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First Arab Leader Calls for Assad's Resignation; Interview with Nasser Judeh; Interview with Peter Wittig; Breivik in Court; Obama's Tour; Players Reject the NBA's Latest Offer; Mexican Tycoon's Ideas for Fixing Economy; Market Confidence Low Due to Greek and Italian Crises; "Super Mario" Has Tough Road Ahead in Italy; Italian Response to Mario Monti; Freedom Project: Domestic Worker Abuse in Lebanon; Eye on Azerbaijan: Budding Chess Grandmasters; Parting Shots of Elephants Aiding Taiwan Cleanup

Aired November 14, 2011 - 16:00:00   ET


MONITA RAJPAL, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Violent demonstrations against foreign countries in Syria after the Arab League suspends its membership, and, for the first time, an Arab leader calls for the Syrian president to go.

Live from London, I'm Monita Rajpal.

Also tonight, he's the world's richest man, with $65 billion to his name and one big idea to fix the global economy.

And the hottest sport in the land of fire -- meet the young kings and queens of chess in Azerbaijan.

First tonight, Syria appears to be making a last ditch effort to head off suspension from the Arab League. But at least one Arab leader says the time for talking is over.

Today, Jordan's King Abdullah called on Syrian President Bashar al- Assad to step down. He is the first Arab leader to urge Mr. Assad's resignation.


KING ABDULLAH, JORDAN: I would believe if -- if I were in his shoes I would step down. However, it's not -- if I was in his position I would -- if it was me, I would step down and make sure whoever comes behind me has the ability to change the status quo that we're seeing. And, again, I don't think the system allows for that. So if Assad has the interest of his country, he would step down, but he would also create an ability to reach out and start a new phase of Syrian political life.


RAJPAL: Well, the king's remarks come as Arab nations close ranks against the Syrian regime. Over the weekend, the Arab League voted to suspected Syria over its failure to end a bloody crackdown. Syria called the Arab League's decision shameful and a dangerous step.

Foreign Minister Walid al-Moualem is now asking the League to convene an emergency summit, a move critics see as a stalling tactic. Syria's suspension is due to take effect on Wednesday.

The Arab League's vote triggered mob violence in Syria. Angry pro- regime crowd attacked the embassies and consulates of several countries, including Turkey, Qatar and Saudi Arabia.

We want to get more right now from Amman.

The Jordanian foreign minister, Nasser Judeh, joins us now on the line.

Sir, thank you very much, indeed for being with us.

I'm curious to know what prompted this strong line from Jordan against Syria.

NASSER JUDEH, JORDAN FOREIGN MINISTER: This is a continuation of our position that's no departure from the substance of our position. Her majesty is on -- on record having said in the past that any leader who has found himself in this kind of situation has reached a point of defeat.

But what I want to caution against, really, and I know this is journalistic nuance, is that (INAUDIBLE) last on the -- on the interview -- in the interview, what he would do if he were in President Bashir Assad's shoes. And I think this is in -- this is the context that his majesty's answer came in.

The most important thing, I think, is what you referred to, which is the Arab League. And we were part of the overwhelming majority of the Arab countries that adopted the resolution to suspected Syrian participation in Arab League many thanks. And, also, there are several other measures that were -- that were adopted.

So I think, in context, his majesty's words were very, very clear and they are a continuation of the position that we have taken from the beginning.

RAJPAL: Journalistic nuance or not, the fact of the matter is, you know, this is a -- a major leader in the Arab world, in the region, that is calling for another leader in the Arab world to step down. That hasn't really happened before. This is a time now where the Arab League is trying to show its strong -- or strength at a time, also, when they have also been...

JUDEH: Well...

RAJPAL: -- criticized for not doing enough.

JUDEH: Very much so. I mean I -- I repeat again that we are very much part of the overwhelming majority of the Arab countries that adopted this resolution. And I was there repeating myself. And there will be another meeting of the Arab foreign ministers on -- on Wednesday in -- in Rabat, because if you remember, the Arab League resolution said that Syrian participation in Arab League functions will be suspended as of the 16th of this months, which is the day after tomorrow, when, then again, his majesty was very clear in the interview with the BBC here today, when asked what he would do if he were in Bashar al-Assad's shoes, he would -- he said very, very clearly that this was, A, up to the Syrian people, and, B, that he would step down and make sure that whoever comes behind him would ensure a smooth transition to ensure the safety and the security and the stability of Syria, which is a neighboring country to -- to Jordan and which is of concern to us.

RAJPAL: If it's up to the Syrian people and the Syrian people do need help, how far is Jordan and the Arab League prepared to go to help Syria?

JUDEH: I think, again, we'll stick to the -- the text of the Arab League resolution. We called on, A, the suspension of Syrian participation in the Arab League meetings; B, to look for ways and contacts with international organizations and Arab organizations to ensure the protection of civilians in -- and Syria to begin a dialogue under the offices of the Arab League with the Syrian opposition.

And many other steps, I think, that -- that will be implemented. And I know that work is already underway by the secretary-general of the Arab League by other foreign ministers to try and find the mechanisms for implementing the Arab League resolution.

So I think, therefore, in concept, it's an Arab action and not individual as such.

RAJPAL: All right, Nasser Judeh, Jordan's foreign minister.

Sir, thank you very much for your time.

JUDEH: Thank you.

RAJPAL: Well, let's bring in CNN's Ben Wedeman.

He joins us tonight now from Cairo, home of the Arab League headquarters -- and, Ben, you know, we've been hearing so much about the Arab League now trying to put this very strong voice, the united front, against Syria. This is something that they haven't really done before. They've been criticized for being quite wishy-washy when it comes to going against one of their own.

What do you think has prompted this change of voice, if you will?

BEN WEDEMAN, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, I think, for one thing, it's the realization that the bloodshed in Syria has really gotten out of control. We've seen steadily rising death tolls. For instance, today, according to what's called the local coordination committees -- these are opposition groups that funnel information to the outside. They say that at least 40 people were killed in Syria today. and if you look at all the other Arab uprisings so far this year, there have been death tolls like this. Today, it's around 40. Yesterday, in the upper 30s, the day before that, in the upper 30s. This has become a very worrying conflict for the member states of the Arab League. And, of course, there are other factors involved, as well. The Arab League member states are very worried when they see uprisings that started in Tunisia, went to Egypt, Libya, Syria, Bahrain, Yemen. The heads of state are feeling a bit uneasy these days. And they do want to somehow get a handle on these revolts -- Monita.

RAJPAL: We also know that -- that Syria has, you know, considered itself the beating heart of the pan-Arab nationalism.

With that -- that being said, now having that beating heart stung by the member states around it, what -- what do you -- what kind of impact will this even have on Syria?

WEDEMAN: Well, it's hard to say in tangible, palpable terms what sort of impact it will have, because, obviously, there's diplomatic isolation. That's the first thing. But beyond that, it was all a bit unspecified. There were unspecified economic and political sanctions. The Arab League said they would go to international human rights organizations in the United Nations to discuss the situation in Syria.

But it's what the secretary of the general -- the Arab League -- the secretary-general of the the Arab League last week and he was clear, they don't have a mandate to do much more than they've already done.

They've told member states they can, if they chose -- should desire, to withdraw their ambassadors from Damascus.

But, really, this is about as far as they can go, as -- as far as a stick to use against Damascus -- Monita.

RAJPAL: Ben Wedeman there in Cairo.

Thank you so much.

Well, one thing the Syrian government and its fiercest critics can agree on, there is very little chance the world will intervene militarily in Syria, like it did in Libya.

So what can be done to change the situation?

I spoke with Peter Wittig, Germany's ambassador to the United Nations.

And he said the Arab League is playing a critical role.


PETER WITTIG, GERMAN AMBASSADOR TO UNITED NATIONS: First of all, this is a very important momentous decision that the Arab League has taken. It's now the region itself that has taken. It's now the region itself that has spoken. And it has sent out some important messages. First, to the Syrian people. It has told the Syrian people that it's standing with it, it's standing beside it when its exercising only a mast -- most basic human and -- and civic rights.

And, secondly, it's a very important message to the Syrian regime. And the message is not only from the international community, but from the region itself, stop this kind of repression.

And, thirdly, I would say -- and then I come to the U.N. -- is it's a message to those countries who have blocked action in the Security Council so far. And the message is get out and send a unified, strong signal to the Syrian government in Damascus.

RAJPAL: And that would be a message to Russia and China, I would assume?

WITTIG: Yes, it's a message to those who wielded their veto power and also a message to those countries, the great democracies of the south, who have so far been very hesitant to send out this strong message to the Damascus that is so badly needed.

RAJPAL: The British foreign secretary, William Hague, says right now there's obviously no U.N. Security Council resolution. But he says that the situation in Syria or Syria in itself is a very complex situation.

Can you describe for us or define for us the complexity that is Syria?

WITTIG: Well, of course, it's a complex situation. And it's basically a situation where, when it comes down to it, that the Syrian people have to decide their own future. And this is what we are always telling. We don't have a Western agenda. Now it's a regional agenda. And we just want to empower the Syrian people to decide on their own political fate. And this is, I think, what we are striving for.

RAJPAL: How far and how strong is the U.N. prepared to go?

WITTIG: That depends on our deliberations within the Security Council that will be upcoming, I take it, in the -- in the next days. But there's also the general assembly, where we can speak out with a voice of 193 countries. Let's see how we -- how far we can take it. We will certainly be among those who favor a strong action.

RAJPAL: And strong action would be beyond sanctions, so potentially military action?

WITTIG: No, no. Nobody is talking about that at this point in time. We are -- we are talking about messages to set a political process in motion in the framework of which the Syrian people can decide their own future and their own destiny. That's what -- what is in our mind.


RAJPAL: Peter Wittig there.

He's the German ambassador to the United Nations.

You are watching CONNECT THE WORLD.

He confessed to gunning down dozens of innocent people. And now, he faces some of his victims for the very first time. Find out what happened when the man who brought terror to Norway appeared in court.

The NBA season may be over before it starts, as players say no to a new deal offered by the league. We'll have details on that in just 10 minutes.

And if you're wondering who to ask about the economic crisis, surely the world's richest man knows a thing or two. Coming up, Carlos Slim tells us how to fix the world's developed economies.


RAJPAL: Hello.

I'm Monita Rajpal in London. you are watching CONNECT THE WORLD.

Here's a look at some other stories making headlines this hour.

The man behind the twin terror attacks in Norway this summer that left 77 dead has, for the first time, come face-to-face with some of his victims. More than 500 people packed a court in Oslo to watch the opening proceedings.

CNN's Ralitsa Vassileva reports.


RALITSA VASSILEVA, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Mass murderer suspect Anders Bering Breivik arrives in an Oslo courtroom for his first hearing open to the public. Survivors and relatives of the victims brace for the court encounter. UNIDENTIFIED MALE (through translator): I am mostly doing this for myself personally, because I feel that it's important for me to face the fear again, to be near him and know that I am safe, to know that he can no longer hurt us, shoot us and do what he was doing out there.

VASSILEVA: This mother of a victim said it was extremely hard, but she had to see Breivik.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE (through translator): I have no choice today. It is a way of trying to process this and to understand. It is impossible to understand this. Therefore, I had to be here.

VASSILEVA: The right-wing extremist has admitted to setting off a car bomb outside government offices in July and shooting dozens of young Labour Party activists attending a youth camp on nearby Utoya Island, killing 77 people.

Despite his confession, Breivik denies criminal guilt, because he claims to be fighting a war to protect Norway and Europe from multiculturalism.

The judge cut him off when he tried to declare himself a resistance leader in court. He extended Breivik's custody for three more months, but relaxed some restrictions on his solitary detention.

The court finds Breivik is not insane and there's no evidence he had accomplices. His trial date is now set for April 16th.

Ralitsa Vassileva reporting.


RAJPAL: German authorities are warning of a new form of right-wing extremist terrorism. It follows the arrest of two people in connection with a string of killings that targeted immigrants. Officials say the suspects were members of a neo-Nazi terror cell. The 10 victims who died between 2000 and 2007 were mostly of Turkish and Greek origin. Until the arrests, police had not thought the attacks were committed by the same people.

Afghan security forces have killed a would-be suicide bomber in Kabul near the site where an important meeting of tribal elders will be held. The bomber was attempting to reach the area where this week's meeting will be held when he was stopped. That's according to a government spokesman. The incident comes a day after a Taliban-affiliated Web site published what it claimed was a leaked document containing confidential government security plans for the meeting.

Japan's economy is growing again following a slump caused by the devastating earthquake and tsunami. Output grew by 1.5 percent in the quarter from July to September, following nine months of decline. Exports were the biggest drive of growth, with a 6.2 percent rise for the quarter.

U.S. President Barack Obama is on a nine day tour aiming to open new markets in the Asia-Pacific region. Mr. Barack Obama attended a special summit in Hawaii this weekend and stressed the importance of the region to the economic recovery of the United States.

Well, next stop is Australia, followed by a visit to Indonesia.

CNN's White House correspondent, Dan Lothian, joins us now from Honolulu -- and, Dan, what was -- what did he achieve at APEC?

DAN LOTHIAN, CNN WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: Well, I think it's the beginning of a long-term relationship that the United States, the president in particular, hopes that they can have with the Asian-Pacific Region. We've been talking so much about the struggles that we've seen in Europe, specifically in Greece and also Italy. But the president sees a lot of opportunity in Asia. And his CEOs from the United States who are here, as well, mirrored some of the optimism that the administration sees. And so the idea here is to get together with these Asian leaders in order to boost job opportunities back at home in the United States, in order to increase some of the foreign investment in the United States.

And again, you know, many people will ask, when you have these kinds of summits, what is the -- you know, what is the end result and were they able to achieve anything?

And I think you'll really be able to give them a grade, the United States and these other countries a grade, down the road.

They're sol -- certainly hopeful that they can build on this and it will ultimately lead to more jobs in the United States.

RAJPAL: And what's next for the president?

LOTHIAN: Well, the president heads off to Australia, not the economy there, but talking about the strategic partnership the United States has with Australia when it comes to security. The president expected to announce that there will be a permanent U.S. presence in Australia. This is sort of seen as a counter-weight to China, which has launched their first aircraft carrier.

Then the president heads off to Bali, where, again, the focus will be on the economy and growth potential in the Asia-Pacific Region. The president will be meeting with the leaders of Thailand, Indonesia, the Philippines and India, among others, and, again, looking for opportunities to help turn around the ailing U.S. economy.

RAJPAL: All right. Dan, thank you.

Dan Lothian there in Honolulu.

American officials have expressed serious concerns about security at the 2012 Olympics here in London. That's according to "The Guardian" newspaper. The report says U.S. officials view private security staffing plans at the 32 Olympic sites as "inadequate" and are preparing to set up to 1,000 of their own security personnel to help keep American athletes and diplomats safe at next summer's games.

The U.K. is no stranger to policing high profile events that entail robust security measures such as the royal wedding earlier this year and world leaders' summits.

I'm Monita Rajpal.

Still to come here on CONNECT THE WORLD, dismay for NBA fans, as players turn down a new deal from the -- from the league. We explain what that means for the basketball season after the break.

And it's a country where chess is so popular, there are even dedicated schools. In just 20 minutes, we are off to Azerbaijan to hear from the children with all the right moves.


RAJPAL: The NBA season could be over before it even started. Players today rejected the league's latest revenue offer and say they will begin the process to disband their union -- a move that will likely jeopardize the entire season.

Games have already been canceled through the middle of next month. The two sides have been trying to hammer out a new agreement since early July.

Well, "WORLD SPORTS'" Patrick Snell joins us now from the CNN Center - - so, Patrick, which side is in the driver's seat now, after this latest move by the players?


So many developments to reflect on this Monday. But I think overall, when you give it the full assessment, I think it's fair to say that the owners are the ones probably very much, right now at least, in the driver's seat, because, you know, as the NBA commissioner, David Stern, says, Monita, the clubs will always be there. They're not going anywhere. Some of the team owners have said that they will lose less money not playing than actually playing. So there's food for thought there, as well.

The players, though, they're not being paid and they don't want to miss the entire season. Monday was the first day they went without pay, officially. But this path to decertification, as it's become known, or, if you like, more the dismantling of the union and bringing the lawyers into it, of course, could mean months -- literally months -- before any legal decision -- a firm legal decision is made.

Monday's plan to decertify does include the stipulation that the union is still the voice of the players for an official 45 day period. So reflect on that and that should not be overlooked. Negotiations will, of course, continue during that period with the league and it could well continue, as well, right through that period.

So we're going to be watching that space very closely, indeed -- Monita.

RAJPAL: So that's -- and, Patrick, what are the chances that there will actually be an NBA season?

SNELL: Right. This is the one everyone's talking about. I can imagine the bars here in the U.S. are going to be brimming with those kind of talking points. Monday's decision really definitely puts the season, there's no question, in total jeopardy. The rosiest picture, if you like, would be that the two sides do get together during that 45 day window that I mentioned and end up working something out by, say, the first week in January. That's when the two sides reached agreement during the last NBA labor strike. It was back in 1998 and early '99. Back then, of course, just to get the history right, the agreement reached in the first week of January meant that the season would have to be shortened from 82 games to 50. And then the season began in early February.

Any later than the first week in January, I think it's fair to say, you will be looking, Monita, at a completely lost season, which is a disaster for the sport, no question -- Monita.

RAJPAL: All right, Patrick.

Thank you very much.

And, of course, you can stay tuned and watch all of that on "WORLD SPORT" later here on CNN.

Well, just ahead on CONNECT THE WORLD, he built his fortune during an economic downturn and now he's the richest man in the world. We ask Carlos Slim how he'd fix the Eurozone debt crisis and why, as a telecoms mogul, he's never used a computer.


MONITA RAJPAL, HOST: You're back with CONNECT THE WORLD on CNN, the world's news leader. We want to get a check of the headlines this hour.

The European Union is slapping new sanctions on the regime of Syrian president Bashar al Assad, piling on the pressure after the Arab League voted to suspend Syria for failing to end its deadly crackdown.

Japan's economy is bouncing back. Output grew by 1.5 percent in the quarter from July to September following nine months of decline fueled by the country's earthquake and tsunami.

German police have arrested two people believed to be members of a neo-Nazi terror cell. They are suspected of involvement in the killings of at least ten people between 2000 and 2007. Most of the victims were ethnic Turks and Greeks.

A judge in Norway has ruled that mass murder suspect Anders Behring Breivik will remain in custody another 12 weeks and that his trial could start in April. Breivik has confessed to killing 77 people in a bombing and shooting spree in July.

Greece's new prime minister says the country's only choice is to stay in the euro. Lucas Papademos told Parliament swift reforms are needed to correct a worsening recession.

And those are the headlines this hour.

With a net worth of more than $60 billion, he could go a long way to fixing it himself, but Mexican tycoon Carlos Slim has other ideas of just how to fix the troubled economies of the developed world.

CNN's Becky Anderson spoke to the world's richest man in Geneva about how to turn a downturn into dollars.


BECKY ANDERSON, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Mexico, 1982. The country was on the brink of a financial disaster, mired in a debt crisis with a deficit to GDP ratio of nearly 17 percent.

For many, the recession was catastrophic. For Carlos Slim, it proved a goldmine as he snapped up struggling businesses and built a conglomerate with interests stretching from telecoms and retail to mining and construction.

Forbes magazine puts the self-made tycoon's worth at just over $63 billion.

ANDERSON (on camera) You amassed your fortune during the economic downturn in Mexico in the 1980s. Is the current financial crisis sweeping the world an opportunity to build a fortune?

CARLOS SLIM, RICHEST PERSON IN THE WORLD: Sure. Always. Always. I think there are not good and bad times for the people that held the work and has the means to work.

ANDERSON (voice-over): For Slim, employment more so than charity is the key to ending poverty, and the 71-year-old who has no plans to retire just yet believes this is where Europe is getting it wrong.

SLIM: Developed countries are trying to give a state of welfare to the people, especially early retirement and other expenses. They put current expenses instead of pulling investment, and I think they need to make structural changes.

They think that they solve their problem with austerity and decreasing the economy and get more unemployment, and they make -- this kind of things make people, young people, lose their hopes because they don't have -- they don't look -- if they can study, the can have a job.

ANDERSON (on camera): Being the richest man on the planet, you are in a unique position to take a look at the world and tell us what is going wrong and how we might fix it.

SLIM: I think it's that -- they should look for development. It's clear that they have big fiscal deficits. It's clear that they have a big debt. It's clear that that is unsustainable.

But I think that the way to do that is inviting the private sector to make investigations to maintain the economic activity in all the sectors, not only the sector of what is traditional private investment, but also building highways or building everything.

Or building hospitals they can do also. Some kind of lease back. That means that they can sell the facilities of the government and pay it in 20 years or 30 years.

ANDERSON (voice-over): Slim knows the value of private investment in public services. One of his most lucrative assets has been Telmex, the telecoms monopoly he bought from the Mexican government.

ANDERSON (on camera): You are a telecommunications mogul, and yet, you have never used a computer. Why?

SLIM: Look, I will not use that in my telephone, no? It's a computer and you use a computer every time you go to your home or you open a car or you travel you are using it.

I am more trained to look at papers. I am more trained to look at numbers. And the numbers talk, you know? You read numbers and you know what is happening. But I am used to looking at numbers on papers, I'm fond of making numbers on papers.

ANDERSON: What drives you and, indeed, what keeps you awake at night?

SLIM: I think too much dinner, maybe. Only when I have some indigestion. But what drives me is to try to work for help our countries to get developed.


RAJPAL: Becky Anderson, there, with Carlos Slim.

Now, a person who could use that advice more than anyone is the man tapped to lead Italy out of its serious debt crisis, and they call him "Super Mario," and he may well need superhuman powers.

Mario Monti, the new prime minister designate, is working on forming a new technocratic government. He is under huge pressure to get a cabinet together quickly, push through tough new austerity measures, and restore market confidence.

It is a tall order, and it's a tough sell, and here's how the markets saw it today, all closing down, relatively low today.

The fact of the matter is, the confidence -- and that is the key word there -- that while the Greeks and the Italians have put forth a new government, new leaders, technocrats, to start pushing these tough austerity measures forward, they're still not feeling that sense of confidence or even clarity as to whether or not these austerity measures will actually work and whether or not the people within those countries will actually be able to live with those austerity measures.

So, there's still a lot of uncertainty there and, of course, the markets are definitely feeling that sense of uncertainty.

Setting all of this off were the bond markets. Today, Italy sold $4 billion worth of bonds at around 6.3 percent. That's the highest yield in more than 14 years, showing investors are still reluctant to buy any more of the country's debt.

And the last time they did this, the last time Italy sold five-year bonds was back on October 13th, for 5.32 percent. Giving you more of an idea as to what -- Let me try that again, shall we?

Well, ten-year bonds. Right now, the yield for Italy's ten-year government bonds sit at an uncomfortable 6.7 percent, which is while -- it's just down from about last week's record of nearly 7.5 percent. Still, though, quite dangerously high in that red zone area, all but 7 percent.

So, Mario Monti will have the unenviable job of rescuing Italy from financial ruin. Is he qualified? Well, let's take a look at his history.

The 68-year-old is one of the country's most respected economists and is known as a tough negotiator. He was a European Union commissioner for competition for ten years, famous for bringing Microsoft before the European court for anti-monopoly proceedings.

He taught economics at Milan's Bocconi University and was president there. He also taught economics at Turin University.

For more on this story, our Senior International Correspondent Matthew Chance with us, now, from Rome with more on the tough mission for Monti. Matthew?

MATTHEW CHANCE, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Monita, thanks very much. Well, yes, it is indeed a tough mission, and the first step in that mission along the long road to economic recovery in Italy is for Mario Monti to form a cabinet which can implement the kind of austerity reforms needed to get the country's economy back on track.

That's no mean task. He's been engaged in negotiations now for a few days. Those negotiations with the various principle parties have not concluded --




CHANCE (voice-over): For the crowds outside the presidential palazzo, it was a night to celebrate.


CHANCE: It took a financial crisis, but the prime minister so many Italians had come to despise was finally stepping down. When he appeared, Silvio Berlusconi was greeted by public chants and --


CHANCE (on camera): Berlusconi's arriving in his motorcade, and the crowd has gone absolutely wild. You can see the blue flashing lights, Silvio Berlusconi's motorcade, driving into the presidential palace.

The noise has become deafening. The crowd -- thousands of people have gathered to give Berlusconi a sending off.


CHANCE (voice-over): Afterwards, the crowd rejoiced at the end of an era. But economists warn that a post-Berlusconi Italy may be no better.

NICOLA BORRI, ECONOMIST: People found that Berlusconi was not capable of doing any sort of reform. But we do not know what we get. We know we've got a very serious person, very much an esteemed economist, but we do not know if this government is able to reform the country.

CHANCE: But we do know the economic challenge facing the prime minister designate Mario Monti is enormous. Italy's public debt is a dizzying $2.6 trillion, 120 percent of national income.

Economists say the new government needs to slash public spending, reform pensions, and liberalize labor laws to give the country any chance of avoiding a crippling default.

And that may mean job losses, budget cuts, and tax rises. The new era celebrated so enthusiastically at the weekend may prove one of hardship and pain.


RAJPAL: And we do apologize for the earlier technical issues that we'd had there. Matthew Chance with us again from Rome. And Matthew, of course, one wonders whether or not Italians -- how are they receiving Mario Monti?

CHANCE: Well, I think at the moment, Monita, people are giving him the benefit of the doubt. They understand the country has deep economic problems. They believe that this guy is well-qualified to come up with the proper measures to get the economy back on track.

The big test, of course, is going to be when he tries to implement those austerity reforms. There's already been a lot of resistance in various sectors of the Italian population to various proposals to have public services cut, for instance. Pensions cut. Labor liberalized as well.

Those are things that are going to have to be done, and when it happens, there's probably going to be a public backlash, Monita.

RAJPAL: OK, Matthew Chance there in Rome. Thank you so much.

Up next, it's a country where the abuse of domestic workers is so bad that, according to Human Rights Watch, one dies every week. We're in Lebanon to hear from a Filipino woman who headed abroad to give her family a better life and ended up living in misery.


RAJPAL: Imagine you are thousands of miles from home. No family, no friends, no freedom, trapped in a job with little or no pay. Unfortunately, for domestic workers seeking a better life abroad, it's an all too common situation.

All this week, CNN is shining a spotlight on this form of modern-day slavery as part of our Freedom Project.

We begin in Lebanon, a country where the abuse of domestic workers is so common that some countries are refusing to allow their citizens to travel there looking for work. Arwa Damon met one Filipino woman who was forced to flee for her life.


"MONETTE" (ph): When they beat me like that, I always go to the toilet and I cry. That's why I ran away.

ARWA DAMON, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): "Monette" left her two small children and husband in the Philippines to work as a maid in Lebanon, hoping to pull her family out of extreme poverty.

Instead, the 26-year-old was forced to flee to a safe house that provided refuge for victims like her. She and the other women here don't want their real names used or their identities revealed. They are afraid for their safety.

The safe house is run by Caritas Lebanon Migrant Centers, a charity that has been lobbying for and providing help to migrant domestic workers in Lebanon since 1994. The workers often find themselves victims of a judicial system that fails to protect them in a culture where abuse against them is endemic.

NADIM HOURI, HUMAN RIGHTS WATCH, LEBANON: It's serious enough because on average, one worker per week is dying in Lebanon, and most often by committing suicide or trying to quote-unquote "escape" from their employer.

It's a terrifying statistic, and it has caused capitals in countries where these workers are coming from to take notice, because one of the ambassadors once told me, "I'm no longer running an embassy here, I'm running a morgue."

DAMON: There are an estimated 200,000 migrant domestic workers in Lebanon. A large number for a country with a population of just four million. Abuses against them so common that they Philippines, Nepal, and Ethiopia have banned their citizens from coming to Lebanon as migrant workers, although many are so desperate, they find a way around the ban.

Like "Hana" (ph). She says she had no choice but to come to Lebanon three years ago to support her family in Ethiopia after her father died. Her first employer sexually harassed her.

"I couldn't be the way he wanted. I came only to work, not to do anything else," she tells us. "He would offer money, offer me things, if I would accept." Eventually, his wife found out about her husband's advances, and Hana says he beat them both.

She went to the Ethiopian embassy, but was so desperate for money, she took another job at another household rather than return home. There, she says, she suffered both physical and verbal abuse, which she would have been willing to endure if she was at least being paid her salary.

Now, emotionally exhausted, she just wants to go home.

According to Human Rights Watch, the enslavement of migrant workers begins the moment they land in Lebanon. Standard procedure at the airport is for Lebanese authorities to hand over the worker's passport to the employer, allowing the employer full control.

The majority of workers are never allowed to leave the house on their own and, according to Human Rights Watch, either they're paid late or not at all.

HOURI: In many ways, their treatment is akin to modern slavery. There are no doubts, some of them have wonderful experiences. But to many of them, this is indentured servitude for a number of years.

And the state, the Lebanese state, similar to the states in this region, instead of protecting these workers, they rush to protect them employer.

DAMON: Lebanese labor law has no protection for migrant workers. For its part, the government has stated that it intends to improve conditions for migrant workers.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: To record messages, press one.

DAMON: The Ministry of Labor set up a hotline, but the phone hardly rings, as most workers are not aware of its existence.

And in January of 2009, the ministry implemented a standard contract that is intended to guarantee things like on time payment and days off.

BOUTROS HARB, FORMER LEBANESE LABOR MINISTER: All this has been already started, and we are implementing, we are taking these measures in order to avoid them, to give the feeling to the domestic worker that he is protected by the law.

DAMON: However, Human Rights Watch says the contract falls far short of protecting the workers. For example, the right to leave the house remains in the hands of the employer.

Sinetta (ph) from Botswana had contemplated jumping six floors to escape. Her employer, she says, used to lock her up, smash her head into a wall.

"SINETTA": I don't do nothing. It's only the tears falling down and crying. There's nothing to do, because he has when he's here, he don't want me to do nothing. I don't fight, I don't -- I will stay like an animal. Everything I bleach is empty.

DAMON: After she finally ran away, she ended up hospitalized in a psychiatric ward for two weeks. Caritas says it's been successful in helping Sinetta obtain her salary and points to a greater level of cooperation with Lebanese authorities.

However, much, much more needs to be done to guarantee migrant workers their basic rights. These women all came to Lebanon expecting to break out of the confines of poverty. Instead, they find themselves in a different type of jail.

Arwa Damon, CNN, Beirut.


RAJPAL: Tomorrow, we'll get an update on a story that many of you found so shocking you headed to our Impact Your World website to help.

Shweyga Mullah was a nanny for Hannibal Gadhafi, the son of the former Libyan leader. When she refused to beat his child, Shweyga says Hannibal's wife tied her hands behind her back and poured boiling water over her twice.

Only now is she beginning to rebuild her life after being flown abroad for medical treatment. Tomorrow, we'll hear how she's getting on.

Coming up next, we'll meet the young men and the young women of Azerbaijan hoping to become the kings and queens of the chess board.


RAJPAL: It's the land of the eternal flame, named after the natural gas which erupted though the Earth's crust. Early pagans defied this -- defined this force of nature and centuries before Jesus, temples like this began to appear across Azerbaijan.

All this week, we've got our Eye on Azerbaijan. It's all part of our mission to introduce you to an exciting new destination every month. And so far, we've visited Ukraine, Germany, India, Georgia, Mongolia, Poland, and Macedonia, showing you what makes them stand out in the world of business and culture.

Well, this month, we're turning our attention to Azerbaijan. Thanks to its oil and its gas, which make up 90 percent of its exports, the country has fared pretty well in recent years. GDP grew five percent in 2010, but the IMF is forecasting less than one percent growth this year, while its unemployment rate stands at six percent.

But away from business, one of the most popular sports is chess, and with some 35,000 children enrolled in specialist schools dedicated to the game, it's a national obsession that starts pretty early. Jim Boulden has been speaking to some of the country's budding grandmasters.


JIM BOULDEN, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Taking note. Learning to think two and more moves ahead. Talking tactics with friends. These young women dream of becoming chess grandmasters.

In a country where older citizens enjoy backgammon, the younger generation have focused on chess. Remembering Baku-born Garry Kasparov, who dominated chess during the dying days of the Soviet Union.

Faik Gasanov is known as the godfather of chess here. He's had a chess show on Azeri television for 41 years.

FAIK GASANOV, VICE PRESIDENT, AZERBAIJAN CHESS FEDERATION: We have 66 chess schools in Azerbaijan, and we have 35,000 people, children, in school.

BOULDEN: And soon, a new chess palace. A place for the country's prodigies to gather, to learn, and look for new ways to say "checkmate."

Like this 22-year-old. She represents Azerbaijan against the likes of Iran, Russia, Georgia, and Turkey.

BOULDEN (on camera): Why do you like chess? Why do you think people in this country play so much chess?

NERGIZ UMUDOVA, WOMEN'S CHESS TEAM, AZERBAIJAN: Because it's interesting and wonderful.

BOULDEN (voice-over): Grandmaster Gadir Gusainov is currently the fifth-ranked male player in Azerbaijan and just out of the top 100 in Europe.

GADIR GUSAINOV, CHESS GRANDMASTER: I started to play chess at six. At eight, I'd written "Champion Under Ten." After this, with the sales, I will professional chess.

BOULDEN: The men's national team was European champions in 2009 and is currently ranked 10th in the world. And Azerbaijan's youth teams are showing plenty of promise, too. In early November, its Under 16 boys finished fourth, just after Iran, in the world Olympiad.

Becoming the kings and queens of the chessboard is a matter of pride for Azeris.

Jim Boulden, CNN, Baku, Azerbaijan.


RAJPAL: And Jim Boulden will bring you more insights from Azerbaijan all week here on CONNECT THE WORLD.

But now, it's time for our Parting Shots, and we couldn't resist these. While flooding still threatens the Thai capital Bangkok, nature is coming to the aid of man. Elephants are helping with the cleanup efforts at an ancient temple about 40 miles north of the capital.

Flood waters are finally receding there, and the elephant, so long a part of the Thai landscape, is now helping to bring back some optimism and tourists to the region.

I'm Monita Rajpal in for Becky Anderson. Thank you for watching. The world headlines and "BackStory" will follow this short break.