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CONNECT THE WORLD
Violence Continues in Syria; "Collar Bomb" Suspect Arrested; Fighting Around Tripoli
Aired August 17, 2011 - 16:00:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
MAX FOSTER, CNN HOST: A welcome sight as Syria's troops pull out to a town beset by bloodshed. Tonight, the horrific story of one family whose intents to flee ended in tragedy.
As the violence spreads, the world stays silent over the fate of Syria's residents. Should its neighbor, Turkey, lead the cause for a (INAUDIBLE).
Plus, pressure mounts on India's government after a hunger strike against corruption brings thousands of protesters onto the streets.
And how football legend, Bobby Charlton, is taking aim at Britain's gang culture.
These stories and more, tonight as we "Connect the World."
Raids, sweeping arrests and fears of a growing humanitarian crisis. Syria's crackdown is taking an enormous human toll. Tonight, we'll have the heartbreaking story of a two-year-old girl among the latest victims of the violence.
First, this is the amidst of regime what you see. Tanks rumbling out of the attack here. Troops cheering a job well done after routing so-called armed gangs from the streets.
The residents and activists tell an entirely different story. They say security forces are still operating in possible Latakia, a northern port town, arresting people on lists and detaining many of them in a sport's stadium. Arwa Damon is following the story for us from Beirut. Arwa, what's going on?
ARWA DAMON, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, based on what we've been able to gather from a number of activists who also reside in Latakia -- this crackdown is still very much on-going. They said that at one point, two or three military vehicles, armored personnel vehicles, appeared to be moving outside of the southern neighborhood of Al Dramad (ph), where this crackdown has been concentrated, but barring that, there has been very little, if any, letup in this military operation by the Syrian security forces there, so snipers positioned on rooftops, checkpoints, arbitrary detention.
I just got a message from activist who was based there five, ten minutes ago saying he was hearing the sound of sporadic gunfire. Shops still remain closed, pharmacies closed, most residents still keeping well away, and the activists are saying that what we're seeing broadcast on Syrian state television, especially those crowds that appear to be at least relatively friendly towards the Syrian security forces -- well, they're saying that those are actually individuals who had been detained at the stadium and were forced to go out there, fake after that little show of support is at this point still unknown.
So, that's been very disturbing for the activists as well at this stage, Max.
FOSTER: Now, Arwa, it's very difficult for you to report on Syria because you're not allowed in, but the pictures you're getting are telling much of the story, aren't they -- as some horrific ones coming in to you today, right?
DAMON: That's right -- there has especially been the case of a little girl, who tragically lost her life in the attack, and she's just one of many innocent victims of this ongoing uprising, and the image of her story really provides a freeze frame of the growing tragedy inside Syria. We do have to warn our viewers that this stage, they are going to find these images quite disturbing.
DAMON (voice-over): The Syrian security force's crackdown on the coastal city of Latakia has focused on the Azzemi (ph) neighborhood, a center of anti-government demonstrations. Residents say they were bombarded by sea and by land. We're about to show you videos said to be from that neighborhood. It is difficult to watch. Syrian security forces told the residents to get out. So, it's understandable that many families would decide to leave. According to anti-government and human-rights activists, that's exactly what Al Aljas (ph) parent's tried to do -- flee.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE (through translator): She's just a child. He killed her. The evil Bashar Al Assad.
DAMON: The voice on the clip shrieks. According to activists, the two-and-a-half-year-old was with her family when the car came under fire. Her father, activists said, was shot in the shoulder and believed detained. Her mother's fate -- unknown.
DAMON (on-camera): From outside the country, it's very difficult to determine precisely who was responsible for this child's death. the UN, various global leaders, and human-rights organizations have all urged the Syrian government to allow humanitarian workers, UN representatives, and the media access to the country. All to no effect.
The Syrian government denies it used naval forces against the neighborhood in Latakia. Its forces, it says, were in pursuit of armed gangs. The state-run agency reported that casualties were caused by gunmen, shooting and blowing up dynamite.
This, a second video posted to You Tube, shows Alla's (ph) body wrapped in a white shroud.
A voice on the clip says, "Look, these are Bashar Al Assad's reforms."
An innocent caught in the crossfire of an intensifying battle between those calling for freedom and a regime intent on staying in power.
DAMON: Max, what has been quite remarkable is the resilience of these demonstrators in the city of Homs, another flashpoint area according to the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, nine people were killed today, and still as we speak, there are demonstrations going on there right now, activists streaming that video live literally risking their own life to do so.
FOSTER: Yes, stoking (ph) things, isn't it. Thank you so much for that, Arwa. Well, the violence in Syria has become too great a risk for some U.N. staff. Today the United Nations withdrew 26 of its non-essential personnel from the country. Let's see now, though, how nations across the region are reacting to the uprising and try to pressure the Syrian regime. Well, today, Tunisia -- they recalled they're ambassador to Syria in reaction to the violence. Last week, King Abdullah of Saudi Arabia called for an end to the bloodshed and recalled his country's ambassador as well. Bahrain? and Kuwait also followed suit telling their ambassadors to come home. Finally, both Jordan and Turkey have raised concerns and called for an end to the violence in Syria. So, there are diplomatic moves taking place there. The United States is pushing regional players like Turkey to go even further, though, taking a step that Washington, itself, isn't willing to take on its own.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
SECRETARY OF STATE HILLARY CLINTON: You know, it's not going to be any news if the U.S. says Assad needs to go. OK, fine what's next? If Turkey says it, if King Abdullah says it, if other people say it, there is no way the Assad regime can ignore it. We don't have, you know, very much going on with Syria because of a long history of challenging problems with them. So, I think this is smart power.
FOSTER: Well, Turkey was pretty good friends with the Syrian government before the crackdown began. Now, that friendship appears to be near a breaking point. But, why hasn't Turkey taken the final step and called for Syria's president to go. Well, let's ask Turkish foreign ministry spokesman, Selcuk Unal. He's on the line from Istanbul for us. Thank you so much for joining us. First of all, what is your view of the Syrian regime right now? What's the official line on that?
SELCUK UNAL, TURKISH FOREIGN MINISTRY SPOKESMAN (via telephone): Well, we have been very vocal about the violations of human rights in the country, and we have been telling that the peaceful demonstrations of the Syrian people and their (INAUDIBLE) and the crime is for more accountable for the more to the Markishian (ph) rule of law should be heard and to all the protests should be (INAUDIBLE) peaceful-meaning.
FOSTER: Are you still supportive of the Syrian regime, President Assad?
Okay, we'll try to get back that -- the Foreign Ministry Spokesman for you, but we've lost the line right now. Apologies for that.
So far, all the International condemnation Syria has fallen on deaf ears for the United Nations could soon up the pressure. The U.N. Security Council will discuss Syria behind closed doors on Thursday, followed by a special session of the UN's top human right's body next week. We'll try to bring you more on this story as it develops.
You're watching "Connect the World." Coming up, closing in on Tripoli, Libyan rebels say they're gaining ground as they head for the capital. We'll have more of that and other stories, following around two minutes time.
Plus the opening round of the Spanish soccer season under threat over pay disputes. That's up in sport's news in around ten minutes. And the growing social unrest in India. What's got anti-corruption activists so outraged?
FOSTER: I'm Max Foster in London. You're watching "Connect the World" and here's a look at the other stories we're following for you this hour. Rebel fighters in Libya are battling forces law to Muammar Gadhafi for the key city of Zawiya, near the capital. Now, Tripoli remains firmly in Gadhafi's grip. CNN's Sara Sidner is in Libya for us tonight. Sara?
SARA SIDNER, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT (on-camera): Yes, here's what we know at this point. There has been fighting in Zawiya. There has been shelling from Gadhafi forces who were on the eastern part of the city, shelling into the city. Also, we're hearing from rebels that there were also snipers from the Gadhafi regime who were inside of that city. So, certainly, the rebels do not have full control of Zawiya.
The reason why Zawiya is particularly important, Max, is because, basically this is a supply route to Tripoli, and as you know, fuel for example is very scarce in the capital. This is one of the ways that fuel would easily get into the capital there. So, if the rebels are able to take hold of this significant city, then they would be able to cut off an easy supply of things, such as fuel, into Tripoli.
The other thing to mention here is that we were able to speak to people as they were coming out of the city. There were whole families in cars, we saw streams of cars coming out of the city. We also spoke with a colonel who gave us this update on what is happening there.
COLONEL RIDWAN FHEID, LIBYAN REBEL COMMANDER (through translator): The rebels are controlling most of Zawiya. There are some snipers and some other regime shelling from outside Az Zawiya from the eastern part of Zawiya.
SIDNER: Now, also Zawiya's only -- valley is only about 30 to 35 kilometers -- excuse me, miles -- away from Tripoli. So, very, very close. So, we also were able to speak with people who had fled Tripoli. These are families who had fled Tripoli, concerned about their safety, and they told us a few things. One, that Gadhafi forces were really in control of that city, as far as getting out and into Tripoli.
They had closed down most of the roads in and out of that city -- that there was only one sort of way for them to get through where the rebels had control. They said they were very happy to leave the city because they said even food is becoming scarce for people. Certainly, fuel is a major problem for people. And, also, they said that it's becoming more and more tense for those people who are not actually from Tripoli -- who have, for example, family members or known to be from other parts of the country, for example here in the western mountains.
If they think, or know, that your family lives in Benghazi or in Misrata -- that you are more scrutinized than others. And, so, there's a general fear, according to one family that if you're not actually from Tripoli, then you're seen as suspicious, and you are basically looked upon and sort of -- a lot of the people are kind of watching what you're doing and keeping close tabs on you.
So, the fear seems to be rising a bit in Tripoli with the residents, and we saw at least two families -- cars full of people leaving the city and happy to be out of there.
FOSTER: Sara, thank you very much, indeed, for the update from Libya. Now, a special UN tribunal is unsealed. The full case against four men charged in the assassination of Rafik Hariri saying it has enough evidence to bring the Hezbollah members to trial. According to the indictment, the former Lebanese Prime Minister was killed in 2005 by a suicide car bomb, not a remote control device as some previously believed.
Investigators apparently tracked down the suspect with cell phone records. Hezbollah refusing to hand over the men, saying there's no direct evidence against them.
The U.S. vice president has arrived in Beijing to kick off the five day visit to China. Joe Biden will meet with China's vice president. The trip is considered a chance for the United States to get to know China's future leadership. Experts say Vice President, Xi, is a potential successor to President Hu Jintao. The talks are also expected to focus on the U.S. debt crisis.
Details are slowly emerging in Australia's bizarre "Collar Bomb" case. Madeline Pulver spent ten hours with a device that was thought to be a bomb strapped to her neck. Police arrested her suspected attacker, in the US, state of Kentucky, on Monday.
Police say Paul Peters was trying to extort money from the father of the Sydney teen. They tracked him through an email account he had set up. The victim said she's just glad it's all over.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Madeline, how are you feeling?
MADELINE PULVER, BOMB HOAX VICTIM: Very relieved.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Are you sleeping better at night?
PULVER: I suppose. Yeah -- it's been -- it's good. I'm glad --
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Did you read the papers today?
PULVER: I haven't actually.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Is it really confusing for you, Madeline? It must be just such a strange thing to happen --
PULVER: Yeah. Yeah, it's all very surreal.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Your mom said that you're wondering why you? Could you answer that question?
PULVER: Yeah. Yeah, I think we're all wondering why.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Guys, we gotta go. Thank you.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
FOSTER: Five tobacco companies are suing the US government over new warning labels. The companies say forcing them to display graphic labels violates their right of free speech. Starting in September, next year, these explicit health messages will have to cover half of the front and the back of each cigarette package. Dozens of other countries require similar warnings saying they reduce smoking.
Right now, we're going to get more on our top story -- the violence in Syria. Unfortunately, we weren't able to get the spokesman for the Turkish Foreign Ministry back on the phone for you, but to look further into why Turkey so far failed to call for President Assad to go. We can talk to Tony Badran -- he's a research fellow at the Foundation for Defense of Democracies, and he's in New York for us. Thank you very much for joining us.
There is an issue, isn't there, for Turkey with Syria. But how far do you think they're taking things diplomatically right now. How would you read their view of Syria.
TONY BADRAN, RESEARCH FELLOW, FOUNDATION FOR DEFENSE OF DEMOCRACIES (on-camera): Well, for the last five months, Turkey has staked the position that it is going to use its quote unquote soft power influence with the Assad regime in Syria in order to nudge him towards implementing reforms. However, for the last five months, the Syrians have completely ignored the Turks, and the Turks have not, to date, taken any retaliatory response. In fact, they continue, if anything, to urge the United States not to call on the Assad regime on Bashar Al Assad personally to step down from power.
FOSTER: Pushing for reform but not regime change, which is clearly what the Americans want Turkey to say, right? But they're not doing that for the Americans.
BADRAN: Correct. Actually, what the Turks have been doing consistently since April, at least, but definitely since mid-May when the Obama administration starting to consider calling on Bashar Al Assad to either step down or to call him a legitimate -- what we have seen is a consistent Turkish -- every time the Obama administration moved towards that position, Erdogan personally intervened with President Obama and pulled him back from making such a statement and the president has complied every single time.
FOSTER: Do you think there is a point in which Turkey will ask for that, a regime change, or is it in principle against that -- that's not how its diplomacy works.
BADRAN: The problem is that the Syria crisis has created a really serious problem for Turkey's much flaunted zero problems with neighbor's policy. It basically exposed that policy as very much hollow because now all of a sudden Turkey has to take a position either with the Syrian people or with Bashar Al Assad.
BADRAN: Turkey's much flaunted zero problems with neighbor's policy. It basically exposed that policy as very much hollow because now all of a sudden Turkey has to take a position either with the Syrian people or with Bashar Al Assad. And the Syrian people have very much spoken that they don't want Bashar Al Assad. So, now, Turkey, if it takes a position with Bashar Al Assad, it shows it's policy has been hollow and if it does take a position with the Syrian people, then it creates problems, not only with Bashar Al Assad, but also with Iran that has intervened very strongly in support of Assad, and both of them have made several threats, albeit, veiled and sometimes not so veiled, to the Turks, especially from the Kurdish angle, for instance.
FOSTER: You're talking to us from New York. At what point does the United States give up on pressuring Turkey and just comes out with a statement to say Assad must go on its own, going over the head of Turkey?
BADRAN: Well, that's, I mean, that is what some of us have been calling for -- that the United States has to lead. That it's fine -- all well and fine -- and necessary to consult with allies like Turkey, like Saudi Arabia, like Cacara (ph) -- in the region and so on. But, the Untied States has to make its strategic goal explicit and it has to make sure its allies fall in line with that explicit goal. For now, the president of the United States has made a point of not going in front of Turkey and we've heard Secretary of State Clinton the other day almost presenting the American position as an afterthought that if the United States says something, it will not be news. Whereas, if Turkey and Saudi Arabia say it in a joint chorus with the United States, then it somehow won't be ignored. But the problem is, you cannot start a chorus while being silent. You have to step ahead and you have to make sure that you stake out your position.
FOSTER: Okay. Tony Badran -- we'll see what happens. Thank you very much, indeed.
Coming up in 60 seconds -- world sports, Alex Thomas will be in the house with the latest scores from the UA for Champions league. Plus, in just over ten minutes, the people's hero, a veteran anti-corruption activist in India is jailed, then told he's free to go. So, why is Anna Hazare still inside the prison? It's all coming up right here on "Connect the World."
FOSTER: The Spanish football season is due to start on Saturday, but at this rate, kickoff will be delayed. Talks between players and the league to avoid strike-out should have broken down. That means big stars like Lionel Messi and Cristiano Ronaldo could well be walking a picket line, rather than entertaining thousands of fans. Alex Thomas joins me in the studio now. Really?
ALEX THOMAS: Yes -- not unprecedented. We heard it's possibly or nearly happened in Spain before, and in Italy too, and in fact, this season's Italian league might also be delayed because of strikes. So, what is the world coming to with all these football leagues going on strike? And we hear about it a lot in America as well.
The American media jokes about the rile (ph) between the billionaires and the millionaire, but the NFL had a rile (ph) between American football owners and the players. This one essentially boils down to the footballer's union saying lots of their members, in fact, more than 200 players are owed money by their clubs, who got themselves into so much debt, they can't pay their employees.
FOSTER: Which is true.
THOMAS: -- who are all the players. Well, that's what the player's union is claiming. In fact, they say that 72 million dollars are owed to the players. Of course, the football leagues see it a different way. They say a contingency fund is in place, and in fact, after talks broke down today; this is what the head of the Spanish football league had to say about the inflexibility of the union.
JOSE LUIS ASTIAZARAN, LFP PRESIDENT (through translator): In calling for a strike, AFP has very much tightened the rope, and they have shown more harshness in their position than they have been demanding in meetings over the last two months. Of course, in only one meeting, they find agreement in all of these issues that have divided us in all of the meetings that we had in the past is complex and difficult.
THOMAS: So, that was the head of the LFP, the Spanish league, which is in charge of both La Liga, which is the famous league, where Barcelona and Real Madrid play and the division below that top Spanish league, and he's referring there to the player's union, the AFP, who he accuses of being a little bit in transient about this. More talks are scheduled for Friday, when this could be resolved, but the head of the football league, who we just heard from there, said all ready at this stage, it seems inconceivable that it won't affect the kickoff of that La Liga on Saturday.
FOSTER: Exactly. The fans will be wondering on how's it actually affect the games, and they'll have this huge knock-on effect for all of these scheduled matches, right, in this very organized season.
THOMAS: Yeah, of course, they're making plans -- if their club and their first game is away, they're making their travel plans already -- maybe staying in hotels or with friends. It does throw a lot into chaos. Because it's been heard before, maybe football fans will just be shrugging -- here we go again.
It'll all get sorted out at some stage, Max. But there is a link to the other sports headlines, which I'll go through for you now because none of the Barcelona nor Real Madrid -- the two biggest clubs in Spain have commented on this. And of course, they're the ones with the big stars like Lionel Messi and Cristiano Ronaldo. They're focused on the second leg of the Spanish Super Cup, which starts later on this evening. It's two off from the first leg. Ellswich (ph) Championship Qualification continues across Europe. We saw about the first leg matches on Tuesday night. This is what's happening on Wednesday night -- the latest scores are there for you. Bayern Munich two on up on FC Zurich -- Aim Robert (ph), with the latest goal from the German guys. Dinamo Zagreb, a leading two as off Maccabi Haifa (ph), the Israeli champions.
In cricket, England's star baller, James Anderson, took part in a net session for 30 minutes earlier on Wednesday, raising hopes he'll be fit to play in the fourth and final test in the series against India. England three and up -- and whatever happens in this match, they'll replace India as the top-ranked team in the world. Caroline Baker, the women's world number one tennis player suffered an early exit for the third tournament running. She was beaten in straight sets at the Cincinnati Open by teenager Christiana McHale. It was Baker's first loss to someone ranked outside the top 75 since 2009. Rumors it's related to her new relationship with golf sensation, Rory McIlroy unfounded as yet, but problems of the top of women's tennis is (INAUDIBLE) number one. Serena Williams is pulled out of that tournament as well because of a toe injury, Max. Much more on that and the rest of the sports in "World Sports" in an hour and a bit.
FOSTER: Not long now.
FOSTER: Alex, thank you very much, indeed. You are watching "Connect the World." Tensions boil over in India. More pressure on the government as anti-corruption protesting -- (INAUDIBLE) momentum even. That's up after the break. Plus, London rioters face the long arm of the law. But some say the sentences are too harsh. We'll have more on that in around 15 minutes. And inside the forbidden city -- American tourists flock back to Havana, but there are a few rules.
FOSTER: You're back with "Connect the World" on CNN, the world's news leader. Let's get a check of the headlines this hour.
Syria is claiming victory over what it calls armed terrorist groups. State-run media report that soldiers are leaving the cities of Latakia and Ir Izzo (ph). But, residents in Latakia say the crackdown continues in some neighborhoods. NATO says anti-Gadhafi forces in Libya are taking control of key approaches to Tripoli. Still, rebel fighters say they are facing snipers and shelling in Zawiya even though they claim to control most of the city.
US vice president Joe Biden is on a five-day visit to China. He'll meet with Vice President Xi Jinping and discuss the US debt situation. It's also a chance for the US to get to know a man who could be China's future leader.
Britain's Prince Charles and his wife Camilla have met with people left homeless by last week's riots in London. They visited Tottenham Leisure Center in the city's north. It's been turned into an aid base for residents.
A volatile session on Wall Street, but in the end, stocks basically flattened out. The Dow Jones Industrial average rose just four points today. Felicia Taylor joins us from New York with more on the lackluster finish. It's certainly different from last week, isn't it Felicia?
FELICIA TAYLOR, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, in that respect, it's a bit of a relief. But what we did see that was similar to what we saw last week are these swings back and forth. Not the huge swings that we saw last week, but again, the market really couldn't make up its mind.
There's no clear direction for where it's going to sort of right itself, and it's still trying to find, I think, what we're going to call a bottom. I'm not sure we've reached that place yet.
So, the Dow ending down -- up about four points, the NASDAQ, though, getting hurt a little bit harder, down about 12 points.
And that's again on yesterday's earnings report from Dell, which had reduced its forward outlook. That was still a problem for tech shares today, and it worries people because they wonder about consumer sentiment.
We did get some readings today on inflation, which tipped higher, but the good news in that report was that gas prices came down. That might put a little -- a few extra dollars in people's pockets in terms of when they go out and they start spending.
For the European markets, it was very much the same kind of a picture, a mixed day there with the FTSE in London down fractionally, a half of percent. The CAC up three quarters of one percent, and again, the Xetra DAX in Germany down three quarters of a percent.
They, too, were having a tough time finding any kind of a direction that would actually satisfy the traders and investors on Wall Street or any of the markets around the world.
The other thing that's a concern to the marketplace right now is within the Federal Reserve, it's becoming apparent that there is some dissension as to what -- who agrees with what Ben Bernanke's statement was last week about keeping interest rates so low through 2013.
There are a couple of Federal Reserve presidents, board presidents that disagree with that, and that is also causing some uncertainty for the marketplace.
But the one place for certainty again is in the gold market. That trading to another record high. Gold is now settled in at $1793, that's up about $8 right now.
I know we've talked about this crossing $1800, but that was intraday, so this is another closing high for gold on the marketplace today.
We'll have to see what happens tomorrow. No doubt the volatility, I'm afraid -- I'm told is just going to continue for the next couple of months. Max?
FOSTER: OK, Felicia, thank you so much for the update.
A show of solidarity with a hunger-striking protester has unleashed protests on the streets of New Delhi and is infuriating the Indian government. So far, any attempt to disperse the crowds has backfired and only called more attention to the cause.
CNN's Jonathan Mann reports.
JONATHAN MANN, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Thousands of protesters took to the streets across India for a second day, outraged over the arrest of anti-corruption activist Anna Hazare.
Before his arrest on Tuesday, the 72-year-old crusader was preparing to go on a hunger strike to push for what he calls anti-corruption measures. More than 1200 of his supporters were also briefly detained.
Hazare and his followers are now refusing to leave the New Delhi prison until their unconditional demands for protest are met.
PAUL DE BENDERN, DELHI BUREAU, REUTERS (via telephone): He has struck a chord with millions of Indians really over the past year or so about mounting corruption.
So, this man, who comes form a very humble background, et cetera, has taken on the government, and this is rattled the establishment in a way that we've not seen for decades.
MANN: Hazare rejected an anti-corruption bill currently under consideration in India's parliament, saying it's not tough enough. His supporters burned copies of the bill in protest earlier this month.
Prime Minister Manmohan Singh justified the arrest to Parliament Wednesday and added that hunger strikes are not the best way for protesters to push their demands.
Activists are now calling on government employees to take a day off work in show of solidarity.
Jonathan Mann, CNN.
FOSTERS: Well, if protesters get their way and an anti-corruption agency is created, it would have plenty of material to scrutinize.
Take the commercial -- Commonwealth Games last year. The Indian Central Bureau of Investigation arrested the chairman of the organizing committee on charges of criminal conspiracy in April, and more than $20 million from the Games is apparently missing.
Also in April, police uncovered a massive tangle of bribes in the telecoms industry, which granted some licenses to firms with no prior experience in the field. The fallout cost the government as much as $39 billion.
In February, a powerful chief minister was fired after politicians, bureaucrats, and military officials allegedly took over a luxury apartment tower meant for war widows.
And it's because of examples like those that many activists are fed up, and they're taking action. Earlier, I spoke with one of them, who was arrested yesterday and actually wanted to stay in prison to make a point.
KIRAN BEDI, INDIAN ACTIVIST (via telephone): I did not offer a post of bond or a surety, that's true.
FOSTER: And when you talk about the large amount of support for Anna Hazare, how widespread is that support? How can you measure it?
BEDI: If you track -- keep track of Delhi -- India news, you know how widespread and how truly national it is.
It is in every corner, nook and corner of this country today. And interestingly, it's youth-led, it's organized bodies-led, it's NGOs-led, it's associations-led, it's teachers-led, it's across gender, age groups.
It's touched everybody, because one and all have either seen a bribe or experienced a bribe or suffered from a bribe. So it's both at the bottom and at the top. So it's truly united the country in this wave against corruption.
FOSTER: They're not going to respond to you. They want you to go through the parliamentary process. There is a democracy in India, so are you going to get what you want by supporting a hunger strike?
BEDI: Well, the hunger strike has been a last resort by Anna Hazare and not the first. Nobody wants to go to a hunger strike at the drop of a hat.
The processes have failed. Dialogue's failed. Meetings of meetings brought about no results, and all efforts -- sometimes there was even an element of somewhere a breach of trust. So the hunger strike was a last resort after sufficient notices.
FOSTER: Well, in a country rocked by scandal on scandal, can anything shake India free from all these allegations of corruption? Sajjan Gohel is director of international security for the Asia Pacific foundation. He joins me, now. Thank you very much for joining us.
I want to ask you as well, how much support is there for this hunger strike? How much anger is there, or is this just a story that we're telling in a particular area?
SAJJAN GOHEL, DIRECTOR OF INTERNATIONAL SECURITY, ASIA PACIFIC FOUNDATION: Well, certainly there have been many false dawns in the past where hopes of corruption being dealt with once and for all never really materialized.
The difference with Anna Hazare is that it's having lasting impact. He began this movement back in April. Many felt that he would disappear into obscurity. He hasn't. He remains relevant.
Importantly, he's got the overwhelming support of India's growing middle class, which are becoming a key factor in future outcomes of the electoral system, and they have come out en masse to support him.
He's getting support from those in the business industry as well as the media, which is highlighting the case.
So, this has the feeling of something different, something new, something we haven't seen in India before.
FOSTER: And there is a sense that -- even if it's not true, there's a sense in the Indian public, isn't there, that there is widespread corruption? How much harm is that doing to the country, the economy, the region?
GOHEL: Well, corruption is endemic not just in India, but across South Asia, Pakistan Afghanistan, Sri Lanka, Bangladesh.
All these countries in many ways have an advantage over the Arab countries that are currently experiencing the Arab Spring in that they're democracies. So, they don't have the problem of despots being overthrown.
But corruption has created huge problems in terms of governance, in terms of economic wealth being shared across the board.
Also, security. We've seen many acts of terrorism in India and in Pakistan, often it's been an accusation such as corruption in the police that has allowed terrorists to operate.
So, it has an impact on all walks of life, on all aspects of society in South Asia.
FOSTER: And let's hear from some people in India, because they've been saying things about this on our Facebook page. Interesting comments coming up.
Sumanth Venkatesh says that the government should take positive steps to eliminate the malaise of corruption, not hide the shortcomings by crushing anti-corruption protests.
Farhad Aryamehr praises the protesters writing, "Hats off to the people of India for fighting corruption in this manner."
But Jetson Ronald warns that corruption is the major issue in India and it would be a huge risk to fight against it.
The government arguing, Sajjan, that it shouldn't respond to a hunger strike. This should be done through the parliamentary process. But do you think its lost credibility has to go with this and that's how it's going to win the people of India around?
GOHEL: Well, people across South Asia are disillusioned with the electoral system, with the political process. India has a history of peaceful, non-violent protests, especially hunger strikes. Mahatma Gandhi defined that whole movement. And in many ways, what Anna Hazare is doing is to continue that.
The mistake that the Congress-led coalition made was to arrest him. That only enhanced his position, increased his stature. They should negotiate with him, especially for the Lokpal, which is the anti-corruption bill for an independent agency.
The sticking point remains two issues. One, that the Lokpal doesn't cover issues of the prime minister and the judiciary, and also the issue that it has to be free of political interference.
If that can be resolved, you're looking at a huge, significant impact that won't just have relevance in India, but in Pakistan, in Bangladesh, it could actually have a positive aspect in ridding corruption in South Asia, which has prevented development and progress.
FOSTER: And the whole world is watching India, along with China, as an -- a country of future economic prosperity, somewhere where you can sell to. Is there potential for corruption in India to derail the economy and not only damage India, but damage the world economy, the future hope?
GOHEL: Well, India and China have often been compared as the two new emerging economic superpowers. China is the world's marketplace or factory place, India is the world's office space.
But in many ways, India has not progressed as fast as China because even though both countries have issues of corruption, India seems to be more affected by that, because it's stymied by the bureaucracy and also in politics.
Now, if the Lokpal bill can be brought in effectively to eliminate corruption in the political sphere, it will also then have an impact on the bureaucracy, and that could have a more positive aspect in terms of India's economy.
The previous led government in India under the BJP back in 2004 declared an election under the slogan of "India Shining." In many ways, that was too premature, because the wealth hadn't gone into the villages.
It's happening now, and that is why people are now acting more aggressively. It's no longer about local issues or class politics, it's about governance. That's what people in India want, and that's what people want across South Asia.
FOSTER: OK, Sajjan Gohel, thank you very much, as ever, for joining us.
GOHEL: Thank you, Max.
FOSTER: Now, many people in India see corruption as a chronic problem, as we've just been hearing, and in many ways it is. But just how bad is India compared with the rest of the world?
Well, we've drawn a map for you, and here it is. According to Transparency International's Index of Perceived Corruption, India ranks 87th out of 178 countries.
As you can see from the map, actually, India is in the same general group as nations such as Mexico and Italy, but it's far from the worst.
Russia, much of Africa, Argentina, and parts of southeast Asia are plagued by high levels of corruption. Look at all that red.
In a non-partisan group's report in 2010, Somalia actually is the most corrupt. No surprise there, you could argue.
Now, let's look at the low level countries, because actually they're in many of the places that you'd expect. North America, western Europe, down there in Australia.
The least corrupt? Well, that honor goes to Denmark, New Zealand, Singapore. Other countries including Australia and Canada also rank very high.
You're watching CONNECT THE WORLD. Still ahead, a new approach to dealing with gang culture. We'll meet the British football legend using football and sport to inspire disadvantaged young people.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
BOBBY CHARLTON, ENGLAND FOOTBALL LEGEND: It's disastrous, really, that such a thing should happen as happened a couple of weeks here. But for every one of them, there are hundreds and hundreds that don't misbehave.
FOSTER: More shocking videos are emerging of last week's riots here in England. This YouTube clip is said to be from Croydon south of London.
You can see a man is riding his motorcycle when a group run up behind him. One of them knocks him off the bike, then another grabs the rider's backpack and drags him away as yet another man jumps on the bike and rides off on it.
Police in London say they've now charged more than 1,000 people in connection with the violence across the country.
British courts are being accused of rough justice, though, over some of the sentences that they've handed out to those involved in the rioting. Some are even facing time behind bars for stealing ice cream and bottles of water.
As Atika Shubert reports, social justice campaigners say the courts are overreacting.
ATIKA SHUBERT, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Police are combing through security camera video for evidence. British courts are working overtime, churning out tough sentences for the rampant looting and rioting that shook the country last week.
But critics are saying in some cases, the punishment does not fit the crime.
SHUBERT (on camera): Here are some of the more controversial examples. Four years in prison for these two, Jordan Blackshaw and Peter Sutcliffe-Keenan.
They were charged with inciting a riot via Facebook, or rather, failing to incite a riot, since nobody showed up on their invitations for a looting smashdown. Nobody except for police, that is.
Or take the case of Anderson Fernandes. He faces possible jail time for stealing two scoops of coffee flavor ice cream at a riot in Manchester.
The question for judges is, how do they get the balance right for the wide range of crimes committed during these riots?
SHUBERT (voice-over): From murder to arson to petty theft, the riots have cost the country dearly. Five people lost their lives, others lost their homes and businesses at an estimated costs of hundreds of millions of dollars.
Judges say tough sentences are a necessary deterrent, and Prime Minister David Cameron agrees.
DAVID CAMERON, PRIME MINISTER OF GREAT BRITAIN: They decided in that court to send a tough sentence, a tough message, and I think it's very good the courts feel able to do that.
What happened on our streets was absolutely appalling behavior, and to send a very clear message it's wrong and it won't be tolerated is what our criminal justice system should be doing.
SHUBERT: But it's not just jail time. Councils are now threatening to evict any convicted offenders form public housing.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Get your (expletive deleted) cameras out of my face, man.
SHUBERT: Many of those charged are minors. Their identities normally are legally protected, but now prosecutors have the power to, quote, "name and shame" under 18s charged in the violence.
Critics say proportionality is key.
SOPHIE WILLETT, HOWARD LEAGUE FOR PENAL REFORM: We must expect that participation in the public disturbances is an aggravating factor when you become before the courts.
We still must apply some sort of proportion to this, and actually, we have to look at people's genuine, ongoing danger to the community, and that's what we need to look at when we're sending people to prison.
SHUBERT: Tough sentences may be a deterrent, but critics say cracking down too harshly may create more problems in the future.
Atika Shubert, CNN, London.
FOSTER: Well, if tough sentencing is not the solution, what is? Well, tonight's big interview is with an English footballing icon who's tackling the problem from another angle, and he's already seen the initiative turn many young lives around.
CHARLTON: It seems to me a bit crazy, you now? It just went berserk for a period then, and you wonder what's happening? I was staggered, actually.
FOSTER (voice-over): Dismay from a sporting legend over the riots that swept England.
Manchester United icon Sir Bobby Charlton is one of his country's most capped players and remains England's all-time top goal scorer.
CHARLTON: I was just fortunate. I had a -- I came from a football family. My uncles all played professional football, and it was obvious that if I had been given anything as a gift, I would've made the most of it.
I wanted to be a footballer since I was seven. That was the first time I realized what football was, and I'm fortunate enough I came to this club, which has just been absolutely sensational for me. I'm -- I've never been so happy.
FOSTER: He's long been retired as a footballer, but not as a role model. Through sporting foundation Laureus, the 73-year-old is tackling social ills.
CHARLTON: And balance means that you can move very quickly.
FOSTER: And at his old stomping ground in Manchester, that includes a burgeoning gang culture.
CHARLTON: We've got projects going all over the world with Laureus, and this is one of them, which turns out to be where I used to do my football training when I was -- when I first came to this club when I was 15. And I played on that pitch more than any other pitch in my life. It was just magic.
FOSTER: Legacies were made here, and Sir Bobby hopes that by getting teenagers involved in sport, he can help create another one that helps bring an end to this.
CHARLTON: Young people sometimes, you know, they feel they're a bit lazy, they don't do anything, they don't have anything to occupy their mind, they want everything for nothing.
It was disastrous, really, that such a thing should happen as happened a couple of weeks here. But for every one of them, there are hundreds and hundreds that don't misbehave.
FOSTER: As the British government tries to find a way to repair what Prime Minister David Cameron has described as "sick parts of society," Sir Bobby has seen firsthand how the Laureus projects are diverting teenagers from a destructive path.
CHARLTON: It's success, and people like success. They like to do things well, and they like to be applauded.
CHARLTON: If you've got the opportunity to get some advice from somebody that knows better than you, you've got to take it.
FOSTER: An optimist, Sir Bobby believes the riots the UK has witnessed could be a first step in recognizing better guidance is needed.
CHARLTON: Maybe out of good -- out of bad will come good, because they can't go on the way that they're in -- just going in and breaking people's shops open and robbing them for -- getting things for nothing.
I think that it's shaken us up, and I think that we'll respond.
FOSTER: Bobby Charlton speaking to -- speaking for many Brits right now.
Well, coming up in 60 seconds, a forbidden land no more. American tourists are now allowed to visit Cuba. But you can't just fly and flop. Trips to Cuba come with rules. That's up next here on CONNECT THE WORLD.
FOSTER: For most people in the United States, Cuba has long been a forbidden destination. Now, some Americans, though, are getting the chance to visit. But as Shasta Darlington explains, it's a holiday with restrictions.
SHASTA DARLINGTON, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Sipping mojitos to the rhythm of Cuban salsa in Havana's historic Hotel Nacional. Thousands of tourists do it every year, but usually, they're not Americans.
GARY BORIERO, AMERICAN TOURIST: We're here to experience the people and the culture.
DARLINGTON: Cuba receives more than two million tourists every year. They flock to the white sand beaches and ogle at the vintage American cars.
But for half a century, the vast majority of Americans have been barred from traveling to the Communist country.
Earlier this year, President Barack Obama eased restrictions and resumed allowing Americans to visit the island for purposeful travel, called "people to people tourism." Such trips had been suspended by President Bush.
The first tours, organized by Insight Cuba, have finally landed.
TOM POPPER, DIRECTOR, INSIGHT CUBA: And so we take them throughout the real places in Cuba meeting real people in real life settings, and they're just incredibly rewarding.
DARLINGTON: The idea is that visitors interact with ordinary Cubans to help support civil society. They also get a taste of forbidden fruit.
BORIERO: I don't have to see a McDonald's and a strip mall every five feet. I get to experience something new and exciting.
DARLINGTON (on camera): The itineraries include schools and hospitals and community projects like this one. This is Callejon de Hamel, where Afro-Cuban artists and musicians get together every weekend to jam and show off their art.
DARLINGTON (voice-over): Most participants say they prefer it to lounging on a beach.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I would choose this kind of visit. You learn the culture, you learn about the Cuban people.
DARLINGTON: Some said they feel they were being fed too much propaganda, and others just want a little more free time.
SUSAN JASPER, AMERICAN TOURIST: That's kind of on our own time. It's a bit of a heavily programmed trip.
DARLINGTON: A delicate balance for organizers who have to meet US requirements for purposeful travel and work with Cuba's state-run tourism operators.
Nonetheless, Insight Cuba says it hopes to bring in 5,000 Americans in its first year alone.
Shasta Darlington, CNN, Havana.
FOSTER: Times are changing. Finally, our Parting Shots, but this video isn't about parting, it's more about coming home. And as Jeanne Moos reports, it's more about coming home to a whole lot of slobbering and a big dose of dog breath.
JEANNE MOOS, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): You know all those heartwarming two-legged reunions, the military ones that end in --
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I love you.
MOOS: Well, this is the four-legged version.
TREVOR CROWDER, SENIOR AIRMAN, US AIR FORCE: Hey, come here! Do you not recognize me?
MOOS: Emmitt Thunderpaws is the Great Dane's name, and for Senior Airman Trevor Crowder arriving back from Afghanistan --
CROWDER: It was the second-best reunion I had since getting back.
MOOS: The best being the one with his wife, Whitney.
WHITNEY CROWDER, TREVOR'S WIFE: I think he remembers you.
WHITNEY CROWDER: He didn't get out of Trevor's face for probably a solid week.
MOOS: From humongous dogs like Emmitt Thunderpaws to tiny ones, like these two Dachshunds --
MOOS: -- canine reunions are running rampant on YouTube.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Hi! Got get him! Go get him!
MOOS: From baying Beagles to whimpering Molly, crying over the return of her Air Force captain owner --
MOOS (on camera): -- the one thing most of these doggie reunions have in common is that they can turn a macho soldier into a baby-talking softy.
(MAN TALKING BABY TALK)
MOOS (voice-over): While others talk to their dogs like adults.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I missed you so bad, honey, I'm so sorry I went away.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Look at you and how small you are. You lost so much weight!
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Aw, you're going to make me cry!
MOOS: Soldiers locked in a canine embrace.
CROWDER: He wanted to have direct eye contact to make sure that I was here.
MOOS: The doggie reunion can even eclipse the human one. When the lady of the house handed her man the camera to show off her welcome home ensemble --
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Your lovely outfit.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Yes.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Oh!
MOOS: Kodiak kept stealing the show.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Yay!
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: You look wonderful.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Oh!
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I'm sorry, but I -- I need to be the center of attention, so --
MOOS (on camera): Of course, dogs have a pretty short attention span, so after only about 45 seconds of intense petting and a little chasing around.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: And we're done.
MOOS (voice-over): For those of you who think the joy pets bring is just hot air --
MOOS (on camera): It's the next best thing to a reunion. Yes. Couldn't you just once be happy to see me?
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Happy?
MOOS (voice-over): Happy even when outnumbered. At least a soldier can say things to his dog that he probably shouldn't say to his wife.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: That's your butt.
MOOS: Jeanne Moos, CNN, New York.
FOSTER: At least they're together now. I'm Max Foster, thank you very much for watching. World headlines and "BackStory" will follow this short break.