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Female Suicide Bomber Kills 12 at Kabul Airport; Mitt Romney on Defensive After Controversial Comments at Fundraiser

Aired September 18, 2012 - 16:00   ET


BECKY ANDERSON, HOST: And tonight on Connect the World anger turns to revenge: the burnt out wreckage of a suicide attack that killed 12 foreigners in Afghanistan.

ANNOUNCER: Live from CNN London, this is connect the world with Becky Anderson.

ANDERSON: This hour, inside the mind of an insurgent.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The Taliban pay them, care for them, and also this is the way of God. They pray and look after them.


ANDERSON: A film maker reveals how the Taliban recruits its killers. That is coming up.

Also on the show tonight...


MITT ROMNEY, REPUBLICAN PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: But the Palestinians have no interest whatsoever in establishing peace.


ANDERSON: If you think that's a gaffe, hear what the U.S. presidential hopeful Mitt Romney has to say about Americans. Exclusive secret video this hour.

And, she describes the bikini as the biggest thing since the atom bomb. How Diana Vreeland became the 20th Century empress of fashion.

I'm Becky Anderson in London. We begin with the deadliest response yet to a film that insults Islam. 12 people were killed today in Afghanistan by a female suicide bomber. Outrage over the film directed at the United States, but today's attack ended up killing mostly South Africans.

We've got two live reports for you this hour. Anna Coren is in Kabul and Robyn Curnow has reaction from Johannesburg.

Anna, let's start with you. More bloodshed and mayhem. What do we know of the details of the attack earlier today?

ANNA COREN, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Becky, as you say another deadly day here in Afghanistan after a female suicide bomber, very unusual here, she struck a convoy carrying eight South Africans. They were all killed instantly.

Now this attack is a direct response to that anti-Islamic film that is causing so much rage across the Muslim world.


COREN (voice-over): On a busy highway close to Kabul Airport is the twisted metal and debris of vehicles that an hour before had been filled with passengers. Their bodies lie in the dirt, the latest victims in this bloody war.

The explosion was huge and very dangerous as he was walking to school. I could there were many casualties. Police believe a minibus carrying eight South Africans and one Kergist, some of them pilots working for an international flight transport company along with their Afghan driver was rammed by a car packed with 300 kilograms of explosives.

The driver of that car, a 22-year-old woman, making her the first female suicide bomber in Kabul. A car exploded near the minibus carrying foreign passengers from the airport to their residence says the Kabul chief of police. All those inside the minibus were killed.

Two other Afghans also died in the blast that flung the engine block of the car more than 100 meters down the road. Eleven people were also injured. The blast shattered windows of a nearby wedding hall and ripped apart the gas station close to where the bomb was detonated. A motorcycle lay on its side with the rider's shoe still underneath it.

(on camera): This is supposed to be inside the ring of steel. There are security checkpoints located around Kabul to prevent these kinds of attacks from happening inside the capital. Serious questions are being raised as to how suicide bombers are getting into the city.

(voice-over): The radical Islamic group immediately claimed responsibility for the attack saying it was in retaliation to the anti- Islamic film that's caused much anger across the Muslim world.

On Monday violent protests broke out in Kabul as police clashed with 300 Afghans trying to make their way to the U.S. Embassy. Fifteen police officers were injured. Two police trucks were set on fire.

The founder believed to be based in Pakistan or in the border region was a senior member fighting the soviets during the 1980s. After the Soviets withdrawal, he was appointed as the country's prime minister for a short time.

The group's political wing was recently involved in peace talks with the Afghan government because they were considered more moderate than the Taliban. But after this attack on western and Afghan civilians, there's more uncertainty over the future of those talks and this country.


COREN: Now, Becky, it's worth noting that it's very unusual for women to drive around Kabul, let alone around Afghanistan so it is thought because it was a woman driving this vehicle that when she got to the checkpoint, because it would be a bit of a taboo to pull her over, that that is perhaps why police let her through into this area that is supposed to be heavily fortified, supposed to be the ring of steel.

ANDERSON: Anna Coren in Kabul for you this evening. Anna, thank you.

Let's get you to Johannesburg and Robyn Curnow. The majority of those killed today in Afghanistan were South Africans. They were civilians. They certainly weren't fighting for NATO there by any stretch of the imagination. These were contractors as far as I can understand.

How would you describe reaction to these deaths in South Africa?


Well, as you say, South Africa doesn't have troops in Afghanistan. In fact, the country doesn't even have an embassy in Afghanistan. All consular assistance to the victims' families has been done by the South African embassy in Islamabad, in Pakistan.

So this is a conflict very far removed from the realities of ordinary life and ordinary South Africans here in Johannesburg and across the country.

So I think a lot of shock, a lot of confusion, some (inaudible) detail coming out. Many South Africans looking, you know, and looking at websites, looking at newspapers trying to get more detail about who exactly the men were, what company they worked for. We do know that they were a group of pilots and aviation crew as Anna said working for an air charter company. That company itself said today they were going to give a press conference to try and give more information, but they had to cancel that because they weren't getting any more information out of Kabul.

So at the moment, although South African authorities say they know the identity of the men, they're still trying to locate and inform some of the next of kin. In terms of ordinary South Africans, we haven't yet been told who these men are and who they've left behind, unfortunately.

ANDERSON: Reaction on the ground from your correspondents here at CNN this evening. Robyn, thank you for that.

Reaction to the suicide attack that killed 12 foreigners in Afghanistan, the majority of those South Africans.

Well, as if guarding against enemy attacks weren't enough it's also clear that coalition troops face an increasingly threat from turncoat friendly forces. Insider attacks have become such a problem in Afghanistan that NATO is now scaling back operations, joint operations with Afghan forces. Now that may help protect coalition troops, but it could also complicate training efforts ahead of what is a 2014 withdrawal.

Well, earlier I discuss NATO's new orders with its senior civilian representative recently out of Afghanistan. This is what he said.


SIMON GASS, NATO SENIOR CIVILIAN REP. IN AFGHANISTAN: Well, I'm not a crystal ball leader. It will depend very much on the situation on the ground and ISAF is constantly judging the security environment in which it works as you would expect its professional commanders to do. So I'm not going to give you a date by which this will be lifted. We will have to see on the ground.

But it is true, of course, that a number of foreign soldiers have been killed under these very sad circumstances. It is completely unacceptable. We have made that very clear to the Afghan authorities. And that is exactly why we're taking the measures that we are taking, which I think that people in all of our countries would expect us to take to make sure that our soldiers are kept out of harm's way as much as possible.

ANDERSON: Leon Panetta has called these attacks on NATO forces the Taliban's last gasp. There will be viewers who are watching this interview tonight who think, you know, it's a pretty strong last gasp.

GASS: The insurgency is still there. It's still a force to be reckoned with even though it has been weakened. I wouldn't want to underestimate that, but the fact is that we have a strategy for handing over security to the Afghan security forces which is where that responsibility properly lies. We are on course to deliver that by the end of 2014. The circumstances in which we have reduced our partnership operations are not ideal by any means at all. They're not what we would have wanted, but nor are they a great strategic setback. They're the sort of bump in the road in which Afghanistan you meet from time to time and you have to keep your eye on the strategic goal. And for that, we're on course.


ANDERSON: NATO response tonight.

Well, a filmmaker who spent time with security forces in Afghanistan says the Taliban have, and I quote, sleepers inside the army. Mehran Bozorgnia made a documentary in 2008 that took a close look at suicide bombers and the psychology of recruitment. Have a look at this short clip showing an interview with a Taliban member.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Do the Taliban pay more than the government?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE (through translator): Yes, yes. The Taliban pay them, care for them, and also this is the way of god. They pray and look after them.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: So people join the Taliban for money.

UNIDNETIFIED MALE (through translator): No, no. They join up for Islam and god's way.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: So the money, where does all this money come from?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE (through translator): The money is coming in from Islamic countries such as Pakistan, Iran, and Saudi Arabia.


ANDERSON: Part of a documentary shot about four years ago. The award winning filmmaker behind that documentary Mehran Bozorgnia is here with me now.

That was four years ago. Are you surprised by what we've seen in the past 24-48 hours, suicide bombings and a female suicide bomber in Afghanistan killing western civilians and indeed these insider attacks that we call green on blue?

MEHRAN BOZORGNIA, FILMMAKER: No. I think it's more desperate action on the Taliban side. Taliban is losing ground. They cannot face the ISAF military-wise of -- it must be very desperate act to ask a woman to go on a suicide mission.

ANDERSON: Well, that's interesting, because the defense secretary in the States Leon Panetta has called this a last gasp of the Taliban.

Talk to me about what you learned when you went undercover effectively with those who might and can become killers.

BOZORGNIA: I believe most of it driven by the economy actually. And people don't believe to have a future. And it's easy to wash the brain of people who don't believe in any future. And Afghanistan is full of young, bright people who don't see a future for their and their families. And Afghan -- Taliban are offering a lot.

ANDERSON: What do they offer?

BOZORGNIA: A lot of money, social security system for the family, taking care of everyone, and you go to heaven. What do you want more?

ANDERSON: So, what does the west who, back in 2001, thought that they were instilling democracy and democratic values in Afghanistan who are now on the verge of pulling out and having their own coalition troops attacked. What did they learn from the sort of stories that you heard?

BOZORGNIA: To be honest, not much, I believe. We still -- the lack of communication with Afghans is still a huge problem. Hardly 20 or 30 people inside ISAF who can speak Dari or Pashtun, the native language of the country. So there is a hell of a lot of misunderstanding there. And we will always halfhearted regarding Afghanistan. Afghanistan was never our main agenda. And now we want to just to get out of there, which is a very wise decision actually.

ANDERSON: There will be people who are watching this tonight who cannot believe that somebody, even if offered money and security would conduct the sort of deathly acts that we've seen of late. 51 soldiers killed in green on blue attacks this year, a fifth of UK soldiers not killed by insurgents, but by those who have turned on them that they were training. Did you sympathize at all with those you spoke to?

BOZORGNIA: How could you sympathize with (inaudible). They are making -- trying to brain wash these people. And they do believe they are doing something right. And it must be a very difficult life. And you believe that the other world is much nicer than here. And you are (inaudible) just to go to this four star hotel on the other side.

ANDERSON: Are you optimistic or pessimistic going forward?

BOZORGNIA: Regarding the whole situation in Afghanistan? Well, civil war will continue in Afghanistan. More than ever, I mean, now we have a society which is more and more divided than ever. If it was racial -- tribal barriers in the past, now we have ideological barriers as well. The educated, the young people who got to know the western ideology of living together and there are old fashioned Taliban. And a hell of a lot of people in between who don't know what is right anymore.

ANDERSON: We'll leave it there. Thank you very much indeed for joining us.

You're watching Connect the World live from London. Our top story tonight, the suicide bomber killing at least 12 civilians, mostly westerners in Afghanistan. Revenge is claimed for an anti-Islam film that has provoked anger across the Muslim world. And this on a day that NATO admits its reigning in patrols with Afghan forces to stem a wave of insider attacks and soldiers sent to the country to train Afghans to police themselves.

What in the world has gone wrong. And where does this all end? You're thoughts. Tweet me @BeckyCNN.

Still coming to you is a victory for the British royals as a French magazine is ordered to stop distributing those topless shots of Kate on holiday. Jose Mourinho's Real Madrid taking on Manchester City right now in the Champion's League. The latest score on that coming out.

All that and much more when Connect the World here on CNN with me Becky Anderson continues after this.


ANDERSON: Well, the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge have welcomed a court ruling in France that orders Closer magazine not to distribute topless photos of Catherine in print or online. Now that magazine has also been told to hand over the original photographs to the royal family along with over $2,500. Closer could be fined $13,000 a day until it gives up those photos. And separately, a preliminary criminal investigation has now been opened.

The royal family has requested prosecutors against the possibility of bringing invasion of privacy charges against Closer and the photographer.

Well, Kate and William have continued their tour of the South Pacific today with a visit to Tuvalu. Our royal correspondent Max Foster has been with him and he joins us -- joins us now. As the royal tour draws to a close, Max, does today's ruling to a certain extent draw a line under this photo saga as well?

MAX FOSTER, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: It doesn't, actually, because in terms of the criminal investigation it's only a preliminary investigation so far. It needs to be a full investigation for the prosecutors to fully go into that and take it to court, but they are looking into it. So it is a bit of a triumph for the Duke and Duchess. As far as the civil action is concerned it does close it down to some extent because Closer does own these photographs and are not allowed to resell them. They have to give the existing ones back to the royal family, or to the royal family. So it does close things down to a certain extent, but it doesn't have huge amounts of jurisdiction in other countries, although Closer can't sell to other countries. Other countries may already have the pictures or other pictures and they can still publish those. So it Doesn't completely close it down, but it is a success to a certain extent.

And in terms of the other criminal investigation which is towards the editor of the magazine itself, of course that's preliminary as well. So we don't know where that's going to end up, but certainly in terms of the civil proceedings, injunction, that was a great success for the duke and duchess and they're very quick to welcome it, Becky.

ANDERSON: Yep. And as you've been talking, we've been enjoying shots of them enjoying themselves in the South Pacific. They didn't look too troubled. Let's hope to a certain extent there is a line in the sand here. Prince William, not a bad dancer is he?

Thank you, Max.

A look at some of the other stories we're following this hour here on Connect the World.

And U.S. Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney has said he was speaking off the cuff when he said it wasn't his job to appeal to almost half of the U.S. electorate. Now in a secretly recorded video from May, Romney is heard telling donors that 47 percent of Americans will vote for Barack Obama, his opponent, because they rely on government support. Have a listen to this.


ROMNEY: There are 47 percent of the people who will vote for the president no matter what, all right. There are 47 percent who are with him, who are dependent upon government, who believe that they are victims, who believe that government has a responsibility to care for them, who believe that they're entitled to health care, to food, to housing, to you name it. But that's -- it's an entitlement. And government should give it to them. And they will vote for this president no matter what.

And I mean, the president starts off with 48, 49 -- he starts off with a huge number. These are people who pay no income tax.


ANDERSON: Speaking last night, Romney admitted his comments were, and I quote, "not elegantly stated." But now another video from that same event has emerged featuring comments about the Middle East. Later, we're going to hear what Romney had to say and head to Jerusalem for reaction to his off the cuff comments.

Meanwhile, Apple stocks hit a record high during trading Tuesday. The company's stock climbed above $700 a share for the first time ever. And it closed there. Apple's stock has been on the rise in recent weeks in anticipation of last week's unveiling of the new iPhone 5. Well, after the launch, the company recorded 2 million pre-orders of that phone in just 24 hours.

132 prisoners have escaped from a low security prison on the Mexican border with the United States. Authorities are holding several prison officials after it emerged inmates crawled through a seven foot tunnel and cut a hole in a fence to get out. Now that tunnel began in the rehabilitation center's workshop, we believe. A reward of $16,000 is being offered for information on each escapee.

Democracy icon Aung San Suu Kyi is in Washington as she kicks off her two week tour of the United States. Earlier today, she met with the Secretary of State Hillary Clinton before speaking at the U.S. Institute of Peace and Asia Society. While in Washington, the Nobel Peace Laureate is set to receive the U.S. Congress's highest civilian honor, the Congressional Gold Medal.

There's your headlines. We're going to take a very short break, just a very short one. When we come back, the new Champion's League season has kicked off with a battle of heavyweights in Spain. The latest from Madrid and the rest of your sports round up after this.


ANDERSON: Right. The Champion's League has kicked off its new season. And Patrick Snell from CNN Center is here to give us the very latest marquee match-up of course Patrick in Spain with Real Madrid playing Manchester City.

So what's going on?

PATRICK SNELL, CNN SPORTS CORRESPONDENT: What a game. I wish I was there in the Spanish capital right now, Becky. It is three goals in total. I'm going to tell you that City went ahead in the second half. I know, incredible. Edin Dzeko putting City ahead in that one at the Bernabeu. The home team was level through Marcelo and that made it 1-1, but within the last few second Kolarov has put City 2-1 up there. So could the unthinkable be about to happen as far as Man City fans are concerned?

Remember, this is a team that is the reigning English Premier League champion, but a lot of their fans -- I used to live in that part of the world, Becky -- a lot of their fans cannot believe that their team is playing on this stage in the heart of Real Madrid's home terrain.

Of course, Madrid struggling with their form of late at the start of this new season in Spain. But this would be a phenomenal result if City can hold on. And Real Madrid have never, ever lost a first game of any European Cup campaign in their history. So it would be a potentially historical occasion were that to happen.

In the group's other game I can tell you that Borussia Dortmund they are at home against the Dutch team Ajax Amsterdam. It's currently 0-0. All the excitement, Becky.

Oh, it's gone crazy. It's 2-2. Four goals now in that one. It's 2- 2. Real Madrid have just got it back.

I tell you, I'm in the wrong place right now. 2-2 there, Becky.

ANDERSON: I was being fed that in my ear as you were talking about Dortmund and I'm like oh please, please tell him not me. 2-all, my goodness. What a result. It's been a tough start to the season for Real Madrid. That is, of course, the group of death.

There's a lot of other games going on. Anything else you want to tell us about?

SNELL: Yeah, there are. We're going to look at some other key matchups from Europe. And we're going to take you to them right now, because I'm drawn to that Paris Saint Germain scoreline. Moneybags of Europe, really. They got Carlo Ancelotti there as their head coach. They signed up Zlatan Ibrahimovic for millions of dollars in the European offseason and he's repaying them in a big way, isn't he? He scored five times in five Ligue 1 games. He scored again. They are cruising in that one.

Montpelier, France hosting Arsenal. Arsenal 2-1 up in that one. The other nasty shock, though, they did fall behind to the French champs. Podolski, he's a good signing for the Gunners, Becky. There's no question about that. He's again on target. Schalke of Germany leading against the Greek team Olmpiacos Piraeus in that one.

Elsewhere in Group C, Milan's struggles continue. These are the Italian giants, really, a huge name in world football, but they're struggling. They've lost their two last home league games in Serie A. They can't score right now against Anderlecht.

Malaga playing in their first ever Champions League campaign scoring three times against another super-rich club, there, Zenit St. Petersburg. What a thrilling evening we're having so far in Europe.

These games are not final, Becky. I just want to stress that. So, in that Madrid-City game, time for another five or six, I would guess.


ANDERSON: Fantastic. The minutes to go. I've got to say, watch Malaga. I watched them in the -- in the heats, effectively, leading up to this, and they were quite a team, even though they've had a hell of a problem so far as their finances are concerned.

What a night of Champions League football. Patrick back in about an hour with all the results. Do not go away, viewers.

Still to come on the show here, no apologies. Mitt Romney says he'll stick by his off-the-cuff comments accusing Obama supporters of being dependent on government. That and your headlines coming up right after this. Stay with us.


ANDERSON: A very warm welcome to our viewers across Europe and around the world. I'm Becky Anderson. These are your latest world news headlines from CNN.

Afghan officials say 12 people were killed in the first ever attack by a female suicide bomber in Kabul. A militant group allied with the Taliban claimed responsibility. Now, this comes as NATO makes a big change to protect its troops from insider attacks is now scaling back joint patrols with Afghan forces.

Workers at South Africa's Marikana mine have agreed to end their six- week-long strike and return to work on Thursday. They'll get a 22 percent pay hike from their employer, Lonmin mines. Some 34 people were killed when police opened fire on strikers at the mine last month.

Anti-Japanese protests continue across China on the anniversary of Japan's invasion in 1931. Tensions are high over an island in dispute between the two nations at present. Many Japanese businesses in China have been forced to close as the demonstrations against them continue.

The US Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney has said he was speaking off the cuff when he said it wasn't his job to appeal to almost half of the US electorate. In a secretly-recorded video, Romney is heard telling donors that 47 percent of Americans will vote for his opponent Barack Obama because they rely on government support.

Well, Mitt Romney admits his comments were, and I quote him, "not elegantly stated." The Obama campaign says they show Romney's disgust and disdain for almost half of the nation. Let's take another listen to what the Republican challenger told donors at what was a private fundraiser back in May.


MITT ROMNEY (R), US PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: There are 47 percent of the people who will vote for the president no matter what. All right?

There are 47 percent who are with him who are dependent upon government, who believe that they are victims, who believe that government has the responsibility to care for them, who believe that they're entitled to health care, to food, to housing, to you name it.

But that's -- it's an entitlement, and government should give it to them. And they will vote for this president no matter what. So, my job is not to worry about those few. I'll never convince them that they should take personal responsibility and care for their lives. What I have to do is convince maybe 5 to 10 percent in the center that are independent.


ANDERSON: In a hastily-arranged press conference last night, Romney said he was -- well, he was trying to point out the differences between the two campaigns. Have a listen to this.


ROMNEY: It's a message which I'm going to carry and continue to carry, which is look, the president's approach is attractive to people who are not paying taxes because, frankly, my discussion about lowering taxes isn't as attractive to them and therefore I'm not likely to draw them into my campaign as effectively as those who are in the middle.

This is really a discussion about the political process of winning the election. And of course I want to help all Americans -- all Americans -- have a bright and prosperous future, and I'm convinced that the president's approach has not done that and will not do that.


ANDERSON: Well, reacting to those comments, White House Press Secretary Jay Carney said Barack Obama was president of all Americans, not just the ones who voted for him.


JAY CARNEY, WHITE HOUSE PRESS SECRETARY: He is out there fighting for every American, regardless of whether or not they support him politically or support the Democratic Party. It is really the essence of who he is as a public official that that's his guiding principle.


ANDERSON: It's been a fairly painful 24 hours for Mitt Romney. He may have thought he'd drawn a line under the controversy. He was, though, sadly mistaken. Today another video emerged, this time including comments that he made about the Middle East. Have a listen to what he had to say on that subject.


ROMNEY: The Palestinians have no interest whatsoever in establishing peace and that the -- and that the pathway to peace is almost unthinkable to accomplish. There's just no way.

And so, what you do is, you say, you move things along the best way you can, you hope for some degree of stability, but you recognize this is going to remain an unsolved problem. I mean, kick the ball down the field and hope that ultimately somehow, something will happen that will resolve it.


ANDERSON: Mitt Romney speaking in a video that's been released to the internet.

Well, Palestinians have described those comments as "dangerous and infuriating." And our correspondent Sara Sidner now reporting for you from Jerusalem.


SARA SIDNER, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Palestinians who have heard Romney's comments see them as another slap in the face by the US Republican presidential candidate. Hanan Ashrawi, an executive committee member of the Palestinian Liberation Organization had this to say about Romney's leaked comments.

She told CNN, quote, "It is about time that he stopped pandering to the Israeli lobby and funders by selling out Palestinian rights and by destroying the chances of peace in the region. Such comments are dangerous," she went on to say, "and could be irreparable damage to American credibility and standings, not just in the Middle East, but throughout the world."

What is also interesting here is you are seeing what appears to be a kind of flip-flop by Mr. Romney on whether or not he really believes in a two-state solution.

In his comments in that fundraiser in Florida in May, he said in part that he looked at the Palestinians not wanting peace for political purposes and accused them of being committed to the destruction of Israel. He said, quote, "There's just no way."

Now, Palestinians have only demanded their own state, not the destruction of Israel, and they find Romney's comments uneducated and infuriating. But when Mitt Romney visited Jerusalem in July, he said nothing of the sort, telling our Wolf Blitzer he believes in a two-state solution.

ROMNEY: The decision, however, as we move to a two-state solution as to what would be part of Israel and what would be part of a Palestinian state is something to be negotiated by the Palestinians and the Israelis. I believe that key to that negotiation is the recognition that there will be a Palestinian state and there will be a Jewish state.

SIDNER: While that toed the line of the international community, Palestinians were incensed by two other comments Romney made when he visited Jerusalem in July, one when he stated that Jerusalem was the capital of Israel. Palestinians have fiercely held onto the belief that East Jerusalem is occupied and should be their capital in a two-state solution.

And lastly, when at a fundraiser here in Israel, Romney suggested that cultural differences explained why the Israelis are so much more economically successful than Palestinians. He was blasted by Palestinians for not recognizing the effects the occupation has had on their economic opportunities. That being said, Mitt Romney remains highly popular with the Israeli population.

Sara Sidner, CNN, Jerusalem.


ANDERSON: Well, our iReporters have been weighing in on this debate over Romney's comments. You can get involved as well, of course, just head to

Don't forget CNN's election center, your one-stop shop for all your news and views about the US campaign. That's I'm sure you've used that site already, so I don't have to remind you, but I will.

Still to come on CONNECT THE WORLD, two of the most successful women in the world share their experience of raising a family while climbing the ladder at work. Our series on Leading Women continues after this.


ANDERSON: Welcome back. Now, as a part of CNN's Leading Women series, we're following the chief medical officer of Pfizer and the casting director of Cirque du Soleil. Both of these women have schedules that send them flying across the country and around the world.

Tonight, they open up to us about the importance of family life and how they find what they believe, at least, is a happy balance. Have a look at this.


FREDA LEWIS-HALL, CHIEF MEDICAL OFFICER, PFIZER: I'm really excited about the prospect of this, because I --

FELICIA TAYLOR, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): As the chief medical officer at Pfizer, Freda Lewis-Hall is in the top ranks of a drug company, boasting some 100,000 employees.

Her position also means she's highly visible and on the go. Mexico, Uganda, China, and more.

In the US, she's often in Washington for a meeting at the White House or a stop at a government research institute where she sits on the board, and possibly a visit to Howard University, where she went to medical school.

LEWIS-HALL: In this job, I have an opportunity to touch people a million at a time by helping to shape policy and action in health care.

TAYLOR: What shaped her was her upbringing.

LEWIS-HALL: My parents believed I could fly, and they made every possible sacrifice to give me wings. But I can't say that everybody along the way felt as strongly that going into medicine was the right thing for a young woman who is African-American.

TAYLOR (on camera): Tell me about your mom.

LEWIS-HALL: She died the summer of my freshman year of medical school, suddenly from a stroke, and it was -- interesting. As I look back on it, because even though I was in my early 20s and she wasn't there to help me realize my dream -- our dream -- it was almost as though she knew she wasn't going to be there.

Every single day, wise words, learning from experience, loving me beyond my imagining and making sure that I knew it. So, even though I've spent two thirds of my life without her, I feel like she's here every day.

TAYLOR (voice-over): Quality time with her 93-year-old father is another way Lewis-Hall connects to her memories and her past. Here, they visit a science museum the two used to visit when Lewis-Hall was a child.

HARVEY LEWIS, FREDA'S FATHER: I am proud of her to the fullest. And no other like her.

TAYLOR: Loving daughter, wife to a man she met in medical school, mother of three. Her strong family bond is visible in her office.

TAYLOR (on camera): If I were to walk away having only seen one item in this office that would tell me all about Freda, what would it be?

LEWIS-HALL: It'd probably be the picture of my family. Anything that you see that's about my family is really the definition of me. It's really the definition of me.

KRISTIE LU STOUT, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): I'm Kristie Lu Stout. Training for one of Cirque du Soleil's most popular shows, O, in Las Vegas, Krista Monson, casting director for resident shows and regional sourcing, is checking on a new member of the cast.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: He's the best fit that we'd ever find for that gig.

KRISTA MONSON, CASTING DIRECTOR, CIRQUE DU SOLEIL: It seems like his work ethic is --

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: He's right up there.

MONSON: He's like a model -- is he?


MONSON: Yes? Yes?

STOUT: Her job can take her to auditions on the weekends or traveling throughout the US and Canada. Her husband, Paul, is the band leader of O, and he joins her at this audition for an on-call singer for the show.


STOUT: They both have schedules that force them to get a little creative in managing their children's routines.

MONSON: And then what else today? So, we have --

SHIHADEH: I don't think there's any dancing today.

MONSON: Yes, Steven has dance.

SHIHADEH: Oh, there is? Oh, yes!

MONSON: 5:00 to 6:00 would have been his schedule.

SHIHADEH: Well, it's a challenge to try and organize our lives, for sure. A big challenge, particularly because we both have a certain amount of responsibility at work, and we also have a lot of responsibility at home.

MONSON: The schedule is tough. We have to really manage it as best as we can. We have babysitters, but we have to subscribe to that idea of it takes a village to raise a child, and this is our village. So, a lot of our friends are Russian and South American, and that's wonderful. We try to bring those influences to our kids.

You know what I think is really -- really what makes me smile? Is that you have a great opinion. You have an opinion.

SHIHADEH: Yes, an opinion.

MONSON: And that you want to take that -- you want to do something about it.

I fear normalcy a little bit, and it's a big challenge for me because on the one hand, I want a normal life, I want a normal life. I am a mother, I have children, they have friends, we have a community, I want to be a part of it.

But also what makes my adrenaline go a little bit is to really embrace the world around us that is not necessarily normal or proscribed or in front of us. So, I fear -- just managing that balance.


ANDERSON: Our Leading Women series here on CNN. You're watching CONNECT THE WORLD with me, Becky Anderson. When we come back, she was called the Empress of Fashion. We're going to take a look at how magazine editor Diana Vreeland influenced style in the swinging 60s. It's the Fashion Weeks, of course, this season, so we are celebrating after this.


ANDERSON: All right. Just some of the sights of this season's London Fashion Week. A very different style, I've got to say, to those paraded on our catwalks in the swinging 60s.

Back then, the most powerful woman in fashion was "Vogue's" Diana Vreeland. She edited the industry bible for nine years, launched the careers of iconic models like Twiggy, and even gave style advice to US first lady Jackie Kennedy. Earlier, I spoke to the creator of a new documentary about Vreeland's influence on fashion today.


DIANA FREELAND, FORMER EDITOR, "VOGUE": The fashion world changes all the time. You can even see the approaching revolution in clothes. You can see and feel everything in clothes.

LISA IMMORDINO VREELAND, DIRECTOR, "DIANA VREELAND: THE EYE HAS TO TRAVEL": The Diana Vreeland I knew -- and I've worked in the fashion world -- was this kind of extravagant empress of fashion, with her one-line proclamations with these -- the images of always having the excess rouge on her cheeks.

And she was really something much more than that. She was this oracle. She used fashion to really transmit another message.

ANDERSON: How did she get into fashion?

IMMORDINO VREELAND: She was already known as a very stylish woman, so in the magazines, they were already talking about her, they were already talking about her in America, about her style.

And it was just a coincidence that they moved back to New York and she's dancing, and she's of course dressed in Channel and she had a gardenia in her hair, and Carmel Snow saw her -- and Carmel Snow was the editor in chief of "Harper's Bazaar" -- and she said, "Would you like to come work for me?" And so, she went and she met her. And it was -- actually a career by accident.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: She was becoming a celebrity. She was at the Factory, she was at Studio 54.

VREELAND: I wanted to get where the action was.

ANDERSON: How much influence did she really have on the fashion industry during her time at "Bazaar"?

IMMORDINO VREELAND: She was always known to have been enamored with French fashion, so all of a sudden, here she is, plunk in the middle of New York City at an American editing -- being a fashion editor at an American magazine, and it was also World War II.

So, all of a sudden, Paris was silenced, and she was really spending time getting to know 7th Avenue and promoting all of these great designers.

ANDERSON: What do you think her legacy is or should be?

IMMORDINO VREELAND: First of all, the fashion editor was a -- was a term that was coined by her. It never existed before.

VREELAND: I wasn't a fashion editor, I was the one and only fashion editor.

IMMORDINO VREELAND: So you have the fashion editor, then you have this editor in chief who totally changed "Vogue" and made it, really, what it is today. For me, her legacy is really about imagination and fantasy and inspiration.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: She made it OK for women to be outlandish and extraordinary.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: She would fix her gaze on somebody, and then they'd start to blossom.

VREELAND: I adored Twiggy. She's just such a personality.

ANDERSON: What would she think of fashion today and how would she deal with the new world of social media and its effect on the industry, do you think?

IMMORDINO VREELAND: You know, I think one of her great assets was this sense of openness, that she could take so many things in. She understood what low and high culture was. And I think social media is very much reflective of that.

ANDERSON: Would she have tweeted, do you think, and if so, what kind of attitude would she have had on Twitter?

IMMORDINO VREELAND: She's known for these memos that she used to dictate from her bathroom. So, if you knew -- you think about her maybe being difficult to work with, think of getting a phone call from her early in the morning while she's in her bathtub saying, "I'm thinking about pearls, and I want pearls all over the place," and "Why don't these girls have on knee socks with their miniskirts?"

And this is the type of things that she would be saying. And she's a famous one-line person. And I think she was doing it a lot earlier than anyone else was.


ANDERSON: "Diana Vreeland: The Eye Has to Travel," on release from this Friday in the US and around the world.

I'm Becky Anderson, that was CONNECT THE WORLD, thank you for watching. World news headlines up after this. Don't go away.