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October 16, 2012
Posted: 1727 GMT

Hello from Washington, DC!

Topping the show today, Wolf  Blitzer will join me with more on what U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton said about last month's the Benghazi attacks. She told CNN's Elise Labott that she takes responsibility for the assault that killed the American ambassador Chris Stevens and three others. Is this meant to take the heat off President Obama before tonight's debate with Mitt Romney? Our own Candy Crowley will be moderating the town hall format duel. I'll ask Wolf who this type of set-up favors and how important it is for Barack Obama to perform well after a performance widely seen as lackluster and uninspired the first time around.

Also today, we'll go live to both Pakistan and the Birmingham for the latest on Malal Youssufzai condition. She was transported to a specialty facility in Northern England yesterday in the hope of accelerating her recovery. We'll begin you the latest on her condition on the little girl who has already become an icon of equal access to education.

Plus, big news in the banking world: the CEO of Citigroup Vikram Pandit has stepped down.  This is a surprise which comes as Pandit's 2011 compensation remained a sticking point for shareholders: they voted against his $15 million pay package earlier this year. We'll bring you market reaction to the news.

See you on air!

Hala

Filed under: Barack Obama •Malala Youssufzai •Mitt Romney •Today At The I-Desk


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October 10, 2012
Posted: 1731 GMT

Hello everyone,

Today on the show, we will look at the collapse of that huge European aerospace and defense merger between EADS and the UK’s BAE Systems. The $45 billion deal was designed to create a giant to rival U.S. plane maker Boeing. Jim Boulden joins us from London with more on what led to the collapse.

We also bring you the latest on a congressional hearing in Washington looking into the September 11th attack on the American consulate in Benghazi and the deaths of ambassador Chris Stevens and three other U.S. citizens.

Prepared testimony to the House Oversight Committee hearing is expected to show that Under Secretary of State for Management Patrick Kennedy will address specific criticism by Republicans that authorities were ill-prepared before the Benghazi consulate attack. We’re live in Washington.

Later, an update on the condition of Malala Youssufzai, the brave 14 year old Pakistani activist shot and critically wounded by the Taliban for campaigning for girls’ education. The assault on Youssufzai had shocked many people, including ordinary Pakistanis. We’re hearing from one of her doctors that her condition is slowly improving after a three-hour operation to remove a bullet from her neck. Reza Sayah will have our report from Islamabad.

We also have new video of a clash between rebels and regime forces in a key town Syria’s Idlib province. Nick Paton Walsh will be live with us from Beirut.

We’ll have all that and the rest of the world’s top news stories, as always.

See you on air!

Hala

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Filed under: Malala Youssufzai •Pakistan •Syria •Today At The I-Desk


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October 9, 2012
Posted: 1750 GMT

Hello everyone,

Today we kick off the show with more mass demonstrations in Greece on the day German chancellor Angela Merkel made a rare visit to Greece. The visit was designed to discuss Greece’s bailout plan and the austerity measures that have angered so many Greeks. Matthew Chance is live with us from the Greek capital.

Also topping the show today, the massive suicide blasts that reportedly targeted the Air Force Intelligence compound in Damascus. Experts say the AFI is considered the elite, primary intelligence agency of the Assad regime. A shadowy jihadist group called Al Nusra Front has claimed responsibility for the attack.

It is unknown how many people may have been killed or whether anti-regime detainees in the complex were hurt.

"We also fear for the lives of hundreds if not thousands of anti-government detainees that are being held in the basements of the air force security compound," said Rami Abdulrahman of the opposition Syrian Observatory for Human Rights.

If this Jihadi group was able to mount a successful attack against AFI, it could be significant for two reasons: first, it means the Jihadi suicide bomb tactics used in Iraq are now becoming a more prominent weapon used by some members of the anti-Assad rebellion; second, it could constitute more than a symbolic blow to the Syrian government by damaging or destroying surveillance equipment.

A little later, we’ll take you live to Bellefonte, Pennsylvania, where former PennState football coach Jerry Sandusky was sentenced to at least 30 years in prison for sexually abusing children during his time at the university.

Plus, there’s a new poll out that is no doubt given Mitt Romney’s campaign a little spring in their step. Check out the latest Pew poll:

Oct. 4-7

Likely voters choice for president

Sept 12-16    Oct.4-7

Obama 51%   45%

Romney 43%  49%

Sampling error +/-3.4% pts.

We’ll break down these new numbers with Paul Steinhauser.

Finally, Felix Baumgartner, the Austrian skydiver whose attempt to become the first human being to break the sound barrier is scheduled to take place during the show. We’ll go live to New Mexico where Brian Todd is covering the daredevil’s jump from outer space.

See you on air,

Hala

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Filed under: Barack Obama •Felix Baumgartner •Greece •Mitt Romney •Syria •Today At The I-Desk


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October 8, 2012
Posted: 1749 GMT

Hello everyone,

A shortened note today after a busy morning covering Mitt Romney's foreign policy speech in Virginia today. We'll be analyzing the address Romney hopes will bolster his foreign policy credentials and provide the basis for an attack against U.S. president Barack Obama. Wolf Blitzer will be joining us for analysis from Washington.

We'll also look at Hugo Chavez's narrow win in the Venezuelan presidential over the weekend. Paula Newton joins us from Caracas.

Plus, an American congressional report says some Chinese telecoms companies looking to expand their business in the United States can't be trusted and pose a security threat. Chinese firms ZTE and Huawei are disputing the findings. Jill Dougherty will have the latest from Washington.

See you on air!

Hala

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Filed under: China •Hugo Chavez •Mitt Romney •Today At The I-Desk


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October 5, 2012
Posted: 1706 GMT

Hello everyone,

Very busy day today at the I-Desk. We will bring you the latest on radical cleric Abu Hamza, who lost his last ditch appeal to avoid extradition to the United States. A high court in London ruled that Abu Hamza and four others could be extradited immediately to the U.S. to face terrorism charges. CNN’s Dan Rivers is in London and will bring us the latest live.

Big news today came in the form of a very unexpectedly positive September unemployment reading in the U.S. This is certainly very welcome news for President Barack Obama, whose lackluster performance in his debate against Mitt Romney on Wednesday did him no favors.

Not only did America’s jobless rate fall below 8% to 7.8% in September – its lowest level since January 2009 – but the number of jobs created in August and July was revised upward. I can imagine some administration officials are now breathing a big sigh of relief.

Nick Paton Walsh will cover the latest from Syria and the spiraling violence in the suburbs of Damascus. There are reports rebels have shot down a fighter jet outside of Damascus. We’ll bring you the latest on that.

That and all the big news stories of the hour as they develop, as always!

See you on air,

Hala

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Filed under: Abu Hamza •Syria •Today At The I-Desk •U.S. Elections


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September 28, 2012
Posted: 1718 GMT

Bo Xilai has been expelled from the Communist Party and relieved of his duties.

Hello everyone,

Today we’ll bring you the latest from China on the dramatic fall from grace of former Communist party star Bo Xilai. We learned today he will be thrown out of the party and will face a variety of criminal charges. This come a little over a month before the once a decade Party Congress in China where a crucial leadership transition will take place.

Also today, don’t miss our interview with George Lopez of Notre Dame University. He’s a UN adviser and top sanctions expert. I’ll ask him what he thinks can pressure the Assad regime in Syria to change course. Are sanctions the answer anymore? Did they ever work?

Richard Quest will join me to talk about an independent audit just released in Spain on the real cost of rescuing Spanish banks, crumbling under the weight of the debt crisis in the Eurozone. We’ll also tell you how markets are reacting to the announcement on this last trading day of the week.

Also, you’ll want to tune in for my interview with Egyptian-American activist Mona Eltahawy. She made a name for herself as a commentator on the Egyptian revolution in an outspoken style that has made her a familiar face on U.S. television over the last couple of years. But she was in the new for another reason this: she was arrested for spray painting an ad equating critics of Israel to “savages” in the New York subway, sparking debate about the best way to respond to racist attack ads.

Tune in for that and more at 1pm EST/7pm CET on CNN International.

See you on air!

Hala

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Filed under: China •Debt Crisis •Mona Eltahawy •Syria •Today At The I-Desk •UNGA


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September 25, 2012
Posted: 1751 GMT

Hello everyone,

Today, we will start the show off live from New York, where the United Nations General Assembly is officially under way. We will break down the speeches so far, including U.S. President Barack Obama’s address. He paid tribute to American ambassador to Libya Chris Stevens, killed in an attack on the U.S. consulate last September 11th and expanded on the notion that the assault wasn’t an assault on America only, but on universal democratic ideals.

What were your thoughts on Barack Obama’s UNGA speech? Tweet me @HalaGorani

Also, today, we will run Bill Neely’s must-watch report from the frontline in Homs. He is following regime snipers and soldiers as they battle rebels in a street by street stalemate in Syria’s third largest city. I don’t recognize the images in Neely’s piece as Homs at all. The scenes are of the aftermath of an unimaginably brutal, violent war.

Nick Paton Walsh will join me live for a look at Save The Children’s report on the child victims of the Syrian conflict.

Here is an excerpt:

“I knew a boy called Ala’a. He was only six years old. He didn’t

understand what was happening. I’d say that six-year-old boy was

tortured more than anyone else in the room. He wasn’t given food

or water for three days, and he was so weak he used to faint all the

time. He was beaten regularly. I watched him die. He only survived

for three days and then he simply died. He was terrified all the time.

They treated his body as though he was a dog.”

Wael, 16

The testimonials in the organization’s report are extremely hard to read. You can find them here: http://www.savethechildren.org.uk/news-and-comment/news/2012-09/exposed-crimes-against-syrias-children

Also today, Elizabeth Cohen joins us on the discovery of a new virus that can be extremely deadly. It has already sickened two men in the Arabian Gulf.

Plus, CNN’s Chief U.S. Correspondent John King joins us for a look at U.S. Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney speech in New York at the Clinton Global Initiative. Where does Romney stand in the race? We’ll break down the numbers.

And, as always, the latest weather, sport and business headlines.

See you on air!

Hala

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Filed under: Chris Stevens •Syria •Today At The I-Desk •UNGA


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September 24, 2012
Posted: 1655 GMT

Hello from the newsroom everyone,

Today, we are leading with the massive brawl at the Foxconn factory in northern China. Foxconn is a factory used by Apple for many of its electronic devices and by all accounts, this was a huge fight: 2,000 workers were reportedly involved in a giant outburst of violence. It took 5,000 police officers 10 hours to bring the situation under control, according to the Xinhua news agency. As many of you know, Foxconn has been the object of criticism in the past, with reports of subpar working conditions. The company issued a statement relatively quickly, blaming the violence on a “personal dispute.”  We have a report from China.

Also today, we will look at Syria and what is happening as I’m typing this at the United Nations in New York. The new UN/Arab League envoy Lakhdar Brahimi is briefing the Security Counsel in a closed door session. We will go over what was said with Richard Roth at the UN.

Later in the show, we will update you on the deadly avalanche in Nepal. We know five people were killed and another seven are still missing.

CNN’s Arwa Damon has a report on the Libyan government’s pledge to disband all non-state militia groups.

At the half hour, Wolf Blitzer joins us to discuss the latest in the U.S. presidential race. Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney and President Barack Obama have been trading foreign policy barbs. Responding to Romney’s accusations that he’d exhibited weakness in the foreign policy arena, Obama told an American television network: “"If Governor Romney is suggesting that we should start another war, he should say so."

Finally, as an animal lover, I was sad to hear that the giant panda baby born in Washington September 16th had died. We still don’t know what happened, though it’s not unusual for tiny panda newborns to struggle in their first few weeks. That said, there is good news in the panda world: the little panda born in July is doing great and can be seen at www.sandiegozoo.org/pandacam.

That and all your latest weather, sport and financial news as always.

See you on air!

Hala

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Filed under: Barack Obama •China •Syria •Today At The I-Desk


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April 27, 2010
Posted: 1631 GMT

We'd been leading with the Goldman Sachs hearings on Capitol Hill all morning when an urgent wire crossed: Greece's sovereign debt has been downgraded to "junk" status by ratings agency Standards and Poors.

This means the ratings agency thinks Greece's debt is riskier than in its previous assessments. Investors are now being told that chances of them not getting their money back from Greece are higher. This will push up interest rates and prolong the debt crisis in Europe.

It also means other countries in the Eurozone might have to come up with a more ambitious plan to save Greece from drowning in debt it can't repay.

Stock markets across the continent are down. The anxiety over Greece's debt (and a downgrade for Portugal) has spread to Wall Street. We will go live to New York where Stephanie Elam will break the story down for us.

Stephanie will also join us to cover the Goldman Sachs hearings in Washginton DC. Top executives of the venerable financial insitution are today being grilled on accusations that they knowingly misled investors with deals tied to the subprime mortgage market they knew would lose money.

Join us for that and the rest of the day's top stories from Moscow, Paris, Baghdad and Yemen.

See you at the IDesk!

Hala

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Filed under: Greece •Today At The I-Desk


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April 21, 2010
Posted: 1642 GMT

Hello everyone,

We will give you the latest on the improvement in travel conditions across Europe. Now that things are getting better, attention is now turning to the cost of grounding tens of thousands of planes for almost six days.

Only one thing was sky-high during the crisis: the price tag associated with shutting down so much of Europe's airspace. What longer-term impact will it have? Who should be responsible for the billions of dollars lost?

Also today, it's been 99 days since the deadly earthquake ravaged large parts of Port-au-Prince. When I was in Haiti back in January, the city was still completely leveled, people lived out on the streets, bodies were still waiting to be collected. No doubt the situation has drastically changed, but that doesn't mean there still aren't major threats facing the people of Haiti.

We will speak to Matt Marek of the International Committee of the Red Cross. He's been there since day one. There are some interesting initiatives to try to protect homeless earthquake survivors from potential hurricanes and severe weather: the Red Cross is helping set up "Disaster Risk Reduction Teams" composed of locals.

I'll also ask Matt what the biggest need is today for ordinary Haitians and how much of the money donated for earthquake relief efforts has been spent.

Join us for that and the rest of the day's top stories.

See you at the IDesk!

Hala

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Filed under: Ash cloud •Haiti •Today At The I-Desk


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International Desk brings viewers into the heart of the largest news gathering operation in the world. Viewers don't come here to watch the news; they come here to be immersed in it. To feel the rush of being the first to know what's happening as stories break, and to leave knowing they've gotten the best and latest information available. The show airs Mon-Fri at 1900 CET.

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