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Your World Today

Recruiting Next Generation of Militants: Mickey Mouse-Like Character Reaches Out to Palestinian Children; New Video Purportedly From Alan Johnston's Kidnappers; British Toddler Disappears From Resort in Portugal

Aired May 09, 2007 - 12:00   ET


ITAMAR MARCUS, FOUNDER AND DIRECTOR, PALESTINIAN MEDIA WATCH: Mickey Mouse is America. America is Mickey Mouse. And then you're taking Mickey Mouse to laugh at the United States. It is very, very significant.


JIM CLANCY, CNN INTERNATIONAL ANCHOR: Recruiting the next generation of militants. A Mickey Mouse-like character reaches out to Palestinian children.

ROSEMARY CHURCH, CNN INTERNATIONAL ANCHOR: Blamed for contaminated pet food. A main suspect opens up to CNN from behind bars.

CLANCY: Profiling a pedophile. Criminal psychologists help police hunt for Madeleine McCann's kidnapper.

CHURCH: And the spiritual leader to millions brings a message about abortion to Brazil's shrinking Catholic community.

It's 1:00 p.m. in Sao Paulo, 7:00 p.m. in Gaza.

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

I'm Rosemary Church.

CLANCY: I'm Jim Clancy.

From Los Angeles to Beijing, from Baghdad to Lisbon, wherever you're watching, this is YOUR WORLD TODAY.

We begin with a powerful message of hatred, resistance and defiance in the Middle East.

CHURCH: Now, normally we see such emotions displayed in the streets with violent attacks, but when children are on the receiving end of these messages, it stirs up some controversy.

CLANCY: Our correspondent Atika Shubert tells us how an innocent looking children's TV character is weaving in his message of hatred.


ATIKA SHUBERT, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Farfur looks like Mickey Mouse, but this Palestinian children's character doesn't talk like Mickey or sing like any Mouseketeer.

Farfur dances with an imaginary gun in his gloved hands, as a young call-in listener recites an ode to an AK-47.

(on camera): This is "Tomorrow's Pioneers," a weekly children's show on Al-Aqsa TV, the Hamas-owned and operated television station in Gaza. And it's been running now for three weeks.

(voice-over): Farfur and his human companion, Saraa, encourage children to drink milk and study hard, but also engage in violent acts of resistance against Israel and the U.S.

Farfur cheers for Islamic supremacy in a squeaky voice, saying: "We will win, Bush. We will win, Condoleezza."

Militant propaganda is not new in this part of the world, but using an iconic cartoon character to appeal to children is.

MARCUS: The danger is, it's the mixing of the poison with the drink milk, and the child doesn't even realize that he's being poisoned.

SHUBERT: This video was publicized by groups like Palestinian Media Watch and MEMRI, the Middle East Media Research Institute, privately funded, pro-Israeli groups.

Both Al-Aqsa TV and Hamas refuse to comment on the video. But the Palestinian minister of information was alarmed.

MUSTAFA BARGHOUTI, PALESTINIAN MINISTER OF INFORMATION: It's a very unfortunate video. We communicated with the station as soon as this was brought to our attention. And the station has informed us that they will stop it immediately, and they will do a full revision of it.

SHUBERT: But there's another twist to the story. What exactly are Mickey and his friend saying?

Media watchdog MEMRI translates one caller as saying, "We will annihilate the Jews."

But, according to several Arabic speakers used by CNN, the caller actually says, "The Jews are killing us."

MEMRI told us it stood by its translation.

YIGAL CARMON, FOUNDER AND PRESIDENT, MIDDLE EAST MEDIA RESEARCH INSTITUTE: Yes, we stand by the translation by the very words, by the context, by the syntax, and every measure of the translation.

SHUBERT: What's for sure is that children in this part of the world are quickly exposed to virulent political messages. And Palestinian Minister Barghouti says that children in Gaza are more vulnerable than most.

BARGHOUTI: Surrounded by the Israeli army from every direction. Fishermen are shot at when they try to fish. The passages are closed. People cannot move freely from in or out of Gaza. It is a situation of imprisonment for years. And that operation, this apartheid saying of course drives people crazy and creates certain reactions, as the one you have seen.

SHUBERT: The moral of the story, nothing is simple in the Middle East, even Mickey Mouse.

Atika Shubert, CNN, Jerusalem.


CLANCY: Well, certainly not simple. You know, the question we want to ask you, this cute cartoon character with a venomous message...

CHURCH: What do you think about it?

Send us an e-mail to, and we'll read some of your responses later on air. Remember to give us your name and, of course, where you're writing from.

CLANCY: That television broadcast originated, of course, in Gaza. And we have some new information about a missing British journalist who was kidnapped there in Gaza nearly two months ago. New video posted in an al Qaeda-linked Web site, for the first time making demands for the release of Alan Johnston.

Ben Wedeman has more on that story from Jerusalem.


BEN WEDEMAN, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT (voice over): An old BBC I.D. card, the first credible indication of who is holding Alan Johnston in Gaza.

In a 19-minute audiotape, Jaish al-Islam, the Army of Islam, claimed responsibility for the March 12th kidnapping of the BBC's Gaza correspondent. The Army of Islam, along with Hamas' military wing, claimed to have taken part in the June 2006 capture of Israeli army corporate Gilad Shalit, who is still in captivity.

The audiotape demands Britain release Muslims held in its prisons, specifically and repeatedly mentioning Palestinian-born radical cleric Abu Qatada, currently detained for suspected links with terror organizations and facing deportation to Jordan.

(on camera): The audiotape is the best indication yet of who is holding Alan Johnston, but it falls far short of what hostage negotiators call proof of life, solid evidence that a captive is, indeed, alive. (voice over): The BBC is looking on the bright side.

MARK BYFORD, BBC DEPUTY DIRECTOR GENERAL: We of course welcome any sign that Alan may be alive and well. We profoundly hope that today's news may be a sign that Alan will soon be safely released.

WEDEMAN: Palestinian officials say they know where Johnston is being held, but worry a rescue attempt could endanger him. The voice in the audiotape warns against the use of force to free Johnston.

Groups in Gaza normally focus their anger on Israel. But in this case, Israel barely gets a mention. The theme's much closer to the message of al Qaeda, focusing on the U.S. prison at Guantanamo, depicting the so-called war on terror as a modern American-led crew said against Islam, working hand in hand with pro-western Arab regimes.

The emergence of such groups hardly bodes well for Gaza, where lawlessness seems to have become the rule.

Ben Wedeman, CNN, Jerusalem.


CHURCH: Well, U.S. Vice President Dick Cheney kicked off his Middle East trip with an unannounced stop in Baghdad. He's had a series of meetings with U.S. commanders and Iraqi leaders. They are discussing urgent issues like security, political reconciliation, and the parliament's planned two-month recess. The Bush administration wants to see more progress in Iraq.


RICHARD CHENEY, VICE PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: I did make it clear that we believe it's very important to move on issues before us in a timely fashion. And that any undue delay would be difficult to explain, and that we hope they would approach these issues with all deliberate dispatch.


CHURCH: Meantime, in the Kurdish north, a suicide truck bomb detonated outside a government building. Fourteen were killed in the blast, with another 87 wounded.

CLANCY: All right. Let's survey some of the other stories that are making news this day.


CHURCH: All right. Now to a very disturbing story. It's been nearly a week since 3-year-old Madeleine McCann disappeared from a resort in Portugal. And the whereabouts of the British toddler remain a mystery.

CLANCY: Now, police have developed a profile for a suspect. They have conducted dozens of interviews, they've searched hundreds of apartments in the area, but they are increasingly coming under fire for their handling of this investigation.

CHURCH: They are.

Neil Connery reports now.


NEIL CONNERY, REPORTER, ITV NEWS (voice over): Six days on, and Gerry and Kate McCann's agonizing wait for news continues. They still have to care for their youngest children, despite their ordeal over Madeleine's suspected abduction. The couple have told the British ambassador they appreciate the efforts of the Portuguese police.

Road checks around the resort continue. British criminal behavior experts have now joined the Portuguese police operation. It's reported dozens of British sex offenders who've traveled to the (INAUDIBLE) over the past month are being hunted.

Officers are thought to have drawn up a description of a suspect they have in mind, said to be a white man with a dark suntan, between 30 and 40 years of age, 5'6" to 5'8" tall, with short to mid-length brown hair. But the police remain under fire as a virtual news blackout imposed by Portuguese law bans them from revealing details of the case.

CHIEF INSPECTOR OLEGARIO SOUSA, PORTUGUESE POLICE DEPT.: Some details of the investigation can't be brought to public because of the law. I have said it yet, and I ask for all the British people special comprehension for this fact: Things are not legal in system in U.K. and in Portugal.

CONNERY: This lunchtime, the fate of Madeleine remained the main story on Portuguese television. The country's media continued to give out the latest information, hoping the public will respond. This lunchtime, the searching and hoping for Madeleine goes on.

Neil Connery, ITV News.


CHURCH: Well, just ahead, an extraordinary visit inside a Chinese prison.

CLANCY: That's right. John Vause, our correspondent there, is going to interview the man that Chinese authorities say is behind the tainted pet food scandal. But really, is he a criminal or a scapegoat?

CHURCH: And later, move over, General Motors. Toyota takes the lead as the world's biggest car maker.

Stay with us.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK) CLANCY: Hello, everyone. And welcome back to CNN International and YOUR WORLD TODAY.

CHURCH: Where we are covering the news that the world wants to know, and giving you some perspective that gives and goes a little deeper into the stories of the day.

CLANCY: Well, for the past two weeks, Chinese authorities have been holding a man they blame for that scandal that involved tainted pet food that killed thousands of pets.

CHURCH: That's right. Our John Vause took the extraordinary step of going inside the Chinese prison where the suspect is being held to get the real story.


JOHN VAUSE, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice over): This man, Tian Feng, is one of the main suspects in the contamination scandal that led to the recall of more than 60 million cans and packets of pet food across the United States. He has yet to be charged, but is being held in a detention center in the northern city of Binzhou. He insists he has been wrongly accused.

"I've done nothing wrong," he told me. Tian has been held here since April 25th, the same day police closed down his company, which allegedly sold chemically-treated wheat flour and passed it off as more nutritious and more valuable protein. Among the customers, Diamond Foods and other pet food makers, who were forced to recall their products after the reported deaths of thousands of dogs and cats.

The Food and Drug Administration says that tainted flour also made its way into feed for some 20 million live chickens, hundreds of thousands of farm fish, and thousands of pigs. But the FDA says there's no threat to humans. Authorities allege this chemical, melamine, made in factories like this was mixed into the flour to make it seem to have more protein than it really does.

"I don't know about melamine. I don't even know what this melamine is," he told me. "I've never heard of anyone using it."

The Chinese government banned the use of melamine as a food additive only last month. Before that, it was not illegal here.

This man, whose company makes corn gluten, says he never used the chemical, and he's angry because he can't compete with producers who do use it. "The fake stuff is much cheaper," he says. "So many times a customer looks at out product and then they see a cheaper, fake product and they'll go with that."

China has now stepped up its export controls, specifically looking for melamine. What remains unclear, will there be a thorough investigation into what some experts have said was a widespread practice, or is the government here just looking for a few scapegoats?

John Vause, CNN, Shandong Province, China.


CLANCY: Toyota on target now to halt General Motors' 76-year- long reign as the world's biggest automaker. And it's going to happen by year's end, it looks like.

CHURCH: That's right. They posted a hefty rise in first quarter profits Wednesday, and surpassed GM in worldwide sales and vehicle production.

Not bad.

CLANCY: This could be quite a bitter pill, as GM watches its share of the U.S. market shrink. And it's been watching that for years now.

Eunice Yoon has more.


JERRY SEINFELD, ACTOR, "SEINFELD": Well, what do you think?

BARNEY MARTIN, ACTOR, "SEINFELD": Look at this! Look at this! You bought a Cadillac?

SEINFELD: I bought it for you!

EUNICE YOON, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT (voice over): Even before the TV hit "Seinfeld," for the past 76 years people have been buying more Cadillacs, Chevys and other cars made by General Motors than any other brand. Until now.

In its later quarterly sales, Toyota of Japan overtook GM for the first time, ending the American icon's reign as the world's largest automaker.

ANDREW PHILLIPS, NIKKO CITIGROUP: It was more of perhaps a matter of time than anything. I mean, we've seen quite strong growth from Toyota over the last few years.

YOON: That strong growth has been eating into the market share of Detroit's big three, including GM, long the dominant force in America, still the world's largest car market.


YOON: Audiences of the '70s flick "American Graffiti" were ready to fork over cash for GMS Chevys.

In the '80s, they coveted "Knight Rider's" Pontiac Trans Am.

But now customers are opting for Toyota's reliable, fuel- efficient, and increasingly stylish models. The car maker also benefits from its relatively low labor costs. (on camera): Yet, being the biggest comes with its own challenges. Analysts worry Toyota may be stretching itself too thin. A series of safety recalls last year raised questions as to whether or not the car maker would be able to maintain quality standards with demand so strong for its cars.

(voice over): With U.S. politicians complaining Toyota gets an unfair financial advantage because of the weeker Japanese currency, Toyota is trying not to toot its own horn about being number one.

KATSUAKI WATANABE, PRESIDENT, TOYOTA MOTOR CORP.: We were first in sales for the quarter, but there are still nine months to go.

YOON: Yet, car analysts say if the Japanese firm continues on this path, it will leave GM and its other rivals spinning for the rest of the year and beyond.

Eunice Yoon, CNN, Tokyo.


CLANCY: The slowdown in the U.S. housing market forcing one major builder to take a more modern approach to selling homes.

CHURCH: That's right. Details on that just ahead in our business headlines.

Plus, the pope brings a warning of reproductive freedom to the country with the world's largest Catholic community. But this time, fewer people will be listening.

We'll explain later on YOUR WORLD TODAY.




CHURCH: Well, on the political front in Britain, we could soon hear an end to the speculation that swirled for months now over how long Tony Blair will hang onto power. The prime minister's office says he'll announce on his future tomorrow. Well, let's bring in our Becky Anderson in London with the details.

Becky, a lot of critics have suggested that, up to this point at least, this speculation has caused paralysis in Tony Blair's government. Has that been the case?

BECKY ANDERSON, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, I'm not sure about that. But let's think about what happens tomorrow, because it's where they celebrated a very special victory back in 1997. And tomorrow members of the Trimdan (ph) Social Club in the constituency of Sedgefield, in the north of England, will once again play host to their local MP, who is the British Prime Minister Tony Blair, as he lays out a blueprint for a future Britain without him at the helm. (BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

ANDERSON (voice-over): It's perhaps the worst kept secret in global politics. Tony Blair will announce on Thursday that he's leaving office after 10 years as prime minister. The media have been on a feeding frenzy. The television networks preparing for live broadcasts, setting up stages, moving satellite trucks, and negotiating locations for the prime minister's departure. But in the House of Commons on Wednesday, the opposition leader seemed to suggest that his departure was well overdue.

DAVID CAMERON, BRITISH OPPOSITION LEADER: This is the government of the living dead. Why do we have to put with even more paralysis?

This is a government that has run the strongest economy this country has seen in 10 years. In the general election, it's policy that counts. And on policy, we win, and he loses.

ANDERSON: When Tony Says he's standing down, he will remain prime minister for a few weeks. That's while Labor MPs, party members and labor unions choose a new leader. His last year in power has been overshadowed by a police investigation into whether the government nominated several businessmen for piriges (ph), in return for large loans to his party.

Prosecutors are yet to decide whether to press charges. He'll also leave while British forces are committed to two wars, in Afghanistan and in Iraq. While the numbers of troops in Iraq are expected to decline, Britain is expected to increase its presence in Afghanistan by some 3,000.

At least in his last week as party leader, Tony Blair was able to revisit the scene of one of his most notable achievements -- Belfast. Nine years after the Good Friday Agreement, which set up an assembly for Northern Ireland, he presided over the installation of a new executive, in which men who were once sworn enemies have pledged to share power.

The achievements, the problems and the unfinished business. After 10 years in power, all seem to be left to someone else by the longest serving Labor prime minister in British history.


ANDERSON: And his presumed successor expected to be the Finance Minister Gordon Brown. OF course this announcement that he is standing down as party leader, not as prime minister, of course. That will continue for about six or seven weeks as the leadership contest within the Labor Party is triggered. The presumed successor, though, at this point is expected to be Gordon Brown.

You suggested, as did the leader of the opposition, there, Rosemary, that this is a country in a state of paralysis. Not everybody believes that at this point. Tony Blair does still have his supporters. But he's not necessarily quitting while he is ahead. His popularity has, of course, been on the wane since the war in 2003. But as one columnist noted, this is, quote, "an unprecedented achievement, and a measure of the way the Blair premiership has been meticulously stage managed from its opening act to its finale. He is choosing when he will go and he's choosing where he will make that announcement -- Rosemary.

CHURCH: Becky, just before you go, the interesting thing here, of course, is that Tony Blair has proved to be one of George W. Bush's closest allies on the war on terror. What sort of impact on the U.S./British relations is his departure likely to have?

ANDERSON: Well, there's that ritual, isn't there, that the newly appointed British prime minister rushes or wings his way across the Atlantic for a personal introduction with his opposite number of course. That's almost as well established as the journey that the new prime minister makes to Buckingham Palace in order to present their credentials to the queen.

Listen, you know, Gordon Brown is an avowed admirer of the U.S. He takes his annuals holidays in Cape Cod. He is well aware that both on the security and intelligence front that the U.K. very much needs the U.S. You know, as far as the Trident missile, the European defense system, the U.K.'s defense -- new defense system is concerned, American-made missiles will be needed for that.

But at the end of the day, he is well aware of the antipathy toward President Bush in his new Labor Party. It's not antipathy necessarily toward the U.S., but antipathy toward the president. Certainly something this relationship between Bush and Brown that -- Gordon Brown will have to consider as the Blairs get set to depart from 10 Downing Street.

But I think in the next six to seven weeks, he will be effectively honing strategy, domestic strategy, so that he is able to not only get into Number 10 in about six or seven weeks-time, to extend his period of time there through the next elections, which will be way after President Bush has gone to pasture's new -- Rosemary.

CHURCH: All right, Becky Anderson, reporting there, out the front of the houses of parliament.

Thanks so much -- Jim.

CLANCY: All right, we have a very interesting story for you coming from Iran. That is where a former FBI agent disappeared two months ago. Robert Levinson has become the focus of an international mystery right now. The reports he was researching a tobacco-smuggling operation for some filmmakers who wanted to do a documentary about it. And he was talking to a fugitive, some believe, at around the time that he vanished. All of that, though, unconfirmed. He was last seen on the island of Kish. That's located off the coast of southwest Iran. Its a free-trade area where you can enter without a visa. There are fears he was detained by Iranian authorities. Of course that's always one thing. But Iran is claiming it knows nothing about his fate. Levinson's disappearance comes as tensions between the U.S. and Iran reach potentially dangerous territory. The two countries haven't had any kind of diplomatic ties in some 30 years.

Few people seem to have a clue about what really did happen to Levinson. His frustrated wife says she's been living a nightmare, and now for the first time, she is going on camera to talk about it.

Jill Dougherty spoke with Levinson's wife a short time ago. She joins us now live with that exclusive interview.

Hi, Jill.


Well, it really is a mystery, both sides -- Iran saying they do not know what happened, they don't know where he is; they say he wasn't arrested. The United States saying, although they are skeptical about that statement by Iran, they don't know where he is, either.

So, as you said, just a few minutes ago, we did an interview, sat down with Mrs. Levinson. Her name is Christine. And she began with a statement, which she very much wanted to read, and then we'll get into some questions.


CHRISTINE LEVINSON, WIFE: I'm Christine Levinson, wife of Robert Levinson. I call him Bob. My husband went missing on March 8th while visiting Kish Island in the Islamic Republic of Iran. Since then, there have been conflicting reports about his condition and whereabouts. There were even reports that he was released, but they are not true.

This experience has been a nightmare for me and my children. We have been living in darkness since this began. We need to hear from him, to see him, to help him come home. We are seeking the truth. Somebody knows where he is.

I'm reaching out to the U.S. government and the Iranian government, but nothing has changed. Two weeks ago, I sent a letter to the Iranian president, as a personal and private plea for help. I don't know if he received the letter. I put the letter on our Web site, in English and in Farsi, in hopes that he and others who are in a position to help will read it. The Web site is

I'm confident the Iranian government can use its power and ability to find out what happened to my husband. I hope they can locate him and we can begin to -- the process of bringing him home to his family.

In a letter that the Iranian president sent to the American people, he wrote, "We are all inclined towards good and towards extending a helping hand to one another, particularly those in need."

I need your help. Our family needs your help. If anyone has any information about my husband, and can help us, please, contact me at this e-mail address, Thank you. DOUGHERTY: Thank you, Mrs. Levinson. You are saying that nobody really says they know where he is. Do you have any idea what is going on, why he disappeared?

LEVINSON: No, absolutely none. I just think he was in the wrong place at the wrong time.

DOUGHERTY: Why did he go to Iran?

LEVINSON: To be honest, I don't know. Bob is the provider for the family. We have seven children. We've been married 33 years on Friday. And we -- I did my job raising the children at home while he did his job, providing for us outside of the home. And so, it really isn't of interest to me why he was over there -- it was his job.

DOUGHERTY: He had a security company, or has a security company, correct?

LEVINSON: He has a consulting firm. He doesn't do actual security work in that sense of the word, where, you know, you go and protect somebody. He does not do anything like that.

DOUGHERTY: Had he been in dangerous places before?

LEVINSON: Yes. He's been to Russia, he's been down to South America, to Colombia, places like that, so and even in Panama, he's been to Panama. So for him to make a trip to somewhere unusual is not a surprise.


DOUGHERTY: So, Mrs. Levinson says that that trip by her husband was supposed to last from the 2nd to the 12th of March. He was supposed to go into Iran she says for just a day and then come out again. She has seven children, they have seven children, they are in communication, every day, one son, actually is in Japan. They are calling each other, they are very, very concerned.

And the strange thing about this, Jim, is that there are no claims by anybody or any type of information coming from anybody that really seems to know exactly what happened to Mr. Levinson.

CLANCY: You know, as you listen to her, and certainly, it is a woman with seven children, and she would very much like to have her husband back, but is it credible that she didn't know what he was doing there? That somebody doesn't know what he was doing there? I mean, I understand the mystery, once he's on Kish Island. But I don't quite understand why no one seems to at this point, even know why he was there.

DOUGHERTY: Well, if you have -- she is the wife of a former FBI agent, and I do know that many times, FBI agents keep their work lives separate from their families. Now, did that continue with his private company? Perhaps. She did say the only real thing that she had from him was an itinerary, and that's why she knew where he was supposed to be, and that he would call every single day. And as soon as he did not call, that was the tip to them that something had happened.

So, it could be credible she does not know. But the plot thickens when you get into information from another person, who happens to be in Iran, an American, who had actually murdered someone in the United States, back in 1980, who says that he was with Levinson. And -- that sheds a little bit of light. But nobody really seems to know at this point.

There could be many levels, it could be something as high up as a governmental issue, or, it could go way down to perhaps, as she said, being in the wrong place at the wrong time.

CLANCY: That's right because the U.S. is holding a number of Iranians that it took into custody in Iraq. Accusations against them, some people wondering whether this is a tit-for-tat disappearance.

All right, Jill Dougherty, in Washington, as always Jill, thanks.

CHURCH: All right, just ahead here on YOUR WORLD TODAY --

CLANCY: Pope Benedict XVI is going to Latin America for his first visit there as a pontiff. He'll be addressing some of the thorniest issues facing the Catholic Church today.

CHURCH: Stay with us.


CLANCY: Welcome back. You're watching YOUR WORLD TODAY, right here on CNN International.

CHURCH: Well, we are seen live in more than 200 countries and territories right across the globe.

Well, Pope Benedict XVI is on his way to Brazil. The pontiff left Rome just a few hours ago. During his five-day visit, the pope's first papal pilgrimage to the Americas, he's expected to reinforce his opposition to abortion and birth control. Abortion has been at the center of public debate since Brazil's new health minister called for a (INAUDIBLE) on the issue earlier this year.

CLANCY: Now, during his trip to Brazil, the pope also hopes to make a dent in the large number of people who are leaving the Roman Catholic Church.

CHURCH: That's right. Tens of millions of Latin Americans have turned their back on the Catholic Church and joined the Protestant faith.

CLANCY: Tim Lister gives us a closer look at what's causing their change of heart.


TIM LISTER, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Outside the Roman Catholic cathedral in Rio de Janiero, street vendors try to make a few dollars out of Pope Benedict's visit. Inside, the faithful celebrate the procession of Our Lady of Aparecida, the patron saint of Brazil.

Seventy-five percent of Brazilians declare themselves Catholic, but that's 10 percent fewer than a decade ago. Many have deserted Catholicism for the fast-growing Evangelical, Pentecostal, and Baptist churches.

Zilda Ferreira is typical of the many poor Brazilians who have made the switch. She worships now at the Church Assembly of God.

"Any time we come here," she says, "the pastor is ready to see us. The Catholic priest, he can help us, but only on his schedule."

CESAR ROMERO JACOB, THEOLOGIAN (through translator): The Catholic Church is like a transatlantic ship. To change its route, a transatlantic ship needs a lot of time. The Pentecostal churches are like little ships. They can move to other areas in a fast way.

LISTER: This battle for souls is increasingly fought on the TV screens and radio stations. Cancao Nova is a 24/7 Catholic TV station. The Evangelical churches boast radio and TV networks and impressive fund raising prowess. Today, with the creation of the Internet, says radio host Elio de Campo (ph), the gospel has been popularized and many churches broadcast their services.

The Vatican is challenged from within as well as without. Brazil is the birthplace of liberation theology. Radical priests campaign for the poor and against big business. Fewer Catholics attend mass, more are going to grass roots bible classes.

"We started a stream of theology that isn't imposed from Europe," says Lina Barr (ph), "but interprets God's message and tries new ways of living the Christian faith."

LISTER: Twenty years ago, Lina Barr's brother Leonardo, then a priest, was censored for his Marxist (ph) leanings by then Cardinal Rattinger (ph) -- now, Pope Benedict XVI.

Just before leaving Rome, the pope acknowledged there is much at stake, saying that Latin America was the continent of hope because of its young population. When he addresses tens of thousands at this monastery in Sao Paolo, he'll be trying to make the Vatican's message relevant in one of the youngest countries in the world.

Tim Lister, CNN, Atlanta.


CLANCY: Well, coming up, if you've never heard of Phil Spector, well, you've certainly heard his hand in music.

CHURCH: I'm sure. The legendary rock producer is famous for his "wall of sound" technique. Now, Spector is involved in another big production, his own murder trial. The story when we return.


CHURCH: Well the world of Hollywood is riveted to the latest celebrity murder trial.

CLANCY: That's because the defendant is legendary rock producer Phil Spector.

CHURCH: That's right. He's accused of shooting actress Lana Clarkson at his Los Angeles home four years ago.

CLANCY: Richard Roth tells us prosecutors are trying to show the man behind the "wall of sound" has a hidden dark side.


RICHARD ROTH, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): You may not know the man, but you know his music.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE (singing): The night we met I knew I needed you so ...

UNIDENTIFIED MALE (singing): ...that loving feeling ...

JOHN LENNON, SINGER (singing): Imagine all the people ...

ROTH: The producer of these recordings is Phil Spector.

DARLENE LOVE, SINGER: I always thought he was a genius. He's amazing.

ROTH: But instead of enjoying retirement in California, Spector is now accused of murder. It's the latest high profile L.A. celebrity trial.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Get away from the doors so I have access, please (ph).

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Mr. Spector, how do you feel with the case finally beginning?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Excuse us, excuse us, please.

ROTH: America was gripped in the '90s by the murder trial of the former football star O.J. Simpson. He was acquitted in a controversial judgment. TV and film actor Robert Blake was accused of killing his wife and also found not guilty.

Spector is charged with murdering actress Lana Clarkson at his suburban home in 2003, allegedly putting a gun in her mouth and pulling the trigger.

BRUCE CUTLER, DEFENSE ATTORNEY: There's no evidence that a gun was forced in her mouth. There were no broken teeth in.

ALAN JACKSON, PROSECUTOR: She was simply the last in a very long line of women who had been victimized by Philip Spector over the years.

PHIL SPECTOR, FORMER ROCK PRODUCER: I never pulled a gun on any of these women. Make that very clear.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Yes, we're going to get to that.

TIMOTHY NOAH, SENIOR WRITER, SLATE MAGAZINE: It's a trial involving Phil Spector, who is probably the most famous music producer of the 1960s, possibly the most famous music producer in all of pop music.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE (singing): Be my little baby ...

ROTH: Spector became renowned for the "wall of sound" style: overdubbing of instruments to produce his hit records. Artists such as the Ronettes and the Ramons represented along Rolling Stone magazine's wall and hall of covers.

NATHAN BRACHETT, SENIOR EDITOR, ROLLING STONE: Phil Spector has always been respected for his production chops but he's also been a notoriously difficult person to work with.

ROTH: Spector's zany hair and testimony from women who say he threatened them with guns has provided some eye catching moments, and even drawn international news coverage.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Another big trial, and, the city of Los Angeles trying to prosecute a celebrity again.

ROTH: A member of the Rock 'N Roll Hall of Fame, this is one spectacle Spector can't produce his way out of.

NOAH: It's a very strange story, no matter what the real story is. It's bound to be kind of tawdry and fascinating in the way that film noir is fascinating.

ROTH: Richard Roth, CNN, New York.


CHURCH: All right, that's it for this hour.

CLANCY: I'm Jim Clancy.

CHURCH: And I'm Rosemary Church. And this is CNN. Stay with us.