CNN CNN


 

Return to Transcripts main page

CONNECT THE WORLD

America Observes Moment Of Silence For Newton Victims Today; UEFA Punishes Spanish Malaga For Unfair Financial Transactions

Aired December 21, 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: From the moment that left a lump in your throat to the one that may have left you shaking your head.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

WAYNE LAPIERRE, NRA: The only thing that stops a bad guy with a gun is a good guy with a gun.

CROWD: Shame on the NRA. Shame on the NRA.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

FOSTER: Tonight, we remember the victims of the Connecticut school shooting and chase the battle lines being drawn in America's gun control debate.

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

FOSTER: A powerful lobby group says the answer is more guns, not fewer. Tonight, we look at whether armed guards in schools are really the answer.

Also ahead...

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I'm the witness, but I honestly don't know your name.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

FOSTER: Amid the grief and worry, joy for a Syrian-American couple starting their new life together away from the battles back home.

And, the end of the world might be nigh, but there's still time for a party.

The toll of church bells, countless prayers and quiet moments of reflection. Across the United States today, people pause to remember the victims of a gun massacre.

Thousands of church bells rang and observed a minute of silence at 9:30 am, the exact moment a man armed with semiautomatic weapons burst into an elementary school in Newtown, Connecticut.

President Barack Obama paid his respects with a moment of silence at the White House.

A similar scene at the New York Stock Exchange where traders pause before the opening bell.

Even the web joined in. Some sites went silent for a minute displaying a single green ribbon to honor the dead.

Bullets cut short 26 lives in the school massacre. Six adults and 20 little children. The gunmen also killed his mother before taking his own life. One week later, Newtown, Connecticut is still struggling to understand why.

Let's bring in Poppy Harlow who is in Newtown for us tonight -- Poppy.

POPPY HARLOW, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Good evening, Max. It has been a week, an extremely painful week here for everyone in Newtown. And you mentioned a moment of silence this morning. We were here at this makeshift memorial, which has grown for blocks and blocks. It has crossed the street. People still coming here really minute by minute to bring flowers, stuffed animals and messages.

Here's one of my favorite, Max, that says "we are Sandy Hook. We choose love." You've got messages from other schools here supporting the victims and their families. But at the moment of silence literally everyone in this town stopped not just for a minute or two, but for five to 10 minutes, to listen to the beautiful church bells. And just remember all of the victims. It was a moment when frankly many people in the U.S. and around the world also stopped to stand side by side with this community that is still reeling.

Governors in 28 states across the country called on their residents also to participate in the moment of silence. And Michelle Obama, the first lady, wrote a letter to Newtown in the local paper here that came out this morning. And I want to redo an excerpt of that that really stood out to me. The First Lady writing, "please know that every minute of every day we are thinking of you and praying for you and holding you and your families in our hearts as you begin the slow and wrenching work of healing and moving forward."

They have barely begun that here today. Five more funerals were held, Max, and I've been talking to people here throughout the day. I met one father at a deli just down the street. He has two twin girls, eight years old, and they went to Sandy Hook Elementary. And he told me there's perhaps no better moment than this to say there are just no words to describe this -- Max.

FOSTER: Understandable, isn't it? Poppy, thank you very much indeed for that.

Well, some Americans are calling for tighter gun control after the massacre. But today a powerful U.S. gun lobby said a lack of weapons is what may have cost lives. The National Rifle Association is calling for armed guards in every school nationwide. The NRA's vice president gave a statement today saying gun ownership is not to blame for a culture of violence.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

LAPIERRE: A child growing up in America today witnesses 16,000 murders and 200,000 acts of violence by the time he or she reaches the ripe of old age of 18. And throughout it all, too many in the national media, their corporate owners, and their stockholders act as silence enablers if not complicit co-conspirators.

The only way -- the only way to stop a monster from killing our kids is to be personally involved and invested in a plan of absolute protection. The only thing that stops a bad guy with a gun is a good guy with a gun. Would you rather have your 911 call bring a good guy with a gun from a mile away or from a minute away?

Before congress reconvenes, before we engage in any lengthy debate over legislation, regulation or anything else, as soon as our kids return to school after the holiday break, we need to have every single school in America immediately deploy a protection program proven to work. And by that, I mean armed security.

If we truly cherish our kids more than our money, more than our celebrities, more than our sports stadiums, we must give them the greatest level of protection possible. And that security is only available with properly trained armed good guys.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

FOSTER: Protesters interrupted his speech several times. One held up a huge sign reading NRA killing our kids. He was escorted away by security.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Shame on the NRA. Ban assault weapons...

(END VIDEO CLIP)

FOSTER: The second protesters was also hauled off. She accused the NRA of having blood on its hands.

So what kind of influence will the National Rifle Association have on efforts to reform gun laws in the U.S.? Well, with more than 4 million members, they are one of the most powerful lobbying groups in the country. Keep in mind there are an estimated 270 million guns in the hands of civilians in the U.S. making Americans the most heavily armed people in the world per capita. And annual gun sales in America have been estimated to total around $3.5 billion.

The group spent $17 million in federal political races in 2012 helping elect candidates it considers supporters of the NRA mission.

And a government watchdog group says the NRA spends 66 times more on lobbying than what the top U.S. gun control group spends.

Now Newtown is the second worse mass school shooting in U.S. history behind only the 2007 massacre at Virginia Tech which took 32 lives.

Our next guest is Andrew Goddard whose son was a victim of the Virginia Tech shooting. Colin Goddard suffered severe injuries, but survived the attack. He now works to oppose the NRA's drive to allow guns on college campuses.

Andrew Goddard joins us now from Richmond in Virginia. He's president of the Virginia Center for Public Safety.

Thank you so much for joining us.

What do you think about the tone of the NRA speech today and the timing of it?

ANDREW GODDARD, VIRGINIA CENTER FOR PUBLIC SAFETY: Well, you know, they've had a whole week to think about this and that was the most sensible thing that they could come up with was to fight guns with more guns. It's not surprising in a sense, because they're the head of the NRA is only paid to sell more guns. They're not paid to represent the 4 million members. The 4 million members are actually on board with a lot of gun control ideas such as background checks. But he is paid by the industry to sell more guns. And putting more guns in more places is his primary objective.

FOSTER: But the fundamental point that someone out to kill people is probably the problem rather than the weapon itself, is the killer that's doing the killing not the gun. So how do you undermine that argument?

GODDARD: Well, that's absolutely true, but guns, especially guns with high capacity magazines make the killing a lot more effective and a lot simpler. And they're able to kill more people.

Yes, we have to do something in the way of prevention, but what the NRA was proposing is last minute response. And we're looking at the situation where in Columbine, there were two police officers, armed police officers at Columbine when the shooting happened there. And how did that stop the shooters? It didn't. They engaged the two men -- the two young boys who were shooting -- and they weren't able to stop them from killing, you know, dozens -- a dozen children.

FOSTER: But an armed guard at a small elementary school would surely be a deterrent just by their presence, wouldn't they?

GODDARD: Quite possibly, however you've got to look at the practicalities of it. I mean, first of all, a lot of people are proposing not armed professionals, but to arm teachers and school staff, which would be a complete nonsense, especially if you gather all the staff and teachers of the school who didn't want to be armed.

But even if you put a professional in, supposing you use his idea of retired law enforcement, we know of law enforcement officers who are killed by their own guns all the time in the U.S. People overpower them and take their guns. So now you've provided a gun inside the school for someone to use. And then he's automatically neutralized the opposition.

The idea is in my mind is that once that person steps foot inside that school with a gun you've already lost. We need to be working on things to keep those people, to get the mentally ill people treated, to get the availability of the guns much more difficult, and then we won't have to be arming everyone. And the bottom line here is, eight children die every day in America. In three days, we have more than were killed in that school. And of those that are killed every day, they're not in schools. So what are we going to do, have armed people in every particular location to stop these deaths?

It's terrible what happened in that school, but it's an outlier, and the vast majority of people are killed in locations where guns are already allowed.

FOSTER: The other problem you've got here is this cultural issue that many people outside the U.S. won't understand, that guns represent more than weapons, they're a freedom, they're a right to Americans. It's part of the constitution, isn't it? They've built it into that.

So realistically, do you think you can convince those very -- this huge amount of people that are hard set for retaining guns, can you realistically overcome the NRA in their base?

GODDARD: We don't need to -- we don't need to convince people to give up their guns, because we're not trying to take guns from law abiding people. The guns that are in the hands of most law abiding people are perfectly OK. So we don't need to approach those. We only need to make careful assessment of who is getting hold of the guns that are going between -- between individuals.

If you go to a gun store to buy a brand new gun from a licensed dealer you have to go through a background check, but there is 40 percent of the market that doesn't go through a background check. We can do background checks. We can make it more difficult for people to have 30 or 50 or 100 round magazines. And none of those things disarm Americans. They can still have their 10 shot revolver and if you need more than 10 shot -- a 10 shot semiauto pistol you're being attacked by a small country or something.

FOSTER: OK. Andrew Goddard, we really appreciate your time. Thank you for joining us in Richmond in Virginia.

Still to come tonight, NATO has condemned it as an act of a desperate regime, Syrian forces up the ante in the country's civil war again. We'll tell you how next.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

FOSTER: You're watching CNN. This is Connect the World with me, Max Foster. Welcome back to you.

Now the civil war in Syria is escalating once again. NATO says President Bashar al-Assad's forces have fired another wave of Scud type missiles. This amateur video appears to show the impact of a Scud that hit near the Turkish border. NATO's Secretary-General Anders Fogh Rasmussen says the missile attacks are the acts of a desperate regime approaching collapse.

Let's bring in Ivan Watson in Istanbul for more on this.

Ivan, in terms of the details you've managed to gather today, what's the best picture you've managed to put together.

IVAN WATSON, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, this is the second time in two weeks, Max, that NATO and Turkish officials are telling us that they believe the Syrian regime fired Scud missiles. In this case, at least half a dozen of these long range surface to surface missiles fired from Damascus in the direction of Aleppo and towards the Turkish border, though not into Turkey itself. We don't know of any casualties as a result of this. We are trying to ascertain where these actually landed. And we believe this video is suspected to be one of the impact points.

This helps make the case for Turkey which has requested the deployment of PATRIOT missile batteries from the NATO military alliance along the more than 900 kilometer long border between Turkey and Syria. Turkey requesting these PATRIOT batteries to protect its population centers from these types of Scud missiles which can be used to carry chemical weapons and there are German troops on the ground in Turkey as we speak that are working on site surveys to figure out where those missile batteries could be deployed. It'll be weeks before they are expected to arrive here.

There is no protection for the Syrian population who are potentially underneath the impact points of these terrifying weapons -- Max.

FOSTER: Absolutely. We're going to come back to you again in a moment, Ivan, but we're going to take a closer look now at Syria's Scud arsenal, because Turkey's foreign minister says Syria has around 700 missiles with a Scud D classification. That type can be fitted with chemical weapons. But there is no evidence that that has happened.

Now Scuds are Soviet designed, but the Scud D is a North Korean variant of the technology. It's a surface to surface missile, as Ivan was saying, and not particularly accurate either.

Now how far can they go? Let's look at the range. Well analysts say the Scud D has a range of 700 to 800 kilometers, which means Syria could strike all of Israel and targets as far as Ankara, Turkey.

As we take all of this in, we're following this story obviously month upon month, Ivan, and its' all -- it's generally a negative story, but thankfully you've managed to find a positive story for us today as well.

WATSON: Well, of sorts. You know, Max, this war has been going on for more than 20 months. The United Nations estimates that perhaps 1 in 10 Syrians now has been displaced by the conflict, that is millions of Syrians whose lives have been disrupted and they're trying to accommodate, to find a way to get through and move forward. And we've been trying to document some of these stories of ordinary people affected by this terrible war.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

WATSON: ...for Allah Hassan. He and Fanny Ferrato are both a little nervous. This Syrian-American couple are in a foreign city far from their families.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I'm the witness, but I honestly don't know you're name.

WATSON: Today, Alaa and Fanny are getting married.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We announce you as husband and wife.

WATSON: It's not quite the wedding either of them expected.

FANNY FERRATO, AMERICAN CITIZEN: We didn't want to have a religious ceremony, that's why we didn't go to Lebanon. In Cyprus, they're not giving Syrians visas. So...

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Syrian, I don't really want her to go...

FERRATO: Too dangerous.

UNIDENTIIFED MALE: Yeah.

WATSON: Too dangerous to get married in the country where their romance first began six years ago.

FERRATO: I went to Syria to teach photography to young Iraqi women. And we met at a party.

WATSON: Fanny learned Arabic, moved in with Alaa, and the young lovers had plans to eventually start a family in Syria.

What did the uprising do to your plans?

FERRATO: Well, it separated us. I...

WATSON: Fanny was in the U.S. last year when the protest movement first erupted.

FERRATO: Once it started, (inaudible) was like don't come back, Fanny, because they would get in trouble for housing an American just wasn't safe.

WATSON: From outside, Fanny watched and worried as a brutal Syrian government crackdown led to a fully fledged insurgency.

Alaa says he finally had no choice but to leave his country and his family when it came to time for his mandatory military service.

ALAA HASSAN, SYRIAN CITIZEN: I don't want to be killed. I don't want to have to kill or shoot.

WATSON: How did you feel when you crossed the Syrian border for the last time two weeks ago?

HASSAN: I don't really -- for now I don't -- I think it's the saddest day of my life.

WATSON: Amid the grief and worry, there is joy. This couple has at least been reunited after war separated them for more than a year?

FERRATO: Well, eventually we'd like to go back to Syria when we have a family.

HASSAN: We're going back, yeah.

FERRATO: Hopefully.

HASSAN: As soon as we can.

FERRATO: As soon as it's safe.

HASSAN: You know, reasonable.

WATSON: Big questions for the future, but for now let's hope these newly weds can just enjoy their honeymoon in peace.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

WATSON: And Max, you know, it's striking, of the many refugees and displaced people I've talked to who had to flee a country that is quite literally tearing itself apart, all of them live with hope of some day going back home. And that's probably the best hope for Syria in the future -- Max.

FOSTER: Ivan, thank you very much indeed for that.

Do join us for a CNN special that goes to Syria's most deadly streets. Arwa Damon brings you the personal stories of people who are struggling just to survive. That's Witness to War: Aleppo. See it tomorrow 9:30 in London, 10:30 Berlin, only here on CNN.

We're going to take you to a short break now, but when we come back one high profile Spanish club is in financial hot water with European football's governing body.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

FOSTER: European football's governing body is showing they're serious about financial fair play. At least one club is fighting back. Patrick Snell joins me now from CNN Center. Patrick, which club and what have they done?

PATRICK SNELL, CNN SPORTS CORRESPONDENT: Hi, Max. Yes.

We're talking about Spain's Malaga, the Premiera Liga team which is fully focused right now on its European Cup, European Champion's League if you prefer the modern title round of 16 clash of Porto of Portugal. All the players, all the squad focusing on that. And then this bombshell really dealt by UEFA deemed the club fallen foul of the bodies financial fair play regulations.

And as I say, this is a real body blow for the club that currently lies fourth in La Liga.

By the way, they claim that they're being made a scapegoat by UEFA for this.

The good news for them is that it's not going to affect them in terms of this year's European Champion's League competition, but it will for at least one season moving forward. The reason officially because of unpaid bills. And really when you think about this and you look at the problems they've had in the past. They had high profile stars like Ruud Van Nistlerooy amid reports that he, amongst other players, were threatening legal action over unpaid wages last season. This is not what the club needs.

But at the same time there's one bright side to this story, Max, as they will be allowed to focus on that round of 16 at European Cup tie with the a Portuguese team Porto.

But as I say, as you said in your intro, UEFA getting tough. It's all about finances and not spending beyond your means, Max.

FOSTER: Yeah, and in terms of golf, let's talk about that as well, because it's not a winter sport as we all know, but I guess there are exceptions to that rule.

SNELL: There really are. Snow joke at all to tell you about -- let's just say some of these top golfers, many of them reside in the sunshine state of Florida, but a lot of them like to go back to their native (inaudible), among them the 2010 PGA champion himself Martin Kaymer, the young German player. And this is he trying out a spot of snow golf together with a German touring (inaudible) of Bruno Spengler (ph). And let's just say it's quite a different kind of set of skills to get on target there. It looks rather fun, I have to say there. Those images from Austria, if not a little cool for my liking. But Martin Kaymer, he can play in any conditions, I think, Max.

FOSTER: Yeah, I think he's pretty much proved that. Patrick, thank you very much indeed. Great stuff.

Still to come on Connect the World, eight years ago he lost the battle for the U.S. presidency. Today, Senator John Kerry has been nominated for the top diplomatic blows post in the U.S. government. A look at his background next.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

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.

A day of reflection and remembrance across the United States. Churches rang bells and observed a moment of silence to honor victims of the massacre in Connecticut. A powerful gun lobby says more guns would keep American safe. The National Rifle Association is calling for armed guards in schools nationwide.

The South Sudanese armed forces admit that it shot down a United Nations helicopter. The UN says four crew members were killed. A spokesman for the Sudan People's Liberation Army says it mistook the aircraft for an enemy plane and that the UN said it did not have a plane in the area.

Former British prime minister Margaret Thatcher has undergone surgery to remove a growth in her bladder. A spokeswoman for the 87-year-old Thatcher says she is currently recovering in hospital and is absolutely fine.

Barack Obama has nominated Senator John Kerry as the next US secretary of state. Hillary Clinton is set to step down from the post in January. The US president said there were challenges ahead, but he was confident in Kerry's abilities.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

BARACK OBAMA, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Over these many years, John has earned the respect and confidence of leaders around the world. He is not going to need a lot of on-the-job training. He has earned the respect and trust of his Senate colleagues, Democrats and Republicans.

I think it's fair to say that few individuals know as many presidents and prime ministers or grasp our foreign policies as firmly as John Kerry, and this makes him a perfect choice to guide American diplomacy in the years ahead.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

FOSTER: Former US presidential hopeful John Kerry is expected to be easily confirmed as the next secretary of state. US president Barack Obama announced his nomination with no other contenders. Elise Labott joins me now from Washington.

It's not always a smooth process, everything there in Washington, though, is it? So, what's the process now, and do you think it is inevitable that he'll get in?

EILSE LABOTT, CNN CORRESPONDENT: I think he'll pretty much sail through, Max. As you know, he wasn't the president's first choice. The president was intent to nominate Susan Rice, US ambassador to the UN, but after that whole fallout over the scandal in Benghazi and those talking points, John Kerry quickly became the front-runner.

And as President Obama said, this is a man who's really been prepping his whole life for this job. He's got decades of experience on the Senate Foreign Relations committee, has a lot of respect of world leaders, has been working, really, unofficially as an envoy for President Obama.

If you remember, it was Senator Kerry who convinced Hamid Karzai, Afghan president, a few years ago to accept a run-off election. So, clearly he has the clout overseas. His colleagues in the Senate say he'll be easily confirmed.

I think he might have a few tough questions about his former policies and ideas on Syria. If you remember, he was the one that was meeting with President Bashar al-Assad not too many years ago and was not too easily convinced that he was not a reformer, even as the crackdown on the opposition started.

So, he might get a few questions, but I think by and large, he'll sail through confirmation pretty easily.

FOSTER: Elise, thank you very much, indeed, for that. We'll follow those developments with you, of course.

So, let's get some more background on Senator John Kerry. Well, he's a 69-year-old, he's a former -- we'll, he's a senior senator, a current one from Massachusetts, a Democrat. He's chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, as Elise was saying, and Senator Kerry is also a decorated veteran of the US Navy, serving two tours of duty in Vietnam.

After returning from Vietnam, Kerry became a leader of a veterans' group against the war and an advocate for military veterans. And Kerry ran for president in 2004, but lost to George W. Bush.

Now in his fifth term in the US Senate, John Kerry is generally respected by both Democrats and Republicans. His supporters call him a knowledgeable and influential statesman.

So, experienced and statesmanlike, but does that make Kerry the right man for the job? To discuss that, I'm joined by David Gergen, CNN's senior political analyst and advisor to four US presidents. And David, there does seem to be nothing wrong with this guy. He seems like the perfect candidate, but is it as simple as that?

DAVID GERGEN, CNN SENIOR POLITICAL ANALYST: Well, we'll have to wait and see. We never know until they actually get in the job just how they're going to carry it out. But certainly, if you look at the credentials you'd like in a secretary of state, Kerry has all of them.

He has extraordinarily good relationships all across the world, not only in the Middle East, but in Afghanistan and Pakistan and well beyond. He's traveled extensively.

He's popular in the United States Senate. He was the first choice among people in the Senate, and Republicans as well as Democrats are praising him today. He's a -- he can get in without -- with barely a struggle in the Senate.

But very importantly, I think the question becomes in terms of how it works out, the chemistry issue with the president. That was so important with Hillary Clinton going in that, and the two of them worked it out famously, and it was fine.

John Kerry is a fairly independent-minded man. He has his own views, and I think there were some in this White House who worried a little bit that he'd be a little too independent.

That happened with Colin Powell, who was secretary of state with George W. Bush, and there was a lot of grousing from the Bush White House about Secretary Powell. I think it was unfounded, but there it was. And so, I think he has to overcome that. We'll see how the relationship works out.

But the last thing is that there are huge issues just over the horizon, and starting first, the president needs a heavyweight to deal with Iran. This Iranian question is going to be front and center next year, where there may well be serious talks between the United States and Iran, and John Kerry is extremely well-positioned to undertake those talks.

FOSTER: He is. But in terms of Syria, that's the other big policy issue coming up as well, isn't it? How to deal with Syria. And as Elise was pointing out, there is a dent on his credibility there. Do you think that'll harm him?

GERGEN: I don't think so. There's, of course, a spillover effect and there's a relationship between Iran and Syria. But this is -- the president has been deeply engaged with this. I think the president has set his course. He does not want to become heavily involved militarily.

But he's clearly -- there is a sense in the United States now that the days are numbered for the regime in Syria. And I think Kerry would like to be part of that to try to figure out the future of Syria.

FOSTER: And in terms of being second choice, because he was clearly second choice, is that a problem for him or the people around him and the appointment?

GERGEN: It's a -- it could be a little bit of a problem. You don't want the Kerry people having resentment against the Obama people. But after all, Hillary Clinton was a rival to President Obama, and they composed their differences, and the team of rivals became a team of allies, and I think that will rapidly happen here.

The president's attraction to Susan Rice, I think, was on a very personal level. It went back to this chemistry issue. The president also, I think, is very anxious to have a team that represents the diversity of America, so there is a reasonable chance that in the next coming appointments, whether it's CIA or possibly even defense, we'll see a woman.

I know the president wanted to have -- thought the idea of having Susan Rice there on his front line would be positive from his point of view.

FOSTER: OK. David Gergen, as ever, really appreciate your time. Thank you for joining us.

GERGEN: Thank you.

FOSTER: John Kerry's seen -- well, everything seems to be going his way, really. He's also a poplar choice with most, it seems. In a CNN poll, 57percent of people asked said Kerry was good choice for the country, but that changed dramatically when party affiliation was brought into the picture.

Unsurprisingly, Democrats were overwhelmingly in favor of John Kerry, but out of Republicans, polled, just 31 percent thought he would be good for the United States.

You're watching CONNECT THE WORLD. Still to come: the film about a fundamentalist that nobody wanted to make. The director tells us why it's a story she was so determined to tell.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

FOSTER: A plea from her hospital bed in London. Teenage activist Malala Yousufzai has asked the Pakistani government to remove her name from a college in Swat Valley after student held protests saying it made them a Taliban target. Malala was shot by the militant group in October for promoting girls' education.

Stories such as Malala's and the violence she endured are often the ones we hear about in Pakistan, but one acclaimed filmmaker fears this leads to a distorted view of the country and its people. Becky recently met that director, Mira Nair, who hopes that her new film, "The Reluctant Fundamentalist," will offer the world a different perspective.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

BECKY ANDERSON, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Set in the wake of the September 11th attacks, "The Reluctant Fundamentalist" is a portrayal of the cultural and political divide that's emerged in the past decade.

KIEFER SUTHERLAND AS JIM, "THE RELUCTANT FUNDAMENTALIST": You think you're the only person who's experienced injustice firsthand? Throw a rock out there anywhere in this city and it will land on the grave of someone who has seen worse than you.

MIRA NAIR, DIRECTOR, "THE RELUCTANT FUNDAMENTALIST": It's really a coming of age story, in a sense, about Changez, a young man from Lahore who dreams of America, who loves America, and who comes to Princeton, achieves the American dream, has the girlfriend, has a good life in the financial world, and then he begins to fall out of love, because the country that he loves does not love him.

KATE HUDSON AS ERICA, "THE RELUCTANT FUNDAMENTALIST": I thought you'd be proud of me.

RIZ AHMED AS CHANGEZ, "THE RELUCTANT FUNDAMENTALIT": Why would I be proud? What, proud of being your --

HUDSON AS ERICA: OK.

AHMED AS CHANGEZ: -- this pet artistic project?

HUDSON AS ERICA: Can we please take this outside?

AHMED AS CHANGEZ: No, why? Was that the idea? How chic! How chic! To date a Pakistani after 9/11, and it's going to be great for my bohemian street cred! Is that the idea?

HUDSON AS ERICA: Completely unfair!

NAIR: Nothing is quite what it may seem. Is he or isn't he? You keep wondering. But it is, in its essence and heart, it's a dialogue between America and the subcontinent.

AHMED AS CHANGEZ: I'm sorry if my reaction to the attacks has offended you, Bobby. I hope you see that I'm not celebrating at the death of 3,000 innocents, just as you would not celebrate the death of 100,000 in Baghdad, or Gardez, for that matter. But before conscience kicks in, have you never felt a split second of pleasure?

ANDERSON: The film is an adaptation of the award-winning novel penned by Pakistani writer Mohsin Hamid. Acclaimed director Mira Nair says it's a story she has long wanted to bring to the big screen.

NAIR: The challenge, of course, was in order to make this film is to make the financing for the film, which was a great struggle. This film took five years to make.

ANDERSON (on camera): Despite the fact that you are a prolific director?

NAIR: Yes.

ANDERSON: And have huge success behind you? Why so difficult.

NAIR: Well, people are -- the money -- I guess get nervous or think that -- basically, one producer, fortunately, had had a drink at lunch and he said -- he knew the global ambition of this film, and he was offering us a pittance, and I looked at him. I said, "Two million is not going to sell a global film. It's not going to cut it."

And he said, "You can shoot it in Rockaway Beach, darling, but when you've got a Muslim protagonist, that's about what you would get."

LIEV SCHREIBER AS BOBBY, "THE RELUCTANT FUNDAMENTALIST": Do you believe in violence as a tool for social change? They teach a course in violent revolution at Lahore University. The lectures are full of anti- American rhetoric.

ANDERSON: If there were one message that you wanted the viewer to take from this film, it would be what?

NAIR: How do you see the other? And that is the question, I think, for our time. And dialogue is the key to some sort of bridge-making. And if we don't make at least art or work about such things, dialogue, a person will not know, sitting in America, that in Pakistan, the family life is as deep and vibrant and the hospitality, despite anything you have, is great largess.

They will not know that. They will think Pakistan is drones and beheadings and assassinations and that's it. But it's not. It's an ocean of culture.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

FOSTER: Now, you're watching CONNECT THE WORLD right now. When we come back, we'll take you live to a Mayan celebration of a new beginning.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

FOSTER: The end of the Mayan calendar, yes. The end of the world? Well, perhaps not. And so the party continues, actually. What you're seeing are images of the thousands that gathered at the majestic Mayan ruins at Tikal in the jungles of Guatemala.

There, ceremonies and dancing marked the final hours of the ancient calendar. Some believe that means an apocalypse. Others say it's just the beginning of a new era.

There have been similar gatherings at Mayan sites across Central America. Nick Parker is at the ancient ruins of Chichen Itza in southern Mexico and joins us now for more. Just clarify for me, Nick, when is the actual end of the calendar, or doomsday, as it were? Because it keeps shifting across the day, form what I can tell.

NICK PARKER, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: It certainly does, it certainly does. There's been a lot of speculation about that. And basically, there is no hard and fast answer for when it is. The leading theory on it is that after the sun sets here in Chichen Itza, the calendar begins to end, and tomorrow morning the new calendar begins, basically.

But there's also a period between the two days where they believe that the sun turns into a cheetah and roams around the underworld. But certainly by Saturday morning we do have the new calendar.

And as you say, it's been a day of real celebration here. The festival-like atmosphere has been pretty well all-pervasive from early into the morning. We got here at first light at dawn, and as you can see from some of the video, which I believe you have, hundreds of people gathered to see this first light of the winter solstice.

It was a very special, unique atmosphere as people poured in and gathered at the foot of this iconic Mayan temple. Some people came to reflect on what's going on, other people took photographs.

And throughout the day, there's really been this big kind of party, fiesta atmosphere here, with a number of so-called new age tourists gathering and singing and dancing, as well as many other tourist groups that are just here to mark the day in a sort of moment of reflection and to just enjoy what they've been hearing so much about, I guess, during the speculation over the last few weeks. So, it's --

(CROSSTALK)

FOSTER: And it does --

PARKER: -- been a big day for tourism here, and they estimated something like 25,000 tourists who've come here to Chichen Itza today. That's about five times more than the height of the high season.

FOSTER: There does seem to be some confusion about the whole calendar, because a lot of Mayans saying they never suggested it would be doomsday, it's literally the end of the calendar, the beginning of a new civilization. Just explain what the calendar's about, a bit of background to it.

PARKER: I've lost audio. Jose? I can't.

FOSTER: OK. He's lost audio, clearly. But we will come back to him later on and find out if the calendar does end and what that means. But for months, the US space agency NASA has been trying to knock down apocalypse theories, everything from killer asteroids to runaway planets and an expanding sun, if you remember.

Even speculation that the world would end in a galactic alignment of planets went viral. But scientists say there was never any reason to fear that.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

PAUL HERTZ, NASA ASTROPHYSICIST: As you know, as the Earth goes around the sun, then different stars are up in the night sky every night. We get a sweep through the whole sky. And once a year, the direction to the center of the Milky Way galaxy will be right overhead.

And so, the Earth and the sun and the center of the Milky Way galaxy kind of sort of line up in late December every year.

DON YEOMANS, NASA ASTEROID SCIENTIST: The so-called galactic alignment takes place every year without consequence and has done so for millions of years. So, it's nothing to worry about.

ANDREW FRAKNOI, ASTRONOMER: The distance between us and the center of the galaxy is absolutely mind-boggling, so that it's something like 26,000 light years, where each light-year is 6,000 billion miles.

So, the notion that something at the center of the galaxy could cause doomsday on Earth is a complete misunderstanding of how truly astronomical the distances are between us and the center of the Milky Way.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

FOSTER: In tonight's Parting Shots, let's see how the virtual world is covering the so-called end of the world. It's certainly added to the talk about it. This trends map shows you the conversation around the term "Mayan." People are mostly having fun with it.

American actor Zach Braff tweeted, "What does one even wear to a Mayan apocalypse? I hate being under dressed."

British comedian Ross Noble tweeted, "Time to open the last door on my Mayan Advent calendar. Oh, just a chocolate of people looking at the sky with their fingers crossed."

One Twitter user, Dan Guterman, was a little tired of all the jokes even before the world was supposed to end. He tweeted, "Hope the world ends tomorrow. Can't deal with any more of these Mayan jokes."

There's also someone that bet that the Mayan prophecy would come true. That doesn't really make sense, either.

But I'm Max Foster, that was CONNECT THE WORLD. Thank you so much for watching.

END