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CONNECT THE WORLD

Fears of A Nationwide Cholera Outbreak in Haiti; Toll from the Earthquake in Indonesia; Interview with Harrison Ford ; Calls for Curfews in Mexican Cities to Combat Drug Cartel Violence; Reporters Without Borders Releases Press Freedom Index; Crackdowns in Yemen Concern Journalists. The Life and Death of Paul the Octopus; Parting Shots of Shoes Tossed in Protest

Aired October 26, 2010 - 16:00:00   ET

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


ZAIN VERJEE, HOST: The very water that gives Haitians life is killing them, too. From there to Pakistan, where dozens have succumbed to the same sickness -- cholera.

So if we know that disease is always on the heels of a natural disaster, why aren't we better prepared?

Tonight, we ask the U.N. to respond.

Going beyond borders on the day's biggest satires, on CNN, this is the hour we connect the world.

Cholera is taking its toll on three continents right now. It is a disease that should really be so easy to tackle, but only if its victims have clean water. Joining all the dots for you, I'm Zain Verjee in London.

Also tonight, more than 100 dead after an Indonesian earthquake and tsunami. And another natural disaster hits the country, as a volcano eruption forces thousands to flee.

Amid all that, there's one bright spot -- we're going to bring you the amazing story -- it's really great -- of an Australian sailor whose presence of mind saved the lives of his crew and passengers.

And our Connector of the Day on saving the environment.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

HARRISON FORD, ACTOR: Time is short. Nature is at the tipping point and we have to act decisively, boldly now.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

VERJEE: Harrison Ford answers your questions on biodiversity and how to stay green.

That's CNN in the next 60 minutes.

Just nine months after a deadly earthquake ripped through this tiny Caribbean nation, Haiti now faces another killer. The United Nations has just ramped up its response to a deadly cholera outbreak. Now they fear it could go nationwide, affecting tens of thousands of people.

Paula Newton joins me now in Barbancourt in Haiti -- Paula, give you an idea of what you were seeing happening today.

PAULA NEWTON, CNN INTERNATIONAL SECURITY CORRESPONDENT: Well, it's interesting, while many people say that perhaps -- perhaps this outbreak has peaked, what you see in the clinics in these areas are still people who come in. They're incredibly ill. And that continues to be a problem. The message here, Zain, is that cholera will be in Haiti for quite some time to come.

The problem -- their only water source now may be contaminated.

I want you to take a look.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

NEWTON (voice-over): Carved into the agricultural heartland of Haiti, the winding waters of the Artibonite offer a livelihood to many. But these same waters could now be the very source of cholera that is killing them.

Residents are in and out of the water here countless times a day. They say they have been warned not to drink it. But with alarming habit, they do just about everything else with it.

(on camera): And I want you to take a look at now this little boy. He's in the water. He's been swimming in the water for some time since we've been here. He has his hands in his mouth. He's clearly taking water in. And yet this is a river that most likely is contaminated with cholera.

(voice-over): Here, this little boy washes out his food bowl in the river water and he serves his meal with water still clinging to his food. Every bite could now potentially make him very sick. "He's used to doing this," this villager tells us. "It's not going to make him sick."

And that's the next challenge -- convincing Haitians the water they have counted on for generations is now making them sick. There are signs some are willing to believe it. Understandably, they need another source of water. In the village of Morupe (ph), they've got one.

(on camera): They say this is some of the purest water here in Haiti. It's just north of St. Marc and this is well water that has been treated. Now what this community says would be helpful would be to get those rehydration kits, those oral kits, to be dispensed right here so that they'll know of people that are sick right away and that those people will get their treatment right at the water source.

(voice-over): The water comes courtesy of this well and the YAYA Water Company. Its water purification director tells us they're willing to provide, during this crisis, about a half million liters, or 144,000 gallons of clean water a day.

Solutions are here, but first, Haitians must be convinced that river water could now be a dangerous predator. And if they're not, they may struggle to stay ahead of this crisis.

(END VIDEO TAPE)

NEWTON: What has been interesting, though, is the solutions can be here. In this village, in this village, that was hard hit by cholera, they have had a water purification system here. Not everyone was using it. They were using the water source they're used to, have been using for generations -- canals, little tributaries from the rivers, now contaminated with cholera.

Here in this community, NGOs are working to put in water purification units. And that's good news, Zane. It means that they can begin to get ahead of this crisis.

VERJEE: Paula Newton giving us an excellent sense of what's going on over there in Haiti right now.

Paula, just stay with us, OK?

We want to take a look at some of the other outbreaks of cholera around the world right now.

In Nigeria, more than 1,500 people have died from the disease just recently, according to the United Nations. Around 40,000 cases have been reported, with women and children accounting for four out of five affected. Now, this lethal water-borne disease has spread to some of Nigeria's West African neighbors, including Cameroon. Now, they have had several hundred deaths so far because of severe rain and flooding.

And, finally, Pakistan is looking like it may be winning the battle to contain the disease. Three months after the devastating floods that killed around 1,700 people and displaced 20 million, the World Health Organization is confirming that only 99 cases of cholera over four flood-affected provinces exist.

Our Dr. Sanjay Gupta traveled throughout all those regions in Pakistan during the height of our flood coverage. He reported on what he called a second wave -- killer water.

Here's what he said in September.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

DR. SANJAY GUPTA, CNN CHIEF MEDICAL CORRESPONDENT: This is a line for people waiting to get into the hospital. You see garbage all around the place. They stay here all day long, waiting.

A lot of people have infectious diseases that are associated with drinking contaminated water. It's what we've been talking at. This is a diarrheal treatment center specifically for children.

Let's go take a look.

Your town is completely covered in water.

(SPEAKING FOREIGN LANGUAGE)

GUPTA: He's been sick for some time. He's saying that he was sick even before the flood and it just became much worse during the flooding.

(voice-over): Three years old, he weighs just 10 pounds. He's so small. For comparison, I have a 3-year-old daughter who is closer to 30 pounds. And Fayez (ph) is so fragile.

Young children have weaker immune systems. They became more easily dehydrated. And like millions of people around the country, he didn't have a choice when he got thirsty -- killer water or none at all.

(END VIDEO TAPE)

VERJEE: Dr. Sanjay Gupta witnessing sort of Pakistan's most vulnerable, just really trying to battle through their illnesses.

Let's go back to Paula Newton, who is in Haiti -- Paula, you've traveled throughout Pakistan, as well, for us, so many times over the years. And now, you're in Haiti. You've seen the situation firsthand.

How would you compare the abilities of both countries to respond and to deal with this outbreak?

NEWTON: It's difficult to compare region to region because, of course, every area of this country and of Pakistan is different.

But a couple of things to keep in mind. As Dr. Sanjay Gupta was just telling us, there is no choice -- scarce water. In Pakistan, when we were there, it's alarming. We cover other issues and yet that issue of water comes up again and again. It is really the key to people living.

And if it's not available, that's when you start to get into trouble. And, of course, it has to be available and it must be clean.

What is key in all of these areas is to make sure that people have, first, education, to be able to prevent it and a clean water source like the one behind me, but also primary health care is key -- getting the knowledge and the primary health care to these regions.

You know, having been to Pakistan earlier in the year, it was fascinating for me to talk to the NGOs there on the ground, who said, look, certain disasters are opportunities for us. The earthquake in 2005 was one.

Why?

It gave them an opportunity to at least, if nothing else, educate people about the risks of the disease and begin to get clean sources of water.

Again, the difference between Haiti and Pakistan, in a way, though, is that in some regions of Pakistan, water is so scarce -- let alone clean water -- that it becomes more and more of a problem. Probably what's making the difference in Pakistan right now, the region that was hit, again, Zain, was able to touch on those primary health care initiatives that get people the treatment that they need -- and keeping in mind cholera is easily treatable -- quickly, before people get to that acute phase.

VERJEE: CNN's Paula Newton.

Thanks a lot, Paula.

Let's get a little more insight on all of this from someone who's got a lot of experience responding to disease outbreaks around the world.

She was actually just in Haiti last week.

Joining me from New York is Catherine Bragg.

She is the United Nations assistant secretary-general for humanitarian affairs.

Thank you so much for being with us.

Great to have you.

You know, that disease follows natural disaster is no surprise.

Why wasn't the United Nations better prepared in Haiti?

CATHERINE BRAGG, U.N. HUMANITARIAN AFFAIRS OFFICIAL: Well, I think, actually, we were quite prepared for the outbreak of disease and water- borne diseases in particular. I think the fact that as soon as there was a confirmed cases of cholera in -- in Haiti, that we made available the stockpile of our 300,000 courses of antibiotics to the region that was most -- most affected.

There was also a distribution of jerry cans (ph), rehydration salts. And so all of the things are from our stockpile, which is part of our contingency planning for something like this to happen.

VERJEE: But how can you say, really, that -- that you were that well prepared?

You've got 259 people dead, at least. There are fears that this could escalate and there could be an outbreak throughout the country. There are many critics who say that aid agencies, even the United Nations, may have dropped the ball here.

BRAGG: We should be clear that, actually, the -- the area of the outbreak was not the area that was actually affected by the earthquake in January 12th. It was actually quite -- quite a distance from that. And so the -- most of the response to the earthquake was in and around Port-au- Prince. And this is in an area that is north of that, around the -- the city of Saint-Marc in a department that's called Artibonite. And so I think we should not be necessarily making a linkage between the -- the aftermath of the earthquake and -- and the outbreak of this -- this disease.

VERJEE: But there is a possibility and a very real threat that it could spread to those camps where there are in a squalid condition. 1.2 million people or so are there. And it may not have hit there right now and it may have affected a different area, but that's something that's certainly really worrying for so many people.

Do you think it will spread to those camps?

BRAGG: We are doing everything in our power to ensure that that is not the case. So far, we have five cases confirmed on Saturday and we have had no new cases so far, which is very, very good news.

In the meantime, again, as part of the prevention of it spreading into -- to the camps, there are public information campaigns that is ongoing. There are face to face communication with camp dwellers. There is work right now with the camp committees and -- and the camp management to ensure that the message of hygiene, the practice of good hygiene, as -- as well as the drinking of -- of clean water is -- is practiced. And we are also -- we have also identified sites for the eventual possibility of having to treat patients, because once we have patients who have contracted cholera, it is best to have the patients isolated from the general health clinics with other patients, so that we would also prevent the -- the spread of that disease, as well.

So there are a lot of things that -- that has happened, and particularly in the last few days, after the confirmation of the cholera cases.

(END VIDEO TAPE)

VERJEE: Catherine Bragg from the United Nations there.

Thank you so much for joining us and giving us your perspective.

We appreciate it.

We are going to continue to follow developments in Haiti and keep you posted.

Coming next, a quake, a tsunami and a volcano -- Indonesia struggles to battle all kinds of elements.

And we take you to Mexico in our week long look at the daily killings and violence that are a product of the global trade in drugs.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

VERJEE: Hi. Welcome back.

At least 112 people are dead and more than 500 are missing -- that's the latest toll from the 7.7 magnitude earthquake and the subsequent tsunami that struck off the coast of Sumatra Monday. But the true picture of the devastation right across Indonesia is yet to emerge.

Rescue and aid crews are unable to reach several isolated villages. Now, at this stage, access by sea is too dangerous because of the high waves. And the area is experiencing aftershocks forcing residents to run from their homes and take refuge in the hills.

The hardest hit area it thought to be the Mentawai Islands, particularly Pagai Island. The Red Cross has really tried to reach the island by sea, but then they had to turn back because of the high seas and the debris in the water.

World Vision program officer Ita Balanda explains to us a little bit more about the rescue and aid mission and why it's just so hard.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

ITA BALANDA, WORLD VISION PROGRAM MANAGER: Up to now, all that we know is the best way to get there is by sea. And since it's too dangerous, we have to wait until we could actually get in there. But we've been trying to go there. And helicopters could be an option, but the thing is, there are not so many helicopters available right now, since we are also responding to another emergency situation in Central Java.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

VERJEE: And, yes, Indonesia is actually facing two disasters -- the Mount Merapi volcano near Jokakarta (ph) has also erupted, reportedly killing at least 15 people. Three eruptions have been reported just today. And according to Indonesian media, some of the victims are journalists. Merapi is one of Indonesia's most active volcanoes and the scientists had, in fact, warned that an eruption, possibly the most powerful in years, was imminent. Thousands of people were evacuated before the eruption, but so many of them were just not able to flee in time.

Among those caught up in all these Indonesian crises were nine Australian surfers. They went men -- went missing in the tsunami. Now, there's good news. They have been found alive and well.

And it was the boat's skipper, Chris Scurrah, who was at the helm when the disaster struck. Hino stranger to tsunamis and he managed to keep his cool and his passengers free from harm.

I spoke to Chris just a little bit earlier and began by asking him what happened.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

CHRIS SCURRAH, BOAT CAPTAIN: Well, at about 9:00 p.m. our time, I felt a good shake. It wasn't unusual for us. It was a -- it was a three of four second rumble. Then about 3:00 a.m. A bigger quake hit us. And I jumped out of bed and screamed at the engineer that he should start the engine. We pulled up the anchor and we motored into deep water.

We didn't experience anything too unusual or radical. We went surfing all day. So we didn't really realize what had happened.

VERJEE: Chris, what would have happened had you gone on ahead to shore?

SCURRAH: That was not possible. But we -- if we were in the wrong spot, as I've heard another boat was, yes, we would have been washed in. We would have been kicked out of it. We would have -- the water would come through and washed all the electrics out. I guess we would have survived. It wasn't a huge tsunami. But we would have been stuck without communications in a very isolated spot. And I don't know how people would have found us.

So everyone is pretty happy.

VERJEE: You know, Chris, we talked to your parents. They were so worried about you. They tried to get in touch with you, I think by Facebook and text.

Tell us what happened when you got in touch with them.

SCURRAH: Oh, they -- it's nice to be loved. Yes, they...

VERJEE: Yes.

SCURRAH: -- they understand a lot, too. I was on the border with them on the boxing day (ph) tsunami when Aceh happened. We were going out in the same kennel (ph) when it happened. And they helped me do a lot of aid work, also, Aceh. They've -- my sister is a doctor. She comes over for a lot of the -- the tsunamis and the earthquakes, so they -- they understand.

VERJEE: Chris, when you take a step back and -- and see what has happened and that you have survived, does it make you look at the world differently?

What do you think about?

SCURRAH: I'm not scared about cars but coming back, it's...

(LAUGHTER)

SCURRAH: Yes, it's a wild area. It's -- it's alive. I think about it more when I'm walking on the beach, when I'm walking on the beach in the day and there's -- you know, I always think if it happened there, what did I do?

(END VIDEO TAPE)

VERJEE: He is a lucky guy, Chris Scurrah.

You're watching CONNECT THE WORLD.

Right after the break, it's the Hollywood actor you've all been waiting for, right?

Our Connector of the Day, Harrison Ford, is answering your questions.

And he was a star in his own right, but not this oracle octopus has predicted his last match. We're going to take a look back at how Paul became such a cult figure in the football world.

That's in just a moment.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

VERJEE: Transforming the world for a more sustainable future -- all this week, we are looking at the latest cutting edge technology and how scientists can make going green more affordable.

On Monday, we were at a truly electric football game in Kobe, Japan, where it's not just the players that are performing some fancy footwork -- take a look at that. The fans there are being used to generate power.

See what they're doing?

They're converting their physical energy in the stands, like stamping around and jpg like that.

Well, tonight, our green week that's a look at a very special guest who's taken on many action roles before, normally on a Hollywood set with the cameras rolling and the fans trying to get a glimpse of him on the set.

But nowadays, he's also starring on the environmental stage. He's talking to world leaders about the importance of conservation.

He's your Connector of the Day.

Check out who we've got.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

VERJEE (voice-over): Whether he's played a legend of the past or a hero of the future, Harrison Ford always manages to make it look cool.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

FORD: Damn, I thought that was closer.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

VERJEE: The Hollywood heavyweight is one of the film world's greatest action heroes, with a film career that spans more than 30 years. He first grabbed the spotlight as Han Solo in George Lucas' 1977 "Star Wars." But it didn't take long for Lucas to realize what he'd found. And just a few years later, Ford was cast as the legendary Indiana Jones.

These two series solidified Ford's movie star status and he went on to star in hits such as "Witness" and "Air Force One." But right now, Ford's greatest adventure is happening off the silver screen. For the last few years, he's dedicated himself to environmental work, serving as the vice chair of Conservation International. And today, he's in Japan, as part of a U.N. conference on biodiversity.

Ford told me what he hopes to accomplish there.

FORD: We're looking to get 25 percent of the land mass and 15 percent of the oceans into protection, which doesn't mean that they're fenced off and can't be used for other -- other purposes. But we require that much land and that much ocean in order that the -- that the natural systems that exist there can be healthy and prosper.

VERJEE: What's your one overarching message at this conference?

FORD: That time is short. That nature is at the tipping point. That we have to act decisively, boldly now. We have to be efficient with the use of our resources. We have to be directed and focused on the most important things, the most important places, the places that provide the greatest reservoirs of biodiversity and provide the greatest services to the human community.

VERJEE: The United States isn't even present at this important conference on biodiversity.

As an American, how do you feel about that?

FORD: Embarrassed. But, in fact, we are -- we're taking place -- the -- the United States is the largest contributor to biodiversity conservation in the world. I mean -- but -- but we're not a voting member of this -- of this congress. Seventeen years ago, President Clinton signed the treaty, but it has to be ratified by Congress. And it simply isn't a national priority right now.

VERJEE: There are a lot of people that may be watching this program and listening to you and they're not really following this conference on biodiversity.

What would you tell them as to why they should care?

FORD: It is in your self-interest. It is -- you know, mankind -- human beings are part of the natural world. And the natural world requires all of its components working, just like the body requires all of its organs working together. The natural world requires biodiversity -- all of the elements of -- of life working together in order to be healthy.

VERJEE: Scott Fagan has this question for you: "Which NGOs and organizations do you think could help the most right now in this environmental cause?"

Just name one, OK. Just one.

FORD: Well, that's a tough -- that's a tou -- that's a tough question. Let me spell it for you -- Conservation International. I mean it's the one I've chosen to work with. But -- but we all have to work together, all of the conservation organizations. In fact, I have a particular gripe, that, you know, I feel that we, in the environmental community, haven't really done as much as could do because we approach things on an issue by issue basis. We all have our own agendas. We need to form together to -- to create a -- a political will in our countries to -- to get things done.

VERJEE: Nina wants to know what you think is your greatest accomplishment so far?

FORD: Mine?

VERJEE: Yes, yours.

FORD: Surviving.

VERJEE: On a similar line, Harrison, Paul wants to know, what it is that you hope to leave behind as your greatest legacy?

What is it?

FORD: I'm a father of five children. I think -- I think we all have the -- have a moral responsibility to our children to leave the world in a better condition than we found it. The way we're using our resources now, it will take two more planet earth's to provide what we'll need. So we have to save what we have now. We have to allow it to heal. We have to allow it to prosper.

VERJEE: But Harrison, we can't let you get away without asking some important movie questions from our viewers, OK?

Vicki asks: "Is there a role that you haven't taken on that you'd really like to?"

FORD: I feed opportunistically. I don't think about it in -- in general that way. I -- I -- I look for a project that's got a good story, that's got a -- good people involved, something that excites my imagination. So it's different every time.

VERJEE: Do you have a favorite role?

FORD: Quite frankly, I just like to work. I love the work. I love the challenges of moviemaking. I love storytelling.

(END VIDEO TAPE)

VERJEE: Connector of the Day.

Could it get any better?

Well, things can only get better here on CONNECT THE WORLD, at least if you're a Hollywood fan, you will love this week. We have some incredible A-listers for you coming up. Tomorrow, you're going to be seeing the Academy Award winning Michael Caine, whose acting career spans more than, what, 40 years?

And on Thursday, guess who we have then?

We have the Borne trilogy star and proud new father, Matt Damon. He's going to be in the hot seat to answer your questions.

As always, we want you to take part, OK?

So just send in your questions to our future Connectors at CNN.com/connect.. We really want to hear from you, so weigh in and, then, join us here all week long for CONNECT THE WORLD. Tonight, we'll be right back.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

VERJEE: Hi, you're back with CONNECT THE WORLD. I'm Zain Verjee in London. Coming up, is a curfew the answer to Mexico's relentless violence? We're going to take a look at calls to keep some cities safe by keeping people off the streets.

And then, critics say some Latin American governments are moving away from the democratic roots. We're going to see which countries seem to be limiting freedom of the press.

And later, remembering the eight-legged oracle. Condolences are pouring in for this guy, Paul the Octopus, who wowed the world with his football predictions.

All those stories ahead for you but, first, the headlines.

Officials now say at least 112 people are dead after a 7.7 magnitude quake triggered a tsunami off Sumatra. Witnesses report seeing a six-meter wave strike the coast. More than 500 people are missing.

Meantime, Indonesian media report that 15 people have been killed by Mount Merapi's eruption. The volcano is located near Yogyakarta in one of the world's most densely populated areas. Thousands of residents have fled the eruption.

The lawyer of a close advisor to Saddam Hussein says the death sentence for Tariq Aziz is wrong, illegal, and unexpected. Iraq's High Tribunal Court says the former foreign minister will hang. He was convicted of persecuting rival religions parties.

Iran's announced what it calls a milestone in its nuclear energy program. Officials say the core of the Bushehr nuclear plant is now being fueled, and the plant could be producing power by next year.

Mexican officials say the bodies of four men were found today on a highway near Mexico City. Apparently, the latest victims of the brutal drug wars. One group's now calling on the government to take drastic steps to stop the endless wave of violence. Rafael Romo joins me now from CNN Center with the latest details. Rafael?

RAFAEL ROMO, CNN SENIOR LATIN AMERICAN AFFAIRS EDITOR: Zain, a human rights organization is calling for a curfew in Mexico, at least in some of the border cities that have seen most of the violence caused by drug trafficking. But President Felipe Calderon says his strategy is working and, although in the short run, results are minimal, in the long run, it's the only way towards security.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

ROMO (voice-over): At a small chapel in Ciudad Juarez, the most violent city in Mexico, an emotional good-bye for the victims of a massacre. One by one, men carry the coffins with 14 young victims. They were murdered last week by heavily armed men who stormed a party, shooting at close range.

The bloody killing have stunned Mexicans, even those in border cities, where the drug violence is at its worst. The leader of a human rights organization in Mexico is demanding the implementation of a curfew.

MARIA ELENA MORERA, COMMON CAUSE (through translator): Not a single authority can stop this violence unless more decisive actions are taken, like a curfew. This is something that the government should consider in cities like Juarez or Tijuana.

ROMO (voice-over): In Tijuana, also a border city, another massacre. Four heavily-armed men burst into a drug rehabilitation facility and killed 13 recovering addicts. Mexican media reporting that a drug cartel could be behind the massacre as retaliation for the confiscation of 134 tons of marijuana by the Mexican army last week.

NASHELY RAMIREZ, RIRIKI SOCIAL INTERVENTION (through translator): We need a public policy to get rid of weapons neighborhood by neighborhood. This policy should also be an issue that needs to be addressed at a negotiation table with the United States.

ROMO (on camera): Mexican president Felipe Calderon is under pressure to change his strategy. Drug violence has claimed the lives of more than 30,000 people since he took office almost four years ago. But at a business summit in Mexico City, Calderon said he will continue to fight the drug cartels head on.

FELILPE CALDERON, PRESIDENT OF MEXICO (through translator): It's a long road for sure. It's a road without many results in the short term or, at least, not spectacular ones. But it's an efficient path and, furthermore, it's the only one we have.

ROMO (voice-over): But criticism is mounting. The message of this cartoon that appeared on the Mexican newspaper "La Jornada," is that former president, Vicente Fox, introduced Mexicans to a first lady while in office, while the current chief executive has introduced his people to Lady Death.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

ROMO: And at a regional summit on security and drug trafficking in Colombia, President Calderon told Latin American leaders that democracy and the rule of law are the only path towards peace and security. Zain?

VERJEE: Rafael, the United States worked with Colombia to fight the drug trade. They called it Plan Colombia, it was pretty successful. Why isn't there a Plan Mexico between the US and Mexico? This would justify it.

ROMO: Zain, there is a similar plan between Mexico and the United States called the Plan Merida, by which the United States is committed at a rate of hundreds of millions of dollars. But the reality is that there is a big difference between Mexico and Colombia. In Colombia, you had the paramilitaries, guerrilla. Also, you had the army and the drug traffickers all fighting each other.

In Mexico, you have drug traffickers against the Mexican army, a fight that is being fueled by the demand for drugs in the United States. And also, the drug cartels in Mexico are buying weapons illegally, just going across the border. Very, very easy for them to get all those dangerous weapons that we see in all these killings, Zain.

VERJEE: Rafael Romo at the CNN Center. Thanks a lot.

Still ahead, a media watchdog unveils its annual index of press freedoms around the world. We're going to take a look at some of the worst offenders, including one country accused of using the war on terror as an excuse to silence government critics.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

VERJEE: Reporters Without Borders says, despite some improvement, the defense of media freedom continues to be a real battle. A battle of vigilance and democracies, and a battle against oppression in the world's totalitarian countries.

The media watchdog's released its annual press freedom index and, once again, northern Europe sets the standard. Six countries are tied for first, Finland, Iceland, the Netherlands, Norway, Sweden, and Switzerland. At the very bottom of the list, and there are no big surprises here, Syria, Myanmar, Iran, Turkmenistan, North Korea, and Eritrea have the six worst records.

The most interesting findings tend to fall between the two extremes, including the ranking of emerging powers. Now, this report says, economic growth does not guarantee more press freedom. For instance, it says China, Brazil, and India are around the same state of economic development, but their rankings are different. India has dropped to 122 on the list, while China is at 171. That's just seven spots away from the bottom. Brazil, though, has actually improved its record on press freedoms, rising to number 58.

Some of Brazil's neighbors, though, just don't rank nearly as well. And that's an interesting fact here, considering South America's struggle for democratic freedoms in the face of military dictatorship. Brian Byrnes is in Bolivia with more.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

BRIAN BYRNES, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): The election of Evo Morales as president of Bolivia in 2006 marked a historic shift for the country. Bolivia's first indigenous leader, Morales recently championed an anti-racism law, which has been praised by the country's predominately indigenous population, but rejected by the media, who say the law squashes freedom of speech by threatening prosecution and prison for any journalist who reports anything that could be interpreted by the government as racist.

Thousands have taken to Bolivia's streets in recent weeks to voice both support and opposition. Journalists have staged hunger strikes, and are now demanding amendments and even a referendum on the law, which was passed on October 8th.

PABLO ZENTENO, BOLIVIAN JOURNALIST (through translator): "Some articles in the law imply that we need to censor ourselves and question what we are and are not allowed to say. This worries us tremendously, because our constitution recognizes freedom of expression," he says.

BYRNES (voice-over): Morales has met with media leaders, but disagrees with them that the law is contradictory.

EVO MORALES, PRESIDENT OF BOLIVIA (through translator): For me, freedom of expression is not synonymous with racism, and it can't be synonymous with discrimination.

BYRNES (on camera): To protest against the law, some of Bolivia's top daily newspapers all printed blank covers on the same day, with just the words "No hay deomcracia sin libertad expresion." "There is no democracy without freedom of expression."

But Bolivia is not the only Latin American country where the government and media are clashing. Throughout the region right now, there are fierce debates going on about freedom of the press.

BYRNES (voice-over): In Argentina, President Cristina Fernandez de Kirchner has worked to dismantle the country's largest media group, Clarin, which has been critical of her administration. In Venezuela in 2007, President Hugo Chavez pulled television station RCTV off the air and has revoked radio station licenses.

In Mexico, powerful drug cartels are now dictating the news agenda with murder. Analysts say this tendency is especially troubling because so many fought and died here in recent decades to counter military repression of free speech, which has ushered in the current slate of populist Latin leaders.

IGNACIO LABAQUI, POLITICAL SCIENTIST: What we have is very strong governments and very strong leaderships, and very weak and fragmented oppositions. And in such cases, what we have is that the vacuum left by the political opposition is filled at some point by the press.

BYRNES (voice-over): And as a result, the press in Latin American now encounters constant harassment, intimidation, and even violence, according to recent reports by journalism advocacy groups.

So, while democracy may finally be thriving throughout Latin America, unfettered freedom of speech still remains elusive. Brian Byrnes, CNN, La Paz, Bolivia.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

VERJEE: Bolivia may need improvement, coming 103rd on the Press Freedom Index, but it beats the ranking of our next destination, Yemen. Now, that country earned a spot at number 170 for its media crackdown that really created a climate of fear. Mohammed Jamjoom reports from Sanaa.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

MOHAMMED JAMJOOM, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): In a country at war with al Qaeda and in desperate economic trouble, journalists have to be careful. Kamal Sharaf has discovered that firsthand. A political cartoonist and campaigner against corruption, he was detained at his home in August by masked men who said they were part of an anti- terrorism unit. His brother, Majed, spoke to CNN last month.

MAJED SHARAF, BROTHER OF DETAINED JOURNALIST (through translator): My brother Kamal is a very, very peaceful person. He's never been to any prison before. He's a person -- he's a caricature artist. I ask that he be released.

JAMJOOM (voice-over): After more than 50 days in detention, Kamal was released without charge. His friend and blogger, Abdulelah Shayi was less fortunate. Shayi, seen here speaking to CNN in January, provided CNN with an audiotape of radical US-Yemeni cleric Anwar al-Awlaki. He had also interviewed other leaders of al Qaeda in the Arabian peninsula.

This week, after two months in detention, he went on trial on charges including belonging to a rebel group seeking to attack the country's security. Reporters Without Borders calls the charges preposterous. The government defends its record.

RASHAD AL-ALIMI, DEPUTY PRIME MINISTER OF YEMEN (through translator): Many of the journalists in Yemen don't differentiate between breaking the news and having direct contact with suspects.

JAMJOOM (voice-over): But one human rights campaigner says the government is using the al Qaeda threat.

TAWAKKOL, WOMEN JOURNALISTS WITHOUT CHAINS: What happened to these two journalists also happens to all people, to all political people, and to all political issues here in Yemen when the government accused people who are against it, they say they are terrorists, they are from al Qaeda.

JAMJOOM (voice-over): The Committee to Protect Journalists says the climate in Yemen has worsened. "Extrajudicial abductions, intimidation, threats, and crude censorship have marked the government's record of repression for more than a decade," it said in a recent report. Now, the CPJ says the government is also using the courts to stifle press freedom.

JAMJOOM (on camera): In Yemen, being a journalist has never been easy, but in recent years, it's gotten a lot more difficult. In 2009, Yemen's Ministry of Information suspended several of the country's newspapers. Shortly after that, a special court was established whose sole mission is to prosecute alleged offenses by the press. Local journalists have protested the court, calling it unconstitutional, and claiming its purpose is to hinder their freedom of expression.

JAMJOOM (voice-over): But that is where blogger Abdulelah Shayi has gone on trial. His brother showed me Abdulelah's most prized possession, his press credentials.

KHALED SHAYI, BROTHER OF JOURNALIST ON TRIAL (through translator): For journalists who respect their profession, they go and reach out to all groups and rival parties, and they find out all their details and facts, what are they saying, what is this person saying? Then, they work with all those facts. Does that make me a sympathizer? No. No, it doesn't mean that.

JAMJOOM (voice-over): For all its problems, Yemen's press is less restricted than the media in some other Arab states. But after a series of arrests, fines, and assaults, journalists here are unsure where the limits of expression lie. Mohammed Jamjoom, CNN, Sanaa, Yemen.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

VERJEE: Mohammad now joins us live with a little bit more on this. Right now, he's at our Baghdad bureau in Iraq. Mohammed, what was it like for you, reporting in Yemen?

JAMJOOM: Well, Zain, I think it's most important to point out that it's far different for a foreign reporter to be reporting in Yemen than it is for a Yemeni reporter. It's the Yemeni reporters that really face the kind of reprisals from the government that we were talking about in that piece, or any kind of intimidation tactics. So, much easier for a foreign correspondent to be going in for a limited amount of time and to get the access that they need.

Now, having said that, I think it's amazing going to Yemen. It's a fascinating place, a very complex and rich culture, and the people are really terrific. Very, very friendly. But I will say that the first time I went, I was quite intimidated. And the reason for that is quite simple. The people I was approaching to try to interview, a lot of them had weapons on. It's not uncommon for men there to be carrying guns. It's certainly not uncommon for them to have daggers. That's part of the national uniform.

So, you always want to be careful when you're approaching people, but when you're in a place where it has a sort of a reputation for lawlessness and you're not accustom to the culture yet, and you up to somebody, and they're wearing that kind of weaponry, you really kind of pause and wonder what you should do in order to gain their trust. Zain?

VERJEE: How do you compare that to Iraq?

JAMJOOM: Well, Iraq, it's gotten a lot easier in the past few years to report from, both for the foreign press and for local press. Local press here have found a much more -- it's basically a much friendlier climate. There are still red lines. They still have to be careful, they don't sometimes -- they're not able sometimes to report what they want to. But it is much easier.

But I will say, what's interesting is that reporting out of Yemen or reporting out of Iraq, with as much conflict and as many concerns as there are in both of these countries, it's actually quite easy compared to reporting in a place like Saudi Arabia, or producing there. If you'll remember, I went there once helping produce for you for Hajj coverage for CNN in 2006 --

VERJEE: Oh, yes, I do remember.

JAMJOOM: And we had a lot of difficulties.

VERJEE: We did. We had minders with us all the time, watching our every move. They were helpful, but they were also watching us very carefully. Even when we went to shoot, Mohammed, remember at the Grand Mosque, it was difficult, we needed all that permission?

Once, we even went into the Iraq House and we were asking questions about the US-led invasion, and we were -- oh, my gosh, there I am, speaking to some Nigerian women. But the Saudi government was very upset that we were asking any political questions at all. That's one Nigerian woman fixing my hijab. Mohammed, you may remember that. I finally got it right.

Thank you so much, we'll keep checking in with you, as always, Mohammed in Iraq.

Coming up next, he was loathed and loved -- I actually thought he was pretty cute. And now, his death is making waves all over the world. We're going to take a look back at the life and times of this guy, Paul the Octopus, after this short break.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

VERJEE: A bit of World Cup history is being mourned in Germany tonight. Paul the oracle octopus, who shot to international stardom with his apparent ability to predict football matches, was found dead today in his tank. And though he only lived a few years, he will be remembered as the most famous octopi of all time.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

VERJEE (voice-over): His life may have been brief by human standards, but it was normal for an octopus, and it was extraordinary.

OLIVER WALENCIAK, SEA LIFE AQUARIUM: He had to pose for the cameras, he had to pose for the visitors.

VERJEE (voice-over): Paul commanded attention during this year's World Cup when he correctly predicted the outcome of eight different matches, most of them involving his home team of Germany.

Hatched in Weymouth, England, or perhaps the waters off the coast of Italy -- no one seems to know for sure -- Paul lived most of his life in relative anonymity at the Oberhausen Sea Life Center in western Germany.

WALENCIAK: We played with him two times or three times a day, he gets mussels, shrimp, fish.

VERJEE (voice-over): But he rose to fame this summer when his caretakers lowered to boxes into his tank, one with the flag of Germany, and the other of Germany's opponent. Both boxes contained a piece of food, and Paul ate from the Germany box. Germany then went on to win its first match of the World Cup.

He chose Germany correctly three more times before finally choosing Spain to beat his home team. He was right.

(CHEERS)

VERJEE (voice-over): And Germany was outraged.

WALENCIAK: There are quite a lot of visitors who want to kill and to eat him.

VERJEE (voice-over): Spain offered state protection, and even Iranian president Mahmoud Ahmadinejad weighed in, slamming the west for spreading propaganda and superstition.

After the World Cup, his owners announced he was retiring. But still, he was a huge hit online, spawning a theme song and merchandise.

UNIDENTIFIED SINGER: Paul the Octopus, Paul the Octopus, we love you.

VERJEE (voice-over): A town in Spain tried to buy him. So did Russian bookies. And England announced Paul would be its ambassador for the 2018 World Cup bid. Perhaps an ominous sign for its chances of winning, Paul the Octopus died of natural causes in his tank on Tuesday. His body's being kept in cold storage until funeral arrangements are made. He was two and a half.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

VERJEE: Just as Paul was loved in live, he's being remembered in death. News of his passing was a hot topic online today. CNN digital producer Phil Han has that.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

PHIL HAN, CNN DIGITAL PRODUCER (on camera): So, I've been tracking the social media response to the death of Paul the Octopus, and let me tell you that the reaction has been huge, and that most people out there seem to at least be quite devastated.

Here's a look at the trends map. This is tracking all the tweets that are happening right now around the world. And as you can see, the topic of octopus is number one. It's the main issue that people, at least, on Twitter are talking about in North American, in South America, and across Europe and parts of Africa.

I want to read you just a few of those tweets right now. This is from Nigel Campbell from Spalding in the United Kingdom, and he's tweeted, "I wonder if Paul they psychic octopus predicted he'd be at a sushi bar for dinner tonight."

Catherine Vale in Tempe, Arizona, has tweeted, "I love how Twitter tells me news I otherwise would have missed, like the death of the psychic octopus. RIP, dude."

And we've got this one, this is from Edmonton, Canada. Scott, he's tweeted, "Indonesia is hit by an earthquake, tsunami, and volcano in a 48- hour period and a psychic octopus dies. Which one is trending on Twitter?" So, obviously, there's some sentiment, at least, that people are not that happy that this is a topic on Twitter.

And Debby in the United States has tweeted, "All the stress of World Cup predictions must have worn on him."

And finally, soccer star Diego Maradona from Argentina has tweeted in a funny little tweet here, "I am happy you're gone, psychic octopus, it's your fault we lost the World Cup."

As well, there's been a lot of reaction on Facebook. This is the official Paul the Psychic Octopus Facebook page, and it's got over 200,000 fans. And you can see that there are a lot of people leaving their comments. In fact, thousands and thousands of people are leaving comments, saying "rest in peace," as well as "we'll miss you" and things like that.

And there's also been a "We will miss you Paul the Psychic Octopus" fan page, that has just been set up as well. It's only got about 74 people who are fans of this right now, but I'm sure as the hours go on throughout the course of the day, a lot more people will be joining this page.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

VERJEE: By the way, in case you believe in lucky number eight, Paul the Octopus had, of course, eight legs. He made eight predictions, Spain became the eighth team to win the World Cup, they scored eight goals in South Africa. Paul the Octopus, rest in peace.

You're watching CONNECT THE WORLD. We're going to be right back with the headlines, so stay with CNN.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

VERJEE: Just before we go, our Parting Shots tonight. It begins in Australia, where a protester has taken his shot at John Howard, throwing a shoe at the former prime minister live on TV. Watch.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

TONY JONES, HOST, "Q&A", AUSTRALIA: You're watching "Q&A" with the -- that's "Q&A Special" with the former prime minister, John --

(CROSSTALK)

PETE GRAY, AUDIENCE MEMBER: I'm sorry, Tony, take it as comment.

JONES: Oh, no, no, no!

(CROWD GROANS)

JONES: No, we're not going to do that, please.

(CROSSTALK)

GRAY: That's for the Iraqi deaths, and this is for the Iraqi women.

JONES: Please. Just someone, please remove that gentleman.

(CROWD BOOS)

(END VIDEO CLIP)

VERJEE: You saw it flying way over. The pair of Dunlop Volleys were tossed in protest over Australia's role in the Iraq War. Now, it's not the first shoe sacrifice that's been made in anger over the invasion. It, of course, all started with George W. Bush back in December 2008. Remember that, when the Iraqi journalist, Muntadar al-Zaidi famously threw his shoe at the outgoing US president.

Since then, footwear has become an iconic protest tool. In Iraq, a bronze statue even pays tribute to the Bush shoe. It was the missile of choice for protesters during Israel's January 2009 bombardment of Gaza. Take a look at this, all these shoes, littering the front of Downing Street in London. And then, here's an Israeli man hitting out at the United States for pushing for a halt on new settlements in the West Bank.

How the simple shoe is being used to connect the world in protest, that's our Parting Shot tonight.

I'm Zain Verjee, and that is your world connected. "BackStory" is next, right after this check of the headlines.

END