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23 Year Old Indian Gang Rape Victim Dies From Her Wounds; Dow Jones Up Over 300 Points On Fiscal Cliff Deal News; Outlook for Syria in 2013; Hugo Chavez Cancer Concerns

Aired January 2, 2013 - 16:00   ET


MAX FOSTER, HOST: The closing bell on Wall Street, the Dow is just finishing up. As the numbers settle, we'll bring them to you.

A big rally, though, after U.S. lawmakers finally cobble together a short-term deal to avoid diving off the so-called fiscal cliff.

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

FOSTER: As investors around the world cheer the deal, tonight on Connect the World why some are warning it's only a band-aid.

Also tonight...


UNIDENTIFIED MALE (through translator): The death penalty is compulsory for a crime so great.


FOSTER: ...of an Indian woman who died after being brutally raped speaks out as small protesters take to the streets to mourn her death.

And as fears grow for the health of Hugo Chavez, let me take a look at the possible political scenarios facing Venezuela.

Well, it wasn't a far reaching deal that investors were hoping for, but after months of torturous negotiations, an agreement among America's lawmakers was all it took to rally stock markets across the globe. With a raft of automatic tax rises and spending cuts averted for now, the Dow closed up more than 270 points, European markets followed suit. The FTSE and the Dax ended the day more than 2 percent higher.

Alison Kosik is at the New York Stock Exchange.

So, Alison, just explain investor's thinking.

ALISON KOSIK, CNN CORREPSONDENT: OK. And as the numbers settle, just so you know, Max, the Dow ending 308 points higher. So these are huge gains to kick off the new year. As the major average is taking flight because of the deal to avert the fiscal cliff. But you know what the question is, the question is how long is this sentiment going to last?

One trader thinks we're going to wind up seeing a so-called January effect like we haven't seen in five years. What he thinks will happen is the market will surge the first couple of months of the year, but then reality will eventually set in by March when we come up on the next round of deadlines that congress had set for itself. They will be having to deal with the triple whammy of the spending cuts, the budget, the debt ceiling, things that they put off when they passed -- when they signed this legislation for the fiscal cliff.

So until then what this trader says that the market and investors should enjoy the ride, but after that an analyst tells me the lesson for investors is buyer beware -- Max.

FOSTER: Well, the Congressional Budget Office was talking about is going into recession is we went off this fiscal cliff. Has that been averted, then?

KOSIK: Well, we may not go into a recession, but you're hearing analysts, especially one from JP Morgan saying that the cliff deal will wind up knocking off 1 percent from GDP this year, because what the fiscal cliff deal doesn't do, it doesn't address the longer term deficit issues of this country. You look how the third quarter did, GDP here in this country, it's at 3.1 percent. It's the best that we've seen in awhile, but the thing is if you knock 1 percent off of that, GDP is barely keeping up with inflation. Plus, as we get closer to the next showdown on Capitol Hill, which is going to happen around March, that can wind up eating away at consumer confidence and at business confidence, that could slow spending, that can slow hiring. And then you throw in the prediction of some analysts who say that if these negotiations in March get chaotic, they could lead to another U.S. downgrade.

So, Max, the uncertainty surrounding the debt ceiling and the spending cuts could wind up being a big drag on economic growth -- Max.

FOSTER: Uncertainty indeed. Alison, thank you very much indeed.

Well, with Bush era tax cuts now permanent for the majority of Americans, the deal provides some certainty for those struggling to make ends meet, but does little to resolve some of the major problems facing the country's economy. Richard is here with a look at the flash points that lie ahead. There are a few.

RICHARD QUEST, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: There are most certainly are. One hesitates as is reluctant to be so mealy mouthed when the Dow rises 308 points, but just look at the calendar, Max, and see the dates that Alison was eluding to.

First of all, we have the 26th of February, that's when the U.S., we already know it's bumped up against the debt ceiling of $16.4 trillion, but on the 26th of February or thereabout, suddenly Tim Geithner's ability to move the money around is no longer. So they have to -- that's a better biggie, that is an absolute -- of all the things, this is the crucial one, because that could lead to a default of the U.S. It probably won't, but that's a really serious one.

In March, marks the second -- you have the automatic spending cuts. These are the cuts that they delayed as part of last week's deal -- or this week's deal -- but those spending cuts, $100 billion in 2013, 50 percent on Defense, 50 percent on general, that has to be negotiated by November -- I'm sorry, by March 2.

And then at the back end of the month, the U.S. government is running at the moment on these IOUs and promises and continuing resolutions. If they fail to solve that one, the last person just turned off the lights.

FOSTER: In terms of Europeans watching this story unfold, a lot of people confused about why this deal is taking so long, the politics they don't understand it, it was a fundamental difference here, isn't there?

QUEST: There is. There's a fundamental difference in the presidential and the system of government in the United States between president/executive and legislative. Robert Shapiro, who is a former undersecretary of Commerce, put this into context about why it is so difficult for both ends of Pennsylvania Avenue to do a deal.


ROBERT SHAPIRO, FRM. UNDERSECRETARY OF COMMERCE: You know, because we don't have a parliamentary system, we go about these large and difficult tasks -- fiscal consolidation -- in a different way than Europe. We take a nibble here and a nibble there and in the end we come up with a big result. We took one nibble last year and we cut $1.2 trillion in spending over 10 years. Now we cut -- we've added $700 billion in revenues. And I expect in a couple of months we'll come back and there will be a third deal.


QUEST: So, another deal, a bit more incremental changes. The Dow is up 300 points tonight. Europe had a very strong session 2, 2.5 percent. And again, one doesn't want to be too pessimistic, but if you just look at the calendar it is all against risk at the moment.

FOSTER: In terms of recession, the rest of the world wants to know will there be a U.S. session, are you any of the wiser?

QUEST: I think it will be very -- a growth of 3 percent -- the only really severe contraction at the moment comes from the rise in the social security by 2 percent from 4.2 to 6.2. The gist of that, yes, there will certainly be froth off the top of the U.S. economy. It might come down to 2 percent, maybe 1.5 percent, but assuming they solve these other problems, there will be no recession in the United States. Any one of these could be the tipping point again.

FOSTER: Richard, thank you very much indeed.

Well, you're watching Connect the World live from London. Our top story tonight, it was a deal long in the making, but short on solutions. The dreaded fiscal cliff may have been avoided for now, but with many of the difficult decisions postponed, the battle to bring down America's spiraling debt so far is far from won. You're watching Connect the World live from London. And still to come, women in India march after the death of a rape victim, whilst authorities prepare new charges against those accused of her attack. We'll have the details straight ahead.

The Venezuelan president's health is in a, quote, "delicate" situation. Coming up, what that might mean for his inauguration in eight days time.


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

Now Indian authorities have added murder charges for the suspects in a brutal gang rape of a medical student in New Delhi last month. Hundreds of protesters marched on the streets of the Indian capital today to pay their respects to the 23 year old victim. The woman, who has not been named, died in a Singapore hospital on Saturday. Her death sparked widespread outrage and mass demonstrations of protesters demand tougher penalties for sexual assaults.

The family of the victim had her body cremated and scattered her ashes along the river Ganges. Her father has today spoken to the media. He wants India's lawmakers to act swiftly.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE (through translator): The law should definitely be named after the girl. Laws are made by the government, but all I ask that the law be the toughest it can be. The death penalty is compulsory for a crime so grave. The assailants must be hanged. The courts must give these men the death penalty. It is unfair that Indian law says that a juvenile is anyone under the age of 18. I think it should be anyone under the age of 12.


FOSTER: Well, the suspects could face the death penalty if found guilty. Charges are likely to be filed in court tomorrow. The chairman of the All India Bar Association has asked his organization's lawyers not to defend the suspects, at least voluntarily. I spoke to Adish Aggarwala earlier and asked him if that undermined the legal process.


ADISH AGGARWALA, CHAIRMAN, ALL INDIA BAR ASSOCIATION: They have admitted, also their guilt before the police and in -- no lawyer -- why we have taken a decision no lawyers will work for charging the professional case. And in they will be not appearing on the request of the accused person. My lawyers may appear when the government requests, because the accused person in India have the right to request the government to provide legal assistance while facing the charge.

FOSTER: Can I just ask you as well in terms -- there's been some suggestion that the -- the penalties for rape in India aren't strong enough. Obviously, the suspects in this case are facing rape charges and now murder charges as well. What sort of penalties are they likely to face if they are found guilty?

AGGARWALA: Yeah. Now, because this girl, she has died due to the injuries, so today the court -- we have a set up this (inaudible) and they will keep justice of India and (inaudible) Delhi for this purpose. And we will be having fast track course dealing with the rape cases.

So, now the accused persons are going to face the trial under section 376 and also 302, which is for murder. And they will be -- and have the providence (ph) under section 302, they can be hanged.


FOSTER: Well, let's have a look at some of the headlines from India's media. And the Times of India highlights a comment from the Indian minister for women sending the miner to jail for life, she says, calling for harsher punishments, even for the suspect who is under 18 years old.

The front page of the Hindu focuses on a statement by the Tamilnadu (ph) chief minister calling for changes to the current sexual offenses sentencing laws. She wants it to include chemical castration and in the most extreme cases the death penalty.

Finally, the Deccan Chronicle leads with a suggestion from Shashe Veraw (ph), an Indian minister of state. She tweeted that unless her parent object, the victim should be honored and the revised anti-rape law named after her.

This just coming in to CNN, we have learned that the U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton has been released from a New York hospital. She was being treated for a blood clot between her skull and brain. Clinton was admitted after doctors found the clot following a concussion she suffered in December. We were told that she was being given blood thinners and that the injury has not resulted in a stroke or any neurological damage. Again, U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton has been released from hospital.

Live from London, this is Connect the World. Coming up, the United Nations calls it truly shocking. They just released an overall death toll from Syria's civil war and says the entire world should be ashamed.


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

Returning to one of our top stories tonight, and hundreds have marched in New Delhi following the death of a woman who was brutally raped last month. It comes as the father of the 23 year old victim called for the death penalty for her attackers. Whilst India debates tougher action against rape and sexual violence, one lawyer says the problem can't be tackled by legislation alone. Ratna Kapur is a professor of law of the Jindal Global Law School and joins us now from Geneva. Thank you so much for joining us.

What do you think Indians have got to learn out of this?

RATNA KAPUR, PROFESSOR, JINDAL GLOBAL LAW SCHOOL: Well, I think it's again the Indian women and men who are marching on the streets who are teaching us and telling us that attitudes need to change. It's not just an issue that can be solved through law and legal changes, but there's got to be a real shift in attitudes and the treatment of women in the public space, in the work places as well as in families.

FOSTER: Some people have suggested that there's -- and men have got a lot to learn from not just what happened here and how it's opened up a problem, or exposed a problem with relations with women and between women and men in India -- but also in terms of the reactions, some people are suggested there's been a very different reaction amongst men and women, both opposed to what happened. Do you think there's anything in that?

KAPUR: Well, I think we're seeing men and women -- young men and women on the streets together. I think women are probably much more articulate about this issue simply because they experience harassment on the streets in their day to day lives. And so there -- in some ways I think they have more clarity as to what's required perhaps having gone through this experience, in terms of dealing with the sexism as opposed to simply eliminating or banishing sex from the streets or sex from the cinema.

At the same time, there's still -- there's a an anger, a general anger and outrage over what did take place. I think that the brutality of this particular case is what's really shocked the moral functions of people in the country.

FOSTER: A lot of the images coming up in India seemed -- they show demonstrations. And I'm -- I apologize if this seems like a generalistic view, but women having peaceful protests in one area and then men demonstrating in a more physical way in another area. But they seem to be two separate sets of protests. Am I right in reading it like that?

KAPUR: I say probably what you're seeing -- when we saw the young -- young people demonstrating especially on Sunday there was a candlelight vigil. And many of these people were students. And they had committed themselves to a silent protest. At the same time you also have political parties who are getting involved in some of these protests. And many of the young men who represent these parties tend to be loud, at times also quite aggressive. But I think it's hard to distinguish, because at the same time there are some young people who are angry and they're expressing their anger on the streets as well.

I'm not sure it's a clear gender divide. I think it's much more along the lines of those who are the young people, who are students, who are expressing their solidarity with this young woman and with women generally and parties who are trying to perhaps seek for some kind of political capital out of this -- this particular situation.

FOSTER: In terms of the solutions to this problem, and there seems to be an agreement in India that there is a problem there, that there is an inherent problem in society that is causing a disrespect towards women. And where are the solutions here? Are they basic solutions within policing? Or do you think there's a much wider cultural problem which will take a long time to address?

KAPUR: Well, I think both of those things. I think the policing is an issue. And I do believe that that's probably going to be the area which will receiving the most attention, immediately at least in terms of having more beat cops, more sensitization of the police. But more importantly is of course the focus on some of the legal changes.

There have been -- there are laws on the statute book against rape, against custodial rape. We've had reforms in the early 1980s and most recently in 2012 there was a law reform proposal on sexual assault put before the parliament. It has still not come up for a proper debate and consideration, which expanded the definition of rape, which I think is important.

But I don't think law reform in and of itself is going to bring about the change. I mean, whether we effectively implement the existing law or broaden the definition, a deal with mandatory -- you know, have mandatory minimum sentences for rape, those are all important things. But more importantly it seems to me, regardless of the law the issue keeps on being taken up within the framework of shame and dishonor and modesty and morality rather than as an issue of women's rights. And I think that's the major shift that needs to take place is to delink the issue of rape, of sexual assault, from these conservative sexual notions of sexuality based on modesty and honor. And to link the issue of rape to bodily integrity and sexual autonomy, which are both integral to the right of equality.

And I think that kind of shift can take place by changing some of the language in law, because the law -- there are many provisions in the law which hang on to sort of a very Victorian language such as modesty -- outraging the modesty of a woman. That language needs to change. And that's the sort of cultural shift that needs to take place, this -- this sort of legal provisions that are deeply embedded in Victorian -- puritan thinking of a Victorian era. I think we have to definitely move away from that.

We're still not talking the language of rights. We keep on talking about sexual wrongs within a criminal framework or (inaudible)...

FOSTER: Ratna Kapur, thank you so much for joining us. Very interesting insight from you today, thank you.

Here's a look now at some other stories we're following for you this hour. Syrian opposition activists say dozens of people have been killed in an airstrike near Damascus. Many of the victims were horribly burned. It comes as the UN accuses the world of standing by and doing nothing to help end the bloodshed. Our Mohammed Jamjoom is following developments for us tonight from Beirut -- Mohammed.

MOHAMMED JAMJOOM, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORREPSONDENT: Max, another bloody and brutal day in Syria. First, we want to report to you what we heard from opposition activists about an air raid, an attack on a petrol station. This in a suburb of Damascus. We've seen amateur video online purporting to show the aftermath of this attack. We can't independently verify this video, but it is corroborated by what we're hearing from the activists on the ground.

In this video, you see the aftermath of a shelling on this petrol station which we're told by the opposition local coordination committees of Syria killed at least 74 people. Activists were speaking to us a mere hours ago after the attack. They said that it was so horrifying there and that bodies were so burned and mangled and mutilated because of this attack that they were having trouble counting how many people had been killed and that they expect the death toll to rise.

More violence to tell you about in the northern part of the country. Throughout the day, we heard reports from opposition activists that rebel soldiers were going after and trying to overtake an air base in Taftanaz, that is close to the city of Binish (ph) in Idlib Province. We saw amateur video posted online purporting to show the rebels trying to overtake this air base. We spoke to the media office of an opposition group in the city of Binish (ph). They said that this was an air base that was particularly strategic and important for the rebels to overtake. They said this was an air base from which the Syrian regime would launch horrific attacks and barrel bombs on the Syrian people in that region.

We also saw amateur video posted online purporting to show what it was like in the city of Binish (ph) as that attack was going on. Plumes of smoke, columns of smoke throughout the city, some of them reportedly due to aerial shelling from the regime, trying to drive out the rebels. Other columns of smoke we're told by activists there due to the assault, the ongoing assault by the rebel forces on that air base as they were trying to overtake it.

And then there's this, something that's extremely shocking -- even though we've become so accustomed to high death tolls in Syria, the UN high office for -- the UN High Council said today that at least 60,000 people had been killed since March 15, 2011, which is when the uprising in Syria began. Navi Pillay, the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights stated that at least 60,000 people had been killed, that that perhaps is an underestimate of how many people have been killed. She went on to blame the inaction of the international community for the reason the death toll is so high. And she said collectively we have fiddled at the edges while Syria burns. While many details remain unclear, there can be no justification for the massive scale of the killing highlighted by this analysis.

To give you some idea of just how truly shocking this is -- and Navi Pillay also said it was shocking and shameful -- just yesterday, we were reporting that the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights had said that at least 46,000 people have been killed since the beginning of the conflict in Syria. Today, the UN reports 60,000 people.

Just a few days ago, Lakhdar Brahimi, who is the joint UN-Arab League envoy to Syria was in Cairo. He said that he believed around 50,000 people had been killed and that if things continue the way they are right now that by this time next year there could be 100,000 people killed in Syria as a result of the fighting -- Max.

FOSTER: Mohammed Jamjoom, thank you very much indeed.

Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez remains in a delicate condition three weeks after cancer surgery in Cuba, that's according to Vice President Nicolas Maduro. Mr. Chavez's chosen successor gave the update on state television on Tuesday.


NICOLAS MADURO, VICE PRESIDENT OF VENEZUELA (through translator): We are facing a situation where the president is being attended to. He has had treatments, but it's a complicated situation. We are constantly hoping for positive progress. Sometimes he has slight improvements and sometimes he has remained stable.


FOSTER: Well, we'll have more later on in the show on how Hugo Chavez's health could affect his inauguration which is due to take place on the 10th of January.

The latest world news headlines just ahead, plus an in depth look at Syria you won't see anywhere else.


NICK PATON WALSH, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: The question really is how messy is that final stand of Assad actually going to be.


FOSTER: Two of our correspondents who have reported from inside the country tell us what 2013 might hold.


FOSTER: Markets have rallied across the globe after the US House voted to pull the country back from the so-called fiscal cliff. The deal extends Bush-era tax cuts for the vast majority of Americans but postpones a decision on how to cut government spending until March.

The UN estimates that more than 60,000 people have been killed in Syria since the civil war began. They called the figure truly shocking and shameful and accuses the world of doing nothing whilst, quote, "Syria burns."

US secretary of state Hillary Clinton has left hospital. She was being treated for a blood clot between her skull and brain. Clinton was admitted after doctors found the clot following a concussion she suffered in December.

Mario Monti has kicked off his new election campaign with a pledge to cut labor taxes. The Italian prime minister said that will spur growth and help struggling Italians catch their breath. Mr. Monti's coalition is in a three-way election race with the Democratic Party and Silvio Berlusconi's People of Freedom Party.

2012 was a horrific year for Syrians, but will this year be any better? We asked two of our correspondents who've covered the war extensively to give us their take on what 2013 might have in store. Here are Nick Paton Walsh and Nic Robertson.



NICK PATON WALSH, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Will the rebels defeat the regime? I think there's very little doubt that will happen. It's not going to be one day in which there's a decisive changing of the flags over a building in Damascus and then the whole country turns 180 degrees in terms of its government, but there have been weeks, now, of consistent bad news for the regime.

WALSH (voice-over): For a week, regime air bases and military outposts have fallen daily, rebels now focusing on besieging the bases from where the regime projects its brutal force.

WALSH (on camera): And that affects not only how people feel inside the regime's inner circle, it affects how their sponsors feel and, of course, it boosts morale for the rebels as well.

So, that real sense of momentum has been in place, now, for months. It's beginning to nip around the capital, and I don't think any observer at this point things that the Assad government really has a chance in terms of retaining long-term power over the country.


WALSH (voice-over): As the rebels increasingly make more military gains, the question is beginning to be asked: will Assad stay and fight to the end as he has said, or will he go?

NIC ROBERTSON, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: We may have a scenario where there is a rump regime, where the -- the sort of Alawite enclaves in the country along the cost have become the places that are holding out against the rebels. The rebels have said that they won't rest until Assad is completely gone, they won't negotiate with him, but he's showing no signs of leaving whatsoever.

Perhaps there are early indications that Assad does realize that he cannot hold onto complete power as he has in the past, so perhaps what we're seeing is the regime entering a new phase now where rather than fighting to hold onto everything, they're fighting to have a better negotiating position in the future.

WALSH (on camera): The question really is how messy is that final stand of Assad actually going to be. So, you'll see pockets of these regime forces, particularly in the north, being left to their own devices once the capital and the regime can no longer supply them, perhaps trying to retreat to the capital as well.

But the real problem, of course, is going to be how does the rebel militia, how do these disparate groups deal with these Alawi military prisoners once they've actually taken them into their custody?

ROBERTSON: It feels like things are getting back to normal a bit here, but everyone we talk to is still very cautious. They don't want to say who is responsible, was it the government or the rebels?

For those people who feel close to the government, like the Christians of Malula, they're going to be more trapped in enclaves than they were in 2012. They're going to be afraid of what's coming around the corner. They really feel that the barbarians, the Free Syrian Army, in their eyes, are at the gates and their lives are in danger.

WALSH: There will be a period of definitely chaos, warlord-ism, perhaps, and a sort of vacuum whilst the armed groups who won the rebellion I think struggle for some degree of control over the territory.

I don't really agree with the more dramatic visions of a nightmare future in Syria that's something between Mad Max and the Taliban. I think it's going to be a much more watered-down version of that. I think there's an optimism, perhaps, amongst many Syrians that they are educated, moderate in terms of their Islamic values they have.

And remember also, this wasn't really a rebellion started over Islamic principles. It's not an Iran or Afghanistan. This was about trying to reject what they saw as a corrupt and repressive regime.

WALSH (voice-over): These men, capturing another base too close to its center for regime comfort. After months of stalemate, the narrative of this war finally changing.

WALSH (on camera): The Syrians are already very frustrated at the lack of attention their plight is getting while this war is raging on and hundreds of people are dying every day. It's classic in these situations for, once the major battle is finished, world attention to radically drift elsewhere onto the next crisis, but that'll be the moment when Syrian needs help at its most.

It'll be the moment where the Syrians finally expect the West to actually step in, now the complicated issue of who's arming who and who's fighting who has been put aside, and it's also classically, if you look at how the West has handled so many of these conflicts, where they singularly fail to step in and don't actually manage to provide the resources required.

ROBERTSON (voice-over): In Ain Terma, neither regime nor rebels could land a knockout punch, the cycle of rebellion and reprisal far from over. For now, they rebuild.

ROBERTSON (on camera): The economy in Syria is completely destroyed, and it's going to take years to rebuild, so any notion that there can be a quick turnaround in 2013 of the situation in Syria is fiction.

What we're going to see in 2013 are large numbers of displaced people, millions internally inside the country, thousands -- tens, possibly hundreds of thousands of people -- without shelter, their homes have been destroyed. Large areas of Damascus, Homs, Hama, Aleppo have been destroyed, people without homes. And they're going to be desperate for food.

WALSH: I think once the majority of the violence ends, once the nuts and bolts of the civil war are behind them, then food, utilities will come back reasonably quickly because of the nature of where Syria is and who it's bordered by.

The real question, though, is how do you rebuild a country where so many districts and so many of its cities have already been flattened in many ways. Two, three months ago, Aleppo was in pieces, really struggling to keep anything going.

ROBERTSON: The distrust is endemic region-wide. The distrust of the United States and Europe is deep-rooted in the culture in Syria already from 40 years of Assad rule, from watching what's happened in other Arab countries, from hearing what radical Islamists say about what the West is trying to do to Islam.

All these things have been fermenting in the background, and now you have a scenario where the West hasn't come to the aid of Syrians, and so people are deeply angry. So, I don't think we're going to find friends quickly in Syria.

We're certainly not going to win trust there quickly, and that's going to make whatever we want to see -- the international community wants to see happen in Syria, that's going to make it much, much harder to achieve.

WALSH: How will the world respond or help or engage with the new Syria? I think in many ways, the process of that is underway, with the US trying to influence their government in exile. Many opposition figures gathering in Doha or Turkey to try and work out how that government would look like.

But the problem is, that may not relate to the daily struggles people are facing on the ground inside Syria after what will be a two-year-long war, and bridging that gulf between the men in suits in five-star hotels who've been talking about the millions of aid they'd like to receive and people on the ground who may be starving or missing the roof of their house form shelling is going to be the enormous challenge.

ROBERTSON: You have this whole opposition that hasn't even engaged yet with the opposition outside of the country and the opposition that's fighting there. So, to see how they're going to get together and govern together is very difficult.

And the indication is at the moment that any sort of sense of -- that these parties, these opposition groups, are coming and want to coalesce around democracy, that's not -- those are not the indications we have at the moment.

They're talking about we will -- we won't stop until we get rid of Assad. These are not people who are showing a great ability to compromise so far.

WALSH: Once it's over, is the world attention going to drift to something else? Are they going to leave the Syrian people at a time they need assistance most? And is that going to be the window in which more radical elements gain some sort of traction inside the country, or is it a time when Syria will simply be left to deal with its own problems and slowly dissolve or break up as a nation?


FOSTER: Live from London, you're watching CONNECT THE WORLD. Coming up on the program, Venezuelan leader Hugo Chavez in a delicate condition. What that means for the country's leadership next.


FOSTER: Venezuelan president Hugo Chavez remains in a delicate condition three weeks after undergoing cancer surgery in Cuba. His vice president and nominated successor, Nicolas Maduro, has appeared on state television saying the leader is suffering complications but remains strong in his fight to recover.

For more, let's bring in senior Latin American affairs editor, Rafael Romo, who is live for us in CNN Center. Rafael?

RAFAEL ROMO, CNN SENIOR LATIN AMERICAN AFFAIRS EDITOR: Max, Venezuelan government officials have not officially said exactly what type of cancer Chavez suffers from, but they do acknowledge that there's plenty of reason for concern.


ROMO (voice-over): A call for all Venezuelans to pray for President Hugo Chavez.

ERNESTO VILLEGAS, VENEZUELAN COMMUNICATIONS MINISTER (through translator): We know that our prayers are accompanying Chavez in his battle that he's been fighting, and that's precisely what he wants. He wants joy and optimism to make a reality the transformation he's been fighting for.

ROMO: There were masses held for the Venezuelan president, who's recovering from cancer surgery. Government officials also canceled traditional New Year's celebrations and concerts to give people an opportunity to join the national call for prayer.

EARLE HERRERA, VENEZUELAN LEGISLTOR (through translator): It's an ecumenical prayer. It's a universal love and a planetary feeling for a good man, for a patriot, and somebody who gives of himself to his people.

ROMO: The mood has been somber among Chavez's supporters, especially since Vice President Nicolas Maduro, speaking from Havana Sunday, said Chavez's condition is delicate.

NICOLAS MADURO, VICE PRESIDENT OF VENEZUELA (through translator): We were informed of new complications arising as a consequence of a respiratory infection that we knew of already.

ROMO: Rumors of Chavez's failing health have spread on social media like wildfire. The Venezuelan science and technology minister, Jorge Arreaza, has sought to put an end to the frenzy. On his Twitter account, Arreaza wrote, "My fellow patriots, do not believe in ill-intentioned rumors. President Chavez has spent the day calm and stable with his children next to him."

The government has yet to inform the Venezuelan people what kind of cancer Chavez is suffering from.

MICHAEL SHIFTER, INTER-AMERICAN DIALOGUE: Chavez has wanted to keep this a secret, he succeeded in that, and he's been able to do it because he got treatment in Cuba, and the Cubans are very good in keeping secrets, and that was for him a high priority.

ROMO: Chavez has not been seen in public since December 10, when he left for cancer surgery in Cuba, and unlike prior occasions, the socialist leader has not made any phone calls to state media to let people know about his medical condition.


ROMO: And before leaving for Cuba, Chavez left Vice President Nicolas Maduro in charge of all government affairs. After winning the October presidential elections, Chavez is supposed to be inaugurated into a new term on January 10th. But Max, there's no indication yet from the Venezuelan government whether he's going to be physically able to attend his own swearing-in ceremony.

FOSTER: It's going to be interesting to see, isn't it? Well, thank you very much for that, Rafael.

And how are Venezuelans reacting to their leader's poor health? I want to bring in Carlos Chalbaud. He's a professor at a Catholic university in Caracas, and he's a journalist as well. He joins us now live. Thank you so much for joining us. How would you describe the sense there about the current situation of the president?

CARLOS CHALBAUD, PROFESSOR, CATHOLIC UNIVERSITY, CARACAS: Thank you so much, Max. Well, the situation is quiet. Right now, it's holiday time here in Venezuela. Most of the Venezuelans are outside of town, outside of city. So, you cannot feel at all any distress on the street about Chavez's situation.

Of course, every single Venezuelan is looking at his SmartPhone, computers, looking for news. Because the crucial issue here has been how secure has been the government treatment for information about Chavez's health?

Only in the last 48 hours, Vice President Maduro has come forward and provided any single more information about Chavez, saying that he's critically ill, that he's suffering a critical condition, and he suffered complications --


CAHLBAUD: -- the surgical procedure that he took three weeks ago. Having said that, in Venezuela, we are more focused right now about constitutional health. What do I mean for that?

The constitution arrangement in Venezuela are quite clear. There are eight days to go. If President Chavez doesn't show up on January the 10th, the president of the National Assembly has to take over the power and then call for general elections in 30 days' period. And that is the only truth that is written right now in Venezuela, Max.

FOSTER: Carlos, we're going to be back with you in a moment, but Rafael's also been looking into the political scenarios that could follow. What have you managed to ascertain, Rafael?

ROMO: Well, Max, we were taking a look at the constitution, the Venezuelan constitution, to see what happens if Chavez is unable to govern, and if Chavez is unable to return before January 10th, this man here, Nicolas Maduro -- this is President Chavez, but this man here, Nicolas Maduro, who is the foreign minister and also, now, the vice president, is going to finish out his term.

If Chavez is sworn in on January 10th but is afterwards unable to serve, Maduro, the vice president, assumes the presidency and calls for new elections within 30 days.

Max, if no one is sworn in on January 10th, but Chavez is still recovering, this man here in the corner, Diosdado Cabello, if he's still the leader of the national assembly, is supposed to become the president, but a constitutional crisis may erupt in that case, because some Chavez loyalists in Venezuela would rather find a way to postpone the inauguration and wait until Chavez is ready to appear in public.

Now, there's one more option. The Venezuelan national assembly may declare Chavez temporarily absent for up to 90 days. In that case, also Diosdado Cabello or whoever is the head of the national assembly would have to step in.

And finally, Max, if Chavez is permanently unable to govern, this man, opposition leader Henrique Capriles Radonski, would have a shot. He lost against Chavez in the October presidential election, but got 45 percent of the vote and would probably run again under this scenario.

So, very complicated, ad we still have to see whether Chavez is going to show up or not for his own inauguration, Max.

FOSTER: OK, Rafael, thank you very much, indeed, for that. We're going to go back to Carlos now because we want to talk about the character -- the cult that is President Chavez. Because love him or hate him, he's got a charisma, which people rally around. And those other figures we're talking about aren't as well-known, they're not as charismatic.

So, what do you think it would mean if there was no President Chavez leading the country. What would that mean for people living there?

CHALBAUD: A couple of things. First of all, let me answer to what Rafael just said. The constitution of Venezuela is quite crystal clear in the sense that if Chavez doesn't take over and he's not in power by January the 10th, the constitution is clear: the president of the national assembly has to be sworn as president of Venezuela, and there has to be a call for a general election in 30 days.

If the Chavezta side tries to change that, they will be going against the constitution. Now, in your second question about Chavez -- of course, Chavez is a major political figure, has been a major political figure, and love him or hate him in Venezuela, in the last 14 years. No doubt about his charisma. I'm not so quite sure about -- that he's -- his behavior towards the entire law.

And that's why I saw half of the Venezuelan electoral population vote against Chavez in the last elections back on October the 7th. What you have to take into consideration, 6.5 million people vote, and Henrique Capriles Radonski would be, in my opinion, the front-runner for the new showoff.

With Maduro, who was appointed by Mr. Chavez just before he left Caracas for Havana for this new operation saying "He's my successor. If I cannot take the power on January the 10th, I want you guys to vote in the new general election for Mr. Maduro."

FOSTER: Carols Chalbaud. Thank you very much, indeed, for joining us. We'll wait to see what happens. It's certainly an interesting time for your country.

Coming up after this short break on CONNECT THE WORLD, this Norwegian kicker has become an online sensation, but who knew it could be his ticket to the NFL? We'll meet him next in sport.


FOSTER: Another night of English Premier League action is in the books. Can Chelsea make up some ground at the top of the tale? Well, "World Sport's" Amanda Davies joins me now with the answer.

AMANDA DAVIES, CNN SPORTS CORRESPONDENT: Well, that was the big question: are Chelsea contenders or pretenders in terms of the Premier League title race this season? They have a chance to make up some ground on the two -- top two Manchester clubs today.

Up against the bottom of the table, QPR, very much the favorites going into the game at Stanford Bridge to close that gap, but -- we love football, there's always a surprise, and QPR produced it tonight. Chelsea were bombarding the QPR goal but just couldn't make the breakthrough.

And then, 12 minutes from time, Chelsea old by, Shaun Wright-Phillips, popped up to give QPR a one-nil lead, which became the one-nil result. So, it left Chelsea still fourth in the table, they're 14 points behind the leaders Manchester United. And maybe those Chelsea fans that Rafa Benitez have been winning over, perhaps this is another black mark in the column in his copy book, as far as they're concerned.

But it's been a busy day of football generally. Of course, the transfer window is now open, and Chelsea have been doing some business. They're understood to be in talks with Newcastle's Senegalese striker Demba Ba. They've triggered the release clause from his contract, and the Newcastle boss, Alan Pardew, this evening did confirm that he believes Ba is on his way to Chelsea.

And that has -- the way has been paved for that move, because Chelsea let go of one of their young strikers, Daniel Sturridge, earlier today. He's joined Liverpool, and he was actually watching in the stands as Liverpool produced a 3-nil win over Sunderland today as well.

FOSTER: Let's talk about the American version, because there's a question here. How does a Norwegian kicker end up in the NFL?

DAVIES: This is a really fantastic story. I don't know whether you remember those famous pictures a couple of years ago of the former Bayern Munich and Manchester United footballer Owen Hargreaves in some really unfortunate white, shiny Lycra shorts.


DAVIES: It was he, basically, posted a video of himself on YouTube as a come-and-get-me plea, as an advert to clubs around Europe, saying look, I am fit. And it worked for him. He ended up at Manchester City, albeit very briefly.

But a Norwegian amateur American footballer has done exactly the same. He's posted this incredible footage of himself kicking an American football. And I suppose it's testament to the competition to find the new stars and the new players in the NFL at the moment that the New York Jets saw this footage and were impressed enough to offer him a trial. Here's the story, have a listen.


DAVID ARIOSTO, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): It may be the latest YouTube sensation: a 28-year-old Norwegian named Havard Rugland. He and his now famous left foot have been viewed nearly two million times.

HAVARD RUGLAND, NORWEGIAN KICKER: I got all those hits, and things started to calm down a little bit, and maybe a week or so after, I got an e-mail from the New York Jets.

ARIOSTO: That's the NFL's New York Jets.

RUGLAND: The e-mail asked me -- or told me that they liked what they were seeing, and if I -- I should contact them if I would be interested in a tryout with the New York Jets. I, of course, thought this was some of my friends joking around.

ARIOSTO: It was no joke, and so the Norwegian youth counselor made the trek from a small town in Norway to the US for a Jets tryout just before Christmas.

RUGLAND: It went very well. They liked what they saw.

ARIOSTO: So do viewers on YouTube. And while some of the tricks took more than one try, he insists that nothing there is phony.

RUGLAND: I'm not a computer guy.

ARIOSTO: As for football, he may be modeling his game after another left-footed European, Oakland Raider Sebastian Janikowski. But the so- called Polish canon was already accustomed to American football before making the leap to pros after playing big-time college ball at Florida State. Rugland, not so much.

ARIOSTO (on camera): have you ever kicked with a line of angry guys running towards you?


ARIOSTO: You worried about that?

RUGLAND: No, not very. So, I'm good in -- I've kicked a lot in soccer when people are trying to take me out, so I think I'd do pretty good.

ARIOSTO: They're a little bit bigger here, though.

RUGLAND: Yes, but they aren't that close, so I think I will be able to handle it.

ARIOSTO (voice-over): Rugland concedes that he'll need to get his kicks off a bit quicker.

RUGLAND: I'll be back in New York to see if the Jets think I'm good enough. So, I'll do my best.

ARIOSTO: David Ariosto, CNN, New York.


DAVIES: It's a great story. He's got a nervous wait, though. The NFL draft is April.

FOSTER: It's amazing that it's not a publicity stunt, it's actually real.

DAVIES: I know. Do you think he'd be allowed to take his dog with him, though?

FOSTER: I just think it's amazing. You question whether or not he took a thousand kicks to make each one of those, but --

DAVIES: He says not.

FOSTER: The trial seems to have worked. Thank you very much, Amanda. She'll be back, of course, "World Sport," in just over 30 minutes from now. I'm Max Foster, that was CONNECT THE WORLD, thank you so much for watching.