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Your World Today

Investigators Look Into Cause of Sao Paulo Crash; Russia Expels Four British Diplomats; New York Explosion; Authorities Shut Down San Paulo Airport To Insure Passenger Safety; American Scholars Held In Iran Appear on State-Run TV: Accused Trying To Overthrow the Iranian Government

Aired July 19, 2007 - 12:00   ET


JIM CLANCY, CNN INTERNATIONAL ANCHOR: Possible clues into a passenger jet crash. Video of a landing raising concerns as Brazil faces calls to shut down the country's busiest airport.
RALITSA VASSILEVA, CNN INTERNATIONAL ANCHOR: Russia retaliates. A British push for cooperation in the poison spy case prompts a move from Moscow.

CLANCY: Is this the face behind a push for a revolution? Iran accuses a detained Iranian-American of a plot against its government.

VASSILEVA: And get ready to pay more. Shifting demands for a staple in the Italian diet trickles down to pasta lovers worldwide.

CLANCY: It is 6:00 p.m. right now in Rome, Italy, 5:00 p.m. in London.

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

I'm Jim Clancy.

VASSILEVA: I'm Ralitsa Vassileva.

From Manila to Moscow, Sao Paulo to San Francisco, wherever you're watching us, this is YOUR WORLD TODAY.

CLANCY: A fiery crash in Brazil has victims' families demanding answers. And it has officials demanding action.

Federal prosecutors are asking for a court order to shut down completely Sao Paulo's Congonhas airport, days after what may be Brazil's deadliest ever air crash. New video showing the plane streaking down the runway. Both black boxes have been recovered. Investigators are trying to figure out exactly what happened.

Harris Whitbeck joins us now from Sao Paulo with the very latest.

Harris, what are these calls and what is the likelihood the airport could be shut down?

HARRIS WHITBECK, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, Jim, that's already happened once before. A federal judge ordered that the airport be closed last February after similar concerns about safety were voiced. That decision was overturned by another judge who said that the closure of Congonhas would provide -- would be too much of a disruption to the Brazilian air traffic system.

Now, federal prosecutors here say that the immediate suspension of all operations, all landings and takeoffs, is necessary now until it can be confirmed that the airport is safe. That would mean a massive disruption.

There are approximately 48 landings and takeoffs per hour at Congonhas, which means that it's a very, very important hub in the domestic air transport system here in Brazil -- Jim.

CLANCY: Obviously, they have to weigh that against the risk of another accident. These aren't problems that are new, are they?

WHITBECK: Well, they have to weigh that against the risk of another accident, but there are different versions as to what might have happened, of course.

Video was released last night. The video taken by runway cameras at the airport shows the precise moment when that TAM Airbus was landing. According to the airport authority that released the video, the video shows that it was coming in too fast, and that the high speed at which the plane was traveling might have been a factor that caused that accident.

So there are conflicting reports as to what happened. Of course, there is a lot of nervousness here.

We heard this morning of another TAM jet airliner that aborted a landing as it was coming in to land on the alternate runway that's still open here at Congonhas. But that aborted landing comes amid heightened fears and amid concerns that had been voiced in the past by pilots of security issues here at the airport -- Jim.

CLANCY: Harris Whitbeck reporting live from Congonhas airport in Sao Paulo.

Thank you, Harris.

VASSILEVA: Well, now to Russia, where just hours ago, Moscow announced it's kicking out four British diplomats. This is the latest salvo in an ongoing dispute over the investigation into the poisoning death of a former KGB agent.

Does it amount to a resumption of Cold War hostilities, or is it just a tempest in a diplomatic teapot?

For more on the story, we turn to Senior International Correspondent Matthew Chance. He joins us now live from the Russian capital -- Matthew.

MATTHEW CHANCE, CNN SR. INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Ralitsa, thanks very much. Well, lots of people are talking about a new Cold War between Russian and the West. How else, though, can you describe such hostile words between these two nations over this increasingly bitter diplomatic rift?

Earlier, remember, Britain expelled four Russian diplomats from the embassy in Moscow. Today, Moscow struck back.


MIKHAIL KAMYNIN, RUSSIAN FOREIGN MINISTRY SPOKESMAN (through translator): Today, the ambassador of the U.K. was invited to the Ministry of the Russian Federation, and a statement was made vis-a-vis the unfriendly actions taken by the (INAUDIBLE).

The ambassador was given an official note with four names of British ambassadors claimed to be personas non grata. And they have to leave the territory of the Russian federation within 10 days.


CHANCE: Well, other tit-for-tat measures announced, too, by the Russian Foreign Ministry, saying that they would suspend all visas for British officials wanting to visit Russia. Also, they said, that for the foreseeable future, Russian officials would not be applying for visas to visit Britain.

Also, Russia saying that it would suspend all cooperation on the issue of counterterrorism. And so it seems this diplomatic rift between the two nations is spiraling downwards -- Ralitsa.

VASSILEVA: Matthew Chance in Moscow.

Thank you very much.

Well, in the midst of this ongoing diplomat tit-for-tat, both sides are blaming the other for escalating tensions. After a Russian foreign ministry spokesman laid responsibility squarely at Britain's feet, Britain responded in kind.


DAVID MILIBAND, BRITISH FOREIGN SECRETARY: The Russian government should have signaled no new cooperation in the case of the extradition of Mr. Andrei Lugovoi for the alleged murder of Alexander Litvinenko. We obviously believe that the decision to expel four embassy staff is completely unjustified.


VASSILEVA: The United States is also weighing in, as well as Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice, who says Russia should heed British demands and extradite Andrei Lugovoi.

CLANCY: Pakistan, a country and a key ally in the war on terror, in crisis. Two suicide bombings are adding to that sense of crisis in Pakistan, as violence continues to soar. That, after the army stormed a hard-line mosque. At least 29 people have been killed in the southern town of Hub (ph) on Thursday. That when a car blew up in the main bazaar. Police say it was targeting a convoy of Chinese workers. None of those workers were hurt.

Hours earlier, in the northwestern city of Hangu, a car bomber blew himself up outside a police training center. Seven people died in that explosion.

VASSILEVA: The United States depends on Pakistan to help fight Islamic extremism worldwide, and now it's pressuring President Pervez Musharraf to step up the battle on his own turf. The White House says there's no doubt "more aggressive steps are needed" after a new report found that al Qaeda is actually gaining strength in Pakistan's tribal areas. So far, the Bush administration has sent a huge amount of money, but no troops to help oust the extremists.


TONY SNOW, WHITE HOUSE PRESS SECRETARY: If you talk about -- when you talk about the U.S. going in there, you don't blithely go into another nation and conduct operations.



FRAN TOWNSEND, U.S. HOMELAND SECURITY ADVISER: Well, there's no question the president has made perfectly clear, if we had actionable targets anywhere in the world, putting aside whether it was Pakistan or anyplace else, we would pursue those targets.


VASSILEVA: U.S. military officials say they do see evidence that the Pakistani military is preparing for a possible assault on those tribal areas.

Several city blocks in Midtown Manhattan remain closed in the wake of a massive steam pipe explosion in New York City. Despite earlier reports to the contrary, officials fear asbestos were found in the aging pipes.

We're now joined by Jim Acosta. He's on the scene and brings us the latest from there.

Jim, what are they saying about asbestos, a carcinogenic agent?

JIM ACOSTA, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Yes, it's a very toxic substance. It's not something you want to breathe in. And thankfully, at least what the city is telling us so far, that is not in the air.

They've taken various samples in the air and in the ground near the site of this massive hole behind me. And so far, what they're saying is that the air has tested negative for asbestos. The ground has tested positive, but they don't feel like that is a major health concern or a health concern to people here in Midtown Manhattan.

Having said that, though, New Yorkers are a suspicious bunch, and you are seeing people walking around with these, these sort of cheap medical masks that you can buy at any drugstore. People are walking around the streets of New York with those on.

We all remember seeing those on the faces of New Yorkers in the days and weeks after 9/11 down by Ground Zero. You're now seeing that here in Midtown Manhattan.

You're also seeing New York police officers also putting on masks. So there are concerns here, and as you can hear behind me, there are jackhammers going off big time, and that's because the local utility, Con Edison, is now trying to make sure that there's enough power in this area. They're laying new power lines throughout Midtown Manhattan to make sure the lights stay on.

So this -- this has caused a lot of trouble. But in the end, fortunately, this was just a steam pipe, nothing more and nothing less.

VASSILEVA: A steam pipe that caused such huge devastation. We were just watching the pictures as you were speaking.

What are authorities saying what about caused this explosion?

ACOSTA: Right. Well, they're not 100 percent sure at this point. There's a lot of speculation, even coming from the officials. But they think what happened, some cold water somehow got on that pipe or in that pipe.

And this was a steam pipe that carries steam to various commercial and residential buildings in Midtown Manhattan. What they think is, somehow, that cold water got mixed in with that steam and caused an eruption.

And from that point forward, it just shot like a geyser right through 41st Street, Midtown Manhattan, sending chunks and debris flying into the air as high as 15 stories high, from what we can tell, just looking at nearby office buildings that had their windows blown out by what was like a geyser of debris shooting up from this hole. But at this point, they believe this was just a structural mishap that occurred with these steam pipes.

And these steam pipes run throughout New York City. And every so often we have these eruptions. They do happen from time to time.

VASSILEVA: All right. Jim Acosta, thank you very much.

CLANCY: Held in Iraq, cut off from her lawyers and, more importantly, from her family.

VASSILEVA: Coming up on YOUR WORLD TODAY, a detained Iranian- American is shown on Iranian state TV. But her daughter says her mother is being used for propaganda. We'll talk to her live.

CLANCY: Testing the political waters. Japan's first openly gay candidate to run for parliament has a message for voters.

VASSILEVA: And global war heats up the price of pasta. A look at why you'll shell out more for your favorite spaghetti.


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

VASSILEVA: We're covering the news the world wants to know and giving you a little more perspective that goes deeper into the stories of the day.

CLANCY: Also, following some of the stories that make news here. And as you heard, China comes under intense scrutiny in the past month. And it's feeling a lot of pressure over the rash of product safety scandals.

Last week, there was yet another story. This one said an unlicensed vendor in Beijing was selling snacks that were actually stuffed with pork-flavored cardboard, not real pork. It was an appalling story. The trouble is, according to the authorities, at least, it wasn't true.

Here's John Vause.


JOHN VAUSE, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Police have confirmed to CNN that the reporter behind the expose is now being held, waiting trial. There's no word, though, on what charge.

Beijing television, which first aired the report earlier this month, made a public apology to viewers on Wednesday night claiming the story had been staged and says all those involved will be punished. The hidden camera investigation showed cardboard being used as the main ingredient in a popular snack food here known as baozas (ph). They're like dumplings and are normally stuffed with pork.

The story was widely reported internationally and proved hugely embarrassing to authorities at a time when they're trying to reassure the word that food from China is safe. Some analysts, though, believe the government is trying to discredit the reporter and his work.

John Vause, CNN, Beijing.


Let's check on other stories making news around the world.


VASSILEVA: Now to Japan, a society known for being traditional, deeply conservative in political circles.

Eunice Yoon has a report now though on one politician who is actually shaking things up.


EUNICE YOON, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice over): Go-go dancers and transvestite ballerinas, they don't often star at Japanese political rallies, but they do if the candidate is Kanako Otsuji, the first openly gay politician to run for parliament in Japan.

KANAKO OTSUJI, POLITICAL CANDIDATE (through translator): No one here recognizes that sexual minorities live in the same society as heterosexuals. I want to make us visible.

YOON: In the West, gay rights are often front-page news. But here the issue is private. At a recent Otsuji rally, we were asked not to show her supports on camera.

Japanese society is outwardly conservative and puts tremendous pressure on its people to fill certain roles, making it difficult for outsiders like Otsuji to fit in.

OTSUJI (through translator): There is a culture of shame here. The shame of an individual becomes the shame of the family. When I told my mother I was a lesbian, she couldn't accept it. We didn't talk about it again for another three to four years.

YOON: Otsuji eventually decided to talk about it with the public. In 2003, she became a legislator in Osaka, western Japan. But she didn't come out as a lesbian politician until two years later at a gay parade in Tokyo with a message for closeted voters nationwide.

(on camera): To drive home the message that it's OK for Japanese people to be gay, Otsuji decided to set up her campaign office here in Tokyo's gay district. To the people in this community, Otsuji is something of a hero.

OTSUJI: This is our town.

YOON (voice over): Otsuji has won the backing of the nation's largest opposition party. As part of her election campaign, Otsuji and her partner held a faux wedding, with proud parents looking on.

If elected, she hopes to help ban discrimination and to draft legal rights for same-sex couples. But if she loses...

OTSUJI (through translator): It will be tougher for the gay community to solve its problems politically. But my defeat won't stop Japan's gays from coming out of the closet.

YOON: In that sense, the gay community sees itself already on a winning path.

Eunice Yoon, CNN, Tokyo. (END VIDEOTAPE)

CLANCY: Iran says they're confessions. Washington says they're contrived.

VASSILEVA: Coming up, we will look at the televised statements of two Iranian-Americans detained in Iran accused of plotting to undermine the government. We'll also talk to one detainee's daughter.

CLANCY: Also ahead, how will Italians stomach a big hike in the price of pasta? This is going to be a little tough to chew.

Stay with us.



VASSILEVA: Welcome back to our viewers, joining us from more than 200 countries and territories around the globe, including United States. This is YOUR WORLD TODAY. I'm Ralitsa Vassileva.

CLANCY: I'm Jim Clancy. These are some of the stories making headlines on YOUR WORLD TODAY.

In Brazil, federal prosecutors going to court asking for an order to shut down Sao Paulo Congonhas Airport. They say this move is necessary to insure passenger air safety. Investigators are looking at both the length and the condition of the runway right now. Tuesday evening's deadly air crash killed all 186 people who were aboard that Airbus 320.

VASSILEVA: Two suicide car bombings in Pakistan have killed at least 36 people and wounded dozens more. Authorities believe it's part of an intensifying militant backlash against the army's storming of a hard-line mosque. The deadliest attack Thursday came in the southern town of Hub, where a car exploded in a busy bazaar.

CLANCY: Moscow says it's kicking out four British diplomats. That move is a response to London's decision, earlier in the week, to expel four Russian diplomats. The dispute centers on Russia's refusal to extradite the chief suspect in the murder of Alexander Litvinenko. Litvinenko was a former Russian spy, who was poisoned, radiation poisoning, in London last November.

VASSILEVA: Two Iranian-Americans held in a notorious Tehran prison have appeared in an incriminating documentary, now airing on Iranian state TV. Haleh Esfandiari and Kian Tajbakhsh were detained on charges of endangering Iran's national security. U.S. Affairs Editor Jill Dougherty spoke with Esfandiari's family who say the documentary is pure propaganda.



JILL DOUGHERTY, CNN U.S. AFFAIRS EDITOR (voice over): Dressed in black hijab, Haleh Esfandiari was shown being interviewed on Iranian state TV.

The one-hour documentary called "Under the Name of Democracy" also showed a second Iranian-American being held by the Iranian government, social scientist Kian Tajbakhsh.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE (through translator): What was my role in all of this? Part of my role was to identify speakers.

DOUGHERTY: On camera, Esfandiari described her work as head of the Middle Eastern program at the Washington, D.C.-based Woodrow Wilson Center for International Scholars.

Her comments were spliced with large video segments showing revolutions in Ukraine, Kirgistan (ph) and the Republic of Georgia. President George W. Bush appeared in a video clip from Bravaslava (ph), Slovakia. Two Iranian commentators attempted to link the 67- year-olds scholars work with alleged attempts to spark a revolution in Iran.

Moments after viewing the broadcast, Esfandiari's husband, a professor in Virginia, said she looked very frail.

SHAUL BAKHASH, ESFANDIARI'S HUSBAND: Well, she's lost a great deal of weight. She looked very pale to me. And I don't think she looked well at all.

DOUGHERTY: Esfandiari was detained in December while visiting her 93-year-old mother in Tehran. She was arrested May 8th and has been held since then in Tehran's notorious Evin prison. She's accused of endangering Iran's national security through propaganda against the system.

The Iranian government has called her, and other Iranian- Americans academics, spies in the garb of researchers. The White House immediately called those charges ridiculous. Her husband said the video proves nothing. He claims she was told what to say.

BAKHASH: The language used mimics, mirrors, the language of the ministry of intelligence has used over these last few weeks to describe the case.

DOUGHERTY: As Esfandiari begins another day in prison, her husband says he doesn't believe the documentary will persuade anyone in Iran, or abroad, that this wife is guilty of trying to bring down the Iranian government. Jill Dougherty, CNN, Washington.


CLANCY: Now, for most of us, watching that, pretty hard to tell, what's really going on. Esfandiari's daughter says it's obvious to her that her mother's words, many times, don't really describe someone as a revolutionary troublemaker, at all. What did she see? Well, Haleh Bakhash joins us now for some more.

Just to tell us a little bit, about through your eyes, when you saw that video, it must have been frightening, number one, but what did you see?

HALEH BAKHASH, DAUGHTEROF HALEH ESFANDIARI: It was very painful to watch. You have to understand that I have not seen my mother since mid December of last year, when she left for Iran to visit my 93-year- old grandmother.

So this was really the first image that I had had of her in about six and a half months. To me, even though her voice was very strong, she looked pale. She's lost a lot of weight. She seemed a little bit stressed. And it was shocking.

CLANCY: Well, you know, at least when you look at this, it looks like she's being cared for well -- or is that an illusion?

BAKHASH: I think that's an illusion. First of all, they showed her sitting on a couch, in a living room, or a nice office, a bottle of water in front of her. Where the reality is that she's spent the last 10 weeks in solitary confinement in Evin prison. There are no beds or cots in Evin prison. She's been sleeping on the floor with a blanket. She's in solitary at least 23 hours a day. Probably being pulled out for interrogations on a daily basis that go on throughout the night.

CLANCY: She didn't really say anything, though. Despite all of that harsh treatment, there was nothing in there. She said that she worked as a researcher. She tried to identify people who appear on panels and discuss, you know, important issues. She didn't say anything about revolution or undermining the state of Iran.

BAKHASH: That's correct. And that's what was so absurd about this piece of propaganda released by the Iranian government. She just said, you know, I'm a scholar, I organize conferences at the Wilson Center. I invited academics. Nothing that she said remotely amounted to a confession, or to criminal activity.

CLANCY: Haleh, what you have been told? Obviously, you talked to your family members, and others, about why are they holding your mother. Why did they suddenly begin taking all of these people hostage, holding them, saying they're spies?

BAKHASH: We don't know. We have not heard anything from anyone in the Iranian government. They haven't said anything to us. We don't know why they're still holding my mother after six and a half months.

CLANCY: What should the rest of us -- what should people around the world make out of this case, about your mother's plight? What can we do?

BAKHASH: I think the media attention has been very helpful in raising awareness of her case, and that of the other detainees. I believe it would be helpful for governments in other countries to express to Iran that this is wrong and that it is not good for their reputation, and that they should release my mother and allow her to come home. CLANCY: All right. Haleh Bakhash, I want to thank you very much for taking the time out to come and discuss a very difficult topic. There is supposed to be more of your mother on Iranian television later today. We'll all be watching for that and hoping for the best for her.

BAKHASH: Thank you so much.

CLANCY: Remarkable girl. And having to put up with that, just having to watch your mother there. I think it's pretty hard. It would be pretty hard for anybody.

VASSILEVA: Absolutely.

CLANCY: To do that, and yet, here was an academic, and she's been taken. Some link it to the five Iranians that were seized by the U.S. last November.


CLANCY: Iran says they were diplomats. The U.S. says, no, they were agents trying to work undercover in Iraq.

VASSILEVA: That's right.

We will take a short break now. When we come back, it's easy to romanticize the good old days, especially in one Iraqi community.

CLANCY: Coming up, right here on YOUR WORLD TODAY, a high-class resort turned into a ghost town?

VASSILEVA: And a crisis of trust in Britain as the BBC reveals a disturbing string of dishonest programming.


VASSILEVA: Welcome back. You're watching YOUR WORLD TODAY here on CNN International.

CLANCY: Seen live in more than 200 countries and territories all around the globe.

Well, U.S. Defense Secretary Robert Gates got emotional Wednesday at a Marine Corps dinner in the state of Virginia. He was talking about the loss of American lives in both Iraq and Afghanistan. Gates almost broke down.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) ROBERT GATES, SECRETARY OF DEFENSE: Every evening I write notes to the families of young Americans like Doug Zimbiak (ph), for you, and for me. They are not names on a press release, or numbers updated on a website. They are our country's sons and daughters.


CLANCY: Gates went on to say that the key to victory in Iraq is cooperating, working with local Iraqis.

VASSILEVA: Well, another sign of how things have disintegrated in Iraq, refugees squat in a former resort town, where tourists once came to play and have fun. As Frederik Pleitgen reports, some are hoping against hope that the good old days will return again.


FREDERIK PLEITGEN, CNN INT'L. CORRESPONDENT (voice over): The welcoming committee shows this tourist city is now a high-security zone, with checkpoints to insure insurgents stay out.

"Our duty is to provide security for the visiting families," he says. But there are almost no visitors these days. Welcome to Habanea (ph), once a high-class Iraqi resort town, now a ghost town.

With sports and recreation facilities withering away in the sun, while in the empty rooms, photos from better days, when Habanea (ph) was thriving.

Days says, Ahmedmoud Jassam (ph) hopes will return. Like some other staff members, he has stayed trying to maintain the facilities.

"We have no income, and day by day, the services here were getting worse. With the help of some of our technicians we tried to make improvements. The facilities are about 50 percent operational."

But while there are no tourists, there are other visitors, refugees from neighboring towns, like Abu Majeed (ph), and his family who used to come here for holidays.

"In the good old days, I never expected to come here as a refugee. It's like living in a prison, a prison with no guards," he says.

A refuge for now, but those still working here say they hope one day paying guests will be swimming in the waters of Habanea (ph) again. Frederik Pleitgen, CNN, Baghdad.


CLANCY: In the meantime, the U.S. military says two of its soldiers in Iraq have been charged with premeditated murder. The men are accused of killing an Iraqi last month, near the northern city of Kirkuk. In a statement, the U.S. military said the charges came after fellow soldiers reported the alleged wrongdoings. We have no or details to disclosed by the military to report. VASSILEVA: More controversy hitting the BBC. The British Broadcasting Corporation has suspended some senior editors after a string of staged phone in competitions. Bill Black reports on the deepening crisis of the BBC that is damaging its reputation and the trust of its listeners and viewers.


BILL BLACK, CNN INT'L. CORRESPONDENT (voice over): The BBC has spent a lot of time apologizing lately. First for the children's show "Blue Peter." Fined $100,000 for faking the results of a phone-in competition.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: We'd like to say sorry to you, because when this mistake happened, we let you down.

BLACK: Then there was this program promotion, wrongly suggesting the queen stormed out of a photo shoot with Annie Leibovitz. Now the crisis deepens, and the BBC is, again, featuring in its own news bulletins.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: A crisis of trust, the BBC reveals a list of programs which deceived viewers and listeners.

BLACK: The broadcaster has admitted six other television and radio shows have deceived the audience.

LISA CAMPBELL, "BROADCAST" MAGAZINE: Everyone was shocked by the revelations. The last thing they expected was the BBC to be guilty of this.

BLACK: Three shows made to raise money for charity also cheated their viewers. On "Comic Relief" and "Sports Relief", staff members stood in as winners of competitions. And, on "Children In Need", an entirely fictitious winner was named on air.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The winner is, Gary Knight, age 10, from Govern (ph).

BLACK: This is an embarrassing time for a broadcaster whose brand is built on integrity, accuracy, and trust.

MARK THOMPSON, BBC DIRECTOR-GENERAL: I should stress that we are still talking about a tiny minority of tens of thousands that the BBC broadcasts every year, literally tens of thousands.

BLACK (on camera): Public outrage is fueled by the fact that the BBC is publicly funded with a budget of more than $7 billion a year. Part of that budget will now go towards winning back the public's trust. Including a training plan for its army of staff to teach them the definition of honest programming.

(Voice over): All phone-in competitions have been suspended and so have an unknown number of senior staff. But the BBC is not the only British broadcaster trying to get its house in order. Commercial network ITV was also recently found guilty of misleading viewers through phone-in competitions. The relationship between British television and its audience is going through a rough patch. Bill Black, CNN, London.


CLANCY: Well, speaking of rough patches, one of the staples of the Italian diet about to get a lot more pricey.

VASSILEVA: That's right, coming up next, the rising price of pasta and its link to global warming.


VASSILEVA: Welcome back. Well, Italians may soon be paying more to get their dinner to the table.

CLANCY: That's right. Especially the primo, if the primo is pasta, the price of pasta is becoming private primo indeed. A staple in the national diet, pasta could go up by 20 percent in the next few months.

VASSILEVA: Rome Bureau Chief Alessio Vinci looks at the factors behind this price hike.


ALESSIO VINCI, CNN INT'L. CORRESPONDENT (voice over): Global warming is being blamed for everything, from drought, to excessive rain, even a lack of snow. But does it have anything to do with the pasta Italians eat every day? The answer is a bit complicated, so pay attention.

This is the reason Italian pasta is simply the best in the world. It is made with Durham wheat. Italy grows a lot of it, but Italians eat a lot of pasta. So the country must import half of its Durham wheat needs to satisfy demand. But Durham wheat is also increasingly sold as a biofuel to produce ethanol, thought by many to be better for the environment than gasoline. Generating stronger than usual demand on the world market at the time when production is down worldwide because of the weather and, you guessed it, global warming.

MARIO RUMMO, PRES., ITALIAN PASTA MANUFACTURERS: The crisis is very important because for probably the first time, we have very, very low stocks in Durham wheat, and we have a lot of problems to find the products. This is the reason why the price of Durham wheat, in the worldwide, move up from 50 percent to 60 percent.

VINCI: Which brings us back to pasta. The price Italians pay is expected to go up 20 percent. A quick and informal poll at this supermarket, though, found there is little panic.

"I will not stock up on pasta," says this pensioner. "Considering the amount I eat every day I would need the entire Olympic stadium to store it."

"Everything is get more expensive," says this mother of two, "But we still have to eat. And pasta is still what my family prefers."

At this popular Roman restaurant, talk of sacrificing pasta fort environment draws laughter.


"They should be looking for other sources of clean energy," says Giuseppe, during his lunch break.

Giovanni says, "Pasta, pizza and bread, are all the essentials of the Italian diet."

"Do not turn this into a world market question," he says. "It is an Italian question. And we'll deal with it even if we have to pay a bit more."

(On camera): Take it from an Italian, linking the price of pasta to global warming will certainly not make Italians care more about the environment. Alessio Vinci, CNN, in Rome.


VASSILEVA: Oh, that looking delicious.

CLANCY: It certainly does.

VASSILEVA: Even if it's 20 percent more expensive.

CLANCY: That's right. They can afford it.

More now on a story we told you about a little bit earlier this hour, an interesting balance to walk, being a world famous celebrity loved by the paparazzi.

VASSILEVA: And at the same time facing criticism for belonging to a secretive church, that some even call a cult.

CLANCY: We're talking, of course, about actor and Scientologist Tom Cruise, whose personal views are creating production snags for his new film.

VASSILEVA: Diana Magnay, has our report from Berlin.


DIANA MAGNAY, CNN INT'L. CORRESPONDENT (voice over): Tom Cruise should be used by now to run-ins with the German government. In 2004, he was refused permission to film scenes for "Mission Impossible 3" inside the German parliament building. Now, he's getting the same treatment, this time for a movie in which he plays the German resistance hero, Col. Claus Van Stauffenberg.

Stauffenberg tried to assassinate Hitler, in 1944, by planting a bomb in a briefcase in Hitler's conference room. Hitler was only slightly injured in the blast, much of the force absorbed by a table leg.

This is the Blender Bloc, spot where Stauffenberg and four of his fellow plotters were brought down on the night of July 20th and executed after that plan to kill Hitler had failed. Tom Cruise asked for permission to film here. But the German government said no. Guardians of site say the decision was fair. The site should be held sacred.

JOHANNES TUCHEL, GERMAN RESISTANCE MEMORIAL: We don't want to have a place here, a staged for an execution, and to hang swastika flags out of our windows. Today, it's a memorial. And, today, it's not a part for a movie.

MAGNAY: But some government members say this has more to do with Cruise' Scientology beliefs.

FRANK HENKEL, CHRISTIAN DEMOCRATIC UNION (through translator): It would not be a good signal, if an ambassador of this psycho sect, that has extremist character, and no concern for basic human rights, shoots a movie in a place like that.

MAGNAY: Germany's latest Oscar-winning director, Florian Hankov Von Donasmarc (ph), weighed into the debate last week, claiming that crews would do more Germany's image abroad than 10 World Cups, but others aren't so sure.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I think he's a very good actor. And he looks a little bit like Stauffenberg did, but I think -- Stauffenberg's thinking in that time, was different from Cruise' thinking.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: If somebody wanted to make a film about the German history, we have good German actors here.

MAGNAY : Cruise has played many different roles over the course of his career. Here in Germany, he has yet to prove he can take on this important national hero. Diana Magnay, CNN, Berlin.


CLANCY: Well, all right, mission impossible -- at least for you squeamish viewers, coming right up. You might want to prepare yourself for this next story, that's all I can say.

VASSILEVA: That's right. We've got a story for you, of a man whose headache turned out to be stuff made of nightmares.

CLANCY: His name was Erin Dallas and he went to the doctor complaining of strange bleeding bumps on his head. They turned out to be active bot fly larvae.

VASSILEVA: Dallas said that he could actually hear the larvae moving around under his skin on his head. He thinks he picked up the infestation during a recent trip to Belize.

He could hear them!

CLANCY: All right. We have to have something a little bit lighter.

And I think we had better shift over to the bunch of clowns who took to the streets of Mexico City Wednesday.

VASSILEVA: It's not pejorative.

CLANCY: It's descriptive, actually. They were real clowns, marching tot he Basilica of Our Lady of Guadalupe, to thank her for giving her the gift, of what else? Laughter.


RAQUETON CLOWN (through translator): Giving joy to little ones, and older ones, and thanking the Virgin of Guadalupe, because she give us the opportunity. She gives us the strength to make everyone laugh, young and older ones, that is why we're here to give thanks.


VASSILEVA: The Virgin of Guadalupe is the patron saint of Mexico and is revered by millions, including the clowns.

CLANCY: And Dallas should say a prayer to her, too, next time he goes to Belize.

That's it for this hour. I'm Jim Clancy.

VASSILEVA: I'm Ralitsa Vassileva. Thank you for joining us.