October 22, 2012
Posted: 2158 GMT

A Syrian man and boy ride a horse cart in Aleppo on Thursday.

A very interesting article by Le Figaro’s Edith Bouvier on France’s direct financial support for Syrian civil reconstruction and humanitarian projects. The idea is to give money to civilian groups to help rebuild bakeries, set up medical or collect trash even as the civil war rages on.

According to this article, France has so far sent 1.5 million Euros to fourteen “civilian revolutionary committees” from Aleppo, Damascus, Homs and other hard-hit regions.

This is also interesting because according to this report, France’s ambassador to Syria, Eric Chevallier, travels to within “a few hundred meters of Syria to meet with the representatives of these committees and to give them French help.”

During these meetings, the report goes on to say, the men talk about the unrelenting violence in Syria but also come equipped with reports and a “spreadsheet explaining every expense. For each financial donation, a promise is made to provide a detailed expense reports.”

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Filed under: France •Syria

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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!


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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,


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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!


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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,


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

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October 4, 2012
Posted: 1729 GMT

The event was expected to draw the candidates' largest nationwide audience to date.

Hello everyone,

We kick off the show with the story everyone is talking about: the surprising presidential debate in the United States. The expectation was that incumbent Barack Obama would easily out-debate his rival Mitt Romney. Not only did that not happen, but most observers said a well rehearsed and more confident Mitt Romney walked away the decisive winner.

A CNN/ORC flash poll conducted after the debate gave Mitt Romney the advantage: 67% of respondents said they thought the Republican challenger won last night’s debate. Only 25% said they thought Barack Obama did a better job.

And consider line from CNN’s post debate analysis team:

“He didn't just score wins on the margins, holding his own against the president; he won big. Since the question of which candidate did better in a presidential debate was first asked by Gallup in 1984, no candidate has ever scored more than 60% on the question, until Wednesday night, when 67% of the voters in CNN's post-debate poll gave Romney the edge.”

Now the question is: can Mitt Romney capitalize on this perceived win with crucial swing state voters? Does he have enough time to turn thing around in Ohio and Florida, where Barack Obama currently has an appreciable lead?

New, post-debate polling is expected in the next few days and will reveal the answer to those questions.

Join us for debate and analysis from our team of reporters and analysts.

Also today, we look at the deadly violence on the Turkey-Syria border. Shelling from Syria landed yesterday on a Turkish village, killing several civilians, including three children. Turkey’s parliament moved quickly today to authorize the use of force in foreign countries as a response to the incident. Syria today apologized for the mortar attack. Will this escalate? We will go live to Turkey and Lebanon for the latest.

Plus, don’t’ miss my interview with UNESCO’s Louise Haxthausen, the organization’s senior coordinator for crisis. We will talk to her about the destruction of irreplaceable cultural treasure across the country, including Aleppo’s covered market, where amateur video showed a fire raging last week.

Of course nothing is more painful than the loss of human life. Thing can be rebuilt. But some places, buildings and structures are what make a country what it is. It is the cultural soul of Syria that is being annihilated. In some ways, watching Syria’s crusader castles, its Byzantine ruins, Aleppo’s old homes damaged or destroyed feels like watching a person being slowly ravaged by disease. It is heartbreaking.

We will also talk about an important landmark for Facebook, as it reaches a billion users and bring you the latest financial, sports and weather news, as always.

See you on air!


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Filed under: Barack Obama •Mitt Romney •Syria

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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!


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

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September 27, 2012
Posted: 1710 GMT

Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas, center, arrives at the United Nations on Tuesday.

Hello from the newsroom,

Today we will be bringing you the latest from the UNGA. The big headliners du jour: Palestinian Authority president Mahmoud Abbas and Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.

Abbas is expected to reiterate the Palestinian’s request for the United Nations to upgrade their status to a "non-member observer state". Netanyahu (who we learned today will speak with US President Barack Obama in the telephone) is expected to again draw what he has called a “red line” over Iran’s nuclear program.

Today, as we do every Thursday, we will take an in-depth look at the Syrian conflict. By any standard, even for those who’ve gotten used to daily triple digit death tolls, what happened yesterday in Syria was shocking: almost 350 people were reportedly killed in a single day. A death toll inflated by reports of yet another massacre of civilians in a village near Damascus.

We are expecting to speak to Lakhdar Brahimi’s spokesperson Ahmad Fawzi from the United Nations. I will ask him to expand on what the joint UN/Arab League envoy told reporters after a closed door Security Council session earlier this week. Brahimi has said he doesn’t yet have a final plan to solve the crisis. He also said that without a unified Security Council, his mandate is essentially meaningless. Should Syrians expect anything from Brahimi after his predecessor Kofi Annan’s plan failed so resoundingly?

Also today, we will take you live to Madrid where Spain’s government just announced a drastically slimmed down budget for 2013. There’ve been massive anti-austerity demonstrations in that country, as well as in Greece. Both countries need to make some very painful budget cuts in order to tackle a debt crisis that is threatening their economies and their membership in the Eurozone. Full coverage plus all the market reaction to the announcement.

We’ll have that and all the day’s other top stories, as always.

Hope you can join us!


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Filed under: Debt Crisis •Israel •Palestine •Syria •UNGA

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September 26, 2012
Posted: 1719 GMT

Today on the show, we will take you live to the Athens and Madrid where mass anti-austerity demonstrations are taking place. In Greece, we saw protesters clash with police. In Madrid, tens of thousands poured out onto the streets to signal their frustration with the Spanish government’s pledge to make deep budget cuts.

We will also go live to New York for more on some of the most anticipated speeches of the day. Iranian president Mahmoud Ahmadinejad and Egyptian president Mohammed Morsy both addressed the general assembly hall in New York.

Nick Paton Walsh will bring us the latest on a twin bomb blast targeting the military’s headquarters in Damascus. This is the deadliest and most strategically important hit for the FSA since a bomb blast killed top security officials in the Syrian capital last July. All the while, Syrians continue to die every single day at an alarming rate. Today alone, activist networks report more than 200 Syrians were killed across the country.

There’s a new poll giving U.S. President Barack Obama a sizeable lead in key swing states Ohio and Florida. At this stage, Republican challenger Mitt Romney has to be thinking hard about what to do to help him rebound in states he knows he can’t win the presidency without in November. CNN’s Mark Preston joins me live from Washington to break down the last numbers.

See you on air at 1pm EST/7pm CET


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Filed under: Ahmadinejad •Syria •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:

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!


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

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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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