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CONNECT THE WORLD

Anger in Afghanistan; Obama and Cameron Meet; Sports Headlines; French President Overtakes Challenger in Polls; French Far Right Leader Says She Has Support for Presidential Run; London French Ex-Pats' View on Presidential Election; Leading Women: Fashionista Carolina Herrera; Filmmaker Documents Story of Australian Swimmer's Comeback; Cameron and Obama Take Break for NCAA Basketball Tournament

Aired March 13, 2012 - 17:00   ET

THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.


BECKY ANDERSON, HOST: Tonight on CONNECT THE WORLD, anger ignited in Afghanistan.

(VIDEO CLIP)

ANDERSON: Protesters burn effigies of the U.S. president in reaction to the killings of 16 civilians, allegedly by a U.S. soldier.

ANNOUNCER: Live from London, this is CONNECT THE WORLD with Becky Anderson.

ANDERSON: Former U.K. foreign secretary, David Miliband, says immense damage has been done to the NATO mission in Afghanistan. Tonight, why he believes now, more than ever, the West must engage with the Taliban.

Also ahead, taking the lead for the first time -- a new poll puts incumbent Nicolas Sarkozy ahead of his rival in the race for the upcoming French presidential election.

And hoping to make a splash again -- the swimmer simply known as Torpedo gunning for a place in the Australian Olympic team.

We begin with new fallout tonight from a massacre that has enraged the entire Afghan nation. Hundreds of students took to the streets of Jalalabad, chanting, "Death To America!" and burning U.S. President Barack Obama in effigy. It was the first major protest since 16 Afghan civilians were methodically killed Sunday, allegedly by a U.S. Army sergeant. Suspected Taliban militants ambushed a high level delegation visiting the massacre site today, killing an Afghan soldier.

U.S. President Obama is trying to diffuse public anger over Sunday's brutal attacks, promising justice.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

BARACK OBAMA, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: I can assure the American people and the Afghan people that we will follow the facts wherever they lead us. And we will make sure that anybody who was involved is held fully accountable, with the full force of the law.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

ANDERSON: Well, CNN has just learned that the U.S. military is investigating whether alcohol may have been a factor in the mass killing. Senior military officials say alcohol was found on the base in the area where the suspect lived. But it's unclear whether it belonged to him.

Well, the U.S. Defense secretary says the soldier could face the death penalty. Leon Panetta spoke to reporters as he headed to Central Asia, saying as terrible as the massacre was, it must not be allowed to derail the mission in Afghanistan.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

LEON PANETTA, DEFENSE SECRETARY: It is important that all of us, the United States, Afghanistan, the ISAF forces, all stick to the strategy that we've laid out. War is hell. These kinds of events and incidents are going to take place. They've taken place in any war. They're terrible events and this is not the first of those events and it probably won't be the last.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

ANDERSON: Hmmm, well, the U.K. prime minister is in Washington this hour and there is no doubt this story and the fallout for NATO's mission in Afghanistan will be front and center in Cameron's talks with the U.S. president.

We're going to get to Washington for live report shortly on that.

Our next guest, though, says an you get change of course is needed.

David Miliband, former British foreign secretary and current member of parliament here in the U.K. joins us now in the studio.

This is a mess.

What's the solution at this point?

DAVID MILIBAND, FORMER U.K. FOREIGN SECRETARY: I think that the only solution is a political settlement, what Hillary Clinton, last year, called a political surge, in which all the tribes of Afghanistan are inside the political system, including the Pashtuns, including the Taliban, at local level. The only solution is a constitutional settlement that devolves power in Afghanistan. The only solution is all of the neighbors, Pakistan, along the way around to Iran, being part of a guarantee of independence for Afghanistan.

Unless you get the politics right, you can't get the security right.

ANDERSON: But David, we started this war against the Taliban in Afghanistan during your time in office, of course, ostensibly to prevent them from harboring al Qaeda elements who were a threat to our security, and because, quite frankly, we were hideously offended by the way that they ran the country, not least the way they treated women.

Ten years on, there is no doubt NATO needs an exit strategy.

But is that strategy talking to the Taliban, encouraging the reinstallation of the enemy that we went out to destroy really right?

MILIBAND: Of course it sticks in the gullet to have to talk to people who are firing or planting IEDs that are killing our troops. But every counterinsurgency in the world has only ever been ended by a political negotiation. And the sooner we start the political negotiation, the better, because the truth, at the moment, is we have an exit date -- for France, it's 2013; for Britain, it's 2014; for the U.S., 2013. We have an exit date, but we don't yet have an exit strategy.

And unless we put into place the political talks that include our interests as well as the Afghan government's, as well as the neighbors, we will have no hope of stability.

I believe we need a U.N. mediator appointed now, talking to all sides with no conditions for those talks. And as a simple formula for stability. All the tribes in, al Qaeda out and the neighbors on the side, that that's the only way to get stability and the only way Afghanistan has ever had stability.

ANDERSON: Sara Sidner is on the ground for us in Kabul tonight.

And, David, I want to bring her in at this point -- the Taliban, Sara, may be cementing the protests that we are seeing, not just today, but in the past weeks.

Are, though, the majority of Afghans willing to see the Taliban back in office in some form, at least?

SARA SIDNER, CNN CORRESPONDENT: I think it depends on who you ask and where people are. You know, in some places, they've seen so much violence that sort of, you know, air strikes from NATO that have killed family members. And in some of those villages, you're seeing them kind of veer toward the Taliban, the people that have been there throughout this and vowing to fight against violence from outsiders.

However, you have others who are very concerned that their lives will become even harder with the Taliban in place, particularly women. And I know you touched on that a bit ago. Women's groups very concerned that their rights will be curtailed in Afghanistan and they will not have the same rights as men.

So it -- it really kind of depends on who you ask and where in the country people are living at this point in time -- Becky.

ANDERSON: Sara Sidner is in Kabul for you tonight.

David, the longer the Afghan War drags on, the less support it appears to have back home, both in the U.S. and, indeed, here in Britain, the two biggest contributors to the war effort. According to the latest opinion polls that we have, "Washington Post"/ABC News public opinion poll, 60 percent of Americans believe the war in Afghanistan is not worth fighting, considering the costs. And in the U.K., a new Comres/ITV Poll finds 73 percent of the public now believe the Afghan War is unwinnable.

You say, and I quote from a piece that you wrote recently, "The West needs to do justice to our substantive interests in the future and the legacy of our past actions."

What did you mean by that?

MILIBAND: Let me give you two very precise examples. Our substantive interests, first of all, security. And it's not -- we can't afford the Taliban to overrun the Afghan state again. So I think that your correspondent in Kabul is right to say that while there's limited power at a decentralized level, the vast majority the Afghan population don't want the Afghanistan -- don't want the Taliban back in Kabul.

Secondly, our legacy. There are six-and-a-half million girls at school now, less than 500,000 10 years ago. That's the sort of legacy that we want to retain.

And we should be putting our conditions, our exit conditions, on the table for a U.N. mediator to -- to work on, because unless we get into the politics of this, then I'm afraid our troops are going to be under more threat and our public are going to say what are they doing there?

ANDERSON: Good to have you, David.

Thank you very much, indeed, for joining us tonight.

MILIBAND: Thank you.

ANDERSON: We are expecting to hear from the U.S. and British leaders in just a few hours. They are due to give a news conference in the state of Ohio, which is where they are at present, before they get back to Washington, where they are mixing a little business with pleasure.

White House correspondent Dan Lothian joins us now from the city of Dayton with the details -- and, Dan, it is the specter of Afghanistan, the weariness of the coalition mission, which is bound to dominate these conversations, isn't it, in the days to come?

DAN LOTHIAN, CNN WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: That's right. I mean Afghanistan, as you know, has been dominating the -- the U.S. political arena here over the last few days, certainly after the shooting by the U.S. soldier of civilians in Afghanistan.

And so that is one of the topics that will come up during their discussions and the way forward, talk about the -- the numbers of troops and the withdrawal schedule for 2014. That will be discussed.

In addition to that, though, I'm told by a White House official that they'll be talking about Syria, they'll be talking about Iran and Israel, they'll be talking about the wave of democracy that we've seen sweeping across the Middle East and Northern Africa.

And then, of course, with the G-8 and NATO summit just around the corner, I'm told they'll be talking about issues that will be critic and brought before those summits.

So a whole host of foreign policy issues that these two leaders will be discussing in this bilateral that they'll have at the White House tomorrow.

Then they'll have a short press conference, just two questions from each side, from U.S. reporters and then British reporters. And then, of course, the state dinner at the White House -- Becky.

ANDERSON: Dan Lothian there in Ohio, where he'll be until they all decamp to Washington tomorrow.

Dan, thank you for that.

Our top story tonight, fanning the flames of discontent -- Afghans burn effigies of the U.S. president in response to the alleged murderous rampage by a U.S. soldier. The former U.K. foreign secretary tells me this hour the escalation of violence makes it ever more apparent that an urgent change of course is required. David Miliband tells us the only solution is a political settlement in which all parties take part, including the Taliban.

You're watching CONNECT THE WORLD live from London.

Still to come this hour, seeing violence where thousands of Syrians are going in search of safety.

A moment of truth for an Australian champion -- we'll get a special look at Ian Thorpe's Olympic comeback bid.

And are the Knicks losing their Linsanity?

Pedro Pinto in the house.

All that and much more in the world of sport for you this evening.

Stay with us.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

ANDERSON: You're watching CNN.

This is CONNECT THE WORLD with me, Becky Anderson.

Welcome back.

Now, a boost tonight for Nicolas Sarkozy. The French president wants a second term and for the first time, he is now ahead of rival Francois Hollande in an opinion poll. With less than six weeks to go before France decides, we've been talking to the experts about the major candidates and whether change may be in the air. It's going to be an interesting April in Paris. I'm going to show you why in about 10 minutes time.

Meantime, opposition activists declared Tuesday a day of mourning in Syria, but there was no pause in the violence. The opposition says 36 people died on Tuesday. There's video reports to show explosions in the calm Al Zaitun neighborhood of Homs. That's where activists say women and children were massacred over the weekend.

Well, the U.N. says more than 8,000 people have been killed in year long uprising and about 30,000 Syrians have fled to neighboring countries.

The high commissioner for refugees says that Turkey, Lebanon and Jordan are now prepared to help.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

ANTONIO GUTERRES, U.N. HIGH COMMISSIONER FOR REFUGEES:

For the moment, assistance is being provided to those that need it, to those that are in more dire circumstances. But we are all ready, the three governments and the humanitarian community, to be able to upscale these -- this assistance if, all of a sudden, the numbers start to grow.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

ANDERSON: Let's look at some of the other stories that are connecting our world tonight.

And Rebekah Brooks, the former editor of the British newspaper, "News of the World," has been arrested on suspicion of conspiracy to pervert the course of justice. Now, she was arrested along with five others, including her husband, as part of a phone hacking investigation. Brooks was also arrested in July last year and questioned over phone hacking and police bribery. The newspaper closed in the wake of those allegations.

Wall Street rocketed to its best day this year. The NASDAQ managed even to finish above 3000 for the first time in more than 11 years. The rally got a big boost from the Fed's early release of that major bank stress test on how institutions would fare in an economic downturn. Well, the Fed went public with the report after JPMorgan Chase said it has passed the test. It was one of 15 banks to pass, while four failed. They included Citigroup and MetLife. Felicia Taylor we'll have much more on this in "WORLD REPORT" in just about an hour from now.

The European Union, the U.S. and Japan are challenging China's export restrictions on rare earth materials. These are the the minerals used to produce products like flat screen TVs and smartphones. China produces about 97 percent of the world's supply and the countries are asking the World Trade Organization to facilitate talks with China over its export taxes and quotas.

Well, the U.S. president and its -- let me start that again -- he's got nothing to do with it. The U.S. presidential race continues on Tuesday with primaries in seven states, Alabama and Mississippi. Polls showing frontrunner Mitt Romney and rival candidate, Newt Gingrich, running virtually neck and neck. A win crucial for Gingrich. His only primary victories so far have been in the South.

But another candidate, Rick Santorum, is hoping to win over conservative voters and knock Gingrich out.

Well, stay with CNN for live coverage of the primaries in Alabama and Mississippi, plus the caucuses in Hawaii and American Samoa, starting early Wednesday, midnight in London, 1:00 in Berlin and eight in the morning in Hong Kong.

All right, those are your headlines.

When we return, the latest from tonight's Champions League matches. And David Beckham talks to CNN about his future in football.

All that coming up.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

ANDERSON: You're watching CONNECT THE WORLD live from London.

Welcome back.

It's just after twelve past nine in London.

I'm Becky Anderson.

Topping the sports headlines for you this evening, two more teams are going to put their place in the Champions League quarter finals come the end of the evening. Bayern Munich hoping to overturn a first leg defeat and Odessa (INAUDIBLE) keep their hopes of playing in the final at their own stadium live. I had forgotten about that. It's going to be in -- it's going to be in Munich, isn't it?

PEDRO PINTO, CNN "WORLD SPORT" ANCHOR: Yes.

ANDERSON: Pedro is with us to give us the low down, as it were.

What's -- what's the latest?

PINTO: The low down.

ANDERSON: The low down. I want to get the low down from you.

PINTO: That's what the kids stay on -- say on the streets, right?

ANDERSON: Yes.

PINTO: That's what they say. Yes, that's...

ANDERSON: Something.

PINTO: -- that's a great hand movement there. I don't know.

Anyway, let me update you on the live scores right now. The second half of the Champions League. And if you're wondering about Bayern, if you're wondering about them making the final, well, you shouldn't be worried about them making the quarterfinals, because they're up 6-0 right now, Becky. Mario Gomez with four of those goals. He's got 10 now in his campaign. He would be normally the top scorer in the competition, but there's this guy called Lionel Messi who's got 12. So he isn't.

In the other match so far, no goals to tell you about. It's 0-0 between Inter Milan and Marseille. If this score holds, then Inter will be knocked out. They lost the first leg in France 1-0.

Now, we've been talking about this edition of the Champions League. But if you go back, one of the most dramatic victories ever in the history of this -- this competition -- happened back in '99, with Manchester United beating Bayern with those two incredible injury-time goals. One of the top players who was part of that Manchester United team is now at the end of his career. He's now 36 years old, David Beckham.

We've been speaking with David and asking him how much longer will he play professional football.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

DAVID BECKHAM, LOS ANGELES GALAXY MIDFIELDER: I'm not ready to finish yet. I'm not ready to finish, A, playing, and, B, you know, it's great being a champion, but I want to continue to be a champion.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

PINTO: Of course, David now plays out in the States for the LA Galaxy. He had a -- an opportunity, Becky, to come back to Europe and play for Paris Saint-Germain, but for family reasons, he decided to stay there. I know you know David, as well. You've interviewed him a few times.

ANDERSON: That's right. That's why he says he went to the Galaxy, of course.

PINTO: Yes.

ANDERSON: We did a whole show called "Becks on Becks" and I loved it. We followed him around. We followed him around. And I don't know how I got away with that show, but, anyway, I did.

PINTO: Did you X out the names?

ANDERSON: He...

PINTO: That's good.

ANDERSON: He's a great...

PINTO: That's good...

ANDERSON: (INAUDIBLE).

PINTO: -- good publicity.

ANDERSON: He will be back, though, I think, for the England team for the Olympics.

PINTO: For the Olympics, there's a good chance of that happening, yes.

ANDERSON: But he is. He's a great player still.

Listen, a few weeks ago, it seemed the world was caught up in what was -- what was beginning to be boringly called Linsanity. It seems now that that's died down.

Is it because Mr. Jeremy Lin isn't playing very well?

PINTO: Look, I wouldn't blame it on him. He led the Knicks to a seven game winning streak pretty much on his own. And he was also playing at a time when two of the team's biggest stars were out, Amar'e Stoudemire and Carmelo Anthony, who were both out with injuries. They are now both back and the team is struggling for chemistry. And they lost for the sixth straight time now, Becky, on Monday night. I actually stayed up watching this game after my shift, because it was pretty late when we get off. And I was watching this game, curious to see if -- if Lin could help the Knicks get back on the winning track, but he couldn't.

And the -- the situation there right now is that they have to change something, whether it's the line-up, whether it's the coach, I don't know. But it's really not working for them.

Last night, it was a case of also coming up against the best team in the league. The Chicago Bulls are great, tenth win in eleven games. And Derrick Rose was simply spectacular.

So it's still a good -- a great story, Jeremy Lin. But you can't blame him for all the defeats, just like I guess we also shouldn't get too carried about -- away when he was winning all of those games...

ANDERSON: Sure. Now, I wonder whether you...

PINTO: -- as well, in the beginning.

ANDERSON: -- need to change something, like get out a bit more often.

No, I'm joking.

PINTO: You mean instead of staying home, staying up and watching basketball?

ANDERSON: (INAUDIBLE).

PINTO: No, no, no. I was up.

(LAUGHTER)

PINTO: I go home. I love basketball. I was watching it.

ANDERSON: It is late. Let me tell you, it was midnight by then.

PINTO: Yes, yes.

ANDERSON: I meant.

PINTO: I got home around midnight.

ANDERSON: Are you loving the job and all of that?

PINTO: I like it.

ANDERSON: Yes, well, that's fine.

PINTO: I feel like I have to justify myself to you now.

(LAUGHTER)

PINTO: I've got friends.

ANDERSON: Pedro...

(LAUGHTER)

ANDERSON: Pedro Pinto here...

PINTO: All right.

ANDERSON: -- with lots and lots and lots of friends, let me tell you.

Back in an hour.

Do join him for "WORLD SPORT" here on CNN.

Don't go away.

We're still here for the next half hour on CONNECT THE WORLD.

This man likes his job a lot. but will he be able to keep it?

We're going to talk to the experts, as France gears up for the presidential election.

And a woman's place is backstage at a fashion show, apparently, at least. We meet the one-woman designing powerhouse that is Carolina Herrera.

And they are dressed for first class, but they are mingling in coach. We'll have Pete and Penny's story just ahead.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

ANDERSON: Welcome back.

And if you are just joining us, a very warm welcome back to our viewers across Europe and around the world.

I'm Becky Anderson.

These are the latest world news headlines here on CNN.

The US military is investigating whether the soldier accused of a massacre in Afghanistan may have been drinking at the time. Military officials say alcohol was found at the base in the area where the suspect lived. It's unclear whether it belonged to him.

The opposition says at least 36 people were killed in Syria on Tuesday. Activists have called for a day of mourning for what they've described as a massacre of women and kids over the weekend in Homs. The UN says more than 8,000 people have been killed in what is now a yearlong uprising.

More trade attention to China. The European Union and the US and Japan are challenging China's export policies on what are known as rare earth commodities at the World Trade Organization. These are minerals used to make high-tech items like SmartPhones.

And new arrests in London in connection with the phone-hacking scandal. Police say six people were taken into custody on suspicion of conspiracy to pervert the course of justice. One of them is Rebekah Brooks, seen here, the former editor of the now-defunct "News of the World" tabloid.

Those are your headlines.

Well, it seems a first for French president Nicolas Sarkozy. With six weeks of campaigning to go, the incumbent overtook socialist challenger Francois Hollande for the first time.

In an opinion poll on Tuesday, the survey shows support for Sarkozy at more than 28 percent in first round voting on April the 22nd. Now, that is up from 27 percent and ahead of Holland. But the poll gives -- goes on to give Hollande the victory if there was a second round vote in May.

For reaction to those numbers, I'm joined now by a Paris-based journalist and senior foreign analyst at France 3 TV, Christian Malard, who's at our own Paris bureau. Christian, what do you read into those poll numbers?

CHRISTIAN MALARD, SENIOR FOREIGN ANALYST, FRANCE 3 TV: That's very contradictory, Becky, because as you said, we have one poll where for the first time for a long, long time, Sarkozy's ahead in the first round of Hollande with 28 percent and Hollande with 27 and something.

And the second round -- the second poll we got tonight is the first round, we get 30 percent for Hollande and 26 percent for Sarkozy. So, nobody knows where the truth lies right now.

But let's say the first poll in favor of Sarkozy is probably after this very strong speech he delivered last Sunday facing more than 60,000 people. But at the same time, will it be enough to bridge the gap, which has been existing for so long between Hollande in him? It's too early to say, but it's not so sure.

ANDERSON: All right. Making a lot of noise, of course, in that speech about immigration. Stay with me, Christian, because also today, of course, big news out of the National Front party. Far right leader Marine Le Pen says she's got the sponsors she needs to launch a French presidential run.

Our Senior International Correspondent Jim Bittermann took some time to find out what she's like. Here's his report.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

(APPLAUSE)

JIM BITTERMANN, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Marine Le Pen may look a bit like her father, Jean-Marie, and share some of his politics. But that's where the similarity ends because, while the father was full of bombast and fury, the daughter, who has now taken over the leadership of the extreme right National Front Party, measures her words and knows how to smile.

They are differences which she and her supporters believe can propel her into at least a second place finish in the first round of the French presidential elections on April 22nd, never mind that the opinion polls indicate otherwise.

MARINE LE PEN, NATIONAL FRONT CANDIDATE (through translator): I think the structure of our electorate has changed. The perception that right- wing voters have of me is extremely different today from the perception voters of the right had of Jean-Marie Le Pen.

BITTERMANN: In fact, Le Pen says her voters these days often come from both the political right and left, a claim which is not born out by public opinion polls. But it is true her political program does cut across party lines, especially her arguments against both illegal and legal immigration, against the political integration of Europe, and against the euro.

LE PEN (through translator): Our political leaders have a fascination for the United States, and they want absolutely to create a United States of Europe. We have seen the result. Europe has never been so weak economically as today. Our leaders' craziness for the euro creates a risk for the entire world.

BITTERMANN: But her critics -- and there are many -- say she is the risk. When she's away from her supporters and out in the public, she often gets booed, and worse. In this case, showered with water when she arrived in the French overseas territory of Reunion. The French citizens here come from a racially-mixed background, and many view the extreme right as the real threat.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE (through translator): As a country of human rights, France cannot accept this kind of person who takes advantage of the economic crisis to spread a message of Islamophobia and xenophobia!

LE PEN (through translator): I have lots of experience with this sort of thing. They bark, but they don't bite.

BITTERMANN: Jim Bittermann, CNN, Paris.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

ANDERSON: All right, Christian, Marine Le Pen would certainly consider herself the right wing card, the wild card, as it were, in the French presidential election. What sort of role could she or might she play here?

MALARD: Let me tell you this, Becky. I have strong doubts that Marine Le Pen will be finishing second and face Francois Hollande or anybody on the second round. She's only credited with 16 percent in the intention of the voters.

But at the same time, it was a very funny thing yesterday evening on TV. President Sarkozy was participating to a TV show talking to French people, and all of a sudden, he was asked a question, "Do you think it would be fair or unfair that Madame Le Pen doesn't get the 500 signatures to be able to run for French presidency?"

And for the first time yesterday evening, I heard Sarkozy very nice, very lenient towards Madame Le Pen, towards Le Pen's electorate, and this morning, of course, we found out that she got the 500 signatures.

I'm sure that Sarkozy definitely relies upon Le Pen's voters, Le Pen's electorate to propel him and try to beat Hollande, because definitely, if he wants to win, Sarkozy will definitely need the electorate or a big part of the electorate of Marine Le Pen.

And I would even add, a big part of the electorate of the center representative, Monsieur Bayrou. If he doesn't have them, forget about it. Hollande will be president.

ANDERSON: Interesting. He'll certainly need them in the second round. Hold on again. Right now, it's all about the special relationship -- not that one that we normally talk about, of course.

It's the one that French ex-pats are having with London, 300,000 of them are making their lives here in the British capital. In fact, they are turning the Big Smoke, as we like to call it, into Paris on the Thames.

London is now the sixth largest French city, so it's no wonder the presidential hopeful, Francois Hollande, has been courting their vote here. And that's what he was doing in London last month when he stepped off the Eurostar at St. Pancras station.

Well, I also hit the streets of London earlier today to find out how French ex-pats feel about this upcoming presidential election. Have a listen to what they told me.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I don't think I am going to vote. I mean, I'm just going to -- because all the candidates, I think, are just useless.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I usually don't really vote because I don't support what -- their ideas.

ANDERSON: Marine Le Pen has announced her candidacy today. What about her?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I don't know. I just know she's been a racist.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Anyone with the Le Pen family name at the end is not worth voting for.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: No. She's a bit too extreme for me.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: No, I don't like Marine Le Pen because she's a little bit racist.

ANDERSON: What about Sarkozy, your man at the moment?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Well, I think he had has chance and he blew it.

ANDERSON: Sarkozy?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: No. No way.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Sarkozy -- no.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Well, he tried, and he's not working, so -- maybe he's too short.

ANDERSON: Hollande, what about Hollande?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Hollande? Yes, I like Hollande. Yes, I like the person he talks.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: No. I just think he is the wrong -- the wrong way.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I don't know, because he wants to tax footballers. And I work in football, so what he wants to do is nice for the country, but it's not going to help the football.

ANDERSON: So, you're telling me at 18 years old that you see no one single candidate in France who you would like to run the country going forward?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: No. I think I'd do a better job myself.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

ANDERSON: Christian, a lot of apathy out there by the youngsters, the French youngsters in London. Or a sense -- and this is what I got -- that they just don't have a candidate they believe can spur France on. Do their emotions reflect those that you are hearing on the streets of Paris, for example?

MALARD: Well, here -- you mean that the general opinion prevailing is, of course, when you talk to the people, until two days ago, the feeling, the strong feeling was Hollande would be winning definitely. Since last Sunday, you have a lot of people who did not like Sarkozy's attitude -- political attitude or behavior towards the people, his way of tackling the problems and talking to the people.

And all of a sudden, these last 40 -- 24 hours, I have listened to a lot of people telling me, well, between somebody who has no experience who is disliked by the people in Europe and even in the United States, Mr. Hollande, definitely, we might switch our vote from Hollande to Sarkozy, who has the experience, and maybe still, the man amidst the storm, because with the economic crisis and all the world upheavals we are facing right now, a lot of people come back to Sarkozy.

So, it's great to make a lot of suspense for the next coming six weeks of the campaign, but I still feel, my personal feeling as an observer, is the debate between the two rounds, if you have a debate between Sarkozy and Hollande, it will be like a box game, a heavyweight champion game, championship between two big fighters, and this decision might be made at this time.

ANDERSON: Yes, fascinating stuff. You will be with us as we chart every step of the way through this presidential campaign. Mr. Malard, always a pleasure. Out of Paris for you this evening, French presidential elections, at least round one, towards the end of April.

Well, she is the hands-on entrepreneur with a keen eye for style. Up next, we're going to take you into the world of leading fashionista Carolina Herrera.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

ANDERSON: They are among the world's most powerful and innovative people, the Leading Women who are at the top of their game, and the focus of what is our new series.

This week, Felicia Taylor meets one entrepreneur who has cemented her place in the world of high fashion, Carolina Herrera.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

FELECIA TAYLOR, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Carolina Herrera has been defining elegance for more than 30 years, with a sense of style she was born with in her native Venezuela.

CAROLINA HERRERA, FOUNDER, CAROLINA HERRARA NEW YORK & CH: We only have six left.

TAYLOR: As founder and designer, Herrera is the embodiment of her brand, exuding an easy grace even when wearing her signature classic white shirt.

HERRERA: You know, the white shirt is so easy. For me, it's like a security blanket.

TAYLOR: Herrera's start in fashion was an unlikely one, at the age of 42, with no official training. Her friend, Diana Vreeland urged her to design a collection of dresses.

Armed with natural talent, Herrera launched her fashion company in New York in 1981. That expanded to include bridal in 1987, and by 2008, CH was born, Herrera's lifestyle collection that also includes menswear.

And today, the Herrera Collection can be found in more than 280 stores in over 100 countries, earning profits that top hundreds of millions of dollars.

HERRERA: Fashion never stops. There is always the new project, the new opportunity. So many things going on.

TAYLOR: This is Caroline Herrera.

HERRERA: It's almost ready. How wonderful!

TAYLOR: As a style icon herself, Carolina Herrera ensures each one of her designs lives up to the Herrera name.

TAYLOR (on camera): What are you -- what is the prefect definition of the Carolina Herrera brand? I mean, in terms of what you want women to have as the impression.

HERRERA: I think women in Carolina Herrera, I like them to be sophisticated and I like them to be classic with a modern twist.

TAYLOR (voice-over): Named CFDA Women's Wear Designer of the Year in 2004 and recipient of the Geoffrey Beene Lifetime Achievement Award in 2008, Herrera is firmly part of fashion's foundation.

Celebrities have favored her chic and elegant designs for decades, with Tina Fey most recently wearing one of her dresses at the Academy Awards.

On this day, she's doing her final model fittings before the debut of her Fall 2012 line at New York's Fashion Week.

HERRERA: I mean, the ribbon can be tighter.

TAYLOR: For a designer, Fashion Week is a make or break it moment, so Herrera is hands-on every step of the way.

HERRERA: So, you're taking off a little bit of the train? Just a tiny bit? Oh, all right, all right.

Gracias. Hola, hola, hola.

TAYLOR: Backstage on the day of her show, Herrera is a little hard to keep up with.

HERRERA: They are looking wonderful.

And then we tone this.

How are you?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I'm good, how are you?

HERRERA: It looks great.

TAYLOR: Always demonstrating a poised sense of power among the chaos.

HERREA: This is the moment.

TAYLOR (on camera): Before a fashion show begins, what goes through your mind?

HERRERA: What -- before it begins?

TAYLOR: Seriously.

HERRERA: My darling, I cannot explain it to you. I have my -- my stomach is full of butterflies.

TAYLOR: Good. Me, too.

HERRERA: You know, what it is is an excitement. If you don't have the energy, then you're flat.

TAYLOR: And you're never flat.

HERRERA: No, you need the energy because you need the excitement.

TAYLOR (voice-over): Adding to the excitement, well-known fashion heavy hitters come back stage to wish Herrera well.

HERRERA: Oh, no.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Hi, I was just -- I was just shopping.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: How are you feeling? You look beautiful.

HERRERA: And you? I love the way you -- I love the way you look.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I like it, too.

HERRERA: It's like a little kick.

TAYLOR: And with a few last-minute adjustments, it's time for the show.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Remember, elegant, happy, pretty. This is not a funeral.

HERRERA: Sometimes, when you have shows, and you have I don't know how many editors and press in the shows, you cannot be only showing the classic look that is the one that sells. But you have to show a fantasy.

One of the ways we show in this very tall and thin girl, we're showing them because when you have all these people sitting there, they're dreaming that if they buy that dress, they're going to look like that.

Fashion is a dream. It's difficult, and there are many aspects of fashion that are very difficult, but if you love it like I do, because I really have a passion, now, for fashion, it's not easy, but nothing is easy in life.

TAYLOR: For someone who entered fashion late in the game, Herrera has created a brand that symbolizes timeless glamor. We're learn more about Herrera in the coming weeks, her life in Venezuela, as a mother of four daughters, and how she stays current in a business that's forever changing.

HERRERA: Lovely hair. Lovely.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

ANDERSON: This is a whole series of reports, some of which are done by Felicia, some by me, some by our colleague Kristie in Asia.

You'll see much more of this series on the website and discover how men and women measure up in the battle of the boardroom as well as tips on how to get the best tech jobs, for example, not an industry that women show well in, so let's do better. That's at cnn.com/leadingwomen.

You're watching CONNECT THE WORLD live from London with me, Becky Anderson, 47 minutes past 9:00 here. When we come back, looking to make an Olympic comeback. We're going to take an in-depth look at Mr. Ian Thorpe's quest.

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ANDERSON: As we count down to the Olympic Games in London in the summer, athletes around the world are vying for the chance to compete, amongst them, champion Australian swimmer -- get this -- Ian Thorpe, who's coming out of retirement this year to take another shot at glory.

Now, the 29-year-old's comeback is being documented by fellow Australian director Gregor Jordan. He's a native, in fact. In tonight's Big Interview, we bring you a sneak preview of what the award-winning filmmaker has captured so far. Have a look at this.

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ANDERSON (voice-over): Day one of the Sydney Games 2000. A 17-year- old Australian dived into the pool and emerged a global superstar. In his first Olympics final, Ian Thorpe had won gold and set a new world record.

It was just the beginning. Thorpedo, as the teen sensation was dubbed, ending up bagging five medals in Sydney, three of them gold.

Over the next six years, more records would crumble, more medals would be won, and with it, more fame. At the age of 24, Ian Thorpe had become an Olympics legend and one of the world's most bankable sporting stars. Then this --

IAN THORPE, SWIMMER: I'm actually going to discontinue my professional swimming career.

ANDERSON: The motivation was gone, and he didn't see it coming back.

THORPE: I won't rule it out. I never rule anything out. But it's just not going to happen.

ANDERSON: Then, in February last year, a change of heart.

THORPE: Well, I've spent four years away from the pool, and I needed those four years. And what it means now is I'm returning to competitive swimming slightly more mature.

ANDERSON: His comeback is being documented every step of the way by close friend and award-winning Australian film director Gregor Jordan in a film simply called "The Swimmer."

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP - "THE SWIMMER")

THORPE: I fear failing. But it's a fantastic motivator. It's a reminder of what you want to achieve.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: What would you consider your greatest achievement?

THORPE: Maybe having the balls to do this again.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

ANDERSON (on camera): Why did Ian Thorpe decide to document his comeback, do you think?

GREGOR JORDAN, FILMMAKER, "THE SWIMMER": He approached us and said, "Would you like to make a documentary?" And this was long before it was actually announced to the world.

So, we spent several months filming him sort of in secret, because he spent a lot -- he spent quite a lot of time training just in little back yard -- in school pools and community pools and things like that. He was always having to change pools to sort of keep ahead of the media before -- while he was trying to decide whether he was going to make an official comeback.

ANDERSON: I know he's the producer as well on this documentary. How much license is he giving you, and are there times, do you think, when he wishes the camera wasn't there?

JORDAN: Yes, absolutely. Look, Ian's a notoriously sort of -- camera shy person, I guess is one way of putting it. He's actually been incredibly honest to us about what's going on with him emotionally and physically.

And just -- because from his point of view, it's about documenting accurately a time in his life that will be gone soon.

ANDERSON (voice-over): Possibly too soon. Thorpe faces selection trials for the London Olympics this week, and so far, he's battled to show signs of his former winning style.

ANDERSON (on camera): And how would you -- how would you describe his journey over the past 12 months, then, since he's announced his comeback?

JORDAN: Well, look, I guess I've noticed a change in him. It's been very difficult because when he was a swimmer the first time around, he was from a very early age of like 15, he was breaking world records. And so, he had a very meteoric rise, and he was just used to always being number one. He was used to winning all the time.

Whereas now, his comeback, he's basically become an underdog for the first time in his life, and he's having to make a big mental adjustment to that. Because he's -- when he got back in the pool, he's not winning, and he's not qualifying for finals straight away, and he knew that and was prepared for that.

But at the same time, it's a very humbling experience for him to be able to -- to know that he's going to get in the pool and not necessarily - -

ANDERSON: Sure.

JORDAN: -- win.

ANDERSON: Do you think he can do it? Do you think he's going to be able to get a successful run at returning to the Olympics?

JORDAN: It's very hard to say because at the moment his times are not good enough to be making the team. But it was interesting, because we were looking at an article the other day, and we showed it to him while we were interviewing him about how Michael Phelps, for instance, is not swimming times good enough to make the US Olympic team.

But the thing is, these guys are champions. Ian's broken 28 world records in his career and won five Olympic gold medals. So, you can never underestimate them, and you can never sort of say -- count them out.

So, I think it's going to be touch and go. He's really in a sort of a race against time, if you like.

ANDERSON: What do you think the audience is going to take away from "The Swimmer"?

JORDAN: I guess it's an interesting story about sport and about star athletes having to deal with the fact that they can be a super, superstar and world famous as a teenager, and them somewhere in their late 20s, their career is effectively over, and they've got to, then, try and work out what to do with their rest of their life.

And I think that's an interesting concept that faces a lot of professional athletes, and I think that that's probably going to be a dominant theme in "The Swimmer."

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ANDERSON: All right. And those swimming trials for the Aussie team in Adelaide this week. I believe that Mr. Thorpe has already landed there. So, we all wish him the best, of course, as we do all the other athletes who are going through trials at the moment. What a trial that must be. But we look forward to seeing the winners here for the Olympics in 2012.

Right. I want to get you back to something we brought you at the top of the show. You are seeing some pictures as we show you that report of the visit by UK prime minister David Cameron in the United States for talks with President Barack Obama.

Now, what you're seeing here on your screens is the -- the president, there, as you can see, David Cameron at his side. They've just landed in Dayton in the midwestern state of Ohio, a crucial electoral state, of course.

But politics being put aside for a little while so that the leader can engage in the other contest gripping the nation, and that being college basketball. Mr. Cameron and Mr. Obama will attend a first round game during the Division I Men's Championships.

Not a big game, like you'd expect, but an important one for those college students. And let me tell you, having lived in the States, college basketball is incredibly important.

So, Cameron and Obama in the state of Ohio. We'll hear from -- more from them, of course, as they hit Washington for talks later in the week.

They're going to get into their car, I'm going to get into mine shortly. I'm Becky Anderson, that was the world connected for you. Thank you for watching. The world news headlines and "BackStory" are up after this. Stay with us.

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