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CONNECT THE WORLD
Four Arrested After Brazilian Nightclub Fire Claims Over 200 Lives; Thousands Take To Streets In Egypt In Defiance Of Curfew
Aired January 28, 2013 - 16:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
BECKY ANDERSON, HOST: Fired up and angry. Tonight, on Connect the World, the protests are up in Cairo's Tahrir Square as Egypt is plunged into political turmoil once again.
ANNOUNCER: Live from CNN London, this is Connect the World with Becky Anderson.
ANDERSON: Well, many Egyptians are defying the president's curfew which was imposed in three provinces as the opposition rejects Mohamed Morsy's call for talks. What now for a country deadlocked in a cycle of violence and political impasse?
Also tonight, does Twitter's new video sharing app have a porn problem? We'll investigate that.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
BEN AFFLECK, ACTOR: And they wanted to kill it to make the movie better.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
ANDERSON: Marching towards the Oscars, a surprise win for Ben Affleck's new film at the Screen Actor's Guild award.
Well, we begin tonight with Egypt in crisis. Opposition leaders are rejecting the government's offer of dialogue calling for more mass demonstrations instead. Dozens of people have been killed in Egypt since Friday, the second anniversary of the democratic revolution. Violent clashes rocked Cairo, the capital city, once again today leaving one person dead. But the worst violence has come in Port Said and other areas near the Suez Canal. Three provinces are now under a state of emergency, giving the military extraordinary powers to maintain law and order.
Well, those three provinces are also under night time curfews, but hundreds of people are taking to the streets defying orders to stay inside.
Let's bring in Reza Sayah for the very latest. He's live in Cairo tonight.
We are seeing demonstrators venting their anger once again. What's the situation in the capital this hour, Reza.
REZA SAYAH, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, in Cairo we're seeing pockets of intense clashes, but many people are focusing on the three cities along the Suez Canal where the emergency rule was put in place along these cities and the Suez Canal. And again last night the president announced these emergency rules, but what's remarkable about Egypt since the revolution of 2011, they've become a defiant country. They're not afraid to protest anymore. And we're seeing that tonight.
It's 11:00 p.m. right now on the first night of curfews for these three cities, the first night of emergency rule. And clearly the president's efforts, attempt at imposing his will on protesters, to clear them off the street has flopped, because we're seeing thousands of people come out onto the streets of Suez and Port Said in defiance of the president.
A lot of people were eager to see how people would react if they would heed his demands, heed his warning. We're seeing the opposite, they're coming out.
That's not the only act of defiance we saw today. Opposition factions, also in defiance of the president today, rejected his call for dialogue. Last night, President Morsy offered dialogue to opposition factions. Today, those groups got together, had an emergency meeting, but they rejected his call describing it as a waste of time. In turn, they gave demands for the president. They want him to take responsibility for the deaths over the past several days. They want him to amend the constitution, put in a new government. There's absolutely no indication at this point, Becky, that he's willing to do that right now and that's where we're at this impasse.
ANDERSON: You say there's no indication that he is willing to concede on any point at this point. So the opposition says more mass demonstrations are called for.
They talked about civil disobedience in the past. I mean, how long can this go on?
SAYAH: Well, look, this is a country that's no longer afraid to protest. And they've become very adept at protesting. And what you're seeing here is two sides that are digging in and defying one another. And now that riff is widening. Both sides are making harsh accusations at one another, blaming one another for the killings. And common sense says if you're going to address the very real problems of the country, if you're going to get together, you're going to have to have some sort of dialogue. The problem is, these two sides are unwilling to even sit together. And it makes you wonder where things are headed, what the coming weeks are going to hold -- Becky.
ANDERSON: Let's find out, shall we. Reza, thank you for that.
The government denies accusations that it's hijacking this revolution. And in fact accuses the opposition of trying to unseat Egypt's first ever freely elected president.
Let's bring in Gehad El-Haddad who is an official spokesman for the Muslim Brotherhood.
You've heard what Reza said just then, where does this lead? If you can't get a national dialogue, if the opposition say that Mohamed Morsy is hijacking this revolution that started some two years ago almost to the day, what happens next?
GEHAD EL-HADDAD, SENIOR ADVISER TO MUSLIM BROTHERHOOD: Well, Reza said a comment that's not entirely true that both sides are unwilling to sit together. I think that that past couple of months have actually proved quite the opposite. The president has issued three different calls of national dialogue on three different topics. And yet some members of the opposition have refused to acknowledge all three calls and even come to the table itself.
It's quite unfortunate that this has to happen at this point in time, because the president has called for this particular meeting because of the events that are happening.
We at the Muslim Brotherhood supports the president's call. We believe that many members of the opposition have already answered it, answered the call including other opposition parties. There are more than 50 opposition parties in Egypt. Only two of them have withdrawn from these calls.
ANDERSON: Yeah, one of which is the National Salvation Front. Hold on, hold on for one second. The National Salvation Front run by Mohamed ElBaradei, of course, the former head of the IAEA spoke with us a little earlier. And this is what he said. Have a listen to this.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
MOHAMED ELBARADEI, EGYPTIAN OPPOSITION LEADER (through translator): The dialogue, which the president called for last night is cosmetic, not substantive. We are all for any serious dialogue that has a set agenda which can move the country forward. Last week, the Front outlined specific demands starting with a National Salvation government, a committee to amend the constitution, the cancellation of the constitutional declaration and everything that has resulted from it, and the independence of the judiciary.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
ANDERSON: The dialogue, which Mohamed Morsy has called for last night is cosmetic not substantive. You're response.
EL-HADDAD: Well, there's no such thing as a cosmetic dialogue. This is an off media dialogue, it's certainly not cosmetic. And I think that each dialogue has substantial outcomes that can occur from it.
If we ever take the option to close the door on peaceful dialogue and negotiation under a democratic political system, then what other options are left? At the end of the day, this is a country that is still going in transition. It's still awaiting a parliamentary elections, to institute a parliament in place which will happen in the next couple of months and by the formation of a political system. So by no means can any losing parties in any elections go out of the dialogue process. It actually loses them a lot of credibility. And it seems that out of responsibility for their constituencies.
ANDERSON: All right. Let's talk about the constituencies, then, because we spoke to an activist earlier on today, a freelance journalist. She says the situation in Egypt is now very similar to where it was pre- revolution. She says the very same calls for a number of issues -- bread, freedom, and social injustice are still being made today. Have a listen to what she says. Let's move aside from the politicians and talk to the people on the street. Have a listen to this.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
ETHAR EL-KATATNEY, ACTIVIST, FREELANCE JOURNALIST: This is the most important thing to realize is that, again, if you talk to the average Egyptian, you know you have unemployment, it's 13 percent now, 15 percent amongst 15 to 23 year olds. Unemployment is increasing, poverty is increasing, the call is for food. And if the IMF fiscal reforms, which entail us kind of cutting subsidies, massive subsidy cuts, this actually means that life is going to be harder for the average Egyptian.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
ANDERSON: Gehad El-Haddad, you know, it's easy to listen to oppositions fighting the good fight, but when you speak to people on the streets in Egypt today they are so furious about where the country stands some two years after the fall of Hosni Mubarak. They call Morsy, Mohamed Morsy Mubarak with a beard.
At some point there's going to be -- have to be concessions between the president at this point and the opposition parties that are supported by the people on the street so that Egypt can go forward. What sort of concessions should we expect at this point?
EL-HADDAD: Well, the premise of the question actually entail a question. The opposition have constituencies. They are not the people are Egypt, they are some of the people of Egypt. And thus they are representative of the constituents opinions. But I do acknowledge with you that there are very few changes that have happened. The pace of change is quite slow, but then again this is a country that has been in a freefall for 60 years by a dictatorship, a military based dictatorship. The last 30 years were catastrophic on everything -- the economy, employment, jobs and everything.
But President Morsy has been in office for six months only against a theocracy (ph) that's trying to push him out, and unwielding political forces, an unwieldy police force and still he's trying to get the grips on the situation on all fronts. Unfortunately, because of the continuous insurgence of violence across the country the security profile, the security issue has always been on the forefront of the issues to deal with. So no time is being given, not enough focus is being given to all the other issues.
I think that with the current process we have to finalize the building of a political system in order to address the other issues. And this current -- and these current insurgencies of violent acts, vandalism, attack on property, attack on personnel is not making anyone safe, happy, or even anyone trying to build this country to have the concern and focus to actually do so.
ANDERSON: We appreciate your thoughts and your time this evening, an official spokesman for the Muslim Brotherhood there in Egypt.
You're watching Connect the World live from London. I'm Becky Anderson. Our top story this hour, deadly violence erupts once again in the Egyptian capital less than 24 hours after the president declared a state of emergency and a curfew in three strategic towns along the Suez Canal. In an effort to quell the unrest, Mohamed Morsy called on the opposition to join a national dialogue. That call was immediately rejected and leaves the country this hour as we speak rife with insecurity two years almost to the day since the overthrow of the former president Hosni Mubarak.
Coming up after this short break, a nation in mourning. Brazil begins to bury scores of its dead after a nightclub inferno. The latest details of the investigation and the blaze right after this.
And as a staggering number of Syrians flee to Jordan, we'll take a look at what life holds on the other side.
And in our sports update, we'll get you all the action out of Torrey Pines, California as Tiger Woods takes to the course and takes it on. All that and much more after this.
ANDERSON: Welcome back.
Just about 15 minutes past 9:00 in London. I'm Becky Anderson for you.
Brazil is a nation in mourning after a fire at a nightclub in Santa Maria killed 231 people over the weekend. Friends and relatives have being gathering at a gymnasium that officials have converted into a morgue and are now beginning the harrowing task of burying their loved ones. Police have reportedly got four suspects in custody.
Let's get you more on the case. Shasta Darlington joins me live from Santa Maria. What do we know at this point?
SHASTA DARLINGTON, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, that's right, Becky. There have been four arrests: two of the owners of the club and also two members of the band that were playing at the nightclub during a pyrotechnics show. And that's when the fire all started.
So this is basically going along with what investigations have indicated so far that the club wasn't prepared to evacuate the vast number of people that it has inside. We're talking capacity for 1,000. And according to reports from people inside, there were more than 1,000. And neither did the band take the necessary precautions they apparently had pyrotechnics, fireworks in their hands, that they were shooting up into the sky. So clearly there's going to be a lot of questioning going on. They've been called in for questioning. And we should find out more details about what the police determine in coming days, Becky.
ANDERSON: All right, Shasta Darlington on the story for you.
The stories from survivors of the fire are truly harrowing. They talk about people panicking and trampling over each other to try to get to the exits of a club that was filled with a black cloud of toxic smoke. One young man described how he managed to get out in spite of security guards he says were blocking the way. Have a listen to this.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
MATHEUS VARGAS, NIGHCLUB FIRE SURVIVOR (through translator): I was at the door of the club as soon as the fire started. I saw people shouting fire, fire. They were terrified. When I realized that there was fire, I rushed out of there.
When I was trying to get out, the staff stopped me. And I yelled, fire, fire. But the security guards were not realizing what was going on. I think many of them thought there were just riots or the people were trying to get out without paying.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
ANDERSON: All right, some heartbreaking pictures of happy, young women getting ready for a night at Kiss. Three of them went to the nightclub together, but only one survived, the other two both named Mariana, died near the stage still holding hands. Truly sad story.
This coming in to CNN for you. Internet media giant Yahoo released quarterly earnings just moments ago. I want to get those to you. It's reporting fourth quarter sales of $1.2 billion, that beats expectations on the street. Investors do seem to be impressed. Shares, I'm seeing, are up nearly 5 percent in extended trade.
Analysts have been waiting to see if CEO Marissa Mayer can truly turn the company around. Mayer left Google, you'll remember, to take the position just last summer. Mayer said back in September that she wants Yahoo to focus on personalizing the web for its users.
Well, Yahoo's stock has gained around some 30 percent since her appointment. Let's remember, though, its shares were at a really low level before she joined the company. Yahoo again this hour just in the last few moments reporting fourth quarter sales of $1.2 billion. Shares up almost 5 percent in after hours trade.
We are expecting Yahoo to hold a conference call in the coming hour. We will, of course, bring you any news that comes out of that. Big news for the market, big news for the world of tech, and some good news this hour for Yahoo.
Well, The Netherlands gearing up for a royal transition. Queen Beatrix has announced that she is abdicating the throne in favor of her son Willem-Alexander. She'll turn 75 this week and has reigned for nearly 33 years.
Prince Willem-Alexander will be crowned just over three months from now on April 30. He'll be the country's first king since 1890.
Well, two Australian cities are bracing for flood waters to peak after powerful storms battered the state of Queensland. Authorities in Brisbane and Bundeburg (ph) expect rivers in both those cities to crest some time in the next 24 hours. The flash flooding was so sudden that in some places emergency airlifts were the only hope for those trapped by the rising waters.
I want to show you one incredible rescue. This truck became stranded as waters engulfed it. And on board, two women and a baby. Rescuers were able to drop the women alive from a helicopter. They strapped the kid in a waterproof bag. And later the two women were also rescued.
Never, never fails to surprise me how amazing these guys really are in rescue. Remarkable pictures there out of Australia.
Well, the Jordanian government has described a number of Syrian refugees pouring over their border as, quote, staggering. More than 40,000 have fled into Jordan since the start of the year alone.
Mohammed Jamjoom shows us what it's like to step across the border into a new country and a new uncertain world.
MOHAMMED JAMJOOM, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Darkness their only cover, families are fleeing for their lives. In an escape as treacherous as this one, you walk if you're old enough, no matter how young you may be. A mother's arms are reserved for the babies, her hands for whatever possessions she can carry.
This group of Syrians has just made the extremely dangerous journey into Jordan. They're being led to safety just over this hill by one of the Jordanian border guards. He's showing them where they need to go.
Lights aren't allowed. They're still too close. It's far too risky.
Some of the adults are relieved, but most of the children are simply stunned.
He told me that they left everything behind, left everything in their house behind. All they brought is the clothes on their back and the clothes in this bag. That's five children, there's his wife, everything else back in Syria where he said they can't return.
This 80-year-old woman was carried across. She hated leaving home, but she had no choice.
"The first day they killed my nephew," she says. "The second day they killed my niece, third day my cousin, fourth day another cousin."
Temporary shelter at hand. Papers are being processed as soldiers distribute food. A respite from hunger, yet some are too tired to eat.
Many recount their harrowing experiences.
"When we first got on the road, says this woman, it was extremely scary. I mean, we saw death all around."
With over 350,000 Syrians having crossed over since the beginning of the conflict, neighboring Jordan is bursting at the seams. Yet their borders will remain open and their border guard ready to help despite the difficulties.
"We welcome them on the border," says the commander of Jordan's border guard. "And then we take them to a safer area. And then we start treating the wounded and the injured."
Extremely cold temperatures only exacerbate the misery on this perilous pilgrimage that's nowhere near over.
Loaded on to a bus that will take them to their final destination, the Zaatari camp, where around 70,000 of their fellow citizens already reside. Syrian families so grateful to have been ushered to family, still absolutely shocked at the realization that they are now refugees.
Mohammed Jamjoom, CNN, on the Jordanian-Syrian border.
ANDERSON: Right, you're watching CNN and Connect the World live from London. I'm Becky Anderson for you.
Coming up, Tiger Woods enjoying his return to the U.S. court and there's the highlights of a Monday finish from Southern California up next.
ANDERSON: Oh yes, it's time for sport here on Connect the World.
Tiger Woods failed to make the cut in Abu Dhabi you may remember 10 days ago, but he's sure enjoying his first tournament on the U.S. PGA Tour even if he's having to play an extra day. It's Monday, very unusual for a tournament to be still on on a Monday.
Let's bring in Don Riddell from CNN Center. I mean, it's sunny in California. Why are they playing on a Monday out of interest?
DON RIDDELL, CNN SPORTS CORRESPONDENT: Yeah, the weather is supposed to be nice, isn't it. And today it is very nice. But on Saturday it wasn't, it was very foggy, Becky. I think us Brits would refer to it as a pea souper. You could really hardly see anything on the course on Saturday. So hardly anybody got out. And that means they're now having to finish up on a Monday.
But Tiger is still wearing his famous Sunday red. And he's playing really like the Tiger of old. I mean, at the moment he is 17 under for the tournament. He is shots clear with only six holes to play. This is his best shot of this Monday so far, an absolutely brilliant bunker shot on the 11th hole which allowed him to save par on that.
But he is looking absolutely formidable, it has to be said. He's spent a bit of time over the winter reworking his fourth swing change. And he's looking in good shape for the season ahead. Confirmation there of the leaderboard at it stands. Brandt Snedeker and Jimmy Walker really playing for second place at the moment. I don't think Tiger is going to lose it from here. And he's looking very good.
ANDERSON: 17 under, seven ahead, he's absolutely eaten this course for lunch, isn't he?
Why -- I know he plays well on this course. Why is that?
RIDDELL: Well, he grew up in this part of the world. When he was a kid he actually won six junior tournaments at this very course, Torrey Pines. And then when he turned professional, he won six PGA tour events plus the U.S. Open here in 2008. So I mean, he just knows it like the back of his hand. He really, really enjoys playing on it. and, yeah, he's in the zone. He's in his comfort zone there.
ANDERSON: I must saying hearing that it was pea soup type fog on Saturday makes me feel much better when I'm sitting here in London in what is can only be described as pissy weather.
Listen, mate, can you close us out with I know is some great video from the X Games in Colorado. It looks pretty frightening stuff. Explain what we're about to see here.
RIDDELL: Yeah, well this did not go as planned. This is the best trick competition. And you're looking at the Australian Jackson Strong who wasn't strong enough to hold on to his 450 pound snow mobile which just took off when you can see when it landed on the snow.
Fortunately and incredibly, nobody was seriously hurt. I get that one or two people required treatment for minor injuries, but no one was hospitalized. But that is a very lucky escape from everybody.
I don't know if you've ever ridden a snow mobile. I've ridden a jetski Becky, but you have a key that's kind of attached from your hand so that if you fall off so it cuts the motor so something like this couldn't happen. And usually they have those on snow mobiles. But when you're trying to do stunts like that, they have to remove that kind of safety precaution otherwise you couldn't do the trick. But then when it goes wrong this is what happens.
ANDERSON: I have driven a snow mobile and it did have one of those keys and I think very sensibly, because it's quite a beast for -- I mean, whoa, that's something else. Let's see it again.
I just think this is all a bit mad. Do you?
ANDERSON: Is this a sport?
RIDDELL: That's another question altogether. It's certainly very entertaining to watch and obviously it's not supposed to go like that. But even when it goes like that, it's still incredible there. Incredible images for us to consume.
And the slow mo replays don't really do it justice, because when that thing hits the snow it just takes off, doesn't it?
ANDERSON: All right, good stuff, you're back in an hour, I know. You've got probably a lot more of that to come on World Sport. Don, always a pleasure. Thank you for that.
All right, the latest world news headlines are just ahead here on CNN. Then euphoria in Timbuktu as the government regains control But is the celebration premature? An in depth look at the battle for Mali coming up.
Ariel Sharon has been in a coma for seven years. Now doctors of the former Israeli prime minister say his latest brain scan has revealed surprising results. The new science behind that is later in the program.
And then why you should have your eye on Twitter's new app Vine. That after this.
ANDERSON: You're watching CNN just after half past nine in London. This is CONNECT THE WORLD, these are your headlines this hour.
Defiance tonight in Egypt. Thousands of protesters are ignoring a nighttime curfew in three provinces near the Suez Canal. The government has imposed a state of emergency in those areas after days of deadly clashes.
Brazil starts three days of mourning. CNN affiliate Band News reports police have arrested four people for questioning in Sunday's tragic nightclub fire. They include two club members and two members of the band who witnesses say lit fireworks that sparked the blaze. 231 people were killed and dozens more are suffering from smoke inhalation.
French and Malian troops have seized control of the historic city of Timbuktu. They were given a hero's welcome by residents who had been living under strict Islamic law for the past ten months, but retreating rebels are reported to have set fire to a building housing thousands of priceless and ancient manuscripts, some dating back as far as 700 years.
And in the Netherlands, Queen Beatrix is set to abdicate the throne after a 33-year reign. She announced a short time ago that she will step down in April in favor of her 45-year-old son, Willem-Alexander.
Let's take a close look at events, shall we, on the ground in Mali? They justify it this hour. As we just mentioned, French and Malian forces are now in control of Timbuktu. Their advance follows the capture of the strategic city of Gao last Saturday from Islamist rebels.
Nima Elbagir is just returned from the Malian capital and joins us now from Nairobi. Nima, firstly, to kick off this part of the show, I want you to explain to us just how significant the city of Timbuktu is tonight.
NIMA ELBAGIR, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: It is incredibly significant, Becky. Timbuktu is well-known around the world. Its golden era came during medieval times when it served as a major center for trade, commerce, and culture.
Its iconic mud-and-brick mosques remain major tourist attractions, though militants, as you said, are believed to have destroyed some of the mausoleums of Timbuktu, demolishing half the town's shrines in just three days.
And we're now hearing reports that the retreating rebels have torched more of the city's artifacts, including a building housing ancient manuscripts. The Timbuktu Manuscripts, as they're known, comprise tens of thousands of books dating back as far as 700 years. These manuscripts in the care of individual families who pass them from generation to generation.
Earlier today, UNESCO launched an appeal to all military forces in Mali, Becky.
ANDERSON: All right.
ELBAGIR: In a statement, the United Nations cultural agency said, "We ask all armed forces to make every effort to protect the cultural heritage of the country." Becky?
ANDERSON: The communication between us and you in Nairobi tonight not brilliant, but I'm going to persevere with you because I know you've just come back from Mali. You see now the news that French and Malian troops seemed to have faced very little resistance from Islamist fighters.
Do you get the sense that rebels are just retreating, or is this sort of asymmetric war that we've seen in the past elsewhere? Are they just waiting for French troops to leave? Is it clear at this point?
ELBAGIR: Well, even the French, Becky, don't seem to be quite be believing their luck. They said that they are under no illusions that the city is completely free from all militant jihadists.
The sense that we got even when we were there from speaking to eyewitnesses is that it was very easy for the militants to disappear in Diabaly, which was one of the first towns to fall. When we arrived, local residents told us that they had seen Islamists shaving off their beards and effectively melting into the crowds.
What we're hearing from both the French and eyewitnesses is that this is far from over, that the militants are moving up into that very difficult-to-reach northeastern corner, the mountainous, desert-y part of Mali, and that is their terrain, Becky. That's where they -- they know it best.
And the French don't believe that this is over yet. They know that they're going to have to go in there and rout them.
ANDERSON: If, then, it's too early to start talking about rebuilding the country, then we must make sure that we keep our attention focused on the tens of thousands of refugees who've been displaced in the country. I know you spent some time in refugee camps when you were there. What did you find?
ELBAGIR: Well, it was, actually, incredibly difficult to get to the most hard-hit areas, because many of the refugees were trapped, effectively, between -- the other side of the front line, from government- controlled territory. Many of them going into Mali's incredibly poor neighbors, like Niger and Mauritania.
But the humanitarian agencies are ringing alarm bells on this, Becky. They say because this has gone on for so long, over ten months, now, people haven't had the time to plant the harvest that they need. It's a desperately poor country.
And we saw today at the African Union the AU states begging, effectively, for money from the UN just to try and hold this territory from the Islamists. The AU has definitely not had the time they need to ask for the money that they need to fend off what some are calling a humanitarian catastrophe, Becky.
ANDERSON: All right, Nima, we're going to leave it there. Apologies, viewers, for the quality of the sound, but from Nima, thank you very much, indeed, for joining us from Nairobi tonight, just back out of Mali, witnessed much of what's been going on over the past couple of weeks there.
Live from London, you're watching CONNECT THE WORLD. I'm Becky Anderson for you. Medical researchers in Israeli discover new insights into the brain activity of coma patients. Their findings and the story of their high-profile patient just ahead.
ANDERSON: All right. Doctors in Israel say that new medical tests on the former prime minister Ariel Sharon have yielded some quite surprising results. The 84-year-old has been in hospital for seven years after suffering a brain hemorrhage back in 2006.
Researches say that scans detected significant brain activity while Sharon was shown pictures of his family and heard his son's voice. This is remarkable stuff. Sara Sidner has more.
SARA SIDNER, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: One thing is clear: doctors and Ariel Sharon's family are excited about what a new test has revealed. Doctors and scientists from the US and Israel used a high- powered MRI on Mr. Sharon, and the scans showed significant brain activity in response to external stimuli.
Mr. Sharon has been in the hospital for seven years after suffering a brain hemorrhage in 2006. Now, for years, the public has been under the impression that the storied Israeli political powerhouse was in a coma or vegetative state.
But I spoke with a doctor who said Sharon actually has had a low-level or intermediate level of consciousness throughout the years, which means he was not on life support, for example, or comatose all this time, but somewhere in between consciousness and comatose, and doctors just don't know exactly where on the spectrum.
Now, the head of the medical imaging unit told me when the new test was performed on Mr. Sharon, everyone in the room went silent with astonishment because the brain imaging showed it is possible -- not for certain, but possible -- that he can hear and understand what's going on around him.
For example, when his son spoke, his brain scan showed high activity in the proper location and was different than when he heard a stranger's voice.
Now, this all came about partly because in 2011, Mr. Sharon's sons, who have been by his side, taking shifts, visiting him at the hospital over these seven years, believed that their father could recognize and understand things even though he couldn't respond normally. But they had no proof.
The results of this powerful MRI scan is giving them a great deal of hope. Now, this is very new medical test procedure, but it could signal new and important information about people with diminished brain capacity.
Sara Sidner, CNN, Jerusalem.
ANDERSON: Let's just explore that a little more, then, shall we? What does this new test mean for Ariel Sharon and coma patients? So, let's bring in Dr. Sanjay Dhall. He's with us tonight, neurosurgeon and assistant professor at Emory University based in Atlanta. Doctor, this seems remarkable. Just walk us through what you learned from these tests.
SANJAY DHALL, NEUROSURGEON: Well, a little bit of background information. This is a model of brain that I brought to show you. The tests that they are using is something called functional MRI, which his very similar to MRIs which we all often receive very commonly in hospitals.
But this test is very exceptional because what it studies is the amount of blood flow going to certain parts of the brain. In Mr. Sharon's case, they used it for a very unique purpose, and that was to study which parts of his brain were lighting up or getting more blood flow when they performed certain tests on him, such as hearing the voice of his son or seeing a familiar face.
And what they found is really fascinating, and this concept is revolutionizing our understanding of coma. And what they found is is even though he's not responsive to us, there's something going on in there. He is recognizing familiar faces, familiar voices.
ANDERSON: All right.
DHALL: And even --
ANDERSON: Forgive me -- forgive my naivete here, because you will have forgotten more about this than I will ever know. So, there's some kind of processing going on there.
ANDERSON: Some sort of consciousness. Does that suggest that he will actually get better at this point?
DHALL: That is a question that we really don't know the answer to, and still the very best predictor on how he's going to do is the clinical picture. And what I mean by that is, outside of these fancy tests, what is he doing when he's laying in that bed? Is he responding, is he interacting? And it has been several years since his brain injury, since his stroke.
So, that -- big question is still yet to be unanswered because we don't -- even though we have this amazing technology, we're still not sure what to do with it as far as determining someone's prognosis.
ANDERSON: All right. Now, there will be viewers tonight who are not just fascinated by this but might have a vested interest in that their relative, sadly, may be in a similar position to Ariel Sharon. What do these tests -- what do these results mean for other coma patients, then, going forward?
DHALL: Well, one possible application of this technology is to use it to determine who is responding, whose mind is still functioning within their brain even though it may be disconnected from the outside world.
So, if they see activity in some people and maybe they don't see activity in others, maybe it would help these family members make long-term decisions about their relatives. But like I said, we still don't know whether activity in the brain on this FMRI suggest that someone will wake up. We just don't know the answer to that question.
ANDERSON: Is it safe, then, to say that in the past, the medical profession may have been too pessimistic as to the possibilities of recovering from comas?
DHALL: That I think we don't know yet. But what we are amazed by is our concept of how much brain activity was actually left in these patients in a deep coma is clearly not entirely accurate. There's clearly more activity going on in the brain.
But the big question is, is there a way to get these people to actually wake up? And we just don't know that yet.
ANDERSON: Remarkable stuff. Sanjay, thank you.
DHALL: Thank you for having me.
ANDERSON: Expert on the subject tonight. Still to come on CONNECT THE WORLD, does Twitter's new app have a porn problem? Find out after this.
ANDERSON: Well, you may know by now that Twitter has launched a new video-sharing app called Vine. Let me remind you how it works. Using this app, you can record up to six seconds of video on your mobile phone, and then share it on your Twitter timeline.
Well, Vine is said to be one of the latest tech trends to watch, but in the past few days it's been available, it's become a platform for porn. Take a look.
ANDERSON: Well, this is the Vine app. This is the first time that we've been able to tweet videos and upload them onto our timelines. So, for example, if I put in "travel," T-R-A-V-E-L, I can see what people are loading so far as films are concerned about travel, and you can see that comes up almost instantaneously.
Well, let's try something else. Kittens, K-I-T-T-E-N-S. And again, almost instantaneously the video of kittens comes up.
Now, you can only imagine what would happen if I put in the word "porn." There are porn videos that have been uploaded. One even made it into editors' picks.
And the really important thing to remember here is these devices -- a device like this, a SmartPhone like this, doesn't have a parental control facility. Neither the Vine app nor Twitter have an age restriction. So, the 16-year-olds and under who are using these sort of devices are able to access, for example, a porn video almost instantaneously.
ANDERSON: Well, earlier, I spoke to Monica Vila who is the co-founder of the Online Mom, a website that helps parents keep up-to-date with technology that their kids are using, and I asked her what she thinks of this new app.
MONICA VILA, CO-FOUNDER, THE ONLINE MOM: I was one of those people that found the app to be so polished and so well-done, and I find I always a little bit shocking that in 2013, technology companies still put out amazing platforms that can be easily accessed by kids without any opportunity for filtering inappropriate content.
I have a 13-year-old, and she's very savvy, and she's heard the occasional bad word, cuss word. So, I'm not overly concerned about things like that. But when you give a powerful device like this to kids, you're also, with an app like Vine, you're giving them access to the worst possible content. Sadly, issues of bestiality and the most horrific images.
So, it's not just about filtering content. It's really about safeguarding young minds from abhorrent content.
ANDERSON: All right. Well, let's bring in CNN.com's tech editor, Brandon Griggs. A couple of issues that we really need to flesh out, here, Brandon: what's been the response, firstly, from Twitter and Apple, who are of course selling this app through iTunes, what's their response to this controversy?
BRANDON GRIGGS, CNN.COM TECH EDITOR: Well, first of all, this wouldn't have been as big a deal, but Twitter made a mistake this morning. They showcased this pornographic video in something called their "Editors' Picks," which got sent and pushed to virtually every user's feed. And so, people were clicking on this video and getting six seconds of hardcore pornography.
Twitter blames this on a human error. They've apologized. And they've pointed us to a statement they have given in which they say that if users flag videos as offensive or inappropriate on Vine, they will block them out, and then viewers have to click through a warning -- a warning logo to see the actual video. And they say this will keep --
ANDERSON: Right. OK, Brandon, so let me just stop you there. So, if I was to put up something horrible and degrading and pornographic, I'm not going to click on something that says this is horrible, degrading, and pornographic, am I? I mean, that's pretty obvious.
In the past, Apple as a company itself, has removed apps that have been deemed to allow access to inappropriate content. So, what's different here? What have they said?
GRIGGS: Well, I think in this case, these are videos that were going to every single user of this app, and unwittingly, they may have discovered something that was really disturbing to them. Apple has not responded yet. There has not been a huge clamor for them to pull the app as of yet.
Although it's interesting, the app was featured in the Editor's Choice section of iTunes this morning. It is no longer there. For whatever reason, it's been pulled down.
ANDERSON: That is fascinating. Now, I think I'm right in saying there is -- there are precedents for situations like this, let's say. I'm aware that, I think, Apple pulls an app from iTunes in the past, which was an app for photo material.
And even though some people were uploading what could have been art, because there was some nudity involved, Apple were prepared to pull that. So can you see a sort of -- a problem here arising. Why wouldn't they respond and why wouldn't they pull this app if it was right out there suggesting it's pornographic?
GRIGGS: You're right. Some people are saying there's a double standard here, because Apple just last week pulled two apps by a Canadian company that they feared users could access images -- offensive sexual images through that app. And so I think there's going to be some pressure mounting on Apple to do something in this case.
ANDERSON: Fascinating. All right, Brandon, thank you for that.
GRIGGS: Thank you.
ANDERSON: What do you think about Vinegate, as perhaps we should call it? Does it worry you? What else is on your mind? The team at CONNECT THE WORLD always wants to hear from you, of course. Facebook.com/CNNconnect, have your say. And you can always tweet me, 24/7, @BeckyCNN. I want you and your thoughts on the stories that we are covering, @BeckyCNN.
Well, just before we go tonight, Hollywood actors honored their own last night at the Screen Actors' Guild Awards. They are considered a precursors to the Oscars and, indeed, the BAFTAs, and there were a few surprises. Nischelle Turner tells us who took home the statuettes and secured front-runner status for what will be the big nights to come.
NISCHELLE TURNER, CNN ENTERTAINMENT CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Actors, actors everywhere. The 19th Screen Actors' Guild Awards was about union in every way. Both Lead Actress winner Jennifer Lawrence of "Silver Linings Playbook," and Anne Hathaway, who won Supporting Actress honors for "Les Miserables," talked about getting their SAG cards at age 14.
ANNE HATHAWAY, OUTSTANDING PERFORMANCE BY A FEMALE ACTRESS IN A SUPPORTING ROLE: I felt like the beginning of the world. I have loved every single minute of my life as an actor.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Tina Fey.
TURNER: There was lots of love for "30 Rock," whose season finale is this week. Tina Fey won her fifth Actor trophy and Alec Baldwin his eighth for the sitcom. And even when "Modern Family" topped it for the comedy ensemble award, they praised the "Rock."
JESSE TYLER FERGUSON, ACTOR, "MODERN FAMILY": "30 Rock" and "The Office" --
FERGUSON: You all have set the comedy bar so high --
TURNER: Camaraderie also topped competition as the cast of British import "Downton Abbey" paid tribute to the shows it beat for drama series ensemble, including "Homeland" and "Boardwalk Empire."
PHYLLIS LOGAN, ACTRESS, "DOWNTON ABBEY": We're just absolutely overwhelmed by it all.
TURNER: Everyone cheered for Dick Van Dyke, honored with the Life Achievement Award for more than a half century of acting, singing, dancing, and prat-falling his way into our hearts.
DICK VAN DYKE, SCREEN ACTORS' GUILD 48TH ANNUAL LIFETIME ACHIEVEMENT AWARD: This very heavy object here means that I can refer to you as my peers.
TURNER: Best Actor winner Daniel Day-Lewis was quick to share credit with the entire cast of "Lincoln."
DANIEL DAY-LEWIS, OUTSTANDING PERFORMACE BY A MALE ACTOR IN A LEADING ROLE: I have no doubt that this is an ensemble award.
TURNER: The actual ensemble award went to "Argo," adding that prize to its Golden Globe and Producers' Guild awards. Director and star Ben Affleck praised not only his cast, but everyone.
BEN AFFLECK, "ARGO": They wanted to kill it to make the movie better, because that's what actors do all over the world every day. God bless you, thank you so much for making the movies that you make and the television you make.
TURNER: Nischelle Turner, CNN, Los Angeles.
ANDERSON: Well, as Ben Affleck closed out there, Nischelle mentioning there actress Jennifer Lawrence. So, my next question is, when is a wardrobe malfunction not really a wardrobe malfunction?
Well, we're about to find out. This is Jennifer accepting her award for the film "Silver Linings Playbook." By the way, it's a fantastic movie. And it looks like the lower part of the dress slips down. Unfazed, Lawrence appears to just cover it up as she continues up to the podium.
Online, speculation swirled over what really happened, but today, we're told in no uncertain terms this was not a fashion faux pas. Dressmaker Christian Dior says, quote, "The dress is made with different levels of tulle and satin and that is what the viewers saw when Jennifer lifted her dress slightly. It was not ripped and there was no malfunction. It was the design of the gown." End quote.
Wonder if they are rethinking the design. I don't know. I'm Becky Anderson, that was CONNECT THE WORLD. Thanks for watching. From the team here in London, it's a very good evening.