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Hamas Threatens Retaliation For Israel's Killing Of Military Leader; President Obama Meeting With Fortune 500 CEOs Today To Discuss Fiscal Cliff

Aired November 14, 2012 - 16:00   ET


MAX FOSTER, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Tonight on Connect the World, vows of retaliation after Israel takes at Hamas killing its military chief.

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

FOSTER: Tonight, Hamas warns Israel it's opened the gates of hell. We'll look at what can be done to pull both sides back from the brink.

Also tonight...


BARACK OBAMA, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: I'm not going to just slam the door in their face. I want to hear ideas from everybody.


FOSTER: U.S. President Barack Obama says he's willing to compromise to bring down America's debt as long as the rich pay more.

And scuffles on the streets of Portugal as protesters across Europe join together to demand no more cuts.

Hamas says today's attacks have opened the gates of hell in its conflict with Israel. A series of Israeli airstrikes have hit Gaza, one of which killed the military chief of the militant group. This video shows the moment Ahmed al Ja'abri car was hit. Israel says the strikes are in response to rockets fired from Gaza. Let's go straight to Sara Sidner in Jerusalem. Please Sara, just explain what happened today.

SARA SIDNER, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: What we know is that around 4:00 Jerusalem time there was an airstrike, a targeted airstrike on a vehicle. Inside that vehicle was the leader of Hamas' military wing Ahmed al Ja'abri. He was killed along with his son inside that car. We do now have confirmation from the Israeli military that they did specifically target al Ja'abri. They targeted him, because they believe he is a terrorist and they think that this is one of their reactions to hundreds of rockets that have been coming over into Israel over the past few months, 130 alone since Saturday.

This all began, this sort of uptick in the firing between Israel and Gaza on Thursday with the death of a 13 year old Palestinian boy who was shot witnesses say by Israeli soldiers from a Jeep. The Israeli military has not confirmed that they were involved in that. They are investigating. But we do know that a militant group did fire an anti-tank missile into a Jeep after that in retaliation injuring four soldiers. Israel returned fire. And from there we are seeing dozens upon dozens of rockets coming into southern Israel. We do know there has been some damage, some homes damaged, about a dozen people have been injured lately from shrapnel from those rockets. A lot of concern now that this is ratcheting up the tensions between Israel and Gaza.

This is a very big deal in Gaza as you might imagine. We're talking about not only the head of the military wing, but we're talking about one of the founders of Hamas. And so there is expected to be a very huge funeral tomorrow morning, lots of people, thousands of people out in the streets commemorating his death. And we are expecting a retaliation.

Let me let you hear first from Prime Minister - from Prime Minister of Israel Benjamin Netanyahu. He talked about what Israel will do if they feel the need to ratchet up this war between Gaza and Israel.


BENJAMIN NETANYAHU, PRIME MINISTER OF ISRAEL (through translator): Today, we send a clear message to Hamas and the other terror organizations. And if needed, the IDF is ready to enhance the operation. We will do everything to protect our citizens.


SIDNER: Now there was a reaction, of course. Hamas saying that they were going to open the gates of hell on the occupier, referring to Israel. Here's what Hamas official had to say about what has been happening in these targeted airstrikes so far, 30 of them in Gaza.


KHALIL AL HAYA, HAMAS OFFICIAL (through translator): Ahmed al Ja'abri has for a long time worked and waited for this day. He built, founded, and lead and was victorious in all positions. Today, he is getting his victory as a martyr. Our Zionist enemy, will god willing, pay a price for this cowardly assassination.


SIDNER: Now we're hearing as you can hear very strong language from both the Israeli leadership and the leadership in Gaza and Hamas itself. So the civilians on either side of the border are very concerned about their safety, concerned about their families. We do know that Israel has warned civilians and its citizens living within seven kilometers of the Gaza border that they should not do business as usual. They have closed schools, closed businesses and told people to basically hunker down.

In Gaza, of course, a lot of concern about these air strikes. As one person put it, it seemed as though it was raining bombs over in the past few hours - Max.

FOSTER: Sara in Jerusalem, thank you very much indeed for bringing us up to date on the story.

Well, according to reports, the Arab League will hold an emergency meeting on Saturday. Qatar has condemned the attacks and says it should not go unpunished. Egypt has recalled its ambassador from Israel in protest and has urged Israel to end the strikes immediately. And France has urged both sides to avoid and escalation in violence.

Joining me in the studio for more analysis, Middle East expert, friend of the show Fawaz Gerges from the London School of Economics, and live from Washington Tamara Wittes, she's a former U.S. Deputy Assistant Secretary of State for the Near Eastern Affairs.

First of all, Fawaz, is this the brink of something? I mean, already journalists are talking about this as an escalation. And we're expecting a response. But really, what can we read into it so far?

FAWAZ GERGES, LONDON SCHOOL OF ECONOMICS: Well, I really fear what happened today could really provide a trigger, a spark that ignites a bigger clash between Hamas and Israel. I don't think Hamas can afford not to retaliate for the killing of its top military commander, one of the founders of the military wing of Hamas. Palestinians are enraged, are angry.

My fear also is that any bigger clash between Hamas and Israel will most likely spill over into Egypt. Remember, Max, I don't think Israeli leaders appreciate, truly, the historical shifts that have taken place in Egypt and the Arab world...

FOSTER: With the Muslim Brotherhood coming into power...

GERGES: Mohammed Morsi - remember, Hamas is a - you might say part of the Islamist family, the Muslim Brotherhood. Already Egypt has threatened to retaliate. And I fear that any bigger clash, any major confrontation, could easily spill over into Egyptian-Israeli relation and exacerbate already complicated relations.

FOSTER: Tamara, we've heard a strong reaction, as Fawaz has said in the region. What sort of response do you expect in Washington?

TAMARA WITTES, FORMOR U.S. DEPUTY ASSIT. SECY. OF STATE: Well, I think in Washington you'll see certainly support for Israel's right to defend itself. And - but I think that Fawaz is right to point to the broader strategic implications.

The actions that Israel took today seem to be focused on a very narrow tactical set of concerns, the safety and security of the citizens of southern Israel, nearly a million people who have been under rocket attack for the last several days as your correspondent noted.

But the implications of this attack and the possible escalation of conflict between Israel and Hamas could have implications for Egypt, but also for the relationship between Hamas and the Palestinian Authority in the West Bank, which is already really gasping for breath. And Hamas now is going to look like the hero of the Palestinian people.

FOSTER: Barack Obama of course now at the beginning of his last term as president, he can afford to be more forthright about his views on the issue. Do you think he will be tougher in some way on the issue?

WITTES: It's worth remembers that in fact President Obama entered office four years ago at the tail end of the last major war between Israel and Hamas. And the management of that crisis, the achievement of a ceasefire and the effort to unravel the tensions in the region occupied a great deal of his first year in office. It was the reason why he was so energetic without pursuing Israeli-Palestinian negotiations in the first two years of his presidency.

The situation on the ground today is by no means conducive to real conflict resolution, but it's clear that this is a conflict that is not going to stand still. It's one that requires constant attention and constant management. And even if the events of the last couple days don't result in a broader escalation, it will I think require the White House to devote some serious attention to Israeli-Palestinian affairs early in this second term.

FOSTER: The Israelis could have predicted this response, couldn't they? So they know what they're doing. What do you think is going to be the likely response to a retaliation.

GERGES: Well, this is the fear. The fear is that retaliation and counter-retaliation and spiraling out of control. The big point, Max, is the following, you don't have a peace process. Barack Obama after one year and a half he tried very hard, he was genuine. He meant it. He tried to exert pressure on Israeli Prime Minister. The fact is he lost the round, the second round, and the third round against Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu. He did not have enough political capital to pursue a serious peace process.

At the end of the day, unless the peace process is revived, unless Barack Obama and the Obama administration invests serious capital in trying to really revive the peace talks between the Palestinians and the Israelis, even if this particular conflict does not really spiral out of control you're going to have a second incident and third incident could easily become turned not only into a Palestinian-Israeli conflict, a regionwide conflict.

I mean, you have Egypt now, you have Hezbollah, you have conflict in Syria, I mean who knows what might happened.

And to come back to a particular point, Israel deals with this particular conflict in a tactical manner as opposed to a strategic situation taking into account the insecurities in Israel and also the insecurities of the Palestinians themselves.

FOSTER: Fawaz Gerges, Tamara Wittes, thank you both very much indeed for joining us.

Still to come tonight, the reelected president meets with business leaders continuing his week of discussions on the looming fiscal cliff.

And workers across Europe put down tools and take the streets to protest against biting austerity measures. All that when we return.


FOSTER: You're watching Connect the World live from London. Welcome back. I'm Max Foster.

It's that phrase again, it's the fiscal cliff. And this week the U.S. president is meeting with labor groups, both parties, and business leaders about it. Earlier, he repeated his call for the parties to work together. He also said he was willing to listen to other ideas on what to do about the U.S. budget deficit.


OBAMA: I am open to new ideas if the Republican counterparts or some Democrats have a great idea for us to raise revenue, maintain progressivity, make sure the middle class isn't getting hit, reduces our deficit, encourages growth I'm not going to just slam the door in their face, I want to hear idea - I want to hear ideas from everybody.


FOSTER: Well, the fiscal cliff is tantamount to austerity measures, some people say. It's coming up in January when a raft of spending cuts begin and historic tax breaks end. The fear is the combined effect could result in a catastrophic drop in U.S. GDP, that's why the president is holding a meeting at the White House this evening with some of the biggest names in business from Xerox and leaders like that from 12 Fortune 500 companies, they're all meeting with President Obama to see their logos on the screen - there they are. Combined, their companies generated $1.4 trillion in revenue last year. Altogether, they're responsible for nearly 4 million employees worldwide.

So Barack Obama is in that meeting now.

Alison Kosik joins me now from the New York Stock Exchange. How are they looking at things from there then, Alison?

ALISON KOSIK, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, you know, what's interesting is this is the first public meeting with major business leaders for President Obama since he was reelected. And you know what, many of these executives, Max, they've indicated their holding back hiring and they're holding back spending because of the looming fiscal cliff.

Now the president, as you said, you know, said he's open to a compromise, to new ideas. He said this earlier today in that news conference.

Now we could get some new ideas, though - he could get some new ideas, rather, from CEOs on what Washington can do to encourage hiring and tackle the fiscal cliff. And likewise, these CEOs are expected to press him on issues related to tax cuts and revenue - on revenue generating ideas related to the cliff.

Now the hope is that this meeting helps to move things in the right direction. But you know, when you think about it, this is a really interesting combination, the CEOs and the president, because it's no secret that Obama's relationship with big business has been strained. And it's mainly because of new Wall Street reform and regulations and the president's health care overhaul. But in this case, everyone is on the same team.

Now we've all heard the warnings of a possible recession if congress doesn't do anything about the fiscal cliff. The latest numbers show from Pew, they show that 68 percent of Americans agree that the fiscal cliff will have a major effect on the U.S. economy with half of them taking the pessimistic side saying the president and congress that they won't be able to come up with an agreement in time. So that's ultimately what matters is congress.

You know, as nice as this meeting is, Max, it will help the president gain some insight on how to take on the fiscal cliff issues without severely straining corporate America, but what this ultimately depends on is what the president and what Congress can do together. And they've only got 48 days left - Max.

FOSTER: Alison, thank you.

One business leader who is not in the meeting with Obama is Warren Buffet. Instead, he told CNN's Poppy Harlow the future is not as bleak as we might have been lead to believe.


POPPY HARLOW, CNN CORRESPONDENT: What is the likelihood of the United States falling into a recession if we go over the cliff?

WARREN BUFFET, CHAIRMAN, BERKSHIRE HATHAWAY: I don't that's going to happen. I think that if we go past January 1 - I don't know whether it'll be January 10 or February 1, but we're not going to permanently cripple ourselves because 535 people can't get along.

HARLOW: Even if we go over for two months, does that - does that dip this economy back into recession?

BUFFET: I don't think so.

HARLOW: You don't think so. That's interesting, because the CBO believes it that.

BUFFET: Yeah, well, I mean -- you know, we had Hurricane Sandy which disrupted the economy for a period. We had Katrina many years ago. There are things that will disrupt the economy - I mean, 9/11 was an extraordinary case. But we have a very resilient economy. We've had one for hundreds of years. And the fact that they can't get along for the month of January is something that's not going to torpedo the economy.


FOSTER: So Buffet says the fuss over the fiscal cliff is unwarranted.

Joining me to discuss the impending crisis or lack of crisis, University of Maryland international business professor Peter Morici who is in Washington for us at the moment.

Thank you so much for joining us.

There are sort of arguments to say that this is all a bit of a conspiracy about - involving some in Washington who have an interest in fearing this fiscal cliff. But what do the numbers actually say?

PETER MORICI, INTERNATIONAL BUSINESS PROFESSOR, UNIVERSITY OF MARYLAND: Well, the numbers are very large. If we go over the cliff, spending will go down by about $500 billion. That's 3 percent of GDP. That really is an enormous negative stimulus. You know, if you believe that stimulus spending can boost the economy, then subtracting that much out - not for a few days, but if it goes on for a couple of months, would certainly depress the economy and likely create a recession.

FOSTER: What do you think those business leaders are saying in the building behind you?

MORICI: Well, that this needs to be resolved. They're already starting to trim back hiring. They've certainly trimmed back spending on new investment and things of that nature because of the uncertainty. And what's more, you know the bond rating agencies, Moody's and Finch, still have the United States you know, rated as AAA has said they will downgrade us, which will raise the government's borrowing costs. I think all those issues are being raised right now.

FOSTER: And he has to respond to this, Obama, doesn't he? Because his biggest concern continues to be jobs. He's got all sorts of issues, of course, to deal with. But if those companies are telling me have to do something about this or jobs will be lost he's going to have to find some sort of way out of this.

But there seems as though the discussions have gone so far they haven't got anywhere. Where do you think the compromise is going to come eventually?

MORICI: Well, I think there is going to be higher tax (inaudible) closing loopholes, which is a good thing, because there are some folks that are in over, say $250,000 or $300,000 a year that are already paying very heavy taxes, because they're not in those loopholes. It's the Warren Buffets of the world that really need their taxes, you know, increased. And we'll probably get about $150 billion in entitlements cuts, or mostly entitlement cuts and some trims in other areas. And that's nice, but it's not going to be enough. It's really only going to be a down payment.

You know, health care spending and Social Security spending by the federal government have been rising so rapidly. Over the last six years, they have increased by the full amount of the 2013 defense budget, which means that if we keep going for another six years, we're going to have to shut down the Department of Defense or have massive tax increases on the middle class as well as the wealthy.

FOSTER: There's a lot of emotion involved here as well, isn't there, not just about people that are concerned about their economy, but rather markets. The concern is if it feels as though Washington is deadlocked, even if they do eventually reach a deal, so much harm would have been done to the markets that wealth is going to be wiped out that way anyway. Do you think that politicians will be able to resolve this relatively quickly, and they won't be there on New Years Eve still at the meeting table as it were?

MORICI: Oh, I think we'll be there on New Year's Eve, or very close to it. You know, clearly after Christmas. The real question is whether they get it done before the worst first week of January or not, because the position the president has put out there is no different than the position he began with a couple of years ago when we had the budget act of 2011. You know, he talked a lot about raising taxes, but he wasn't specific about how we do it. And he offered no real cuts in spending. And whenever he does, it's always, you know, double counting the reduction in military spending from the end of the war in Afghanistan and things of that nature.

He's not willing to go out on a limb and talk about where he's willing to cut entitlement spending. And I think he's going to have to do that if he wants this process sped up. That doesn't mean he has to back down on taxes, but I think he has to outline both sides of the deal or this is going to take a very long time.

FOSTER: Peter Morici, as ever, thank you very much indeed for joining us on the program.

We're going to take you to a short break, but when we come back later in the show we'll head to Europe where several countries have ground to a halt as tens of thousands of people protest and strike over painful austerity measures.

And outrage in Ireland. One woman's death sparked a new debate on abortion laws in the deeply Catholic country. All that and much more when Connect the World continues.


FOSTER: A woman's death has sparked renewed debate over Ireland's strict anti-abortion laws. Doctors denied Savita Halappanavar an abortion despite the fact that she was having a miscarriage. She died of a blood infection after three days in a hospital.

CNN's Nic Robertson has this report.


NIC ROBERTSON, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Happier days, dentist Savita Halappanavar dancing with a friend, her family now mourning her loss. The 31 year old died in an Irish hospital, refused an abortion that could have saved her life.

PRAVEEN HALAPPANAVAR, SAVITA'S HUSBAND: They knew they can't help the baby, why did they not look at the bigger life?

ROBERTSON: This, an interview recorded with Irish Times journalist Kitty Holland (ph) that has ignited a firestorm across Ireland and beyond.

KITTY HOLLAND, IRISH TIMES JOURNALIST: The abortion issue is the most divisive issue in Irish society. And there's a huge pro-life lobby equally vocal pro-choice lobby. It's an extremely emotional issue.

ROBERTSON: Now triggering fierce debate in the Irish parliament.

GERRY ADAMS, SINN FEIN LEADER: This report that she died of blood poisoning after according to her husband been refused to termination by miscarrying...

ROBERTSON: As reported by the Irish Times, Savita was admitted to Ireland's Galway University Hospital Sunday 21st October suffering back pain. She was 17 weeks pregnant, was miscarrying, and told she would likely lose her baby. Seven days later, she was dead.

She had pleaded her doctor for a termination, but for two-and-a-half days, while her fetus had a heartbeat they refused.

HALAPPANAVAR: On Tuesday, she came back and said that I'm sorry we can't help you because it's a Catholic country. We can't help it, it's a Catholic thing. So we just said that, that she's not Catholic, she's a Hindu. So why, you know, impose the law on her?

ROBERTSON: The hospital at the center of the case has already begun an investigation, while they will not comment on the details of the case, in a written statement they say, "in the case of a sudden maternal death, these procedures are followed. Notification of the death to the coroner, notification of the death to the HSE's National Incident Management Team. The completion of a maternal death notification form. These national procedures are being followed by Galway University Hospital."

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Our bodies, our lives.

ROBERTSON: None of this enough to prevent passions far beyond Ireland from being lit. This demo outside the Irish embassy in London gathering not just to remember Savita, but stop a repeat of her tragic death.

Savita's husband Parveen is back with her family in India, all coming to terms with their loss of a wife, of a daughter, of a first grandchild, a death everyone here hopes won't be in vain, but it will lead to a change in the Irish abortion law.

Nic Robertson, CNN, London.


FOSTER: Here's a look at some other stories connecting our world tonight. In the last few hours, U.S. president Barack Obama has given his first public reaction to the resignation of his CIA chief. David Petraeus quit last Friday over his affair with Paula Broadwell. Afghanistan commander General John Allen is being investigated over allegations that he sent potentially inappropriate emails to a woman connected to the scandal. But President Obama doesn't believe the events ever threatened U.S. national security.


OBAMA: I have no evidence at this point from what I've seen that classified information was disclosed that in any way would have had a negative impact on our national security.


FOSTER: First in Jordan, protesters calling for the king to be overthrown.


FOSTER: Several people were injured during Tuesday's demonstrations over a gas price hike. It's unheard of to speak out against the king in Jordan. Protesters warned King Abdullah to beware the fate of other leaders in the region.

Still to come on CONNECT THE WORLD, we're live in Europe after a day of strikes brings parts of the continent to a standstill.

And this referee has been at the center of controversy in Britain. Now hear why some are upset that he's been cleared by authorities.


FOSTER: A very warm welcome to our viewers across Europe and around the world. I'm Max Foster and these are the latest world headlines from CNN.

An Israeli airstrike killed the Hamas military chief in Gaza. Ahmed al-Ja'abari was on Israel's Most Wanted list. Israel launched airstrikes in Gaza all day long, saying they were a response to repeated rockets sent by Hamas into Israel.

US president Barack Obama says lawmakers need to make compromises to avert a fiscal cliff. In a news conference, Mr. Obama said he wants to make sure that middle class families don't end up taking a bigger financial hit than the wealthiest Americans.

During that news conference, President Obama gave his first public reaction to the resignation of his CIA chief, David Petraeus. Mr. Obama said he was unaware of any disclosure of classified information from the scandal that would threaten national security. Petraeus quit last Friday over an extramarital affair.

In just a few hours, we'll know who will lead China for the next decade. The announcement comes after a week of -- a week-long Communist Party Congress that discussed the direction that the country is taking. Stan Grant reports from Beijing.


STAN GRANT, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: This congress has been about change, and more than 2,000 delegates in this building behind me, the Great Hall of the People, meeting to decide on a new generation of leadership.

The all-powerful standing committee of the Communist Party will be unveiled. We don't know the full makeup of that, but what we can expect, though, is that Xi Jinping will head the party.

He comes in at a time of great reform in China. The economy is starting to slow, the gap between rich and poor is widening, there is more social unrest. And also, President Hu Jintao has warned the party about the need to tackle corruption. If not, he says, the very future of the Communist Party could be at risk.

HU JINTAO, PRESIDENT OF CHINA (through translator): Combating corruption and promoting political integrity, which is a major political issue of great concern to the people, is a clear-cut and long-term political commitment of the party.

If we fail to handle this issue well, it could prove fatal to the party and even cause the collapse of the party and the fall of the state.

GRANT: Not a lot is known about Xi Jinping. He is what is called a "princeling," the son of a revolutionary hero. Analysts say if nothing else, he will be about the preservation of the power of the party.

"He is part of a consensus to keep the Communist Party as the only ruling party," Zhang Lifan says. "Any so-called 'liberty' must only be on the condition of the survival of one-party dictatorship."

Of course, what happens in China doesn't stay in China. It has ramifications for the rest of the world. It is the world's second-biggest economy and emerging superpower rival to the United States. And its military buildup is making other countries in this region nervous.

So many expectations, so many eyes on Xi Jinping and what he can do with this next decade in power.

Stan Grant, CNN, Beijing.


FOSTER: We can, of course, follow the announcement when it happens here on CNN, and you can learn more about the leadership of the world's most populous country on our dedicated webpage at

Well, the eurozone's struggling southern countries have led a wave of protest today as millions of workers across the continent staged a series of walkouts. Spain and Portugal held coordinated general strikes, bringing transport, schools, and businesses to a halt. Smaller demonstrations also took place in Greece, Belgium, France, and even Germany.

Protests turned violent in Spain and Italy, and police have clashed with protesters in Lisbon. CNN's team of correspondents are reporting from across Europe. Madrid Bureau Chief Al Goodman is in the Spanish capital, and Senior International Correspondent Ben Wedeman is in Rome. Ben, first to you. What did you see?

BEN WEDEMAN, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: What we saw were some small scuffles between the police and the protesters. Most of the protesters, in fact, were quite young, many of them were high school students.

And their gripe is not with things like benefits and pay, their gripe is that they're too young to work, too young to vote, too young to pay taxes, but they are suffering in terms of the quality of their education from the austerity measures adopted by the Italian government.

And they said, look, we don't want to have a bleak future. We want the government to support our education so we can, indeed, have a future. Max?

FOSTER: OK, Ben. We're going to speak now to Al in just a moment as well, but we want to get a sense of what people are protesting here about. In Greece, for example, the latest figures that a startling 25 percent of the workforce is unemployed. The situation in Spain and Portugal are similar.

Let's compare that to Germany's unemployment rate, which is at just 5.4 percent. Austria and Luxembourg are even lower. But what's making people really angry, and that's the youth unemployment. More than half of the population of young people in Greece and Spain are unemployed, and Portugal has a youth unemployment rate of 35 percent.

Al is in Madrid. Al, this is the second general strike Spain has seen this year. Widespread protests and reports of violence. So, what did you see there?

AL GOODMAN, CNN MADRID BUREAU CHIEF: Well, you're seeing a rising tide of sentiment against these austerity cuts and the tax hikes. The government's trying to reduce the deficit, and the people are saying quite enough.

This is the first time ever there have been two general strikes in Spain in a year. It's the first time ever Spanish and Portuguese unions had coordinated their general strikes.

Now, we were out at the main train terminus in Madrid earlier this day and we saw lots of disruptions there. About 30 percent of public transport was running, just a third of normal. So, a lot of people, even those who wanted to go to work, couldn't get there, had to wait, long delays. Here's what some people told us right there.


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE (through translator): Those on strike are fighting for something fair, but there are many workers who can't strike because we lose a day's pay, and we already have enough financial problems without losing even more money.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE (through translator): I don't think the strike will help anyone because the government will keep doing the same thing. They're going to do what they want to do.


GOODMAN: The unions claim this strike was a success. The government said it really didn't have that much impact. Clearly, it was not a normal day. And as we go ahead, right here in this plaza, just a few -- a short while ago, thousands of people were out at big demonstrations across the country. This one here and just down the street outside parliament, there's still protests going on.

So, we've got on the day nearly 120 arrests, 74 people injured, including many police officers. The sentiment against the austerity doesn't seem to be slipping away. Max?

FOSTER: It has caused a problem for people outside the country, as well, because all sorts of flights had been canceled to and from these countries just so the concern about the violence there. What sort of impact has that had on travelers?

GOODMAN: Well, we caught up with several travelers in the Atocha Terminus and we've seen sort of bewildered tourists running around.

Now, we know that several business events and conventions have been postponed, tours telling people get there early the day before the strike. They've had to rearrange their programs. We know that this is happening.

And so, clearly, a lot of disruption despite the government's statements repeatedly during the day that it really had a small impact. There was a difference. You could see it. Anyone who's been in Spain could see that there was a difference.

And yet, the government is showing no signs of changing its course on austerity. Quite the contrary, they haven't said if they'll need a full sovereign bailout or not. They haven't said if they'll go for that. But for right now, they say they respect these protests, people have a right to strike under the Spanish constitution without changing one iota of the policy. Max?

FOSTER: And Ben, all this has been coordinated across Europe, hasn't it, by the European Trade Union Confederation? And actually, it's been very successful. If you look at it as a Europe-wide project, actually it's worked pretty well for the protesters.

WEDEMAN: Yes, Max. This is the first time this takes place. A first time of coordinated political action involving strikes and demonstrations.

And this is what the organizers -- and here in Italy, it's one of the main trade unions -- are trying to do is to show that not only do they have power within the country itself, but that this is a Europe-wide sentiment, that there is resistance on a broad level across many countries to these austerity programs.

And obviously, after today's events, which they do believe were fairly successful, we'll be seeing repeats of them in the future. Max?

FOSTER: Ben in Rome, Madrid -- and Al in Madrid. Thank you both very much, indeed, for joining us. We'll be following it, of course, as we get those future protests. There will be more.

There were even protests across more financially stable parts of northern Europe as well, including Germany. Unions in Berlin called for protests in solidarity with their neighbors, and the country's gloomy economic growth forecast is starting to cause concern. Here's CNN's Frederik Pleitgen.


FREDERIK PLEITGEN, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: The economic situation here in Germany still remains fairly stable. However, there is a new element here in this country as well where people for the first time are fearing for their economic situation and for their jobs as well.

Germany has seen very disappointing economic growth in the past couple of quarters, and there's analysts who believe that it will slow down almost to a standstill and possibly even to economic decline in the near future.

Now, what that's going to do is it's going to have an impact on Angela Merkel's capability to lead in the eurozone crisis. So far, because of the good economy, because people have had jobs, they weren't really that upset with Germany putting up all this money to try and save other eurozone countries.

However, there has been some infighting within her own governing coalition, with some politicians there saying they don't believe Germany has the means to bail out other countries, and certainly those voices are going to get louder if the economic situation here in Germany declines, and especially if people start losing their jobs.

One thing to always keep in mind is that there is a general election in Germany in 2013.

Fred Pleitgen, CNN, Berlin.


FOSTER: Do stay with CNN as we continue our coverage of Europe as its struggling nations try to get on the path to recovery.

Still to come on CONNEC THE WORLD, we take you beneath the ocean floor in Turkey to see how work is going on in one of the world's deepest commuter tunnels.


FOSTER: Well, it's considered one of the most ambitious construction projects of modern times. On this week's series of the Gateway, we focus on Istanbul's Marmaray Tunnel. Running below the city's Bosphorus Strait, this railway tunnel is intended to help revolutionize the city's congested transport system. Becky takes a look at this new link between Europe and Asia.


BECKY ANDERSON, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Istanbul, a maritime city crippled by heavy traffic. The Bosphorus Bridge is one of just two road connections across the city's strait. Cars, along with these city ferries, carry the load of more than one million daily commuters.

ANDERSON (on camera): I'm onboard one of the commuter ferries on the Bosphorus, and it is difficult to imagine when you're here that 60 meters below us, works are ongoing on the world's deepest submerged tunnel ever built.

ANDERSON (voice-over): Tracks are finally in place on the first rail link spanning Europe and Asia. This is the core of the Marmaray project. A remarkable feat of engineering, this tunnel sits beneath one of the world's busiest shipping lanes and about 16 kilometers from the nearest fault line.

ANDERSON (on camera): So, where are we now?

MEHMET CILINGIR, DEPUTY PROJECT MANAGER, MARMARAY PROJECT: We are at the signature station, which is the deepest station of the system.

ANDERSON: On the European side.

CILINGIR: On the European side.

ANDERSON: This is an area of seismic activity, I understand. So, what are you doing to minimize the risk?

CILINGIR: We have seismic joints in the tunnels. Those will act like a flexible joint between two tubes and will take the effects of seismic movement.

ANDERSON (voice-over): The immersed tube tunnel was assembled from 11 concrete segments, and it's part of an overhaul of the existing cross-city railway system. Work started in 2004, but construction was put on hold following the discovery of an ancient Byzantine court.

BINALLI YILDIRIM, TURKISH TRANSPORTATION MINISTER: The tunnel is going under very historic area, so every piece of soil is examined by experts. Because of that, believe me, we lost five years.

ANDERSON (on camera): It seems to me that the project as it stands at present would be difficult to have completed by 2013.

YILDIRIM: We are very comfortable that the project is going to be complete by the end of next year. Fourteen million people are just waiting for this project to come to reality.

ANDERSON (voice-over): When it does become a reality, the Marmaray will take passengers across the strait in a little over two minutes, easing congestion while bringing Europe and Asia closer together.

ANDERSON (on camera): Today, trainee drivers are being put through their paces on what is one of a fleet of more than 50 new trains which will run through the Marmaray Tunnel carrying more than a million passengers a day.

ANDERSON (voice-over): After nearly 40 years of service, Mustafa Berker is gearing up for the new challenge.

MUSTAFA BERKER, TRAIN DRIVER (through translator): It's a great joy for me to contribute to this project. I've worked for 37 years and I'm ready for my retirement, but if I can see this through, it will be a great pleasure, both for me, my children, and grandchildren.



FOSTER: You're watching CONNECT THE WORLD live from London. I'm back. I'm Max Foster, indeed. Let's turn to sport, now. British football referee Mark Clattenburg has been at the center of controversy for his actions in a recent match between Chelsea and Man United.

But now, an investigation into the incident has been dropped. Pedro is here to explain more. We were talking about this yesterday, but the story does go on, and it's been interesting today.

PEDRO PINTO, CNN SPORTS CORRESPONDENT: It has been, and the London Metropolitan Police decided to drop the investigation into claims that he made racist remarks about one of the Chelsea players, Jon Obi Mikel, during that match, because no victims came forward, so officially none of the Chelsea players actually stood up the claims with the police.

I had a chance earlier today to speak with Chelsea goalkeeper Petr Cech, and I asked him whether he heard anything and what his reaction to the whole case has been. This is what he had to say.


PETR CECH, CHELSEA GOALKEEPER: For me, it's difficult to comment on something I didn't hear and I was not even involved and even close. So, this is one thing. I believe that if you come with something that, you need to have really good case to say it, because if not, it would waste time of everybody and, again, it wouldn't be good for football.

If there is a case, it's not because Chelsea wanted to do something, it's because there is a case. And again, I hope that there's going to be - - this story will be finished as soon as possible.


PINTO: Now, one important note to add is that while the police has dropped its investigation, Max, the English Football Association is still looking at this case and trying to get evidence and trying to get a latest reaction from everyone involved.

So, that particular investigation is not over yet, and we've learned from the past, for example, with John Terry, that the legal case was dropped against Terry, but then the player was fined and also suspended by football officials. So, there still could be some news regarding that side of proceedings.

FOSTER: And during the evening, actually, football fans have been far more taken by a particular match between Sweden and England, as I understand it. We haven't had a chance to watch it. But I'm reading that some people, some of your colleagues, are calling it the best goal ever.

PINTO: It was definitely pretty spectacular. Zlatan Ibrahimovic scored four goals against England as the Swedes won four-nil -- four-two, rather -- this evening in a match which ended just a few minutes ago.

And the last goal was a bicycle kick from about 35 yards. Unbelievable, and we'll show it to you later on "World Sport" in about 35 minutes' time. It is worth watching because Zlatan was incredibly inspired. Scored also a great free kick, and he shows that a lot of people might criticize him and his work ethic sometimes, but he is a genius when it comes to the skills he has.

FOSTER: Just one of the friendlies tonight.

PINTO: Just one of many. We had Italy-France, also Holland-Germany. A lot of high-profile matches and a lot of results to update you on later on "World Sport."

FOSTER: And you've got quite an interesting golfing story for us tonight as well.

PINTO: I do. You normally don't see this every day. A group of high-profile golfers were in Hong Kong there ahead of a tournament. And to promote the event, the organizers decided it was a good idea to put them on top of a building out there in Hong Kong and tee off some balls.

Now, obviously, if you're walking around the street, the last thing you'd want, Max, is to get a golf ball landing on your head.

FOSTER: Quite a lot of people on those streets of Hong Kong as well.

PINTO: Yes. So, what they did is they had the light plastic balls, so even if they did someone, it wouldn't really hurt anyone. But it is good video and a great way to promote a tournament, which features the likes of Rory McIlroy, as we saw.

So, definitely golf continues to be a growing sport in Asia. And for this particular tournament, the organizers decided to get creative with their promotion.

FOSTER: What a lovely setting as well.

PINTO: Yes, it is.

FOSTER: Pedro, we'll see you later on. Thank you very much.

What's on your mind? If you've got anything to say about any of the stories we have on the show, the team at CONNECT THE WORLD would love to hear from you, Have your say there. You can also tweet the show @CNNconnect.

And in tonight's Parting Shots, an American student believes he's found his 450-year-old twin. But we'll let you be the judge on that. Side-by-side, there's a definite likeness between Max Galuppo and the nobleman in a 19th century portrait hanging on the wall of the Philadelphia Museum of Art.


NIKKIE CURTIS, MAX GALUPPO'S GIRLFRIEND: I'm giggling like crazy, and it's dead silent in this museum. I go, "Do you see this guy?"

MAX GALLUPPO, BEARS RESEMBLANCE TO NOBELMAN IN 19TH CENTURY PORTRAIT: I'll be honest, at first I didn't think it looked like me. I feel good for 450, I've got to admit.


FOSTER: As it turns out, there could actually be a family connection, do you believe? It's believed the painting originated not far from Florence, Italy, the ancestral homeland of Max's grandfather. What do you say to that?

I'm Max Foster, that was CONNECT THE WORLD. Thanks for watching.