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CONNECT THE WORLD
Egypt Sitting on A Volcano; Interview with Shadi Taha; Hacking "Cowardly and Shocking," Galaxy Wins MLS Championship
Aired November 21, 2011 - 16:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
ZAIN VERJEE, HOST: Chaos in Cairo -- thousands pack into Tahrir Square with new demands for the military leadership. And tonight, the entire cabinet submits its resignation. We'll ask a politician and a protester what that means for Egypt.
Live from London, I'm Zain Verjee.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
HUGH GRANT, ACTOR: When the story has been obtained by hacking the phone of a murdered schoolgirl of the family of some -- of a soldier killed in Afghanistan, I don't find that loveable and naughty. I find that cowardly and bullying and shocking.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
VERJEE: Movie star Hugh Grant blasting the British tabloids after an official inquiry into the phone hacking scandal.
And the great divide -- with a deadline approach, no deal in sight. Tonight, what you need to know about the super committee and why its failure could spell disaster across the globe.
First tonight, "Egypt is Sitting on A Volcano." That headline from a newspaper in Cairo pretty much sums up the chaos that's threatening to derail the country's first ever democratic elections. Three straight days of violence in Tahrir Square have claimed their first political casualty -- the entire Egyptian cabinet. It submitted its resignation to the ruling military council just a short while ago.
Security forces, meanwhile, battling protesters in Tahrir Square again on Monday, using batons and tear gas to answer demands for a quick end to military rule. Egypt's health ministry says at least 22 people have died in the clashes. The protesters refused to be beaten into submission. They are calling for a million man rally on Tuesday, accusing Egypt's military rulers of trying to hijack the revolution that overthrew Hosni Mubarak. A new opinion poll finds just 20 percent of Egyptians believe that the military leadership has benefited the country.
All of this happening just a week before parliamentary elections are set to take place.
Let's bring in CNN's Ivan Watson for a little bit more.
As you can see, he is overlooking the crowds still gathered after midnight in Tahrir Square -- Ivan, the entire cabinet resigned.
What does this mean for Egypt?
IVAN WATSON, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, there seems to be some confusion about that, Zain. And perhaps the spokesman for the ruling military council spoke a little too soon when he told us, when he answered and said yes, the government was finished, it's all over, because now a spokesman for that government, Mohamed Hegazy, telling us that a meeting is underway with the ruling Supreme Council of the Armed Forces and is has not, in fact, accepted the resignation of the government yet, implying that that resignation was submitted but not accepted yet.
So I think there's still a lot of confusion about just what has happened. We've spoken to a justice minister, who said yes, we have resigned because of what is happening here in Tahrir, because of the political responsibility.
And the crowds here furious that at least 22 of their comrades have been killed since police first came in and started clashing with a small group of protesters there Saturday morning. More than 1,000 people wounded. And the battles are still going on. It sounds like tear gas canisters being fired almost every 10 seconds. And you can see the flashers of ambulances zooming in and out, carrying wounded people away, who have been caught up in the fighting, deeper into the streets of -- of Cairo here, between riot police, soldiers and demonstrators -- Zain.
VERJEE: Ivan, why is it that the protesters have lost total confidence in the military?
What have they done or what haven't they done?
WATSON: Well, I think, you know, it's been nine months that the military has been effectively ruling Egypt and supposedly preparing it for some democratic transition to an elected civilian government.
Next Monday is supposed to be the first day of that, with an historic first phase of parliamentary elections.
But there's been growing resentment against the ruling generals for violent crackdown on previous protests, fought military tribunals that throw people in prison very quickly when they're arrested. A lot of complaints about this, people saying this is not what we wanted when we had our first revolution way back last winter, which brought down Hosni Mubarak.
The crowds here have been chanting, "Down with the Supreme Council." I think you'll hear different messages coming from the wide variety of political parties that are hoping still to compete in Monday's first phase of parliamentary elections -- Zain.
VERJEE: CNN's Ivan Watson reporting.
So much has happened in Egypt since the revolution earlier this year and yet, in so many ways, it seems protesters are back to square one.
Remember Tahrir back in January?
We'll look at these images. Those are the ones on the left. You may have some trouble distinguishing them from today's unrest. You can see those pictures on the right hand side of your screen.
CNN's Ben Wedeman spent the past few days on the streets of Cairo and he explains why protesters say that they have some unfinished business from the uprising.
BEN WEDEMAN, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT (voice- over): Much is changed in Egypt in the last 10 months, but Sunday in Cairo was a day of deja vu. Running street battles raged around Tahrir Square between protesters and security forces in a growing revolt against the Supreme Council of the Armed Forces which took over from Hosni Mubarak last February.
Tear gas and rocks flew fast and furious. Security forces fired upon protesters with hard rubber pellets like these.
"This is what the police of Egypt are using against us," says Zara (ph). "They're killing the youth of Egypt, shooting them in the eyes."
I tell her, "We were here on January 25th. It was the same scene. What has changed?"
"Nothing has changed," she responds. "We've gone backwards. The Military Council is garbage. Mubarak is still alive and well, and the people are dying."
Shouts this man, "Mubarak is running the Military Council and the whole country from prison, Mubarak and all the corrupt businessmen around him."
Motorbikes rushed wounded to a makeshift field hospital, the same one that treated those injured during the uprising against Mubarak.
To the protesters, the new military rulers look an awful lot like the old one.
(on camera): On January 25th, we were on this very street and we were also tear-gassed. Now, months and months later, it's November and the same thing is happening all over again.
So now, of course, here you see some of the services provided by the revolutionaries. They are putting saline solutions in our eyes, giving us Kleenex to wipe it off.
(voice-over): What has changed is the once coward and silent people of Egypt have found their voice. Whoever ends up running this country will have to contend with a politicized, vocal and demanding population that has learned to fight back.
In a statement, the government said people have the right to protest peacefully as long as they don't commit acts that threaten Egypt's stability.
(END VIDEO TAPE)
VERJEE: Ben Wedeman reporting.
The resignation of Egypt's cabinet today just adds to all the uncertainty. It's not even clear whether they have resigned, as Ivan Watson was reporting just a moment ago.
Let's talk a little bit about these fast moving developments with our parliamentary candidate, Shadi Taha.
He is the deputy chairman of the liberal, El-Gahd Party. That's a party founded by the prominent activist, Ayman Nour.
Thank you so much for being with us.
Should the cabinet resign or not?
What's good for Egypt?
SHADI TAHA, EGYPTIAN PARLIAMENTARY CANDIDATE: I think what's good for Egypt is -- is first work on the real reform that this revolution asked for nine months ago. You know, to be honest with you, the staff did not do what those -- these protesters asked for nine months ago, from excluding everybody that belongs to the National Democratic Party or the Mubarak regime from practicing any -- any -- any -- or from being in any position of the public life from...
TAHA: -- capturing and throwing more than 12,000 people in -- in military jails. There are -- there are many things that this country was asking for, politically, economically and socially. But the SCAF did not deliver.
By beefing up -- hello?
VERJEE: Are -- are you for or against the cabinet resigning, because if they resign, it's going to throw Egypt into a much deeper crisis?
Are you for it or against it?
TAHA: I am -- I am for the cabinet resigning, absolutely, because this cabinet cannot be trusted to lead the rest of what -- of what we call the transitional period.
What I'm -- what I'm against is delaying the election, because this is going more time and more (AUDIO GAP) that showed that they are not qualified to lead this transitional period.
I am for resigning the cabinet and forming another cabinet that -- that can be formed from patriot personnel, from people that are really represented by the people. But I'm also for holding the election...
TAHA: -- by Monday and I'm for -- and I'm for the road map that -- that was planned to hand over the power to the elected civilian personnel to lead and I am for the road map that was...
VERJEE: All right, Mr....
TAHA: -- that was set up...
VERJEE: -- Mr. Taha...
TAHA: -- not more -- not more than 30 -- not more than the 30th of April.
VERJEE: All right.
TAHA: By next year.
VERJEE: Do you really think that elections can be held in a way that is safe for people to vote?
Do you believe that the military and the security forces can secure the polls next -- by next week, given what is happening behind you and across Egypt?
TAHA: To be honest with you, this was a question that -- that we all were asking ourselves months ago, and not just today.
But I really think that the people themselves are the ones who will secure the elections and secure the polls. And I'm not depending much on the -- on the police forces that are beating up the people over there.
I am for that all -- that everybody, though, that was involved in torturing or -- or in beating up protesters that should be penalized and should be sent to a trial.
I'm not quite sure that this will be done by this government. And that's why I'm for bringing another -- another government that can -- that can hold or that can take power during this time.
VERJEE: Shadi Taha, an Egyptian politician running in the parliamentary elections himself, hoping that they do happen next week, given the situation on the ground.
Thank you so much.
Tahrir Square, as you can see, is such a hot topic on social media right now. Let's just give you a little bit of a flavor as to what people are saying around the world.
This is Transmap. And basically what it does, it tracks all the Tweets around Tahrir Square and about Tahrir Square. And it is dominating all the discussion around the world. People are weighing in on a situation, as well. And what they -- what they also are saying, too, this is MohAbdElHamid in Cairo: "Protesters are writing their parents' phone numbers on their bodies so that they will be contacted if they were killed."
Take a look at Bahira Hamin, who is also in Cairo. And this is what she says: "You smell the tear gas, hear the guns and the screams, see people around you getting killed and injured. What are you supposed to do? journalist Sharif Kouddous Tweeted this: "Thousands in Tahrir. No stages, no posturing, just raw energy and unrelenting battles with police. The revolution is back in force."
Finally, this is one from Sally in New York, who writes this: "I think Occupy protesters in the U.S. should occupy Tahrir in Cairo. Then they'd see how fortunate they really are."
Those are just some of the views tonight on Twitter.
Now, let's hear from the activists in Tahrir.
We want to speak to Mahmoud Salem. he is an Egyptian blogger.
And he joins us now on the line from Cairo.
Thank you so much for being with us.
Why are you so angry with the military?
MAHMOUD SALEM, BLOGGER & ACTIVIST: First of all, it's Mahmoud Salem.
VERJEE: Go ahead.
VERJEE: Yes, go...
VERJEE: -- go ahead. If you can hear me, Mahmoud Salem, why are you so angry with the military?
SALEM: Well, here is the deal. The military was supposed to hand over the transition in six months, which meant that they were supposed to be out of power by the first of October.
Legally, there is no actual constitutional structure that supports them being in place right now. We are living under -- under a military dictatorship since then.
In October and this month, there has been lots of people who died.
VERJEE: What is the one...
SALEM: So, and on the hands of military personnel.
VERJEE: All right.
SALEM: The Christian protesters in October and all those people who keep dying right now in Tahrir. Where -- and there's no accountability and there is no security and there is no repression and there is no progress.
So it makes sense that everybody is angry at them right now.
VERJEE: Mahmoud Salem, what is the one thing that you believe will end the violence, will get people out of Tahrir Square?
SALEM: If the Military Council cedes power to a national salvation government, basically, with actual real power. The current government has no power. The current government cabinet resigning or not resigning is completely useless because they have shown that they have no actual authority to do anything, with is the real problem that we have. Nothing has been for the past eight months.
And we would like to have people with actually power being in government and actually operating the government until the elections were held. But right now, we don't have that.
VERJEE: Mahmoud Salem, thank you very much.
Well, the crackdown on protesters seems to have only stiffened their resolve. We're going to be watching to see how Tuesday's Million Man Rally shapes up and who might replace Egypt's cabinet if the military does, indeed, accept its resignations.
Coming up here on CONNECT THE WORLD, actor Hugh Grant taking aim at the British press, as the inquiry into the newspaper phone hacking scandal resumes in London.
Sharing the pain as the world waits on news of a U.S. austerity plan. We'll have the latest live as the super committee's deadline fast approaches.
And later in the show, how civil rights movements of the past can provide insight into what's going on right now as Occupy protests sweep across the world.
Stay with us here on CNN.
VERJEE: I'm Zane Verjee in London.
You're watching CONNECT THE WORLD.
Let's take a look at some of the other stories we're following.
Hundreds of Cambodians packed a courtroom in the capital today, as three top leaders from the Khmer Rouge regime went on trial for the very first time. The group's former prime minister and foreign minister, as well as the nominal head of state at the time, are facing charges of crimes against humanity, murder and torture for their roles in the 1970s atrocities. Some 1.7 million people are believed to have been killed during their four year reign of terror.
Jordan's King Abdullah has made his first visit to the West Bank in more than a decade in a show of support for the Palestinian Authority president, Mahmoud Abbas. The two men held talks just days before Abbas' Fatah movement and its rival, Hamas, will start reconciliation talks in Cairo. After the meeting, the Jordanian foreign minister said that the king was in favor of Palestinian political unity.
Hugh Grant took aim at the British press today. He calls the hacking of a murderer schoolgirl's voice-mail cowardly and shocking. The actor was just one of the witnesses giving evidence before a British government- backed inquiry into press ethics following the phone hacking scandal.
CNN's Atika Shubert was at the high court in London for that hearing.
ATIKA SHUBERT, CNN CORRESPONDENT: It's as if Britain's notorious tabloid press is on trial. Witness after witness has testified to the intrusive, sometimes illegal methods used by tabloid journalists to get a scoop.
Now, the entire hacking scandal and this inquiry really centers on the testimony of the Dowler family. Milly Dowler went missing more than nine years ago. And in the frantic search for her, her parents and police were constantly checking her voice-mail messages. When they discovered some of those messages had been deleted, it led to false hope that she might be alive.
Here's what Sally Dowler said in court today.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
SALLY DOWLER, MOTHER OF MILLY DOWLER:
We were sitting downstairs in reception and I rang her phone.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Yes.
DOWLER: And it clicked through onto her voice-mail so that I heard her voice.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Yes.
DOWLER: And I was -- it -- it was just like -- I jumped, she -- she's picked up her voice-mail, folks. She's alive.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
SHUBERT: We now know, of course, that Milly Dowler, in fact, had been abducted and murdered and that those voice-mail messages had been deleted by a private investigator hired by "News of the World".
The actor, Hugh Grant, also testified to the way celebrities were affected. He talked about the recent birth of his baby daughter and how the mouth of his daughter had been handed by the tabloid press, so much so that he considered calling the police, but then refrained from doing so.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
GRANT: If someone like me called the police for a burglary, a mugging, something in the street, something that happened to one -- me or my girlfriend, the chances are that a photographer or a reporter would turn up on your doorstep before a policeman.
And you see them glamorizing themselves, it's oh, well we just, we might be a but naughty, but, you know, we get the story.
But when the story has been obtained by hacking the phone of a murdered schoolgirl or of the family of some -- of a soldier killed in Afghanistan, I don't find that lovable and naughty. I find that cowardly and bullying and shocking.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
SHUBERT: Now, this inquiry is expected to go for at least a year, so it will be a long time yet before we come to any conclusive results.
Atika Shubert, CNN, London.
(END VIDEO TAPE)
VERJEE: Authorities in New York have arrested a man they say was plotting to detonate pipe bombs in and around the city. Mayor Michael Bloomberg says suspect Jose Pimentel allegedly planned to target military personnel who had served in Iraq and Afghanistan, as well as police and postal buildings in New York and New Jersey. He's believed to have been working alone.
A former FBI director will lead an independent investigation into the child sex abuse case involving former Penn State football coach, Jerry Sandusky. A grand jury reported this month that university officials allegedly knew of claims of misconduct by him but failed to fully act on them. Sandusky is charged with 40 counts of sexual abuse involving eight young boys.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
KENNETH FRAZIER, PENN STATE BOARD OF TRUSTEES: To conduct this investigation, we've engaged an outstanding firm, led by a man with unimpeachable credentials and unparalleled experience in law and criminal justice, former FBI Director Louis J. Freeh. Judge Freeh will be our special investigative counsel. He has complete reign to follow any lead, look into every corner of the university, to get to the bottom of what happened and then to make recommendations that will help ensure that it never happens again.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
VERJEE: You're watching CONNECT THE WORLD here on CNN.
Coming up, David Beckham achieves his American dream, leading LA Galaxy to MLS Championship glory.
But where next for Becks?
And a worrying day for global markets as political deadlock in the U.S. and some major fears over the Eurozone.
VERJEE: Welcome back to CONNECT THE WORLD.
David Beckham capped his five season spell with the LA Galaxy by helping the team to their first MLS Championship in six years on Sunday. It was a Hollywood ending for him, as he decades -- decides to leave the club. Beckham's contract expires next month and has been pretty tight- lipped about his future.
Joining me now from CNN Center is "WORLD SPORT'S" Patrick Snell -- hi, Patrick.
So after five seasons, how should we judge Beckham's time with the Galaxy?
PATRICK SNELL, CNN SPORTS CORRESPONDENT: Yes, you know what, Zain, there's no question, it ends on a high. This was the -- the Beckham factor coming to the LA Galaxy. And I think it's fair to say, you know, his first few seasons in the job, as it were, they were hampered by disappointment. They were hampered by this burning desire, this fact that he couldn't really leave behind his life in Europe. He make -- kept making those returns to Milan, of course, in Italy.
And I think the Galaxy found it took a fair chunk of them a long time, really, to accept him fully because of his apparent allegiances to other causes.
But I think it's fair to say he's won those fans over in the end. There's still a chance, of course, we will stay with the Galaxy. But Sunday's win over the Houston Dynamo was just what he needed. He needed to go out on a win at the end of his current deal. I think failure to get it would have led to some people believing that this was not too successful in terms of what he's delivered.
I should point out, of course, although the Galaxy did have a very successful four season period before he arrived in 2007, they won the MLS Cup title twice, both in 2002 and 2004, as well. And they're still playing second fiddle to Washington -- Washington's CC United in terms of overall top team performances in this title.
But look, Beckham has been speaking out about his latest success, relieved to get some silverware under his belt.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
DAVID BECKHAM, WON 1ST MLS CUP: You know, into sit back and relax and enjoy this moment and then decide what I'm going to do. But, you know, I might talk in past tense every now and again. But it doesn't mean I'm not coming back. You know, at the end of the day, I need to decide what's -- what's best for me and what's best for the team and my family. And then we'll see.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
SNELL: We'll see, indeed.
On the possible list, a return to the English Premier League, heavily linked with Paris St. Germain in France and may be staying put in Los Angeles after all.
Personally, I don't think, Zain, he'll return to the English Premier League. He has spoken before about how tough it would be to come up against his former club, his beloved Manchester United. But we shall see - - back to you, Zain.
VERJEE: We'll be watching.
Patrick Snell reporting from Atlanta.
And you're watching CONNECT THE WORLD.
Coming up on CNN, the clock is ticking -- in Washington, gridlock as Republicans and Democrats struggle to thrash out an austerity deal.
And later in the show, a veteran civil rights campaigner reflects on the current Occupy protests all around the world and the power of non- violent resistance.
VERJEE: You're watching CONNECT THE WORLD on CNN. Time now for a quick check of the world headlines.
Three straight days of violence in Cairo have claimed their first political casualty. The entire Egyptian cabinet submitted its resignation Monday evening, but the ruling military council hasn't decided yet whether or not to accept it.
A British government-backed inquiry into phone hacking and other press abuses heard from actor Hugh Grant today. He speculated the tabloids were involved in a break-in at his London apartment and accused them of accessing his medical records.
New York police say terror suspect Jose Pimentel claimed he was only an hour -- one hour -- away from completing the first of three pipe bombs that he'd been building. His alleged targets include US military veterans, police, and post offices.
Britain has cut all banking ties with Iran over concerns about the country's nuclear program. It's the first time an entire country's banking sector has been cut off from British finance.
Spain is set to become the latest European country to see a government haul in the midst of the eurozone crisis. But after a landslide victory, the prime minister-elect, well, he's got his work cut out. Popular party leader Mariano Rajoy is poised to become the country's new leader.
His Center Right party took 45 percent of the vote, giving it 186 of Spain's 350 parliamentary seats. Rajoy says that he was determined that Spain would be a respected voice in the future of Europe.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
MARIANO RAJOY, PRIME MINISTER-ELECT OF SPAIN (through translator): Today more than ever before, our destiny is in and with Europe. The Spanish voice has to be respected in Frankfurt and Brussels, where our interests are played out.
We will be loyal, but also demanding. We will be -- we will fulfill, but we will also be very vigilant to be part of the solution once again.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
VERJEE: Despite his popularity, Rajoy will be forced to slash more than $40 billion from the current budget if Spain is to reach its public deficit target for 2012.
Well, agreements on tough austerity measures may be accepted as necessary, but you know what? They really do not come easy. Investors on both sides of the Atlantic endured a really worrying day as the lack of progress on a deal to secure US budget cuts sent ripples through the markets. Just look at this, all in the red.
Now, the deal is essentially aimed at cutting US government debt by $1.2 trillion, and it is on the verge of failure. That really raises the possibility of a further credit downgrade for the world's largest economy, and it's that uncertainty which has the markets in a flux.
Let's take a look at the FTSE, as you can see, more than two points down. The Xetra DAX down, Paris CAC 40 down, Dow Jones Industrials down as well.
The so-called Super Committee tasked with slashing more than a billion dollars from the US federal budget now looks certain to fail in its task of reaching a decision by Wednesday. We want to get you the very latest right now from CNN's Kate Bolduan.
Kate, just remind us exactly who makes up the committee and what are the stick points here?
KATE BOLDUAN, CNN US CONGRESSIONAL CORRESPONDENT: This committee is made up of 12 members of Congress, six evenly divided between Democrats and Republicans, the House and Senate. They're basically tasked with doing -- taking on the tough stuff that Congress honestly couldn't pull off in the debt ceiling debate over the summer.
The main sticking point remains today what it really has been all along. This issue that has deadlocked the committee is the issue of taxes. Democrats all along have insisted that revenue, tax increases, need to be part of the -- any final deficit reduction plan as part of a quote, unquote "balanced approach," in their view, to deficit reduction.
On the flip side, though, Republicans remain just as firmly opposed to any tax increases unless those tax increases would be part of an overall broader-based tax reform effort that would bring down rates.
This is not a new issue dividing Democrats and Republicans. This is - - this is an issue that has been a major point of contention between the two parties on Capitol Hill for a very long time.
But that is what this committee was tasked to do, to take on the tough stuff, to take on the issue of revenue, the issue of entitlement reform, Zain, in order to stabilize this country's long-term debt problem.
I will tell you, all my sources continue to indicate at this hour that this committee, barring some unforeseen and dramatic, at this point, breakthrough, that they are headed toward failure. And I'm honestly waiting to see if a statement shows up in my inbox any moment, Zain.
VERJEE: And real quick, then, Kate. When it fails, as it's expected to, what next?
BOLDUAN: What next is the across-the-board very painful cuts called "the trigger" will set in. They will not set in until, however, 2013, which means that this battle, while maybe over, maybe the war shall continue because they'll be fighting about these trigger mechanisms for the year to come.
But these are very painful across-the-board cuts that will hit very hard the Defense budget as well as other domestic spending.
It was -- the whole point of this trigger mechanism as it was written into law was to be painful, to make it the unacceptable alternative if this -- to motivate this committee to succeed, to take on the tough stuff, and to actually come to some agreement.
It appears that despite these painful -- this painful alternative, they're not able to reach agreement, which means that these across-the- board cuts really hitting and impacting very hard, very painfully on the Defense budget as well as other domestic programs like education, transportation, even Medicare, albeit a two percent cap on the reduction to that program. That would be hit.
So, that is kind of the next battle to come, if you will, Zain.
VERJEE: Kate Bolduan, thanks so much. We're going to let you check your inbox so you're not missing anything as soon as it comes in. Thanks a lot.
Well, with Super Committee failure on the horizon, the future of the US economy's really being watched so closely. But how will decisions on American austerity affect you and me, the rest of the world?
Joining me live from New York is Gillian Tett from the "Financial Times." So, it's a not-so-Super Committee, Gillian. How is it going to affect the rest of the world?
GILLIAN TETT, "FINANCIAL TIMES": Well, basically, there's a lot of super worrying about right now. On the one hand, the decision today -- or the quasi-decision, we're still waiting on the decision -- isn't a surprise. There was plenty of discussion in the last weeks or so about the fact the committee may not find agreement.
But it once again underscores the sense of frustration that many people in the markets feel with the way that governments are acting right now.
And the key thing to understand is this. Right now, the markets are giving the US a bit of a free pass, because there's so much concern about the eurozone. And today, the dollar actually strengthened a bit and yield fell, because people fled from the eurozone.
And there was also concern expressed from -- comments voiced this morning by Wang Qishan, the Chinese vice premier, in the "Financial Times" about the chance of global slowdown.
But if people start to focus again on the US budget position, it certainly does potentially leave the treasury market a bit vulnerable going forward.
VERJEE: Who's fault is it that they just can't deal with it and hammer it out? I mean, that was why it was created, so who's responsible for this mess up?
TETT: Well, there's an awful lot of finger pointing and the blame game has already started. The reality is that both sides are pretty intransigent right now. And oddly enough, it's partly because of these eurozone problems that there isn't more of a sense of pressure right now on the two sides to compromise.
If it were not for the fact that yields are currently so low in the US treasury markets because people are fleeing from the eurozone and buying US government debt, then there would be more of a sense of crisis. But there just isn't a sense of crisis right now.
VERJEE: So, if it fails, when it fails, what happens then? Are automatic cuts triggered? What is the next step that we and the markets can anticipate?
TETT: Well, here's the issue. There will be automatic cuts triggered. They will include things that are pretty controversial, like Defense spending. But they won't kick in for quite a while.
And frankly, everyone in Washington these days has an incredibly short-term view. They're concentrating on getting through the next month or two. They're concentrating on the 2012 elections.
Of course, we don't even know yet who's going to be the Republican candidate because we have this crazy revolving roller coaster ride of candidates popping up all the time. And so, the idea of anyone worrying about these cuts, which will be triggered in 2013, just isn't going to happen right now.
So, unfortunately, the real message is, this is added a sense of cynicism and malaise about the way that government is done in Washington.
VERJEE: How does it affect the average person, the Super Committee's failure here? The person on the street, who's looking at this going, "How does this affect me?"
TETT: Well, I think the real message is that they're still very unclear whether Washington actually has the type of proactive polices and plays to deal with the very big debt burden. And it's adding to this general grinding level of uncertainty.
It's very striking if you look at opinion polls right now. They show that American consumers are more gloomy about their future than they've been virtually since records started with these opinion polls. There's real concern about what things are going to look like five, ten, fifteen years down the road.
And what's, perhaps, even more striking is a degree to which companies are sitting on huge cash piles right now across the American economy. And that's all symptomatic of a loss of faith in the ability to actually lay down the parameters for getting this problem fixed.
VERJEE: Some super analysis and perspective, there, from Gillian Tett from the "Financial Times." Thank you so much for joining us here on CONNECT THE WORLD.
So, with just two days until the Super Committee's deadline, will a deal be struck, or will across-the-board cuts hit the likes of the US's Defense and social programs? We will keep you informed right here on CNN.
You're watching CONNECT THE WORLD live from London. When we come back, are we seeing a case of history repeating itself? Stay with us for the civil rights legend who believes the Occupy protests have the power to create change.
VERJEE: Protesting with their feet and their funds. It turns out that the big movement against big banks has a rather large purse of its own. Occupy Wall Street organizers claim that that they've amassed almost $600,000 in tax-deductible donations. The fund was initially set up to finance the movement's tent city, which authorities have since shut down.
Welcome back to CONNECT THE WORLD. The Occupy activists have also received support from a legend of the stage, screen, and studio. Harry Belafonte helped drive the civil rights movement in the 1960s, a campaign that led to greater equality in the US.
The singer tells Becky Anderson why is it he believes the Occupy protests have the power to create a moment in history that is equally definitive.
BECKY ANDERSON, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): He was dubbed the King of Calypso. Indeed, a new film reveals how Harry Belafonte has been trying to get the world to move to a different beat for more than 60 years.
"Sing Your Song" documents how the Jamaican-born entertainer was center stage of America's civil rights movement.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP - "SING YOUR SONG")
HARRY BELAFONTE, SINGER/ACTIVIST: Dr. King, do you fear for your life?
MARTIN LUTHER KING, JR., ACTIVIST: I'm more concerned about doing a good job, doing something for humanity and what I consider the will of God than about longevity. Ultimately, it isn't so important how long you live. The important thing is how well you live.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
ANDERSON: Belafonte took up the cause on the streets, on television, and as a member of the movement's inner circle.
BELAFONTE: Well, what I sought to do was to take people behind the scenes into places where the decision-making process was fully engaged. You see and you hear how the struggle to find the conclusion, to find ideas and thoughts and to apply them, and the trouble that we all had, especially Dr. King.
Because every decision Dr. King made became a decision that encompassed threats on life. Those who resisted us were willing to kill, and many people died for the cause of civil rights and human rights in this country.
And every time Dr. King made a decision, he -- that weighed very heavily on him. Who would pay with their lives for today's encounter?
ANDERSON: Despite the sacrifices that many, including Belafonte, made, he says the film is also a story about the power of nonviolent resistance.
Civilian-led calls for change that are again sweeping the world.
BELAFONTE: I think what's going on in North Africa, what's going on in the Middle East, has frustrated people for a -- certainly for over ten years since the start of Afghanistan. And I think that people are just tired of killing and murder and inordinate sums of money being spent on these wars of great, tragic proportions.
What for me is very interesting is what's going on in Tunisia and Cairo and other parts of the world where there's this nonviolent rebellion by young people everywhere saying, "We have had enough with banks and trade policies and money manipulation at the detriment of our own existence."
And now, here in the United States, that theme has been picked up.
BELAFONTE: I think those of us who have come from a history of struggle have a role to play where we can give instructions, ideas, and thoughts on what we did that gave us kind of a successful conclusion to our missions.
ANDERSON: Belafonte is well-practices in mobilizing the masses. Over the years, he's campaigned against the war in Iraq, AIDS, and hunger, even organizing the Grammy award-winning song, "We Are the World."
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: In about one minute's time, at 7:50, everybody in the world is going to be playing the same song.
(MUSIC - "WE ARE THE WORLD")
ANDERSON: But in his bid to unite, Belafonte's comments have at times been divisive. He once referred to Colin Powell as a "house slave" and described President George W. Bush as the "greatest tyrant in the world." He remains outspoken about the former US administration.
BELAFONTE: But I don't think we should have gone to war, killing hundreds of thousands of people, especially in what we did right after Afghanistan, and what we did with Iraq. That war was totally manufactured by American mischief.
ANDERSON: At the age of 84, Belafonte is still making his voice heard. Just like the civil rights movement of the 1960s, he believes the Occupy campaign has the power to become a definitive movement in history, for a nation, for the world, and for President Barack Obama.
BELAFONTE: What he had promised in his campaign was that we were going to find a difference, we were going to feel a difference, we're going to see a difference. And that has not yet happened.
What I think is still a possibility is that this nonviolent movement by all these young people will, in the first instance here in America, bring an energy to the political debate and the political table and begin to make the kind of noise that can inspire Barack Obama, because he has found a new constituency to help guide him to other political solutions.
All he's been hearing here is from the right wing and from the Tea Party, and a lot of people who do not mean the world well. Not by any stretch of the imagination.
And what Barack found absent in his space was he didn't hear the voice of America. Nobody was saying very much until the emergence of these young people, challenging the state.
I think this might, especially during this election period, give Barack Obama the tools with which to campaign more vigorously about changing policy.
VERJEE: This just coming in moments ago to CNN. The Super Committee in the United States has officially failed to reach a deal on budget cuts. We will be bring you more in a moment. They have just issued a statement. We will share that with you when we have it.
You're watching CONNECT THE WORLD right here on CNN. Next up, we're on the move into the future. Meet the man turning the designs of our imagination into reality as we kick off our special week-long series on transportation.
VERJEE: Planes, trains, and automobiles, classic modes of transport that get you from A to B. But for one eccentric designer, the future of travel is a combination of speed, art, and vision.
All this week on CONNECT THE WORLD, we take a look at the whole world of transportation. Ayesha Durgahee went to meet Luigi Colani.
AYESHA DURGAHEE, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): For the last 60 years, this engineer, designer, and inventor has conjured up magical ideas about the future of transport.
DURGAHEE (on camera): Is it a challenge for you to keep up-to-date?
LUIGI COLANI, ENGINEER AND CONCEPT ARTIST: I'm not keeping up-to- date, I am 20 years ahead, Mama Mia! Look at this stuff that's standing around here!
DURGAHEE (voice-over): At the Triennale Design Museum in Milan, Italy, Professor Luigi Colani's work is being celebrated. Now over 80 years old, he claims to have designed thousands of objects, most notably within the transport industry. All bear the Colani trademark streamlined forms inspired by nature.
COLANI: I'm a diver. I spend an enormous amount of my life underwater, and as water is 800 times thicker than air, you can imagine how the shapes look underwater. I got inspiration over inspiration over inspiration.
This is a plane copied on the shark. My main word that I'm always telling students, go back to go forward. 215 million years old, the most modern plane in history.
DURGAHEE: Colani wants to spread his design philosophy, traveling to countries that drive the global economy, such as India and Russia. A professor at several Chinese universities, Colani hopes to influence those who will change the 22nd century, although he is frustrated by what he calls slow progress.
COLANI: China is another thing. They have super technicians that came back from all over the world to China when China got rich, so they have some technology, but they are not interested in the future, so they're out of the game at the moment. As far as technology is concerned, Germany beats them all with a left hand, yes?
DURGAHEE: Next year, rather like an engineering rock star, Colani goes on tour with his turbine truck. Aerodynamic curves and elliptical lines reduce fuel consumption. First developed in the 1980s, today the turbine truck still looks more futuristic than any of its rivals.
COLANI: I'm not a designer. I am an engineer, a conceptional artist turned designer by necessity, because when I design a technical thing, like a fast-going car, I have to do the shape later, and that's where design comes in, but mixed with aerodynamics. Design is nothing at all. Design is just ten percent Colani.
DURGAHEE: Ayesha Durgahee, CNN, Milan.
VERJEE: News just coming into CNN, the Super Committee in the United States has failed to reach a deal on budget cuts. Republicans and Democrats have been fighting for months. The blame game and the finger- pointing is already beginning. Let me just read you a little bit of the statement that's come in.
It says, "After months of hard work and intense deliberations, we have come to the conclusion today that it will not be possible to make any bipartisan agreement available to the public before the committee's deadline."
It goes on to say, "We end this process united in our belief that the nation's fiscal crisis must be addressed and that we cannot leave it for the next generation to solve."
It goes on saying, "We remain hopeful that Congress can build on this committee's work and find a way to tackle this issue in a way that works for the American people and our economy."
The American people have been so disillusioned by the Congress's inability to hammer out a deal on this. The whole Super Committee was set up in order for them to just come to terms, to an agreement on how to deal with the US economy.
The markets have been super nervous in anticipation of this ultimate decision that they just couldn't get it together. The markets around the world have been tanking, in the red all day. And now, there is going to be more partisan finger-pointing.
This failure essentially means that it's going to trigger an automatic system of cuts in the United States, both in Defense and Social Security. This is not the last we've heard of this.
In tonight's Parting Shots, an incredible scene in California. Just take a look at this video. A massive, gaping hole along a US highway.
After a weekend of heavy rain, a huge chunk of road in San Pedro collapsed. Thankfully, there were no injuries. The section of road had been closed for months as it began to buckle under the pressure of a slow- moving landslide.
But officials are taking no chances, insisting the area's really dangerous and keeping onlookers away with barricades and fencing.
I'm Zain Verjee. Thanks so much for watching. Up next, the world headlines and then, "BackStory" after this quick break. Stay with CNN.