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U.S. Warns Syrian Against Chemical Weapon Use; Three Dutch Youth Footballers Arrested For Murdering Linesman; NATO Approves Patriot Missile Batteries For Syrian-Turkish Border; Gruesome Human Rights Abuses in Yemen; Leading Woman in Brazil; John Irving Intolerant of Intolerance

Aired December 4, 2012 - 16:00:00   ET


BECKY ANDERSON, HOST: Tonight on CONNECT THE WORLD, NATO gives Turkey the green light to beef up its border defenses, sending a Patriot missile to thwart any threat from Syria.

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

ANDERSON: Well, tonight, as Syria is warned it will pay the price if it unleashes chemical weapons we'll take a closer look at what experts believe is one of the world's biggest stockpiles.

Also this hour, sentenced by al Qaeda and led to his death, the human rights catastrophe which could haunt Yemen for decades to come.

And with his wife on the mend, how Prince William's baby boy or girl is destined for the throne.

Well, NATO air defenses will soon be protecting Turkey against any Syrian missiles or warplanes that stray over the border. The organization gave the green light to deploy Patriot missiles. It follows NATO's stark warning to the Syrian government not to use chemical weapons. NATO Secretary-General Anders Fogh Rasmussen says the deployment is purely defensive, but some analysts think it could lead to a de facto no-fly zone.

Well, earlier CNN's Christiane Amanpour asked the French foreign minister if that was a possibility.


LAURENT FABIUS, FRENCH FOREIGN MINISTER: It's been said in the motion that we are voting that it has nothing to do with a no-fly zone. It's a different element. It's only purely defensive and at the border of Turkey. No-fly zone would be another story.


ANDERSON: And you can watch the full interview on Amanpour at the top of the hour, 10:00 p.m. London, 11:00 in Berlin.

Well, Ivan Watson covering NATO's decision from CNN Istanbul. It's fair to say the details of this deployment, Ivan, are fairly sketchy. What do we know, though, at this point?

IVAN WATSON, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, the main thing is that this has been approved right now and that NATO is sending out a strong signal to its longtime Turkish member that it's standing shoulder to shoulder with Turkey when it's feeling very vulnerable vis-a-vis Syria. Take a listen to the secretary general today.


ANDERS FOGH RASMUSSEN, NATO SECRETARY-GENERAL: To the Turkish people we say we are determined to defend you and your territory. To anyone who would want to attack Turkey, we say don't even think about it.


WATSON: Now, Becky, it's important to note Turkey is not going to get these Patriot missile batteries tomorrow. It'll probably take weeks, military officers tell me, because the potential contributing countries which have been listed as Germany, The Netherlands, and the U.S. they will now have to go and go through their own national procedures to win permission to send troops and weapons to the Turkish border with Syria.

And what's not clear at this point is just how many Patriot missile batteries would be deployed. We know that a NATO assessment team has been on the ground here in Turkey over the last week scouting out places where this could be put down. One NATO officer that I've talked to has said these missile batteries are large. They probably come in by sea. They probably would not be put even within a dozen kilometers of the Syrian border. Instead, they're likely to be placed much further back around major population centers to protect them from any potential Syrian missile attack.

It's also very important to note, Becky, there have been none that we know of to speak of from Syria since this crisis began 21 months ago. The Syrians have used artillery. They fired that across the border, sometimes with lethal results. And just yesterday, Syrian war planes were bombing within site of the Turkish border and forcing the Turks to scramble war planes in response - Becky.

ANDERSON: You make a very good point. Ivan Watson there in Istanbul.

All this of course comes amid concerns that Syria could use chemical weapons. Military analysts believe that Syria may have one of the most extensive chemical weapons stockpiles in the world spread throughout production and storage facilities across the country.

With me now in the studio is Michael Weiss, research director at the policy think tank the Henry Jackson Society. Michael was in Aleppo recently in August and has covered Syria and it's military capabilities extensively.

We are talking here, Michael, about one of the world's largest stockpiles of chemical weapons. This map gives the impression that we know exactly where they are, but we don't. I know you've been doing some research. Where are these stockpiles?

MICHAEL WEISS, RESEARCH DIR. HENRY JACKSON SOCIETY: Well, look, western intelligence estimates have suggested that they could be spread out through as many as 50 cities throughout Syria. And of course now that the regime has been moving some of these components around it's hard to keep track of exactly where they are.

One of the most reliable assessments is that this facility here in Al Safr which is just south of Aleppo is a notorious warehouse for Syria's chemical weapons components. Both the chemicals themselves, but also the weaponization elements.

I mean, there are essentially three ways that these things could be delivered: artillery, missiles, or by aircraft. So one of the dangers, and the western intelligence community has sort of established this week in fact, is that they are beginning to combine what's known as the precursors for sarin gas, which these precursors are usually kept separate. Once they start to fuse them together, that means they're preparing for something.

ANDERSON: Let's talk about what we - what we believe these stockpiles include. Traditional chemical agents like mustard gas, what do we know about mustard gas?

WEISS: Well, this is one of the most - the oldest chemical weapon probably known to man. I mean, it was obviously used first in World War I. It has a devastating effect, particularly on the skin and the lungs. It causes severe blistering. People end up choking to death, essentially, when it's deployed.

ANDERSON: More modern nerve agents such as for example sarin?

WEISS: Yeah, well sarin gas was used most notoriously by Saddam Hussein against first the Iranians during the Iran-Iraq war and then even more notoriously perhaps against the Kurds in Halabja.

This is about 500 times more fatal than cyanide. It leads to twitching, muscular atrophy, vomiting. People usually, again, they end up in a coma and then they choke to death from the violence convulsions it causes.

ANDERSON: And possibly persistent nerve agents, VX.

WEISS: Yeah, I mean, it's not yet been fully established the regime has got this. Some regime insiders insist that they do. As you said, it's a nerve agent. It's extraordinarily powerful. It leads, again, to similar symptoms as sarin. People usually end up choking.

ANDERSON: Do we believe that pesticides in the past may have already been used?

WEISS: Well, when I was in Antakia in southern Turkey I interviewed the former head of the chemical weapons program, Adnan Silu. And I asked him that exact question, because activists and rebels on the ground, particularly in Homs - several months ago you remember there was a horrifying siege - had complained of symptoms such as hair loss, memory loss, muscle fatigue. He said that the only thing the regime had used thus far had been pesticides.

So, I mean, if they have VX, then this is probably one of the most dangerous elements they could deploy.

ANDERSON: And you talked about the idea of weaponization and how these might be deployed.

Michael, stay with us.

I wanted to explore the timing of what we now see as this ratcheting up of the international effort as we see these missile defense barriers being established over the next couple of weeks, for example, on the border with Turkey.

We know the rebels in Syria are riding high after a number of tactical advances. Our senior international correspondent Arwa Damon is inside the country and got to see firsthand how the rebels surrounding one military base near Aleppo trapping government soldiers inside a short clip from that exclusive report. Have a look at this.


ARWA DAMON, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Close to Aleppo, the rebels have a stranglehold on a sprawling military base.

There's a red gate that's right next to a stone wall. And then right behind it is the wall that is the outer perimeter of the military academy. It's less than 100 meters away, some 330 feet.

We quickly moved to another vantage point in a building next door. (INAUDIBLE) commands the Lions of Aleppo Batallion. "It's clashes," he says nonchalantly.

Chednan (ph) used to be a tailor. Since the uprising began, he's been wounded four times and detained three. The rebels don't have binoculars, so he uses a camera to zoom into the base and show us government positions.

You can see a sandbag fighting position on the roof of one of the buildings inside.

Fighting has been fierce, but the rebels are confident they have the upper hand.


ANDERSON: Well, so far 250 government soldiers at that base have defected. It's believed some 450 remain inside.

Obama has said that Assad would face the consequences if he were to not just use chemical weapons, but if he actually sees chemical weapons being moved around. And Rasmussen the head of the NATO organization today said, and I quote, "If Assad were to use chemical weapons, expect an immediate reaction from the international community."

What do we believe that reaction that might be? What can the U.S. and its allies do about the threat of these chemical weapons? Where are we here?

WEISS: Well, first I think it's important to understand one of the aspects of Obama's so-called red line on chemical weapons use was not just the use itself, but the movement around the country, a suggestion of mobilization and then deployment. That red line has actually already been crossed. Several weeks ago, Leon Panetta, the defense secretary, gave a press conference and he said, whoops we've lost track of some of Syria's chemical weapons because they're being moved around.

So the question of what we do now, or what we do, god forbid, if these things are actually used against the people of Syria, it would take, according to the Pentagon, about 75,000 troops to go in and to neutralize these facilities. And then actually finding where they are - where they're kept is almost the easy part, the hard part would be essentially de- weaponizing them and making them neutral.

ANDERSON: So what do you expect to happen next? We see the ratcheting up of rhetoric and effort, certain again as I point out on the Turkish border with these Patriot missile batteries.

What do you expect to happen next?

WEISS: Well, the CIA apparently thinks that Assad has only six to - or eight to 10 weeks left in power. And you're beginning to now see the rebels making severe encroachments into Damascus that - the capital itself has been ring fenced, much like Aleppo was. The entire north of the country has fallen into the opposition's hands. So I think now the regime is effectively losing this war very, very swiftly.

The question of course is if he feels cornered, meaning Assad, will he do this? Will this be the doomsday scenario. Now again I asked Adnad Silu this exact question. His line to me was, if Aleppo falls, completely, meaning the air power has been neutralized and the rebels take the entire city, that's Syria's industrial heart, it's second city, if that falls he'll deploy them. And I asked him why. And Adnan Silu, former head of their chemical weapons program's response to me, "because he's insane."

Now that might sound like a glib response, but then again, people didn't Saddam Hussein would use them against the Kurds and he did.

So there's no telling, really, what is going on in the mind of Bashar al- Assad. And I think it's important to understand this doesn't function like a normal state. It's not really a government of which to speak. It's really more like a mafia, a mafia with vast resources, a military and chemical weapons deployment.

I mean, I often joke it's like Fredo Corleone having sarin gas. Not the most trustworthy figure on the planet at the moment.

ANDERSON: Fascinating. We're going to have to leave it there. We thank you very much indeed for joining us.

The latest, the very latest from the crisis that is Syria and the civil war there now into its 21st month.

Still to come tonight, thousands of Egyptians take their grievances directly to the president's doorstep. We're going to be live in Cairo for you with the very latest from there.

Also, Amnesty International calls it a human rights catastrophe. We're going to take a look at a troubling new report on Yemen. That coming up after this.


ANDERSON: You're watching CNN. This is CONNECT THE WORLD. I'm Becky Anderson in London for you. Welcome back.

Now fresh clashes have erupted in Cairo this Tuesday. Police fired tear gas at thousands of anti-government protesters trying to enter the president's palace, some of them reportedly cut through barbed wire a few hundred meters away. Elsewhere in Egypt, the headquarters of the Muslim Brotherhood also came under attack. Angry crowds carrying clubs were seen throwing rocks at the building.

CNN's Reza Sayah joining me now.

Are things any calmer at this point, Reza?

REZA SAYAH, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: They definitely are, Becky. And it's important not to blow this out of proportion. There were no widespread clashes outside the presidential palace. But for a brief stretch, I'd say about an hour, earlier in the evening there were some tense moments when protesters clashed with security forces. They started throwing rocks, debris. They breached a barrier, some barbed wire that police had set up, an approach to the palace. And then the question became would things escalate, would things get uglier. They didn't. Police apparently switched their strategy. They went behind the palace walls. They retreated. And things calmed down considerably, for the next few hours things were very peaceful. What you had was big crowds out there, tens of thousands of people chanting anti-government, anti-Morsi slogans. They painted graffiti on the walls.

But other than that, one particular clash, no widespread violence. And our question was, what happened to the president, President Morsi? State media is saying that he left at his normal time. There's other reports suggest that he left because of the clash. But never any indication that he was in any danger, never any indication that protesters had breached the palace, Becky.

ANDERSON: Just coming to you out of Cairo this evening, Reza Sayah your reporter on the spot. Reza, thank you for that.

A look at some of the other stories that are connecting our world tonight. And Iran says it has captured a U.S. ScanEagle drone that was in its airspace on Tuesday. State TV showed this video of an undamaged drone beneath a sign reading we shall trample on the U.S. But a U.S. official denies it's an active drone. And the White House says it has no evidence the Iranian claims are true.

Well, fugitive anti-virus software pioneer John McAfee is in Guatemala. The country's former attorney general confirmed the news to CNN Espanol and revealed he has been hired to represent the Internet tycoon. Now he's on the run from Belize. Police there want to question him in connection with the shooting death of his neighbor. He denies he had anything to do with that.

Well, the Duchess of Cambridge has spent a second day in hospital as she's being treated for acute morning sickness. Her husband, Prince William, spent the day with her and she's reported to be feeling better.

And there's more good news for the royal couple, 16 countries under the British monarchy have agreed to change the succession rules.

CNN's Max Foster joins me now. Still an enormous interest in this story from the international media, I know. We saw William briefly today going in and out. What did they tell us about how Catherine is at this point?

MAX FOSTER, CNN ROYAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, they're keeping it very limited. It has to be said, Becky, they're giving very, very little information. They say, in their words, they don't want to give any running commentary on her condition, but I did - I was told that once Prince William had left, we would get some sort of update. This is what we got, Becky, and that is that the Duchess of Cambridge continues to feel better. So certainly things improving for her. She and the duke are immensely grateful for the good wishes they've received. She will remain in hospital at present. So she'll be here for a few more days, being treated with a very acute morning sickness that she's been suffering from.

She is unwell, but she in improving with the treatment. It's all about getting those nutrients into her body and then recovering.

So she's getting better. There's a huge amount of media interest as you say, Becky. But there's very little information to feed it. So everyone is talking about baby names. They're talking about whether or not it will be twins, talking about whether or not indeed it will be a boy or a girl.

ANDERSON: Still no idea how long she'll be in hospital, right.

Max, there outside the hospital. Max, thank you for that.

We're going to take a very short break on this show. When we come back, though, young footballers are charged in the shocking deaths of a Dutch soccer linesman. That story up next.


ANDERSON: You're watching CONNECT THE WORLD live from London. I'm Becky Anderson. Welcome back. 24 minutes past 9:00 here.

We're following developments from the Netherlands for you where three teenagers have now been charged with manslaughter. This, after a volunteer football linesman was brutally attacked on the field by players during an amateur match. Let's bring in my colleague Don Riddell from CNN Center for more on this story.

I can't ever remember a story quite like this. This is quite remarkable. What do we know at this point?

DON RIDDELL, CNN SPORTS CORRESPONDENT: Oh, it's just absolutely awful and really very, very tragic, Becky. One of the reasons it's so tragic, apart from the fact that a 41 year old man who was volunteering and being involved in a game he loved, has actually lost his life, is that his son was playing in this game. And after he was punched and kicked he was taken to hospital a few hours later and sadly lost his life.

Here's what we know at this point, three youths, two 15 year old boys and one 16 year old boy will appear in court in Holland on Thursday charged with manslaughter, assault and public violence. The 41 year old man that died was called Richard Nieuvenhuizen and his death has sent shockwaves right throughout the football world and of course throughout the Dutch football community.

All amateur games this weekend have been postponed. Professional games will be played, but professional teams will observe a minute silence ahead of their games this weekend. And the players involved in those games will honor and remember Mr. Nieuvenhuizen by wearing black arm bands.

This has gone right to the very top, Becky. The FIFA president Sepp Blatter has issued a statement about this today saying, "football is a mirror of society. And sadly the same ills that afflict society, in this case violence, also manifest themselves in our game. Nevertheless, I remain convinced that football through the example set by the tireless efforts of people like Mr. Nieuvenhuizen is a force for good. And we must continue to use its positive example to educate people against these wrongs."

You know, Dutch football, Becky, has given us so many amazing things: the Cruyff turn, total football, dozens of great players who have graced the best clubs around the world. And many of those players are now wondering exactly how on earth this could have happened. This is what the Ajax coach Frank De Boer had to say.


FRANK DE BOER, AJAX MANAGER (through translator): You can't imagine it happening, that boys of 15, 16 years old short-circuit like that. You wonder about the parenting. This is too ridiculous for words.


RIDDELL: Too ridiculous for words. And a very good point about the parenting, Becky. Of course, parents have a responsibility in the way they bring up their children and whether or, you know, how they should show respect to their elders, but of course, you know, every country is different, but a lot of times you have kids playing any kind of sport at this kind of age and often it's the parents on the sidelines that are getting more agitated and more excited, more animated giving the officials than a harder time than the players themselves. And of course often that is where the players learn this kind of behavior from.

ANDERSON: Yeah, pause for thought I think. Don, always a pleasure. Don Riddell at CNN Center. Back with World Sport in an hour for you from now.

With the final match there of Champion's League group stages being played out as we speak. We'll get the latest for you on World Sport on that.

All right, still ahead on CONNECT THE WORLD, a horrific abuses against civilians in Yemen. A human rights group says an affiliate of al Qaeda isn't the only one to blame.

John Irving hits out over sexual intolerance. My interview with the iconic author still to come. All of that proceeded by the headlines at the bottom of the hour. That coming up after this.


ANDERSON: All right, a very warm welcome to our viewers across Europe and around the world. I'm Becky Anderson. These are the latest world news headlines here on CNN.

NATO has approved Turkey's request for up to three batteries of Patriot missiles. Turkey wants some added protection against Syrian bombs and shells that have strayed into Turkey's territory. NATO says its missiles will be effective against chemical weapons too.

Thousands of anti-government protesters took to the streets in Cairo again today. The Egyptian police fired tear gas as they approached the presidential palace. Elsewhere in the country, clashes erupted outside of the headquarters of the Muslim Brotherhood.

Iran claims to have captured a small U.S. drone in its airspace in the Persian Gulf. The Iranian military says the unmanned aircraft was performing reconnaissance, gathering intelligence. The U.S. official denies it's an active drone. The White House says it has no evidence the Iranian claims are true.

Typhoon Bopha has hammered the southern Philippines, killing at least 40 people. This powerful storm made landfall on Mindanao at dawn, setting off landslides, uprooting trees and destroying houses. More than 50,000 people have been evacuated.

All right, crucifixions, beheadings, amputations. Amnesty International has released a long list of gruesome crimes committed against civilians in southern Yemen. Our next report is very disturbing. Some images are much too graphic to show and we have therefore blurred them. Even so, the descriptions of what occurred may be upsetting to you.

CNN's Mohammed Jamjoom has details now about what's being called a tragedy that could haunt Yemen for decades to come.

MOHAMMED JAMJOON, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Becky, in early 2011, residents of a small town in southern Yemen awoke one morning to find that an al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula affiliate had actually taken control of their town. Now, in the 14 months to come, AQAP and Ansar al-Sharia would take control of even more territories in the southern part of Yemen.

This was shocking to U.S. and Yemeni officials who spent years battling al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula, trying to vanquish that very resurgent and emboldened group. But according to Amnesty International, what's even more shocking is the rap (ph) of human rights abuses suffered by residents there at the hands of these militants.


JAMJOON (voice-over): Crucifixion in Yemen. Shocking punishment inflicted by al Qaeda fighters against a man they claimed was a spy for the U.S. His rotting body left hanging out in the open for days, a warning to anyone who might consider doing the same.

In another video, a prisoner bound and blindfolded is led to a public square, convicted of spying on the terrorist group for Saudi Arabia. He is ready for execution.

GREGORY JOHNSEN, AUTHOR, "THE LAST REFUGE": And as the United States and as Saudi Arabia have been very, very concerned about al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula being able to sort of plot, plan and launch attacks from their hideouts in Yemen, the Saudis and the Americans have worked together to create these undercover agents.

JAMJOON (voice-over): For more than a year, until June, al Qaeda and its affiliate, Ansar al-Sharia, were in control of large parts of Abyan Province in southern Yemen inflicting brutal punishments on those who hadn't fled.

Amnesty International says residents there experienced a human rights catastrophe.

CILINA NASSER, AMNESTY INTERNATIONAL: They committed horrific abuses. They set up courts, their own courts, and claimed to apply Islamic law.

JAMJOOM (voice-over): In one extremely gruesome clip, the severed head of a woman is paraded through the streets. Her crime? Sorcery.

Another graphic video shows a young man accused of theft. He says he was beaten and then -

UNIDENTIFIED MALE (through text): After five days, they gave me an injection and I slept. when I woke up, my hand was not there.

JAMJOOM (voice-over): Here, he lies unconscious - just before a man begins to amputate his hand.

Amnesty International says civilians were the victims of both sides.

NASSER: The people of Abyan, basically, were subjected to the oppression by Ansar al-Sharia and after that they were subjected to additional violations by the Yemeni government's forces and Ansar al-Sharia, and they were caught in the middle of this conflict.

JAMJOOM (voice-over): According to Amnesty International, intense aerial bombardment as well as the use of inappropriate battlefield weapons in residential areas, further endangered a population already in peril.

Eventually, Ansar al-Sharia was driven out of Abyan, but few Yemenis believe it has gone away for good.


JAMJOOM: Now, Becky, I reached out to the Yemeni government for reaction to this report. Mohammed al-Basha, who's the spokesperson for the Yemeni embassy in Washington D.C. (AUDIO GAP).

MOHAMMED AL-BASHA, YEMENI GOVERNMENT SPOKESPERSON (through text): The Yemeni government will carefully examine the findings of Amnesty International's most recent report.

Sanaa continues to welcome the international community's support of the government's efforts to promote and protect human rights. This past September, President Hadi established a committee to investigate human rights violations, and only a few hours ago, Yemen officially adopted the Paris Principles which provide guidelines on the protection of children during armed conflict.


ANDERSON: Hm, well, Yemen was considered one of the success stories of the Arab Spring, but many people there still waiting for some of the promised change. A little over a year ago, then-President Ali Abdullah Saleh signed a deal to hand over power in exchange for immunity from prosecution, you'll remember.

An important second phase of the transition was to begin last month: comprehensive national dialogue that would pave the way for a new constitution. Well, that dialogue is now being delayed and is now expected to begin this month. Some Yemenis, though, are starting to get skeptical, wondering if it will happen at all.

Well, let's get some perspective now from Gregory Johnsen. You heard from him in Mohammed Jamjoom's piece. He's an expert on Yemen, author of "The Last Refuge: Yemen, al-Qaeda, and America's War in Arabia", joining us tonight.

Sir, we thank you for that. I know that you were in Yemen just a month or so ago. When you see the Amnesty International film today, does any of what you saw surprise you?

JOHNSEN: Right, well, what we saw in the Amnesty International report is something that we've known for quite a while. So this crucifixion actually took place in February and one of the real tragedies has been that al Qaeda has been pushed out of these areas, but as they've been pushed out, the Yemeni government hasn't had the capability to really step in and once again provide governing services.

So just like in 2011, when law and order broke down in some of these areas that allowed al Qaeda to step in, once again there's really a law and order breakdown and a security vacuum in some of these places, which I'm really worried means that al Qaeda could eventually retake some of these towns and we could see what we saw in the report.

ANDERSON: You say that they've been driven out of the towns of southern Yemen. They are, though, still present in hills and mountains of Abyan. How significant a force are they? How many operatives, how many people are we talking about here?

JOHNSEN: Right, that's a very good question. Remember, this is the group on Christmas Day in 2009 put a would-be suicide bomber on a plane bound for the United States. At that time, the group was about 200 or 300 individuals. But now, three years later, what we've seen is that the group has grown very strong very fast.

In fact, the U.S. government today estimates that al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula is at least 1,000 fighters and the State Department says a few thousand fighters. So instead of the group getting weaker, what we unfortunately see is the group growing stronger.

ANDERSON: And I know that you've got an addendum to the crucifixion, the very, very gruesome and graphic crucifixion pictures that we saw at the beginning of Mohammed Jamjoom's report, about small children being groomed by this organization as the next generation. Am I right in saying that?

JOHNSEN: Right, exactly. That's a great point, Becky. In fact, what we saw is these individuals, the man who was crucified, was convicted of being a spy for the United States and placing an electronic tracking chip in a car that a U.S. drone later hit. One of the men who was in the car that was killed by this U.S. drone strike had a young boy, a 6-year-old boy named Salen (ph). And in fact al Qaeda brought this young boy, he has - still has his baby teeth, he has hair curling around his ears - they brought him to watch the crucifixion. And in fact there's a scene that al Qaeda puts out in which this young 6-year-old boy points up at the man on the cross and says, "There's the traitor who killed my father."

And what I and I think a number of other people are very concerned about is that what's happening right now in Yemen is that the seeds of future generations of members of al Qaeda are being sown today in an environment that's much more radical than the one that gave birth to the current leaders of al Qaeda who are so are bent on attacking the United States and the West.

ANDERSON: Frightening stuff. It's a pleasure to have you on, so we thank you for that.

You're watching CONNECT THE WORLD here on CNN. I'm Becky Anderson in London for you. Coming up, shifting the gears of the male-dominated auto industry. Here in General Motors, some success (ph). Our series on Leading Women continues after this.


ANDERSON: This week, we are going to introduce you to the first of December's two leading women on the show with the president and managing director of General Motors Brazil, a long-time executive that's seen the company through some of its best and some of its most challenging times. Our Felicia Taylor leading lady in Brazil and has more for you.


FELICIA TAYLOR, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): In one of the world's largest cities, the footprint of the world's second biggest car company, General Motors.

The U.S. automaker is once again solvent after nearly going under in 2009. Back then, this executive was also feeling the pain of the crisis gripping the company.

(on camera): What was it like to face that enormous problem?


TAYLOR (voice-over): She ultimately weathered the economic storm.

LIEBLEIN: Let's check on that, yeah.

TAYLOR (voice-over): Lieblein seems tailor-made for her job, a Latina who's at ease leading her team, walking the plant or celebrating a new launch.

In a 30-year plus career at GM, she's gone from trainee to president. Her journey began when she was 18. Her passion for the brand, even earlier.

LIEBLEIN: My father worked for General Motors as well. I mean, I think I have gas in my veins.

TAYLOR (voice-over): The driving force behind General Motors in Brazil is Grace Lieblein.

Sao Paolo's commercial centers, upscale shops and vibrant nightlife make the city attractive. With all that also comes its notorious traffic jams. One thousand new cars hit the roads every day in Sao Paolo, among them GM cars.

Grace Lieblein is in charge of GM's Brazil operation, overseeing a work force of more than 23,000.

It's shortly after 8:00 a.m. and Lieblein is leaving for work, her driver and security by her side. The day's busy agenda starts in the car.

LIEBLEIN: Pretty much take the whole ride into work, about 40 minutes, catching up on e-mails before I hit my office, which is a great way to start the day.

TAYLOR (voice-over): She's heading to Sao Caetano do Sul, where GM Brazil is headquartered. Lieblein sets the strategic direction of the business, drives production and sales, to name just a few of the hats that she wears as president.

(on camera): Tell me what it's like to work in the auto industry. I mean, this is traditionally thought of as male-dominated arena. But yet here is a woman who's taken over Brazil.

LIEBLEIN: You know, my mom instilled in me a belief that I could do anything and so the interesting thing was when I decided to go into engineering and into the auto industry, it didn't feel odd to me.

TAYLOR (voice-over): On her docket this day, a launch celebration for the revamped Chevy Cobalt. And recognition for a group of employees. There's also a meeting with top managers about an upcoming auto show.

LIEBLEIN: So we'll have one Cobalt or two?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We're going to have one.


TAYLOR (voice-over): Before coming to Brazil last year to run the operation, Lieblein was president and managing director of GM Mexico, the first woman to serve in that role.

LIEBLEIN: I arrived in Mexico January 2009. The global financial crisis occurred. GM was on the brink -

TAYLOR (on camera): Yeah, that couldn't have been easy to go through.

LIEBLEIN: GM was on the brink of bankruptcy.

TAYLOR: Bankruptcy, government bailout.

LIEBLEIN: Right, exactly. And, you know, pretty much in Mexico we were sort of on our own to -- we had to stay liquid ourselves.

TAYLOR: So what's different about being a leader during times of crisis versus times of recovery?

LIEBLEIN: It's sometimes easier in times of crisis because in times of crisis, there's something to rally around. People understand that there's urgency.

TAYLOR (voice-over): Fast forward to today. GM may have survived the financial meltdown, but the company's economic picture is not all that rosy.

LIEBLEIN: So 2013 I think we're going to have stronger growth. Not, you know, the 8, 9 percent growth that this market has seen in the past but respectable growth.

TAYLOR (voice-over): In the coming weeks, find out more about Lieblein's work as we reveal a future mode, her life in Brazil and some important lessons she's learned.

LIEBLEIN: You know, one of the things that I always tell women is believe in yourself. If you don't believe in yourself, it's going to be really hard to get others to believe in you.


ANDERSON: Next week, we meet this month's early leading woman, celebrated Korean opera singer, Sumi Jo. For more on all the Leading Women profiles, you can hit the Web site,

You're watching CONNECT THE WORLD here on CNN. I'm Becky Anderson. When we come back, the iconic American author who says he's "tolerant" - I'm sorry, I'm going to start again. The iconic American author who says he's intolerant of intolerance. My interview with John Irving is up next.


ANDERSON: Well, 30 years and nearly 30 million deaths. Those are the staggering statistics of the illness that was officially given the name AIDS in 1982. Well, many of us today remember the sexual stigma that surrounded the virus in those early days when it was initially known as GRID, or Gay Related Immune Disease.

Well, thanks to annual events such as World AIDS Day, we now have a better understanding of the illness. But according to acclaimed American author, John Irving, the sexual intolerances that fueled the stigma remain. It's an issue he addresses in his new novel, "In One Person", a story he told me had to be narrated rather than told.

Have a listen to this.


JOHN IRVING, AUTHOR: "If an unwanted pregnancy was the abyss that an intrepid girl could fall into, surely the abyss for a boy like me was to succumb to homosexual activity. In such love lay madness, or so I believed in the fall of my senior year at Favorite River Academy.

I was 18, but my sexual misgivings were innumerable. My self-hatred was huge."

ANDERSON: Let's start the theme of tolerance here which is once again a strong theme in one of your books. In this case, tolerance of the LBGT community.

This is something that I've read you've said you didn't necessarily want to do but that you felt you should do. Why?

IRVING: "The World According to Garp" and this one, "In On Person", are both on the subject of our obstinate intolerance of sexual differences. And I remember thinking in '78 when I finished "Garp" naively that there'd be no need to write about that again, or no compulsion to do so.

In this story, as "In On Person" is, of a bisexual man coming of sexual age in the `50s and `60s, you certainly know what's ahead of him even if he doesn't. You know there's an AIDS epidemic waiting in the 1980s. Many of these characters you're meeting are going to coincide; they're going to hit the intersection with that epidemic and not all of them are coming out.

ANDERSON: How much did you then know about the AIDS epidemic I the 1980s, out of interest?

IRVING: I had friends of who I saw dying when the epidemic was brand new, and other friends who didn't die until later in the `90s. Like many straight guys who had gay friends, I also found out that some of my friends were gay only because I learned they were dying, as many parents found out that their children were gay under the same horrible circumstances.

"We are formed by what we desire. In less than a minute of excited secretive longing, I desired to become a writer and to have sex with Miss Frost -- not necessarily in that order."

ANDERSON: You often write about characters trying to find their place in what is a pretty mad world. Do you see the world that way?

IRVING: Personally, a bisexual like Billy Abbott is not nearly so much of an outsider to me, not nearly so foreign to me, as three earlier characters whose lives are circumscribed by their choice to never have sex at all. I find these far more brantical (ph) ways to live than deciding that you have to have sex with men and women.

ANDERSON: Do you battle with the intolerance? Is there anything you find difficult to tolerate?

IRVING: I feel if you're going to be intolerant something, be intolerant of intolerance. I don't have to battle with much. I find it disappointing, I guess, that it has taken so long in the United States for gay rights or sexual equality issues to be seen as civil rights issues. They are civil rights issues.

It is changing, grudgingly, slowly, and the dinosaurs who are opposed are, not surprising to me, many of the same people who are also opposed to abortion rights. The sniff of sexual disapproval is evident in both of them.

"Kitchridge (ph) was brilliant at inflicting verbal pain and he had the body to back up what he said. No one stood up to him. If you despised him, you kept quiet about it. I both despised and adored him. Alas, the despising him part did little to lessen my crush on him."

ANDERSON: Are we going to see this on the big screen?

IRVING: I don't know. The passage of time, which is so integral to most of my novels and very essential to this one, it's not something that films do well. Passage of time is something novels have a real grip on. You can create a character as a child, as a teenager, as an adolescent, and you can see that character as an older person and never lose sight of who he or she was as a child. Films don't do that very well. If there's a way to do that within one person, I don't see it yet.


ANDERSON: John Irving. And that is a tremendously good read, I've got to say.

And in tonight's Parting Shots, take a good look at this, because it could be the last time that you see it. One of the world's longest-running children's comic series, "The Dandy", published its last ever print edition today.

Here's a page from today's issue. Notice the song the characters side. There's a reason for that. The sing-a-long is being led by a special guest. Ex-Beatle Paul McCartney asked "The Dandy's" creators if he could he star alongside Desperate Dad and Korky the Cat. He said almost 50 years ago that his ambition was to appear one day in the comic he had read as a boy.

But if you're a "Dandy" fan like Paul, don't panic. Although disappearing from the magazine racks, it's reappearing online. In the future, it will be digital only. The move comes in response to falling sales. "The Dandy", get this, sold more than 2 million copies in its heyday in the 1950s. Nowadays, that is down to less than 8,000. How time has changed.

I'm Becky Anderson. That was CONNECT THE WORLD. Thanks for watching.