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CONNECT THE WORLD

Britain to Implement Steep Budget Cuts; Thousands of Brazilians Lose Homes to Severe Floods; Interview With Matthew Morrison

Aired June 22, 2010 - 16:00:00   ET

THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.


(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

GEORGE OSBORNE, U.K. FINANCE MINISTER: That is unavoidable.

MAX FOSTER, CNN CORRESPONDENT: I9 do not disguise from this house that the combined impact of the tax and benefit changes we've made today are tough for the people. That is unavoidable.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

FOSTER: George Osborne unveiled Britain's steep -- steepest budget cuts in a generation. It adds to a wave of austerity measures, from Athens to Zagreb.

But if America still believes in spending, why doesn't Europe?

We'll ask a top economist whether our governments are making the right gambles on those two continents.

On CNN, this is the hour we connect the world.

One by one, European countries are tightening their belts.

The question is, will it choke off a fragile global economic recovery?

I'm Max Foster in London.

Also tonight, thousands of Brazilians lose their homes to severe flooding. We'll explore what's with the spate of floods around the world this week and how we can prepare against them.

Kill or be killed -- we'll show you how that's the mantra for bodyguards in Mexico's deadly drugs trade.

And...

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: How did you know I liked your hair?

I mean come on. Feel this for me. Feel it.

It's nice, right?

Pretty soft.

How does your hair like become this national sensation?

(END VIDEO CLIP)

FOSTER: The star of the TV hit, "Glee," Matthew Morrison is making high school musicals fashionable, along with his hair, once again. He's answering your questions posted on our Web site and on Twitter. Keep getting involved on the show. My Twitter address is @maxfostercnn.

First, to taxing times for Britain. With a national debt of more than a trillion dollars to tackle, the axe is falling hard and no one will be spared, not even the queen.

Phil Black looks at what's getting the chop.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

PHIL BLACK, CNN CORRESPONDENT: (voice-over): It's the traditional budget day photo opportunity. This time, no one was smiling. Britain's new government has spent weeks preparing the country for the bitter medicine in that red box.

OSBORNE: This budget is needed to deal with our country's debt. This budget is needed to give confidence to our economy. This is the unavoidable budget.

BLACK: George Osborne repeatedly promised he was being tough but fair and the richest would pay more. But his most controversial announcement will affect everyone in the country. Value-added tax -- the levy on most goods and services -- will increase to 20 percent. And that will eventually raise an extra 13 billion pounds, or $19 billion a year.

OSBORNE: The years of debt and spending make this unavoidable. This single tax...

(BOOS)

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We'll have order!

Order!

BLACK: The high earners capital gains tax is increasing to 28 percent.

OSBORNE: The capital gains should increase in order to help create a fairer tax system.

BLACK: But there was tax relief, too. The point at which people start paying income tax will be raised, so around 900,000 people will be removed from the income tax system altogether. And as part of the government's effort to boost business, George Osborne announced a big cut in corporation tax. It will be cut over four years, to 24 percent.

OSBORNE: It will give us the lowest rate of any major Western economy, one of the lowest rates in the G20s and the lowest rate this country has ever known.

BLACK: The government promised to make its biggest savings through spending cuts -- an annual reduction of 32 billion pounds, or $47 billion by 2015. Only funding for the health system and foreign aid will be protected. Welfare alone will lose 11 billion pounds, or $16 billion, including cuts to family and housing benefits. The opposition Labour Party described it all as reckless.

HARRIET HARMAN, ACTING LABOUR PARTY LEADER: -- services. Yes, it's his first budget but it's the same old Tory hitting hard into those who can least afford it and breaking their promises.

BLACK: But in a sign that austerity will affect everyone here, the queen will not be getting a pay raise. For the 20th year, she'll receive 7.9 million, or almost $12 million, to run her household.

Phil Black, CNN, London.

(END VIDEO TAPE)

FOSTER: Well, to quote George Osborne, the budget pays for the past and plans for the future. The real message -- Britain's getting serious about bringing down its budget deficit and it's bringing it down fast.

Let's bring in Jim.

He's outside the U.K. parliament in London -- Jim, reality really starting off to bite for one of the world's biggest economies, then.

JIM BOULDEN, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Absolutely, Max. We all know what happened with Greece a few months ago. And that has scared governments around Europe. And put it into this context. If Greece is able to actually bring its budget deficit down this year, then the U.K. will have a worse budget deficit than Greece, second only to Ireland when it comes to economies here in Europe. That's why they want to take this stand. That's why they decided to not listen to the doomsayers who say we need to start cutting and cutting a lot and cutting now so that we can start to bring down this budget deficit without, of course, trying to put this government and this country back into recession.

Now, one of those glum faces you saw next to George Osborne is Danny Alexander. He's part of this Conservative/Liberal Democrat coalition. And I asked him earlier if he thinks that this government has done enough to calm the markets.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

DANNY ALEXANDER, BRITISH TREASURY CHIEF SECRETARY: To say we can stand back and not act now on the deficit, which is sort of what the Labour Party is saying in the House of Commons, is to be in a state of denial about the scale of the problems that we face or the risks that that implies on the international spectrum.

So I think it's right to act quickly. I think it was right for the G20 to say -- and this is by the global consensus -- that those countries with the largest budget deficits have to act quickly to -- to reduce those deficits. That's what we are doing.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

VAUSE: Now, British bonds have a AAA rating, Max. They're very well sought after in the market. But there has been some worry that maybe they would be downgraded -- maybe they would be downgraded by the rating agencies if they didn't start to cut the budget now.

And, of course, if they did get the rating agencies cuts, it would be even more expensive for this government to raise debt, though the new government promises to cut in half, by 2015, the amount of money they will need to raise in the -- in the debt markets compared to what the government that just went out of power was planning on.

So that's how severe those cuts will be and that's what the market, I think, was looking for.

FOSTER: Jim Boulden in Westminster.

Thank you very much, indeed, explaining there why the government has to get a hand on all of this. And Britain's not alone in trying to immunize itself against Europe's debt contagion. The word austerity is on the lips of leaders across the region.

DIANA MAGNAY, CNN CORRESPONDENT: I'm Diana Magnay in Berlin.

Two weeks ago, the German government announced its own austerity package to the tune of $100 billion that it wants to save between now and 2014 -- cuts that will really target, for example, the long-term unemployed, reductions in parental benefits.

No taxes, though, on high income earners. And that has been one point of criticism from the opposition here in Germany. And trade unions who say that the entire package is socially unfair and that it targets the weaker and more vulnerable elements within society.

But if you talk to people on the streets, you don't get the sense of outrage that we've seen in Spain or in Greece about austerity. And that is partly because it really fits within the German psyche to want to save, to believe that if you're spending beyond your means you must cut back.

Really, the outrage over Germany's austerity package has come more from the international sphere than it has from within the German public.

AL GOODMAN, CNN CORRESPONDENT: I'm Al Goodman in Madrid, where the government's austerity measures are leading to a summer of discontent in Spain. The labor reform rules voted in parliament on Tuesday make it cheaper for companies to lay off or fire workers. Unions are angry and have called a general strike for late September. It will be the first for this socialist government.

Government workers already went on strike this month to protest a 5 percent cut in pay. That aims to reduce the budget deficit. And with the economic woes here and across Europe, Spain's big tourism industry could also suffer this summer. The beaches may not be as crowded as usual.

JIM BITTERMANN, CNN CORRESPONDENT: I'm Jim Bittermann in Paris, where authorities are bracing for a nationwide strike on Thursday. It's the reform in the pension plan system that's going to put people into the streets, a reform which the government hopes will reduce or eliminate a $13 billion deficit in the pension program by raising the retirement age to 62.

And while no one in government will call it austerity or rigueur, the French word for it, the reforms, coupled with others like eliminating public sector workers and raising taxes, are all part of belt tightening measures which many in government say are over due, even if they are unpopular.

FOSTER: You get the message then -- deep cuts across Europe. And one man who won't protest against any of Europe's austerity measures is Ken Rogoff.

He's the former chief economist at the International Monetary Fund.

He reckons nations like Britain can't go too far, in fact, in reining in their spending.

Let's bring him in from Cambridge, Massachusetts.

Ken, it's interesting, this, isn't it, because here in London, there's a big debate on the cuts. It's not whether there should be cuts, it's when there should be cuts. And the opposition parties say those cuts should be delayed until next year.

You disagree.

Why is that?

KENNETH ROGOFF, PROFESSOR OF ECONOMICS, HARVARD UNIVERSITY: -- markets that you mean business. And if it's all in the future, it's just not very credible. You've got to get out ahead of the curve. It's really, you know, this is just a first taste of what's to come. It could have been much more drastic.

FOSTER: Let's take it to a different level then. Washington, I think, it's fair to say, has a bit of (INAUDIBLE) with Europe because Washington is putting money into its economy and it wants the global economy to follow. And it probably feels that Europe is doing the opposite.

ROGOFF: Well, the Europeans, the trouble is here and now. I mean this isn't some tail in the future that they're going to have credit market problems. They're melting down now. And even Britain is vulnerable. So they're not in any position to talk about doing it five years from now.

Personally, I think the United States has it wrong. I think we should start doing something sooner rather than put it off at -- until after the next election.

FOSTER: But the -- it's a fair argument, isn't it?

If there is a fragile economic recovery and you've got a cut in public spending, which is a huge part of the economy, then you're going to make that recovery end?

ROGOFF: Well, you're certainly going to slow it down. But let's not forget monetary policy, which is far more potent than fiscal policy. If the government keeps spending until it's blue in the face, that's going to scare the central banks into raising interest rates sooner. They're worried about inflation. They're worried about having to pick up the tab for all of this.

So Mervyn King in the United Kingdom has said -- he's the governor of the central bank -- he has said if the government tightens at a reasonable pace, that helps us. We can keep interest rates lower for longer for everybody. It's the same in the United States.

So I think it's the right mix to sort of gradually reduce all this fiscal largesse, keep money loose until the economy reflates and even looser, if they need to.

But I think they're not over shooting. They're talking about balancing the structural budget in four or five years. They're not talking about doing it in a year or two.

FOSTER: OK, but what about the argument that if you chucked a bit more money in the economy as it's growing, it will grow even faster and you'll get the tax receipts in, so, therefore, you can solve it that way?

ROGOFF: You know, there's an element of that, particularly if you cut taxes. But it -- it sounds like a false calculation and it is. I mean I think, you know, you end up running a deeper ditch and taking a chance of a credit crisis -- something much, much worse than just a slightly slower recovery.

FOSTER: Ken Rogoff, thank you very much, indeed, for joining us again.

Next, fleeing the floods -- a thin rope becomes a lifeline for people trapped in flood-stricken Brazil. From the Americas to Asia to Africa, floodwaters cause death and destruction.

Why is all of this happening now?

We'll explore next on CONNECT THE WORLD.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

FOSTER: Now to life and death battles playing out across much of the world right now, such as in northeastern Brazil, where torrential rains and floodwaters are ravaging homes. At least 40 people have been killed, hundreds more are missing and more than 100,000 people are homeless. Entire buildings have disintegrated into the high waters. Brazil's president held an emergency meeting with his cabinet on the crisis today.

Heavy rains and deadly floods are also wreaking havoc in China. Nearly 200 people have died there in surging water. We'll have a report from the heart of the flood zone in China and explore why this is happening in so many places across the globe.

But first, back to Brazil.

Let's get the very latest on the catastrophic flooding in Brazil from Rafael Romo.

He's in Rio de Janeiro and joins me now on the phone from there -- Rafael, these pictures are just extraordinary.

Are they still unfolding as we saw them?

RAFAEL ROMO, SENIOR LATIN AMERICAN AFFAIRS EDITOR: Yes, that's exactly right, Max. And, really, the question right now is what's going to happen to the 150,000 homeless or displaced people who have been affected by several days since Friday of last week of -- of flooding. That's the real challenge right now.

The death toll, the -- the most updated death toll, according to the government, is 42 people in two northeastern states. We're talking about Alagoas and Pernambuco. It has the potential of becoming a humanitarian crisis if aid is not delivered as fast as it should. The states have mobilized and today there was an emergency meeting where president -- Brazilian President Luiz Ignacio Lula da Silva liberated funds to help the people affected by this disaster. But, again, 115,000 people who are homeless or displaced with nowhere to go. And time is -- is -- is of the essence here -- Max.

FOSTER: Rafael Romo in Rio.

Thank you for that.

Now to Southern China, where a dike has burst in the rain swollen Fu River, forcing tens of thousands of people to flee. Days of torrential rains and floods have ravaged 10 provinces and killed nearly 200 people. More than 120 others are missing.

Let's get the latest from senior international correspondent, John Vause.

He's in Yangtze Province.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

JOHN VAUSE, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): There's been a brief respite from the rain here in Yangtze Province, one of the hardest hit areas. But earlier today, surging floodwaters breached a levy, causing the evacuation of nearly 70,000 people. Temporary shelters have been set up. Officials say they still need tents and food. But after more than a week of heavy downpours, many roads into the flood zone have been badly damaged.

In this one province alone, more than 10,000 soldiers and emergency crews are working together to try and rescue stranded residents, many plucked from rooftops or from trees.

This flooding, though, is incredibly widespread across 10 provinces and, according to state media, almost 30 million people have been affected. More than two million have been evacuated.

And the damage is staggering. According to state media, nearly 200,000 homes have collapsed. More than half a million homes have been damaged and more than a million hectares of crop land is now underwater. The total economic losses so far estimated to be around $6 billion U.S.

And more rain is now expected. And with six major rivers now at record levels, another 35 dangerously high emergency crews and residents here are now bracing for more severe flooding.

John Vause, CNN, Yangtze Province, China.

(END VIDEO TAPE)

FOSTER: China and Brazil are not the only countries dealing with deadly floods, would you believe?

At least 30 people are dead in Ghana in flooding in the capital, Accra. Heavy rains have swept away cars and destroyed homes there. In Belgrade, weeks of heavy rain have killed dozens of people and destroyed precious farmland. Rivers surged over their banks, washing away homes and marooning villages.

Heavy rains have also washed out roads and damaged buildings in Northern Bosnia. Some neighborhoods are completely underwater. Forty people are trapped in the upper floors of a spa resort.

And in Canada's Saskatchewan Province, heavy rains closed parts of the busy Trans-Canada Highway. Hundreds of people are on alert to be ready to evacuate there.

So why are we seeing these massive floods from Asia to the Americas to Africa all at the same time?

Well, I'm joined now by Upmanu Lall in New York.

He is director of the Columbia Water Center and a leading expert on water and climate issues.

Thank you so much for joining us.

A lot of our viewers suggesting or wanting to know whether there's a link between all of these floods. I guess there isn't. But it's something that comes to people's minds when it hits the whole world at once, it seems.

UPMANU LALL, DIRECTOR, COLUMBIA WATER CENTER: There isn't an obvious link. There -- actually, there are two possible factors. One is that if you look at the current picture of ocean temperatures, the white band around the equator, both in the Atlantic Ocean and in the Western Pacific and Indian Ocean, that's enormously warm. And this would stimulate activity in areas that are connected to moist -- that as a moisture source. So it's possible that that has some effect. But we haven't had a chance to investigate that early (ph).

There are other possibility is that there's so many more people that their awareness that there's a flood going on, just from the exposure point of view, is much greater now.

FOSTER: And what's so depressing is that a lot of these places where the floods are, they're -- there's -- they're almost expected. They're often in flood plains. But people still gather there. They still work there. They still live there.

Why do we have this recurring problem that people live in areas prone to flooding?

LALL: This is the same reason, in some ways, as why people get hurt when the stock market crashes. Many of these places are fertile soils. Many of these places have access to rivers and, hence, to navigation so that goods can be moved more easily.

So they are good places to be from that point of view. And then relatively frequently, you experience large damages. So while many businesses have tried to come up with zoning laws and such to restrict people from such areas, they migrate right back.

FOSTER: Is it depressing to you that the authorities in these areas never seem to be properly prepared or have any backup plans for flooding like this?

LALL: It's depressing, indeed. But I must point out that in the case of China and the floods, they had massive preemptory evacuations and they managed to avoid much of the damage that could have happened. So there are places that are doing better than others in that respect.

FOSTER: OK.

Thank you so much for joining me, Marty Lall, who's in New York.

Thank you very much.

Now, the round 16 starting to take shape for the World Cup.

We'll tell you who advanced and who's going home just ahead in a live report from Johannesburg.

Stay right here.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

FOSTER: Football fans across the world sending in their iReports to CNN. Here's a very colorful video from Johannesburg. No, this isn't Spider Man. It's a South Korean fan displaying his dexterity outside Soccer City.

Our reporter, John Taylor, sent us the video ahead of South Korea's match today against Nigeria, as you see in this video. This is grabbing attention on the Web.

Can he breathe, that's what I want to know?

That South Korea-Nigeria match just wrapped up, along with Greece- Argentina. The results sent two of those teams into the round of 16.

We want to bring in Isha Sesay from Johannesburg -- Isha, Group B started the day with Argentina on top.

How did it end?

ISHA SESAY, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, the day ended with Argentina going through as winners of Group B, three wins out of three and South Korea getting the runners-up spot in that group.

Let's talk about the Argentina-Greece match, shall we, which ended 2-0 in Polikwane (ph). It wasn't the most riveting of matches, that's for sure. Argentina coming out with some fight in their belly, but Greece looking very much like their plan was just to defend through this match. Argentina kept knocking at the door, though. And they got their goal in the 77th minute, thanks to Martin Demichelis, the man there getting the goal -- the first goal of the night.

The second goal was to come on 88 minutes. Martin Palermo the man -- watch that. They put the ball at the back of the net. Diego Maradona sitting pretty at the top of the table, three wins out of three, all 12 points. He goes through to the round of 16. And they will face Mexico in that next stage.

Let's talk about the match between Nigeria and South Korea. Now, this was a feisty little encounter. And Nigeria, again, aside playing for pride, the African team's not doing well in this World Cup to date. It ended two apiece, Nigeria getting the first goal on 12 minutes. A lovely ball from the far post. And Kalu Uche getting a second goal in two matches. He got the first match and then -- he got the first goal, I should say. Nigeria continued to look comfortable, Max. But South Korea kept the pressure going. They got a goal on 37 minutes. They got a goal in 37 minutes. The goal scorer, Lee Jung Soo.

Half time, it was won, although, and after the break, South Korea kept the pressure on.

OK, we're going to get a look at Nigeria's first goal here, Kalu Uche's goal on 12 minutes. As I said, his second in two matches. South Korea keeping the pressure on and that man, Lee Jung Soo getting the -- the second goal on 37 minutes.

At half time, Max, it was one all. And after the break, South Korea kept the pressure on, South Korea going in front on 49 minutes, thanks to Park Chu Young there.

But Nigeria didn't drop their heads. They won a penalty.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: And Nigeria...

SESAY: In 69 minutes, Yakuba Aiyegbeni with the goal after that performance there. This is the moment Yakuba Aiyegbeni stepped up and he got the goal in 69 minutes. But two all at finish, Max, South Korea going through to the second round of the World Cup. The -- only the second time they -- in fact, I should say, I correct myself -- the first time they progressed to the second round on foreign soil -- Max.

FOSTER: OK, Isha, thank you so much for that.

Now, earlier, the first two teams advanced to the round of 16 and it turns out they played each other. Uruguay defeated Mexico 1-0, to win Group A. Mexico missed an early chance off the crossbar.

Later, Uruguay scored the only goal on a beautiful header by Bruce Barrows (ph) in (INAUDIBLE) minutes. It was a match where scoring chances were few and far between.

Host South Africa excited the tournament as it (INAUDIBLE) France to a 2-1 victory wasn't enough to overcome the (INAUDIBLE) deferential tie baiting with Mexico (INAUDIBLE) with a header.

And thousands forced to play down a man after a red guard (ph). South Africa, though, went up to nil, keeping remote hopes of advancing alive. The game went up in smoke, though, when France scored a second half goal putting them in the final, 2-1 margin. Some good football, though.

Imagine putting your life on the line every day you go to work. Being a bodyguard in Mexico requires some serious survival training. We'll look at the first line of defense against powerful drug cartels as we continue a week of special coverage.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

FOSTER: We're back with CONNECT THE WORLD.

I'm Max Foster in London.

Coming up, kill or be killed in the rule -- is the rule in the animal kingdom. But it's also the mantra for bodyguards in Mexico training to deal with the fallout from the nation's ongoing drugs war.

Our obesity in children week continues, where we meet the Chinese rap group who call themselves the Fat -- they're called the Four Fat Bodies, to be correct.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

FOSTER: We're back with CONNECT THE WORLD. I'm Max Foster in London.

Coming up, kill or be killed is the rule in the animal kingdom, but it's also the mantra for bodyguards in Mexico training to deal with the fallout from the nation's ongoing drugs war.

Obesity in children. We continue when we meet the Chinese rap group who call themselves "The Four Fab Fatties." They hope to make it big in China by sizing down.

And before the end of the program, join our very own Glee Club. Your Connector of the Day is Matthew Morrison, aka Will Scheuester from the TV show phenomenon bringing musical theater into millions of homes across the world.

All those stories ahead in the show for you, but first we've got to check on the headlines for you this hour.

At the World Cup, Argentina have moved to the round of 16 after a 2- nil victory over Greece. South Korea also advanced on the strength of a 2- all draw with Nigeria. Earlier, Uruguay defeated Mexico 1-nil to win their group, but Mexico advanced on the strength of a tie-breaker against South Africa, which beat France 2-1.

Officials in Brazil say flood waters have now killed 42 people in two northeastern states. Another 115,000 people were forced to leave their homes in search of higher grounds. Heavy rains sent torrents of water surging through towns, washing out roads and bridges. Some areas received a month's worth of rain in just two days.

Days of torrential rains and floods have killed nearly 200 people in southern China. Nearly 35,000 people were forced to flee for their lives when a dike burst in the rain-swollen Fu River. Hundreds of thousands of homes are in ruins, and damage is estimated in the billions of dollars.

A top US general in Afghanistan is being summoned to the White House tomorrow to explain comments critical of members of the Obama administration. General Stanley McChrystal has apologized for these comments in a new "Rolling Stone" magazine article, "A mistake reflecting poor judgment."

It was one of the world's highest rates of drug related -- or has one of the world's highest rates of drug-related violence, but the more the government cracks down on cartels, the more they brazenly fight back. All this week, we're taking a special look at Mexico.

Yesterday, we saw how ordinary citizens are paying a high price for the drugs war, often caught in the crossfire. We also learned how towns along the US border are terrorized by bitter fighting between the Gulf Cartel and its former hit squads, the Zetas.

Now today, we learn the art of survival. Bodyguards in Mexico have an incredibly difficult job, protecting their clients from the constant threats of assassination and of kidnapping. As Karl Penhaul found out, they're trained to keep their finger near the trigger, and be quick on the draw.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

KARL PENHAUL, CNN CORRESPONDENT: The enemy operates in the shadows. There are no front lines, and no holds barred.

So lesson one from security specialist Mario Falcone is simple. Kill, or be killed.

MARIO FALCONE, SECURITY SPECIALIST (through translator): Cold blood, speed, and accuracy will determine whether you stay alive.

PENHAUL: His students are trainee bodyguards. Some civilians, others are military. Their task, protect business leaders, politicians, and military top brass.

Drills begin with replica Beretta pistols firing BBs.

FALCONE (through translator): You never know what moment you're going to die. But the assassin knows exactly the time and the place.

PENHAUL: This is Tamaulipas state, and since early this year, has become one of Mexico's most brutal battlegrounds.

The Gulf Cartel and its former hit squad known as the Zetas have split. Now, they're fighting each other along the border and down the Gulf coast. Security forces have been infiltrated, too. It's a war where no one can be trusted.

On foot or in vehicles, Falcone is teaching his bodyguards to protect his clients from the ever-present danger of kidnapping or assassination.

FALCONE (through translator): React like an animal, act like an animal, and defend yourself like an animal.

PENHAUL: Most of all, he advised them, be ruthless.

FALCONE (through translator): You have to be ready to kill somebody to protect your client. To die in the line of duty is sad. To kill somebody in the line of duty is harsh, but it's much better.

PENHAUL: Karate expert Falcone may have some firsthand insight into the Narco hit man's mind. In the past, he's trained members of police special operations and SWAT units. Later, many of them went rogue and joined the cartels, especially the Zetas.

FALCONE (through translator): Since 1997, I've trained maybe 2,500 or 3,000 police. And some are maybe still in the police. Some have left, and others may have changed sides.

PENHAUL: For his own security, he declines to be more explicit.

These are wanted posters for suspected Zetas. They're reputed to be a squad of well-armed, highly trained mercenaries.

FALCONE (through translator): The key to being a hit man doesn't depend on how well he is trained, but on his moral values. Many times, a hit man is young, has no moral values, and maybe they're high on drugs.

PENHAUL: Fellow instructor and former police officer Arturo Rubio has a more humorous philosophy for the faint-hearted.

ARTURO RUBIO, SECURITY INSTRUCTOR (through translator): If there's a lot of them, run. If there's only a few of them, hide. And if there's nobody, then charge, my brave comrades.

PENHAUL: It's the last day of training. Live fire. Both eyes wide open, on the move. Impressive maneuvers, but will this really be enough?

This is just a shooting gallery, but the reality is that when these bodyguards hit the streets, they'll likely be outnumbered and outgunned by drug traffickers who are better funded and better armed.

If the bullets start to fly, lesson one could be the only one that counts. Kill, or be killed. Karl Penhaul, CNN, Ciudad Victoria, Mexico.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

FOSTER: So what's it like to go through that bodyguard training? Well, later on "BackStory," we'll find out from Karl and his producer firsthand. Karl will tell us how he learned to take down an assailant with just a few fingers. Details on "BackStory." That's around 20 minutes from now on CNN.

And tomorrow on CONNECT THE WORLD, we'll see how Mexico's violent drug war is also killing business. Normally bustling border communities are becoming ghost towns, and Karl Penhaul will have the story on that.

Coming up next, our special report on childhood obesity continues. Three years ago, these Chinese girls were celebrating their size. But now, they've checked themselves into hospital to try to lose weight. And they're not alone. The global struggle to slim down, just ahead.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

FOSTER: You're looking there at a young girl who once weighed as much as 200 kilograms, and she's only 14 years old. She recently had surgery to help her lose weight. It's a controversial procedure to perform on children, and it's just one aspect of childhood obesity we're highlighting in a special series this week.

Tonight's report on obesity in children comes from China, where four young woman who once celebrated their weight are now trying to slim down. CNN's John Vause has their story.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

JOHN VAUSE, CNN CORRESPONDENT: In time (ph), they might just end up being China's own Biggest Losers. Four young women so desperate to slim down, together they've checked into a fat reduction hospital.

"We're getting older, and obesity will have a very bad impact on our health. Even if we can lose a little weight, it'll be good for us," says Xiao Yang.

We first met her three years ago, along with the others, a rapper with a group called Qian Jin Zu . Roughly translated, it means "One Thousand Pounds," their combined weight. And their signature song, "So What if I'm Fat?"

They were living large and proud, defying social norms, but not now.

"It happened gradually," she says. "Some celebrities, when they reach the top of their careers are fat, and they die suddenly, just 50 of 60 years old. I've been thinking about losing weight for some time."

So now, they're working out.

Was it difficult when you first started? Is it getting easier?

"Before I could the elliptical machine for just 10 minutes. Now I can keep going for 40 minutes," says Yang here.

They're lifting weights. And playing badminton. Three hours of exercise a day. Doctors use acupuncture to control appetite, which is just as well because they're kept on a very strict diet. No more than 1500 calories each day.

And so far, it's working. After just two months, Yang has lost more than 50 pounds, Ye almost 50, Zhang Wen (ph) more than 30 pounds, so too Shen Jing (ph).

And this rundown hospital could be home to the four woman for up to the next 12 months, because that's how long doctors say it could take them to reach their goal of losing almost half their total body weight.

"We'll take away a new lifestyle and life habits, and maintain our weight," says Ye.

And they're still performing together, only now, they're singing a very different tune. John Vause, CNN, Tianjin (ph), China.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

FOSTER: Those four women have all been overweight since childhood. They say eating western-style fast food contributed to their obesity.

And now, a new study out today in the UK seems to support that possible relationship. The National Institute for Health and Clinical Excellence says a reduction in salt and saturated fats could save up to 40,000 lives a year just here in the UK.

The group also wants local authorities to tighten restrictions on how food is marketed to children. And they recommend lowering prices on healthy foods as well.

Maura Gillespie is the head of policy for the British Heart Foundation. She joins me now. She's here in London.

Maura, I know that you think there's another element involved here as well. We saw it in that report. And it's exercise, right? You talk about personal responsibility?

MAURA GILLESPIE, BRITISH HEART FOUNDATION: Yes. The British Heart Foundation welcomed today's report, because cardiovascular disease is one of Britain's biggest killers, actually.

So the report today focused on a number of different issues, and one of them was, it touched on physical activity. We think that physical activity is just as important as diet, because it's sort of an equation, really. It's energy in, which is the diet, and it's also the energy out, which is the physical activity.

So we want to see governments and local authorities making priorities for physical activity as well as dietary issues.

FOSTER: It's interesting you say that, because some people suggest that people are too quick too blame the fast food culture. Actually, obese people should be looking to themselves for the solutions and to make their own decisions about this.

GILLESPIE: What we'd like to see is that it's easy for people to make those healthy decisions. So we would like to see the food industry do actually play their part by reformulating products so that they have healthier fats in them. Lowering fat and lowering salt.

But also, that they make it easy for people to see when they're making those choices which products are higher in fat. So we would really like to see industry stepping up to the plate and putting nutritional labeling on the front of pack with an easy traffic light system, which would highlight to people which are the healthy choices and which are the treats they should be having.

FOSTER: And what are we learning, the, about what it is, actually, in foods that causes obesity? The unhealthy elements of food. Give us some tips for when we do go into a restaurant, and perhaps we don't know what to look for. What's the most simple thing that you can tell us?

GILLESPIE: You want to look for the healthy items on a menu when you go to a restaurant. So you want to look for the lean meats, and lots of vegetables in your diet.

You want to try and stay away from the highly processed food. And so if you're cooking at home, healthy options are getting a can of tomatoes and making a pasta sauce rather than buying a jar of pasta sauce, because that has hidden fats and hidden salts in it.

FOSTER: But we like the fast food. We like the unhealthy stuff. Help us with that.

GILLESPIE: OK. I think that's where industry has to help, really. They have to step in, and the products that they are making and selling, they can reformulate them, as they have done with salt. They've taken a lot of salt out of the diet. And now, it's the time for saturated fats. They need to take those out of the diet. And trans fats out of the products that they're selling, so that people, when they make the choice, it's already a healthier choice for them.

FOSTER: OK, Maura Gillespie, thank you very much indeed for joining us, and the British Heart Foundation.

Coming up next, our Connector of the Day is the star of the TV phenomenon, it has to be said. It's "Glee." Matthew Morrison tells us why he thinks the show has touched so many people. And he talks about the real life teacher who inspired him to choose music over sports. Right after the break.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

FOSTER: Saying the name "Matthew Morrison" may not garner much of a reaction, but even so much as utter "Mr. Scheuester," and you'll be surrounded by a gaggle of adoring fans. Or "gleeks," as they're now called.

Morrison plays teacher Will Scheuester in television's hottest new show, "Glee." In addition to breaking a series of records for his host network Fox, "Glee" has endeared itself to people from all backgrounds and ages.

The show combines satire with teenage drama to create a compelling parody of high school life in Ohio.

STUDENT: It's the choreography.

MR. SCHUESTER: OK, what's wrong with the choreography?

STUDENT: It sucks. It's completely unoriginal.

FOSTER: But its most important assets are the numerous songs performed in every episode, which turn the show into a musical of spin- offs.

AWARD'S ANNOUNCER: "Glee."

FOSTER: Morrison and the show's other stars have skyrocketed to fame. In addition to magazine covers and awards show performances, the "Glee" gang even went on tour around the US.

And Morrison himself is embarking on a solo career in music this fall. From an unknown talent to primetime obsession, Matthew Morrison is your Connector of the Day.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

FOSTER: Becky Anderson sat down with Mr. Scheuester himself yesterday here in London. She began by asking him about the television phenomenon that is "Glee."

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

MATTHEW MORISSON, SINGER/ACTOR, "GLEE": You know, there's really something in it for everyone. I think if you ask -- and definitely if you ask any of the cast members on the show, they'll give you a different answer for why it's so successful.

For me, it's always been about the music. I feel like internationally it's doing so well because music is a language that everyone speaks.

But it's also a real underdog story. It's about the losers and the ragtag group of misfits, them trying to be great. And I think we can all relate to that.

BECKY ANDERSON, CNN HOST: For people who haven't seen the show, because this --

MORRISON: Who?

ANDERSON: Well --

MORRISON: Who?

ANDERSON: There may be some parts of the world where "Glee" hasn't quite arrived. For those people in that part of the world or those parts of the world, how do you describe the show?

MORRISON: I'm the Glee Club choir director, and it's my mission to kind of make it great again. And in the midst of that, I have a lot of people who try to foil my plans. Sue Sylvester, who's the cheerleading coach, who's amazing. And that's -- if there's one reason to watch the show, I think she would be it.

ANDERSON: I was going to say, yes, it's this fabulous love/hate relationship with the character of Sue Sylvester. What is your relationship really like?

MORRISON: She is the most unlike her character of anyone on the show.

ANDERSON: Really?

MORRISON: She is the sweetest woman, and probably the woman that I hang out with the most.

ANDERSON: Question from Susannah: "Sue Sylvester always makes fun of your hair. What do you actually put in it for the show." She says she's heard that it's Lubriderm.

MORRISON: She's right.

ANDERSON: Oh, she is?

MORRISON: Ding ding ding! Oh Susannah, you were right on hair condition.

ANDERSON: And Sue Sylvester, does she actually like your hair, because in the show, she's quite mean.

MORRISON: How could you not like my hair? I mean, come on. Feel this thing. Feel it. It's nice, right? Pretty soft.

Well, of course. I mean, my hair -- my friends all say, "What?" No one ever saw it coming, I guess. Like, "How does your hair become this national sensation?"

ANDERSON: You describe the Glee Club as a bunch of misfits, really. Some that, perhaps, a lot of people watching the show can sort of identify with when they --

MORRISON: There's a lot of misfits out there.

ANDERSON: Where you a misfit at school?

MORRISON: I was, but no one knew. I was really good at charming -- I was very charming to my teachers and stuff. So I got away with a lot of stuff.

ANDERSON: So you never got slushy facials?

MORRISON: Who ever has? I've never heard of that in a school show.

ANDERSON: Keira from New York asks, "Does the success of the show do you think prove, once and for all, the need for arts and music programs all over the world." And that's a serious question to people.

MORRISON: I think absolutely 100 percent it does. And I know in America, it's the arts education funding is just going away. I wouldn't be where I am today without the amazing public arts education that I had. And I think it's so vital.

And I think this role is so fitting for me, because if I hadn't gone onto New York and had the success I had there, I think I would've been a teacher. I think I would've been a music teacher.

ANDERSON: You can always back. Take a listen to Desiree on the iPad sort of question for you.

DESIREE CONTREREAS, iREPORTER: Hi, Matthew. Here's my question for you. What is one role or character that you've always wanted to play? And what is it, and why?

MORRISON: I can't tell you a specific one, but I know that I want to play a villain. Yes. I've actually been offered a few movies since "Glee," and I've turned them down because I feel like they were too much like Will Scheuester.

That's the thing about this show. I think my character, people trust him. He's very trustworthy and just like a super nice guy you just want to be buddies with, and I'm really an (expletive). But it's hard being Will Scheuester. It's hard being up and happy-go-lucky all day long.

ANDERSON: GYJ from Malaysia sends this in. "Please, did you have the slightest idea you'd have this sort of success when you were growing up?"

MORRISON: I actually -- my own personal "Mr. Scheuester" was a guy in high school, a teacher I had named Dr. Ralph O'Pasic (ph), and he sat me down one day and kind of said I should stick with the arts and I had something kind of special.

ANDERSON: "If you could choose any Broadway musical to be adapted into film," Nicole asks, "which would it be?"

MORRISON: "Assassins," which you've probably never heard of.

ANDERSON: No.

MORRISON: Because it is actually -- it's about the people who have assassinated or have tried to assassinate American presidents. Stephen Sondheim wrote the music for it, and it's just a really dark buzz kill.

And it's not a musical, but something I would really love to do is, I would love to do a Gene Kelly movie musical. Because he's someone who's kind of inspired me through dance. He made dance masculine.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

FOSTER: Very well. Will Scheuester speaking to Becky earlier. Our Connector of the Day tomorrow is former first lady of Britain. Even though her husband is no longer prime minister, Cherie Blair is still as active as ever as a lawyer, a mother, and a philanthropist.

And there's a short chance to ask her a question directly. Head over to our website, cnn.com/connect. Remember to tell us where you're writing from, and we'll pick the most interesting questions and put them to Cherie Blair tomorrow night at this time. We'll be right back.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

FOSTER: It's the heart of the summer here in the northern hemisphere, so tonight's Through the Lens, we're taking a look at how people around the US have been making the most of the summer sunshine.

And Sherlock55's (ph) brilliant iReport takes us to New York's Times Square first, where hundreds of people took part in one of the world's largest ever yoga classes to mark the summer solstice.

Fans of the world's favorite boy wizard flocked to the grand opening of Wizarding World of Harry Potter in Florida over the weekend. This picture coming to us from Lina Kaki (ph) in Orlando.

Over 5,000 -- 500,000, even, fans of the L.A. Lakers lined the streets of downtown Los Angeles today to celebrate their team's 16th NBA championship. IReporter Pixel (ph) captured these scenes of celebration.

And finally, to the Coney Island Mermaid Festival in New York, where locals donned their finest costumes for the much-loved annual event.

Please keep these wonderful iReports coming into us at CNN. That's our world in pictures for tonight. We'll have more tomorrow.

We'll end the show tonight with the World Cup. Four years after making the final, France goes out in the first round. Today's World Cup postcard reveals one fan's lament, and we also hear from a fan of the hosts, South Africa.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

FRANCOIS XAVIER LAVISSIERE, FRANCE FAN: This season was not very well played. Because, as you said, the scandal with the coach and Nicolas Anelka make the French sad. Really, they were a little bit lost with that. But they were more concentrated, more focused on this affair than the match, big game against South Africa. So, their game was a little bit too late. South Africa is not a good team compared with France.

For sure, we should have expected more from France. The level of game from French squad was distressing, really. As you could see in the match, all the attacks from South Africa were dangerous. The defense was like a freeway.

The level of France was really, really bad. That's concerning. Dismaying.

ELROY CUPIDO, SOUTH AFRICA FAN: We were disappointed in the fact that we're now out of the tournament, but also extremely proud of the Bafana Bafana team for their performance today. We've beaten France, who is one of the top 20 sides in the world.

And yes, I think with a performance like that today, going out of the World Cup, we're disappointed but extremely proud. And I think these guys can hold their heads up high for a performance like that.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

FOSTER: We've been reaching out for fan reactions every day on CONNECT THE WORLD. It's a journey that's taken us from Spain and Switzerland to South Africa and Mexico and many more countries. We'll keep doing that through the World Cup, instant reactions to the games. Nothing connects the world, it seems, like football.

Get involved, cnn.com/connect.

I'm Max Foster, that is it for the show, on the TV. Do stay in tuned with us online, though. "BackStory" is next after this check of the Headlines.

END