into Damascus by the other side of the argument.


O'BRIEN: It's true of cutting off the water to so many people in Damascus for three days. You can't use cutting off water as a weapon of war. So

when the shells from the air hit the marketplace in Douma it is simply unacceptable. And this came on the Sunday when I had been in meetings with

government ministers in Syria and the day after I had visited Homs where the site of the devastation in the old city was beyond comprehension.

Where the absence of any glass when you are looking through these dark blanks of shattered concrete ruins. Completely devastating a city where it

was worse than you can imagine and you just had to think about the people who died and who were suffering as a result. And I was able to speak to

(Ahmed) and his family who were one of the very few returners.

And as we all struggle to find an ability to respond to saving lives and the humanitarian response amid this devastating conflict, it's vital that

we focus on the needs of people who are vulnerable and in fear.


GORANI: And Sir, did you bring up this particular attack in Douma with the Foreign Minister? In particular I know you met with Walid Muallem, did you

bring up government air attacks on civilian areas in Syria and if so, what was the response you got?

O'BRIEN: I did but this particular attack I was only able to refer to it very late on the Sunday night when I happened to be able to see one of the

ministers. And I explained that of course it's absolutely important, not only to object and to say this is unacceptable and that we, the

international community, and I as the U.N's Global Humanitarian Chief, we say this. And in terms recognizing that all the parties, both the

government and those who are seeking to challenge the government.

[15:40:24] And there are the other side of this terrible, prolonged and protracted conflict which is only being borne by the brunt of civilians

absolutely devastating their lives. And of course it's vital that we say this is unacceptable and we have got to uphold Humanitarian Law.

Equally we have to give space for the political track because there is no military solution to this.

There is even - not even a humanitarian solution. We can do our best to try and save the lives and protect the civilians but almost anything we do

is never going to be enough and I have to plea to all the generous donors that we, I'm afraid, do need even more. The job is incredibly far from

done and we have the party little funding to do it with all the very brave international aid workers.

GORANI: We'll bring - We'll get to that in just a moment. But in your discussions with the government was it ever brought up that the government

was somehow willing to hold discussions with any form of the opposition? It's now so fractured and so many of the groups are armed. And if so, what

form would that take? And also, how do you trust an interlocutor that on your day of your visit bombs a suburb and kills a hundred civilians?

O'BRIEN: Well there's been no doubt of course when you have competent in conflict and most humanitarian need these days and it's a huge amount

around the world does arise in conflict, of course all the people you speak to are partial. They're part of a fight, part of an argument which they

are using war to try and settle. This is always going to fail.

There is only one chance that we all have and that is to try and find a political solution. It is clear to me that as part of the U.N. and we work

out as one that Staffan de Mistura, the Secretary General Special Envoy absolutely is trying everything he can to pull together these workshops as

to the form of proximity discussions which are going to find the issues of agreement so we can try and find a political way forward.

In the meantime we all have to work, cease this city to try and save lives and to prevent the terrible human tragedy and cost that is being borne by

the civilians.

GORANI: If I may, I'd like to ask you about your visit.


GORANI: We have video of you visiting a refugee camp in Lebanon and also of your visit in Syria. And you're saying funding is below the needs, even

though there's no humanitarian solution there can be an alleviation of the suffering. How much more is needed and where is the need the greatest


O'BRIEN: You're absolutely right, we can never give up on trying to secure sufficient resources to back the extraordinary and very brave work both of

national NGOs, and implementing partners of the U.N. agencies, of the U.N. as the coordinating mechanism and the international NGOs. These are people

who stay and deliver in the most difficult of times because even though it is difficult we are still getting aid through.


O'BRIEN: We are still managing to get over 5 million people drinking water who would not otherwise get it. This is keeping them alive even though it

is absolutely a desperate time and very, very fearful for all of them.

So the answer of course is that we have to try, we are only 30% funded, and we're now near the end of August of 2015. It is clear therefore that we

are way below the necessary funding to be able to produce the 100% of the appeal that we have made to be meet one of the most, if not the most

humanitarian challenging area of the world, that is Syria today. But also the fallout that has come across the border for so many refugees where

they've had to make that terrible choice between flee or die, and they've come and found a hospitable hosting of the community here in Lebanon, and

we have to work very hard with the Lebanese, to make sure that is also supported.

So I went to see those in their temporary shelters and homes here in the Beqaa Valley in Lebanon, and of course in Syria whether I was in Homs or

Damascus I was seeing the devastation to lives of this terrible conflict.

Yes we have to help, we're way short of the money, and we now need to really ask the donors to recognize extraordinary work is taking place, we

need to back them, we need to get there, we need to make sure that we don't leave any stone unturned in saving every life we possibly can.

GORANI: All right, we hope that you know turns somehow - these words turn somehow into increased donations and we'll put it on our Facebook page as

well. Stephen O'Brien the Under Secretary General for Humanitarian Affairs, and his job for a few months on his first trip to Syria in this


Thanks very much sir for joining us.

[15:45:03] And don't forget you can check out the Facebook page as I mention. I'm going to go on there and put the link to you have the UNHCR,

you have other government agencies, we have an impact page, CNNimpact page on dot com, I'll put that up as well. This is

The World Right Now.


GORANI: Still ahead the Iowa State Fair plays host to a political circuit.


GORANI: U.S. presidential hopefuls descend on America's most famous fair ground. We'll look at the weekend's winners and losers on the campaign





GORANI: We're following the latest news from Thailand where at least 18 people have been killed after a bomb attack at a Hindu shrine in Bangkok.


GORANI: Also more than a hundred people were injured. That's the moment of the blast you see there on surveillance video. The bomb went off during

the evening rush hour. No-one has so far claimed responsibility for the attack, we'll bring you the latest as we get it.


GORANI: U.S. politics. They're usually very entertaining but this election cycle even more so. And where better to see the spectacle in full

display than the Iowa State Fair.

It's a major summer event in the United States, one that's made its way squarely into the political calendar as well.


GORANI: Over the weekend Donald Trump visited the fair arriving in style by helicopter. The Republican Presidential frontrunner was mobbed by the


The Democratic candidate, Hilary Clinton, spent part of her weekend there as well. She greeted voters and even lined up for some fairground food.

But it was Clinton's rival, Bernie Sanders, who drew the biggest crowd. He spent time taking questions on the fairgrounds famous soapbox.


GORANI: The Iowa Caucuses aren't for another six months but they are an early indicator of who might be a strong presidential contender.

Let's go live to the Iowa State Fair in Des Moines. Jeremy Diamond from CNN politics joins me now live.

So Jeremy we had the weekend to kind of see all the candidates, the frontrunners and not so frontrunners on full display. And I hear at least

one candidate, Scott Walker, did not receive a warm welcome in Iowa, tell us more.

JEREMY DIAMOND, CNN POLITICAL CORRESPONDENT: Yes, Scott Walker was here this morning at the Iowa State Fair. He spoke at the Des Moines Register's

soapbox where it can be an interesting place.


DIAMOND: You never really know what you're going to get if you're a presidential candidate standing up on the soapbox. And today Scott Walker

got a lot of encouragement for some supporters but he also was dealing with more than a dozen protesters who came, they were actually coming down from

his state of Wisconsin which is the neighboring state here, and they were with a union that has been protesting Scott Walker.

Scott Walker of course has had a lot of issues with unions (inaudible) taking him on and it provoked a recall effort which he won. So today kind

of actually - the protesters gave him an opportunity to really put forward his credentials as a fighter, as someone who fights unions, who fights

whoever challenges him, and he thinks who wins.

[15:50:11] GORANI: All right but he got heckled right?

DIAMOND: Definitely. There were boos, there were shouts of liar throughout. He was definitely getting heckled but he was trying to feed

some red meat to his supporters to get some cheers to kind of drown out the boos, and it certainly worked during part of it.

GORANI: And at least one man in a cheese hat.

Over the weekend Hilary Clinton and Donald Trump both made appearances.


GORANI: The perceived, I mean - Hilary Clinton the perceived frontrunner for the Democrats, Donald Trump, the frontrunner in poll after poll for the

Republicans. How did they both perform?

DIAMOND: Yes, well there was certainly an aspect of performance politics this weekend here in Iowa when you had Hilary Clinton coming through and

doing really the classic retail politics aspects.


DIAMOND: She walked around, she had a pork chop on a stick which is kind of one of the famous things here at the Iowa State Fair. She got some

lemonade, she went and she chatted with voters, took some selfies.

Donald Trump's visit was a little bit different but there was definitely a performance there as well. He landed in his helicopter and as he walked

through the state fair mobbed by hundreds of people, really hundreds of people, coming to try and shake his hand or to take a picture with him, his

helicopter was whirring overhead.

So it was a really interesting scene here. Definitely with Donald Trump he got a really, a rock star like reception. He had massive crowds. Of

course the question that remains is whether those people are going to turn into actual voters who will go to the Iowa Caucus and vote for him and help

him snag the Republican nomination.


GORANI: All right, have fun at the Iowa State Fair, Jeremy Diamond, joining us live from Iowa.

Coming up, Amazon is fighting back.


GORANI: The online retail giant is fighting back against allegations of a brutal working culture. The details are just ahead. Stay with us.




GORANI: Amazon CEO, Jeff Bezos, is fighting back against allegations that the online retail giant is a "brutal place to work."


GORANI: Bezos actually even sent a companywide memo after a New York Times article described a rough working culture at Amazon.

In the piece current and former (stoppers) described the workplace where excess overtime, high pressure, and extreme competition are the norm. Some

people don't make it the article said even, just cannot hack it.

Let's get more details now from CNN's Samuel Burke, he is live in New York.


GORANI: All right, so Samuel we've heard a lot about warehouse employees but we haven't heard much about the white color corporate culture until

now. So what are some of the specific examples that this New York Times investigation about Amazon's bruising expectations, what are these specific

examples that they bring up.

SAMUEL BURKE, CNN BUSINESS CORRESPONDENT: Hala, this is the 20 page investigation from the New York Times. The headline inside Amazon wresting

big ideas in a bruising workplace. They interviewed current - 100 current and former employees they say.

And Hala when you think of Silicon Valley and when you visit there you see these big campuses, bright offices, free lunch, unlimited vacation,

unlimited maternity and paternity leave. And this article basically flips that entire notion on its head.

Now Jeff Bezos did send that memo, an internal memo that many media organizations have obtained. And in this he doesn't even recognize the

company that's described in the New York Times investigation.


[15:55:09] BURKE: He goes on to say "The article doesn't describe the Amazon I know or the caring Amazonians I work with every day. But if you

know of any stories like those reported I want you to escalate to Human Resources. You can also email me directly at, and he gives his email

address for his employees. Even if it's rare or isolated, our tolerance for any such lack of empathy needs to be zero."


BURKE: And I have to be honest here Hala it was interesting to see a different corporate culture, different from the ones that we usually read


But on the flip side when you see the harsh realities of working at some of these big tech companies it really makes you think, one thing that really

stood out to me Hala was when (Bo Olsten), a former employee talked about leaving a conference room many times and seeing grown men covering up their

faces as they walked out.

He said in this investigation "nearly every person I worked with I saw cry at their desk."


GORANI: I know, I -- actually that is the line - I actually screen grabbed that very line because I thought to myself, if this is an accurate

reflection of working at Amazon, I mean it would be commonplace to just look to your left and look to your right and every body's in tears and

having a nervous breakdown.

I mean are these mainly former employees that were interviewed? I mean how much of a reflection is this really of current employees working there?

BURKE: Well many of them are former employees and certainly if you're taking from that pool that is going to give you a certain idea. But many

of them were also current employees. That said, some current employees today have taken to LinkedIn to defend Amazon and say they don't recognize

the company portrayed here.

But it's interesting, if you go on which I recommend if you're looking into any company, the approval rate of the company is just



BURKE: Compare that with Apple which has 82%. You can also see salaries there, about $100,000 on average.


GORANI: All right, Samuel Burke, thanks very much. It's a long article, it's an interesting read and interesting that Bezos felt the need to reply.

Thanks Samuel. I'm Hala Gorani, Quest Means Business is next.