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The Royal Couple's Children; Nigerian Election; Torture Allegations in Syria; Iran Advises Syrian Government; U.S. Congressman Wants Mexican Drug Cartels Classified As Terrorists; Extreme Science in Arctic Circle; Cars Not Doing All the Work in Formula One Racing; Week on the Web
Aired April 15, 2011 - 16:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
BECKY ANDERSON, HOST: Two weeks ahead of the royal wedding the British government confirms talks which could radically change the monarchy. Well, the move would mean girls are no longer overlooked for the throne.
Plus, a brutal crackdown -- the report which graphically highlights the torture of Syria's protesters.
And we'll see how Formula One drivers are put through their paces.
These stories and more tonight, as we connect the world.
Well, they are not even married yet, let alone expecting a baby, but the sex of Prince William and Kate Middleton's first child is already at the center of much debate between parliamentarians and royalists here in the UK.
Tonight, CNN can confirm the British government is, indeed, discussing changes to the law of succession amid concerns the act is sexist.
Max Fox -- Foster -- joins us now with the development.
You've been digging around.
What have you found?
MAX FOSTER, CNN ANCHOR: Well, it's interesting, this is an ancient law. It goes back to 1700. And people suggest, you know, that the -- we've got a queen right now, so it's not a sexist monarchy as such, but if the queen had had a younger brother, we wouldn't have a queen now, it would be a king.
And the -- the royal household hasn't had a problem over the last three generations because the queen had a first born son, Charles. He had a first born son, William.
But there is a constitutional crisis sort of sitting in the background there. And everyone now, looking toward the next generation.
FOSTER (voice-over): They had only just got engaged, but the question was inevitable...
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: People are bound to ask, you know, it's a bit of an obvious question, but children -- do you want lots of children?
Is, you know, see what comes?
WILLIAM ARTHUR PHILIP LOUIS, PRINCE OF WALES: I think we'll take it one step at a time. We'll sort of get over the marriage thing first and then maybe look at the kids. But, obviously, you know, we -- we want a family. So, you know, will have to start thinking about that.
FOSTER: If they have a daughter followed by a son, the boy would still be first in line to ascend to the throne.
KEITH VAZ, BRITISH PARLIAMENT MEMBER: I think they're all sitting down praying that Prince William and Kate Middleton have a son first, because if they do, of course, there is no need to consider this for some time to come.
FOSTER (on camera): But the principle is still offensive to people, isn't it?
VAZ: It is, indeed. It's offensive to many people. It's offensive to me.
FOSTER: Whether or not they have a -- a boy or a girl first, it should change?
FOSTER (voice-over): The problem goes back to 1701 and the Act of Settlement, which laid out who could succeed to the throne. It dictates what happens to this day.
(on camera): What Keith Vaz wants to do is effectively update that ancient Act of Settlement. So he's proposed a bill. It's very brief. Here are the notes. In it, he suggests: "In determining the line of succession to the crown and all the rights, privileges and dignitaries belonging thereto, no account shall be taken of gender."
Now, he doesn't just need to get it through the parliament here in the UK. He also needs the support of every parliament in all 15 realms or countries where the queen is monarch. And so far, he has the support of just one.
Here's the letter from the promises of Saint Lucia.
(voice-over): But the British government has now confirmed to CNN that it has been working on this matter behind closed doors. The Cabinet Office told me the government accepts there are provisions which could be discriminatory. Discussions have started with those Commonwealth countries who would be directly affected by any change in the rules and are continuing. But it would not be appropriate to release details at this stage.
I understand that these discussions would also deal with the religious discrimination inherent in the laws surrounding succession.
If William was Catholic, he could not succeed to the throne. He couldn't become king, either, if Kate had been a Catholic.
REBECCA PROBERT, LEGAL HISTORIAN: The reason that is there is because you don't forfeit your right to the throne if you marry somebody who subsequently becomes a Catholic. So the act doesn't actually even achieve what it sets out to achieve. He could marry a Scientologist, a Satanist, a Muslim or a Methodist and that would have no impact whatsoever on his right to succeed to the throne.
FOSTER: There have been failed efforts to update these ancient succession laws in the past and Buckingham Palace told me that it's a matter for government.
(END VIDEO TAPE)
FOSTER: There you go, Becky.
It's a mess, basically. And everyone knows it needs to change. It's just getting it changed.
ANDERSON: Max, thank you for that.
I want you to stay with me here in the studio.
We're also joined tonight by an expert, a constitutional lawyer, Geoffrey Robertson.
Before we go any further though, chaps, let's take a look at the line of succession as is stands right now.
Let's clear this up for you.
The next person to inherit the throne is Prince Charles. The 62-year- old is the oldest son of Queen Elizabeth.
Now, Prince William, where much of the attention has been, of course, is currently the second person who would be king. Now the youngest son of Prince Charles, Harry, is the third in line and would lead the monarchy if something were to happen to his father and to his brother.
Next up, the Duke of York, Prince Andrew, would be fourth in line of succession.
And finally, Prince Andrew's daughter, Princess Beatrice, would be the fifth in line for the crown, the first woman on the list in the number five spot.
Geoffrey, before we move on, let's just go back. Max talked about the -- the Act of 1701.
Why was this passed in the first place?
GEOFFREY ROBERTSON, CONSTITUTIONAL LAWYER: Well, it was passed to get rid of Catholics. It was a furious -- if you read it, it's a kind of polemic against Catholics. And anyone who becomes a Catholic or let alone a Methodist or a Rastafarian or a Scientologist, they lose all right to the throne.
So if Charles and Camilla enter the -- become a Method -- become Methodists, they're out. They don't succeed.
And it's a very -- it was a time, 1701, of very strong religious feelings. So the, as it were, the birth mother was set up to be Princess Sophia of Hanover. And you have to be -- I guess she is the -- you have to have some genes of Princess Sophia of Hanover.
So, really, as a result of this act, we have a white, Anglo, German, Protestant monarchy, which discriminates against all religions except the Church of England, all races except the German race, because the Windsors, of course, were originally the Saxe-Coburg-Gothas and they changed their name during the First World War so they wouldn't be associated with the Germans.
ANDERSON: Now, of course it's -- it's 2011. We're many years on from 1701.
ANDERSON: And many of our viewers will be thinking this all sounds rather archaic.
You believe, Geoffrey, I know, that this act could be affected by the European Convention of Human Rights.
ROBERTSON: Absolutely. I mean we -- we live in an age where we shouldn't discriminate. This brings in the feudal law of primogeniture, that the women get put at the bottom and they only come to the top and -- which is ridiculous, because all our best kings have been queens, the Elizabeths and so on.
But for heaven's sake, we've -- don't ask me about the 1361 Treason Act.
ANDERSON: No, I won't.
ROBERTSON: Well, I'll tell you, because Kate might want to know about it. When Charles becomes king, Charles III, it's against the law for the wife of his son and heir to commit adultery. And until very recently, it was punished by execution, the same way as Anne Boleyn hit the dust.
ANDERSON: Heads up, everybody.
ROBERTSON: -- this is...
ANDERSON: As it were...
ROBERTSON: -- this is another law that needs to be revised. Actually, parliament is so pathetic that they don't dare touch any of these laws. They have to get the agreement of the Commonwealth. They say that's a problem.
But it really does make Britain a bit of a laughingstock.
ANDERSON: Max, there are two pieces, then, to this puzzle, just for our viewers' sake here -- whether girls might become first in line to inherit the throne at some point and whether a Catholic, could, indeed become the monarch in the UK.
Is any change that is afoot a sense by the palace that they've got to sort of drag themselves into the 21st century?
Is that your sense?
FOSTER: Well, their line is just this is a government matter. You know, we had it during the -- the hung parliament and the election, didn't we?
They just sort of distance themselves from all of these decisions. But I do think the -- they are holding out for a son. And they would hold out for the law to change -- they want something -- it would just be too embarrassing, wouldn't it?
It would be too socially unacceptable if they had a daughter who had a younger brother and then he becomes the king.
So I cert -- I certainly think that there's a -- there's a real sense in government and in the palace at Western -- the palace at -- you know, Buckingham Palace, that it has to change. But it's very, very complicated (INAUDIBLE)...
ROBERTSON: It's not complicated at all. You just either rewrite the law...
FOSTER: -- parliament...
ROBERTSON: -- or, in fact, if it ever happened, you would invoke the European Convention of Human Rights.
FOSTER: Yes, but how does that apply to...
ANDERSON: All right...
FOSTER: -- the rest of...
FOSTER: -- the Commonwealth...
ROBERTSON: I mean that...
ROBERTSON: -- that came to Charles' aid...
FOSTER: What about...
ROBERTSON: -- when he wanted to marry...
FOSTER: -- and Australia and, you know...
ROBERTSON: -- well, that's right. And...
FOSTER: You know, you've got to get -- you've got to get it through all of those parliaments to change that.
ANDERSON: Let me just ask you, Geoffrey, did -- because this entire debate does raise the question of whether, in this new millennium, Britain should be given a choice as to whether we have a monarchy here or whether we run a republic.
So what chance a referendum going forward?
ROBERTSON: Well, I don't think this government is planning a referendum. And it would seem that we are stuck with the monarchy for the time being. I think it's always been argued that when you get someone who's intelligent like, that may spell the end of a populist monarchy.
Who knows what will happen in the future?
At the moment, the queen is in her '80s.
Suppose Alzheimer's or old age strike?
What happens then, when you've got a head of state who's not capable of actually making important decisions?
In most countries, the head of state is important. Sometimes, in Trinidad a few years ago, the head of state had to take over the government when parliament was held at gunpoint by terrorists.
So you've got a problem.
What is the retiring age?
And -- and all sorts of issues, which the British are very reluctant to handle, because we're the only country in the world, apart from Saudi Arabia, that doesn't have a written constitution. So we don't have these rules, we have conditions.
FOSTER: The polls always show faith in the monarchy, but not necessarily the monarchs.
ANDERSON: We're going to leave it there, guys.
We thank you very much, indeed, for joining us.
Two weeks to go, of course.
The countdown is on.
FOSTER: It's on now.
ANDERSON: Well, a constitutional change or not, we have got a royal wedding, of course, to look forward to. And we've just had confirmation from Buckingham Palace that Kate Middleton participated in a wedding rehearsals with the bridesmaids and pageboys earlier today, this Friday.
Prince William did not take part in today's run-through, we are told.
You can find out more about CNN's extensive coverage in the lead-up to the big day. That's at our special "Unveiled" Web site. It's your one stop shop for everything you need to know about William and Kate and their pending nuptials.
Do use the site.
Gentlemen, thank you very much, indeed, for joining us.
Up next, the fast and furious and the fitness -- F1 drivers are known for topping speeds of 350 kilometers an hour. But find out why being away from the wheel may help them get into top gear.
And using the terror card -- why one U.S. lawmaker wants Mexican drug cartels labeled terrorists.
Stay with us.
ANDERSON: Well, thousands of anti-government demonstrators massed throughout Syria today, calling offer the ouster of the president. Unlike last week, these protests have been largely peaceful. But they come against the backdrop of disturbing allegations of torture against protesters.
We'll explore that issue ahead and ask if Iran is aiding in the government crackdown.
I'm Becky Anderson in London.
This is Friday night here at quarter past 9:00.
You're watching CONNECT THE WORLD.
Here's a look at the other stories we are following for you this hour.
And a declaration from NATO's chief over the fight for Libya. Secretary General Anders Rasmussen says he's optimistic the allies will supply more planes for the Libyan mission. So far, though, there's nothing concrete.
Meanwhile, the besieged port city of Misrata is being pounded by forces loyal to Moammar Gadhafi. And jets an anti-aircraft fire heard Friday over the capital of Tripoli.
Well, Italy is denouncing what it calls "the barbaric murder of pro- Palestinian activist, Vittorio Arrigoni. His body was found today, Friday, in Hamas-governed Gaza hours after the Italian activist was kidnapped.
A YouTube video appears to show Arrigoni had been bound and blindfolded before he was killed. His mother says she hoped until the last moment that her son would be saved.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
EGIDIA BERETTA, VITTORIO ARRIGONI'S MOTHER (through translator): They called me last night to tell me that this video had begun making the rounds. I did not see the video and I did not want to see it. They told me that nothing was confirmed. I kept looking at my watch and saw the hours passing and my hopes were growing. But then I heard from Gaza what had happened to Vittorio from friends of his.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
ANDERSON: Well, conviction today for two Croatian generals. The International Criminal Court announced guilty verdicts against Ante Gotovina and Mladen Markac for war crimes and crimes against humanity. They received 24 years and 18 years in prison, respectively. The charges relate to a 1995 ethnic cleansing campaign in Croatia's Krajina region. A third general was acquitted of all charges.
Well, Nigeria is staging a series of elections aimed at ensuring a free and fair democracy for Africa's most populous nation. Last weekend, voters shrugged off weeks of pre-election violence to cast ballots for parliament. Well, this weekend is the presidential election.
Christian Purefoy now tells us why the elections are so vitally important to Nigeria and to the world.
CHRISTIAN PUREFOY, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Nigeria -- Africa's most populous country, with approximately 150 million people and also Africa's largest oil producer. It's a country full of potential, with aspiring entrepreneurs around every corner. It has Africa's largest music I need, one of the world's largest film industries.
And yet it's a country racked by deep-rooted problems -- infrastructure, health care, education have collapsed across the country. Human Rights Watch estimates 15,000 people have been killed in the last 12 years in communal, political and religious violence.
And in the oil rich Niger Delta, armed young men continue to threaten oil facilities and oil workers.
Nigeria thinks of itself as the big man of Africa and it's hoped that if you can get democracy right here, the rest of sub-Saharan Africa will follow. Since a return to democracy 12 years ago, Nigeria has held three elections, each widely regarded to be more violent and corrupt than the one before.
This April, Nigerians go to the polls again and it has been promised that this time, it will be free and fair.
If they go wrong, Nigeria will continue to struggle with crisis after crisis. But if Nigeria gets these elections right, it is hoped it will be at the vanguard of an African renaissance.
Christian Purefoy, CNN, Lagos, Nigeria.
(END VIDEO TAPE)
ANDERSON: You're with CONNECT THE WORLD here on CNN.
Should Mexican drug cartels be considered terrorist organizations?
We're going to examine what is a controversial idea in the second half of this show.
First, though, a close look at the anti-government uprising in Syria and two key questions this -- are protesters being tortured and is Iran influencing the government crackdown.
Stay with us.
ANDERSON: Welcome back now.
On the streets of Syria, another day of anti-government demonstrations and anger. Thousands of people rallied after Friday prayers. And the protests are more widespread than ever before, spreading beyond the initial flashpoint of Daraa into several other cities in the outskirts of Damascus.
Now, today's protests were mostly peaceful. But witnesses say demonstrators sparred with security forces in one city, with 10 minor injuries reported.
A reminder, CNN cannot confirm the authenticity of these amateur videos that you're seeing now.
Well, many videos sent to CNN claim to show brutality at the hands of Syrian security forces. An international human rights group says that torture of protesters there is rampant.
Arwa Damon examines the purported evidence.
And we warn you, her report contains images that some of you may find disturbing.
ARWA DAMON, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: (voice-over): This video posted to YouTube shows men face down, as others wearing what appear to be Syrian forces' uniforms step on them. This man is seen to smile as he grinds the demonstrator's back into the ground. Voices calling them dogs and traitors. One beaten across the back and then kicked in the face.
CNN cannot confirm the authenticity of these videos and was unable to reach Syrian authorities for comment.
On Thursday, state television said that Syrian President Bashar al- Assad would release all those detained in recent incidents who had not committed criminal acts. According to Syrian cyber activist, Rami Nachle (ph), around 95 percent of those rounded up in Bizaa and nearby Benan had, in fact, been let go. But he says many of them reported they had been tortured.
YouTube video also posted on Friday shows visible marks of beatings on men from Benan, who say they were recently released, even an old man with a bruised and bandaged face.
This man claims to have been in the army, in the special forces. "They dragged us away," he says. "All the soldiers that beat me were trained by me. Their supervisor just watched and did nothing."
He says that soldiers shot and then broke his father's leg.
(on camera): In a report released Friday, Human Rights Watch stated that many detainees told of being subjected to electroshock torture, beatings with whips and cables and that among those detained were also children. Most said they were forced to sign confessions.
This statement sent to our bureau in Beirut is signed by Arab intellectuals, artists, activists and writers, also condemning what they call "the Syrian authorities' brutal tactics."
(voice-over): Amnesty International believes that the human rights crisis in Syria is growing by the day, if not by the hour.
Arwa Damon, CNN, Beirut.
(END VIDEO TAPE)
ANDERSON: All right. Well, it's clear the Syrian government is facing increasing global scrutiny over the way it deals with the current unrest.
But as Brian Todd has learned, the country appears to be getting some advice on how to crack down on dissent successfully and secretly.
BRIAN TODD, CNN CORRESPONDENT: (voice-over): U.S. officials tell CNN of an ominous new partnership between two of the most heavy-handed regimes in the Middle East. They say Iran is giving material help to Syria to help the Syrian government put down pro-democracy protests.
The State Department spokesman was asked about this potentially lethal collaboration.
MARK TONER, U.S. STATE DEPARTMENT SPOKESMAN: Certainly, we're troubled by these reports and, you know, we -- we just say that if -- if Syria is turning to Iran for help, that it can't be very serious about real reform.
TODD: Two U.S. officials tell CNN Iran is sharing tactics from its 2009 crackdown on anti-government protesters. That includes crowd gear and technical help and equipment to monitor and block e-mails, cell phone calls, text messages and Internet postings by Syrian activists we are trying to organize protests.
Michael Rubin, a former Pentagon analyst who specialized in Iran and who was recently in Syria, says Iran is very good at using what he calls repression technologies. Instead of cracking heads in the street, which can inflame protests, Rubin says...
MICHAEL RUBIN, AMERICAN ENTERPRISE INSTITUTE: What Iran does is they take photos. And the photo recognition, then they come over the next two or three weeks and they will round up people in the middle of the night where you won't create a spark, where you won't create a backlash and that may be what they're trying to teach Syria right now.
(on camera): A Syrian foreign ministry official told state TV Iran is not helping Syria. An official with Iran's mission at the U.N. sent an e- mail to CNN saying his government categorically rejects the reporting as baseless, unfounded and part of propaganda in the U.S. aimed at tarnishing Iran and Syria.
(voice-over): I asked Rubin a key question about Iran's role in the Arab Spring.
(on camera): What is Iran doing more broadly in the Middle East?
Are they helping others?
RUBIN: Well, Iran is trying to make these Arab uprisings their own. Certainly, what we're seeing is a great gain. Iran does see itself involved in a zero sum balance of power competition with the United States.
TODD: (voice-over): Analysts say watch out for Bahrain. It's literally right next to Iran and used to be part of Iran. The population there, like Iran's, is mostly Shia and Shia protesters in Bahrain are demanding the overthrow of the Sunni museum royal family.
Iran denies any involvement in the protests in Bahrain and U.S. officials say they don't have evidence that Iran's meddling there yet.
Brian Todd, CNN, Washington.
(END VIDEO TAPE)
ANDERSON: All right, so worry from Washington and denials from Tehran.
What's really going on?
I want to bring in an expert on this, Karim Sadjadpour.
He's an associate of the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace, joining me on the line tonight from Tucson, Arizona.
Karim, propaganda as Tehran would want us to believe or a narrative supported by evidence that Iran is meddling both in Syria and, to a lesser extent, perhaps, in Bahrain?
KARIM SADJADPOUR, CARNEGIE ENDOWMENT FOR INTERNATIONAL PEACE: Well, Becky, I haven't seen any hard evidence. But I think it's certainly plausible that the Iranian government is trying to aid its main ally in the region, Syria, in repressing these popular uprisings because if the Syrian regime falls, if the Attab regime falls, it would be a major blow to Tehran.
This has been Iran's key Middle Eastern ally since the 1979 revolution. And I would have to believe that they are going to do everything in their power, incruding -- including aiding the Syrian government, both in terms of technology and the knowhow in making sure they stay in power.
ANDERSON: Yes, and that begs the second question here. You talked about know-how and technology.
What do we mean by that?
If we -- if we're looking at influence from Tehran, what do we mean practically?
SADJADPOUR: Well, Iran -- the Iranian government has repression down to a science. They're very effective at crowd control. They're very effective at repression. And, as opposed to some of the heavy-handed tactics you would see in places like Libya or Saddam Hussein's Iraq, whereby they would simply slaughter hundreds of thousands of people, Iran takes a more surgical approach, trying to kind of decapitate individuals who are potential leaders of the opposition and following them online and into cyberspace and into Facebook and things like that.
So what I would imagine that they're providing Syria that type of technological know-how. And, you know, again, I haven't seen evidence of this, but -- but I -- I could say it's certainly plausible that they're also providing Syria equipment which proved effective in the 2009 uprisings in Iran.
ANDERSON: Any influence in Bahrain, of course, would support the argument that the Saudis get boots on the ground there. Of course, they have.
Would you suggest that the motivation behind Saudi Arabia getting involved in Bahrain and supporting the government there was purely as a result of the potential for Iranian influence there, which, of course, the Saudis will fear, being a -- a Sunni regime?
SADJADPOUR: Well -- well, certainly, I think that is a large part of the motivation of Saudi Arabia. Saudi Arabia really views the Middle East through sectarian lenses. They are a Sunni power and they believe that anywhere where there are Shiites, there's Iranian influence.
And so in Bahrain, when you have a Shiite majority which is being ruled by a Sunni minority, if that Shiite majority is trying to agitate for more political influence and for more of a political voice, they see that somehow as Iran's hidden hand.
And I think there's a certain danger in that -- in the previous interview, you had Michael Rubin, who was talking about this new great game. And I think that's a useful analogy. What's happening right now in the Middle East many people compare to kind of a modern day cold war between the United States and Iran for power and influence.
And the danger in that whole view is that everything you -- every time we've seen non-democratic governments being challenged by -- by the populations, there's a view of -- a mistake view of always dismissing them as Iranian puppets rather than simply saying, well, these are individuals, in the case of Bahrain, who simply want a greater political voice. They're not interested in being Iranian puppets. They're not interested in living under Iran's sphere of influence. But they're simply interested in more political rights.
ANDERSON: Yes. Interesting.
All right, Karim, we thank you for that, your expert on the subject out of Tucson, Arizona for you this evening.
Well, there is no question they are brutal killers. But are members of Mexican drug cartels terrorists? Well, that's the contention of one U.S. lawmaker who wants cartels placed on a U.S. terrorism list. Mexico's government has a very different opinion. We'll debate the issue with congressman who introduced the bill, up next.
ANDERSON: A very warm welcome back. You're with CONNECT THE WORLD here on CNN. I'm Becky Anderson in London for you. Coming up, they murder, kidnap, and torture, but can they be considered terrorists? Why one U.S. congressman wants Mexico's drug cartels reclassified.
Extreme science in the Arctic Circle. We're going to take a look at the team behind the mission investigating global warming.
And expect the unexpected. That's what they say in Formula One. We'll be checking out the lineup for this weekend's Chinese Grand Prix.
That all coming up in the next half hour for you, here on CNN. Before we get to that, let's get you a check of the headlines this hour.
As protests continue in Syria, the group Human Rights Watch released a report accusing Syria's government of, quote, "rampant torture of protesters." It said it obtained videos of beating victims and said some were subjected to electro-shock treatments and whipping.
As protests continue in Syria, the group Human Rights -- sorry. Confirmation, tonight, just two weeks from the royal wedding that the British government is in talks which could radically change the monarchy. It's discussing changes to the laws of succession, which would mean girls are no longer overlooked for the throne.
NATO says it's hopeful the battle for Libya will see more allied fighter jets. So far, no country has offered more planes. As pro-Gadhafi forces pound the port city of Misrata, NATO Secretary-General Anders Rasmussen says there are indications that nations will deliver what's needed.
Shock and grief after the killing of an Italian activist in Gaza. Vittorio Arrigoni was found dead north of Gaza City hours after he was kidnapped. The Hamas government in Gaza is condemning the killing.
And the owners of Japan's crippled Fukushima power plant have been ordered to start compensating people affected by the nuclear accident. TEPCO will pay $12,000 to each household displaced or forced to stay inside because of radiation fears.
Those are your headlines this hour.
The number of dead mount by the day. Northern Mexico has become a lawless place, a drug cartel battleground where fear reigns and corruption is rife.
In the latest display of anarchy, 16 police officers have been arrested, accused of covering up a massacre near the U.S. border. As many as 126 bodies have now been found in mass graves in the town of San Fernando. Officials blame the Zetas drug cartel for the killings and say 17 gang members have been arrested so far.
Well, the overall toll of this drug-related violence in Mexico is staggering. Just take a look at these numbers. More than 35,000 people have been killed since 2006, when President Felipe Calderon started cracking down on the cartels, a strategy that many think has failed.
Now, a U.S. lawmaker has come up with another plan. Rafael Romo reports.
RAFAEL ROMO, CNN SENIOR LATIN AMERICAN AFFAIRS EDITOR (voice-over): Should Mexican drug cartels be considered terrorist organizations? Representative Michael McCaul, a Texas Republican, says they should.
And not only that, McCaul has introduced the bill that would add Mexico's six dominant cartels to the State Department's foreign terrorist organizations list. This would allow law enforcement agencies to have increased powers to limit cartels' financial property and travel interests, and impose harsher punishment on anyone who provides material support to cartels.
Responding to the bill in a letter to the "Dallas Morning News," Mexican ambassador Arturo Sarukhan fired back, saying, "If you label these organizations as terrorists, you will have to start calling drug consumers in the U.S. financiers of terrorist organizations and gun dealers providers of material support to terrorists. Otherwise," the ambassador wrote, "you really sound as if you want to have your cake and eat it, too."
At a House Judiciary Committee hearing last month, FBI director Robert Mueller expressed concern about the danger posed by the cartels.
ROBERT MUELLER, DIRECTOR, FBI: The extreme violence across our southwest border continues to impact the United States, as we saw the murders last March of American consulate workers in Juarez, Mexico, and the shooting last month of two U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement agents in Mexico.
ROMO (voice-over): Consular employee Lesley Enriquez and her husband, Arthur Redelfs, were shot and killed in Juarez, Mexico by gangs affiliated with a drug cartel, according to Mexican authorities.
ICE agent Jaime Zapata was killed and another agent injured in February when they were ambushed on a highway in central Mexico.
JANET NAPOLITANO, U.S. SECRETARY OF HOMELAND SECURITY: Now, we remain very concerned about drug cartel violence in Mexico, and we must vigorously guard against potential spillover effects into the United States.
ROMO (on camera): Mexican officials have repeatedly said that drug cartels are neither an insurgency nor terrorist organizations because their purpose is neither to destabilize the government nor promote a political ideology. Their level of cruelty is unprecedented, but they don't hate a particular group. Their only motive, Mexican authorities say, is hard, cold cash. Rafael Romo, CNN, Atlanta.
ANDERSON: All right. So the issue laid out bare in Rafael's report, though we're going to hear arguments on both sides. I'm joined from Washington by U.S. House Republican Michael McCaul of Texas, the man who authored the bill, and Sanho Tree of the Drug Policy Project, which wants to replace the war on drugs with policies focusing on health and safety.
To both of you, we welcome you to the show this evening. Michael, let me start with you. Why this bill, and why now?
REP. MICHAEL MCCAUL (R), TEXAS: I'm sorry, I couldn't hear that question.
ANDERSON: Why this bill and why now?
MCCAUL: Well, because Mexico is on the verge of becoming a failed state. They're in a crisis. And I think the professor would agree with that. The title of his book was "The Failed War."
And there is a war raging in Mexico. I believe that they're losing that war, and if they're losing, we are losing, as well.
I think we need to do things. I think my bill, by designating them as terrorist organizations, sends a bold statement that they are what they are. But secondly, I think we need to look at a new strategy, a new approach, and a new plan to deal with the drug cartels, like something that we did in Colombia.
I think we should look at the best practices, lessons learned from Colombia and apply those to Mexico. And I think the professor would agree with some of these points.
ANDERSON: All right. OK, well, Sanho, are you -- I was watching you. You were shaking your head. Your response.
SANHO TREE, DIRECTOR, DRUG POLICY PROJECT: Well, I think this kind of a knee-jerk response, it may make one feel good but, in fact, we need to find rational solutions to this that doesn't aggravate the existing problem.
Now, Mexico is on fire. And the knee-jerk solution might be to pour water on that fire, it's common sense, right? But if it's an electrical fire or a grease fire, adding water is probably the worst thing you can do.
And this militarized response to what is, essentially, a turf battle over cartels that are trying to win market share, is actually exacerbating the situation --
ANDERSON: What would the like -- what --
TREE: -- preventing them from finding any kind of equilibrium.
ANDERSON: Right. But, Michael, what would the likely practical implication of this bill passing be?
MCCAUL: Well, it would allow us to take the problem more seriously. In the United States, we could -- it would have a 15-year penalty on top of the underlying offense. We could freeze bank assets here in the United States. We could deport drug cartel members from the United States even if they're legally here.
But I think more -- most importantly, it means that we could treat them like we would al Qaeda or Hezbollah, which would open the door to a whole new strategy, something similar to what we did in Colombia, which I think, privately, the Mexican government would probably support, but publicly, politically, they can't.
ANDERSON: Sanho, it --
MCCAUL: This is 35,000 people killed.
ANDERSON: Yes. Sanho, Michael alluded to a freeze -- the freezing of assets in U.S. banks. I mean, this is a multibillion-dollar problem, it's got to be admitted. Allegedly, some $326 billion-odd going through American banks which, effectively, kept the -- some will say, the American banking system going in 2008, when -- when things were going so bad.
So, he makes some points, which I think are at least worth addressing at this point, don't you think?
TREE: Well, if you want to --
MCCAUL: Look, in --
ANDERSON: Hang on a minute, Michael.
TREE: -- implement money laundering regulations --
ANDERSON: Go on, Sanho.
TREE: If you want money laundering regulations, that's terrific. If you want gun control, I'm all in favor of that. But it's the Republican Party that is the obstacle to proper gun control in the United States.
Simply calling these groups a terrorist organization doesn't help us resolve this problem anymore. They're killing each other with such ferocity, they're literally cutting off each other's heads, they're skinning each other alive. Just last week, they cut their hearts out of their enemies. Literally. Is there any evidence to suggest that tougher sentencing in the United States is going to deter them?
ANDERSON: Michael, why isn't prohibition -- the end of prohibition the way to go here?
MCCAUL: Well, I think they're --
TREE: Absolutely, I think this is a --
MCCAUL: -- I mean, look.
ANDERSON: Go on.
MCCAUL: I'm sorry. I'm sorry, professor go ahead.
ANDERSON: Go on, Michael. Carry on.
MCCAUL: I think that consumption clearly drives this -- the market, if you will. And we need to do something about drug addiction in the United States. And I think we have to have an honest conversation with the American people that this drives the profits for the drug cartels.
But I think the idea if we legalize marijuana the whole problem's going to go away is a little bit naive, because they profit off of other things like cocaine, heroin, methamphetamines. So, how much of -- how far are we willing to go as a society to legalize all these drugs?
ANDERSON: All right, so, certainly not hearing that the Republicans are looking for legalization, which doesn't surprise me in the least. Sanho, your last remarks.
TREE: It's important to remember that --
MCCAUL: My last remarks --
TREE: -- these are minimally processes agricultural commodities. That this cocaine, the heroine, the marijuana they're trafficking ought to cost pennies per does. It is the response of ever-escalating law enforcement and militarization that increases the risk to the traffickers and, therefore, increases the risk premium they're allowed to earn from the next person down the smuggling chain.
So, we provide an incredible unintended or indirect price support, an astronomical price support, for these traffickers. Without the war on drugs, these people are, basically, trafficking in minimally-processed vegetable matter.
ANDERSON: I'm going to let you both go. We thank you very much, indeed, for joining us this evening. Michael, we'll have you on again. Sanho, thank you very much, indeed.
When we come back, it's big business taking on issues that matter. Our Going Green series closing out this week with a look at how the corporate conscious is changing the environmental landscape. Find out more after this.
ANDERSON: If you've been with us this week, you'll know that all this week, CONNECT THE WORLD has been Going Green. Whether it's driving innovation or consumer behavior, the corporate world plays a key role in how we deal with the challenges facing our planet.
So, in the last of our reports this week, we investigate the rise of this corporate responsibility and how it's making an impact in the middle of the arctic. CNN's special contributor Philippe Cousteau explains.
PHILIPPE COUSTEAU, CNN SPECIAL CONTRIBUTOR (voice-over): The Catlin Ice Base in the Canadian Arctic is on the frontier of science. At 1,300 kilometers from the geographic North Pole, the brutal and remote sea ice environment is usually out of reach for most scientists.
But for these elite researchers fortunate enough to be here for the six-week arctic survey, it opens a rare window to the ocean below.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: It's coming here, there we go.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Whoa.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Quite the challenge --
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: All right! Whoo!
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: If we keep going around the edges --
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: That was a regular geyser.
COUSTEAU (voice-over): The mission is to collect scientific data related to climate change. Catlin Specialty Insurance and Reinsurance financially backs the project.
By satellite phone from Ice Base, I talked with CEO Stephen Catlin at his London corporate headquarters.
COUSTEAU (on camera): Now, Stephen, a lot of people or companies decide to sponsor, say, a sports team. Why did you choose arctic exploration and science?
STEPHEN CATLIN, CEO, CATLIN INSURANCE: Well, going back about four, five years ago, we decided as a company we needed to get some brand awareness. I personally was not in favor of sporting a -- or sponsoring a football team or a cricket team or a rugby team. We wanted to do something that added value to either the business or, in the bigger, global context, and preferably, both.
And the idea was put to us that maybe we could sponsor this arctic survey, which you are enjoying the experience of. It helps our clients, our policy holders, in terms of their risk assessment. It helps us in our risk assessment of the future. And dare I say it? I hope it will help governments think long and hard about how they behave and where they allow buildings to be built.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: OK, go ahead, up slow.
COUSTEAU (voice-over): This year, seven scientists are collecting data and taking samples to learn about the effects of increased carbon dioxide levels in the ocean, as well as how ocean currents could be changing due to increased sea ice melting. For Catlin, the key is information and understanding.
CATLIN: It's relevant because what is happening in the Arctic Ocean may be indicative of changes around the world, in terms of weather patterns and other things.
From a company point of view, I can tell you that people in our firm, everyone's interested in what we're doing in the arctic survey, and they are proud to be part of a company that's prepared to spend money in this way.
COUSTEAU (on camera): So, is it your hope that the work that's happening here in the arctic influences public debate, or influences public opinion?
CATLIN: Public interest in the survey is more about the people doing the survey than the results at the moment.
I would hope that as the scientists provide their considered opinion as to possible outcomes of the data that's been collected and the possible implications to the world in which we live, then public opinion may be formed in a different way to the way it is today.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Four years to get through.
CATLIN: The scientists will be considering the implications of this for the next, I would guess, five years, at least. What we're doing is enabling them to have better data to come to more informed views. And dare I say it? Views that are scientifically based rather than politically based.
ANDERSON: You can watch more of what is a quite incredible arctic journey with Philippe Cousteau, "Special Edition from the North Pole -- Going Green, Green Light for Business." That's Saturday at 21:30 here in London or work it out for yourselves at the time in your region locally.
Well, if you think Formula One racing is all about shifting gears, think again. Production of super cars like this one give a whole new meaning to the phrase "muscle car." Don Riddell shows us why, up next.
ANDERSON: Setting the pace for Sunday's Chinese Grand Prix, Formula One world champion Sebastian Vettel led the charge in Friday's practice runs. The 25 -- 23-year-old Red Bull driver dominated both the morning and afternoon sessions in Shanghai.
Well, forget the glory and glamour of Formula One for just a moment. I'm told it's all about hard work. Just turning the steering wheel at top speeds feels like lifting seven kilos. Our Don Riddell shows us why he holds a lot of respect for this marriage of man and machine.
DON RIDDELL, CNN SPORTS CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Motor racing is a glamorous, adrenaline-fueled experience, but that's only the bit you get to see. Formula One cars can reach speeds of over 220 miles an hour, and if you think the machine is doing all the work, think again.
DAN WILLIAMS, DIRECTOR, PRO PERFORMANCE: The F1 driver needs to be particularly fit, but not necessarily just the F1 driver, but also the levels below. It's a very physical, demanding sport. The requirements on the muscle groups is really intense.
RIDDELL (voice-over): Drivers need to be strong and fit just to keep their high-powered cars on the road, and to prevent a tired body from distracting a sluggish command.
LUIZ RAZIA, FI TEST DRIVER: I realize when I'm mentally not there, you are losing focus, you are missing breakings, missing the apex of the corners. And then you realize, OK, I'm not good enough, but I'm still driving, but I'm not 100 percent driving. I'm not doing the lap times that I should be doing.
RIDDELL (voice-over): Luiz Razia is a GP2 driver and a test driver for the F1 Team Lotus. When he's not in a car, he's working with Pro Performance, a sport science consultancy near London which specializes in helping drivers in all areas of motor sport.
WILLIAMS: You're going to put modern-day F1 drivers, they're very lean. So they've got high endurance, and the muscles are very lean but very strong.
Weight is an important factor, OK? They can't be too -- seem to be too heavy, so their body fat percentage needs to be quite low, but with a high level of muscular endurance. So, the normal driver will be between eight and ten percent body fat.
RIDDELL (voice-over): Pro Performance take a scientific approach to a driver's nutrition, fitness, and well-being. And their machines are geared specifically to replicate the driving experience.
RAZIA: Nowadays, we cannot test much, so it's really important when you are working yourself out, is really do whatever you do in the car.
RIDDELL (voice-over): Braking at the end of a fast straight requires tremendous strength in the legs, and it's crucial that these muscles are strong enough to cope. Drivers also experience incredible pressure on their bodies, meaning their neck muscles have to be able to withstand forces of up to four and a half Gs.
RIDDELL (on camera): This looks like a really unpleasant exercise.
RIDDELL: Is it really necessary?
WILLIAMS: Oh, definitely. It's a really important bit of kit. It's great for drivers for training the neck, so we can work the neck through 16 different positions.
RIDDELL: Does he enjoy this?
WILLIAMS: It can be quite a tedious task for the driver, because our boy Luiz will spend 45 minutes to an hour here at a time. So, it can become quite boring. But it's part of his job.
RIDDELL: It's all for a good cause, mate.
RAZIA: Thank you.
RIDDELL (voice-over): And what you and I might think of as the simple act of steering is also a serious workout. Turning the wheel at high speed is like lifting seven kilos in a way that the body wasn't designed to do.
RIDDELL (on camera): Even with power steering, driving a Formula One car is incredibly hard work, and on difficult tracks like Monaco, the drivers don't get any rest at all. You're pretty much doing this for two consecutive hours, and it's absolutely exhausting.
RIDDELL (voice-over): But it's not just about weight and fitness in a world where the difference between success and failure, safety and danger, can be measured in milliseconds, peripheral vision and reaction speeds are vitally important. They can be sharpened with equipment like this.
RAZIA: Training for the reaction is to become automatic, as well. So, if you have anything happens in your sides or anything happens in front of you, you're going to react quickly, automatic.
RIDDELL (voice-over): Take it from me. It's not easy.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Go!
RIDDELL (on camera): It's impossible.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Time?
RIDDELL: Don't think I'm very good, am I?
RIDDELL (voice-over): I have a new-found respect for racing drivers and a new understanding of what they go through to compete at the highest level. The car has the power, but it won't perform unless the drivers are up to the task. Don Riddell, CNN, London.
ANDERSON: All right. Well, of course, you've seen the mugs and the tea towels. Now, a video of the world's most famous bride-and-groom-to-be is about to go viral. Are they really who we think they are? Our Phil Han is on the case as he wraps up the Week on the Web for you.
PHIL HAN, CNN DIGITAL PRODUCER (on camera): It's been another great week across social media, and this is the place where we want to catch you up with everything you may have missed.
Now, it's two weeks to go before Prince William and Kate Middleton tie the knot during the royal wedding, but if you saw this video, you might be confused about whether you missed it.
HAN (voice-over): This royal wedding spoof by T-Mobile has some amazing lookalikes. Everyone from Charles and Camilla --
HAN (voice-over): The queen. Prince Harry.
HAN (voice-over): And of course, the bride and groom.
HAN (voice-over): That video was just released at noon on Friday, but already it looks set to take advantage of royal fever and become a viral video sensation.
Now, here's the number one video this week from YouTube. Britney Spears is back with a new one called "Till the World Ends."
HAN (voice-over): In just a week, that music video has gotten more than 12 million hits. Her other single, "Hold It Against Me" from last month was also a huge success and has been viewed more than 36 million times.
Now, this next video may look like a normal drive, but what happens next will surprise. And don't worry, everything was OK with the driver.
HAN (voice-over): Wendy Cobb was filming everyday traffic when, all of the sudden, a piece of wood from the side of the road gets kicked up and launched into her windshield. No one was injured in the mash-up, thankfully.
Now, Charlie Sheen has been at the center of a public meltdown, but he's decided that he wants to hit back, launching his very own Twitter page and YouTube channel. Here's how he decides to spoof an ABC news interview that made him look a little less than sane.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: All these radio rants have people thinking Charlie Sheen is -- has got to be on drugs.
CHARLIE SHEEN, ACTOR: Wow. Electric bouillabaisse, right from the jump street.
So, basically, your question -- all these fladio plants clav gleeple bluing glet glime flum blugs (ph).
When's the last time your radio rants led to this?
HAN (on camera): And finally, this young kid has become an internet sensation after recording videos of himself dancing at Apple stores around the U.S.. iTrevor, as he calls himself, usually gets away with a good dance, but sometimes it doesn't always go to plan.
HAN (on camera): Well, that's a wrap of all the best stories from social media over the past seven days. Be sure to tell me what your favorite bits are just be tweeting me. I'm Phil Han for CNN in London.
ANDERSON: And of course you can see that on the web, cnn.com. I'm Becky Anderson, that is your world connected this Friday. The world news headlines and "BackStory" will follow this short break. Don't go away.