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Violence Continues In Syria Despite Presence of Arab League Observers; North Korea Announces No Change in Policy Towards South Korea; Italian Football Coach Moves to France; Update in the Middle East; Japan Post Tsunami; The Biggest Interviews of 2011

Aired December 30, 2011 - 16:00   ET


BECKY ANDERSON, CNN INTERNATIONAL ANCHOR: As thousands of protesters send one of their strongest signals yet to Syria's president, this --


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE (via translator): We only have rice to eat, and not even every day. Bashar al Assad is killing our children.


ANDERSON: The story of despair and desperation the Syrian regime doesn't want you to hear. An exclusive insight tonight into the harsh realities of life inside the conflict zone.

Live from London, I'm Becky Anderson. Also tonight, how Al Qaeda could be trying to fill the security vacuum left in Libya.

And keeping mum then just as she's keeping mum now. Beyonce talks. My look back at some of our biggest interviews of the year.

First up this evening, determined to show the world the strength of their revolution, tens of thousands of Syrians flood the streets to some of the biggest protests we've seen in the country so far.




Opposition activists call these nationwide rallies a "Crawl to Freedom Square." They are encouraging people to leave small neighborhood protests and join mass rallies, crawling to the public square if necessary to avoid sniper bullets. This rally you're seeing here took place in Homs, one of the cities being monitored by Arab League observers.

Now, the observers are another flashpoint as well. From Itlib in the north to Daraa in the south, their mission hasn't been to stop the violence that we are now seeing every single day in Syria. Opposition activists report at least 35 deaths this Friday across the country.

You will be aware that along with other news networks, we cannot report from Syria, so CNN's Mohammed Jamjoom is live for us once again in Cairo tonight as he has been now for many a night. Mohammed, do we have any idea at this stage what the observers are likely to report from this mission?

MOHAMMED JAMJOOM, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Becky, we've been trying repeatedly to get in touch with the observers that are on the ground there in the various cities in Syria, and we've not been able to reach them.

What's interesting, though, is there are more and more videos emerging purporting to these observers as they walk around various cities and discuss things with various people there now. One video from today purports to show a scene in the city of Daraa, which you mentioned just a few minutes ago. It's reportedly shows one of these observers wearing the orange vest and white hat with the Arab League logo on it getting into a bit of a confrontation with somebody off camera. It seems like a resident there.

And the observer is saying that he has seen snipers, that he has seen snipers on rooftops there, that they have notified the authorities that this is unacceptable, and that they are going to report this to the Arab League, and that if it isn't dealt with within 24 hours that other measures will be taken.

Another video to tell you about, also for Daraa, an interesting one in that it reportedly shows another member of the Arab League monitoring mission discussing the case of a man there who says he was tortured. The man shows his back, says that there are marks on his back, clear indications of torture that happened to him from Syrian security forces.

So even though we haven't been able to speak to these monitors that are on the ground and find out exactly what they're reporting back to Arab League or discussing with the Syrian government, so many of these videos are posting showing what appears to be scenes of them on the ground there and their mission. Becky?

ANDERSON: Mohammed, remind our viewers, who may not have been watching events moment by moment in Syria this as perhaps you have been, just how many observers there are on the ground, how long this mission lasts, and what the point was at the end of the day.

JAMJOOM: Becky, the point at the end of the day was to reduce the level of violence there. The protocol that was signed between the Syrian government and the Arab League was for these monitors to come in and have this observation mission and to make sure that the Syrian military withdrew from towns and villages across Syria to make sure that detainees were released, to make sure that violence was stopped.

But what we've heard repeatedly this past week is that violence seems to be on the increase. We've heard report after report of violence happening even in towns where these monitors are visiting. We've seen videos that purport to show monitors walking around while gunfire is going on in other parts of the city. And even today in a city -- in a suburb of Damascus like Duma where observers have been, we've seen scenes purportedly showing violence there, clashes between security forces and protestors that are there on the ground.

So it really begs the question how effective is this monitoring mission. And the calls are getting louder and louder from the international community, from groups within Syria as to what exactly can this monitors' mission accomplish. If they're there and the violence isn't decreasing, when will it ever decrease, when will the crackdown stop? Becky?

ANDERSON: Yes, Mohammed Jamjoom in Cairo for you. I wish we didn't have to say "purportedly" every single time we show a video, but, as I say, because we can't get into the country as most international news networks are banned from the country at this point, we'll continue to have to say it. Mohammed Jamjoom there reporting for you from Cairo tonight.

Well, some western countries that have expressed concerns about the Arab League's mission. One of Syria's few remaining allies, it seems, seems satisfied so far. Russia today said the situation in Syria appears "reassuring," and I quote. This is a quick reminder then of how the international community itself across the board has responded to this Syrian crackdown on dissent.

The European Union imposed sanctions on the Assad regime. Then in August Saudi Arabia recalled its ambassador to the country. In October Russia and China vetoed the U.N. Security Council's resolution condemning the Syrian government while nine of the 15 member states voted in favor of it.

Now, last month, you may remember, the Arab League suspended Syria's membership and imposed economic sanctions. Jordan's King Abdullah also called on Syrian president Bashar al Assad to resign. And Turkey announcing sanctions against Syria at the same time. Then on Sunday members of the Arab League arrived in Syria to assess the situation on the ground.

While the worlds stands by and debates how to deal with Syria, the country edges ever closer to civil war.

This week we've been bringing you some quite remarkable reports exclusive to CNN. A freelance journalist and filmmaker managed to sneak into Homs, which is the heart of this uprising. We are not naming him for his own safety.

Yesterday he took us into a battle in Baba Amar. That's a neighborhood that possibly the first place in Syria beyond government control. His reports showed us how army defectors have won control of the streets through guerilla warfare.

Now, we also documented the sniper fire that's wreaking havoc on civilians. Government snipers have some of the area surrounded, making their venturing out to get daily necessities extremely dangerous for residents under siege.

Well, these conditions aren't just dangerous for the resident, of course, but also for the people behind the camera determined to show the world what the Syrian regime doesn't want you to see.

Tonight, the story of a young man whose courage cost him his life.

First though, another CNN exclusive report from the journalist who has slipped into Homs so you can see what's going on. Have a look at this.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: As I made my way to the rest of Homs, I passed the tanks that Bashar al Assad's regime is using to besiege neighborhoods that have become hotbeds of resistance. In one of those districts, al Holidiya (ph), snipers pose a direct threat to civilians. But the risk of being shot is just one of the problems they face. Trash is piling up on the streets. The fighting has led to a shutdown of basic services.

And while people are not starving, food is harder to find. These people have stood in a line for hours to get bread.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE (via translator): I have not eaten bread for 10 days. With all these check points and the constant shooting, it is almost impossible to move around.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The biggest problem is fuel. The winter here is harsh. The temperatures drop to around freezing almost every night. Some petrel and oil is sold on the black market. But there is not enough. Local people are forced to cut down city trees for firewood to stay warm. The shortages have only increased hatred for the regime.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE (via translator): We only have rice to eat, and not even every day. Bashar al Assad is killing our children. What kind of government is this supposed to be?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Amidst the destruction in this neighborhood, there is little medical care for the victims of snipers or indiscriminate shelling. People who could be saved with the right treatment are dying of their injuries.

This is a makeshift hospital in a secret location. When they arrived the doctor who did not want to be recognized, was treating two casualties.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE (via translator): We can only treat the wounded in our homes, and we can just do basic first aid here. The government hospitals are infiltrated by Assad militias who have kidnapped, harmed, and even killed the patients.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: While this makeshift clinic is fairly well-stocked, the setup is rudimentary. No x-ray machines, no life support machines. And the blood bags are in the refrigerator next to the groceries.

Those trying to save lives say there would be a great risk if they fell into the hands of the regime.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE (via translator): It is a big danger for me and my family. We are at risk of getting kidnapped, shot, and killed.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Those who can't be saved don't even receive a dignified burial. This was a funeral procession in al Alidiya. Instead of a family name, their loved ones dressed, only four people are allowed to take the coffin to the cemetery. Otherwise, they say, the funeral would come under fire.


ANDERSON: Reports like these are critical for all of us trying to understand what's really happening on the ground. They are filmed at extreme risk. We were reminded of that by the death of a young citizen journalist, a man who used his video camera as a weapon against the regime.

Our senior international correspondent Matthew Chance has this profile of a man with such enormous courage.


MATTHEW CHANCE, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: These images from the city of Homs are a glimpse into the violence that's ravaged Syria for the past nine months. At great personal risk Basil al Sayid videoed security forces and the aftermath of their crackdowns, often sneaking shots through a bombed out window.

These pictures were recorded by him a few weeks ago in the suburb of Baba Amar where he and his family live.

COUSIN OF BASIL AL SAYID (via translator): He chose the field of videography to specialize in because here the person who chooses this must be brave and forward and, as we say, willing to through himself at death. And he chose this profession knowing it has a very high risk.

CHANCE: A risk so high that it ultimately killed him. Amid heavy gunfire on the streets of Baba Amar, Basil al Sayid records his last footage. He's reported to have been shot in the head by a sniper.

Human rights activists say citizens journalists like Basil al Sayid have been crucial in shining a light on the protests in Syria.

MOUSAB AZZAWI, SYRIAN OBSERVER FOR HUMAN RIGHTS: These are the real essence of freedom of speech we dreamed for because they're trying to pass the message through ourselves to the international community, and without them I think the messages would be hardly to be imagined without their efforts. They are the great heroes indeed.

CHANCE: Those heroes have documented sometimes terrible bloodshed, but also often they've become victims themselves.

Matthew Chance, CNN, London.


ANDERSON: Matthew's report there underscoring the risks that independent journalists have been prepared to take to reveal the true horrors of what is going on in Syria today.

Now, over the past nine months this has been a story that we have been determined to tell. For much of 2011 that has been hard as CNN's access to what's going on inside the country has been limited at best.

Now this week has been a tipping point. Here on CNN on this show you've finally been given a chance to see for yourself the true extent of the Syrian uprising. And there is much more on our website, You'll find images there taken by the photojournalists you heard from just a few minutes ago. There's an awful lot more. -- I do suggest you get there and see for yourself how things stand.

You're watching CONNECT THE WORLD. Live from London, I'm Becky Anderson. Still to come, the same policy - North Korea's leader ruled out any thawing of relations with the South.

Plus, the disaster that unfolded before our eyes. We remember the movement that changed a nation.

And then the banter, the candor, the best of my big interviews this year. That is still to come. You're watching CNN. This is CONNECT THE WORLD. It's 16 minutes past 9:00 in London. Please stay with us. Back in 90 seconds.


ANDERSON: You're watching CONNECT THE WORLD here on CNN, the world's news leader. Welcome back.

Al Qaeda could be trying to gain a foothold in Libya, that is at least according to a Libyan source that tells CNN the terrorist network is mobilizing forces in the country's east near the Egyptian border. The source claims Al Qaeda leader Ayman Zawahiri dispatched one of his jihadists earlier this year and that at least 200 fighters have already been recruited. We're going to have much more on this story with CNN's Nic Robertson coming up in about 15 minutes time.

A look now though at some of the other stories connecting our world. For you tonight, a deadly bombing in Nigeria is escalating fears of a renewal of sectarian violence there. Friday's blast targeted worshipers at a mosque in the northeastern city of Maiduguri and killed at least four people. It's not clear who carried out that attack.

Pyongyang's relations with South Korean will not change despite its new leadership. That is according to reports from North Korea's state run media. It says the country's National Defense Commission has declared with the South Korean president. The South Korean government calls the statement, quote, "Regretful."

Spending cuts, tax freezes -- I'm sorry. Let's start that again. Spending cuts, tax rises, and a pay freeze, that is what Spain's new government is promising for 2012. It outlined $11.5 billion of austerity measures. Virtually no jobs will be created in the public sector in Spain and a wage freeze runs for another year. Speaking earlier the deputy prime minister said today it was the start of a new era for his country.


SORAYA SAENZ DE SANTAMARIA, SPANISH DEPUTY PRIME MINISTER (via translator): These measures are the beginning of the beginning. They are the beginning of a package of structural reforms which have a purpose to correct the public deficit and to strengthen our economy.


ANDERSON: Russia says firefighters have now extinguished a blaze that burned for hours on a nuclear submarine. The flames jumped the ship after starting on its dry dock. Officials say seven people are being treated for carbon monoxide poisoning. But a spokesman for Russia's northern fleet says the fire never penetrated the ship's hull and that nothing inside, including the nuclear reactor, was damaged.

Up next, it is official. Europeans put forth new big spenders and finally sign the big name coach that they were considering. Who is he and what is he worth? All that is up next.


ANDERSON: Live from London, I'm Becky Anderson

PSG, will they get their man? The Italian Carlo Ancelotti put pen to paper with the French Capitals club, agreeing to a two-and-a-half year deal with football's new rich boys. World Sports Mark McKay is in the house with us tonight with the details. A record breaking deal that's in the region of $8 million to $9 million a year according to local media. So I guess the question is, is he worth it, and is he the right man for the job?

MARK MCKAY, CNN WORLD SPORT ANCHOR: We'll see. All he does is win trophies, Becky, so that's a pretty good start, right? He's won a couple of champion league trophies as a player, two more as a coach. So Ancelotti comes on. He is on the big stage in the French capital as the new coach of PSG. Of course he has spent his entire career in his native Italy until he moved from Italy to England. That's where he took up his last job with Chelsea.

And at his unveiling Friday in Paris, Carlo Ancelotti, the 52-year-old Italian, spoke about what makes him motivated to move.


CARLO ANCELOTTI, NEW PARIS SAINT-GERMAIN COACH: The last season in Milan when I decided to have an experience outside Italy, obviously I thought England, I thought Spain, I thought, and I thought about France. I had received an offer from here. It was a good offer, it was a good project, and I went. It was the same now. I told them at the time that I would like to stay in England, but I think that I'm sure that here I would be a factor like in England.


MCKAY: And no time to waste here, Becky. Ancelotti's first competitive match comes January 8. It will be a French cup tie.

ANDERSON: Listen, he's a great guy. He was a top coach at Chelsea and he still did a good job despite he didn't get them a champion's league trophy. Is a certain David Beckham though going to follow Mr. Ancelotti to Paris? That's the big question, isn't it, at this point?

MCKAY: That is the big question without an answer Becky, as we close out the year. His agents went on record Friday as saying that Beckham and Ancelotti have a good rapport, but will that be enough, Becky, to lure him to PSG? The club's new owner, the Qatar Sports Investments, they expressed confidence that Beckham will, quote, soon be a player for PSG. But Beckham's agent also said on Friday that Beckham is currently in Los Angeles, in Southern California, pondering his future along with his family, and we don't know. All indications point that Beckham will soon be wearing a PSG jersey, but nothing is official as you and I visit tonight.

ANDERSON: I'm hoping he'll move myself because I might get an opportunity to do that series of reports for "Becks on Becks" which, I don't know if you remember those. That's was when he moved to the Galaxy. Fantastic fun. Anyway, I'd love the opportunity to do that again. So David Beckham, if you're watching --

MCKAY: That will sway his decision, Becky. It's going to sway what he does.


ANDERSON: Happy New Year to you if we don't speak again before the 31st. Wishing the best of 2012. Mark McKay in the house for you.

You're watching CONNECT THE WORLD. When we come back, new fighting falls on a new front. We've seen Al Qaeda's training camps in Afghanistan, but could Libya be this terrorist organization's latest recruiting grounds?

And tonight, Japan's Chernobyl nine months on. We're going to look at the fallout from the March quake and the tsunami there.

And then from Hollywood heavyweights and rock stars to divas and fashion icons, we've got them all this year. We've got the best of big interviews coming up.


ANDERSON: A very warm welcome back. It's just about half past 9:00 in London. You're watching CONNECT THE WORLD on CNN. Let's get you a check of the world headlines at this point.

In a massive display of defiance in Syria huge crowds took to the streets across the country as the Arab League presses ahead with an observer mission there. Their president hasn't stopped the violence. Activists say at least 35 people were killed on Friday.

Four people are reported dead and three wounded in Nigeria's latest violence. An explosion and gunfire rocked a mosque in part of the country. This comes after more than 40 people were killed in Christmas bombings and shootings blamed on the Bacaram (ph) Islamist sect.

Turkey's prime minister is expressing his regrets over an airstrike that killed 35 Kurdish villagers. He says the area where they died was constantly being used by terrorists. Turkey's been on the offensive against separatists based in northern Iraq.

And it appears a new leader in North Korea will not bring any immediate changes in policy towards the South. A day after Kim Yong Il--sorry, a day after Kim Yong Eun assumed the rule of Supreme Leader, the state run news agencies in Pyongyang will have no dealings with South Korea's president.

Well, as Libya moves out of the shadows of decades of dictatorship, al Qaeda could be creeping in. That is at least according to a Libyan source, who says the terrorist network is mobilizing hundreds of fighters in Eastern Libya. Now that source says al Qaeda's leader Ayman al-Zawahiri personally dispatched at least one of the jihadists earlier this year as Moammar Gadhafi's regime lost control of parts of the country.

CNN's senior international correspondent Nic Robertson has the story. And he's with me now.

Nic, what do we know at this point?

NIC ROBERTSON, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, what al Qaeda is trying to do here is take advantage of the chaos that the Arab spring has caused. As we know in Libya, there is no strong government in place right now. And al Qaeda for a long time has wanted to gain a stronger foothold in the north of Africa.

From the east of Libya, we know that a lot of jihadists have come from there. A lot of them went to Iraq and joined al Qaeda and Iraq. And what Ayman al-Zawahiri, the new leader of al Qaeda did in May this year, was to turn two top lieutenants to Libya to set up a camp. One of them was arrested in Europe on the way there.

The other one is a guy that has been loyal to him and friendly to him since the 1980s. This is somebody he trusts implicitly. This is somebody we know to be somebody who will go after U.S. interests, who will pull out al Qaeda's global ideology, and somebody who also has a very ruthless outlook, even by al Qaeda's own standards.

ANDERSON: This is fascinating stuff. So what you're saying is this is an incredibly radicalized man. What else do we know about him? And where is he at this point? Do we know?

ROBERTSON: He's in the east of Libya. He has about 200 fighters under his command. In the early 1990s, he was training in and fighting against the Soviet backed Afghan government, training in mujahedeen camps in Afghanistan.

He came to England in the mid 1990s. In the early 2000s, he was known to be radicalizing young men in a garage in Manchester, talking to them about Abumasawel Zarqawi (ph), remember him? He was the al Qaeda leader in Iraq, ruthless, beheaded people. So this was one of his sort of hero figures, if you will. And this is who is telling young boys to emulate and go to Iraq and join the fight.

He also spent time in jail here. And the authorities wanted to keep him locked up for longer, but then UFA (ph) put in evidence the information the intelligence information they had against him. It would destroy their sources.

ANDERSON: Nic, on a--just pause for one moment, because I want to get our viewers to just have a quick look back at some of the coverage, which I think is important tonight and from Libya. This clip I want to show you. Really goes to show the potentially dangerous mix here of what is an al Qaeda recruiting force potentially in the country and what they may have access to. This is what CNN's Ben Wedeman encountered with a Human Rights Watch team in September. Have a look at this, and then we're going to chat.


BEN WEDEMAN, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): The empty boxes are scattered over the floor in a Tripoli warehouse. Their deadly contents gone. This packing list from a single box, written in Russian and English, describes the goods as "9M342". That's the Russian designation for the Igla-es (ph) surface to air missile. This box contained two missiles and four power sources.

The Igla-es (ph) can shoot down a plane flying as high as 11,000 feet. It's the Russian equivalent of the U.S. made Stinger missile.

Peter Bouckaert of Human Rights Watch has been tracking these weapons in Libya for months.

PETER BOUCKAERT, EMERGENCIES DIR., HUMAN RIGHTS WATCH: In every city, we arrive. And the first thing to disappear are the surface to air missiles. We're talking about some 20,000 missing surface to air missiles in all of Libya. And I've seen cars packed with them.

WEDEMAN: If Bouckaert's assessment is accurate, thousands of surface to air missiles could be on the loose. American officials worry they might end up with Iran's al Qaeda or other terrorist groups.

BOUCKAERT: They could turn all of North Africa into a no fly zone.


ANDERSON: Thousands of surface to air missiles could be, well, in rogue hands in Libya. Nic, your thoughts?

ROBERTSON: It could be a worst-case scenario. It could be the perfect storm. Al Qaeda gets his hands on a trove of weapons. Those weapons are out there.

The fact that there are 200 fighters that are loyal to a man who has a very radical agenda, and these weapons are out there, that there is no strong central government. In fact, the antithesis of a strong central government. In fact, the country seems to be going from bad to worse, al Qaeda will exploit this. It will exploit this to maintain and strengthen its foothold not only in Libya, but across North Africa.

We were talking about al Qaeda-related groups attacks in Nigeria, just to the south of there. It's not so far away. And as well, using it as a base to attack Europe and U.S. interests elsewhere.

ANDERSON: Nic Robertson with you this evening has spent, well, probably more weeks than he was there wish to remember in Libya last year, and indeed, across the Middle East and North African region. Nic, we thank you very much indeed, sir, for joining us this evening. What a fascinating story.

You're watching CONNECT WORLD here on CNN. Still to come on tonight's show, how the horror unfolded in Japan. I want to take you back to one of the defining moments of 2011. Stay there.


ANDERSON: Immaculate clean streets, this is the city of Ishonomaki (ph) in Japan before catastrophe hit March the 11th, 2011. These are Google pictures of the same streetscape in the wake of the tsunami. And as you can see, nothing remains the same. The city beyond recognition. Well, that devastating tsunami was, of course, triggered by 9.0 magnitude quake which struck off the north coast of Japan.

It is after that unfolded, that day was captured in rare detail by the media and witnesses, who posted the horrifying scenes online. I want to take a look at some of those indelible images now, as they played out on our television and computer screens nine months ago.


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: People in Japan are used to feeling a quake, but that usually is about four or five seconds. If you live in Tokyo, that's normally what you feel. Three minutes later, we're still feeling a shaking.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It is still going. Oh, my God, the building's going to fall.


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: In (inaudible), I was caught in the whirlpool. A bus, cars and houses were over my head. I felt pain, but I kept swimming and saw the light from the sky.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Water is moving at who knows how many miles per hour, taking everything with it.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: As I was trying to evacuate, the tsunami was already in front of me. I tried to drive, but I ended up running instead.

BARACK OBAMA, U.S. PRESIDENT: Today's events remind us of just how fragile life can be. Our hearts go out to our friends in Japan and across the region. And we're going to stand with them as they recover and rebuild from this tragedy.

BRIAN TODD, CNN CORRESPONDENT: This scene here pretty much tells the story, complete devastation in this neighborhood. These teams have to comb through all this rubble. It's very heavily concentrated. They're working against every conceivable obstacle over here. Tons of mud, debris all over the place.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Search crews find the body of a middle aged woman. Like all the others, they can't identify her, but cover her, and load her body onto a truck. They offer a single sign of respect of farewell, and was helping neighbors evacuate.

The patients couldn't walk, she says. I heard so much screaming. Auntie, I can't save you. I'm sorry.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: He lost everything. Everything that he owns in life, he showed us that was sitting next to his hospital bed.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: (Inaudible) up. Whoo, whoo! This is crazy.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: We're just getting this information that the Japanese--the government is now forcing some 2,000 residents near the nuclear plant of Fukushima to evacuate. And of course, the big question is, where do they go?

ANDERSON COOPER, CNN ANCHOR: Word tonight of a second damaged power station venting radiation into the atmosphere. Fears of a possible, and I emphasize possible, radioactive meltdown akin to the three mile island nuclear disaster. Most experts say that is unlikely, but they're watching it very closely. The evacuation zone has now been expanded to six miles outside the first damaged plant.

THOMAS BREUER, GREENPEACE GERMANY: This Japan's Chernobyl. From our point of view, it's even worse than Chernobyl.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Now I am inside the 20 kilometer zone. So I need to take precautions as you can see. I'm wearing some face covering here. And down at my feet, my shoes are also protected. This is to stop me coming in contact with any potentially contaminated material on the ground or breathing in any contamination.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: For the people who live near the plant, now evacuees, the numbers, whether a 5 or a 7, don't matter. Their towns remain empty. They may never be able to go home again. Futabu (ph) residents say they're beyond anger or hatred. They've simply lost everything.

ANNA COREN, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: The scale is just frightening. I believe the death toll at the moment stands at more than 5,500. As far as the missing, it's gone into the numbers of 9,000, many more than 9,000.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: In the devastated areas in the tsunami zone, there are still more 100,000 people living on blankets at evacuation centers. There is no infrastructure. They have no jobs. There is no clear roadmap for them on what's next.


ANDERSON: Well, 2011, of course, has been a year of catastrophe for Japan. Our Paula Hancocks was among the CNN journalists who covered the tragedy at the time. She gave us this update on how the country and its people are recovering what is nine months on.


PAULA HANCOCKS, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: It's been a very long and painful nine months for many people in Japan following that earthquake, tsunami, and nuclear crisis. As the rest of the world moved on, hundreds of thousands of people within Japan are still having to cope either with traumatic memories or with the direct consequences of this triple disaster.

310,000 people are still living in temporary housing. Now many of them don't know when they'll be able to move out. Many of them don't have a house to move out to.

Now much of the debris along the coastline of northeast Japan, which was devastated by that tsunami, has been cleared. But of course, it does mean that it will take years before the actual rebuilding will be completed.

Now within the Fukushima prefecture, where the nuclear power plant is stationed, only 65 percent of that debris has been able to be moved because of radioactive contamination. Now with this devastation also come many heartwarming stories. We heard many stories of communities that have rediscovered their very tight bonds of individuals that have put others before themselves. And also, many Japanese people have told me that there's a renewed sense of unity within the country, within the public of the country, as people believe that everybody is in this together, and everybody has to get through this together.

But this is among the people. There is still a lot of strong anger and resentment against both the government and TEPCO, the operator of the Fukushima nuclear power plant. There's a strong sense that TEPCO did not tell the truth at the beginning of this crisis. They didn't give timely and accurate information. And people felt that they were kept in the dark about what was happening.

And remember, the Japanese people for decades were told that nuclear power was completely safe. And there was no problem with living close to a nuclear power station. Now of course, in this case, that has been proven to have been wrong. And so, that trust has been lost forever.

There was a milestone on December 16th when TEPCO was able to announce the cold shutdown of the reactors of the Fukushima power plant effectively meaning that the temperature within these reactors was below boiling point, obviously, a significant amount of progress and very important for the prime minister to be able to announce this, but it would have made very little difference to those people who were directly affected by this nuclear crisis.

About 88,000 people are still considered evacuees. They've still been moved out of their homes from either around the Fukushima nuclear power plant itself or further afield. There is still this evacuation zone of 12 miles or 20 kilometers. And also, other villages which are further afield, have been found to have dangerously high levels of contamination. So they had to be evacuated as well.

34,000 of those people are still living in temporary housing. Many of them have no idea when they'll be able to go home or in fact if they will ever be able to go home. So there was definitely a sense of anger and frustration at TEPCO and the government that their lives have been changed completely through no fault of their own.

So certainly, most of Japan, if not all of Japan, will be very relieved to see the end of this year, a year in which more than 15,000 people lost their lives due to these triple disasters, where more than 3,000 people are still considered missing, and where hundreds of thousands of people either can't go home, or don't have a home to go back to.

Paula Hancocks, CNN, Seoul.


ANDERSON: You're watching CONNECT WORLD here on CNN. It's 48 minutes past 9:00 in London. When we come back, from rock stars to film legends, we're going to look back at some of our biggest interviews from 2011, including--


TOM HANKS, ACTOR: Julia plays a teacher at a community college. And somehow, you have to acknowledge the fact that she is a gorgeous stack of pancakes.


ANDERSON: Tom Hanks, cheeky as he may be, makes the list for you tonight. Find out who he's referring to, up next.


ANDERSON: Right, well, it's been a big year on the show for big interviews, from boxing legends and Hollywood heavyweights, to divas, designers, authors, and explorers. They have all had plenty to say to you, some with candor, others well, with a little more banter. From (inaudible) end of the year, we've dug out the best of the bunch and want to bring you some of what have been our favorite moments.


ANDERSON: (Inaudible) could have been a great front man?

PAUL STANLEY, LEAD SINGER, KISS: I hope it has something to do with, you know, many people are hams. I'm the whole thing. I love being on stage. I'm somewhere between an evangelical preacher, a musician, a super hero, and a game show host. So I'm out there to entertain. I think you can never lose sight of the fact that first and foremost when you're doing a live show, you're an entertainer. People are coming to see you. If they wanted to just hear you, they'd be staying home.

ANDERSON: How does your wife cope, or how did she cope with you being voted by "People" magazine in 2008 sexiest man alive?

HUGH JACKMAN, ACTOR: Well, her first comment was like, of course, who else would I marry? And her second comment was like really? Not Brad Pitt? So and then, I think her third comment was like, all right, sexy boy, take the garbage out. Yes.

ANDERSON: Teaming up once again with Julia Roberts, who describes you as a tough boss this time. She says particularly when it comes to costuming designs. What on earth does she mean by that?

TOM HANKS: Julia plays a teacher at a community college. And somehow, you have to acknowledge the fact that she is a gorgeous stack of pancakes, but you cannot go too far over into a world of glamour and fashion.

ANDERSON: Is there any idea that has made you think, wow, I just can't do that. It's way too extreme?

TRACEY EMIN, BRITISH ARTIST: As I get older, I censor myself more than anyone else censors me. And people have criticized me as becoming establishment or whatever, but it's because I'm older, you know. I'm less angry. I haven't got chips on my shoulders now. I'm successful. I can do whatever I want to do. And the last thing I want to do is upset people.

JEFF BRIDGES, ACTOR: Working on "Tron" was a wonderful experience. And he recently did a piece on me. And I got to do some painting, which I love to do. And I thought I would auction that painting off to support no kid hungry. And we've managed to raise over $10,000 for that. So I'm really happy about that.

ANDERSON: Are you worth that as an artist?

BRIDGES: Say it again?

ANDERSON: Are you worth that as an artist?

BRIDGES: I guess, you know, they'll pay for it, I'm worth it.

ANDERSON: I believe, guys, that Charlie saw the film . What did he think?

EMILIO ESTEVEZ, ACTOR/DIRECTOR: Yes, man, he loved it. He absolutely loved it. He saw an early cut of it. And he had some notes. So we, of course, you know, we're a tight family. And we listen to one another. And some of his notes were actually incorporated into the film, believe it or not.

ANDERSON: This movie is about the relationship between a father and a son. Martin, did you think about your relationship with your son, Charlie Sheen, during the making of this film?

MARTIN SHEEN, ACTOR: No, not specifically. No, you know, I have three other children. And they are all of equal importance. You know, you focus on the one of your children that needs the most at the time. And that's the way we've always approached it, but we're very tight as a unit. We adore each other. We support each other no matter what. No one gets very far away at least not from our hearts.

ANDERSON: The man sitting next to you is celebrating his 80th birthday next month. Any early birthday messages?

BOB GELDOF, SINGER/ACTIVIST: Yes, just retire, will you for God sake? Give us all a break. And whoever gets his shirts, it's not H and M, is it?

ANDERSON: And has it been a good 80 years?

ARCHBISHOP EMERITUS DESMOND TUTU: It's been wonderful. I mean, being at the tail end of it, to have had a free South Africa, to have been able to see goodness flourish in so many places, it's been fantastic, yes. I wouldn't want to have changed it. I wouldn't have met this guy. Oh, no, that makes me--

GELDOF: My birthday is two days before his. But just want to be clear, is the word celebration? No. It's outrageous, Becky.

ANDERSON: When was the first time that you really decided that it was women you wanted to help out?

GOK WAN, FASHION STYLIST: I've always loved women. I've always--as for a gay man, I've always loved women. I've surrounded myself by female relatives, by my teachers, by my friends, and always, really enjoyed the sensitivity and the emotion that you get from female company in conversation. And boys have always been similar attraction for me, I suppose. You know, I wanted to kiss the boys, but never talk to them. And I still do, actually.

ANDERSON: Are you struggling at all to find things that you feel good in? I mean, your husband might go oh, no, I'm not having that.

BEYONCE KNOWLES, SINGER: Actually, I'm having so much. It is like been the most fun time, now that it's announced, and I don't have to, you know, it was really difficult trying to conceal, you know. But now that I can be, you know, proud and excited about it, I'm having so much fun every day and shopping. It's just great.

ANDERSON: You must be delighted?

TINA KNOWLES, BEYONCE'S MOTHER: I am. I'm over the moon.

ANDERSON: You know what you're having at this point?

KNOWLES: I don't.

ANDERSON: And if you did, you wouldn't tell me.


ANDERSON: Well, I believe she's having a little girl. That seems to be the rumor tonight, but we can't confirm it. So you didn't hear it here first. Some of our best moments from the year.

Let's get some final parting shots tonight. I want to introduce you to China's very adorable twin polar bear cubs. They are set to make their debut in the new year at the Dalian Laohutan Pole Aquarium in the country's northeast. Look at those little fellas. The twins mom and dad were given as a present by Finland. It's also the gift that keeps on giving, as these are the second pair of cubs born to them in the past year. China's state media says they have grown well and will soon be able to walk on their own.

I'm Becky Anderson. Thank you for watching CONNECT WORLD, last of 2011.

We look forward to seeing you in 2012. The world news headlines and back story are after this short break. Whatever you're doing this weekend, stay healthy.