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Lance Armstrong Drops Fight Against USADA; Anders Behring Breivik Found Sane, Sentenced To 21 Years

Aired August 24, 2012 - 16:00   ET


FIONNUALA SWEENEY, HOST: Tonight on Connect the World, the chilling smile of a mass murderer. Anders Breivik is declared sane by a Norwegian court and jailed for the maximum term.

ANNOUNCER: Live from CNN Center, this is Connect the World.

SWEENEY: Well, he carried out one of Norway's worst terrorist atrocities. And tonight, a survivor who narrowly escaped death describes his emotions.

Also tonight...


MICHAEL BLOOMBERG, MAYOR OF NEW YORK: This is a terrible tragedy.


SWEENEY: New York mayor reacts to a deadly shootout near the iconic Empire State Building as details emerge about the gunman.

And Tropical Storm Isaac bears down on the Caribbean heading straight for Haiti's tent city. We are live on the island's south coast with the latest.

It was the moment Norway had been waiting for. The sentencing of self-confessed killer Anders Behring Breivik, the man responsible for the deadliest attack Norway has seen in peacetime was today found sane and given the maximum sentence possible: 21 years in prison. CNN's Diana Magnay is in Oslo and reports from there.


DIANA MAGNAY, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: It was the verdict he was looking for, a life sentence for Anders Behring Breivik, the man who unleashed what his own lawyer described as an inferno of violence in July last year, wiping out 77 lives in a matter of hours.

It started with a car bomb in Oslo's government district that killed eight people. The self-described right-wing extremist then drove to the Island of Utoya 19 miles away where he gunned down 69 others, most of them teens, at a political summer camp.

Charged with voluntary homicide and committing acts of terrorism, the 33 year old defendant appeared defiant at times during his 10 week trial saying he killed his victims to fight multiculturalism in Norway. Prosecutors had called for him to be considered insane and held in a high security mental health unit, but he said he wanted to be ruled sane so that his actions would not be dismissed as those of a mad man.

The trial forced Norwegians to reflect on the rampage in painful detail. Many of the survivors testifying meters from the man who slaughtered their friends.

One told me that he felt it was right that Breivik was judged sane and therefore criminally responsible for his acts.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I'm relieved for the -- to hear the outcome I was hoping for, and it was also the one I was expecting. It was very difficult for me to unite the concept of insanity with his actions, with the level of detail -- detailed planning that was (inaudible) for this major logistical operation after all.

MAGNAY: Frederik Lie's two daughters were on Utoya that day, one died, one survived.

FREDERIK LIE, FATHER OF VICTIM: Maybe tomorrow I feel a little bit emptiness, because this has been a part of my life and now it's the end. But after that, we must try to get back to our lives, normal lives really for the kids.

MAGNAY: Breivik was sentenced to the maximum of 21 years with the possibility of extension if he's still considered dangerous. A special wing is being built at Norway's Ila prison for inmates requiring particularly high security. He's expected to end up there. And there's every possibility that he may never get out.


SWEENEY: Well, Diana Magnay joins us now live from Oslo. Tonight, in no way is there as sense of closure at all?

MAGNAY: There is a sense of closure, Fionnuala, to a certain extent. You know, this was the verdict that Breivik himself wanted. He wanted to be considered sane. He wanted legitimacy for his political acts as he saw them. But it was also the verdict that most Norwegians wanted. They felt that he was criminally responsible for his act, that he should face the maximum criminal sentence and that is what that 21 year term is, that 21 year in name, but which probably will be extended in practice. We spoke to his lawyer who said Norway must prepare itself for the fact that it is possible that he is back on the street as a very old man, but it is highly unlikely, that was the view from really pretty much everyone else who I spoke to today.

So definitely a sense in this country that justice at least has been done, a line has been drawn under the case. Breivik has said that he will not appeal. The prosecution has said that they will not appeal. All of that means that, you know, the last sight that the bereaved, the survivors had of Breivik was the last that they will have in a very, very long time Fionnuala.

SWEENEY: We know -- what do we know, Diana, of the circumstances surrounding his imprisonment?

MAGNAY: Well, we have pictures. We've seen -- he has effectively a sort of three cell suite. Suite might be over doing it, but these are very small, white, sparse rooms. But one of them does contain fitness equipment, one of them has a desk where a laptop is sort of stapled down to the desk. Apparently it's not connected to the internet, but he can, of course, work and write on it. Breivik has described himself as an author. And then he has his own living apartment, living quarters in one other cell. And then he has an out door area where he can take exercise, although the amount of time he's allowed to spend in there is quite limited. So, you know, solitary confinement in Norwegian style does sound a fair luxury affair as compared to other countries, certainly.

Ila prison, which is where he's been confined up to now, which is where he will be confined going forward, a big prison northwest of Norway is building a special wing for particularly high security prisoners. Breivik will go in there. And that should be finished in autumn of next year Fionnuala.

SWEENEY: All right. Thank you very much. Diana Magnay reporting live from Oslo.

Well, for many survivors, life will never be the same. Let's remind you now of some of the scars they've been left to deal with.


ADRIAN PRACON, UTOYA SURVIVOR (through translator): I saw people running in front of me. And he behind them shooting and people falling in front of me. I started to run like everyone. People were hiding in tents and toilets and showers, under the buildings. They were jumping into the water. There was a panic. And he was walking very calm. He was calm all the time. He was walking behind us and was shooting. He had an automatic weapon, but he switched into the single bullets, because each bullet was supposed to kill someone.

A lot of close friends were killed. The one who fell on my legs when he was shot, that was my very good friend. This will stay with me for the rest of my life.


SWEENEY: Well, let's take a closer look at Breivik's jail terms. He is going back to the same prison where he's been kept in for the last year. Ila prison as you heard from Diana in Norway released this video of a cell very similar to his. And Breivik as we know will be kept in semi- isolation, meaning he can't interact with other inmates, but he does has contact with prison staff.

He's compensated for this by a spacious cell for three rooms, a bedroom, study, and an exercise room. He's allowed to use the computer, but won't have access to the internet. And he even has access to a small balcony, although secured by concrete and barbed wire.

The aim is to eventually move him to a shared section with other prisoners where he'll then have access to a school.

Our top story tonight, self-confessed killer Anders Behring Breivik has been found sane and handed Norway's maximum sentence of 21 years in jail.

And still to come tonight, a shocking crime right outside one of the world's most famous landmarks. We'll have a live report on a deadly shooting in Midtown Manhattan.

We'll bring you the latest from Haiti as fears grow for hundreds of thousands of homeless residents with Tropical Storm Isaac threatening to cross the coast.

Lance Armstrong has decided to no longer fight doping charges. Find out why this could cost the celebrated cyclist dearly.


SWEENEY: You're watching CNN. This is Connect the World. I'm Fionnuala Sweeney. Welcome back.

Some terrifying moments this morning on the crowded streets of Manhattan. It started with a man opening fire near the Empire State Building. And it ended with two people dead, at least eight others wounded.

Maggie Lake is near the crime scene and she joins us now to explain what happened -- Maggie.

MAGGIE LAKE, CNN CORRESPONDNET: Fionnuala, disbelief and shock is a feeling that eyewitnesses described after 58 year old disgruntled worker Jeffrey Johnson showed up as his former workplace and shot at pointblank range a former colleague. This is in the middle of the height of morning rush hour where hundreds of workers were going into their buildings. Tours were lining up to get into the iconic Empire State Building. The mayor holding a press conference not long after the incident said if it were not for the quick reaction of the police and the courage of bystanders who followed the suspect it points them out to believe the tragedy would have been much worse. And Mayor Bloomberg, sensitive to what the city has been through, took great pains to try to reassure everyone in the city.


BLOOMBERG: What I want to do is assure everybody this is nothing to do with terrorism. There is clearly a murderer here and a murder victim. The police responded very quickly, because they were on the scene, a post where we have -- we assign police officers in the normal course of protecting this city.


LAKE: And Fionnuala, two dead, one of them the shooter and his victim, eight others wounded, including two police officers. The others were bystanders, thankfully none of them with fatal injuries -- Fionnuala.

SWEENEY: All right. We leave it there. Maggie Lake in New York, thank you.

For more now on our top story, the self-confessed killer Anders Behring Breivik has been found sane and handed Norway's maximum sentence of 21 years in jail.

Joining me now is the survivor of Breivik's attack on Utoya Island. Tore Bekkedal narrowly escaped death by hiding in a cafe bathroom, but he lost many friends on that fateful day.

Thank you very much for joining us.

First of all, what was it like to be in court this morning and to hear this verdict?

TORE BEKKEDAL, UTOYA SURVIVOR: There was an aspect of it felt good to be over with the legal process. And anther aspect was there was -- I was relieved to hear the verdict I was hoping for.


BEKKEDAL: It was a thorough legal argumentation for the result. And it's -- and every way fulfill the standard that I was expecting from the -- or even higher than I was expecting from our legal system.

SWEENEY: Right. You seem a relatively happy man tonight as we talk to you. But what was it like when you first went into court at the beginning of the trial, which of course lasted ten weeks. What was it like to be in that courtroom so close to this man who killed some of your friends? And how did your feelings about him and the situation evolve as time went on?

BEKKEDAL: It's kind of strange. I didn't have any feelings at all, really, for him. I kind of -- he's done something so horrible that I kind of struck him off my record as a human being, as someone I could empathize with or even be angry at.

He's going away for the rest of his life. And he's, you know, he's gone from society and he's gone from my concerns. The only concern was whether our society would live up to the expectations and hopes that I had and that there would be a legal process which was fully in keeping with our principles and the principles of our legal system.

SWEENEY: And you think that had happened tonight, that Norway's judicial system has risen to the challenge?

BEKKEDAL: Yes, absolutely.

SWEENEY: Let me ask you if I might very briefly about the trial in the sense of how did you find his demeanor, because as we speak to you we're looking at video of him in court. And there were times when he was in court where he had this kind of wry smile on his face. Did that bother you at all? Did you have any sense of anger about that?

BEKKEDAL: When you've gotten to the point where you've killed a bunch of my friends, whether you smile or not has not even -- is not really going to register too much of an opinion or an emotion from us.

And he is a political terrorist. And, you know, and his short-term goal of killing a bunch of socialists he certainly did gain -- do what he did, but in the long -- in the bigger picture he seems to have lost the country and most aspects has really rallied around the liberal values that underpin our society.

SWEENEY: And you were extremely fortunate on that day in July last year. How have you been coping? And given that leading up to this moment has taken up all this time since July 2011. How do you think you will feel tomorrow? Will you be able to start a new chapter?

BEKKEDAL: It's -- there is no closure, but it is at least a closure on a chapter. I used to take such great joy in thinking about the futures of these people, joking with them that, you know, this or that person would be the next prime minister and so on. And I will always feel that these great news that we'd get of this or that person getting this or that job or doing this or that good thing. I will miss those and I will lose those for the rest of my life. So that will always stay with me.

SWEENEY: All right. And briefly, did it make you recommit to politics?

BEKKEDAL: It certainly makes me feel that politics is more important, whether I personally am able to -- I mean, Utoya was attacked because we were, and we are, a very real threat to his world view. And I do want to spend the rest of my life maximizing that threat for the future. So, yes, I will try my best, but I don't know -- I mean, I survived thanks to luck, others -- friends and role models -- didn't due to bad luck. And in that context, I personally feel, and I've spoken to others that you feel a moral obligation not just to survive, but you've gotten this -- you've kept your life through no real effort of your own as it were, and it's -- you sense an obligation that rather than merely surviving, you also have to make the best of what you have and try your hardest.

SWEENEY: Tore Bekkedal, well we wish you luck as you move on. And thank you very much indeed for your time joining us from Oslo.

BEKKEDAL: Now here's a look at some of the other stories connecting our world tonight. The humanitarian crisis in Syria is soaring to new levels as thousands of residents are forced to flee fierce fighting. A UN refugee agency says more than 200,000 Syrians have fled the country since the fighting began. The agency says that just overnight 2,200 people crossed the border into Jordan. Meanwhile, within the country, opposition activists say at least 25 children were among more than 140 people killed in Syria on Friday.

Greece says it needs more time, not money, to rebuild its economy. Prime Minister Antonis Samaras asked for breathing space when he met Germany Chancellor Angela Merkel today. He's hoping for a two year extension on the country's bailout program. But EuroZone leaders won't grant leniency until after they've seen a report on Greece's debt stricken economy due next month. Mrs. Merkel says she's confident Mr. Samaras is doing all he can to fix the economy.

A South Korean court has fined two of the world's biggest technology companies for copying each other's ideas. The Seoul district court ordered Apple to pay $22,000 in damages for infringing on Samsung's wi-fi technology. And it fined Samsung more than $35,000 for violating Apple's iPhone and iPad patents. The ruling comes as a Californian court considers a similar case in the U.S. worth hundreds of millions of dollars.

Now, to an exclusive report inside the embattled Syrian city of Aleppo. The carnage continues to mount daily as rebels fight pro-Assad forces in the battle for the country's biggest city. Medical staff struggle to cope as the injured fill the floors of filthy, makeshift clinics. And the victims are often innocent in the truest sense of the word. Children living an adult's worst nightmare.

Now we must warn you this report contains scenes that could be disturbing for viewers. CNN's Jim Clancy has more.


JIM CLANCY, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Screams of pain, pleas for help, and prayers inundate an emergency room in Aleppo, Syria. A bomb exploded as these civilians waited in line to buy bread. Now, sprawled on the floor, they wait for someone to treat their wounds, to save their lives.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Who knows, maybe 10, maybe 10 (inaudible) go to bring more. There's many, there's many wounded people.

CLANCY: In the heart of this chaos, the doctors and staff are beacons are calm. Take note of that as you watch these images, because if any of them are arrested they know they will be executed almost immediately by the regime.

It's going to be another record day for the al Shara (ph) hospital. Men, women, and children of every age, suffering from every kind of wound imaginable, come here for help.


CLANCY: They are keeping score here. Each patient treated is another small victory in a war where innocent civilians are the targets.

Some will be quickly patched up and sent home, others will undergo major surgery that will mean the difference between life and death.

Spanish journalist Ricardo Garcia spent 20 days documenting the real- life drama as the medical staff fights to keep this hospital open.

People are depending on them.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE (through translator): What's with this bad president. Aren't we his people?

CLANCY: On Aleppo's littered streets, atop shattered homes, Syrians denounce Bashar al-Assad.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE (through translator): Where does he think he's bombing, Tel Aviv, Israel?

CLANCY: Residents say they sleep in shelters, wait for the next bombing and this, their living nightmare. Others stand and fight. But there are times when even al Shara (ph) hospital cannot save them.

Near the hospital entrance, Free Syrian Army fighters big farewell to a comrade in arms.

"He's gone to paradise," the fighter shouts, "he's gone to paradise."

"There's nothing here."

These doctors and their assistance face risks every bit as dangerous as fighting on the front lines. If captured, execution. And they know well the regime is out to get them. Doctors recount how military intelligence agents came to the hospital to kill them. The Free Syrian Army thwarted that assassination. But nothing stops falling bombs. A near miss with a 500 pounder shattered the windows. Jets later scored multiple rocket hits on the third and fourth floors.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: If I afraid, you don't would see me here.

CLANCY: But they are all here at work in Aleppo's al Shara (ph) hospital and grimly preparing to treat the next victims of Syria's bloody civil war.


SWEENEY: We're going to take a short break now, but when we come back. Is Lance losing his Tour de France titles or not? That is the million dollar question.


SWEENEY: Until today, Lance Armstrong seemed to never give up on anything, not fighting cancer, or racing in the Tour de France. But now the legendary cyclist has decided, quote, "enough is enough." Armstrong says he won't fight allegations from the U.S. Anti-Doping Agency anymore.

The seven time Tour de France winner says he's the victim of what he calls an unconstitutional witch hunt. Mark McKay joining me now. Mark, Lance may have given up the fight, but he was certainly fighting when he issued that statement late last night.

MARK MCKAY, CNN SPORTS CORREPSONDENT: Yeah, at least two or three pages worth of fights in him. And Armstrong basically continues to maintain that he has never failed a doping test, yet by not going to arbitration against the United States Anti-Doping Agency in their case, the U.S. Anti-Doping Agency says it can go through with sanctions that include stripping him of his seven Tour de France titles among other sanctions.

But in that long statement, Lance Armstrong seemed to question USADA's authority when he said, quote, "the U.S. Anti-Doping Agency, USADA, cannot assert control of a professional international sport in an attempt to strip my seven Tour de France titles. I know who won those seven Tours. My teammates know who won those seven Tours. And everyone I competed against knows who won those seven Tours."

Of course Travis Tygart, the chief executive officer of the U.S. Anti- Doping Agency vehemently disagrees with Mr. Armstrong. Here's what he had to say earlier on a syndicated U.S. radio talk show.


TRAVIS TYGART, USADA: Better move now for him is to walk away on these terms and, you know, hold on to a sound byte with no basis about an unfair process or a witch hunt or personal vendetta and all these things that you've heard, because I think it would have been much tougher had all that evidence over a, you know, two week, three week period of time under oath and presented on the stand...


MCKAY: And some of those claims, at least what the U.S. Anti-Doping Agency says has against Armstrong, if in fact they had gone through with this, include at least 10 witnesses that say Fionnuala that they witnessed Armstrong in some type of doping.


So, his Tour de France titles haven't been taken away, yet, but what happens next if he's not fighting any more?

MCKAY: Well, they've been taken away by the U.S. Anti-Doping Agency, but there are a couple of other bodies that still need to weigh in. The International Cycling Union, and -- which is the sports governing body, Fionnuala, and the World Anti-Doping Agency. What they will do is examine what the United States Anti-Doping Agency, quote, unquote, has on Lance Armstrong. This could be a two week process. And in the end, this could very well, Fionnuala, end up back in the courts.

SWEENEY: I presume you'll have much more on this on World Sports.

MCKAY: On World Sport -- actually we hope to hear -- we're expecting to hear from the CEO of the U.S. Anti-Doping Agency. That's on World Sport in just over an hour.

SWEENEY: Yeah, it's a very complicated story with many angles and layers. So you're devoting the entire program to that.

MCKAY: Yes, we are.

SWEENEY: All right, thank you very much, indeed, Mark McKay. Now, still to come on CONNECT THE WORLD, panic and chaos in New York as shots ring out near the Empire State Building. We'll get an update on the attack that has left the city in shock.

Our series on "honor" killings continues as we meet a woman rejected by her own family for refusing a forced marriage.

And we look ahead to next week's Paralympics and the truly inspirational athletes taking part in their biggest Games yet.


SWEENEY: A warm welcome to our viewers across Europe and around the world, I'm Fionnuala Sweeney and these are the latest world headlines from CNN.

A Norwegian court has declared Anders Breivik to be sane and sentenced him to 21 years in prison. Breivik confessed to murdering 77 people in a bomb attack and gun rampage last summer. His lawyer says he won't appeal the verdict.

New York officials have ruled out terrorism in today's shooting outside the Empire State building. They say a man killed a former coworker then was killed himself in a shootout with police. At least eight other people were wounded.

German chancellor Angela Merkel says she wants Greece to stay in the eurozone. She met Greek prime minister Antonis Samaras in Berlin and said Greece must make good on its promised two-year austerity plan. Mr. Samaras travels to Paris on Saturday to meet the French president Francois Hollande.

Lance Armstrong's legendary cycling career may be all but erased. Armstrong faces the prospect of losing his seven Tour de France titles after saying he won't fight doping allegations any longer. That prompted the US Anti-Doping Agency to slap a lifetime ban on Armstrong.

Concerns are growing for vulnerable Haitians as Tropical Storm Isaac inches closer to the region. About 400,000 people are still living in makeshift camps in Haiti after being left homeless by the 2010 earthquake.

The storm is expected to unleash gale-force winds and heavy rain around the region within hours. Aid groups fear potential flooding and storm surge may endanger residents more than the storm itself. Let's get the latest from Martin Savidge. He's on the line from the coastal town of Jacmel in Haiti. What's the situation like where you are, Martin?

MARTIN SAVIDGE, CNN CORRESPONDENT (via telephone): Well, Fionnuala, this must be the calm, I guess, before the storm, because right now, winds are extremely light. In fact, there's hardly a breath of air. Skies are overcast, but there is no rain falling at this particular time.

There was torrential rain earlier, and that triggered some small amount of street flooding. But it just goes to show you, a little bit of rain can do a lot, and what they're fearing is there's going to be a lot of rain. And as you pointed out, hundreds of thousands of people in this country are still living in temporary shelters, tents mostly, or ramshackle kind of homes.

And the worry is not so much the winds, but it's the water. Anywhere from 14 inches or above is expected. And as you know, Haiti's very mountainous. The water is expected to race off of those mountains and go rushing into Port-au-Prince and into Jacmel, where we are here.

We're expecting to get the brunt of the storm in just a few hours. But it's only about 50 kilometers away from Port-au-Prince, and there you have hundreds of thousands of people that are also waiting.

It should be pointed out, though, in our drive to get here, nobody seemed worried about his particular storm. Emergency operations people are. The city managers are. But the general populace does not seem to be.

We didn't see one person that was really preparing in any way, shape, or form. They'll believe it, they say, when they see it. And so far, they haven't seen it. The problem is, by then it could be too late for them to get ready. Fionnuala?

SWEENEY: All right. We're going to keep an eye on this obviously. Thank you very much, Martin Savidge saying, there, that it is the calm, literally, before the storm in Haiti.

Tourists and commuters alike were just starting their day when a horrific scene unfolded in the shadow of the Empire State Building. Let's get more, now, on one of our top stories today, those deadly shootings in New York. Maggie Lake joins us again with an update.

And Maggie, as we learn more about the circumstances of these shootings, let me ask you. Are New Yorkers saying anything to you about the issue of gun control in America after these numerous mass shootings we've had over the last few weeks?

MAGGIE LAKE, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: It's always a sensitive topic, Fionnuala, and it is sure to dominate the headlines this weekend. New York is a city that certainly is no stranger to crime, but for this to happen in the middle of the day from a suspect that, for all means and purposes, from what we know now, seemed like an ordinary citizen is again raising these questions.

And we are getting back to business here right now in midtown Manhattan. The traffic's flowing, the workers are coming out for rush hour and shopping, filling the sidewalks, but that was not the case at 9:03 this morning when Jeffrey Johnson, who's described as a disgruntled worker, returned to the company where he used to work and killed, point-blank range, a coworker.

We spoke to an eyewitness, a construction worker, who was right across the street, who described the scene to us. Have a listen.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: He was walking the corner, like very nonchalant. I guess he was trying to fit into the crowd or something.

And then the -- some guy on the corner tried to apprehend him, he gets shot, he walks half a block down to the left on Fifth Avenue, and that's when he had the shootout with the cops. And I think four or five people got shot on that corner. They were just stray bullets that hit them.


LAKE: And Fionnuala, the witnesses we spoke to throughout the day were in disbelief, many of them thought that there was maybe a celebrity, it was maybe a scene from a television movie -- again, lots of those type of things happen in New York -- before they realized it was actually happening.

Johnson was in a suit, he was carrying a briefcase, which police say carried additional ammunition. A bystander followed him, as you heard that man describe, identified him to police, and that's when the shootout took place. Eight wounded, two of them officers. Thankfully, no one injured seriously or life-threateningly. Fionnuala?

SWEENEY: Maggie Lake, thank you, indeed, for that update from New York. Now, this is the third time in just over a month that there's been a mass shooting in the US that has made headlines.

You may remember the massacre at a midnight showing of Batman in Colorado theater. Twelve people were killed, 58 wounded when a man opened fire. And just a couple of weeks ago, a mass shooting at a Sikh temple in Wisconsin left six people dead.

After today's shooting in New York, Mayor Michael Bloomberg had this to say.


MICHAEL BLOOMBERG, MAYOR, NEW YORK CITY: New York City, as you know, is the safest big city in the country and we're on pace to have a record no -- low number of murders this year. But we are not immune to the national problem of gun violence.


SWEENEY: Bloomberg is a strong advocate of tougher gun control laws. These shootings could bring the issue back into the national spotlight, with the presidential election just around the corner.

Let's bring in CNN Senior Political Analyst Ron Brownstein. He's the editorial director of the "National Journal" in Washington. Thank you for joining us. It does seem, however, that neither candidate wants really to bring up gun control in the run-up to this election. So, is there any prospect of it hitting the agenda at all before November?

RON BROWNSTEIN, CNN SENIOR POLITICAL ANALYST: Right now, it doesn't seem so. It's really rather extraordinary. But the received conventional wisdom, really, the hardened conventional wisdom in both parties and, more relevantly, in the Democratic Party, is that gun control is a losing issue in American politics.

This really dates back to the 2000 race, where Al Gore was defeated by George W. Bush, lost heavily in rural areas, and there was a belief in the Democratic Party after that guns were a critical factor in costing him the White House.

In fact, I think this is a misreading of the politics, which is much more closely divided, but that is where we are. President Obama has been very reluctant to touch this issue, even as he has embraced polarizing positions on a number of other cultural issues, like gay marriage. But on this one, he has kept his distance.

SWEENEY: All right. And some would argue that that is because the National Rifle Association is so funded by the gun industry and that it's such a large lobby group that it's really a very hot potato for him to take on.

And what really strikes me as well is that in the wake of the Batman shooting, gun sales in Colorado -- in the state where it happened --


SWEENEY: -- jumped by 40 percent the next day.

BROWNSTEIN: Right. I actually think it's not the institutional power of the NRA so much as it is the kind of broader demographic dimensions of this issue. What -- you've got to think about this in the broader context of the way American politics have been heading.

Democrats have been losing ground among white, blue collar Americans for decades, partially around cultural issues, partially around size of government issues. Their coalition is now much more dependent on minority voters and more socially liberal white collar white voters.

The people in the Democratic coalition by and large are still pretty supportive of gun control. The Republican coalition is deeply opposed to gun control, those culturally conservative parts of America, and they're getting more opposed to it.

And so, what you see on this issue, I think, is kind of unusual, where the president, unlike many other issues, as I mentioned, is being reluctant to express the priorities of his own coalition for fear of further alienating voters in the other. But I guess I would argue that he's pretty much lost those voters already and, in many ways, he's being intimidated by the fear of losing people that he's already lost.

SWEENEY: All right. And as I mentioned those figures in Colorado, something like there was a rise of 20 percent in gun sales --


SWEENEY: -- this year on last year. So, the country really is driven on the need for security or a fear or the right to bear arms, literally and figuratively. Do you think gun control might be something that President Obama might tackle if he wins a second term?

BROWNSTEIN: Well -- I think the answer is no. As I said, he seems to be really reluctant to go down this road. Support for gun control has eroded in the US as Bill Clinton left office. There really hasn't been anybody making the case for it at the national level.

But even after that erosion, the country divides almost exactly in half, 50-50, on whether we need more stringent controls or we need to emphasize the rights of gun owners.

And as I said, that division largely reflects and overlaps the basic divide we're seeing in our politics in this very close 50-50 race between Obama and Romney. And the reality is that within the Democratic coalition, in blue states, for example, there is still substantial support for gun control.

But what you've got is uniform Republican opposition and Democrats who have been convinced by and large that this is a losing issue, so you really have neither side being willing to take it on at this point, even though there is still a coalition that would respond, in all likelihood, to that message.

SWEENEY: All right. It's a very interesting story in terms of the politics of it all, and thank you very much, indeed, Ron Brownstein, for joining us.

BROWNSTEIN: Thank you.

SWEENEY: Stay with CNN for all the very latest details on the shooting in New York. Coming up on CONNECT THE WORLD.


JASVINDER SANGHERA, CO-FOUNDER, KARMA NIRVANA: "In our eyes, you're dead." And with that, she slammed the phone down.


SWEENEY: We meet a woman using her own story of family honor to save others from forced marriage and "honor" violence.


SWEENEY: All this week, CNN has been looking at the horrific practice of so-called "honor" killings, when women and sometimes men are perceived to have tarnished a family's honor and are murdered as a result. Here's a look back at some of our special reporting.


SWEENEY (voice-over): On Monday, we brought you the story of Shafilea Ahmed, a bright young teenager whose life was cruelly taken from her by her very own parents. Shafilea Ahmed's mother and father were sentenced to life in prison for the murder of their teenage daughter, killed over her desire to live a Westernized lifestyle.

Our series continued with chilling testimony from this man, who killed three members of his family. His apparent lack of remorse, startling.

MUHAMMAD ISMAIL, CONFESSED TO KILLING WIFE (through translator): I stopped when I was sure all the bullets were gone. I am proud of what I did, that's why I turned myself over to the police. That's why I turned myself over to the police.

SWEENEY: Diana Magnay reported on the case of Aya Baradiya, a young Palestinian girl killed by her uncle last year.

IQAB BARADIYA, CONFESSED TO "HONOR" KILLING (through translator): We kidnapped her and took a car, a Peugeot 205, and parked the car by the well, threw the girl inside the well, and then left.


SWEENEY: He told police she'd engaged in improper sexual relations, although they found little evidence to back up the claim.

Some of the stories CNN has reported on this week are heart-wrenching. The story of Zara, too frightened to show her face or use her real name. CNN also obscured her voice. When her marriage began to unravel in the UK, her husband demanded they return home to face her family.

ZARA, "HONOR" VIOLENCE VICTIM: She told me, "I will look after them. You don't deserve to be a mother. You don't deserve to be a mother."

And my son was looking at my face. His mother called me by very bad names.


ZARA: She called me prostitute in front of my sons. It was really terrible, terrible moment. I -- I couldn't forget it.


SWEENEY: Her sons, now living with their father, refuse to speak to her, a separation she accepts, fearing what they might do.


SWEENEY: Today, we bring you the story of a British woman who's used her own experiences to help others. CNN's Atika Shubert met Jasvinder Sanghera, who travels the country trying to prevent girls from becoming victims of forced marriage and "honor"-based violence.


SANGHERA: I was born in Derby. I went to school in Derby with my sisters.

ATIKA SHUBERT, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Jasvinder Sanghera goes from school to school telling her story of growing up in a Sikh family in Britain in the hope that it will save someone's life.

SANGHERA: Sometimes, families cross the line where a person is saying, actually I don't want to do this. And then it becomes a forced marriage. And that's not tradition.

SHUBERT: When Jasvinder was 14 years old, her mother showed her a photograph of the man she had been promised to in marriage since the age of 8. Jasvinder says she refused, and her parents locked her up in her room.

Jasvinder managed to run away, but as she wrote in her book, it ended her relationship with her parents. The last time they talked, it was over the phone.

SANGHERA: The person who answered the phone was my mother, and this is what she said to me. She said, "Thanks to you I can't walk the streets of Derby anymore, because people are talking. People spit at me."

There was a pause. "Live your own life, then, and good luck to you. In our eyes, you're dead." And with that, she slammed the phone down. "You've shamed us. You are dead in our eyes."

SHUBERT: Jasvinder says, to her parents, it was a matter of family honor. Her younger sister was forced to marry in her place.

SANGHERA: You would see horrific stories of them being beaten and abused, and yet my mother's response was to tell them to stay there, because it was their duty to make the marriage work for the sake of our honor.

SHUBERT: But when her older sister committed suicide, setting herself on fire rather than enduring an abusive marriage, Jasvinder acted. Her parents have since died, and CNN was unable to contact her sister's husband for comment.

In 1994, she set up Karma Nirvana, a national hotline for forced marriage and "honor"-based violence. It receives about 500 calls a month from both men and women. Half the people who answer phones at Karma Nirvana are themselves survivors of "honor"-based violence.

SANGHERA: I have seen cases where girls have been murdered for passing their driving test, for having aspirations after school, for being seen kissing a boy at a Tube station. Women being -- asking their partners for a divorce being murdered. So, these are the triggers.

SHUBERT: Just before the summer holidays, Jasvinder tours British schools. Karma Nirvana's statistics show that school holidays tend to be the most vulnerable time for young girls forced into marriage.

SANGHERA: I made the point earlier that this is not tradition, because it's not. It's not religious, either. Neither is it cultural. It's not part of anybody's culture, tradition, or religion to be abused, to be hurt.

SHUBERT: Her message is clear: there is nothing honorable about forced marriage and "honor"-based violence

Atika Shubert, CNN, Derby, England.


SWEENEY: And to find out more on the subject of "honor" killings and what you can do to help or, indeed, if you need help yourself, head to Impact Your World on our website at

You're watching CONNECT THE WORLD, and when we come back, reignited. The sporting spirit returns to London for the Paralympic Games.


SWEENEY: "Welcome to our manor." That's the message greeting athletes arriving at London's Heathrow Airport to remind them who has the home turn advantage in the Paralympic Games. Fronting the campaign, British gold medal favorite Shelly Woods, who earlier this year was the first wheelchair athlete across the line in the London Marathon.

Now, another young Brit who won hearts in the London Marathon this year was the so-called Bionic Woman. Claire Lomas, who's partially paralyzed, took 16 days to complete the event wearing a special suit. And today, she was given the honor of launching the Paralympic torch relay. Erin McLaughlin was there to mark the five-day countdown to London's next big sporting event.


ERIN MCLAUGHLIN, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Earlier today, this cauldron was lit to mark the official beginning of the Paralympics torch relay.


DAVID CAMERON, PRIME MINISTER OF BRITAIN: Here in London, we can proudly say the Paralympics are coming home.

MCLAUGHLIN: Officials were also on hand for the unveiling of a giant set of Agitos, which is the official symbol for the Paralympic Games, suspended from Tower Bridge. It's all designed to stoke excitement ahead of the Games. Some 4,000 Paralympic athletes expected to compete, 2.3 million tickets sold so far. Officials here say this is set to be a great Games.

BORIS JOHNSON, MAYOR OF LONDON: Tickets for these Games are going faster and more furiously than tickets have ever gone before in the history of the Paralympics. And that, I think, is because of the excitement partly that was built up by the Olympics, but also because people are engaging with the Paralympics in a way they hadn't done before.

MCLAUGHLIN: That's quite a quick turnaround from the Olympics. What kind of planning and preparation did it take to make these Games happen.

SEBASTIAN COE, CHAIRMAN, LONDON 2012 ORGANIZING COMMITTEE: It's been a quick turnaround for very good reason, and that is we wanted to maintain the spirit of sporting celebration throughout the UK for as long as we possibly could.

And so, it has meant that we probably only had about five working days to turn the Village around, ten working days to transform London from an Olympic into a Paralympic city, and all the adjustments that we make to our venues.

MCLAUGHLIN: The cauldron was lit by 32-year-old Claire Lomas, who was paralyzed from the chest down in a horse riding accident.

CLAIRE LOMAS, PARAPLEGIC ATHLETE: Wow, what an experience it was, rather nerve-wracking.

MCLAUGHLIN: She managed to complete this year's London Marathon in a bionic suit, raising over $300,000 for spinal research. Cauldrons like this one will be lit in three other cities across the UK. The flames will eventually be joined into one for an overnight relay into London for the start of the Paralympic Opening Ceremony next week.

Erin McLaughlin, CNN, London.


SWEENEY: I'm sure there'll be some terrific stories. I'm Fionnuala Sweeney, that was CONNECT THE WORLD, thank you for watching. The world headlines are up next after this short break.