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CONNECT THE WORLD
Violence Escalates Along Israeli-Gaza Border; Zlatan Ibrahimovic Scores Four Against England, Including Best Ever?; BP To Pay Largest Criminal Fine In U.S. Court History
Aired November 15, 2012 - 16:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
MAX FOSTER, HOST: Tonight on Connect the World, screams of terror as rockets crisscross the skies over southern Israel and Gaza.
ANNOUNCER: Live from CNN London, this is Connect the World.
FOSTER: Both sides exchange deadly fire. The Middle East quartet special envoy warn me of the consequences.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
TONY BLAIR, UN QUARTET SPECIAL ENVOY TO MIDDLE EAST: If it goes into a state of violence and turmoil, then I think the consequences will be felt right across the region.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
FOSTER: Also tonight, the biggest criminal fine in U.S. history. BP is ordered to cough up over the fatal DeepWater Horizon oil spill.
And meet the artist know as the Picasso of Brazil.
The escalating crisis in the Middle East shows no sign of letting up this evening. Throughout the day, rockets and shells have crisscrossed the skies over the southern Israel and of Gaza. These were the scenes earlier this evening in Gaza city. Palestinian authorities say 15 people were killed today just 24 hours after the military chief of Hamas was assassinated. Across the border, police say three Israelis died when a rocket fired from Gaza struck an apartment building.
The Israeli military reports at least 274 rockets fired into Israel from Gaza since the operation began. Both signs showing no signs of backing down.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
BENJAMIN NETANYAHU, PRIME MINISTER OF ISRAEL: No government would tolerate a situation where nearly a fifth of its people live under a constant barrage of rockets and missile fire. And Israel will not tolerate this situation.
ISMAIL HANIYAH, HAMAS LEADER (through translator): Our enemy does not (inaudible). Those people who are brought in the circles of the Koran and who have rely on the almighty and don't fear anybody but except Allah and they don't fear any aggression on the occupation. This assistance is greeted.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
FOSTER: Well, in a moment we'll be speaking to Reza Sayah in Egypt which has already recalled its ambassador to Israel in protest over the ongoing strikes. But first tonight, we head to Frederik Pleitgen. He's at Ashkelon, an Israeli city close to the border with Gaza.
Fred, just bring us up to date on what you're seeing.
FRED PLEITGEN, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, you're absolutely right, Max. Certainly both sides are not showing any sort of signs of backing down. You're absolutely right. Also, that Ashkelon is very close to the border with Gaza. It's about 15 kilometers away and is therefore of course also in the line of fire of missiles coming out of Gaza.
What we're hearing right now is actually is seems as though things are actually being ramped up again. There's Israeli war planes in the skies above me. And also we've heard several impacts in the last I would say 30 to 45 minute coming from the direction of Gaza. It's not clear whether those are outgoing rockets coming from Gaza or whether those are Israeli airstrikes. But there is no doubt that the Israelis have ramped up their airstrikes and also more and more rockets have been fired out of Gaza as you said more than 200 alone today.
And Ashkelon has been targeted specifically by these rockets, but it also has a missile defense system called the Iron Dome. And the Israelis say that so far they've already intercepted about 70 rockets coming out of Gaza.
This is also, by the way, Max, the area - close to the area where those three people were killed in that apartment complex. So certainly this is right at the center of where this conflict is going on - Max.
FOSTER: OK, Fred, thank you so much for that.
We'll take a closer look at Hamas' arsenal. And homemade rockets are in the four kilometer range and have hit Gaza border cities like Sderot. More advanced Qassam rocket, like the Qassam three have a 15 kilometer range. Ashkelon is one of the towns in striking distance. A basic Russian made Grad rocket can reach population centers around 20 kilometers away. The more advanced, or upgraded Grad rocket has a range of 40 kilometers.
And finally the Russian-made Farjer 5 (ph) is a long range rocket that could reach Tel Aviv or Jerusalem. That's the view from just north of Gaza's border.
Just crossing to the other end and you're in Egypt where President Mohammed Morsi has condemned Israel's attacks.
Reza Sayah is in Cairo this evening. And how involved, Reza, is Egypt in trying to get some sort of resolution here?
REZA SAYAH, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, Max, they are certainly making an effort to show the world that they want to be involved and they want to play a central role in this latest flare-up between the Palestinians and the Israelis in Gaza. Much of the world is watching Egypt this hour. They want to see how Egypt reacts to this latest conflict.
Now they're watching because this is a new Egypt. It's the post- revolution Egypt. It's an Egypt that's now lead by a government with President Morsi, the member - a key member - of the Muslim Brotherhood. He came in with promises of change, saying that Cairo, Egypt would no longer tolerate, put up with Israeli aggression and oppression of Palestinians, that Egypt from now on would stand up for the Palestinian cause. And many question was this lip service? Was this all talk to win political points, or would Egypt take a substantially tougher stance against Israel?
We can tell you that so far the moves Cairo have made have not been radical, harsh or extreme. Clearly they're trying to play the role of mediator. What they've done, their latest move is call on the prime minister Hesham Kandil (ph) to go to Gaza tomorrow to meet with Hamas officials. They've also - this happened earlier, pulled their ambassador to Israel. They called an Arab League meeting on Saturday. President Morsi got on the phone with U.S. President Barack Obama and they widely condemned the attacks on the Gaza Strip.
And many people were worried about the Camp David Accord signed in 1979. Shortly, an hour ago on the Amanpour show a member of President Morsi's advisory committee said no one needs to worry about the Camp David Accord, that's staying intact. Here he is a short time ago on the Amanpour show.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: All these treaties that Egypt signed with Israel all these decades ago, are they in jeopardy today?
RAFA TATAWI, PRESIDENT MORSI ADVISER: No, not at all. Not at all, because we have declared several times and repeatedly that we abide by our international commitments. But respecting a peace treaty does not mean stay idle or indifferent to what is going on along our borders.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
SAYAH: So as doctor Rafa Tatawi, a member of President Morsi's advisory committee again, Max, a lot of diplomatic maneuvers, nothing that could be described of extreme and harsh. The big question is, will it satisfy the Egyptian street, the Arab street. Many here are outraged at the airstrikes in Gaza. They want Egypt to take a tougher stance. And that's why this government has an incredibly difficult balancing act to achieve and all eyes on this government to see how it responds.
FOSTER: Reza Sayah in Cairo, thank you very much.
Also, Frederik Pleitgen in Ashkelon.
Britain's foreign secretary William Hague says he believes that Hamas bears responsibility for the current crisis. Earlier I spoke to Tony Blair, the former British prime minister, but now envoy to the Middle East quartet. I began by asking him if he shared Hague's view?
BLAIR: The situation is incredibly difficult and tense, but the fact is we know that if there are rockets fired from Gaza. And they're aimed at Israeli civilians in towns and villages on the Israeli side in what is undisputed territory. Israel will retaliate. And you know we've seen this pattern over a long period of time.
And so it's a statement of the obvious, but the only way of avoiding the situation is to de-escalate it, to get a cease-fire in place and then try and work out a better way forward.
SAYAH: Since the Arab Spring, of course, you have this movement by the Muslim Brotherhood. And they're a big player now, a bigger player than they were. The Israelis underestimated that?
BLAIR: No, I don't think they've underestimated it. I mean, I think they're away of it. And they're aware of the pressures that will come on President Morsi, but you're in a situation in Israel where, you know, a million people are taking shelter every evening. And if you put that in a British context, it's the equivalent I don't know of seven or eight million people, there's no government that's not going to be under pressure to take action in those circumstances.
Now we can, you know, debate the rights and wrongs of the policy towards Gaza in general terms. And, you know, we've been working very hard to lift the blockade to try and get some normality. I want to see the peace process revitalized and reenergized.
But if you have a situation in which rockets coming out of Gaza targeting Israeli towns and villages, you will get the retaliation.
FOSTER: You've been making calls, I'm sure, to Washington and other capitals. What can the international community, what can Israel, what can everyone offer the Palestinians which can calm the situation down? What's Washington saying?
BLAIR: Well, in the immediate term it's just got to be a very simple demand. And obviously Egypt has got a critical role to play in relation to Hamas, but that is that the action ceases coming out of Gaza, the action ceases going into Gaza. And we have a cease-fire.
In the medium-term, we've got to - and I think we had the opportunity of doing this after the reelection of President Obama, we've got to put an initiative back together that allows us to really overcome what has been a kind of paralysis in recent times in the peace process and get it back on track. I mean, that's the only rational way to proceed, otherwise the violence escalates and then as you see people go into what are fixed positions. For Israel, they believe their civilians are under attack and the Palestinians they're subject to an injustice. You divide the two sides and you go back into conflict again and then dialogue becomes very difficult.
FOSTER: In a region which is suffering all sorts of turmoil at the moment already. So will this mean that the situation in Syria, people turn a bit of a blind eye to that as a result and even concern about Iran, how does it play into the wider turmoil?
BLAIR: No. I think people will carry on being focused on Syria or on Iran, but there's no doubt at all, where you're absolutely right is that we have enough upheaval in this region already without adding to it. And this Israeli-Palestinian issue - I mean, I always say this to people - irrespective of the Arab revolutions and the upheaval in the region it's still is dramatically important to the future of the region.
So if it goes into a state of violence and turmoil then I think the consequences will be felt right across the region. I mean, not just in Israel and Palestine.
So this is why it's urgent that we de-escalate, and de-escalate quickly.
FOSTER: That was Tony Blair, the envoy to the Middle East quartet speaking to me earlier.
Well, this conflict isn't just being fought across borders, it's also being waged online. And as Atika Shubert reports, Twitter has become the battleground for a war of words.
ATIKA SHUBERT, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Rocket and bombs in Gaza, but the war is also fought online, a battle for public opinion, Israeli forces versus Hamas, both using the internet to get their messages out.
At the exact moment Israeli defense forces began hitting their targets in Gaza, they sent out this tweet, "the IDF has begun a widespread campaign on terror sites and operatives in the Gaza Strip." Moments later they posted video of the deadly airstrike that killed the head of Hamas' military wing.
Hamas' al Qassam Brigade was quick to respond with its own tweet confirming the death of its top leader.
The war of words had begun.
Well, the Israeli Defense Forces are live tweeting about their actions using a few hashtags, but most notably #pillarofdefense. Meanwhile, al Qassam Brigades has come back with their hashtag #gazaunderattack. Both sides have been issuing threats online. Just take a look at what the IDF put out, a dry statement saying, "we recommend saying that now Hamas operatives, whether low level or senior leaders, show their faces above ground in the days ahead."
And not to be out done, the al Qassam Brigades responded directly to IDF spokesperson saying, "our blessed hands will reach your leaders and soldiers wherever they are. You have opened the gates of hell on yourselves."
So there you have it, the war of words online.
For every strike it seems, there is a corresponding tweet or video post with links and graphics, a war of information battling for hearts and minds online no less critical than winning the war on the ground.
Atika Shubert, CNN, London.
FOSTER: Well, this is Connect the World live from London on CNN. Still to come tonight, the biggest criminal fine in U.S. history. BP pays for the devastating DeepWater Horizon oil spill.
And coming up is sport, that goal that everyone is talking about. What is fluke or skill?
FOSTER: Well, BP will plead guilty to manslaughter charges stemming from the 2010 DeepWater Horizon explosion and oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico, that was part of the agreement announced on Thursday by U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder. Separately, two BP supervisors onboard the oil rig also face manslaughter charges in connection to the blast that killed 11 workers. CNN's Matthew Chance has more.
MATTHEW CHANCE, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: It was the biggest accidental oil spill the world has ever seen, more than 4 million barrels of crude spewing into the Gulf of Mexico after a devastating explosion of the DeepWater Horizon drilling rig which killed 11 workers. Now BP has admitted liability and agreed to pay the highest criminal penalty in American corporate history.
Well, this is the deal BP has done with the U.S. federal authorities as well as admitting criminal responsibility the company has agreed to pay $4 billion to settle all criminal claims, a fine more than three times higher than the previous record payment made by the drug company Pfizer in 2009.
It's also agreed to pay another $525 million to resolve the civil charges brought by the SEC, the Securities and Exchange Commission. But in return look what it gets. BP says it will face no further criminal prosecution in U.S. courts, a huge relief for the oil giant, and one which removes a key uncertainty over how much this oil spill will cost.
But BP's liabilities are likely to go much further. Back in 2010, video cameras were set up on the seabed to broadcast live images of the oil gusher as the company struggled for 87 days to bring it under control and this saved tens of billions of dollars may still have to be paid out by BP in civil and private lawsuits not covered by this deal, but perhaps affected by it.
DANIEL O'SULLIVAN ENERGY INTELLIGENCE: If admitting criminal liability in the U.S. and paying what seems to be quite a large settlement for this both helps the eventual settlement of the civil liabilities against them which could dwarf this - it won't dwarf, relatively exceed this settlement by quite a long way - and also guarantees their continued tenure in the Gulf of Mexico, probably good business people are going to say at the end of the day.
CHANCE: And at the end of the day, analysts say the Gulf of Mexico remains a key region for the oil giant, forced into a humiliating acceptance of responsibility, but at least a step closer to putting this tragedy behind it.
Matthew Chance, CNN, London.
FOSTER: Well, let's cross live now to St. Petersburg in Florida where CNN's Ed Lavandera is standing by for us.
Ed, BP may have reached this agreement with the U.S. government, but it's not the end of this is it? There could be even more fines with more legal cases coming up.
ED LAVANDERA, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Yeah, Matthew alluded to that already, there are still a number of lawsuits that are still pending settlements with individual people who have refused to take the settlement offers that have been on the table so far. And I think the most significant of all is remember back during the oil spill that there was - and Matthew alluded to this, there was the video images coming from the amount of oil that was being pumped in the Gulf of Mexico, remember from the very early stages the amount of oil that was flowing was always under dispute. BP trying to make those numbers much lower than what other people believed they were. And all of that is because according to the Clean Water Act a law here in the United States the fines that the company will pay is based on the amount of oil that was spilled, the number of barrels that were spilled into the Gulf of Mexico.
So obviously it's in BP's interest to make that number as low as possible. And there have been experts who have been trying to figure out just how much millions and millions of barrels spilled in, but that will be the most significant part of this.
And the liability is one of the things that BP did today is essentially tell its shareholders they've got about $41 billion in liabilities that they expect are still out there, so that gives you an indication of just how much more money this company is expecting to have to put out there to put this BP oil spill tragedy behind them.
FOSTER: Well, it's a huge, huge punishment, unprecedented isn't it? But of course it affected so many people this spill. You were there a couple of years ago reporting on it as it happened. What's the difference in feeling would you say from then and now?
LAVANDERA: Well, you know, I think - and I've been - you know, as you mentioned I was there when this explosion happened. We covered this from the early days. And for many months those 87 days, well that oil spill was gushing into the Gulf of Mexico.
But I think what is still striking and what you still hear repeatedly from people who live along the Gulf Coast region is that the full affects of this oil spill and the environmental damage is still unknown and hasn't been able to be categorized or, you know, captured with any kind of exactitude. And I was just there a couple of months ago when Hurricane Irene came across ashore one of the barrier islands there and just hours after the storm had blown through we had seen these large tar balls about this large washing up on shore. The locals there along these barrier islands call them BP balls. And a lot of the fishermen will tell you that marine life hasn't come back the way it normally was. There are still a lot of unanswered questions. And many people who say that the true ramifications of this oil spill will take years and years to fully measure.
FOSTER: OK, Ed, thank you very much indeed for that.
You're watching Connect the World live from London on CNN. Coming up, a Swedish striker takes aim at England and see how it's helping to raise the spirits of a nation next.
FOSTER: So sport now. And Swedish striker Zlatan Ibrahimovic is the talk of the football world right now after a brilliant four goal performance against England.
Don Riddell is at CNN Center with more on this. And many people saying the best goal ever, at least the last one - Don.
DON RIDDELL, CNN SPORTS CORRESPONDENT: Yeah, funnily enough, Max, it was the first goal he scored last night that he got the most excited about, because it was the first goal in Sweden's new national stadium, but of course it's the last one that everybody is talking about. And we can show it for you here. People all over the world have been talking about this goal for the last 24 hours, Max. Absolutely incredible. There aren't really enough words in the vocabulary to describe that, but I mean, a very, very special goal. It is, I think, among the best goals that have ever been scored. Incredible technique. An overhead kick is very, very difficult to do anyway. But from outside the area, from that angle, absolutely breathtaking.
In fact, the England manage Roy Hodgson said it was really the kind of goal you would expect to see in a video game and that's certainly how it looked, it was that spectacular.
And you know this is a really, really important performance not just for Ibrahimovic in Sweden, but actually for the whole country. Anti- immigration sentiment is on the rise in Sweden right now. Ibrahimovic, Max, is a player born of Bosnian and Croatian descent. And I think he has really helped unite Sweden of what is quite a difficult time politically.
FOSTER: Absolutely. And what a star he is.
Meanwhile in golf, Rory McIlroy not a happy chappy in Hong Kong.
RIDDELL: Not really, yeah. McIlroy is the defending champion of the Hong Kong Open. And let's be honest, he's had an absolutely incredible year. He's the world number one. He finished top of the money list on both sides of the Atlantic. He won another major this year. And of course he was one of the stars of that incredible Ryder Cup victory for Europe.
But it wasn't going his way at all in the first round on Thursday in Hong Kong. He shot a three over par 73, just one birdie and four boogies. And it means he's nine off the pace. He's tied for 93rd. It could well be that if he doesn't put in a good round on Friday in the second round then he's going to miss the cut.
Afterwards, Max, McIlroy said that he actually is feeling mentally lethargic at the moment. It has been an incredible season for him. I think he is very much looking forward to taking a break when it's all said and done.
FOSTER: Good stuff. Don, thank you very much for joining us.
You're watching Connect the World, coming up the latest news headlines from CNN. Plus, China's new leadership is revealed, so what can we expect from Xi Jinping in the months and years to come?
Then, the rugby player who has battled through injury and now living his dream on the field. Our human to hero series continues.
FOSTER: A warm welcome to our viewers across Europe and around the world. I'm Max Foster and these are the latest world headlines from CNN.
The violence between Israel and Gaza shows no sign of letting up. This was the scene earlier this evening in Gaza City. Palestinians say 18 people have been killed. Across the border, 3 Israelis are dead after a rocket hit an apartment building.
The US Attorney General has announced BP will plead guilty to manslaughter charges related to the 2010 Deepwater Horizon oil spill. The company has also agreed to pay $4.5 billion in government penalties.
The eurozone has slipped into recession for the second time in four years. Collectively, the 17 economies which use the euro shrank slightly over the three months ending in September, the second-straight quarterly drop.
US president Barack Obama has traveled to New York to tour the devastation caused by Hurricane Sandy. Mr. Obama also announced that current housing secretary Shaun Donovan will lead the government's recovery efforts of the storm-affected region.
The death toll in Syria has reached more than 37,000, with one group suggesting the number of dead could be almost 40,000. The Russian foreign ministry has criticized Western nations for voicing their backing for the rebels. Meanwhile, more than 400,000 refugees have spilled over into Syria's neighboring countries as the violence continues.
Ireland's government has said it will revisit its abortion legislation in order to clarify it. It comes after a woman died after having been denied an abortion. The Catholic country has some of the world's most restrictive abortion laws. Thousands of people held a candlelight vigil for Savita Halappanavar on Wednesday.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: The state has failed in the past 20 years to put in place legislation to make its position clearer and to protect women in this country. And I think it's just a huge shame that this woman had to die in such tragic circumstances and highlights the fact that there is a major absence of care legislation in this country at the moment.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
FOSTER: China has a new streamlined leadership. As expected, Xi Jinping has taken over as the Communist Party leader and head of the military. He'll be officially anointed as president next year. The Standing Committee has been reduced from nine members to seven and includes Li Keqiang, who is widely tipped to become the new premier.
So, China has a new leader and leading committee. After a week of discussions over the country's future, on Thursday, the curtain was raised on a not-unexpected lineup of men who will head the country for the next decade. Stan Grant reports from Beijing.
STAN GRANT, CNN SENIOR INTERATIONAL CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): A procession of power. Xi Jinping leads a new generation of Chinese leaders onto the world stage. Now General Secretary of the Communist Party, a party under stress in a country on the rise. For Xi Jinping, a daunting responsibility.
XI JINPING, GENERAL SECRETARY, CHINESE COMMUNIST PARTY (through translator): We must always be of one heart and mind with the people, share will and woe with them, make concerted and hard efforts, attend to our duties day and night --
GRANT: In a speech outlining his vision for the country, he praised China's people. He spoke of their love of life, the hard work, and the value of education. He vowed to fulfill the party's mission to, quote, "renew China." But first, he must renew the party itself from the scourge of corruption.
XI (through translator): There are many pressing problems with in the party that need to be resolved. The problems among our party members and cadres of corruption, taking bribes, being out of touch with the people, undue emphasis on formalities and bureacratism must be addressed with great efforts. The whole party must be vigilant against them.
GRANT: From revolution to power, Xi Jinping's roots are in the Communist Party. His father a revolutionary hero, Xi is known as a princeling. Analysts say he will always put the party first.
"He is part of a consensus to keep the Communist Party as the only ruling party. Any so-called 'liberty' must only be on the condition of survival of one part dictatorship, this analyst says.
GRANT (on camera): Xi heads a seven-member Politburo Standing Committee that's the all-powerful governing body in China and dominated by Xi's fellow princelings. His challenge now: to deliver on a pledge to reform and govern for the people.
GRANT (voice-over): There are cracks in this rising China: an economy in need of reform, a growing gap between rich and poor, and increasing social unrest. For some, this is already a challenge too far for Xi.
WENRAN JIANG, POLITICAL ANALYST: I have made serious reservations whether Xi Jinping or his new leadership -- collective leadership core will be able to do much more.
GRANT: Xi Jinping will have a decade at the helm to prove those doubters wrong.
Stan Grant, CNN, Beijing.
FOSTER: Well, all over the world, people have been watching the leadership transition with interest. Some are hoping the status quo will stay the same, others hoping to see a dramatic change in direction in the new leaders.
ALEX ZOLBERT, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: I'm Alex Zolbert here in Tokyo outside one of Japan's most famous and revered temples. Normally, you would see many Chinese visitors here, but with the ongoing tensions over the disputed islands, that is not the case these days.
And in terms of China's transition of power, one thing analysts say they'll be watching for closely is just how hawkish the new leader might be. That is one thing they're watching for. Or could this be an opportunity for both sides to, perhaps, hit the reset button and let things cool down a bit?
Economically, of course, the stakes are huge. We're talking about the world's second and third largest economies, huge trade deals, massive investment at stake. So, in the words of many analysts, it's in both side's best interest to resolve this dispute as quickly as possible. That's just some of what they'll be watching for here in Tokyo.
SHASTA DARLINGTON, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: I'm Shasta Darlington in Sao Paulo, and here in Brazil -- in fact, in most of South America -- people really aren't looking for big changes from new leadership in China, and that's because the status quo has served them well.
In Brazil, for example, Chinese demand for commodities like iron or soybeans fueled a decade of unprecedented growth, helping it overcome the UK as the world's sixth-largest economy.
Now, of course, there are manufacturers who complain about cheap imports, but overall, the relationship has been favorable. Last year alone, the trade surplus with China was $11 billion, so you're more likely to hear people complaining about monetary easing in the United States than about Chinese policies.
What they really want to see is just a return to those boom years and the high commodity prices that came with them.
ERIN MCLAUGHLIN, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: I'm Erin McLaughlin in London. China is Europe's second-largest and fastest-growing trading partner. Going forward, an EU official tells me they'd like to see greater cooperation between the two sides to address Europe's economic crisis as a priority.
Now, at the same time, respect for human rights in China continues to be a key point here in Europe. They're hoping for a more intense dialogue between the two sides on issues ranging from freedom of expression to the death penalty.
FOSTER: Well, in a moment, we'll be talking to the China director of Human Rights Watch, Sophie Richardson, about China's human rights practices. The best examples of these, she says, include these arbitrary detention and disappearances.
Nobel prize winner Liu Xiaobo is in prison for 11 years for dissent. His wife has been charged with nothing, and yet she is currently under house arrest and hasn't been seen since 2010.
There are serious questions over freedom of speech. During the tainted milk crisis of 2008, the press knew milk contained melamine but were not allowed to report it during the Olympics. That meant many children died before their parents were made aware of the danger.
And China still practices the death penalty. It's believed up to 5,000 people are executed every year, but the number is a state secret, so it can only be estimated.
To talk a little more on China's human rights record, I'm joined from Washington by Sophie Richardson, China director at Human Rights Watch. Thank you so much for joining us.
To talk about things like the death penalty, there are other countries that have that, too, so that's not particular to China, is it? And there is an argument to say that they are taking human rights more seriously, at least over the last year during this transition period.
SOPHIE RICHARDSON, CHINA DIRECTOR, HUMAN RIGHTS WATCH: Well, on the death penalty specifically, there is now still 55 crimes on the books that carry the death penalty, but most of those are for non-violent offenses. So if you engage in bribery at a certain scale, you can actually face the ultimate sanctions for that crime.
We find the death penalty is fundamentally cruel and unusual and we object to it in other places where it's used, too, such as the US or Iran.
But I think it's fair to say that the new leadership lineup does not, I think, inspire confidence with respect to human rights reforms or the prospects for them any more than they do on economic matters. And I think the biggest -- the biggest consequences will be borne by the Chinese people.
FOSTER: Do you think there's no effort now being made to address human rights?
RICHARDSON: I think it would be incorrect to say that there's no effort. You've seen greater social freedoms for people that are mostly the result of economic development. We've seen some efforts to amend or revise key pieces of legislation.
But I think as long as the Chinese Communist Party insists on excluding people from political processes and politicizing the judicial system, it's not likely we're going to see real change until those fundamental governing philosophies are transformed.
FOSTER: You'll be aware that there was a tour of a prison, wasn't there, in China last month, just to demonstrate that the Chinese authorities wanted to demonstrate what they are doing? And they told journalists then that no confessions can be extracted through torture anymore and the rooms are set up in that way.
They also have strengthened rights, such as detainees' access to lawyers, which was always a concern, wasn't it? They didn't have access to lawyers. But they are doing something, and it is a slow process and things do change slowly in China. So, how do you encourage the speed of change, I guess I'm asking?
RICHARDSON: Well, look. I think comparing the reality on the ground to international standards, but also, frankly, to what the Chinese government promises on paper. You're absolutely correct that there are laws and procedures that have been revised in positive ways. But there's often an enormous gap between what happens in reality and what's on paper.
For example, Article 35 of the Chinese constitution guarantees the right to the freedom of expression, and yet we see people being sentenced to eight, nine, and ten year sentences for publishing poems that are critical of the government..
I think the key in the long term, really, is particularly for other governments that say they care about human right issues, to support people inside China and speak to their interests as they push the government for better respect for their own rights.
FOSTER: Sophie Richardson, thank you very much, indeed, for joining us from Human Rights Watch.
You're watching CONNECT THE WORLD live from London on CNN. Up next, despite a host of injuries, South Africa's rugby captain reveals the secrets of his success.
FOSTER: Well, the captain of the South African rugby team is living his dream, but he also knows what it means to have to fight your way back from adversity. In this week's Human to Hero series, we shine a spotlight on Jean de Villiers.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: This is a fitting farewell to our warriors. They are going to war. You know that you will win the trophy. Viva South Africa, viva!
JEAN DE VILLIERS, SOUTH AFRICAN RUGBY CAPTAIN: It takes 20, 30, 40 games to build up a good reputation, but it takes one bad one to break that reputation that down again. I think that respect drives me, to be able to earn that respect and I think that takes time.
I'm the most-kept Springbok center in the history of the game, and also the 54th captain of my country.
I grew up in a house that rugby was always a part of. Whenever my parents friends would ask me what am I going to do when I grow up, I would tell them, I'm going to play rugby. I've got a contract straight out of school. I always represented South Africa at age group level, and I've been fortunate to be able to take it right to the top.
My role on the pitch is taking the decisions and making sure that I get my message across to the team. I like it when things change as well.
We had eye training. The eye is a muscle like any other muscle in your body, and you need to actually train it, the same that you go into the gym and work out to get your muscles bigger, the same you need to do with your eyes. Being able to make quick decisions and see what's in front of you.
Rugby, in a way, is a lot like chess. Sometimes you do the same all over again and just do to myself position things that you will do the same again, and then you change the next move. So, I think that's the only way I can strategize. I think I've got the ability to keep a team together.
I've had four knee surgeries. I've had shoulder surgery. Had a bicep rupture. And I'm due for a wrist operation as well. So, all-in-all, I think with my surgeries, it's kept me out of rugby for close to 40 months. It really is bad, and while you're going through it, you don't always see the light at the end of the tunnel.
A lot of the time, you sort of blame everyone for what happened to you, but you just need to take it on the chin and move on and work harder to get back to the top.
The Springbok and the Springbok rugby team is something that's very unique, first of all, and it's something that I'm very proud of, and it's something that's got an unbelievable legacy and history.
Playing under the first black coach was good for me, and I really enjoyed the time working with him, and he was a different coach. He had different methods.
The 1995 World Cup final was probably one of the most special days. I can remember sitting at home, watching it with one of my best friends and just the joy that we had after we won, and just seeing everybody outside and rooting. It showed what sport can do to unify a nation and definitely what rugby can do in South Africa.
We believe as players, and definitely I believe as a captain, that you only get to hold on that jersey for a very short time, and the key is to be able to give the jersey back in a better state than what you received it in.
I feel at home when I'm rugby field. I know it's something I'm good at. It's something that I enjoy.
When you run out onto the pitch and there's sometimes 60, 70, 80,000 people supporting you and cheering for you, and when you score a try, that just -- that energy that goes through you and -- that makes rugby quite special.
And knowing that you've got 14 other guys on the field striving towards the same goal and trying to achieve that is pretty good.
FOSTER: Building stadiums, upgrading public transport, cleaning up city slums. Such are the billion-dollar tasks underway in Brazil as the country prepares to host the next World Cup and the Olympic Games.
But one Brazilian artist has been taking a different path to beautifying the country's streets. Bel Borba recently spoke to Becky from New York, where he attended the premier of a documentary on his art.
BEL BORBA, BRAZILIAN ARTIST: Every day is a surprise. I never know. I just go.
BECKY ANDERSON, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): He's known as the Picasso of Brazil. Bel Borba has spent his life beautifying the streets of Salvador by transforming them into an outdoor gallery using any materials he can find.
And as revealed in a new documentary on the artist, his signature is everywhere.
BORBA: For me, art is the most abstract example of our existence. Most things I learned in my life, I learned watching and listening and living with people.
ANDERSON (on camera): They call you the People's Picasso or the Picasso of Brazil. What do you make of that title?
BORBA: Well, I'm not responsible for this title, all right? They probably mean because I try to be versatile and I use so many different materials in painting, sculpturing. I think there's that, and that's why they're trying to compare. But Picasso isn't comparable.
ANDERSON: In the documentary, Bel, you say, and I quote, "I am to Salvador," which is your home city in Brazil, of course, "what sperm is to a woman." Explain what you mean by that.
BORBA: Oh, you had to -- I have some -- this is not the first time somebody asked me this. But I have to explain. Once again, I come to the city, a whole transformation starts. That's the meaning of this metaphor.
ANDERSON (voice-over): Most recently, the Brazilian artists has turned his creative eye to New York, and despite tighter controls on street art, Borba has managed to leave his mark on the American city.
BORBA: Here is a paradise for people or an artist who love to recycle things. Yesterday I saw a truck with big pieces of concrete. I said, oh, my God, that could make a great job with this. T
he other day, we were in the subway and saw all the bubblegum on the floor of the subway. I said, oh, my God, do you think I -- should have permission for scratch only the chewing gums and make this chewing gum the base, the canvas for my painting?
The most exciting thing in art is the capacity that you have for transforming things. You can make things disappear, you can make things appear. Positive and negative.
ANDERSON (on camera): I wonder what's next. I'm looking at Brazil 2014 for the World Cup, 2016, of course, for the Olympics. Have you got any plans to do much artwork in Rio, for example, to rejuvenate the city there?
BORBA: I'm quite sure I'm going to make something, because it's -- I don't think I'm going to have another opportunity to see the goal passing to my city, and I cannot lose this opportunity, because we have -- people from all over the world.
ANDERSON (voice-over): Two major sporting events and two moments for Bel and all Brazilians to leave a bright and lasting impression.
Becky Anderson, CNN, London.
FOSTER: And tomorrow night, another creative mind, too, is doing her bit to leave a lasting legacy. Fashion icon Donna Karan launches her Hearts for Haiti campaign, an initiative inspired by the American president she used to dress.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
DONNA KARAN, FASHION DESIGNER: President Clinton really is my inspiration of life. The Clinton Initiative has really changed my life completely. I said, you go there, and you're so inspired by all these amazing people and you realize what a change you can make in the world.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
FOSTER: You can catch Atika Shubert's full interview with Donna Karan on CONNECT THE WORLD this time tomorrow night.
In tonight's Parting Shots, it's Guinness World Records Say. Let's take you to London. Thousands of people all over the world attempting lots of wacky feats, like these women in London, 28 of them somehow managed to cram themselves into this Mini Cooper for the 8th Annual Guinness World Records Day. But Minis are much bigger than they used to be.
In Australia, a teenager managed to hold the longest note ever on a didgeridoo. He kept it going for more than a minute, 65 seconds, in one breath. Try doing that in the south.
In Mumbai, a massive display of national culture as more than 2600 women took part in the world's largest Kaikottikali, a traditional Indian dance.
And we take you over to New York in the United States, these extreme pogoers reach new heights, literally. They set records for the highest forward flip pogo stick jump, that's what it's called. Almost two and a half meters. And the most pogo stick jumps in one minute, also, 265.
Guinness estimates more than 400,000 people took part in record- breaking festivities around the world, and those are the few that caught our attention.
I'm Max Foster, thank you for watching. That was CONNECT THE WORLD.