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CONNECT THE WORLD
Uprisings in the Middle East; Birthday Party Goes Viral
Aired June 7, 2011 - 16:00:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
BECKY ANDERSON, HOST: A change of season, as the Arab spring turns to summer. Shocking new numbers from Syria's crackdown -- 1,100 reported killed, nearly 1,000 vanished.
In broad daylight, the Libyan capital is hit hard by the most intense NATO air strikes yet.
Also this hour, containing a crisis -- the EU insists the E. coli outbreak is under control, but admits the source is still a mystery.
And risky business -- how a Tweet and a lie could take down a U.S. politician.
These stories and more tonight as we connect the world.
I'm Becky Anderson in London.
The Arab spring is sliding into what could be a long hot summer. No one knows what the new season of discontent may bring, but it's almost certain the bloodshed will get worse before the dust finally settles.
I want to update you on the very latest on the uprisings underway, starting in Libya.
Moammar Gadhafi is vowing to fight to the death, saying surrender is out of the question. His latest audio message aired on state TV earlier today, the same day NATO pounded Tripoli with rare daytime air strikes. Libyan officials say 29 civilians were killed.
In Syria, troop reinforcements are heading to a northwest town where authorities say 120 security forces were massacred by armed gangs. Activists tell a very difficult story, suggesting a mutiny in the security service there.
And in Yemen tonight, rebel gunmen have now reportedly taken over the country's second largest city. It's a major setback to President Ali Abdullah Saleh, who remains hospitalized in Saudi Arabia. The president suffered burns on 40 percent of his body during an attack on his compound. His political fate is unclear.
We're going to have live reports on Yemen and on Libya ahead in this show.
I want to begin, though, tonight, with Syria. The regime of Bashar al-Assad is barring international media from covering the uprising. You're probably well aware of that.
So Arwa Damon is following developments from Beirut.
She filed this report.
ARWA DAMON, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): "We don't want the military in the city," the crowd chants, carrying what appear to be olive branches. They also shout, "There are no armed groups here or terrorists." "Peaceful, peaceful," they chant.
CNN cannot independently verify the authenticity of this video, but the posting says it was shot in Jisr Al-Shugur, a town in Northern Syria that has seen intense violence in recent days.
Syrian state television on Monday reported that 120 members of the security forces had been killed there, describing it as a massacre at the hands of armed gangs. This video appeared on YouTube and was then broadcast by state TV, which claimed that Syrian security forces had entered the area to save residents who were being used as human shields We hear a voice taking credit for the killing.
One activist we spoke to said that residents had armed themselves and were fighting the security forces, while another said members of the armed forces tried to defect and clashed with loyalists.
This video is said to be of residents of Jisr Al-Shugur, who fled to the Syrian-Turkish border. One woman shouts that security forces killed their children and another yells: "There were helicopters flying over our heads. Tanks were striking us."
(on camera): What actually transpired in this part of Northwestern Syria remains impossible to tell. CNN, like most foreign media, has been prevented from entering the country. But one constant that is emerging is that many civilians are fleeing, especially in the border areas, fearing the full wrath of the regime as this uprising enters its third month.
(voice-over): A team of activists, Syrian and international, has presented the prosecutor at the International Criminal Court with the documents on thousands of cases of alleged abuse.
WISSAM TARIF, DIRECTOR, INSAF: The officers for the people who are committing these crimes and following the orders, now they feel that they will be accountable, that justice might emerge.
DAMON: But for now, justice is taking second place to survival for thousands of Syrians whose towns are surrounded or occupied by the security forces, amid signs that the regime of Bashar al-Assad is preparing for an even heavier clamp-down on dissent.
ANDERSON: And Arwa joins us now -- and, Arwa, just in the past couple of hours, some conflicting reports about the whereabouts of the Syrian ambassador to France and whether, indeed, she has resigned.
What do we know at this point?
DAMON: That's right, Becky. It most certainly has been the last few hours, a number of bizarre developments on that front. Now, France 24 aired a telephone interview with an individual whom they identified as the Syrian ambassador to France, Lamia Chakkour, in which she stated that she was resigning immediately because she can no longer tolerate this cycle of violence.
Less than an hour later, we heard on state television, another individual also identified as the Syrian ambassador denying any sort of statement that had been made to France 24 or any other television network, saying that she would be suing them and giving the money to the children of the martyrs.
We also heard a similar denial by a person also identified as being the Syrian ambassador on Al-Arabiya.
And then we heard from France 24 standing by their report, saying that they had reached out to the ambassador themselves using a cell phone that they normally use to contact her.
So a number of conflicting reports here and most certainly a very strange development. And we're going to continue to try to get to the bottom of this and figure out exactly who said what to which TV channel -- Becky.
ANDERSON: Yes, he said/she said it would be, if, indeed, it is true, a significant defection from the -- from the Syrian regime.
You alluded, also, in your report to the potential involvement of the ICC.
What do you know about that?
DAMON: well, a number of activists, both Syrian and international, have put together a dossier that lists thousands of claims, they say, that are claims of acts against humanity by the Syrian regime. What they're trying to do is push the United Nations to take action via the International Criminal Court. They're hoping that this, then, would pressure individuals within the regime to defect.
And it will be very interesting to see how this plays out, because Syria, in essence, does not recognize, is not a signatory to the ICC. But the hope by these activists is that they will somehow be able to not only shed further light and cast into the international spotlight what they say are these ongoing atrocities, these ongoing crimes against humanity that are being committed by the regime, but they're also hoping that this could create another pressure point to try to bring about some sort of change. Because up until now, we have been continuously seeing that this is a regime that remains defiant in the face of international condemnation, in the face of individuals calling for the end of it and in the face of a number of international organizations, again, saying that this blatant murder by a regime of its own people cannot continue -- Becky.
ANDERSON: Arwa Damon on Syria for you this evening.
Arwa, thank you for that.
As we take stock of what is intensifying news out of the region, I want to get you Yemen tonight now, perhaps the most troubling uprising to date for the world at large, of course. Al Qaeda had a firm hold there even before the rebellion.
Now, with government forces diverted and the president temporarily out of the picture, militants could take advantage of the chaos.
That's certainly what some experts are saying.
Nic Robertson is covering the Yemen unrest from our bureau in the region in Abu Dhabi -- Nic, firstly, the news out of Yemen today. It seemed, certainly, that there was a lot of activity in the country's second largest city.
NIC ROBERTSON, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: There has. Overnight, last night, there were sort of running battles between anti- government gunmen and pro -- and -- and government gunmen. And by morning, it seemed that the anti-government faction had the upper hand. These were tribal gunmen who had gone into the city to protect the protesters there.
We've seen thousands upon thousands of protesters come out there over the past few months. And last week, the government targeted and killed about 50 of those protesters, drawing international condemnation.
And it appears, at the moment, that the government refutes this, that actually the anti-government forces have control of the city of Taiz.
But this is just part of the bigger picture. The latest information we have from the capital, Sanaa tonight, it appears relatively quiet. The shaky cease-fire there is holding somewhat. But the very sort of beginning or tipping point of this latest spate of violence began with that attempt on President Ali Abdullah Saleh's life, which now appears, last Friday, not to have been from rocket strikes, but actually a direct assassination attempt.
ROBERTSON (voice-over): Blood on the floor where Yemen's president was wounded Friday in what now looks like an assassination attempt. A Western diplomatic source says it was a bomb, not a rocket attack, as Yemeni officials first reported.
The photographic evidence supports it -- windows bent outwards by the force of a blast inside the mosque, an unscorched shadow on the wall suggesting a blast inside the mosque erupted around a standing person.
Whatever the cause, President Ali Abdullah Saleh's injuries, forcing him to Saudi Arabia for surgery, opens a window for change he long blocked.
APRIL LONGLEY ALLEY, INTERNATIONAL CRISIS GROUP: He is in charge when he is in Yemen. He calls the shot within the party and -- and within the regime. With him out of the country, you know, he is no longer doing that.
ROBERTSON: But even recovering from serious surgery, he refuses to meet protesters' demands that he step down. For now, a shaky cease-fire in the capital. Elsewhere, violence tying up government forces.
GREGORY JOHNSEN, NEAR EAST STUDIES SCHOLAR, PRINCETON UNIVERSITY: The last time that Al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula had this much space and this much time, they were able to plan and eventually launch an attack that came very close to bringing down that airliner over Detroit on Christmas Day, 2009. And so I think it's a very, very dangerous situation for -- for U.S. and -- and regional security.
ROBERTSON: Overnight, in the city Taiz, anti-government gunmen facing off with government forces, taking control with massive street protests by day. Saleh has left a weak vice president in charge until he returns. But his sons and nephews hold the real power.
JOHNSEN: Given the fact that his son, who controls the Republican Guards and the special forces, his nephews, who run the central security forces, I mean we're talking of over 100,000 guys with guns who are still loyal to the president. And that's a -- that's a very big number.
ALLEY: Each day that passes that there's not an agreement on how to move forward and, you know, who exactly is going to be in charge the next days and weeks and how Yemen gets past this impasse, you have the risk of escalated conflict.
ROBERTSON: This is what worries Western diplomats -- Saleh incapacitated, his power crumbling and still refusing to step down, with al Qaeda left to profit in the mess.
JOHNSEN: They can easily use Yemen as sort of a launching pad for attacks into either Saudi Arabia or into Europe and the United States.
(END VIDEO TAPE)
ROBERTSON: Now, Yemeni officials say that they're still fighting with al Qaeda. In fact, they say in the last day, they've killed 30 of them. In the past, that was the kind of message that got them support from the international community. It's what kept President Saleh in power so long, taking on al Qaeda for his Western backers, if you will.
But now, those days really are gone. It's him being in power and refusing to step down that really does seem to be, now, the biggest threat for the country. That's what we're hearing from international observers right now -- Becky.
ANDERSON: Yes. And this, of course, is a story in a country that Saudi Arabia will keep a firm eye on and would hope to keep a firm grip on, as the weeks go on -- Nic, there is disagreement as to what sort of power vacuum would be left for al Qaeda in Yemen. They've certainly been very active there in the past. You're absolutely right to say that the U.S. has supported Saleh for that reason.
Do you think that the U.S. has used the right tactics in dealing with Al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula in the last few years?
I mean you've spent a lot of time in the region.
ROBERTSON: I think certainly we've seen the tactics change and become more aggressive as Yemen has sort of edged closer to being a failed state, as we've seen Yemen being used as a base to not only create bombs, develop bombs, but to send bombers out from, from Yemen to Saudi Arabia, where a bomber almost killed the deputy interior minister, the son of the interior minister.
We've seen the underpants bomber referred to in -- in the story there, who wore the -- the bomb in his underpants and tried to detonate his explosives on a people coming down into Detroit Christmas 2009.
The prin -- the so-called sort of printer bomb sent out in parcels from there last year.
ANDERSON: Oh, I think we've lost Nic's audio.
As he continues to speak -- are we going to get him back?
We are not, right in the middle of his thought.
I apologize profusely for that.
We'll get Nic back on Yemen, of course, just as soon as we can in the weeks to come or days to come, of course.
You're with CONNECT THE WORLD and me, Becky Anderson.
Still to come, no surrender -- Libya's leader remains defiant as air strikes pound his compound. We're going to go live to Tripoli for you this evening.
Plus, evidence that Moammar Gadhafi's government may be staging injuries. Our in-depth coverage this hour on discontent rocking the region continues in about eight minutes.
Before that, a check of some of the other stories making headlines and news for you this evening, including a Facebook fiasco turned a sweet sixteen birthday party into a wild beer bash. You have been warned. That is straight ahead.
Stay with us.
ANDERSON: You're with CONNECT THE WORLD.
I'm Becky Anderson in London.
Nic Robertson is covering the Yemen unrest from Abu Dhabi. And we lost communications with him just before the break.
I'm going to give you some other stories shortly.
I want to get back to Nic, who we've -- we've got back on the line with us, not live -- Nic, we were talking about the influence of Al Qaeda in and out of Yemen, as it were. And I'll sort of wind this up by -- by throwing a line to you and see whether you bite on it, to a certain extent.
There are those who say that the threats of any magnitude, any al Qaeda influence, are exaggerated out of Yemen. They've been exaggerated by the president, who now lies ill in Saudi Arabia, and they've been sort of hooked upon by an administration in the United States who are frankly not up to scratch enough on what is going on and the tribal complications at this place, and consequently, have been naive in their approach to Yemen.
ROBERTSON: I think that many countries have been behind the curve with al Qaeda. Al Qaeda is always developing and moving, manipulating and moving on. But what we've seen happen in Yemen is what we've seen happen in other countries with a strong dictator who wants international funding to fight al Qaeda. So he will play up the al Qaeda angle.
But at the same time there, you know, you've seen the government in Yemen blame militants on one occasion for something and then come out and essentially blame the same scenario, the same situation, on al Qaeda. So not playing a straightforward role themselves.
So if you're a -- if you're a Western power backing that government to fight al Qaeda, then you're backing the wrong person. And it's, perhaps, a lack of options and a lack of willingness to see other ways around -- or other ways around the situation.
But there's no doubt about it, Al Qaeda in the Yemen is a big problem. They've got -- they are the most operational of the al Qaeda franchise at the moment, able to project that power out of that -- project that threat out of the country, a threat to Saudi Arabia on their border and by influence, their oil and their (AUDIO GAP) a threat to their own internal pipeline, a threat to the capitals of Europe and the -- and the United States, as well.
So this is a -- this is an organization that has grown into a threat because of a weak leadership, essentially, that has allowed a country to slip toward being a failed state. And it's slipping faster than it has done in the past right now, because while he's in his hospital bed in Saudi Arabia, President Saleh won't take the steps and measures needed to bring about a transitional government, to try and get some semblance of stability. And that's the key to reversing this trend. And it is a trend and it is getting worse at the moment -- Becky.
ANDERSON: And the Arab spring intensifies.
Nic Robertson reporting on Yemen for you this evening.
We haven't finished this.
We'll get to leak shortly.
It's not Argentina's volcano -- some of the other headlines that we are following for you this hour. But it's become Argentina's problem. The erupting Puyehue Volcano in neighboring Chile has been shooting smoke and ash more than 10 kilometers into the sky. And that mess is now raining down on Patagonia. It's blanketing the streets, forcing schools and public activities to be canceled, as well as most flights at Buenos Aires International Airport.
Well, Christine Lagarde didn't get everything she was hoping for from her one day trip to India. The French finance minister didn't secure the country's backing for -- in her bid for the top job at the International Monetary Fund.
Now, Lagarde already enjoys strong European support. Now she is trying to overcome emerging market opposition to her candidacy. Earlier, she met with India's prime minister and finance chief.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
CHRISTINE LAGARDE, FRENCH FINANCE MINISTER: We also agree on the fact that the nationality, region of origin should not either prejudice or privilege a particular candidate. And they've all indicated the me that the selection, in their view, should be based on the credentials, the expertise and the leadership of the candidate for the job.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
ANDERSON: Christine Lagarde there.
The IMF former head, Dominique Strauss-Kahn, of course, is facing trial on sexual assault charges in New York.
Well, a teenage birthday bash to make parents shudder -- even the birthday girl didn't get to enjoy her sweet sixteen celebration after it went viral.
My colleague, Colleen McEdwards, shows us a cautionary tale about the perils of getting social on social media.
COLLEEN MCEDWARDS, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): It was supposed to be a small, sweet sixteenth birthday party for Tessa in Hamburg. She sent a party invitation to close friends on Facebook, but she forgot to mark it "private." And this is the consequence -- 1,500 random and unwanted guests actually showed up -- all of them ready to party.
With Tessa t-shirts, balloons and posters, the massive crowd turned this German neighborhood upside down -- complete chaos. Police tried to control the situation, Tessa fled to her grandparents. An angry family member attacked a TV camera. Day turned to night. And with the amount of booze being consumed, things just went from bad to worse.
A few partiers were detained, the neighborhood trashed. The cause -- social media, though perhaps lesson learned here, don't forget to use your privacy settings.
Colleen McEdwards, CNN, Atlanta.
ANDERSON: That's funny.
Coming up on the show, Libya's leader hits the airwaves -- what he has to say in a broadcast to his people.
Plus, a case of tall tales from Tripoli -- why these pictures of a little girl in a hospital were not what they seemed to be. Dan Rivers unraveling that story for you.
And later in CONNECT THE WORLD, when denials turn to a whopping confession -- the U.S. congressman who had to apologize for his Twit pic.
You are 60 seconds away.
Stay with us.
ANDERSON: Welcome back.
It's 26 minutes past 9:00 in London.
Now, as defiant as ever in a live audio broadcast, Libyan leader Moammar Gadhafi has addressed his country vowing not to surrender. He took to the airwaves after huge explosions rocked the capital, Tripoli, during a series of air strikes by NATO forces.
Some of the blasts appeared to strike close to Gadhafi's compound
Dan Rivers is in Tripoli and joins me now live.
And what of these air strikes and what did he say?
DAN RIVERS, CNN CORRESPONDENT: It's been a day of the most intense air strikes since this NATO campaign began, Becky. In fact, just before you crossed me, there was another explosion somewhere in the mid-'40s, the number of strikes that we've heard since 11:00 his morning here.
Colonel Gadhafi himself has gone on state TV here, defiant as ever, saying that we will not surrender, we will not give up, martyrdom is a million times better than surrendering. So no sign of any kind of compromise from the Libyan leader.
ANDERSON: Dan, the official position is that foreign press are free to report on what we like in Libya, but apparently the reality very, very different, isn't it?
RIVERS: Yes. I mean we are completely controlled in what we are allowed to see and where we're allowed to go here. It is really a sort of front of the war, if you like, the propaganda war here. And the Libyan officials who look after us here have been taking us out, trying to show us sites which they say prove that NATO has caused significant numbers of civilian casualties.
Have a look.
RIVERS (voice-over): We're being taken to Tajura, east of the capital, Tripoli, where our government minders claim a NATO rocket hit a residential area. There is a small crater surrounded by local residents and at its center the remains of what appears to be a rocket made by GEC- Marconi. There's evidence around of some damage to houses and several dead animals.
(on camera): The locals say they've been hit repeatedly by NATO air strikes on a military base over there. But some of the bombs have gone astray and landed here, in the middle of a residential area.
(voice-over): NATO says if it was active in government area at the time but cannot confirm whether this crater was caused by one of its planes.
Pakir Aldeen (ph) says the house belongs to him and claims his baby son was injured by falling debris.
PAKIR ALDEEN: OK.
RIVERS (voice-over): He shows us inside, where we see some damage. His father-in-law angrily rants against what he says is continual bombing.
We're taken into another house nearby, which locals claim was damaged by the same air strike. They say two other children were injured here.
Afterward, we're taken to a hospital, where we're shown a baby girl, Nasib (ph), in a coma. In what seems to be a contrived event, this man claims to be her uncle and speaks for the family.
Around Nasib's hospital bed, numerous posters of Colonel Gadhafi.
Government officials say this woman is Nasib's mother. We're not allowed to interview her and we're also not allowed to talk to the other doctors.
While the women cried in front of the media, one of the journalists here was quietly passed a note by a hospital staffer saying Nasib was, in fact, injured in a car accident, not in any NATO attack, raising questions about everything we've seen this day.
RIVERS: Well, the same morning, the government spokesman Ibrahim Moussa is holding a press conference. He's saying 31 people have been injured in the strikes today, and it involved 60 rockets.
Colonel Gadhafi himself has appeared on state television. It's his birthday today, apparently, Becky. He's 69, he was shown meeting tribal leaders. We don't know whether this was filmed today. We don't know where he is, but his officials are saying he's still in Tripoli and he's still defiant, saying, as you heard, that "we will not surrender, and we will not give up."
BECKY ANDERSON, HOST: Dan Rivers via broadband for you this evening. Apologies for the quality of the line. Important stuff out of Dan. We'll go to however we can, of course.
You're watching CONNECT THE WORLD. Coming up, a killer bacteria and still no clear answers on where it came from. The latest advisory from the EU coming up, and a US congressman comes clean, admitting he sent some dirty photos. The fallout and your news headlines are just ahead.
ANDERSON: A very warm welcome back. It's just after half past nine in London, I'm Becky Anderson. These are the news headlines this hour.
Human rights activists say nearly 1200 people have died in the Syrian uprising so far. They're asking the international criminal court to investigate the regime of Bashar al-Assad for possible crimes against humanity.
Libya says at least 29 people have been killed, dozens more wounded after 60 missiles rained down on Tripoli. NATO air strikes mostly targeted Libyan leader Moammar Gadhafi's compound in the capital. A defiant Gadhafi spoke on state TV saying his government will not surrender.
It's looking uncertain whether Yemen's embattled president will return home. Ali Abdullah Saleh's injuries from last week's attack on his compound are more serious than many at first thought. US officials say they've heard he has a collapsed lung and burns over 40 percent of his body.
Ash from a Chilean volcano is wreaking havoc on air flights. Dozens have been canceled. The initial eruption Saturday sending smoke and ash shooting high into the sky. Some 3500 people had to be evacuated.
And in the coming hours, Germany's chancellor will attend a state dinner in Washington and receive America's top civilian honor, the Presidential Medal of Freedom, coming after a day of talks with the US president.
And those are your headlines this hour.
Well, amongst your headlines today, an agonizing search and a mystery that millions of us desperately want solved but, still, no firm answers when it comes to the source of the deadly E. coli outbreak.
Now, this is, of course, a rare and toxic strain of bacteria, claiming another life, bringing the death toll to 23.
EU authorities, though, say the overall rate of infection is going down, possibly because a lot of people, a lot of us, are now too scared to eat salad. And that is hurting farmers big time, as you can imagine.
EU agriculture officials have proposed a $220 million compensation plan. That is a drop in the bucket compared to what farmers are demanding. Spain alone wants over half a billion, $600 million over lost exports.
In the meantime, as Fred Pleitgen explains, tons of bright and beautiful fruit and veg just going to waste.
FREDERIK PLEITGEN, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): It's a painful sight. Case after case of ripe tomatoes thrown away. This produce marketer near Berlin says selling tomatoes has become all but impossible since the E. coli outbreak began.
PETRA LACK, MANAGER, WERDER FRUCHT (through translator): "Things are awful at the moment," the manager said. "We hope this won't continue for the whole harvest season. But if the government keeps telling people not to eat lettuce, tomatoes, and cucumbers, nothing will change."
PLEITGEN: German authorities are still warning not to eat those vegetables uncooked, and consumers seem to be heeding that warning. The company near Berlin says, at one point, demand for tomatoes dropped to only five percent of what they normally sell.
PLEITGEN (on camera): The folks here say, in total, they're going to have to destroy about 270 tons of tomato. Now, that batch alone is worth several hundreds of thousands of dollars. And keep in mind, these are perfectly fine tomatoes, but they simply can't sell them because demand has flatlined.
PLEITGEN (voice-over): German authorities still have not found the source of the deadly E. coli strain that has killed almost two dozen in northern Germany. Officials believe it may have originated in this sprout farm but, so far, there is no scientific evidence to back that up.
Farmers all over Europe are suffering as fearful consumers are staying away from vegetables. At a crisis meeting in Luxembourg, where especially Spain criticized Germany for suggesting its cucumbers might be the source of the bacteria, the EU agreed to pay 150 million euros in financial aid for the industry.
SZANDOR FAZEKAS, HUNGARIAN MINISTER FOR RURAL DEVELOPMENT (through translator): We have to pay compensation for the damages that they have suffered. We need a swift solution, and our commissioner came to our meeting with a set of proposals.
PLEITGEN: Andre Becker would rather see his tomatoes on dinner tables than receive compensation for throwing them away. He oversees this greenhouse, and the prime harvesting season is right now. Like so many others, he wants consumers to know his products are safe.
ANDRE BECKER, HEAD OF PRODUCTION, HAVELIA VEGETABLES (through translator): "We work according to strict standards," he says. "We test the water we give to the plants, and we also tested for E. coli. The results were negative."
PLEITGEN: The tomatoes have grown exceptionally well this year, but no matter how beautiful and ripe they may be, the workers here know they will probably go straight from the greenhouse to here, to be thrown away and destroyed. Fred Pleitgen, CNN, Werder, Germany.
ANDERSON: You're watching CONNECT THE WORLD. Up next, a Twitter account and tearful admission of guilt. In the end, US politician Anthony Weiner couldn't keep up the lie. We're going to take a look at the male mindset in the world of sex, power, and politics. That is coming up after this very short break. Don't go away.
ANDERSON: OK, listen up, gents. Coming clean as New York congressman Anthony Weiner faces a possible ethics committee investigation. He says he was the victim of panic and shame.
On Monday, Weiner admitted to sending a lewd picture of himself to Twitter. He said he'd initially panicked about telling the media the truth about the photo. Well, after a tearful apology, the congressman insisted he will not resign.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
REP. ANTHONY WEINER (D), NEW YORK: Last Friday night, I tweeted a photograph of myself that I intended to send as a direct message as part of a joke to a woman in Seattle. Once I realized I had posted to Twitter, I panicked, I took it down, and said that I had been hacked.
I then continued with that story, to stick to that story, which was a hugely regrettable mistake. This woman was unwittingly dragged into this and bears absolutely no responsibility.
To be clear, the picture was of me, and I sent it.
I am deeply sorry for the pain this has caused my wife, Huma, and our family. And my constituents, my friends, supporters, and staff.
In addition, over the past few years, I have engaged in several inappropriate conversations conducted over Twitter, Facebook, e-mail and, occasionally, on the phone with women I had met online. I have exchanged messages and photos of an explicit nature with about six women over the last three years.
For the most part, these relations -- these communications took place before my marriage, though some have, sadly, took place after. To be clear, I have never met any of these women or had physical relationships at any time.
I haven't told the truth. And I've done things that I deeply regret. I brought pain to people I care about the most, and the people who believed in me. And for that, I'm deeply sorry.
ANDERSON: Yes, he is. Well, first elected to Congress in 1998, Weiner has enjoyed years of backing from his voter base. My colleague, Mary Snow, shows us how it all went down, then, in New York.
MARY SNOW, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): It was an emotional confession by Democratic New York congressman Anthony Weiner, admitting he lied about sending a lewd photo of himself to a woman over Twitter.
WEINER: To be clear, the picture was of me, and I sent it.
SNOW: Earlier in the day, more compromising photos of the congressman were posted on Andrew Breitbart's conservative website, Biggovernment.com. Soon after, Congressman Weiner's office scheduled a news conference.
As reporters waited for the congressman, a surreal atmosphere took hold when blogger Breibart showed up at the event and took to the podium.
ANDREW BREITBART, BIGGOVERNMENT.COM: I want to hear the truth. I want to hear the truth from Congressman Weiner. Quite frankly, I'd like an apology for him being complicit in a blame-the-messenger strategy.
SNOW: Breitbart was looking for vindication, saying left-wing blogs had accused him of hacking Congressman Weiner's Twitter account and that it was not true.
When the congressman appeared, he did apologize to Breitbart, the media, and his constituents for misleading them. He admitted communicating inappropriately with six women over a three-year period through e-mail, Facebook, and Twitter.
But the congressman was most emotional when talking about his wife, choking up several times.
WEINER: Look, my wife is a -- my wife is a remarkable woman. She's not responsible for any of this.
SNOW: Congressman Weiner expressed regret for his mistake, but also made it clear he has no intention to resign. New Yorkers in his district had mixed emotions.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: He's a very well-respected politician, especially in this area, and I'm somewhat taken aback by this whole thing.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Actually, I'm glad he's not resigning. What he does on his personal time is his business.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Scary that a political person that we elected would be able to do something like that.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: He should resign.
ANDERSON: OK, but he hasn't. And so it goes on. Yesterday, of course, we saw former IMF chief Dominique Strauss-Kahn in a New York courtroom facing trial, any trial at this point, allegations of sexual assault.
In the past, his wife, though, journalist Anne Sinclair, has been quoted as saying, and I do quote here, "It's important for a man in politics to be able to seduce."
Well, Anthony Weiner's wife is also high-powered. Huma Abedin is an aide to US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton. So, plenty to talk about with my next guest, psychologist and author Wendy Walsh, live from CNN's Los Angeles bureau.
The obvious question is why did he do it? Why did he lie?
WENDY WALSH, PSYCHOLOGIST AND AUTHOR: Why did he lie? Well, he lied at the beginning, of course, just to cover his butt, because he panicked, as he said.
But why did he have these relationships? Because he wasn't thinking. He wasn't thinking about his consequences, he was just acting like an animal.
ANDERSON: Can I just remind -- thank you. Can I just remind our viewers, because I -- well, I am going to push this -- I'm going to remind our viewers what Anthony Weiner said to my colleague Wolf Blitzer on "The Situation Room" five days ago. That's five days before he admitted to lying. This is what he said.
WOLF BLITZER, CNN HOST, "THE SITUATION ROOM": You didn't send that photo to that woman in Washington state?
WEINER: I did not send it to that woman in Washington state.
BLITZER: But you're not 100 percent sure whether the photo is actually -- ?
WEINER: What I am going to say is that we're doing everything we can to try to answer that question, but we're doing an investigation. But not -- I just want to caution you that photographs can be doctored, photographs can be manipulated, can be taken from one place and put in another.
And so, that's an -- and I want to make it clear, this is, in my view, not a federal case. In my view, this is not an international conspiracy, this is a hoax, and I think that people should treat it that way.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
ANDERSON: And lest we forget, Wendy, Bill Clinton also got himself into a bit of bother, didn't he, some years ago? Let's remind our viewers what Bill Clinton did.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
BILL CLINTON, FORMER PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: I want to say one thing to the American people. I want you to listen to me. I'm going to say this again. I did not have sexual relations with that woman, Miss Lewinsky. I never told anybody to lie, not a single time, never. These allegations are false.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
ANDERSON: So, they both lied. That we now know. And we've talked about -- you said they lie because they're covering their bottoms, as it were. But why do they do -- why do they take these risks to begin with?
WALSH: I don't think they're thinking. You know, we are in a kind of a new landscape. It's the wild, wild west of the internet, where there's no new sheriff in town, except the media. And so, what this means is it provides a lot of opportunity for people to titillate themselves with various online relationships.
Did you notice that Anthony started to say the word "relationship" and then corrected himself and called it "communications"?
But basically, they think that this is private. But remember, if you type anything on your keyboard, it's set in stone for the history of the universe, for the future of the universe's life. If not on the internet, then in somebody else's computer for them to haul it out at another time.
ANDERSON: He's been married less than a year, Anthony Weiner, I'm alluding to, here. What are the chances of his relationship as opposed to his communications surviving something like this?
WALSH: Well, it really depends. Certainly this woman's -- his wife's boss, Hillary Clinton, stuck with her man.
WALSH: And women, I think -- I'm a big proponent of marriage and people getting through the bumps and working through stuff. But he's got to hit his rock bottom, he's got to deal with -- show her remorse, he's got to change his behavior and make it consistent for a long time for it to grow into a healthy marriage.
ANDERSON: I wonder what you thought of the psychology of the news event yesterday when his wife wasn't standing by her man, as it were. In the past, we've seen so many wives come out and stand by them only to file a huge divorce suit afterwards, of course.
WALSH: Well, also, Tiger Woods' wife didn't, either, and I think that makes a lot of sense. It's bad enough that he's hurt her and betrayed her, but why subject her to public shame and humiliation while all of us stare at her face while she's listening to his words.
I think it's great. He should have to go that alone!
ANDERSON: Wendy, I know you've got some fairly interesting insights into how women might contribute to these -- let's call them nasty message, shall we?
WALSH: It's true. We have to remember that right now, sex is in high supply in, at least the American culture, and I would venture so far as to say the European culture, too. And that's attributed to the rise of women.
Women are making more money, they have more freedom, they don't need to withhold sex to get a guy to sign on the bottom line and marry them.
As a result, there's a population of women that are willing to participate with these guys in their sex thing and online relationships, but there's another piece. The cops! Us! The women in the media have also power, so women are also functioning as cops. The poor guys can't win. Either way, forget it.
ANDERSON: Time's up, chaps. Wendy, always a pleasure, thank you very much, indeed. Not out of the bureau, tonight, I know you're out of LA for us, though not just in our bureau.
WALSH: That's right.
ANDERSON: Wendy, thank you.
Up next, my candid one-on-one interview with one of Britain's most controversial artists.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
TRACEY EMIN, ARTIST: The Tracey Emin you get is the Tracey Emin I want you to get. Unapologetic. Unabashed. Not embarrassed about anything. I want you to see who I am.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
ANDERSON: And yes, you do. Tracey Emin is your Connector of the Day, your part of the show. Coming up.
ANDERSON: All right. As you know, few British artists have captured attention like tonight's Connector of the Day. Her work is autobiographical but, for many, it is too personal. Let's get you connected with the unabashed Tracey Emin.
ANDERSON (voice-over): So candid, she is often considered outrageous, even offensive. Tracey Emin's notoriety really began with this, an art installation called "My Bed" that was nominated for the Turner Prize in 1999. It was the artist's own unmade bed, complete with stained sheets, worn underwear, used condoms, and empty bottles of alcohol, the aftermath of an emotional breakdown.
Deeply private experiences like this are Emin's canvass and inspiration. Through her work, London Royal College of Art graduate has revealed a harrowing personal history. Tales of sexual abuse, alcoholism, and two abortions.
I caught up with Tracey Emin just after the show had opened.
ANDERSON (on camera): The show's called "Love is What You Want." Why?
EMIN: Because love is what I want.
ANDERSON: Yes. Have you got it?
EMIN: No. I love my cat very much, and I love lots of people, and I'm one of these people in the world who loves too much. And it's a problem.
ANDERSON: Have you ever been in love?
EMIN: I was loved by my parents. I'm loved by my mum and my family. But it's a different kind of love. That's not what I'm talking about.
ANDERSON: Much of your work has been informed by what you might describe -- I think you have described as the darker periods of your life. And one of our viewers asks, is there any idea that has made you think, "Wow, I just can't do that. It's way too extreme."
EMIN: As I get older, I censor myself more than anyone else censors me, and people have criticized me as becoming establishment or whatever.
But it's because I'm older, you know? I'm less angry. I haven't got chips on my shoulders, now. I'm successful, I can do whatever I want to do. And the last thing I want to do is upset people. I just want to make art.
ANDERSON: But do you shock yourself still?
EMIN: Yes. When I'm on my own, yes, definitely sometimes, yes, absolutely, yes.
ANDERSON: There's some 220 pieces of your work, here. This is a retrospective, which is pretty unique, give that you are only in your mid 40s at this point. You must have produced thousands of pieces of work over the last 20 years. So, what do we get, which Tracey Emin do we get when we walk around this retrospective?
EMIN: The Tracey Emin you get is the Tracey Emin I want you to get. Unapologetic. Unabashed. Not embarrassed about anything. I want you to see who I am. And some things are kind of in your frame. This show is, ultimately, so female. A man could never make this show.
ANDERSON: A viewer by the name of Hannah reminds us that Oscar Wilde once said that the secret of life is art. What lessons about life do you think can we take from this art?
EMIN: Well, I'm on the -- I think I'm on the school syllabus, so British children learn about art, learn about myself and Damien Hirst, so that's a good lesson.
The good lesson is that art is for everybody. It's -- and there's going to be thousands of people coming through this gallery, not because they know me, not because of their interest in art, but just because they're tourists, coming here this summer, and they're going to come here, and they're going to see something that they never expected to see before.
And maybe one of my things may change their perspective on life.
Sometimes, my neons are, like -- kind of like little scribbled notes that you'd leave someone, like "I forgot to say I've left you." I wouldn't say that, it's too crass, but it's like a kind of note to someone, and sometimes my neons are about a bigger message, a message for life or something.
And sometimes they're profound statements, sometimes they're poetic, sometimes they're corny, sometimes they're crass. But not everything works visually within the neon.
ANDERSON: They've been described as inarticulate at times. Does that insult you?
EMIN: Well, right now I am at the moment, yes, I just have been, terribly. But I wasn't educated. I left school at -- when I was 13. And I went back when I was 15 for a few months, and I think I've done incredibly well, considering.
So, for someone who's inarticulate, uneducated, you know what? I'm doing OK.
ANDERSON: You've had a hard time in life.
EMIN: Not anymore.
ANDERSON: Is it a good period?
EMIN: I think this is the best period of my life that I've ever had. I just wish I was ten years younger, that's all. I wish I had longer to enjoy it.
ANDERSON: Don't we all? Your work has always provoked critical torrents, as it's been described. Do you care what people say?
EMIN: Yes, I do. I care passionately about what people say, especially people who are a lot more educated than myself, and I think they've been unreasonable in their judgment about me.
And I think, instead of spending three pages writing about me and getting paid for it, write about three pages of something that they want to champion. Don't give me the three pages. That's my argument.
ANDERSON: Do you care who buys your art?
EMIN: Yes, I do. I do. And actually, now I'm in a position to say who buys my art, which is a wonderful thing.
ANDERSON: So, have you said, "You know what? I don't want you putting my artwork on your wall"?
EMIN: No. But if there was someone, say, who was incredibly racist or from a political kind of tribe that I disagreed with, some kind of way, I would stop my work from being sold.
ANDERSON: Tracey, this program will go out all over the world. There will be people watching this who may never have seen your work before, may never have heard you speak. How would you describe yourself and your work to them?
EMIN: Maverick. "Maverick" is the best word. And I'm nearly 50, I'm a woman, I'm single, I live with a cat. And I love what I do, and I'm very, very successful at it. And I'm flying the flag for Britain at the moment, and I think we should all be really proud about the achievements about what culture and creativity is --
Britain's in the doldrums at the moment, but creativity and culture and art are the thing which is rising this country to the highest level. And we've got the Olympics coming, as well, so it's good.
ANDERSON: If you hadn't been successful as an artist, what would you have done?
EMIN: I probably -- that bridge, just here? I probably would've jumped off it. And that's the truth. That's what my mum says. If it hadn't been for art, I'd be dead by now. Art has kept me alive. Art is my -- salvation.
Art -- I believe in art like how other people believe in God. And art is, for me, the new God. And that's why people come to galleries, and that's why people -- when you go to a foreign city and you go to an art museum, you feel -- I feel at home.
ANDERSON: It's not often I say this, but Tracey Emin's one of the most charming people I've met in a very long time. British artist Tracey Emin, there, speaking to me just after the opening of her latest exhibition. It's a retrospective, it's called "Love is What You Want," and it is at London's Hayward Gallery.
And tomorrow night, a man with a powerful voice in every sense. He is Africa's most celebrated singer, a singer with a message about Islam. Youssou N'Dour is your next Connector of the Day. Find out what he thinks about the Arab Spring.
And for more on your upcoming Connectors, it's your part of the show, remember, your questions to these guys. Get to cnn.com/connect, find out what you can do.
All right. In tonight's Parting Shots, before we leave, a very luck escape for an F-1 driver and a race marshal in Japan. Thankfully and amazingly, no one was hurt.
The official runs across the track, straight into driver Sebastien Buemi's car. Quite what he was thinking, nobody knows, but he was very, very lucky that the driver was coming to the end of his run and was actually slowing down. That could have been a whole lot worse.
I'm Becky Anderson, that is your world connected. Thank you for watching. The world news headlines and "BackStory" will follow this short break. Don't go away.