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Myanmar Refugees Trek Through Jungle to Seek Medical Help in Thailand; Laura Bush: Military Junta Must "Step Aside"; Pakistani Troops Battle Militants

Aired October 10, 2007 - 12:00   ET


MICHAEL HOLMES, CNN INTERNATIONAL ANCHOR: A desperate journey. Myanmar refugees trek through jungle to seek safety and medical help in Thailand as reports detail the severity of the government's crackdown.
HALA GORANI, CNN INTERNATIONAL ANCHOR: Tensions on the border. Turkey waits for parliament's approval on a military offensive on Kurdish rebels in northern Iraq.

HOLMES: And the picket line. Tens of thousands of U.S. Chrysler auto workers walk off the job after labor talks fail.

GORANI: And the Republican candidates debate, but all eyes are on a former actor and a relative newcomer to the U.S. presidential race.

It is 7:00 p.m. in Ankara, Turkey, and in Baghdad.

Hello and welcome. Our report is broadcast around the globe this hour.

I'm Hala Gorani.

HOLMES: And I'm Michael Holmes.

From Yangon to Washington, wherever you're watching, this is YOUR WORLD TODAY.

GORANI: Well, new reports are emerging of the brutality that is taking place in Myanmar as world diplomats weigh a response to the military regime's deadly crackdown on protesters.

HOLMES: Even the United States first lady is speaking out. Her message, "The time for a free Burma is now."

GORANI: Well, we'll have that in a minute but, first, these developments.

A Thailand-based opposition group says a dissident has died while being interrogated by security forces. It also says officials are threatening dissidents' relatives, trying to find out who took part in anti-junta protests.

HOLMES: The United Nations Security Council, meanwhile, is reviewing a statement that "strongly deplores" the crackdown in Myanmar. China blocked any tougher language than that.

GORANI: And the party of democracy icon, Aung San Suu Kyi, suggests that it would be open to talks with the junta, but without preset conditions.

HOLMES: Myanmar says 10 people were killed when troops shot at protesters to disperse them last month, but other reports put the number in the hundreds, with thousands more being arrested. Even before the recent violence, life under the iron-fisted regime has been extremely harsh for many people.

Matthew Chance follows the dangerous journey some families make desperate to find better conditions across the border.


MATTHEW CHANCE, CNN SR. INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT (voice over): Little baby Coco (ph) is just 8 months old. He may not survive a whole year. Ravaged by pneumonia, doctors say he's clinging to life. His twin brother Nini (ph) already died.

For three long days, his desperate mother trekked through Myanmar's jungle searching for this clinic in Thailand hoping to save her last son. "I was terrified we'd never get here," she told us. "If it weren't for this place, he wouldn't stand a chance," she says.

Nor would so many other sons and daughters in need who make the dangerous journey across the border from impoverished Myanmar.

(on camera): With nowhere to get even basic medical care in their own country, for many people in Myanmar, this Thai clinic is their only hope. Doctors say hundreds come across every day to receive medical treatment, victims of poverty, disease, and apartheid.

(voice over): Prosthetic limbs for amputees are made on site at the clinic. So high is demand from Myanmar's landmine-infested borders, farmers like 28-year-old Pu Lee (ph), caught up in a decades- old ethnic civil war, have paid a terrible price.

Human rights groups accuse Myanmar's military of mining areas it wants to depopulate. "Since my legs were blown off, others in my village are so scared," he tells us, "but they still farm the land. If they didn't, we'd starve."

Every face here seems worn with hardship, but it's not hopeless.

DR. CYNTHIA MAUNG, FOUNDER, MAE TAO CLINIC: This woman came up from Burma to medical service.

CHANCE: Dr. Cynthia Maung founded this clinic in 1989 and says she's determined to keep on helping, especially as public health in Myanmar, she says, is getting worse.

(on camera): Malaria, war casualties...

MAUNG: Nutrition. CHANCE: ... nutrition problems.

MAUNG: And HIV-AIDS and reproductive help.

CHANCE: What would the people do who you treat if it weren't for this clinic?

MAUNG: If they could not come here they would die at home.

CHANCE (voice over): Die in crackdowns or offensives at the hands of Myanmar's military or simply of neglect.

Matthew Chance, CNN, on the Thai-Myanmar border.


GORANI: Well, the wife of U.S. President George Bush is fairly silent on foreign affairs, usually leaving policy to her husband. But the situation in Myanmar stirred her to write a newspaper op-ed demanding that the military rulers of the country formerly known as Burma step aside.

Let's bring in White House Correspondent Ed Henry for details.

Why is the first lady expressing herself publicly on Myanmar, Ed?

ED HENRY, CNN WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: Well, it's very interesting, Hala.

Just a few moments ago, the president was on the south lawn of the White House here. My colleague, Suzanne Malveaux, shouted a question to him asking him what he thought about his wife's op-ed in "The Wall Street Journal" today on Myanmar, and he gave a spirited thumbs up. And that's interesting, because whenever we shout a question to the president, he almost always glares at us, he almost never answers a question.

He doesn't like that when reporters shout at him. But in this case, his positive reaction shows why the first lady is getting involved here.

It's quite simple. The president's own credibility on foreign policy has obviously taken a hit, in large part because of the war in Iraq, and it's of great political benefit for this White House to have someone with a softer image, First Lady Laura Bush, weighing in on such a critical foreign policy matter.

And in this op-ed today, the first lady blasted the junta's shameful response, in her words, saying that they were "brutalizing, terrorizing and arresting the monks". She also revealed Mr. Bush is preparing further U.S. sanctions against the dictatorship and said, "General Than Shwe and his deputies are a friendless regime. They should step aside to make way for a unified Burma governed by legitimate leaders."

Now, this is not the first time the first lady has weighed in on foreign policy matters. She has obviously traveled extensively to Africa in particular, trying to bring attention to that continent on the issues of AIDS, malaria, and others.

And when I asked White House spokeswoman Dana Perino this morning whether we might see the first lady out more often, getting involved in foreign policy, she noted that later this month she's heading to the Middle East, obviously a very, very important region -- Hala.

GORANI: All right. And we're going to be speaking with the chief of staff to Laura Bush, Anita McBride, a bit later regarding the first lady's statements on Myanmar, but I need to ask you about the president's stance on whether or not he feels the Turkish treatment of Armenians at the beginning of the 20th century should be labeled "genocide".

The House thinks so. He doesn't. Why not?

HENRY: He does not. The U.S. House, as you noted, is voting on this today, and there's been a full-court press this morning from this White House.

First, we had Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice and Defense Secretary Robert Gates come out to the driveway here at the White House, something they almost never do, to blast this resolution, saying this would not be helpful. And then the president himself made some brief remarks on the south lawn, basically saying that this would not be helpful, that in particular it's angering Turkey, a key U.S. ally in the Mideast, obviously.

And so the White House saying that obviously they believe hundreds of thousands of Armenians were, in fact, killed in 1915. They do not think it's a good idea for the U.S. Congress to go on record right now, many years later, especially at such a sensitive time in the Mideast -- Hala.

GORANI: Absolutely. And Turkey a very important American ally in the region as well.

Thank you very much, Ed Henry, at the White House, as always.

HOLMES: That word, "genocide," is a very, very serious word, and the Turks are terrified it's going to get used in any official capacity, because they deny there was a genocide. They say hundreds of thousands of Turks or tens of thousands of Turks were killed.

GORANI: At the same time, that this was a result not necessarily of an organized campaign to kill Armenians inside of Turkey but as a result of displacement, disease, and other things. But a very hot button issue in Turkey.

HOLMES: Exactly. But there are also those who say that the past should not be denied and that this needs to be discussed and it needs to be out there.


HOLMES: And that these people did die.

GORANI: This was 100 years ago and to this day still creating very hot debate.

HOLMES: And right now politics playing a big role in all of this.

GORANI: Absolutely, as politics often do.

Let's check some other stories making news around the world, Michael.


HOLMES: And the Pakistani army has reportedly halted its attack near the Afghan border for now to give people time to go to funerals. The region is considered a haven for al Qaeda and Taliban militants.

Fighting broke out there, you may remember, on Saturday. It was followed by a massive army air strike yesterday. Hundreds of people have been killed.

Here's Dan Rivers.


DAN RIVERS, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT (voice over): Photos are emerging from north Waziristan, apparently showing civilians fleeing the latest fighting. Locals have told CNN there are fierce gun battles, and an air strike on a market has left scores dead.

Pakistan's army tells a different story. The other photos show soldiers burying their dead, with military sources insisting they haven't killed any civilians, that only militants have been targeted.

SAMINA AHMED, INTERNATIONAL CRISIS GROUP: The conflict has certainly escalated in the past few days from the tit-for-tat attacks, the militants attacking the security agencies, and the security agencies hitting back. It seems now that the conflict is spinning out of control.

RIVERS: North Waziristan is in the lawless tribal area between Pakistan and Afghanistan, next to the northwest Frontier province. It's a possible hideout of Osama bin Laden, home to Pashtun tribes who have resisted outside interference for hundreds of years.

The Pakistan army went back into the area in July after an earlier cease-fire deal broke down. The U.S. became concerned Taliban forces from Afghanistan were regrouping there. Using helicopter gunships, fighter planes, and thousands of soldiers, the Pakistan army has been trying to reassert its authority.

Mohammed Yousef is a former Pakistan intelligence official who has dealt with tribesmen on both side of the border.

BRIG. MOHAMMED YOUSEF, FMR. PAKISTANI INTELLIGENCE OFFICER: They are basically fighters. They don't believe in offering the other (INAUDIBLE). If you kill an innocent family or a member of an innocent family, you have created five enemies.

RIVERS: The violence comes as Pakistan's president, Pervez Musharraf, has been struggling with a political crisis. His re- election on Saturday was boycotted by the opposition.

With the number of civilian casualties growing each day in north Waziristan, General Musharraf's enemies are becoming infuriated. It's a volatile situation being watched closely by the West.

(on camera): You don't need to look far to find evidence of the strategic importance of this nation down the centuries. And today, Pakistan is still a crucial ally of the United States, which is becoming increasingly concerned about the instability that seems to be enveloping this country.

(voice over): Many fear the army's strong-arm tactics will only breed more extremism and provoke more anger along its mountainous border areas.

Dan Rivers, CNN, on the border with the northwest Frontier province, Pakistan.


GORANI: A short break on YOUR WORLD TODAY.

When we come back, are the drums of war beating in Turkey?

HOLMES: Just ahead on YOUR WORLD TODAY, fears that the conflict in Iraq could get even worse if Turkey's government gets the approval it is seeking.

GORANI: And a second major strike for an American auto maker. It's looming. Chrysler fails to come to an agreement with its union and workers are walking off the job.

Stay with us.


GORANI: Welcome back, everyone. You're with CNN International. This is YOUR WORLD TODAY.

We're seen all over the world. A special welcome this hour to our viewers in the U.S.

Turkey's military is ready for action, poised on the border with Iraq while the government seeks approval for an attack on Kurdish rebels in the northern part of Iraq which borders, of course, the southern part of Turkey. Turkey has fought the rebel group known as the PKK for more than two decades, but many fear an attack now will destabilize one of the few relatively peaceful, relatively stable areas left in Iraq.

Paula Hancocks has our story.


PAULA HANCOCKS, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT (voice over): Turkey's military is getting into position. The personnel and the arsenal are on the border with Iraq, ready for a cross-border attack into northern Iraq where PKK rebels are hiding out.

Residents of a Kurdish village on the Iraqi side of the border claim Turkey's shelling has already begun. No official word from the government. Residents on the Turkish side are just as anxious about the military buildup they are seeing.

"Our brothers, uncles, fathers get killed because of this war. We don't want Turkey to enter northern Iraq. The only way to solve this problem is for Turks and Kurds to come together and find a way out."

The PKK has been fighting for autonomy in southeastern Turkey for more than 20 years. Turkey, the U.S., and the EU consider it a terrorist organization.

Much of the fighting has been focused on the border between Turkey and Iraq. Turkey claims some 3,000 PKK fighters are using northern Iraq as a launching pad for its attacks. The most recent hitting the province of Sirnak.

But the message from Iraq and the United States is wait.

SAMIR SHAKIR MAHMOUD AL-SUMAIDAIE, IRAQI AMBASSADOR TO U.S.: Iraq is a sovereign country and we cannot accept people walking in whenever they feel like it.

SEAN MCCORMACK, STATE DEPT. SPOKESMAN: In our view, it is not going to lead to a long-term durable solution to have -- to have significant incursions from Turkey into Iraq.

HANCOCKS: The deaths of 29 Turkish soldiers and civilians in the past two weeks at the hands of the PKK has put pressure on the Turkish government to respond.

FADI HAKURA, TURKEY ANALYST: This time around the instructions are very clear, the rhetoric is very clear. The Turkish government has given strong orders to the Turkish state institutions, including the military, to prepare for such an attack. And this time, also, unlike in the past, they're sending a resolution to parliament to approve a cross-border operation which shows how serious the Turkish government is taking this.

HANCOCKS: Analysts say Prime Minister Tayyip Erdogan could take the vote to parliament as early as Sunday.

Paula Hancocks, CNN, London.


HOLMES: All right. Well, as you might imagine, Iraq's government watching developments in Turkey with some increasing alarm.

For more on the reaction in Baghdad, we're joined by our senior international correspondent, Nic Robertson, coming live from there.

And Nic, you've spent a lot of time out there. How much of a concern is all of this to the Kurds in Iraq? And what is the perspective of the Turks over all of this?

NIC ROBERTSON, CNN SR. INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, there's extreme concern, Michael, because if this was to happen, if there was to be a large-scale incursion by Turkey, it could potentially destabilize the Kurdish area in the north of Iraq. It's been very stable. It's a model of sort of business and economic success, where the rest of Iraq has sort of fallen into war, into fighting, into violence over the past few years. And that stability in the north would be threatened.

Now, the Iraqi government made a deal just over a few weeks ago with the Turkish government that they would cooperate on security issues, but that deal didn't go so far as to allow the Turks incursion into Iraq. And that would be a concern for not only the Iraqi government, but an extreme concern for the Kurdish sort of semiautonomous region in the north. They have their own government there, and this would anger Kurdish popular opinion at a time. But it doesn't mean that this is necessarily going to happen -- Michael.

HOLMES: As the war continues in Iraq, it's no secret that the U.S. needs Turkish cooperation to get planes and the like into Iraq. Tell us more about western interests and why this is so important. It's not just the Iraq war.

ROBERTSON: Well, no, it's not just the Iraq war. There are oil fields in the north of Iraq in the Kurdish area. These essentially are going to be the machines, the mechanism through which Iraq is going to be able to rebuild itself.

Protecting those oil fields, protecting the stability in that area is very important to the United States, because if those oil fields and the economy in the north and potentially the rebuilding of the economy in the south are badly hit, then the United States at the moment carries a lot of that rebuilding bill, if you will. But the things that mitigate against the Kurds and the Turks getting involved in a fight here is that perhaps leaders in the Kurdish area of Iraq will be convinced by persuasion from the United States that it's not in their interests to support the PKK's cross-border actions to curtail the actions of the PKK -- Michael.

HOLMES: All right.

Nic Robertson live in Baghdad.

Thanks, Nic -- Hala.

GORANI: All right. Well, Michael, we have this just in. Another setback for the plane maker Boeing. It hoped it would take it into the new age of aviation, this model. The airplane manufacturer is going to delay though delivery of its 787 Dreamliner by six months.

Airbus had its problems in the past. Now it's Boeing's turn, it seems.

It says that it faces continuing challenges in completing assembly of the first jet, so deliveries that had been scheduled to begin next May will be pushed back to late November or December of '08. The expected first flight of the plane already was pushed back once and now is anticipated for early next year.

Boeing stock took a hit this morning, but it says the move shouldn't affect earnings for the year.

HOLMES: All right. We'll keep an eye on that story.

Meanwhile, coming up, a showdown in Motown.

GORANI: Autoworkers at Chrysler walk off the job.

HOLMES: Yes. That's when contract negotiations between the union and management sputtered to a halt in Detroit.

We'll have a report coming up on YOUR WORLD TODAY.

GORANI: And we're going to be speaking with the chief of staff to Laura Bush about the first lady's remarks on Myanmar.

Stay with us. You're with YOUR WORLD TODAY.



GORANI: Welcome back, everyone. This is YOUR WORLD TODAY. I'm Hala Gorani.

HOLMES: And I'm Michael Holmes. Let's update you on the top stories to the minute.

Turkey's ruling party is asking parliament to approve cross- border military action into northern Iraq. The goal, to go after Kurdish rebel bases. PKK rebels have been crossing into Turkey staging attacks and then slipping back to save havens in Iraq. Iraqi officials called on Turkey not to enter its territory.

GORANI: President Bush fears that a resolution before Congress could further strain ties with Turkey at a very crucial time. A nonbinding resolution before a House panel would condemn the killings of Armenians during World War I, and call it genocide. Turkey acknowledges that killings took place during the collapse of the Ottoman Empire but denies it was a matter of organized government policy. President Bush's wife, Laura, is speaking out on the deadly crackdowns on protesters in Myanmar. In an op-ed piece, she called on the military junta to "step aside", in her words, and make way for democracy. This comes as the U.N. Security Council considers a statement that, quote, "strongly deplores" the violence by Myanmar's regime.

GORANI: All right. We can speak now to the chief of staff to Laura Bush, Anita McBride, who joins us now live on YOUR WORLD TODAY.

Ms. McBride, thanks for being with us. Why is the first lady speaking out on Myanmar today?

ANITA MCBRIDE, CHIEF OF STAFF TO LAURA BUSH: Mrs. Bush cares very much about this issue. It's a human rights issue. It's a democracy issue. This administration is about freedom and democracy, but she has cared about the Burmese people and Burma for several years now.

She read the book "Freedom From Fear" about Aung San Suu Kyi, and she has really been quite concerned about the human rights abuses in that country, which now have gotten so much worse, since just August of this year, with this recent crackdown.

GORANI: Now what some would say is Mrs. Bush's speaking out about the country formerly known as Burma, now Myanmar, but there are other countries that are U.S. allies, for instance, Saudi Arabia, that are not at all democratic. Why choose one country over another?

MCBRIDE: Well, Mrs. Bush has spoken out on human rights issues, women's issues, on many countries. She is very actively involved in issues of women in Afghanistan, education for women and young girls, particularly in Africa, and some of the other global issues that affect the people of that nation, as they struggle to go from developing to developed world. So she has spoken out on a number much human rights issues.

GORANI: And other analysts, Anita, are saying well, this is a way for Mrs. Bush, perhaps, to help her husband, who doesn't have the best credibility rating and popularity polls regarding his foreign policy plans and strategies. Is that the case?

MCBRIDE: Well, these are the president's issues, freedom and democracy around the world are the hallmark of his administration. And Mrs. Bush is able to use, and wants to use, her platform as first lady to be able to speak about issues that she cares about. And she has a background in, credibility, education, in particular, so I think this is an effort and opportunity to use her role in support of the president's administration.

GORANI: You know, this show, YOUR WORLD TODAY, is seen all over the world, as you know, Anita McBride. It's seen in Asia.


GORANI: It's seen also in the Middle East. MCBRIDE: Correct.

GORANI: Now the president is very unpopular in the Middle East. His policies are not viewed favorably. And we understand the first lady is traveling to that region this month. What is the purpose of that visit?

MCBRIDE: Well, the purpose of that visit to the Middle East is on an issue Mrs. Bush helped to announce, a partnership, a breast cancer partnership between the U.S. State Department, the Komen foundation, M.D. Anderson, with several nations in the Middle East that have agreed to take on this partnership, to raise awareness about breast cancer and the education for people about breast cancer.

You know, we are 25 years now into the process of educating people in our country about breast cancer and that is not the case in many places around the world. There still is the shame and the stigma and this partnership is really addressing that issue. And it's an opportunity to talk about a global health issue that she cares about, and has been associated with for many years.

GORANI: Understood. Well, it would be difficult for the first lady to go to the Middle East and for politics to be completely overlooked, or ignored in her visit. Is she going to make any statements or will she visit any political leaders during that visit?

MCBRIDE: Well, certainly, and any visit of this type when a first lady is a high-ranking member, of course, of the U.S. -- she's not an official member of the government, but obviously representing the president. There will be leaders of those nations that will want to see her, and will welcome her, of course, as a courtesy and as a visit that would be customary in a visit of this level.

GORANI: She is visiting Saudi Arabia, Jordan, and we understand the UAE, are those the three countries?

MCBRIDE: And we haven't officially announced all of the countries, still working some of the issues on schedule for some of the partnership countries, but those are some that we are definitely going to be looking at, of course.

GORANI: All right. Anita McBride, the chief of staff to Laura Bush. Thanks so much for being on YOUR WORLD TODAY.

MCBRIDE: Thank you for having me. Thank you.

HOLMES: All right. When it comes to the leadership in Iran, the French, President Nicolas Sarkozy, apparently believes Vladimir Putin. He is asking his Russian counterpart to help convince Iran it is going in the wrong direction with its nuclear program. Jim Bittermann has more on that.


JIM BITTERMANN, CNN INTL. CORRESPONDENT (voice over): French President Nicolas Sarkozy is known for his powers of persuasion, so this is a chance to put them to the test on an international level. With Russian President Vladimir Putin just days away from a visit to Iran, Sarkozy hoped to convince him to adopt the West's tougher line on the dangers of Iran's nuclear program. But the Russian was apparently not buying it.

VLADIMIR PUTIN, PRESIDENT OF RUSSIA (through translator): We do not have proof indicating that Iran is pursuing a nuclear weapons program. We do not have such objective data. That is why we proceed from the assumption that Iran has no such plans.

BITTERMANN: About all Putin would say is the Iranians have to be more open about their nuclear program and the pair also didn't seem to make much progress bridging their disagreements about freedom for Kosovo, which Putin opposes. Still, Sarkozy told journalists France wanted to be a privileged partner of Russia and that his visit will lead to closer economic ties.

NICOLAS SARKOZY, PRESIDENT OF FRANCE (through translator): France's policy is transparency and reciprocity. Transparency, because that's the market. Reciprocity because it is, after all, normal for our Russian friends to wish to enter the capital of a certain number of French companies.

BITTERMANN: Back in France analysts say the new French president is trying to carve out his own foreign policy path, but he's finding international leaders a lot harder to deal with than those back home.

THOMAS GOMART, FRENCH INST. FOR INTL. RELATIONS: Sarkozy starts sort of international experience, but I think that is, yes, the energy he has in domestic terms cannot be translated on the -- for international affairs. That's another business.

BITTERMANN: And among Sarkozy's countrymen, there is some skepticism that confrontation with Putin is the best approach.

ARASH ATTAR, LAWYER: No, I really think it's dangerous. I think in every debate you need to express their opinions, but you have to be able to listen as well.

LOUSIN MEHRABI, BROKER: I don't like any country teaching or ruling the world as the U.S. is doing at the moment. But I think it's good to be open to talk to other countries and other nations.

BITTERMANN (on camera): One commentator says that Sarkozy seems to be borrowing a page out of the foreign policy playbook of Germany and other countries, maintaining a hard line against some of Moscow's policies, while avoiding any change in the basic elements of bilateral relations, especially the economic ones. Jim Bittermann, CNN, Paris.


GORANI: All right. A lot more ahead on YOUR WORLD TODAY.

HOLMES: Including when we come back, we're going to look into the issue of troops recruitment numbers in the United States. The impact of the war in Iraq is having on that. (COMMERCIAL BREAK)

Welcome back to YOUR WORLD TODAY. With commitments all around the world, the U.S. military is stretched pretty thin. No secret there. Recruitment, of course, becomes a critical issue for the Pentagon. Barbara Starr joins us now with a report card on the U.S. military's recruitment efforts.

And what's been the impact of the Iraq war on all of that, Barbara?

BARBARA STARR, CNN PENTAGON CORRESPONDENT: Well, Michael, you know some days at the Pentagon you're really surprised by what comes out of the mouths of top officials. And today was one of those days.

A very routine press conference. The Pentagon was set to announce that it made its recruiting goals for 2007, in all the services, in all categories. And that, of course, is good news with the military. With the war in Iraq there had been a lot of concern that maybe they weren't recruiting as many people as they needed.

But the cost of recruiting these people, of course, has gone up. Families are very concerned, we are told. There's a lot of worry about family support for the troops, as they see their loved ones go off for second, third, and fourth tours of duty. So, the Army, for example, says it's going to spend $100 million a year extra on family support programs, all pretty routine stuff.

Then the press conference got interesting. A top official said that they are, indeed, granting the waivers that some people who may have criminal records so they can join the military despite perhaps their youthful indiscretions, because they need these people. And a lot of them have youthful drug use records.

And so the official was asked, what about all of that? How are recruiters handling it right now, when they come across people with drug records that want to join the military? Here is what he had to say, Michael.


DAVID CHU, UNDER SECY. OF DEFENSE, PERSONNEL: One of the questions they ask about is, did you ever use marijuana? If I remember correctly, correct me if I'm wrong. In the Marine Corps if you answered yes about one use, about one use, it requires a waiver. That's a pretty tough standard. Not to be cheeky about this, but if we apply that standard to our legislative overseers, a significant faction would need waivers to join the United States military.


STARR: So, yeah, Michael, you heard him right. Top U.S. Pentagon official saying that a significant number of members of Congress that oversee the U.S. military, and that's dozens of senators, perhaps even hundreds of congressmen would have to get a waiver for youthful drug use, in order to join the military. We asked Dr. Chu did he have any evidence to support that allegation. He said, well, Congress is a cross-section of American society and that's why he believes what he said is true, but there's no real evidence, no firm evidence at this point to support what this official said today here, Michael.

HOLMES: Educated guess, perhaps. Barbara Starr, thanks. We'll see what happens with those numbers now.


GORANI: Well, Richard Quest, who does quite a bit of traveling around the world, happens to be in East Timor on a story right now. But we'd like to talk to him about this announced delay of the 787 Boeing Dreamliner, a six-month production delay. This is the second one, we understand.

Richard, can you hear me?

RICHARD QUEST, CNN INTL. CORRESPONDENT: I can loud and clear. Hello, good morning to you all.

GORANI: Good morning or good afternoon.

Why is this significant? Is it significant? Is it unusual that Boeing or a plane maker such as Boeing or Airbus announces a six-month delay?

QUEST: In any other situation, no, it would not be in the slightest bit unusual. But in this case, absolutely. Because when Boeing released the Dreamliner to the public on the 787, earlier this year, they were adamant that despite the fact that the plane used new technology, despite the fact it was composite, despite the fact it was requiring of great testing, and they had only allowed about six or seven months. They were adamant they could meet May's delivery deadline to ANA of Japan.

And everybody said, you can't! You can't! You can't! Boeing stubbornly stuck to that fact. Well, guess what? They've sold 800 of these planes, and they can't meet the delivery. And that's why this is significant. This is not Airbus with the A380. This is Boeing basically getting its comeuppance for what it said it could do.

GORANI: Now let's put this within the context of international competition, Richard. Let's put this within the context of the Boeing/Airbus rivalry. How does it impact that?

QUEST: Well, from Boeing's point of view it's very embarrassing. Let's get that straight out of the way. There's no getting away from it. This is their prestige project. They said to everybody we can test it within this period of time. And they've been found to back track. They haven't even flown it yet. Remember that Hala, this thing hasn't even left the ground. And they were trumpeting they were going to hand it over to ANA in May.

On the question of damages, if this six-month delay goes any longer, well, their delivery backlog is huge. I've just got the numbers in front of me. They've sold 700 of them. Airbus has only sold 150-odd of the A380, the super jumbo. So the cost could become huge if this six-month delay becomes nine months, 12 months, 16 months, and on ward. Airlines want this plane, and they're going to be very angry about this delay.

GORANI: All right. We'll keep following the story. Thank you, Richard Quest reporting to us there, with some analysis, on the six- month production delivery delay announced by Boeing for its 787 Dreamliner.

A lot more ahead after this.


HOLMES: Let's return now to the increasing tensions between Turkey and Iraq. Turkey's ruling party wanting the parliament to approve a cross-border offensive into northern Iraq, in order to chase Kurdish rebels. Ankara accuses the PKK rebels of staging deadly attacks on its soldiers.

Journalist Andrew Finkle has a lot of experience reporting on Turkey, has contributed many times to this program. Joins us live from London.

Do you really think Turkey would carry out an incursion of, shall we say, significant size, as opposed to what they call hot pursuit?

ANDREW FINKLE, JOURNALIST: Well, it's under a great deal of pressure to take action in northern Iraq. There have been some very serious incidents recently, just the other day 13 Turkish crack soldiers were actually killed. This involves some sort of major clash in the mountains on the Iraqi border. And whereas the government has resisted pressure for quite a long time to go across the border and try and hunt out rebel bases, it may find it difficult to withstand the pressure this time.

HOLMES: And how susceptible is Turkey to U.S. pressure on this matter? Of course, the Kurdish region of northern Iraq is about the only beacon of good news in that country. The U.S. not wanting to see Turkey go over with tanks.

FINKLE: Well, of course. Up until now Turkey has said that it wants to go, wants to go, but it's deferred to U.S. pressure not to go in, not to destabilize the north, the one bit of Iraq, as you say, which appears to work.

And, however, so it's much more likely that it might go in for sort of a surgical operation, the Iraqi Kurds, of course, are saying this is our country. You just can't walk in and do this. So for Turkey to go in, in a big way, of course, it's to encounter all the sorts of problems the United States has encountered, in its incursion into Iraq.

So it's a question of whether Turkey will have to weigh its options carefully, whether it wants to offend an ally like the United States, whether it wants to have bad relations with the Iraqi Kurds. You should remember that Turkey is actually doing quite a lot of business in the north of Iraq. There are huge sums of money, there's huge projects going on.

Turkey is really very much involved in this. So it's a question of whether Turkey wants to cut its nose to spite its face, as it were. But it really feels under public pressure to do something to stop these raids.

HOLMES: Andrew, we are going to put you under pressure, quite literally, about a minute and a half. I do want to get in the question of Armenia and this resolution that members of the House of Representatives are going to go and put forward. This must be enormously worrying to Turkey.

FINKLE: Well, Turkey will feel very embarrassed if the United States Congress passes what is, in fact, a non-binding resolution, which would recognize the genocide of Armenian population, not in Turkey, but in the Ottoman Empire in 1915.

Now, Turkey feels very deeply about this. Turkish public opinion, feels very deeply about this. They see this as some sort of provocation. So this is all adding to the pressure on Turkey to sort of lash out, to do something. It will make it less likely to listen to American concerns in places like Iraq, should congress go ahead and pass this measure.

HOLMES: Yes, yes. Very, very difficult issue. Andrew Finkle in London, thanks so much for your time.

GORANI: A lot going on today. A lot to cover here on YOUR WORLD TODAY. That's it for this hour, though. I'm Hala Gorani.

HOLMES: And I'm Michael Holmes, you're watching CNN.