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Recent Attack in Tal Afar Had U.S. Troops on the Hunt; China Food Scandal; Crisis in Darfur: U.S. to Draft Proposed U.N. Resolution

Aired May 29, 2007 - 12:00   ET


ISHA SESAY, CNN INTERNATIONAL ANCHOR: Sanctions against Saddam. The U.S. president takes punitive actions against dozens of companies and promises to deal with the Darfur catastrophe.

GEORGE W. BUSH, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: The United States will not avert our eyes from a crisis that challenges the conscience of the world.


JIM CLANCY, CNN INTERNATIONAL ANCHOR: A trail of tainted food and medicine leads to a Chinese courtroom and a death sentence.

SESAY: More protests over the shutdown of a Venezuelan TV channel as the government zeros in on yet another channel it doesn't like.

CLANCY: And "Jurassic Park" it is not. In this museum, dinosaurs and humans roam the earth together.

It's 7:00 p.m. right now in Khartoum, Sudan; noon in Petersburg, Kentucky.

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

I'm Jim Clancy.

SESAY: I'm Isha Sesay.

From St. Petersburg to Khartoum, to Caracas, wherever you're watching, this is YOUR WORLD TODAY.

We will have those stories in just a moment. But first, the death toll for U.S. forces in Iraq has hit another somber milestone -- Jim.

CLANCY: That's right. And it was on Memorial Day, when Americans were honoring their men and women killed in military service, that eight more troops died in Iraq.

SESAY: Two were killed when insurgents in Diyala province shot down their helicopter. The other six were racing to the scene when bombs hit their convoy. CLANCY: Now, these attacks push the number of U.S. troops killed so far this month all the way to 112. That makes May the third deadliest month of the entire war.

Now, the U.S. military says al Qaeda-linked insurgents are increasingly flocking to Diyala province, fueling violence there.

SESAY: On the other hand, one area that's been a success story of sorts is a province that's home to the northern city of Tal Afar.

CLANCY: A recent attack there, however, had U.S. troops on the hunt. And our Hugh Riminton was there.


HUGH RIMINTON, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice over): A bomb a half a ton or more has exploded in a culvert beneath this road near the Syrian border. One U.S. soldier is dead, another critically wounded. The blast breaking the back of their armored Humvee. There has been a killing and now there is a holding to account.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Everyone knows the attack that happened just down the road. I'm sure you heard this last night.

RIMINTON: A few battalion of the U.S. Calvary, with air support and Iraqi army backup, seals off the five villages nearest the bomb site. The troops go in, seize it. U.S. soldiers bring new Iraqi recruits. The men of the village are at the mosque.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: So are you angry with us?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE (through translator): We are not angry.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: But he's not going to shake my hand. I understand.

RIMINTON: For now they are left to their prayers while the search goes on.

They find false I.D.s and a large pile of cash, one link in the insurgents' chain. Villagers and their guns are gathered up while the sheiks are shaken down.

LT. COL. MALCOLM FROST, U.S. ARMY: Every single village tells me it is the next village, it is the next village, it is the next village. Well, that is (EXPLETIVE DELETED).

It is this village, it is now. It is all of you here today.

You will make a choice. You will make a choice today. If you do not choose my side, the side of Iraq, the side of the government and the security forces, then you are my enemy. Understand that.

RIMINTON: The frustration is understandable. The death of a U.S. soldier is the first in western Miniva (ph) province in 10 months. The nearby city of Tal Afar is counted one of the success stories of Iraq. The tactics here spreading to Baghdad and beyond.

(on camera): If Iraq is ultimately made safe and secure, history might record that it was this dirt that made the key difference. It was this earth wall built up around the city of Tal Afar that turned this town around and relieved it from the insurgents who had taken it over.

(voice over): Two years ago, Tal Afar's government was reduced to a tiny holdout in the town's center while fighting raged for months. The simple earth walls stopped insurgents driving in truck and car bombs cross country. Just three major roads are left now. All of them heavily guarded.

Look at Baghdad today, and you will see the same principle at work. But there is always a place beyond the last checkpoint. And it is where these men live.

FROST: If you or you or you or you, if you are not sue sporting us, the security forces, (INAUDIBLE), and you are not providing information, then you are on the side of the enemy, and you're my enemy. And the next time I come, I will come hard and I will come strong, and I will come in the middle of the night.

RIMINTON: But it is the midnight appearance of al Qaeda assassins that hold the deepest horrors here. All across Iraq the future rests on the balance of hope and terror that men like these grapple with every day.

Hugh Riminton, CNN, near Tal Afar, Iraq.


CLANCY: Well, as Hugh Riminton was reporting there, there's a lot of frustration among U.S. troops over the tolls. We told you moments ago that on Memorial Day, eight U.S. solders lost their lives.

We have to update that now. The U.S. military in Baghdad telling CNN two more troops were also killed on Memorial Day, bringing that total to 10, making May the deadliest month of 2007, the third deadliest month of the entire war.

Now, to be realistic about all of this, for Iraqis it's been far, far deadlier than that. Just today alone, 38 people were killed when two car bombs rocked busy market areas in Baghdad. Nearly 100 others were wounded.

The Web site says more than 64,000 Iraqi civilians have now been killed in this war, while the U.S. military says nearly 3,500 of its members have lost their lives in Iraq.

SESAY: Well, Cindy Sheehan says she's walking way from the peace moment. Sheehan is a California woman who became a well-known anti- Iraq War activist after her son was killed in Iraq.

She says she's exhausted and disillusioned that Democrats haven't been able to stop the war. And on Monday, which was, of course, Memorial Day here in the United States, she declared her son, the U.S. soldier, had died for nothing.

This is what Sheehan had to say. She said, "Casey died for a country which cares more about who will be the next American Idol than how many people will be killed in the next few months, while Democrats and Republicans play politics with human lives."

CLANCY: In the wake of an international outcry over tainted and sometimes deadly food and medicine, China is taking decisive action.

SESAY: That's right, Jim. It's instituting a sweeping new recall system for unsafe products. And one high-ranking former official involved in the scandal may pay the ultimate price.

CLANCY: Our own correspondent John Vause has been following the story, covering it now for over a month. He brings us some of the latest.


JOHN VAUSE, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice over): By next week, Zheng Xiaoyu could become the next fatality of China's food and drug scandal. For seven years he was the head of the national agency regulating drugs. Tuesday, this Beijing court sentenced him to death for receiving almost $1 million in bribes to approve untested medicine which killed at least 10 people. They're among an estimated 200,000 deaths every year here from fake or substandard drugs.

Well, the problem that China has is numbers. China has more than 5,000 manufacturers, 5,000 pharmaceutical manufacturers. To start controlling is extremely difficult.

VAUSE: Last week, health officials in the Dominican Republic and Panama seized thousands of tubes of Chinese toothpaste because they contained a deadly chemical often used in antifreeze. The same chemical which may have been used in Chinese cough syrup, also exported to Panama, and reportedly responsible for more than 100 deaths last year.

And it comes after countless dogs and cats in the U.S. died after eating pet food tainted with the chemical melamine. Authorities here have detained the managers of two Chinese suppliers, accusing them of adding melamine to the pet food ingredient to artificially increase protein levels. Analysts say in almost all of these cases, there's a common trend.

SCOTT WARREN, SECURITY ANALYST: I think it's more likely that things are coming not out of intentional wrongdoing, but somebody looking for a cheaper ingredient.

VAUSE (on camera): China's government knows it has a problem and has announced the country's first system for food recalls, promising it will be in line with international standards and in place by the end of the year.

John Vause, CNN, Beijing.


SESAY: Well, we would like to know what you think.

CLANCY: Are you worried that the food and the medicine that comes to you and your family from other countries might be tainted? Well, let us know. Send us an email to

SESAY: We will read some of your responses a little later on the air.

CLANCY: People in Darfur are crying out for help, and they deserve it. That, the message from U.S. President George W. Bush just hours ago.

SESAY: Yes, indeed. He announced his country will impose new sanctions on Sudan over the bloodshed in Darfur.

CLANCY: Now, that means 31 companies and four individuals are going to be banned from doing any business with the U.S. Mr. Bush called the situation in Darfur genocide and said the world has a responsibility to put an end to it.


GEORGE W. BUSH, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: I made clear that the time for promises was over and that President Bashir had to do something to end the suffering. I held off implementing these steps because the United Nations believed President Bashir could meet his obligations to stop the killing and would meet his obligations to stop the killing. Unfortunately, he hasn't met those obligations.


SESAY: Well, Mr. Bush says the U.S. will also push for a U.N. resolution that will ratchet up the pressure on Khartoum, but some question the timing of this tougher approach.

Senior U.N. Correspondent Richard Roth is live in New York with more on that.

And Richard, clearly a growing sense of urgency on the part of the administration. What are you hearing as to the reason for that?

RICHARD ROTH, CNN SR. U.N. CORRESPONDENT: Well, some activists say it's too little, too late. I think that President Bush has been described as be being upset about what's happening in Darfur. The U.S. government said nearly three years ago it was genocide, and violence has continued despite Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon a few weeks ago saying he needed more time for diplomacy to continue forward.

So, basically, it may be now or never is the feeling. The question is, will Russia or China oppose the U.S. move with its resolution?

So that's what we are watching here, but it's not going to be a vote tomorrow. Once again, this will be another laborious process to get this resolution passed.

SESAY: Richard, you mentioned there that Ban Ki-moon had asked for more time to pursue diplomacy with the Sudanese president. Of course, the U.S., as we say today, has gone ahead and leveled fresh sanctions. Is the U.S. on a collision course with the U.N.?

ROTH: Well, the U.S. ambassador a few moments ago said he has been consulting with Ban Ki-moon. And the secretary-general told CNN just a few minutes ago, "I need more time, yes."

So, he's still asking for more time, but he also is saying it's up to the Security Council to determine what's going to happen here. And the U.S. ambassador and the British, they have said sanctions doesn't mean that the diplomacy stops. The two still go together. Sanctions "reinforce the diplomatic process."

SESAY: Richard Roth there at the U.N.

Many thanks.

CLANCY: We want to bring you up to date with a story that is just developing right now. We are hearing from the British foreign secretary that five British citizens have been abducted in Iraq.

No further details at this moment, but we're going to try to bring you those as soon as they come in.

Well, there's a lot more ahead right here on YOUR WORLD TODAY. We're going to take to you Venezuela, where people are still upset, to say the least.

SESAY: To say the very least. They want their RCTV, and we will tell you why.

CLANCY: Also this hour, he was dubbed "Dr. Death," and Jack Kevorkian pledged to help patients die once again, as soon as he get out of prison. But has he had a change of heart?

SESAY: And this isn't a trick question. What would you do if a leopard jumped through your bedroom window? We will take you to Israel for that story.

You're watching CNN.


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

CLANCY: We are covering the news that the world wants to know, trying to give you some perspective that goes a little bit deeper into the stories of the day.

And what are our top stories this hour?

A growing death toll as car bombs, helicopter crashes and roadside attacks kill scores of Iraqis and at least 10 U.S. soldiers. Washington slaps new economic sanctions on Sudan.

And a death sentence for a former top Chinese official tied to a string of tainted food and drugs.

SESAY: Now, the Venezuelan government is investigated news broadcasters, including CNN, for allegedly inciting violence following the shutdown of a popular TV station. A third day of protests is under way over the decision not to renew the license of Radio Caracas TV, or RCTV.

But as Harris Whitbeck reports, public opinion is clearly divided.


HARRIS WHITBECK, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice over): Monica Herrero is two months short of graduating from journalism school out of Caracas University. But as she participates in the latest protests against the closing of television station RCTV by President Hugo Chavez, she wonders if her timing isn't a bit off.

MONICA HERRERO, STUDENT: I think that in Venezuela's -- well, Chavez theory, the theory of Venezuela, I don't know. I think we can do our work.

WHITBECK: Monica was joined Monday by thousands of fellow students at a protest a day after RCTV, Venezuela's longest running television network, lost its license, accused by Chavez of inciting a rebellion against his socialist revolution.

(on camera): This is one of the first times that students from four different universities, public and private, have decided together to take to the streets.

(voice over): For Chavez' opponents, the protests are a sign his latest move might turn public opinion against him. They cite opinion polls that indicate more than 60 percent of the population is against the closing of the network. That, in addition to opinion and news programming produce soap operas and game shows. And, they say, while the closing is also seen as a warning sign for other opposition broadcasters, they will not stand down in their criticism of Chavez.

Alberto Ravell is the director of Globovision, a 24-hour news network that consistently airs the opposition's points of view.

ALBERTO RAVELL, GLOBOVISION DIRECTOR: We're not going to change our editorial line that we are not afraid of the threats from this government. And it's normal. A military government doesn't like news channels.

WHITBECK: The government, however, insists its decision to close the TV network was legal, and that it will keep its security forces on the streets to make sure protests against the closure do not get out of hand.


SESAY: Well, we're already seeing pictures of new protests under way while the government is maintaining a police presence on the streets.

So, the question is, what happens next? We go to Harris Whitbeck in Caracas for some answers.

And Harris, just give us a sense of the atmosphere there on the streets of Caracas.

WHITBECK: Isha, well, throughout the morning, different streets and public plazas of Caracas have been filled with people, students, many students who are out to protest the government's decision to close RCTV. At this moment, they are moving towards the headquarters of the Organization of American States to ask that multinational, multilateral organization to pressure the government. And they say that their movement here is not political, but it is to defend freedom of speech.

They say that the closing of RCTV is an ominous sign for democracy in Venezuela, and that sentiment has also been expressed by many bodies outside of Venezuela, including the U.S. Senate, the Chilean senate, and several journalist rights organizations that have representatives here in the country.

The protests -- as I said, the protesters are now moving towards the Organization of American States. We also understand that some public universities where there are a lot of Chavez supporters have also asked their students to take to the streets, and that is cause for some concern that there might be violence, if these two groups should come together.

Again, the students we have spoken to this morning, members of the opposition who have been joined by -- by -- everything from housewives to members of nearby office buildings that have come down, they insist that their protest is peaceful and that it is not political in nature. Again, they insist that what is at stake here is freedom of speech.

SESAY: Harris, as you say, the protests and the protesters on the streets cutting across classes and ages, housewives and students, and they say it isn't political. But there have been claims, reports in the press that the opposition, the unofficial opposition, of course, in Venezuela, is actually exploiting the situation.

What can you tell us about that?

WHITBECK: Well, that obviously is -- there is a case to be argued there in the sense that all sides in this are trying to gain political gain -- gain political ground, if you will. But again, the people on the streets are saying that they aren't necessarily -- they don't necessarily belong to one particular party.

And if you take a close look at the political opposition, there isn't one leader in particular. And what is interesting the last couple of days that the students have been coming out is that before, you hadn't seen many students out on the streets. And we spoke to one just a few minutes ago on our sister network on CNN Spanish, and he was saying that the closing of the TV network was really the straw that broke the camel's back, as far as the opinions of students go, and they say that that's why they are out here.

SESAY: Harris Whitbeck there in Caracas. Though we must leave you, many thanks.

Now, have you come across news where you are in Venezuela? Because we would like to hear from you. Any interesting images that you have been able to capture in these days, send us your pictures and comments about it.

Just go to and click on "I-Reports".

CLANCY: Well, Isha, we're going to take a short break here.

But still ahead on YOUR WORLD TODAY, efforts to turn the U.S. Capitol green.

SESAY: Washington's power plant is responsible for heating and cooling the city. But why is about half the power plant, Jim, fueled by coal?

CLANCY: Some smoky politics coming up next.



CLANCY: President Bush has said that he had been waiting for the U.N. to act, but the administration going ahead now on its own, hoping to bring the Security Council along with it some time later. It's no secret why that hasn't been easy. Sudan has a handful of friends and a lot to offer.

Jonathan Mann joins us with some insight -- Jonathan.

JONATHAN MANN, CNN CORRESPONDENT: The U.S. president, the United Nations and world public opinion have all turned against the Sudanese government. So you might wonder why a country committing genocide could so easily escape international pressure? The simple fact is that Sudan may be a pariah to much of the world, but its oil buys allies, and Sudan's allies are in the way.


GEORGE W. BUSH, PRES. OF THE UNITED STATES: The United Nations Security Council, the African Union and all members of the international community to reject any efforts to obstruct implementation of the agreement that's would bring peace to Darfur and Sudan.

(END VIDEO CLIP) MANN: Sudan has been fighting civil wars for decades. Some call them the oldest civil war in the world. What's new in Sudan is enormous potential to export oil.

Have a look at this chart. These are exports in thousands of barrels of day, essentially flat, really nothing, until the late 1990s. What happens then? Well, the construction of a new pipeline, and suddenly things begin to change. The graph goes up like a gusher because of that pipeline, a pipeline that was built by the Chinese. The pipeline takes most of the oil in Southern Sudan, 1,000 miles northeast, to port Sudan on the Red Sea. There it heads to Chinese tankers and from them to energy-hungry Chinese cities. Now Sudan has granted oil concessions across the south of the country. Essentially you can see there China's portions are in the northern chunk there on the west and northern chunk here on the east. Most of the rest goes to Malaysia and India. That's important because those two countries control the parts that China doesn't, and they are also fast-expanding oil thirsty economies. They also have governments that are very independent of U.S. interests, though they're not as vocal about Sudan.

China, which is very vocal, says that the oil which helps them will help Sudan and Darfur, too.


LIU GUIJIN, CHINESE SPECIAL ENVOY TO DARFUR (through translator): The oil cooperation between China and Sudan began in 1996. In the past 10 years our cooperation has been transparent and mutually beneficial and does not exclude other parties.

Meanwhile, we begin to realize the problems in Sudan, no matter east or in the south, are stemmed from poverty and a less-developed status. Peace can only be obtained in Sudan after the country is developed.


MANN: Now the Bush administration's sanctions will not directly target Chinese countries or any foreign firms. The measure is concentrated on 30 or 31 companies owned or controlled by the government of Sudan. So Sudan's oil allies will essentially be untouched.

CLANCY: We look at China. Obviously, it's a big player there. Oil is a big factor. But, Russia, too, sits on the Security Council. It also has stalled.

MANN: It also has been stalling, and it's been doing something worse -- it has been selling, like China, weapons to Sudan, weapons that Amnesty International says are being used in Darfur. In China's case we're talking in excess of $80 million worth of weapons in 2005. In Russia's case around $35 million worth of weapons. 2005 is significant, though, because that was the year that China, and Russia and the rest of the Security Council voted an arms embargo. So here we have, according to Amnesty International, Moscow and Beijing voting an arms embargo and selling weapons at the same time.

To be fair, China and Russia say they're not doing that. They did sell weapons, but not to be used in Darfur, and Darfur is the only place covered by the embargo. It's a little legalistic considering that there are pictures of those weapons in place there. Both countries very involved. As you mentioned, Russia doesn't need the oil.

CLANCY: No, it's got one of the biggest in the world.

MANN: But Russia enjoys the money, and also Russia has a principle at stake, it doesn't like western sanctions. So that's two real friends, one for matters of money, the other for matter of principle. And President Bush has been waiting for the U.N. Security Council. that's why he's waiting. That's why he's likely to continue to wait.

CLANCY: Europeans may go with him, too, as well.


MANN: They didn't jump up and down today. The initial reaction was positive. It wasn't very excited or enthusiastic. Maybe a matter of diplomatic language, but there may be some progress there.

CLANCY: All right, Jonathan Mann, as always, with some insight in one of our big stories of the day -- Isha.

SESAY: OK, well, let's get some more on this, our major story of the day, these fresh sanctions on Sudan. We're joined now by Sudan's ambassador to the U.S. John Ukec Lueth.

Mr. Ambassador, thank you so much for joining us on YOUR WORLD TODAY.

I want to start by getting your sense and your reaction to these fresh sanctions leveled by the U.S. on your country.

JOHN UKEC LUETH, SUDANESE AMB. TO THE U.S.: I am very much disappointed. And I thank you, I CNN for having me. I'm very much disappointed about our bilateral relation with the United States. These sanctions are unwarranted. They should not be done by this time when my government is constructively and objectively working toward a comprehensive peace in the entire country.

We have accepted a lot of things which were very difficult for us to swallow, but we have done that. This is time to remove those sanctions rather than put them. By the way, how long have we been in this situation? We go a step forward, the United States takes us three step backwards. I think they still believe that our government of national unity doesn't exist, which is not true. The government of Sudan ...

SESAY: You say your government -- Mr. Ambassador, to jump in there, you say your government of national unity exists but there's been little change on the ground for the people of Darfur. And ultimately, diplomacy has yielded few results.

LUETH: Well, why would you say that little has changed in Darfur? There is -- the first phase is already there. We have civilian advisors, we have the military advisors, we have the police advisors. They are on the scene. We have agreed for the 3,000 to get into Darfur as quick as possible. We do not have control over that except the U.N. and the African Union. This is (INAUDIBLE) business, we are receptive, we have accepted everything.

This is no time to put more sanctions on Sudan. It's not really a good way to continue. We need a reward, rather than punishment.

SESAY: Mr. Ambassador, you talk of security forces on the ground. But just recently, I was reading reports of gang rapes still taking place in Darfur, women still afraid to go out and collect firewood because when they do, they are raped, they are violated by Janjaweed who, it has been widely reported -- supported, by the Sudanese government.

So, what has changed? Why should these sanctions not be leveled at this time? Why should Sudan be rewarded?

LUETH: Sudan should be rewarded because they have accepted everything and they have facilitated everything. The humanitarian help which is taking place and flowing is all from the goodwill of Sudan. Sudan cannot be just overnight. Even the United States, the situation in Iraq cannot be resolved overnight. But we are working towards it. Compare how many people die in Darfur daily compared to what is happening in Iraq. They are not comparable.

SESAY: That is very true -- that is very true, Mr. Ambassador. But let's talk about the situation of the full A.U. force (ph), joined by full United Nations force to come on the ground and to make a real difference. Why does President Bashir continue to oppose that?

LUETH: President Bashir is not opposed to anything. He has accepted the hybrid force, the hefty one, which is 3,000. Why is the U.N. saying that it will take six months for them to have men on the ground? That is not our job. It is the job of both people there. They are supposed to send those troops as quick as possible.

The U.N. is reluctant, the United States is reluctant to provide money for the African Union peacekeeping force. What is that? You know, we cannot just drop soldiers there. Even -- there is one important thing, the message the United States is sending to the rebels who have refused to sign the peace agreement is a bad method. They are going to stand out, they are not going to accept peace and as a result, no money, no guns, will ever stop the fighting of Darfur.

We need to have cessation of hostilities, we need to show that the government of Sudan has made peace with the south and made peace with the east and has made peace with the SLA, the largest group in Darfur. This must be known by everybody, which is very important.

SESAY: Mr. Ambassador -- Mr. Ambassador, you pointed out a very -- you pointed out a short time ago that the president of Sudan has accepted a 3,000 force -- hybrid force. But which is I understand, it is only to provide technical and logistical support.

But in terms of a force that will have a mandate to bring peace to the ground, you still resist that. What will it take? What will it take to get boots on the ground that can indeed protect the lives of the people that have been displaced by recent quotes over 2.5 million people displaced? What will it take to bring change -- concrete change to the ground?

LUETH: What it will take is pressuring the rebels who have refused to sign peace agreement -- the Darfur peace agreement, which was made by the Sudan, the African Union, the United States, so many other countries in the west that will agree. This peace agreement was not only Sudan doing it. It was a universal peace.

And now, the United States and the west are not pressing the rebels to sign the peace agreement. That is the only thing. The will of the rebels to have one voice and an (INAUDIBLE) with the government of national unity. That's what we need. It's not just arms and troops. They will never resolve anything.

We have 150,000 well-trained troops in Iraq. Have they stopped the violence? The same thing could happen in Sudan. So, what we need is a goodwill of cessation of hostilities and after cessation of hostilities, we will have a dialogue. Have the leaders of the rebels to be -- have one voice, if they cannot have one leader. This is where we will stop the violence. No guns will stop violence, I know that.

SESAY: John Lueth, Sudan's ambassador to the U.S. I didn't mean to cut you off there, but I thought you'd completed. But I want to thank you so much for your time today (INAUDIBLE). Thank you very much.

LUETH: Thank you very much. Thank you for having me. Thank you very much.

CLANCY: All right, the ambassador there making some good points about the rebels, because the rebels are a problem in all of this.

SESAY: They are, they are. They are definitely a problem in all of this. But, also people would argue that the government's own position hasn't exactly been honorable in terms of negotiating with those rebels by actually disarming those Janjaweed militias.

CLANCY: And it's important to keep in mind, as you look at Darfur, and it's hard to tell how much everybody knows about it, but these are Muslims on both sides of the fight. And while the international community and we heard the ambassador blaming the international community for the way that it's handled all of this, if wasn't for the international community, these were all Sudanese citizens, we wouldn't be talking about 200,000 dead and 2.5 million displaced. We would be talking about 2.5 million dead and just 200,000 left alive.

SESAY: Indeed. But -- interesting to get the Sudanese point of view. CLANCY: Excellent.

SESAY: And he presented some interesting points for us all to contemplate.

But we must take a short break here. We'll have a lot more of the day's news just ahead. Stay with CNN.


SESAY: Welcome back, you're watching YOUR WORLD TODAY with CNN International.

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

We want to return now to the story about the Venezuela media and the government's move against a popular television station RCTV.

Lucie Morillon is with Reporters without Borders. She joins us from the TimeWarner Center in New York. Thank you so much for being with us. The situation right now, a lot of journalists are without a job. A lot of people say they are without their cherished freedom of speech, freedom of the press. What is the real situation?

LUCIE MORILLON, REPORTERS WITHOUT BORDERS: Well, the closure of Radio Caracas Television is indeed a very serious attempt to freedom of expression and freedom of the press. You know, one of the excuses advanced by the Venezuelan authorities is that it's just an administrative measure but it's not. It's clearly a political decision from President Chavez.

And one of the things they accuse RCTV of is of supporting the 2002 coup against President Chavez, but if this is the case, instead of closing the media, they should have brought the executives to justice. In that case, they should also have closed other media stations. What's going on today is RCTV is the only station to be closed. It is now the last TV station with a nationwide assignment to be critical, openly critical of President Chavez. It is very popular with more than 40 percent of the audience. The problem with it, in the eyes of Mr. Chavez, is it's not only being watched by the opponents of the regime but also by supporters of the regime.

CLANCY: Alright, but as we look at live pictures here. This is a student protest. These are supporters of the opposition for the most part. They are speaking out on the streets. I understand there might be clashes today because government supporters are also being encouraged to leave university campus and take to the streets as well. Lucie, when we look at all of the situation there, is part of this economic? This was a very successful television station that was involved here. This was the biggest television station in all of the country.

LUCIE MORILLON: Oh, absolutely. The biggest one and obviously, it's tone openly critical to Mr. Chavez was not exactly of good taste for the authorities. And its actually a strong signal to send by President Chavez to the rest of the media, which is I'm ready to silence the voices that do not agree with what I say. It's a blow. It's definitely a blow, not only to freedom of expression but also to Democrats. The role of the media in a democracy is to provide checks and balances and to be able to criticize the government and its wrongdoing. When closing radio Caracas television, now the situation is, that President Chavez controls most of the TV stations.

CLANCY: Most but not all. Still some say this was the first major international blunder by Cesar Chavez -- excuse me, by Hugo Chavez.

MORILLON: Well, absolutely. It's a blunder. And all around the world people are standing up and conveying this decision from Mr. Chavez. European parliament passed a resolution last week condemning disclosure of RCTV and Reporters Without Borders is going to also work with United Nations and also call upon the organization of American states to remind the Venezuelan president of the international agreements he has signed, and of his obligation to respect freedom of expression.

CLANCY: Lucia Morillon, of Reporters Without Borders, I want to thank you very much for being with us and sharing some of your perspective on what is happening right now in the streets of Venezuela.

SESAY: Very interesting.

OK. At first glance it looks like science fiction.

CLANCY: But its supporters say, it is all too real.

SESAY: Ahead on YOUR WORLD TODAY, the message behind the new exhibit that shows humans living side by side with dinosaurs.


CLANCY: Well, if you remember just a few minutes ago, we were asking you about our question of the day.

SESAY: We asked if you were worried that the food and medicine that comes from other countries might be tainted.

Here are some of the e-mails we received.

CLANCY: Marilyn from the United States wrote this in: Of course I'm worried about tainted foods and medicines from other countries! I now check labels carefully and try to buy things from the U.S.A.

SESAY: Lawrence from South Africa says: It amazes me that an ancient civilization like China has such a dismal record in human responsible food production.

CLANCY: Alright. A lot of the scandal there over all of that and, of course, a lot of people surprised that a death penalty came down to the equivalent of the head of their food and drug administration. Thanks for writing in. We always love to hear from you.

SESAY: Indeed. Send us your thoughts at Write to us at don't forget to write down your name and where you're writing from.

CLANCY: And finally, I think we should leave with a glimpse of the world created in six days where dinosaurs shared the earth with human beings.

SESAY: And they all sailed together on Noah's Ark. It's the portrayed in a new museum in the U.S. state of Kentucky called the Creation Museum.

CLANCY: The exhibit depicts the biblical book of Genesis as a literal truth. Critics say children will be confused when they learn the very different account offered by modern science. That's it for this hour. I am Jim Clancy.

SESAY: I'm Isha Sesay and this is CNN.



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