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Egyptian Army Chooses New Prime Minister; Human Rights Abuses in Egypt; Nobel Peace Prize Winner Calls for Yemeni President's Resignation; Inquiry Into Media Ethics; American Samoa Finally Wins A Game; Gadhafi's Former Nanny Recovering in Malta; Lenny Kravitz Up Close; London's Bus Gets Makeover; Home for the Holidays

Aired November 24, 2011 - 16:00   ET


ZAIN VERJEE, HOST: Egypt's military leaders appoint a new prime minister. But despite political progress, tonight, more evidence of brutality that grips a country in chaos. How the story of a journalist beaten and detained by police unfolded live on social media.

It's 11:00 p.m. in Cairo, 9:00 p.m. here in London.

Hi. I'm Zane Verjee.

Also tonight out of hospital and putting the past behind her -- an update on the nanny who suffered abuse at the hands of the Gadhafi family.

And --


LENNY KRAVITZ, MUSICIAN: I went to school at seven years of age with a peace sign drawn on my head with love of peace written, you know, and love on my hand.


VERJEE: How rocker Lenny Kravitz is hitting back at racism through his music.

First, a new government is taking shape in Egypt tonight. Military rulers promised that elections just days away will go ahead as planned. The military is also apologizing for the deaths of dozens of protesters over the past week, promising an investigation.

A tense truce and the military barricades kept the streets of Cairo relatively calm today. But protesters are gearing up for another Million Man Rally on Friday, many of them demanding nothing less than the immediate resignation of the military ruling council. The army's apparent new choice for prime minister is Kamal Ganzoury. He knows the job, having served in that role in the late 1990s under Hosni Mubarak. This video is from 1996. That was the year of his inauguration.

Let's get the latest now from CNN's Ivan Watson, who's monitoring events from Cairo tonight -- Ivan, is he a good choice?

And is this going to pacify protesters?

IVAN WATSON, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, we've got to be a little careful about this, Zain. So far, the spokesman for the ruling military council is telling us that Kamal Ganzoury has been basically asked to be the new prime minister. But this spokesman has gone a step beyond reality in the past. We don't know if this man has accepted that request. We've haven't heard this from other sources, either. So we have to treat this with a little bit of caution.

The important thing to note is that two days ago, the civilian government here resigned. And nobody in the crowd behind us really gave a damn. They didn't care about the civilian government. They're calling on Marshal Mohamed Tantawi, the head of the military council, to resign. That's the focus of the anger and the hatred right now. They want the generals to go back to the barracks, even though, today, the military council made a very unusual apology for the loss of life. At least 38 people killed in Cairo and at least two other cities. Cairo has been calmer today. The crowds have not left. The defiance is -- and we're getting reports of ongoing violence in other Egyptian cities now, as we speak, in the northern city of Alexandria.

So the political situation is still quite tense, with elections just a few days away, the first days of parliamentary elections -- Zain.

VERJEE: Ivan, thanks.

Egyptians risked their lives in the Arab Spring to overthrow Hosni Mubarak's police state. He may be gone, but the police brutality is not. Another reminder of that today comes from American Egyptian journalist, Mona Eltahawy. She says she was beaten and sexually assaulted by security forces after being arrested near Tahrir Square. Eltahawy documented her ordeal on Twitter.


VERJEE: As horrific as her experience was, says her U.S. citizenship likely spared her from even worse treatment. She sat down and talked with Ivan Watson today.

He joins us again from Cairo -- Ivan, what else did she tell you?

WATSON: Well, she says this is the reason why this revolution is taking place, because of what she claims is the impunity with which the security forces acts here against Egyptian citizens.

Take a listen to her firsthand account of what happened when she says she was arrested in the early pre-dawn hours this morning, grabbed, basically, by a group of riot police near the barricades.

Take a listen.


MONA ELTAHAWY, JOURNALIST: I was surrounded by four or five riot police who just beat the heck out of me with their sticks. And then they dragged me to the side -- inside the barricade now, into no man's land and started to sexually assault me. They broke my breast, put their hands in between my legs. I lost count of the number of hands that tried to get into my belt. I'm looking -- pulling hands out from my belt and just saying, "No, no." And trying to push them away, but being -- the beatings continued as I was trying to push them away, as I was trying to push their hands away. And they were dragging me by my hair to the ministry, because the ministry is a few minutes away.

And I just -- there's only one way I can describe it, is just like a bunch of just wild beasts kind of finding their prey, because I mean these -- these riot police guys were just out of control. And it was extremely -- it was horrifying and traumatic.

And it didn't stop when they took me just outside of the interior ministry, because they continued groping me along the way. It was like I -- I was fair game. Anyone I passed who wanted to grope me would grope me.


WATSON: Now, Zain, at some points there, Mona Eltahawy told me, she said she was afraid she would be raped. Eventually, she was taken into the Ministry of Interior Re -- Interior, where she was questioned and later she was transferred to an army base in the north of Cairo, where she said she was blindfolded for hours and interrogated, one of the questions being what was her identity. She wasn't carrying her passports while covering the riots that were taking place.

She has been released now. Her arms -- one of her arms is broken and one of her hands is broken.

We contacted the ministry of interior here. The spokesman said that this is not the kind of behavior that the police have against journalists and against women, but there may have been what he described as an isolated incident.

And an army colonel that we talked to in the morals department said, basically, well, what do you think will happen?

If you're in the middle of a battle zone without a passport, you could be a spy. These were the army colonel's words to us about the treatment of this woman.

We have to point out, a number of people have been arrested over the course of the past day's disturbances. Another Egyptian-American journalist and filmmaker, award-winning filmmaker, Jehane Noujaim, is still believed to be in police custody after she was detained or arrested last night -- Zain.

VERJEE: Ivan Watson reporting from Cairo.

Police brutality isn't the only common thread between the current regime and Hosni Mubarak's. The much hated emergency law is still in place and civilians are still being tried in military courts by the thousands.

Let's talk about all of this with Dalia Ziada, the regional director of the American Islamic Congress.

She's also a blogger and a human rights activist who's been named one of the 150 most influential women in the world by "Newsweek" magazine.

Thanks for joining us.


VERJEE: Are the human rights abuses under the military leadership worse than under Hosni Mubarak?

ZIADA: Police brutality is not -- is not changing. They are the same. They are even getting back worse. What I am hearing from one all the day long and what I have seen with other colleagues who has been arrested, like Maikel Nabil and who are now being tried for things they have written on their Twitter account or Facebook under the military regime, is -- is really -- is really scary to everyone.

What's happening these days from the police shows us that they are coming back to take revenge from the Egyptian people. They want to show the protesters who were able to bring them down, because, actually, in -- in -- in January, we did not only bring Mubarak down, but we also broke the brutality of the police.

Now, they are coming back to take revenge and say we are still here, we can kill you.

One of the young police officers in Tahrir Square the day before was shooting the activists' right in his -- in their eyes.

VERJEE: Why is --

ZIADA: So --

VERJEE: -- why is it --


VERJEE: -- why is it that the military police is behaving this way when back in February, they were such huge champions of the people?

ZIADA: Now, I think the military does not want to leave our right away. I don't -- I don't really say they have like -- they want to stay here forever, but they -- they need to stay here at least until they have their work arranged and have any open files closed before they give bow to a civilian leader.

So I think they are happy with what's happening now in Tahrir Square from all the violence and clashes that are going between the young people, on one side, and the police forces on the other side, because it's a good justification for them to provide for -- for the public to say, well, there is violence, we cannot leave now. And today, one leader, a general in the military council said this in the press conference today. He said, "The history will consider us traitors if we left Egypt now in this violence."

So I think they are happy with the situation. That's why they don't want to interfere heavily.

While the police is brutal on -- on the ground in dealing with the people, I think the military is also brutal on the political ground. They are actually very playing with -- with all the political parties and everyone like pieces of chess, if I'm not exaggerating. You know, they are just moving everything the way they want --


ZIADA: -- and the people are very angry about this.

VERJEE: Dalia Ziada, the regional director of the American Islamic Congress.

Thank you so much.

Egypt's political future is still very much in flux tonight. How well it all goes over with protesters should be a little clearer tomorrow, when massive crowds are once again expected in the streets for what's being called a Million Man Rally.

You're watching CONNECT THE WORLD live from London.

Still to come, Harry Potter author, J.K. Rowling, tells a British inquiry how a tabloid reporter tried to get to her through her 5 -year-old daughter.

Plus, holding out for a miracle -- after 30 straight defeats, a moment of glory for the lowest ranked team in world football.

And the heartbreaking story of a former Gadhafi family nanny who survived brutal torture -- a progress report from Malta on how Shweyga Mullah is doing right now.

Stay with CNN.


VERJEE: You're watching CONNECT THE WORLD here on CNN.

Here's a look now at some of the other stories connecting our world this hour.

A deal for Yemen's president to resign has not stopped the violence on the streets of Sanaa. Demonstrators came under fire from pro-government supporters as they marched toward the city center today. Doctors say at least five people were killed. Protesters are furious that the deal for President Ali Abdullah Saleh to give up power also gives him immunity from prosecution.

One of this year's Nobel Peace Prize winners had been leading calls for the president's resignation. Now some are calling for Tawakkol Karman to run for president herself.

She spoke last month with CNN's Elise Labott.


ELISE LABOTT, CNN CORRESPONDENT: I saw a Facebook page and it says Tawakkol Karman for president.


LABOTT: Are you interested?

KARMAN: I admired Mahatma Gandhi and Martin Luther King. And they didn't become presidents.

LABOTT: If the people want you.

KARMAN: Not the people want you, because all of them, they want that. They said Tawakkol, you have to be our president. They said that. But if there is no solution, neither that I have to be there, I have to serve my country, maybe I will like this.


VERJEE: The leaders of the Eurozone's two largest economies have held debt talks with Italy's new prime minister, Mario Monti. German Chancellor Angela Merkel and the French president, Nicolas Sarkozy, want to change European Union treaties to force countries to stick to EU budgets. They say they will do whatever it takes to save the euro.


NICOLAS SARKOZY, FRENCH PRESIDENT (through translator): We are determined, as the three big economies of the Eurozone, to do all to support and guarantee the sustainability of the euro. Us as the three foremost economies are determined to work for the good of the euro.



ANGELA MERKEL, GERMAN CHANCELLOR (through translator): The situation is not easy. Trust has been lost. And that is why it is important that we demonstrate that we trust each other, that everyone does their homework. And that is the reason why we, Germany and France, want to work on treaty change for the Eurozone. We have to make clear that we want to take steps in the direction of a fiscal union to express our belief that politics have to be coordinated when you have a common stable currency.


VERJEE: More than 20 bodies have been found in the Mexican city of Guadalajara. They were dumped in abandoned vehicles near a busy intersection. The state attorney general says a message was found with the bodies, but he didn't reveal what it said. The discovery has raised fears that drug violence could be on the rise in the city.

CNN host Piers Morgan, who is the former editor of a British newspaper, "The Daily Mail," has been called to testify at an inquiry into media ethics. Morgan has confirmed that he will appear at the government ordered hearing. Actress Sienna Miller and Harry Potter author, J.K. Rowling, both gave evidence in London today, detailing media intrusion they say left them feeling trapped and scared, as Atika Shubert reports.


ATIKA SHUBERT, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, they heard from a number of public figures at the inquiry today. Perhaps the most well-known was J.K. Rowling, the author of Harry Potter books and who very famously keeps her private family life private.

She explained how she was driven out of her home by the press when they published details of her home address in the newspapers. And she also described how her children became targets, describing one incident where her 5-year-old daughter came home from school with a handwritten note from a journalist slipped unknowingly into her backpack.

J.K. Rowling told the inquiry that this was a step too far.


J.K. ROWLING, AUTHOR: And this doesn't apply to the whole of the press, but the attitude seems to be utterly cavalier, indifference, what does it matter?

You're famous. You're asking for it.


SHUBERT: Now, many of the people who testified today have had serious run- ins with the tabloids, including actress Sienna Miller. She, of course, has been targeted by much of the -- the tabloids for her on and off again relationship with Jude Law. She described how she was terrified by paparazzi that surround her car and how many of her friendships were damaged because she thought they were leaking details to the press, when, in fact, we now know that her voice-mails had, in fact, been hacked by the British tabloids.

Now, we also heard from ex-Formula 1 boss, Max Mosley, what he described as a, quote, "private party with enthusiasts," "The News of the World" published as an article with the headline, "Not the Orgy With Five Hookers."

This was something that he said was false. He said there was no Nazi theme to this private party, but that this article essentially ruined much of his life. And he blamed it, in part, for the drug overdose of his son. And he said, this is a problem of the press going too far.


MAX MOSLEY, FORMER FORMULA 1 PRESIDENT: Well, I think the story -- the law is very clear. And I think it's quite right that if it's private, it's adult and it's consensual, then it concerns nobody else.


SHUBERT: Now this ends simply the first week of testimony from witnesses in the inquiry. There are still many more to come, including some of the reporters and editors who have been accused of using these so-called dirty tactics in the British tabloid press.

Atika Shubert, CNN, London.


VERJEE: All flights in and out of Portugal were canceled on Thursday as a general strike caused chaos for the country's transport network. The strike over austerity measures came as ratings agency Fitch downgrade Portugal's debt to junk status. In the capital, Lisbon, the metro was shut down and only a handful of buses were running.

You're watching CONNECT THE WORLD live from London.

Coming up, tasting victory for the very first time -- the 90 minutes that rewrote history for the team dubbed the worst in the world.


VERJEE: Welcome back.

They were dubbed the worst football team on the planet. But Thursday was truly a historic day for American Samoa. The side that had lost in every international game they had ever played finally scraped a wing against Tonga, the first in their 17 year history. It was the most shocking result for the Pacific Islanders since their record breaking 31-0 loss to Australia in 2001. Coach Thomas Rongen


THOMAS RONGEN, AMERICAN SAMOA COACH: This is really part of soccer history, just like the 31-0 against Australia is part of history.


VERJEE: For more on this, I'm joined by "WORLD SPORT'S" Patrick Snell from CNN Center -- Patrick, are these guys really the worst team in the world?

And what happened?

What went right this time?

PATRICK SNELL, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, I think, you know, maybe a hint of offside there on one of their girls. But, no, just kidding. We'll let that go.

Look, I think, Zain, it's fair, if you lose every game you play at this level, then, yes, in many people's eyes, you are the worst team in the world.

Let me give you a little bit of context, though, a little bit more about makeup, the breakdown, the population, if you like, of American Samoa.

It's a tiny, tiny U.S. territory located in the South Pacific, about halfway between Hawaii and New Zealand. There's a little geographic context for you there.

It's 199 square kilometers, made up of seven islands and home and -- this is the population bit -- to more than 67,000 people. So try picking a team of the highest quality from that very small, Spartan number, if you like.

Football, though, footie, a huge part of their culture. The men's team has played internationally for nearly two decades. So they do have pedigree. They do have a bit of background when it comes to that.

But they did lose, as we say, the first 30 matches they played. But now, of course, it's a whole new era.

What's next?

A draw?

Another win?

We shall see.

I do want to say congratulations. Let's let them enjoy this, Zain. It's quite an achievement.

VERJEE: Patrick, dare to dream.

Well, you know, this is probably a massive talking point online, as well


VERJEE: What are people saying?

SNELL: Yes, the Tweets and everything else really triggering a huge storm on the -- on the old social media. I like this cheeky, cheeky little Tweet from Pete Sinclair saying, Chelsea fans, leave the room right now. This is what he said: "Almost Samoa have finally won a football match. I didn't see it, but I can only assume they played Chelsea."

Hmmm, a little dig there at Chelsea's recent relatively poor runner form.

And my good friend, "Sports Illustrated" writer, Grant Wahl, writing: "American Samoa and Samoa died for dead last in the FIFA rankings. Both win World Cup qualifiers. Samoan derby Saturday could get crazy."

And then this from Luke Orpin from the United Kingdom. He's getting very excited right now. He Tweeted: "I'm backing American Samoa to win the next World Cup."

I think maybe Luke losing a little bit of perspective there. But great to see they've got that win under their belt. And, as I say, I'm sure the celebrations will be continuing right through the weekend and beyond -- Zain.

VERJEE: How does it look for them in the future?

Can they keep it up -- or is just -- is this just one in million?

SNELL: Well, you know, we -- we, you know, in some circles, judging by those Tweets, there's a little bit of a light-hearted element to all this. But not for those players. You know, they sweat blood and guts and gore. They give their all when they're on the field of play. And this is a huge breakthrough for them. None of them, of course, are what you'd call household names, but the coaching staff will be saying, look, boys, we've proved we can win. It wasn't the biggest scout in the world, of course, and they're going to have to have huge challenges ahead.

But they've got to build on this now. They've got a good crop of young players they've got the perfect climate, at times, to actually perfect their training in. I think it's just a question of look, let's not get carried away, but at the same time, let's use this as a forward stepping stone. And who knows what may come in the future?

We'll be seeing -- back to you.

VERJEE: Go, American Samoa.

Patrick Snell, thanks a lot.

Still to come on CNN, it was a story that outraged many of you -- Shweyga, the nanny repeatedly burned by a member of Mahmoud Gadhafi's family. We've got an update on her new life on a Mediterranean island.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It's time for "Run for Your Money" with Desmond Richie and the Fast Freaks.

And now here's your host --


VERJEE: And the red icon that's turning green. Getting from A to B in London is about to move into the 21st century -- finally.


VERJEE: You're watching CONNECT THE WORLD on CNN. Time now for a quick check on the world headlines.

An Egyptian army spokesman says Kamal Ganzouri has agreed to become the new prime minister. He served in that role under Hosni Mubarak in the late 1990s. Protesters are demanding an end to any army influence over the government.

Medics in Yemen report five deaths during protests in Sana'a. They say pro-government gunmen fired on the demonstrators. A government minister denies it. The violence in protest come a day after President Ali Abdullah Saleh agreed to transfer power to the vice president.

The leaders of France, Germany and Italy say that they've agreed not to expand the European Central Bank's world in taming the debt crisis. More bad news on the bond front, meanwhile. Rates on Italian 10-year notes rose above 7 percent. And Germany's crept up to 2.2 percent on Thursday.

More than 20 bodies were discovered Thursday in Guadalajara, Mexico. Police say the victims were found inside three vehicles abandoned on one of the main streets of the city.

Those are the headlines this hour.

We have a really important update for you tonight on the former nanny, tortured at the hands of Moammar Gadhafi's daughter-in-law in Libya. And just a warning, the following pictures are really graphic and you may find them disturbing.

CNN discovered Shweyga Mullah in a terrible state just months ago after anti-Gadhafi forces took Tripoli. She had extensive burns and she'd been locked away unable to get medical treatment. Shweyga told us how she'd been punished for refusing to beat one of Aline Gadhafi's crying children.


SHWEYGA MULLAH, FORMER GADHAFI FAMILY NANNY (Through Translator): She took me to a bathroom and she tied my hands behind my back and tied my feet. She taped my mouth. And she started pouring the boiling water on my head like this.


VERJEE: We can report Shweyga is now doing well. She's been getting medical treatment in Malta since September.

CNN's Dan Rivers first brought Shweyga's plight to the world's attention. He's just paid her a visit in Malta and found her on a journey to recovery.


DAN RIVERS, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT ((voice-over): A new life in Malta couldn't be further from the horrific torture she endured in Gadhafi's Libya. Enjoying a stroll in a mild winter's day, Shweyga Mullah is trying to put her terrible past behind her. She's out of the hospital and recovering fast.

As an outpatient, she needs to visit her doctor almost every day. It's here in the Malta Day Hospital that she has her dressings changed. Nurses also trimmed back her hair to stop the follicles getting infected.

This delicate procedure might look grim but Shweyga doesn't find it painful.

(On camera): With the help of the Maltese government, Shweyga is now getting the meticulous care that she needs. The doctors here say she is facing many more months of treatment.

MARY ROSE BONNICI, NURSE: She's making very much progress. It was discharging before and now it's getting drier and drier. But now it's good. It's very good. Even her hair is growing. She feels it's good anyway.

RIVERS (voice-over): This is how we found her abandoned in a Gadhafi family compound just after the liberation of Tripoli. Then she told me how she'd been scalded with boiling water. Poured over her head by Moammar Gadhafi's daughter-in-law Aline.

After our initial broadcast we were inundated with offers of help for Shweyga. It culminated in her being flown to Malta.

(On camera): A lot of people have given a lot of money to help you. What would you like to say to them?

(Voice-over): She says a profound thank you to everyone around the world who's helped her with the medical treatment and with the money they've sent. A huge thank you, she says.

The small Ethiopian community of Malta is rallying around Shweyga. Despite all she's been through, her smile lights up her face.

All people here were migrant workers in Gadhafi's regime, but left Libya before the war. Shweyga's story has touched them all.

(On camera): When you've heard her story, what was your reaction?

EMANUEL TSEGAY, FRIEND OF SHWEYGA MULLAH: My reaction was I feel very, very bad. I heard the story of water, and in fact I was crying that night. Maybe I was crying.

RIVERS (voice-over): I asked Shweyga whether she wants to go back to Ethiopia yet. She says she doesn't feel ready to face the scrutiny of friends and the questions about what happened. Her scars aren't just physical.


VERJEE: Dan Rivers is in Malta and joins us now live.

Dan, what was it like to meet her again, to talk to her, because you're the one who discovered her and brought her story to the attention of the whole world?

RIVERS: Well, it's great to see that she's making some real tangible progress now. And she's finally discharged from hospital, beginning to get a bit of an independence back. She got her little apartment her. She's beginning to get a small socialize with other Ethiopian sort of immigrants here.

But let's be clear. She's got a long way. As you can see from that interview, she's still very emotional about what happened to her. I think she's very keen at some point to see some sort of justice brought for her case. She would love one day to look Aline and Hannibal Gadhafi in the eye across a courtroom if that was ever possible.

And then there's also the issue of -- of her getting back to Ethiopia as I mentioned in that report. She would like to get back, not yet, I don't think she's ready yet. Partly because she's very self-conscious about she still looks. She feels that very concerned about that. But she's definitely keen to try and see her family soon.

VERJEE: Where is her family? Is anyone there with her from her family or are they all in Ethiopia?

RIVERS: They're all in Ethiopia and it's really frustrating, Zain. It's so bureaucratic and so much red tape. One of the problems is there's no Ethiopian embassy here in Malta to help facilitate visas and so on. They're doing a lot of hard work behind the scenes to try and make this happen.

And we're hoping, you know, we'll bring you the news once her family is able to get over here and see her. In particular she's very keen to see her brother who she's very close to and her parents are still alive. They're elderly but they're in Ethiopia.

She speaks to them regularly. She has phone contact with them so the main thing is they know that she's doing well. They know she's safe. They know she's out of Libya and I'm sure they can't wait to see her in the flesh once she gets back.

VERJEE: Dan, how did she react when she first saw you again?

RIVERS: Well, it's just fantastic smile that broke across her face. It was really great to see. She's a very modest, quiet, humble person and I think, you know, there is an element that she -- she kept on saying, why are you coming here to waste your time with me? Which, you know, just kind of blows you away with it.

She (INAUDIBLE) say remarks and she feels that her story in some ways isn't worth report or talking about, that she isn't worth reporting or talking about. But of course she is. She's so emblematic of what happened to so many other people in Libya.

And the fact that her injuries were caused not just by the regime, but actually by the daughter-in-law of Colonel Gadhafi himself, I think, is what's touched so many people around the world. But they feel that she really is the embodiment of all that was awful and horrific in Gadhafi's Libya.

VERJEE: CNN's Dan Rivers in Malta. Thanks so much, Dan. Great job.

We just wanted to take a moment, too, to say a huge thank you to you, the viewers, because when we first aired Shweyga's story, so many of you wanted to know what you could do to help her. You opened your hearts and your wallets, and so far, $40,000 has been raised for Shweyga's medical cost.

But more than that, you offered her your love, your prayers, your support. Here are just some of the messages from those who donated. And we just wanted to share them with you.

Akalu from the U.S. writes, "Thank you for showing the world your inner strength and beauty under these horrible circumstances. Your dignity and manner makes all Ethiopians proud."

Another contributor, Milena, says, "Please know that there are people out there who will not forget you, who wish you continued strength for your healing and who hope that you will be one day able to put this behind you and find joy in life."

If you want to contribute as well, just log on to If you go there, you're going to find a link to a page set up by Anti-Slavery International specifically to help Shweyga. Again, that's

You're watching CONNECT THE WORLD on CNN.

Still to come, Lenny Kravitz opening up about racism but there is one issue that's got him totally stomped.


LENNY KRAVITZ, MUSICIAN: Wow. That's a really -- no one has ever asked me that question before.


VERJEE: Find out what our Becky Anderson asked the rock star just after this break. Stay with CNN.


VERJEE: Giant floating balloons in New York City. That's a sight that can only mean one thing. The U.S. is celebrating Thanksgiving. Floats and marching bands, they were all on show in Manhattan for the Annual Macy's Day Parade which even in its 85th year can still pull a huge crowd.

You're watching CONNECT THE WORLD live from London. Welcome back.

The parade has become a Thanksgiving tradition in the U.S., so too a turkey dinner. And that's something that Americans serving in Afghanistan and Iraq were also lining up to enjoy today. Seventy-six tons of Turkey were delivered to the troops who also received a special mention from Barack Obama.

The U.S. president's Thanksgiving speech paying tribute to those who give to others.


BARACK OBAMA, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: This sense of mutual responsibility, the idea that I'm my brother's keeper, that I'm my sister's keeper has always been part of what makes our country special. And it's one of the reasons that Thanksgiving tradition has endured.


VERJEE: Gratitude, compassion, cooperation -- these are all the values celebrated on Thanksgiving and promoted by the rock star in tonight's "Big Interview."

Becky Anderson sat down with Lenny Kravitz before he headed it off on tour where he's using his music to spread a message of tolerance.


BECKY ANDERSON, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): He can rock us out with hits like "American Woman."


ANDERSON: Make us swoon with ballads like "I'll Be Waiting."

(MUSIC) ANDERSON: And call us to action, most recently spearheading a concert to aid victims of the Gulf oil spill.

When Lenny Kravitz sings, he's got something to say. And now after a three-year hiatus from the recording studio, the Grammy Award-winning rock star has released his ninth album, "Black and White America."


ANDERSON (on camera): Lenny, your album has been described as an assessment on sort of progress on social racial issues. And you're from a mixed family yourself.

KRAVITZ: Yes, right.

ANDERSON: Is that something that you did intentionally?

KRAVITZ: I didn't do it intentionally. It was -- the song "Black and White America" was written as a rebuttal to a documentary that I'd seen where there were this group -- this group of Americans and basically they were saying they were very unhappy with where America had gone. And that this was not their America. That they wanted it to go back to from what they described sounded like 100 years.


KRAVITZ: And that Obama would be assassinated and they had plans. And this is on a documentary. And they were so full of hate and rage and ignorance, and I thought, wow, like, we all know that racism exist. OK. That's one thing. But to hear people speaking like that in the way that I saw them speaking, even -- you know, it took me kind of back for a second.

And so I wrote this song as an answer to them. I mean to them, in my world. And then this one about sort of the things that I remembered about my parents. What they'd gone through and just what I went through as a biracial child.

This is the first "Black and White America" final edition.

ANDERSON (voice-over): Kravitz went back to his mother's homeland to finish the album, leaving for about a year in the Bahamas.

(On camera): What sort of influence did the Bahamas have on your creative thinking as it were?

KRAVITZ: It was very important because I didn't realize how much I needed to go away and reflect, decompress, take in some simple, simple life. You know I live in old (INAUDIBLE) trailer on the beach and you know I eat out in the garden. And I have an organic garden and fish out of the sea. And it's super basic. No money, no keys, no technology. And you have to deal with yourself.

ANDERSON: You used on the album cover a picture of you as a boy with a peace symbol.


ANDERSON: On your forehead. Why did you choose to use that particular image?

KRAVITZ: I was actually looking through some family albums of a friend when I was in Paris finishing the album. And he just looked at it, and said, that should be your album cover. And I looked at it, I looked at it, I really thought it represented who that boy was at that time, "Black and White America."

It shows that I've always been into peace and love. This was not something that just started 22 years ago with "Let Love Rule." This has always been my attitude. And it was also confirming for me to see that, to look at that and go, wow, I went to school at 7 years of age with a peace sign drawn on my head with love or peace written here and love on my hand. I mean, that's who I was.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: All right. Let's get the goose going, the crows crowing. And the hens are hoeing.

ANDERSON (voice-over): And the new album reflects who Kravitz remains today. A musician who effortlessly mixed two genres.

(On camera): It's a conscious choice of yours, is it, to mix out musical genres?

KRAVITZ: It just happened. It's not something that I even think about. I mean I grow up listening to so much different music and I love so many different styles of music. It's very difficult for me to make an album that stays in one genre. I've tried it. I said, OK, this is the album that make a rock album, it's going to stay right there. And as, you know, I started to go, one or two songs, it starts to branch out, I can never stay on one path, which is great because why anyway?

ANDERSON: If you had to choose just one instrument to play, what would it be?

KRAVITZ: If I had to choose one, I guess it would be guitar. Just because you can accompany yourself on it. I mean as you can the piano, but I'd have to say that drums is my favorite instrument.

ANDERSON: Tell me about Lenny at home on a Saturday night.

KRAVITZ: Anytime I'm home I like to take it easy. I like to have good friends over. Family, cook, listening to music, talk, laugh. Simplicity. For me being at home is like a holiday.

ANDERSON: Who was Lenny in his 20s?

KRAVITZ: Men, full speed ahead. Not -- I mean blinders on. Absolutely blinders. Music. Doing my thing. Get out of my way.

ANDERSON: So who's Lenny in his 40s?

KRAVITZ: The blinders are off. I'm open to seeing a lot more than I would have wanted to again. Really practicing, enjoying every moment, every breath, because each one is really precious.

ANDERSON: Last question from one of our viewers in Zambia. We had loads of questions but they're very much in the spirit of what I've been asking today. What would you like your epitaph to read?

KRAVITZ: Wow. That's a really -- no one has ever asked me that question before. But I would suppose that just -- you know, a person who's authentic to himself.


VERJEE: Lenny Kravitz speaking to Becky Anderson.

You're watching CONNECT THE WORLD on CNN.

When we come back taking the fuss out of taking the bus. A London icon moved into the 21st century finally after this short break.


VERJEE: Welcome back. All this week our "On the Move" series is looking at the future of travel. In Britain, an iconic bus is making a makeover just in time for the London Olympics.

Atika Shubert checked out plans for the new Routemaster.


ATIKA SHUBERT, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): This king of the road is called the Routemaster. It first appeared on the streets of the capital in the 1950s and soon became one of London's most recognizable icons.

THOMAS HEATHERWICK, DIRECTOR, HEATHERWICK STUDIO: It was 50 years ago that the Routemaster bus was designed. The Routemaster is no longer an appropriate most efficient bus in London.

SHUBERT: Thomas Heatherwick wants to redefine London's buses with an international reputation for inventive and playful work, his practice blends sculptor with engineering.

In 2010 the Heatherwick Studios created a dramatic structure for the UK Pavilion at the Shanghai Art Expo. Made from thousands of acrylic rods with plant seeds at every tip. Turning the most common-place public transport vehicle into a work of art proved to be an equally challenging feat.

In collaboration with vehicle manufacturers, the Wrightbus Group, a double- decker with a difference is becoming a reality.

HEATHERWICK: One of the biggest changes to the current buses is, is that they tend to over lit with fluorescent tubes. Quite bright white light doesn't make people look at their best, and that's what's tends to be used to illuminate a piggery, you know, an industrial farm factory. And introducing some of the lighting techniques that are now more used within interior environments which is small lights and warmth -- I mean it's a very simple thing that we think will make a very big difference.

SHUBERT: Improving the passengers' experience was a critical consideration in the design process.

HEATHERWICK: There are all sorts of different requirements now, wanting mothers with buggies, wanting to be able to get wheelchair uses in, needing to get maximum efficiency of people getting in and out of that bus quickly at bus stops.

The new bus has three doors and that means that you can get all the passengers on and off more quickly. The two staircases mean that people can circulate more quickly within the environment, and that means you're more likely to get a bud that is on time because it's not waiting as huge queues are getting in and out of it.

SHUBERT: And the red bus is greener than all the others with a 40 percent improvement in engine efficiency.

HEATHERWICK: When that bus is stopped, it's using no energy whatsoever. It means it hasn't got that kind of shuddering bus, you know, when you're sitting in the bus and you can feel that thing, the pole is shaking, it's going to be much quieter and calmer.

SHUBERT: The prospect of a calm commute to work is one to relish in a bustling city of 12 million people. Passengers can look forward to getting on board the new buses early next year.

Atika Shubert, CNN, London.


VERJEE: For many Americans celebrating the Thanksgiving holiday, it's all about spending time with family. And tonight's "Parting Shot," we really want you to meet two school kids from Colorado. They faced another Thanksgiving without their dad who's serving in the military in Afghanistan.

But as Chris Vanderveen reports, in class this week, they learned a lesson about what it truly means to be thankful.


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: There's tons going on. Tons of people here.

CHRIS VANDERVEEN, 9NEWS REPORTER: It's hard not to think about it. Especially now.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I feel like so many people forget about what's going on right now.

VANDERVEEN: Especially on a day like today at Trailblazer Elementary, a day when kids were openly encouraged to bring a parent or a grandparent.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I've seen them in their ups and their downs. And I've seen the kids just miss their dad.

VANDERVEEN: Cheri Louis is a good friend of Brooklyn and AJ's mom.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Brooklyn said that her hero was her daddy. Because he was keeping us safe.

VANDERVEEN: Dad's gone, overseas working Army intelligence in Afghanistan.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: He's missed so much this last year by being gone. He's missed birthdays and pinewood derbies and school plays.

VANDERVEEN: Four hundred days of those kinds of days.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I really don't know all the plan.


VANDERVEEN: So maybe it's a good thing that dad somehow managed to get out on an earlier flight. Two days before Thanksgiving, Sergeant Andrew Merino is home.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: This is the best Thanksgiving in the entire world. Thank you.

SGT. ANDREW MERINO, FATHER: Something you think about every day while you're gone. And it's the -- you know, it's what gets you through the next day and the day after that. In my opinion they're the true heroes. The mothers, the fathers that stay behind the kids.

VANDERVEEN: Chris Vanderveen, 9News.


VERJEE: I'm Zain Verjee. Thanks so much for watching us.

Up next, the "WORLD HEADLINES" and "BACKSTORY." We're also going to leave you with some uplifting pictures of U.S. troops arriving home in time for the Thanksgiving holiday.