CNN CNN


 

Return to Transcripts main page

CONNECT THE WORLD

Are Middle East Peace Talks Dead?; Operation Payback; Preserving the Blue Mountains

Aired December 8, 2010 - 16:00:00   ET

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


MAX FOSTER, HOST: The U.S. says it's failed to persuade Israel to stop building settlements. The Palestinians say that leaves the Middle East peace talks in tatters.

So where can President Obama go from here to bring all sides back together?

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

Well, back in September, the U.S. said it's hope to agree a peace deal within a year. Tonight, that would appear to be little more than a pipe dream.

Joining the dots in London, I'm Max Foster.

Also on the program, hackers set their sights on MasterCard, as they take up the fight for WikiLeaks.

So is this just the beginning of a cyber war?

And honoring a legend -- 30 years on, Beatles fans from across the globe come together to remember John Lennon.

Do tell us what he meant to you. Just head to our Facebook page. The address is Facebook.com/cnnconnect.

Now, Middle East peace talks already were on life support and that was before the U.S. decided to withdraw demands for an Israeli settlement freeze.

Will that be the ultimate death blow?

Well, Paula Hancocks has reaction from the key players and tells us what may happen next.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

PAULA HANCOCKS, CNN CORRESPONDENT: (voice-over): The Palestinians are angry, but the Israeli settlers are delighted that the U.S. administration has given up efforts to try and convince Israel to freeze settlements in the occupied West Bank. We heard from Danny Dayan, the head of the Yeshiva Council, the settlers council. And he called the move "prudent and necessary."

The Israeli government officials are trying to play down the impact of this and do some damage control, saying there is no problem with the US- Israeli relationship, and also saying that this doesn't mean that peace talks are at an end.

MARK REGEV, ISRAELI GOVERNMENT SPOKESMAN: The important thing is to overcome the current impasse. Israeli is committed to reaching a history peace agreement with the Palestinians. We think that such an agreement is possible. We think it serves the interests of both sides. And we think now, the most important thing to do, is to get back to work, overcome the impasse and -- and restart negotiations.

HANCOCKS: Palestinian officials have consistently told Israel that it must choose between settlements and peace, saying that the two cannot go hand-in-hand. And Palestinian president, Mahmoud Abbas, has said that he will not return to the negotiating table until settlements are frozen, not only in the West Bank, but also in East Jerusalem.

NABIL SHA'ATH, SENIOR PALESTINIAN NEGOTIATOR: The Israelis are destroying every opportunity we have for a real peace process and for real negotiations. And therefore, we will consult with the Americans, but we are not going to resume direct negotiations with the Israelis until the Israelis comply with the -- with the commitment to end -- to freeze all settlement activities.

HANCOCKS: Tony Blair is the representative for the Quartet, which is the UN, the EU, the U.S. and Russia. And he's playing down the impact of this, saying that when he was negotiating for Northern Ireland peace, there were constant impasses like this one.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

TONY BLAIR, MIDDLE EAST QUARTET ENVOY: The issue of settlements won't go away as a result of -- of what has happened and what was announced last night. But it is important that we find a way to get the negotiation back on track, because, in the end, the only solution to the issue of settlements is to negotiate the solution on borders.

HANCOCKS: Washington says that it will continue to work with both sides on the core issues. But at this point, they can't actually get both sides in the same room.

Paula Hancocks, CNN, Jerusalem.

(END VIDEO TAPE)

FOSTER: It was a very different atmosphere back in September, when President Obama and Middle East leaders announced the direct talks in Washington. Now the White House seems left with few viable options.

For more, I'm joined by world affairs correspondent, Jill Dougherty.

What's the atmosphere like where you are -- Jill?

JILL DOUGHERTY, CNN FOREIGN AFFAIRS CORRESPONDENT: Well, boy, Max, I can tell you, at the briefing here at the State Department, there was a lot of questioning about this very subject. And essentially what P.J. Crowley, the spokesperson, is saying is that they are shifting gears. They realize that that strategy of concentrating so much on the settlements simply didn't work and so they're going back to the drawing board and changing tactics, as he said, not strategy.

Their position, however, he says, on settlements has not changed.

So what do they do?

They want to get both parties back talking again. But that's going to have to, obviously, be indirect talks, not direct talks, at least at this point. And yet, Mr. Crowley is saying that they -- the U.S. does believe that they can have a framework agreement, as he put it, within one year. Many people feel that that is dubious, but the U.S. still saying that that is possible.

And then, finally, Max, in the more immediate things, we have George Mitchell, the special envoy from the United States going back to the region. We also have a number of the negotiators coming to Washington and, in fact, here. We understand that the chief Palestinian negotier -- negotiator, Saeb Erekat, will be at the same place as Hillary Clinton, the secretary of State. And then finally, Secretary Clinton herself, on Friday, will be delivering a speech and specifically outlining, we expect, the U.S. position now where do they go?

FOSTER: And how important would you say, Jill, this is to the Obama administration's credibility on -- on foreign affairs?

DOUGHERTY: Well, they are saying that this is -- as you can imagine, they're downplaying it. They're saying that, look, we tried it. We knew it would be difficult. It didn't work. And now we're going to try something else.

Others might interpret it as a failure by the administration. They say they -- they tried it. But you'd have to say, certainly, they put a lot of attention on it, Max, and that's one of the problems, perhaps too much attention, some analysts would say.

And so when it did not work, when it failed, then it -- there is even more attention. So now -- right now, they have to try to get both sides back and they -- they continue to say that both sides, the Palestinians and the Israelis, do want a two-state solution. It's just how do you get them to an overall agreement on that.

FOSTER: OK, Jill, thank you very much, indeed.

Well, Fawaz Gerges is a professor of international relations at the London School of Economics.

And he joins me now.

Fawaz, we heard from Tony Blair there talking about this being more of a hiccup than anything else. But, actually, it looks really damaging when you look at the basic facts, isn't it?

FAWAZ GERGES, CONNECT THE WORLD PANELIST: Very damaging. In fact, I would argue we might have witnessed the end of the so-called peace process, the end of the so-called process, because there is no process anymore. And it's a major setback, Max, for Barack Obama personally.

Remember, from day one, he has invested considerable political capital in trying to broker a peace settlement and convince the Israelis to at least stop building settlements on the West Bank and occupied -- occupied territories in East Jerusalem.

Well, today, an acknowledgement of defeat, an acknowledgement of defeat. He has failed to deliver. The Israelis won the battle.

FOSTER: The Israelis, in a way, can be seen as slapping Obama in the face, some people are suggesting.

Do you think they really are or are they just in a very, very difficult position themselves?

GERGES: Absolutely, it's a major -- in fact, one of the -- one of the leading Israeli politicians said today, he said, well, Barack Obama is a much weaker president than he was before the mid-term elections. There is the particular -- I mean, remember, Barack Obama, the Democratic Party lost quite big. And I think the -- the consensus in Israel is that Barack Obama does not have the capital to exert pressure on Israel.

And that's why...

FOSTER: So they take him less seriously, then?

GERGES: Absolutely. And Max, think of that. I mean the Americans offered the Israelis a highly general package of jet fighters, of security guarantees, you name it. And Benjamin Netanyahu, the prime minister, turned it down. One of the leading Israeli politicians said today, well, they promised us -- promised us 20 jet fighters. We might end up getting the 20 jet fighters.

The big point is, why should I compromise if I can get my way?

And regardless of how powerful the Americans, if they don't deploy their assets, I think, at the end of the day, they cannot deliver.

Barack Obama, today, I mean it's a clear statement that the president of the United States has failed to deliver on a key aspect -- a key aspect of his strategy in the Middle East.

FOSTER: So when you say that the peace process as we know it has failed now, they've got to go back to basics, but are the Americans the right mediators, then, if they've lost power in this way?

Or do -- does the international community need to -- or need to look at a completely different way of dealing with this?

GERGES: You know, Max, you're asking several questions. I think you have two models. You have the American-led peace process and you have the Hamas, the Iran, the Hezbollah model.

Now, many people in Palestine, many people in Lebanon, many people in the region will take a look at the resistance -- the so-called resistance model, will take a look at Hamas, Hamas as a resistance movement.

So in this particular sense, what has happened, unfortunately, the Palestinian president, Mahmoud Abbas, has put all his eggs in the American baskets. And the reality is...

FOSTER: And it hasn't worked for him.

GERGES: Absolutely. And many Palestinians and many Arabs and many Muslims are saying, well, look, I mean if Barack Obama cannot deliver, if a partial freeze, just a partial freeze, for 90 days, how can the American deliver a peace settlement -- a critical peace settlement?

And I think, of course, the international community must intervene, in particular, the European Union. Let's remember, Europe has a major voice, major stakes. In fact, I would argue the stakes for Europe are much higher and greater than they are for the United States. It's about time that the European community intervenes in order to bridge the divide. Or, I would argue, and bluntly, to exert more pressure on the Israeli side.

FOSTER: And for people outside that region who don't understand the politics and are bogged down by all the detail, how would you break it down for them?

What does this mean for the world?

GERGES: Well, I think it means -- remember, at the end of the day, 85 percent, Max, of the poison between the world of Islam and the West lies in the Arab-Israeli conflict. If you remember, if you reach a settlement, an Arab-Israeli settlement, you're removing almost 85 percent of the tensions between the world of Islam and the West.

This is one of the most strategic regions in the world. It's an identity issue. It's not just about, I mean, radicalism and extremism. The Middle East is one of the most strategic areas in the world. More than two thirds of the oil lies in that part of the world. The region is very much interconnected. Iran now is the rising power in the region. Iran now is the spearhead, the vanguard, trying to help the Palestinians and say, look, the Americans have failed to deliver the goods, we have a model. It's called the resistance model of Hamas and Hezbollah.

This is a major victory for the so-called resistance model led by Iran and Syria today.

FOSTER: Fawaz Gerges, thank you very much, indeed.

It's depressing stuff, isn't it?

You are watching the show that connects you to the big stories around the globe.

Next up, the battle for the Internet -- it's a cyber struggle between the financial world and online activists and it's all about WikiLeaks. We'll take an in-depth look at Operation Payback.

And you'll want to stick around for tonight's Connectors of the Day. I'll bet you owned their music in the '90s if you were a fan at that time. Be here when I take a look at what makes the Goo Goo Dolls still a voice for the moment.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

FOSTER: A new war is upon us. The battleground is the Internet and the soldiers are nameless -- faceless hackers from around the globe.

On one side, supporters of WikiLeaks. On the other, those who think the whistleblower Web site has taken Internet freedoms just too far.

MasterCard is the latest victim in this so-called world Web war. Its Web site was shut down in a cyber attack by Operation Payback, an apparent campaign by WikiLeaks' supporters. The attackers say the attack on MasterCard was to punish the credit card giant for breaking business ties with WikiLeaks.

MasterCard says despite the disruption, all of its cards continue to function.

The Payback hackers have launched several other attacks in recent days and claim to have more plans. California-based PayPal was amongst the first to be hit after denying service to WikiLeaks. The company said the attack only slowed access to its Web site.

There have been problems in Europe. The Web site for Swiss bank PostFinance was crippled by hackers after announcing it was closing Julian Assange's account. And in Sweden, attacks on prosecutors and the law firm representing two women who have accused Assange of rape. Their Web sites were shut down after the WikiLeaks founder was arrested on a Swedish warrant.

Now, Twitter is being flagged as the next target, accused by the avengers of censoring WikiLeaks' discussions.

But anti-WikiLeaks hackers are retaliating with attacks of their own.

At this stage, Operation Payback is winning the war, but for how long?

I'm joined now by Internet freedom campaigner, Loz Kaye, who is amongst those mirroring WikiLeaks as a last line of defense.

Thank you so much for joining us.

Were you, in a way, linked to all of these attacks we've been hearing about on MasterCard and the like?

LOZ KAYE, INTERNET FREEDOM CAMPAIGNER: No. We have -- we have distanced ourselves from any kind of action of this type. There are many ways to take action if you're angry about what we see as the financial censorship that's being brought to bear on WikiLeaks by, for example, MasterCard and PayPal and Visa.

What -- what we at Pirate Party U.K., where I'm leader, are advocating, is a democratic way forward.

FOSTER: Yes, give us an idea of what -- actually, first of all, I just want to ask you about -- as far as the -- the group's concerned, attacking things like MasterCard are, give us a sense of the community, how they're organized and what type of people they are.

KAYE: Well, it's very important to say that, actually, the rhetoric has become very hysterical throughout today. It's important to say that what's been taking place against MasterCard today is not actually hacking. It's -- it's just a denial of service and trafficking...

FOSTER: So inundating the Web site...

KAYE: Yes. Trafficking...

FOSTER: -- with too much information.

KAYE: Yes.

FOSTER: So it crashes.

KAYE: Yes. It's a set of -- essentially, it's not that different from lots of people (INAUDIBLE) up a number to keep it in the game...

FOSTER: But the impact is the same...

KAYE: Yes.

FOSTER: -- the Web site comes down?

KAYE: Yes. So...

FOSTER: So it's an attack.

KAYE: So -- yes. But what we have -- what we're also seeing is that we can confirm that, also, other sites, for example, Pirate Party Sweden service, have come under attack during the recent days. And we're very...

FOSTER: Because they've been hosting, in a way...

KAYE: Yes, exactly.

FOSTER: -- in a way, WikiLeaks.

KAYE: Exactly.

FOSTER: (INAUDIBLE).

KAYE: The network of Pirate Parties, as we stand for Internet freedom and for freedom of speech, our -- have been -- couldn't stand idly by while WikiLeaks.org remains offline. So we have decided to take part with other activists' mirroring sites.

For example, a way to get to WikiLeaks at the moment, through the in - - to get to the information -- is to go to WikiLeaks.ch, which is hosted by the Swiss Pirate Party.

FOSTER: OK. And I just want to get an idea, away from the rights or wrongs of attacking MasterCard, for example, how big is this campaign?

How dangerous is it?

Because if it did get malicious, it could be a very powerful tool, if it went to sort of political institutions...

KAYE: Yes.

FOSTER: -- administrational institutions.

KAYE: We are hugely concerned about how -- how -- how bellicose the rhetoric has become. But the ball is firmly in the court of -- of global governance. The way to stop any kind of cyber warfare is by guaranteeing freedom of speech, by guaranteeing transparency...

FOSTER: OK.

KAYE: -- by guaranteeing the kind of free Internet that we all enjoy at the moment...

FOSTER: But if you don't get that...

KAYE: -- which connects to that.

FOSTER: -- what response is there going to be?

KAYE: Well, we're seeing and we're -- we're seeing a very dangerous escalation of tension. That's why we are appealing for calm. That's what -- that we're appealing for people to take protest in their own way.

But, also, what we're appealing to -- to -- to companies like MasterCard is don't give in to political pressure, which amounts to censorship.

FOSTER: Otherwise, you're going to take them down.

KAYE: Yes. Well, no. Well, there's many things that people can do, is that...

FOSTER: (INAUDIBLE).

KAYE: -- also, you can just cut up your MasterCard, if you like. So...

FOSTER: OK, well, we're not advocating that. But, you know, there's probably...

(LAUGHTER)

FOSTER: -- a campaign. But, you know, MasterCard...

KAYE: Yes.

FOSTER: -- obviously, has huge problems today...

KAYE: Yes.

FOSTER: -- as well. So there is that point of view.

KAYE: Yes.

FOSTER: Thank you very much.

KAYE: Thank you.

FOSTER: Joyous Lowe (ph).

Now, tragedy in Chile -- relatives grieve as officials investigate a deadly blaze in an overcrowded prison.

But first, we're in Australia, where profit and preservation are back in the climate change ring, duking it out over one of the world's most ancient forests.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

FOSTER: Cutting carbon emissions and going green -- it's an urgent mission and sometimes a controversial one. All this week on CONNECT THE WORLD, we are taking you across the globe to look at what communities are doing to take the heat out of global warming.

On Tuesday, we looked at how climate change is gawking away at the frozen beauty of Montana and why it matters to the rest of the planet.

On Monday, to kick off the week, we took you to live -- took you live to the world's current hot spot for discussing climate change. That is the Cancun summit. We broadcast a special hour featuring Mexico's president, no less.

Tonight, we are going into the woods. In a special report for "Earth's Frontiers," Becky checks through some of Australia's ancient forests to highlight a dilemma almost as old as the mountains and that's conservation versus commerce.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

BECKY ANDERSON, HOST, "CONNECT THE WORLD" (voice-over): The Blue Mountains National Park, New South Wales -- it's Australia's most accessible wilderness, only an hour-and-a-half from Sydney. Australia has managed to retain pockets of its ancient rainforests -- a rarity in the developed world. But even in protected areas, forests are feeling the threats of climate change and urbanization.

UNIDENTIFIED CHILDREN: I can see where it goes to the source.

ANDERSON: Maintaining wilderness is an expensive business and the New South Wales government wants to increase both tourist numbers and spending in the Blue Mountains. The country is struggling with a dilemma felt around the world -- how can it find a balance between commerce and conservation?

The Blue Mountains towns and villages only survive through tourism. Katoomba is one of these towns.

RANDALL WALKER, CHAIRMAN, BLUE MOUNTAINS TOURISM: If there was increased interest in development, I think those investors would only do it in terms of is it sustainable, is there going to be a return on investment?

And it's going to be in built up areas, where current zoning allows it. I don't think there would be any development that would be a negative impact on the environment.

ANDERSON: Tara Cameron is a local teacher and president of the Blue Mountains Conservation Society.

TARA CAMERON, BLUE MOUNTAINS CONSERVATION SOCIETY: When I was a kid, we had a two lane road going through the mountains. We had people, but we didn't have anything like the sort of impact that we have on the edges of the park that we do now. It is a park under pressure. There are a lot of vulnerable species in -- in this national park. It's not a completely resilient piece of nature that we can just do anything with.

What has been happening in New South Wales is a distraction and diversion away from nature conservation as the primary purpose of parks. And if we don't really focus on that, then the standard and state of our parks will slowly decline. I don't get that sense that it's a grassroots push. I think it may be coming from the big end of town.

Tourism has always got to have something new. And I sometimes think that oh, development impact is a new thing, a new product, something to grab the attention of potential visitors. I think national parks are more important and nature is more important than just being the new thing, the new sort of product.

ANDERSON: Back in the Blue Mountains, Katoomba is a small town with a big challenge -- gearing up for the increase in tourist numbers.

WALKER: The shopkeepers would be very happy and a prosperous community means that everyone in the community is very happy. But certainly, we have to have a sustainable impact on the natural asset which all tourism operators value and treasure and want to preserve.

ANDERSON: But will Australia set an example to the world on balancing profit with nature preservation?

CAMERON: We have 92 percent of the state in New South Wales that is taken up by people. And 8 percent -- 8 percent only is national park. So there's the bit that we've put aside for nature.

Do we really need to encroach on those, as well?

The coffee shop is not an endangered species. Humans are doing very well. We are looking after ourselves very well. At some point, we need to say when it is nature's turn?

ANDERSON: Becky Anderson for "Earth's Frontiers".

(END VIDEO TAPE)

FOSTER: Tomorrow, we'll show you why Indonesia is on the front line in the battle against deforestation. Keep in mind, the world's tropical forests are a global climate insurance policy. We keep them thriving. They keep the planet from over heating. We'll be in Sumatra on Thursday to see how politics and money play a part in preservation.

Now, a comedy or a controversy -- a new film mocks those who commit terrorism. Find out why the movie's director says it's anything but lightweight.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

FOSTER: You're back with CONNECT THE WORLD. I'm Max Foster in London. Coming up, tragedy in a Chilean prison. Dozens of inmates are killed in a fire. Could this disaster have been avoided?

Also, joking about jihadists. A new movie portrays terrorists as bumbling fools.

Later, our Connectors of the Day, the Goo Goo Dolls, rocking the house for more than two decades, and they show no signs of slowing down. They'll answer your questions later in the hour.

And remember a legend and an inspiration. Thirty years after his death, John Lennon is far from forgotten.

All those stories ahead in the show for you but, first, here are the headlines.

News just coming into CNN. The website of the Visa credit card company apparently went down just a short time ago shortly after a Twitter announcement from a group saying that the site would be targeted. Earlier, the same group claimed responsibility for an attack on MasterCard's website after the company said it would stop processing payments for WikiLeaks. More on that as we get it.

A setback for Middle East peace talks. The United States today scrapped efforts to make Israeli -- make Israel freeze construction of West Bank settlements. Palestinian officials say a freeze is required to resume direct negotiations. Representatives from both sides reportedly are heading to Washington for separate meetings with US officials.

Angry demonstrators have taken to the streets of Haiti tonight as the country gets set for next month's presidential election runoff. Protestors are furious after a government candidate qualified for the vote. American Airlines and Canada's Air Transat have temporarily suspended flights to the country over security concerns.

A US man has appeared in court after being arrested by federal agents and accused of plotting to bomb a military recruiting station. He is 21 years old and described as a convert to Islam. Law enforcement sources say he was caught in an undercover sting operation after trying to recruit help for his attack on Facebook.

Chile's president calls it a huge and painful tragedy. At least 83 inmates died in a fire that broke out after a prison riot. Senior Latin American Affairs Editor Rafael Romo joins me now with more on that story. And Rafael, we're hearing that this prison was packed to nearly twice its capacity?

RAFAEL ROMO, CNN SENIOR LATIN AMERICAN AFFAIRS EDITOR: The San Miguel Prison was designed for 1100 inmates, but there were nearly 2,000 there this morning when the fire broke out, resulting in what a top government official is calling the "worst disaster ever" to strike the country's penal system.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

ROMO (voice-over): The fire started just before 6:00 in the morning and quickly spread to two towers in the San Miguel prison near the capital city of Santiago. Chilean officials say more than 80 inmates died of burns or smoke inhalation, and at least 14 others were critically injured.

JOSE SANCHEZ, COMMANDER, SANTIAGO FIRE DEPARTMENT (through translator): We also have two injured firefighters. One was slightly injured with fractures in both legs, and another one has slight burns.

ROMO (voice-over): Santiago mayor Fernando Echeverria said that the fire was apparently started by inmates during a fight. Afterwards, the situation outside the prison became chaotic when some relatives of the inmates tried to cross a security perimeter set up by police.

FERNANDO ECHEVVERIA, MAYOR, METROPOLITAN REGION (through translator): I'm calling on people who don't have relatives on the fourth floor of tower five to remain calm, and those who have relatives there, we're going to allow them to come in and see us, because we want to inform them first before making the information public.

ROMO (voice-over): There were immediate calls for an investigation.

GUILLERMO TEILLIER, COMMUNIST PARTY CONGRESSMAN (through translator): What has been said the most is that the cause of this was an internal fight. I would question that. I'm not an attorney or a prosecutor, but I think that can't be declared before doing an investigation and talking to survivors and other people involved.

ROMO (voice-over): President Sebastian Pinera said his government has been working hard to improve conditions in prisons around the country, but acknowledged this has been a brutal wake up call.

SEBASTIAN PINERA, PRESIDENT OF CHILE (through translator): In our country, we have 108,000 people in the justice system, out of which, 53,000 are housed in a prison system that is not capable of giving them a dignified and humane treatment. That's the reason why we have an overpopulation rate of 70 percent. In some cases, such as the prison that I personally visited, overpopulation reaches over 200 percent.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

ROMO: And identifying the fatal victims of the fire is going to be a challenging task because many bodies were burnt beyond recognition. So far, Chilean authorities have positively identified 31 bodies.

FOSTER: Now, every day we seem to hear reports of terror attacks somewhere in the world and its fallout, such as tighter security and political jockeying. It's such a serious topic, but a film director wanted to tackle the subject with a different approach. Instead of anger, humor.

Now, a controversial new comedy is taking aim at terrorism. CNN's Kareen Wynter wonders if it will tickle the funny bone or touch a nerve.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The way to stop the Feds tracking you is very simple. You eat your SIM card.

KAREEN WYNTER, CNN ENTERTAINMENT CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Dim- witted jihadists.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Can I cook mine?

WYNTER (voice-over): Bone-headed schemes.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: What we're going to blow up, Waj?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Internet.

UNINDENTIFED MALE: What?

WYNTER (voice-over): This is the world of "Four Lions," a film that does what might seem unthinkable, satirize terrorists.

UNIDENTIFED MALE: The plan is to pop a bomb on a --

WYNTER (voice-over): Writer/director Chris Morris makes no apology for ridiculing Islamist terrorists and their deeds.

CHRIS MORRIS, DIRECTOR, "FOUR LIONS": This kind of practice is worth laughing at. Why not?

WYNTER (voice-over): The film centers on a group of radicals who plot against their native Britain, but they're not the sharpest tools in the shed.

UNIDENTIFED MALE: What's with the gun?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It's just a replica, man.

UNIDENTIFED MALE: It's too small, man.

UNIDENTIFED MALE: Not too small, brother.

UNIDENTIFED MALE: Big hands.

WYNTER (voice-over): One jihadist dies in a shocking mishap.

UNIDENTIFED MALE: Hey, brother!

UNIDENTIFED MALE: Over the wall, Fessal!

(EXPLOSION)

WYNTER (voice-over): But, in the end, while disguised in silly costumes, the conspirators succeed in killing innocent people.

WYNTER (on camera): To those who say terrorism isn't the proper subject for humor, Morris replies his script was inspired by actual events.

MORRIS: How could you argue with the real-life cases that we come up with? They're absurd.

WYNTER (voice-over): He cites the case of a Canadian terrorist who devised a remote control detonator with a maximum range of 30 feet. Terrorism expert Brian Jenkins agrees, some attempted attacks sound downright farcical.

BRIAN JENKINS, CONSULTANT, RAND CORPORATION: In many cases, when you look at it, especially when the plot is interrupted, you say this, "This is a harebrained scheme."

WYNTER (voice-over): Take the attempted bombing in New York last spring.

JENKINS: Faisal Shahzad putting together his infernal device in Times Square, didn't work, bought the wrong kind of fertilizer, didn't know what he was doing. Of course it's a harebrained scheme.

WYNTER (voice-over): There was the so-called underwear bomber who scorched his private parts. Jenkins also points to a group of Hamas suicide bombers.

JENKINS: Photographed before they undertake their mission holding AK- 47s, which in fact are plastic. They're toy AK-47s.

WYNTER (voice-over): Jenkins screened "Four Lions" at our request. He says it can serve a purpose by portraying terrorists as fallible and foolish.

JENKINS: I think it's useful, so long as it does not lead us into the notion that they are not still dangerous.

WYNTER (voice-over): "Four Lions" recently opened in the United States after playing in the UK. Despite sensitivities in both countries about terrorism, Morris says audiences have understood his humor.

MORRIS: You would take offense if the film was saying, "Look at terrorism, ha ha, blowing people up is funny." But that's the last thing it's doing. It's actually just looking at the people behind it.

WYNTER (voice-over): People in the case of "Four Lions" with serious delusions.

UNIDENTIFED MALE: To all you non-believers!

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: You look like Pakistan's Spider-Man!

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: To all you Jews!

WYNTER (voice-over): Kareen Wynter, CNN, Los Angeles.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

FOSTER: Up next on CONNECT THE WORLD, now, what is the biggest challenge for musicians when they go on tour? Well, the answer, according the Goo Goo Dolls might well surprise you. Connectors of the Day, up next. Don't go anywhere.

(MUSIC - "Slide")

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

FOSTER: They formed over 20 years ago, but this band still rocks out with some very big hits. Back with a new album, it's time to get you connected with the ever cool Goo Goo Dolls.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

FOSTER (voice-over): With songs like "Iris," which featured in the 1998 film "City of Angels," the Goo Goo Dolls have won an army of fans. In fact, "Iris" was so popular, it spent almost a year in the US Billboard charts, including a phenomenal 18 weeks at number one.

And that was just the beginning. The Goo Goo Dolls are behind some of the most memorable songs of the 1990s, including "Slide," "Big Machine," and "Name." Even Barack Obama is a fan. The Goo Goo Dolls sang songs like "Stay With You" at a concert in 2007 to raise money for his presidential campaign.

Today, they are back with a new album, "Something for the Rest of Us," and I began by asking them about it.

JOHN RZEZNIK, LEAD SINGER, THE GOO GOO DOLLS: During economic hard times, people sort of tend to go to escapism in music.

FOSTER (on camera): Yes.

RZEZNIK: And I did the exact opposite on this album. I wanted to give a voice to a lot of people who are feeling kind of desperate and uncertain of where they're going. We have friends who are losing their jobs and losing their homes, and it's -- or they've been affected by the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan.

FOSTER: Kim O. "What are the upsides and downsides to being traveling musicians?

RZEZNIK: The downsides to traveling as a musician is getting your laundry done.

(LAUGHTER)

FOSTER: It just doesn't get done.

ROBBY TAKAC, BASS PLAYER, THE GOO GOO DOLLS: Consistently.

RZEZNIK: It just doesn't --

FOSTER: What do you do, just buy new stuff?

RZEZNIK: It's the most frustrating thing, it's the most frustrating part of it. And finding decent food to eat.

TAKAC: I think the greatest part, obviously, is being able to share what you do with people all over the world.

FOSTER: And does it always surprise you, the reaction you get in places?

TAKAC: Well, it's crazy, when you think about an idea that maybe you came up with on your couch --

FOSTER: Yes.

TAKAC: Is all of the sudden being screamed back at you on the other side of the world. It's -- if you don't get some sort of excitement from that, then you're in the wrong business, I think.

RZEZNIK: It's pretty amazing, especially when we're in the UK, just how active and involved in the shows the audience is, and the amount of adrenaline that I get from the audience here, you know? It's -- in America, it's a little more passive of an audience. They're just sort of - -

(CROSSTALK)

FOSTER: -- the rest of the time, probably.

RZEZNIK: Everybody cheers --

FOSTER: How does that go?

RZEZNIK: It's really fun, because music means more to people here than it does --

FOSTER: Do you think?

RZEZNIK: I -- absolutely.

TAKAC: Yes.

RZEZNIK: Just judging by the all festivals that we've done here. It's insane. It's a rite of passage. Did you ever go to a festival when you were a kid and put your wellies on and drink and --

FOSTER: Yes, yes. And you're there for days, and you can't -- you still remember bits, but it's all a little vague. Jurgen R. Brul in Suriname, "What is behind the name Goo Goo Dolls?"

MIKE MALININ, DRUMMER, THE GOO GOO DOLLS: Where is he from?

FOSTER: Suriname.

RZEZNIK: Wow.

TAKAC: Wow. Should make up --

RZEZNIK: I hope it's not a Surinamese insult.

(LAUGHTER)

MALININ: Because we're not sure what it means.

FOSTER: Did you check that out?

RZEZNIK: No, but our name in German is "Schmiere-Schmierepuppen."

(LAUGHTER)

TAKAC: Which can't be good, either.

FOSTER: No.

RZEZNIK: It just doesn't sound right.

FOSTER: Heather. "If you could choose any artist to work with, who would it be, and why?"

RZEZNIK: Wow. If I could choose any artist to work with, who would it be and why? I'd like to work with someone like Matt Bellamy from Muse because his -- I think that band is really pushing music forward a lot. And you hear the influence, their influences, but the whole thing is just so intense and, like -- it's like this post-apocalyptic soundtrack, you know? It's just so intense, I'd love to see what he would do with one of our songs.

FOSTER: You guys, anyone in particular?

MALININ: No. I just play drums.

(LAUGHTER)

FOSTER: You can't express a preference about the singer, I don't think?

MALININ: Obviously, there's a lot of musicians that we all admire, and it would be great to work with any of them. There's a huge gamut of them, so I don't even know where to begin.

FOSTER: OK. Michael Julian. "What has been your biggest source of inspiration?"

RZEZNIK: On "Something for the Rest of Us," the biggest source of inspiration has just been really sort of -- talking to people and listening to what's going on in their lives. We meet people every day. There's a song on the album, it's called "Not Broken," which is basically, I met a woman at a meet-and-greet, and she handed me a letter, and it was a letter about how her husband had been wounded in Iraq, and he did -- he was really apprehensive about coming back and settling back in with her because his entire life and his physical form was changed in an instant. I just wanted to write a litter to him from her, saying that, it's time to come home and start our lives over again.

FOSTER: And did you get a response to the song from them?

RZEZNIK: No, I don't -- I have no idea who she is. It's just -- you do these meet-and-greets, and people, they always -- we never get the supermodel's phone numbers, you know? We have --

MALININ: We get the really sad stories.

RZEZNIK: We always get a lot of stories about the music and where it fits into people's lives.

MALININ: Yes.

FOSTER: That's a compliment, isn't it?

RZEZNIK: I think so. But -- getting a supermodel's phone number once in a while wouldn't hurt, right?

MALININ: I'm hearing that.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

FOSTER: Very good time, anyway. Tomorrow, we welcome The Hoff, no less, into the hot seat. For many of us, he'll always be the heroic lifeguard from "Baywatch," but the star -- or the star of the 1980s sci-fi series "Knight Rider." Find out what David Hasselhoff is up to these days, though, when he answers your questions as our Connector of the Day.

Do send us your questions for all our Connectors, and remember to tell us where you're writing in from, cnn.com/connect is the address to go to. Tonight, we'll be right back.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

FOSTER: One of the last photographs, one of the last interviews, 30 years after John Lennon was gunned down by a crazed fan, "Rolling Stone" has released the tapes from an interview with the music legend just days before his death. In the recordings, comments never made public.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

JOHN LENNON, SINGER: I look at early pictures of myself, and I'm always torn between being Marlon Brando and being the sensitive poet, the Oscar Wilde part of you, with the velvet and the feminine side. And I was always torn between the two.

But mainly opting for the macho side, because that's what one does with other males all the time, and if you show the other side, you were dead.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

FOSTER: Well, on the day that Lennon was killed, he did another interview for RKO radio. The scriptwriter Laurie Kaye was part of that reporting team, and just hours after she left his New York apartment, she learned he'd been shot.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

LAURIE KAYE, CONDUCTED LAST LENNON INTERVIEW: I was stunned. I was stunned. And something in me said, "it's worse than they've made out on this announcement."

I got to the hospital, which I remember having glass doors, and I could see through the doors, Yoko with a knot of people, and at one point, she just literally fell. Like, collapsed. There I go again -- with grief. And I knew that she must have been told that he'd died.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

FOSTER: Tributes are being paid online. The reach of John Lennon not just stretching across borders but across generations. Here's what two of our viewers had to say about why this long-gone musician remains so relevant.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

ARNOLD WONG, HONG KONG: He was definitely a courageous musician, definitely with good intentions. His music is very familiar to many, many people who don't even speak the English language worldwide, so I have no doubt it's encouraged and inspired a lot of people.

PHIL MARFLEET, LONDON: But he died seven years before I was born, even, but his music still so apparent, and he's still such an apparent figure in that field, in that industry, that it almost is hard to believe that he is gone. Because he's still seen on TV so much, and his music's still played so much. It brings back so many memories for me of growing up and hearing it played on the radio. And it's just great -- was great.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

FOSTER: You've also been going to CNN's website to let us know where you were on that day 30 years ago. SoCalReader says, "I was sick in bed with the flu, watching TV. I remember everything so vividly."

Evangelicide tells us, "I was in 5th grade when he died. My teacher did nothing all day but sulk and play Beatles albums."

And BRB56 got philosophical, quoting John Lennon himself. "Any artist's or poet's role is to try and express what we all feel, not to tell people how to feel." Tell us where you were on the day that John Lennon died. Head to our website at cnn.com.

Now, 30 years on the death of the former Beatle still resonates around the globe. Some of the biggest tributes have been made in New York, and that's where find Richard Roth. Richard.

RICHARD ROTH, CNN SENIOR UN CORRESPONDENT: Yes, you're looking right now at the scene at Strawberry Fields, where hundreds have gathered throughout the day to honor the memory and the music of John Lennon, who was killed 30 years ago. This is in the shadow of the Dakota apartment buildings where Lennon was murdered by Mark David Chapman, a man who has failed to win parole from jail six times now.

We have with us people who -- some of the people have been here all day. Big fans of John Lennon. Daniel, what do you think of this scene? What did John Lennon mean to you?

UNIDENTIFED MALE: John Lennon, he was more than a musician, more than just a songwriter and a signer. He was -- an idol of just -- a great person giving us ideas and a way to think.

ROTH: Why have you been out here for nearly 11 hours in this freezing, blustery, weather?

UNIDENTIFED MALE: This is my first time in New York, and I promised myself that today being actually my birthday that I would actually be here as long as I can to commemorate John.

ROTH: What is your biggest memory of him and his music?

UNIDENTIFED MALE: It's "Double Fantasy," the album. It's my favorite album.

ROTH: OK, Daniel, thank you very much. He's been here for 12 hours. With me here, family, friends from Liverpool. Steven, what do you think of this scene? You've been here before. Why have you chosen to come here on the 30th anniversary?

UNIDENTIFED MALE: Well, we were here on vacation, and we thought what we would do is we would come and pay our respects to John Lennon on this 30th anniversary, and it's a fantastic scene, it really is.

ROTH: Is this a happy day? What kind of day is this. There's a lot of celebration here, a lot of Beatles songs we hear in the background.

UNIDENTIFED MALE: A lot of mixed emotions, I think, here today, yes, definitely. Because we live -- we actually live just around the corner from his boyhood home anyway. There will be celebrations in Liverpool tonight. But we were here on vacation and we've -- and it's just fantastic. It's a fantastic scene.

ROTH: People have been placing flowers here on the mosaic, which reads "Imagine" all day. What do you -- how does Liverpool remember John Lennon these days?

UNIDENTIFED FEMALE: Every day, there's a sort of memory of John Lennon. The Beatles talk to us daily. Beatles is a big, big thing, and especially John Lennon, he's such an inspiration to many people in Liverpool. And his memory goes on from there.

ROTH: I'm sure hundreds of people here would like to thank the city of Liverpool for producing the Beatles, John Lennon and everyone. Thank you very much for your time.

So, it's a mixture of mourning, celebration, memories. That "what if?" The potential of John Lennon, who would've been 70 years old this week. This is Richard Roth in Strawberry Fields. Max, back to you.

FOSTER: Richard, thank you so much. But while you'd expect John Lennon fans to make pilgrimages to New York and to Liverpool at this time of year, there is another site that may seem a little left field. Shasta Darlington explains why the ex-Beatle is widely embraced in Cuba.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

ARNOLD WONG, HONG KONG: He was definitely a courageous musician, definitely with good intentions. His music is very familiar to many, many people who don't even speak the English language worldwide, so I have no doubt it's encouraged and inspired a lot of people.

PHIL MARFLEET, LONDON: But he died seven years before I was born, even, but his music still so apparent, and he's still such an apparent figure in that field, in that industry, that it almost is hard to believe that he is gone. Because he's still seen on TV so much, and his music's still played so much. It brings back so many memories for me of growing up and hearing it played on the radio. And it's just great -- was great.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

FOSTER: Your mind isn't playing games on you, we did play that tape a little earlier. Shasta you'll hear from later on on CNN. We do apologize.

Before we go to the headlines, though, we'll leave you with some images of how other countries around the world are remembering John Lennon on the 30th anniversary of his death.

END