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Your World Today

Officials Say Security Firm in Iraq Involved in New Shooting; Hillary Clinton Leading the Democratic Pack; Two Dead, Two in Critical Condition in Workplace Shooting in Simi Valley, California

Aired October 09, 2007 - 12:00   ET


MICHAEL HOLMES, CNN INTERNATIONAL ANCHOR: He's got a successful TV and movie career, but Fred Thompson has much to prove in tonight's Republican debate.
HALA GORANI, CNN INTERNATIONAL ANCHOR: Intense fighting along Pakistan's border with Afghanistan leaves dozens dead and civilians on the run.

HOLMES: You can find anything you want these days online, including maps of top-secret nuclear facilities. And it has Israel worried.

GORANI: And women are taking on the super macho sport of boxing in a place not known for women's empowerment -- Afghanistan.

HOLMES: It is 8:30 p.m. in Kabul, Afghanistan, noon in Detroit, Michigan.

Hello and welcome to our report broadcast around the globe.

I'm Michael Holmes.

GORANI: I'm Hala Gorani. And this is YOUR WORLD TODAY.

We'll have all those stories in a moment, but we begin in Iraq this hour, and another deadly incident there involving what's described only as a western private security company.

Let's get the latest on this. We're going live to Alessio Vinci. He's in Baghdad -- Alessio.


Two sources within the Iraqi Interior Ministry are telling us that a convoy belonging to a western private security firm was involved in a shooting incident this afternoon here in Baghdad in the Karada district. And as a result of that shooting incident, two women, two civilians who were driving in one car, were killed.

We understand from these sources in the Interior Ministry, is that their car was hit by 19 bullets and that those two women died instantly. And these are pictures of the aftermath of the incident once the car was already towed away. But as you can see, a lot of blood here on the curbside of the street. Now, we do not know, again, which private security firm is involved in this incident. We do know, however, that Blackwater, which is involved in this country into another shooting incident, is not responsible for this. Blackwater is denying it, as well as the U.S. Embassy is telling us that U.S. State Department convoys are not involved in this incident. So we're still trying to figure out which company has been -- is responsible for this.

As you know, there are dozens of private security firms here and thousands of guards working for these firms. So we're still trying to figure out. The Iraqis are investigating, first of all, what happened and who is responsible for the killing of these two civilians, the latest in a long list of civilians who were killed because of private security firms opening fire on them -- Hala.

GORANI: All right. Alessio Vinci with the latest there on this attack involving, according to the Interior Ministry in Iraq, a private western security company.

Thanks, Alessio -- Michael.

HOLMES: Hala, this latest news comes as Iraqi officials are demanding a staggering penalty for Blackwater. And an Iraqi government report is recommending harsh sanctions against the private security firm.

Now, let's have a look at some of those recommendations.

Let's begin with this one, that any contracts with Blackwater USA should be canceled by the U.S. government within the next six months. Also, that families of the victims from September's shootings in a Baghdad square should be paid $8 million each. And any contractors involved in that incident should be turned over to authorities to face possible trial in Iraqi courts.

GORANI: All right. We'll continue to follow those stories out of Iraq. But now, let's check some other stories making news around the world this hour.


GORANI: The 2008 race -- turning now to U.S. Politics.

He whipped up huge expectations for himself, exciting voters with the prospect of his candidacy, waiting months to join others already in the race. Now it's show time for Fred Thompson, one of the top Republicans running for president.

Today is the first time he'll face his rivals in a formal debate. Critics panned the former senator and actor for skipping the last one to announce his candidacy on a late-night talk show last month. He has also been accused of not giving enough specifics about his platform, criticism he could temper with a strong showing at today's forum.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) FRANK SESNO, CNN SPECIAL CORRESPONDENT: He's got to show that there's some fire in the belly, as we like to say, that he really wants this race. He has been criticized for hanging back, for being actually pretty lackluster on the campaign trail, even lazy in some ways.


GORANI: Well, that's on the Republican side, the development there. On the Democratic side of the presidential race, it's not hard to see who's leading the pack these days. Hillary Clinton walks, talks and fund-raises like the frontrunner. But with the election more than a year away, her closest rivals seem confident they can make up some ground.

Here is Candy Crowley.


CANDY CROWLEY, CNN SR. POLITICAL CORRESPONDENT (voice over): She is rolling through Iowa on a bus and making more headway in the polls. Far enough down the road to ignore her Democratic rivals and assault George Bush.

SEN. HILLARY RODHAM CLINTON (D-NY), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: America's middle class families have been invisible to the president. It's as if he's looked right...


HEIDI COLLINS, CNN ANCHOR: Good afternoon, everybody. I'm Heidi Collins here at the CNN desk. We are breaking into our international programming right now to give you a little bit more information.

If you just possibly just watched us moments ago, you would know about this workplace shooting that we mentioned very briefly. We are now learning more from one of our people in Los Angeles at CNN that apparently, according to Simi Valley Police, there has been a workplace shooting at a place called Tire Pros. Again, the location, Tire Pros.

Apparently four victims, two of them fatalities, and two other people are in critical condition. It is not known at this point whether or not the gunman is one of the deceased.

A whole lot of questions still surrounding what may have happened here, again, at Tire Pros in Simi Valley. This information coming to us from our bureau there in Los Angeles and also from Simi Valley Police Department. We are trying to get more information for you. Don't even have a time quite yet on when this event happened. But most importantly, two people dead and two are in critical condition in a workplace shooting there in Simi Valley, California.

We will continue to follow this, new video coming into us right now from our affiliate KCAL. We are going to follow this story for you and bring you any more information just as soon as we get it here. For now, though, back to YOUR WORLD TODAY.


SEN. BARACK OBAMA (D-IL), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: I know that change makes for good campaign rhetoric, the word "change" on a bumper sticker. But when these same people actually had a chance to make change happen, they didn't leave.

CROWLEY (voice over): The Clinton campaign will tell you she takes nothing for granted, that despite the polls and the money and a well-oiled organization, she does not assume she will win. They have to say that to avoid looking smug, but she knows and her rivals know if someone is going to stop her, it has to start where the voting starts, and the voting starts in Iowa.

(on camera): What Obama and Edwards and all the other Democrats have to do is battle that aura of inevitability. Asked if Hillary Clinton was a shoe-in, John Edwards replied, "I lived through the inevitability of Howard Dean."

Candy Crowley, CNN, Marshalltown, Iowa.


HOLMES: Well, all of these polls, primaries and caucuses can get a little confusing. Let's bring in our senior political analyst, Bill Schneider, to help us get a bigger, better picture of the presidential race. He's in Boston Massachusetts.

Always good to get your thoughts, Bill.


HOLMES: Let's start with Thompson, Senator Thompson.

High expectations. This debate, really, in many ways, an audition for this actor/politician?

SCHNEIDER: Well, "audition" is an interesting word, because, of course, he has a long career as a film actor and a TV star. But, yes, it is his first trial in a debate.

He got into the race last month, and there were high expectations for him as early as June, when he first indicated interest. A lot of conservatives looked at him and said, ah, another Ronald Reagan, an actor, of course, who turned into a politician. Maybe he can come and deliver the conservatives to the promised land, because many of them are disillusioned with President Bush.

But when he finally did get into the race in September, he did vault into second place. So he has a quite respectable showing. He raised $9 million, which is entirely respectable, but not quite the sensation that some people expected. And there's been some criticism from conservatives, including a leading figure on the religious right, that his views have not been entirely consistent and they don't really trust him, like many of the other candidates.

So this debate really is an audition for Fred Thompson. That's exactly the right word.

HOLMES: Let's have a look, Bill, at the Democrats for a moment.

Hillary Clinton, a lot of people are saying she's unstoppable. That's a word that's popped up. And there are critics who say, well, yes, she's doing pretty well, because she's not really saying anything, is she, and not really putting herself out for the media to question?

SCHNEIDER: Well, the criticism you often here of Senator Clinton is that she's cautious and calculating, she's not a passionate candidate, and she's playing the game of a frontrunner, which is not taking any big risks. You hear that criticism.

On the other hand, you hear a lot of Democrats who say they'll support her because she looks like a winner. I mean, you can't have it both ways.

And, you know, the Democrats are desperate to win after the eight years in the wilderness under George Bush. The "Clinton" name is a very strong brand name. And as long as she looks like she can win and she's going to win the primaries and she can win the general election, you may find more and more Democrats joining the bandwagon.

But as Candy indicated in her piece, if anything happens to puncture that image of inevitably to make her look suddenly like maybe she can't win, then you could find her support suddenly and rapidly deflating.

HOLMES: Explore that just a little bit minute more, Bill, before we go, the notion that Hillary Clinton is facing criticism, apart from putting out a health care plan, that she vacillates on the issues, she's not one way or the other. Very clever, because you're not going to get into trouble. But is that going to catch up with her?

SCHNEIDER: Well, it could, because you hear that -- you do hear Democrats saying that she doesn't speak from deep conviction. And they want a candidate -- a lot of Democrats are very angry and they want a candidate who speaks from deep conviction.

And they suspect she might be a little too much like her husband, who is famous as a triangulator, who tried to split the difference between Democrats and Republicans. Many of his policies, his signature policies when he was in office, are not popular among Democrats -- balanced budget, welfare reform didn't get a lot of Democratic support. And most of all, the policy of free trade, NAFTA.

She was critical of her own husband's trade policies. So, she faces a challenge similar to the Republicans. If they have to separate themselves from George Bush, she's under some pressure to separate herself from some of her husband's less popular policies among the Democratic base who want to see some conviction out of their frontrunner. HOLMES: Senior Political Analyst Bill Schneider.

Always good to get your thoughts, Bill. Thanks for that.

All right. Well, some of Israel's most sensitive sights are in plain view for all the world to see.

GORANI: A short break on YOUR WORLD TODAY. When we continue, details on some of the images available at Google Earth.

HOLMES: And something you certainly wouldn't have seen under the Taliban -- Afghan women practicing their upper cuts and their left jabs.

GORANI: And later, this story of a Sudanese rapper whose provocative lyrics shed light on his troubled homeland.

Stay with us.


GORANI: This little cub at California's San Diego Zoo got her first vaccinations last week.

HOLMES: At 9 weeks old, her eyes have only been open a few days. A mixed blessing, since her new vision allowed her to see she wasn't with her mom.

GORANI: Oh, poor thing. The exam was cut short to allow the obviously upset little baby to return to her mother.

HOLMES: All right.

GORANI: I love pandas.

HOLMES: That killed you, didn't it?

GORANI: It really did.

All right.

HOLMES: Welcome back to CNN International and YOUR WORLD TODAY.

GORANI: All right.

We're seen, of course, all over the globe here on CNN International, and this hour the United States.

Welcome, everyone.

Now, most people are floored the first time they go to Google Earth and see a bird's eye view of their own home in fairly vivid detail. I can see cars parked in my driveway on Google Earth. It's a testament to today's technology and the power, of course, of satellites. But even some sensitive locations can be seen in plain view at the popular Web site, and that has some in Israel concerned. CNN's Ben Wedeman explains.


BEN WEDEMAN, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT (voice over): This is the only footage Israeli military sensors will allow you to see of Israel's nuclear facility outside Dimona in the Negev Desert. It's widely believed Dimona is where Israel makes its nuclear weapons.

(on camera): The last time a CNN crew went near Dimona, they were detained and questioned by Israeli security for several hours. Now you can go there hassle-free just by clicking on Google Earth and zooming in on the Dimona facility.

And there you have it, Dimona, in all its details. These are not grainy pictures shot from a passing car. Not only that, you have precise GPS coordinates.

(voice over): Google Earth affords anyone a peek at Israel's most sensitive sites -- naval bases, air strips, and even in crisp detail, the Port of Haifa, which came under bombardment from Hezbollah in the summer of 2006. It's all there.

Such exposure has some in Israel worried. It was front page news in this daily with the headline screaming "Exposed Secrets". The warriors should relax, says Israeli analyst Hirsh Goodman (ph).

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: As much as Israel is open to Hezbollah and Gaza by Google Earth, they are open to Israel as well. I mean, it's -- you know, it's everyone's domain.

WEDEMAN: Which means Israel can just as easily look at, say, Iran's nuclear enrichment plant at Natanz.

Contacted by CNN, Google Earth said in a written statement that the U.S. government limits public imagery of Israel to two meters or just over two yards' resolution.

Google Earth has been around since 2005, but satellite imagery of a similar quality has been commercially available for decades. Despite all the security and secrecy surrounding Dimona, compare this with zooming around the Earth this, the seriously pixilated official residence of U.S. Vice President Dick Cheney in Washington, D.C.

Go figure.

Ben Wedeman, CNN, Jerusalem.


HOLMES: And it is not just, of course, in Israel. There are state secrets and valuable security information of all kinds of places all sitting right there on your desktop.

Here's Jonathan Mann with some "Insight". JONATHAN MANN, CNN INTERNATIONAL ANCHOR: From the Cuban Missile crisis to North Korean standoff, aerial photography and satellite espionage have been a way for powerful countries to keep track of each other. And what's new now is that anyone can do essentially the same thing.

Teenagers or terrorists with software and satellite pictures can become spies in seconds. Just turn on your computer, open the software offered by Google Earth and you can take a close-up overhead tour of just about anywhere.

We have, for example, a picture of Mumbai, India. That's the port city long known as Bombay.

You can zoom into the docks full of warships and submarines of all kinds. That's the deck of an aircraft carrier.

Nearby, a high security military site. Normally it's fortified gates and guards, people with guns, stop anyone from getting in. But online and overhead, you can see things that no one on the ground can.

India's former president complained that Google Earth is a security threat. He wanted images of sensitive sites like this nuclear installation, for example, to be blurred so that terrorists couldn't use them to plot attacks. That's the concern in Israel, of course.

Also, though, in South Korea, in Russia and in the United States. And the concern is not just theoretical.

In June, four men were charged with plotting an attack on New York's JFK airport. Court documents say they used Google Earth to get detailed images of the airport and help them plan. Earlier this year, a British newspaper also said that Iraqi insurgents were using Google Earth to target their attacks on British bases in the southern city of Basra.

Google has agreed to blur some sensitive images, but it says most are already widely available, including just ordinary things like this high resolution picture of its headquarters in California. The company also points out that none of the images are current. They're all months or even years old. So it's really slow motion spy craft, not quite James Bond. But something to see if you're just surfing the Web.

Back to you.

HOLMES: Amazing.

GORANI: Thank you.

Jonathan Mann with some "Insight" there.

While some governments are concerned about Google, investors clearly are not. HOLMES: Far from it. We'll have a look at what is fuelling investors' love affair with that Internet search engine when we come back.

A look at that.


GORANI: A child soldier in war-torn Sudan turns to music to tell the horrors he lived through.

Stay with us.



HOLMES: Welcome back to our viewers joining us from all around the globe, including at this hour, the United States, as well. This is YOUR WORLD TODAY. I'm Michael Holmes.

GORANI: And I'm Hala Gorani. Here are the top stories we're following.

A big test today for a top Republican running for U.S. president, former Senator Fred Thompson will face his rivals for the first time in a televised debate. Thompson's campaign has been dogged by criticism he entered the race too late, and is short on specifics.

HOLMES: Two women were killed Tuesday in an incident involving what was referred to only as a private Western security firm. Blackwater USA says none of its personnel were involved in this latest shooting. Meanwhile, the Iraqi government is putting more pressure on Blackwater and wants the company to pay $8 million to the families of each of those killed in last month's shootout in the capital.

GORANI: We have reports of heavy fighting in a remote area of northwest Pakistan, a region that's become a safe haven for Taliban and Al Qaeda militants. Pakistan's military has been clashing with those militants in some of the deadliest violence since 2001, in the last 24 hours. Dan Rivers joins us now live via broadband from north Pakistan -- Dan.

DAN RIVERS, CNN INTL. CORRESPONDENT: We're getting reports of really vicious fighting in this border area of north Waziristan. We're getting, also, reports of an air strike. Now, the Pakistan air force is saying they were involved in an air strike on what they call a militant training camp. They claim 50 militants were killed in this operation today in Pakistan. But we've talked to eyewitnesses in the small village of Eppi (ph), which is near Mear Ali (ph), which is one of the regional towns there.

He told us that 70 civilians have been killed and 200 injured after the air strike hit the market in the middle of this village, a bazaar in the middle of the village, saying women and children, up to 15 children were among those killed. And he was very, very worried about the situation there, saying there was ongoing gunfights, as we spoke to him after dark, and that citizens in this small village were trying to flee.

GORANI: All right. Dan Rivers, thank you very much. Live in Islamabad, Pakistan -- Michael.

HOLMES: British jurors who have been retracing Princess Diana's final steps and toured Paris' glitzy Ritz Hotel on Tuesday. As part of a British inquest, they're trying to piece together how the princess and Dodi Fayed died in a car crash over a decade ago.

Monday, they visited the Paris tunnel, of course, where the princess' car crashed after she and Dodi left the Ritz. French and British probes have both dismissed conspiracy theories, including that the driver of Diana's car was drunk and speeding.

GORANI: Angry demonstrators jeered Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad as a dictator, and scuffled with his supporters. It was a very rare protest by students in Tehran, at Tehran University, Monday. Coming just weeks after Mr. Ahmadinejad's rough reception at Columbia University in New York. With the story, here's Zain Verjee.


ZAIN VERJEE, CNN STATE DEPT. CORRESPONDENT: Only weeks after this reception in New York --

LEE BOLLINGER, PRESIDENT, COLUMBIA UNIVERSITY: Mr. President, you exhibit all the signs of a petty and cruel dictator.

VERJEE: It's one thing for the president of a major American university to slam Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, a more surprising one in Tehran, when Iranian students confront their president on home turf there is real risk. A group of 100 students staged a rare public protest, shouting death to the dictator, as he gave a speech. The presence of riot police didn't stop them. An echo of last December's protest when students set his picture on fire and booed him; this latest student protest was rare and its unclear what may have happened to those demonstrators.

TOM CASEY, SPOKESMAN, U.S. STATE DEPT.: The notion that an Iranian citizen would be able to go in a public forum with media present and harshly criticize his government and not expect to wind up in jail, and not expect to bear consequences for it, is simply unheard of.

VERJEE (on camera): Iranian experts say Ahmadinejad is getting more unpopular at home as the economy takes a nose dive and unemployment grows sky high. Zain Verjee, CNN, Washington.


HOLMES: All right. It is official love can break your heart.

GORANI: So to speak, or to put it more scientifically, researchers in Britain have decided that bad marriage can lead to heart disease.

HOLMES: No kidding. The culprit, stress -- this isn't really much of a surprise -- is not good for you, in a bad marriage, or any stressful relationship for that matter produces plenty of stress.

GORANI: Now the study found that out of more than 9,000 people studied, the ones with the worst relationships were more than a third more likely to have a heart attack than those with good ones.

It's not funny. But, I mean, it is -- you can imagine the jokes off the back that have read. But we won't make them. It is serious, because it does lead to heart situations.

HOLMES: Maybe you could file that under "no kidding".

GORANI: Yes, exactly. So, a bad marriage. Does a good divorce then actually make it up?

HOLMES: Make it better? Yeah?

GORANI: I don't know. That's another study.

HOLMES: We could go anywhere with that. All right. Don't go away. Coming up, dealing a swift blow to stereotypes in a country unaccustomed to women's rights.

GORANI: When we come back we'll see how some Afghan girls are exercising their newfound freedoms.

Then, from child soldier to messenger of peace. We'll hear one man's music for the soul.


GORANI: Welcome back, everyone. You are watching YOUR WORLD TODAY and you're with CNN International.

HOLMES: Seen in more than 200 country and territories around the globe and in the United States this hour, as well.

GORANI: Welcome, everyone. Track star Marion Jones has handed back the five medals she won in the 2000 Olympic Games in Sydney.

HOLMES: After years of often strenuous denial, Jones did admit using the steroid THG during training. On Monday, three gold and two bronze medals were turned over to officials. They will now go to the appropriate winners.

GORANI: Now, Jones must turn over any awards she has won since September 2001. The U.S. Olympic Committee will ask for $100,000 in funds Jones has received, as well.

The IAFF is also likely to seek millions more from Jones, who reportedly is broke. Earlier, the U.S. Olympic Committee chairman asked young athletes not to follow in Jones' footsteps.


PETER UEBERROTH, CHAIRMAN, U.S. OLYMPIC COMMITTEE: A message for all the youngsters competing in sports; 99 percent of the Olympic athletes compete clean. We are committed that the 1 percent will be eliminated from our future competition. And that's a message to the young people who compete in sports all over our country.


HOLMES: Massive story and, of course, also important that the other team members in her relay team will lose their medals, too.

GORANI: Yes, in the relay team. Absolutely. So, does this go now to the silver medalists?

HOLMES: It does. Everyone moves up. You want one more piece of irony. I was talking to one of our sports guys earlier. The person that came second to Marion Jones, in Sydney, in the 100 meters was the Greek athlete, who was then in trouble in 2004 for missing a drug test.

GORANI: So, does it go to the bronze medalist?

HOLMES: I don't know, I guess she still gets --

GORANI: What happens if the three are eliminated? Can we get one?

HOLMES: Really. Hand them out.

Let's move on now. A best-selling novel an award-winning director, a Hollywood epic set in a war zone. The film "The Kite Runner" has it all.

GORANI: Early reviews of the film are positive, but it turns out the young actors from Afghanistan, who play key roles in the movie might be in danger. The film company says it's pulling those youngsters out of the country and delaying the film's release.

HOLMES: At CNN we've decided to blur a couple of pictures of those young actors because of all of this. Here's CNN's Kareen Wynter.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: What happened to the boy?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The Taliban took him.

KAREEN WYNTER, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice over): The "Kite Runner" hasn't even hit the big screen yet and the movie has already been grounded, the release date has been pushed back out of growing safety concerns for some of the young lead characters.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I dream that flowers will bloom in the streets again. WYNTER: One of them a 12-year-old boy named Ahmad (ph), from Afghanistan, who was cast in a brief, but graphic rape scene, a role he recently told us he was uncomfortable playing.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE (through translator): I was just scared for a few minutes.

WYNTER: The cultural implications of the boy from Afghanistan being raped could result in a violent backlash against his family. The movie's director, along with the author of the best-selling book that inspired it, addressed controversy in this exclusive interview with CNN.

MARC FORSTER, DIRECTOR: There's basically -- you know, there's no nudity or anything of that. So, it's just shown in an impressionistic (ph) way that people understand what happened. But in that sense, that's all really what you see.

WYNTER: Ahmad's (ph) family told CNN they would have pulled their son out of the movie, had they known he had to play a rape victim. The film, set in Kabul, Afghanistan, is about two boys, their friendship, and the final days of Afghanistan's monarchy, to the brutality of the Taliban era.

But it's a rape scene that is getting all the buzz. So much so that the studio is moving Ahmad's (ph) family from his homeland and relocating two other young actors out of Afghanistan before the movie's release.

FORSTER: We want the children to be safe. We love them and even if it's commercially not the best for the film to push it back, I think the main thing is that the children are safe.

KHALED HOSSEINI, AUTHOR: Yes. It's of paramount importance that these kids who have played these characters, and who have given these amazing performances that they're looked after, they're cared for and they're safe.

WYNTER: "The Kite Runner" was scheduled to debut in theaters November 2nd. Now it won't be released until the middle of December. The movie's director hopes this six-week delay won't take the wind out of the highly anticipated film, clouded in so much controversy.

Kareen Wynter, CNN, Hollywood.


GORANI: Well from the big screen to the boxing arena, here is something else you would never see under the Taliban.

HOLMES: There's some Afghan girls pulling on gloves, hoping to punch their way to the top of one international sport.

GORANI: Lindsay Janice has our story.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE) UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE (voice over): Boxing is consider a macho sport even in the most liberal countries. So, imagine what these female boxers are up against in Afghanistan. The young athletes hope to represent their country one day on the international stage, they need extra determination.

SHABNAM RAHIMI, BOXER (through translator): There are restrictions. Many people are trying to stop us from playing sports. But I think if you're interested in doing something, you should avoid what people think about you.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Shabnam says she became intrigued by the sport after seeing a professional fight on television.

RAHIMI (through translator) I was very interested in boxing and also I have the support of my family. They wanted me to become a good boxer and a champion. That is why I took up boxing.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Under the Taliban, women were unable to leave the house in most circumstances. And most sports were banned. The extremist rulers had a different idea of a spectator event, using this venue for public executions. And 15-year-old Sadaf takes her inspiration from Muhammad Ali's daughter.

SADAF (through translator): I know Leila Ali. She is my favorite female boxer. I want to become a boxer.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Just a few years ago, these women could not walk in public without a male relative by their side. It was considered satanic to allow them to drive. Now, they risk the dangers of Kabul to get to the gym three times a week.

Their coach hopes to take some of the girls all the way to the top of the sport.

MOHAMMAD SABER SARIFI, BOXING COACH (through translator): We have many talented boxers and our aim is to pick the best from them and make a national team, so they can participate in national and international competitions.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Proud of their passion, they are the first Afghan women ever to put on boxing gloves, a strong symbol of their desire for equality in every arena. Lindsay Janice, CNN, London.


GORANI: Well, inundated as we are every single day with pop culture and media, sometimes it's easy to think that that's where all of life's heroes come from, depending on how you define a hero, of course.

HOLMES: Right. They're not real heroes. And the stars and entertainers have role models of their own, by the way. Robert Duvall, you've heard that name, an award-winning actor and producer, his film "We Own the Night" premieres later this week.

GORANI: Earlier, Duvall told us how two of his heroes are changing the lives of women in Latin America.


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Whenever you're ready.

ROBERT DUVALL, ACTOR: So many of the heroes stories are people that aren't famous. Individual heroes, like these two women that started Pro Mujare, Pro For Women. And they should be greatly commended for the work they've done.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: In Latin America, women are really second- class citizens. They work in their communities. They raise children. They keep home. They're not given credit for everything they do.

DUVALL: Women are so drown trodden in some of these societies. So we try to help it anyway we can.

I'm Robert Duvall. My heroes give credit to the women of Latin America.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Pro Mujare is so much more than just a microfinance organization. We're available to offer credit to first- time borrowers because of a peer group guarantee. Women form groups of people know. If one of the groups is not able to repay their loans, the rest are responsible for helping her make that payment.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: They don't repay only because they want to repay. They don't want to fail their neighbors. They don't want to fail their friends.

DUVALL: And as they began to progress, even the husbands would hit them sometimes, so jealous and envious. But if they don't have a mate that's responsible, they have to step up to bring the family up to a certain level of dignity.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: As women show that they bring income to the family, we see women's partners giving them more respect.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: When we invest in women, we're investing in the future of their families, who are investing in social development. We can show investors that if they put their money in Pro Mujare they're making a difference in the lives of a very poor population in Latin America.

DUVALL: These two ladies are true heroes to everybody who comes in contact with them. Because of Pro Mujer, those women were allowed to help their families and their own self esteem. They started something wonderful, and it's working.


GORANI: Well, you can learn more about Robert Duvall's heroic women at our Web site,

HOLMES: While you are there you can also vote for the CNN who has impressed you most. The viewers' choice will be honored during a special global broadcast, that is going to be live on December 6th.

OK, music with a message.

GORANI: Next on YOUR WORLD TODAY, a former African child soldier with a troubled past turns to music to heal and, he says, to forgive. Stay with us.



UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Believe me, California roads need some improvement. It was a bouncy, scary, tense ride up here. I lost at least a year off my life with the bouncing.


HOLMES: That's Oregon farmer Thad Star talking about his bumpy, but lucrative trip to California, where he won more than $9,000 for growing the biggest pumpkin.

GORANI: Yes, that is a pumpkin. It weighed in at more than 1,500 pounds; 693 kilos. So, how do they grow them so big on Star's farm? He says he fed this one coffee to help it grow. I've heard that about putting caffeine in plants. Try doing it myself, somehow it doesn't work out as well.

HOLMES: I can see it now. There's going to be an investigation and there will be an admission, and then there will be handing back of the money.

GORANI: The handing back of the pumpkin medal.

HOLMES: The Marion Jones of medals -- of pumpkins. No, I'm kidding. Great pumpkin.

GORANI: All right.

HOLMES: All right. Welcome back. Some consider him Kenya's hottest rap artist.

GORANI: But before he became that, Emanuel Jal was a war child. Really a mere boy, carrying a gun as a conscripted soldier in the Sudan's People's Liberation Army.

HOLMES: Today, he not only carries a tune, but a message of peace. Here is Jill Dougherty.


EMMANUEL JAL, AFRICAN RAP STAR: I was forced to sing to make a living.

JILL DOUGHERTY, CNN U.S. AFFAIRS EDITOR (voice over): His lyrics are violent, murder, rape, even cannibalism.

JAL: I was born in the most difficult times, when my country was at war. I was forced to be a war child. I'm a war child

DOUGHERTY: But listen more closely as Emmanuel Jal tells the story of his life.

JAL: The reason I was here, (UNINTELLIGIBLE) was so many people died that I don't even cry no more.

DOUGHERTY: Emmanuel Jal was born in southern Sudan. At the age of nine he became a child soldier during his country's civil wars, in which an estimated 2 million people died. There were thousands of others like him, the so-called "lost boys".

JAL: Advocate their heart of bitterness, you want to know who raped your mother. You want to know who killed -- who killed -- your family, who destroyed your cattle. All of us have that bitterness. We wanted to fight.

DOUGHERTY: So, how does Emmanuel Jal, now about 27 -- he's not sure how old he really is -- how does he end up on stage at a concert in Washington, D.C.?


DOUGHERTY: Rescued by British aid worker Emma McKuen (ph), Emmanuel Jal began singing in church, where he says he found hope.

JAL: Music is the only thing that can enter your system, your mind, your heart without your permission. And it's something that -- it's a food for people's soul and it heals.

DOUGHERTY: His music now hits the charts in Africa and Europe.

(On camera): Emmanuel Jal has started a foundation to help other young people. This concert tour is aimed at raising money to build schools in Africa.

(Voice over): He once wanted to kill as many people as possible. But he says he allowed himself to open his heart.

JAL: And it helped me overcome the bitterness, so I managed to forgive.

DOUGHERTY: But for Emmanuel Jal, the wars won't be over until children are no longer fighting them. Jill Dougherty, CNN, Washington.


GORANI: All right. Well, that will do it for this hour of YOUR WORLD TODAY. Thanks for watching. I'm Hala Gorani.

HOLMES: And I'm Michael Holmes. This is CNN.