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Interview with ECOWAS President; Research In Motion To Launch BlackBerry 10 Tomorrow; 81 Bodies Found Shot In Aleppo River

Aired January 29, 2013 - 16:00   ET


BECKY ANDERSON, HOST: Tonight, why Mali matters.


KADRE DESIRE QUEDRAOGO, ECOWAS PRESIDENT: It will pose a security threat not only for northern Mali, but all the neighboring countries and the Sahara region.


ANDERSON: A stark warning from the president of ECOWAS as terrorism engulfs the region.

ANNOUNCER: Live from CNN London, this is connect the world with Becky Anderson.

ANDERSON: Could the Sahara become a breeding ground for Islamist terrorists and perhaps the next Afghanistan? My interview with the president of ECOWAS is just ahead.

Also this hour...


BARACK OBAMA, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: The time has come for common sense, comprehensive immigration reform.


ANDERSON: President Obama calls for a complete overhaul of U.S. immigration laws. We speak to two Americans with very different views about the right road to American citizenship.

And, from Manchester to Milan, it seems Mario Balotelli is on the move once again.

Tonight, a major symbolic gain followed by a pledge of big money. French led troops in Mali now control Timbuktu and Gao and have Islamist militants, it seems, on the run.

Let's take a look at the finances for you. At an African Union summit, Japan, the U.S., the EU and several others have promised more than $450 million to help retake control of Mali's north. And more troops from other African countries are expected to join in. This is French officials say more than 3,100 troops have been assigned to the mission. And the French government is considering sending more of its own while the people of newly liberated Gao have been dancing in the streets after 10 months, 10 months of repression from Islamist extremists.

But there is a pressing question this hour. How long can the freedom and the joy last?

Well, Lindsey Hilsum is in Gao. And a short time ago, I asked her about the current situation there on the ground.


LINDSEY HILSUM, JOURNALIST: Here, the situation is calm in that the jihadis have all fled. The Malian army, backed by the French, are in control. But there are still problems in this city. People here were very resistant to the rule of the jihadis. They're very angry. And this morning we heard of at least two cases where a crowd of people, young men, vigilantes, set upon people who they accused of being collaborators with the jihadis.

Now the army arrived in time and they grabbed those people and put them on a truck, but there is great danger of vengeance here. That's one of the problems, I think, in the days and weeks to come.

ANDERSON: What is your sense of the sort of asymmetric warfare that we may see in Mali as we have seen in the past. The militants have been pushed out by the French, only potentially to reappear possibly when the French troops retreat. Is that a concern?

HILSUM: I think that's a great concern. What happened here in Gao was that as the French airstrikes started, the jihadis who had controlled this place, some of whom were foreigners, Pakistanis, Algerians, Mauritanians, Moroccans, and some of whom were locals, but the majority were foreigners, they fled into the desert over the border to Niger, over the other border to Mauritania. And I saw the bodies of dead jihadis who had fled. They were young people, teenagers, recent recruits we think, who were killed on wasteland just outside Gao by French helicopter strikes.

Now not all of those jihadis were killed, many of them crossed the borders or in the bush. They are likely to want to come back.

So what -- what happens now depends to a large extent on the conduct of the Malian military. Many Malians are very angry with their military, because when the jihadis first attacked, came in, the military just ran away. They did nothing. And so the military has to prove that it can stand its ground, that if necessary it can fight.

Also, these revenge attacks, there a danger of the military involving -- getting involved in revenge attacks. Now that way, of course, lies just further conflict. So that's another issue.

And so the French and the British now coming in as trainers, the other African forces, they have a very important role to play in peacekeeping, in stability, and in also training the Malian forces to deal with what I think is very likely to be a longish guerrilla war.


ANDERSON: Well, CNN has learned that U.S. drones will be allowed in Niger, which of course shares a border with Mali. The issue of drones also came up in my conversation with the president of the Economic Community of Western African States, known as ECOWAS. Now he was quick to tell me that he's very grateful for the international aid to Mali, but we started the interview by talking about how he would describe the role of the additional African boots on the ground. Have a listen to this.


QUEDRAOGO: We believe that it is up to us Africans to secure this territory and support of the Malian armed forces. Of course, we need to be trained. We need to be equipped. And I am grateful to European Union for having decided to send its training mission to Bamako to help train the Malian army.

ANDERSON: How long do you expect French troops to be on the ground?

QUEDRAOGO: This will depend on what is on the ground. Now one has to be prudent, although the major city has been liberated, we know that the rebel groups can sill carry out attacks. So I believe that the chief of defense have integrated this risk into their own plans. And I believe that there will carefully (inaudible) the situation and take appropriate action at any time.

ANDERSON: So there's no limit to French action on the ground.

On your side, how concerned are you that the longer that French troops are in the ground, the more people will criticize those forces as a post- colonial takeover?

QUEDRAOGO: Absolutely. I think that this is why the role of AFISMA (ph) is so crucial. It is up to us Africans to secure this territory and support the Malian armed forces.

ANDERSON: Ambassador, we've seen the commitment from the international community of some half a billion dollars. Is that enough?

QUEDRAOGO: I think we are very happy of the result of the donor's conference as you directly pointed out that these are the contributions in cash. I must add that we also (inaudible) contribution in kind. For instance, equipment, ammunition, gas, and so on.

ANDERSON: Yeah. And will you expect the use, and ask for the use of drones to accompany that in support of the Malian army?

QUEDRAOGO: Yes, we have request all our partners to assist us with logistics and intelligence. And we have also got pledges in that direction. And I believe that we will going to settle it to benefit from this kind of assistance.

ANDERSON: So you would benefit from the use of drones.

Sir, I want you to listen to what the president of Guinea said to CNN just last week.

ALPHA CONDE, PRESIDENT OF GUINEA (through translator): Because the terrorists will be ousted from Mali and will head up into the skies, into the Sahara, and that is what the whole international community must avoid, that the Sahara will become a new Afghanistan. Everyone must -- the Americans and the Europeans, everyone must avoid a war in the Sahara. That will be the main problem for Africans that the Sahara will become the new Afghanistan.

ANDERSON: How concerned are you about the Sahara becoming a new Afghanistan.

QUEDRAOGO: I think he's totally right. This will be the challenge in the months to come, because it will pose a security threat, not only for normal Mali, but all the neighboring countries, and the Sahara region.

This is the reason why we believe that we need to stay and to combat them and to stop them from making this territory a kind of sanctuary for (inaudible) action.

ANDERSON: At the heart of a functioning militancy is money, we all know that, follow the money and you stem the fund of flows and with it your halfway to solving the problem. What are you doing to stem these illicit industries in order to stem the flow of funds?

QUEDRAOGO: Absolutely. You are right. and we know for instance that the drug trafficking in the sub-region is financing partly their activities.

We know that the drug is just transiting from West Africa. Its final destination may be certainly Europe. So it is a common threat. And we believe that we have to take very decisive actions against drug trafficking in our region.


ANDERSON: The president of ECOWAS speaking to me just before the show.

You're watching Connect the World live from London. I'm Becky Anderson. Our top story this evening, more African boots on the ground pledged by ECOWAS as the international community coughs up a half a billion in aid to Mali. How long France and others hang around is undecided. And whether the militants reorganize and reemerge only time will tell. What is clear this hour is that the efforts in West Africa are serious. The Sahara as a new Afghanistan, a breeding ground for al Qaeda could be a reality if African states and the international community aren't prepared to fight the threat on the ground together.

You're watching Connect the World live from London.

Still to come, a pathway to citizenship for 11 million people, men, women, and kids living in the shadows. U.S. President Barack Obama makes a case for sweeping immigration reforms.

In Syria, after nearly two years of war comes word of yet another atrocity. The gruesome discovery reportedly made in a river near the city of Aleppo.

And the makers of the BlackBerry device launch a charm offensive. Research in Motion prepare to unveil its latest model in the war of the smart devices. All that and much more after this.


ANDERSON: Right. Welcome back. It's just about 15 minutes past 9:00 in London. That is where this show is coming to you from.

I'm Becky Anderson here.

Now, U.S. President Barack Obama says the time has come for comprehensive immigration reform. He is calling on U.S. lawmakers to fix what he calls a badly broken system saying it's holding American back instead of helping it to grow.

Mr. Obama says long overdue change is now within reach.


OBAMA: Most Americans agree that it's time to fix a system that's been broken for way too long. I'm here because business leaders, faith leaders, labor leaders, law enforcement, and leaders from both parties are coming together to say now is the time to find a better way to welcome the striving, hopeful immigrants who still see America as the land of opportunity.


ANDERSON: Well, Mr. Obama's speech builds on a bipartisan congressional effort to tackle immigration reform. We're going to have much more on this story, it's an important one, globally, coming up, including a debate over the best way to deal with America's 11 million illegal immigrants. We could all learn something from that wherever you're watching in the world.

Well, this next story of -- excuse me -- 26 year old American soldier is truly remarkable. In 2009, Brendan Marrocco survived a roadside blast in Iraq, but lost all four limbs. Well, doctors have now announced that he's recovering from a rare double arm transplant. It's only the seventh operation of its kind in the United States. And surgeons say this one was the most complicated.

Today, the veteran showed off his new limbs.


BRENDAN MARROCCO, TRANSPLANT PATIENT: Pretty much now I can move my elbows with my elbow, the one I had before. I can rotate a little bit. This arm is pretty much not much movement at all, not yet, at least hopefully -- we're hopeful for the future to get some pretty good function out of it, out of both of them.


ANDERSON: Well, our senior medical correspondent Elizabeth Cohen on this story for you out of Atlanta this evening. I've called this remarkable. It's one of only a very few operations like this.

You know -- you've probably forgotten more about medicine that I would ever know. Just how remarkable is this?

ELIZABETH COHEN, CNN SENIOR MEDICAL CORRESPONDENT: Oh, it truly is remarkable. I mean, he's only the seventh person in the United States to have this surgery. And as you can imagine, the surgeons have to be highly skilled. They train to do this on cadavers, because there is so much meticulous work that needs to be done.

They're reattaching bones -- or attaching, I should say, bones and tendons and muscles and nerves and blood vessels. I spoke to a surgeon who has done this surgery -- this surgery before, and he said the blood vessels are the ones that made him sweat, because if you don't do it just right you don't get any blood to that limb and so that limb would just die off.

And so that's why they practice for so long to do this absolutely right.

ANDERSON: So what sort of life is this young -- young fellow have going forward, how mobile will he be?

COHEN: You know his surgeons couldn't say exactly how much function he would have in his arms. But they're really hopeful that he will come close to being what he used to be. When I spoke to the surgeon who has done this before, he said you know his patients for the most part can do everything that you can I can do, they just do it slower. A lot of it depends upon where his real limbs end. So in his case, one of them his real limb ends sort of just below the elbow, another one it's above the elbow. So that's, you know, the one where it's below the elbow where he has his own elbow, that one may do better than the other one.

ANDERSON: Remarkable stuff. Elizabeth, thank you for that.

Well, even -- in a country wracked by war it is a scene almost too horrific to describe. The bodies of 81 men shot execution style with their hands bound behind their backs and dumped in a river near Aleppo in Syria. Opposition activists say it is clear who is to blame.

Let's find out more. Nick Paton Walsh joining me live now out of Beirut.

They say it's clear. Who is it?

NICK PATON WALSH, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORREPSONDENT: Well, according to opposition activists they say they've contacted the relatives of 20 of the dead who are identified. And they all say that these men were detained by what they referred (inaudible)

ANDERSON: All right. Nick, you -- we're struggling with the communications to you. Let's see if we can get Nick back. I'll carry on. See if we can get him back on what is a truly horrific story there.

Let's redial on that line and get him back for you.

Meanwhile, violence continues to erupt in parts of Egypt for a fifth straight day. And the country's defense minister says the political turmoil is threatening the future of the nation.

Well, this was the scene in Cairo earlier today when anti-government protesters clashed with security forces there. There were also protests in cities along the Suez canal when demonstrators ignored what is a night time curfew. The unrest began on Friday on the second anniversary of the 2011 uprising. And it intensified a day later with a controversial verdict surrounding last year's football riot in Port Said.

Well, John Kerry is one step closer to becoming the next U.S. Secretary of State. The Senate foreign relations committee unanimously approved his nomination earlier today. He's expected to be confirmed by the full Senate in the coming hours. And after the Massachusetts Senator and former presidential candidate, you'll remember, is approved, he will replace Hillary Clinton as America's top international diplomat.

Live from London, this is Connect the World. Coming up after the break, BlackBerry lovers eagerly wait for the release of the latest model on Wednesday, but has Apple already stolen its thunder? That story is after this short break.

Before that break, though, let's bring Nick Paton Walsh back for you. We promised that we would. His line was bad, so let's get him on the phone for you.

Nick, we were talking about the grim discovery of bodies in a river near Aleppo. What can you tell us on that story?

PATON WALSH: We're talking about 81 bodies as you mentioned earlier on, Becky. Relatives of the dead identified by activists saying that they were all detained by air force intelligence, a particular notorious part of the regime, (inaudible) network. Of course the regime have through state media said that they suggest maybe rebels are behind this, but the preponderance of historical evidence here does normally place the blame for massacres like this at the foot of the regime.

These bodies, many of them too gruesome to show you without substantial blurring, shot point blank in the head, many of them with their hands tied behind their back, some of them apparently quite young, dropped in the river. This river does flow from regime held territory to rebel held territory so it's not exactly clear where they were, in fact, dropped in. But another gruesome discovery in this city which within the last fortnight at its university saw a strike by jet fighters that killed 87 people, injured 150.

These mass casualties incidents, Becky, now so terrifyingly common. We see one almost every week where nearly 100 people die causing the death toll to climb astronomically. The UN suggesting now that in fact as many as 60,000 people have lost their lives in the war, Becky.

ANDERSON: All right. Nick, thank you for that.

Nick Paton Walsh on the story there out of Syria. You're watching Connect the World live from London. I'm Becky Anderson for you.

We're going to take a very short break, back after this.


ANDERSON: Well, smart -- let me start that again. Welcome back, at least. You're watching CNN.

Now smartphone lovers, or smartphone device lovers out there, be prepared to be wooed with a new BlackBerry 10 is being launched tomorrow, that's Wednesday. And it comes with a rather heartfelt ad campaign. Have a listen to this.




ANDERSON: Well, you may well cringe, but there is no denying we can get pretty attached to our phones. And manufacturer Research in Motion is hoping its new BlackBerry will become the phone to be seen with.

Well, the aim, of course, is to enter the smartphone war and lure away Customers from Apple and other Android devices.

My colleague Jim Boulden takes a look at just how tough that competition now is.


JIM BOULDEN, CNN CORRESPONDENT: So what kind of smartphone market does Research in Motion face when it launches the BlackBerry 10 on Wednesday? Well, it's not pretty. You can see here today about 7 percent of the market.

Who are the leaders? Well, no surprise, Android, between 68 and 70 percent of the market last year. A lot of very popular cheap phones. Also, of course, the pricey Apple iPhone, around 19 to 20 percent of the market. And of consumers seem passionate about the choice of their smartphone.

So here's what a few smartphone users told us about what they use and why.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I'm using this Samsung i9003. And I bought like two years ago. It's cheaper than Apple. So -- and the functions not bad. So I'm happy with it.

And most of the time I use What's Up, Facebook, and some Camera apps and also go online to read the news everyday.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE (through translator): The downside is that Apple is too domineering. You have to do everything through iTunes. The plus side is that it's more convenient to use.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I have an iPhone 4S. And I bought it because I was using a (inaudible). But I was getting frustrated with it. (inaudible) I wanted something a bit thicker.

BOULDEN: Consumers once bought phones with the fanciest hardware. Now they care more about apps, software, and browsing the web. And when you compare platforms, it's no surprise the most popular phones offer the most apps. Apple currently offers the most, nearly 800,000 apps. It also has the widest access to media through iTunes.

Now Google, the maker of Android, used by Samsung, HTC, Huawei, it offers around 600,000 apps. It's expected to hit 1 million this year.

Microsoft offers far fewer, just about 120,000. But the company is spending big to try to make its new Windows 8 Phone a success. And of course, Nokia is banking on that OS.

While Canada's Research in Motion, the maker of the BlackBerry also trails with about 120,000 apps. It's banking on its new BlackBerry 10 and the devices to reignite those sales.

Now it's hard to see how RIM can survive as a standalone company if this 7 percent marketshare doesn't get pushed into at least double digits this year thanks to the BlackBerry 10.

Jim Boulden, CNN, London.


ANDERSON: Well, it's B-day, then, Wednesday, as in BlackBerry Day. Earlier, though, today Tuesday, perhaps by coincidence, perhaps by design, who knows, Apple also announced some new artillery in the device wars, as it were. It's not a new phone, but it is a new iPad. The new tablet is more or less the same as the fourth generation model which was released in early October, but the difference, though, this one has twice the storage, up to 128 gigabytes of space, she says as if she knows what she's talking about. No idea really, honestly.

We want to know what you think. What's the most important to you about your phone, your smart device, your iPad, your tablet. Share your thoughts with me. Head to

It seems to be all we care about. I mean, I try not to care about it, but actually I do. So tweet me @BeckyCNN. Let us know where you're phone or device loyalties lie.

The latest world news headlines, of course, are ahead at the bottom of the hour. Plus, a call for action on immigration reform. We're going to tell you about the U.S. president's new push to fix what he calls a badly broken system.

Plus, Balotelli says bye-bye to Britain. Mario is Milan bound. Will he be a good fit? Find out after this.


ANDERSON: You're watching CNN, this is CONNECT THE WORLD. I'm Becky Anderson for you. The headlines this hour.

US president Barack Obama is calling for comprehensive immigration reform, including a path to citizenship for some 11 million illegal immigrants. He urged lawmakers to act swiftly and says if they don't, he'll introduce his own legislation.

Fears tonight that Islamist militant forces may be regrouping in parts of northern Mail. Inhabitants of Timbuktu tell us that there is repression under Islamist rule there. These images also show how rebels torched precious ancient manuscripts. French troops have just managed to go and free Timbuktu and Gao.

There's been a gruesome discovery in Syrian and claims of another atrocity in the country's bloody civil war. Travelers say the bodies of 81 shot execution-style with their hands behind -- bound behind their backs were dumped in this river near Aleppo in Syria. Opposition activists say it's clear who is to blame. They say it is the government.

John Kerry is unofficially the new US Secretary of State. He just received enough votes in the US Senate for his confirmation. The US senator and former presidential candidate will replace Hillary Clinton as America's top international diplomat.

And authorities in Brazil say the death toll from a nightclub fire in Santa Maria over the weekend has now climbed to 234 people. Police investigating the blaze say the fireworks that the band brought and used in their performance on the night of the fire were for outdoor use only.

I want to turn our attention this hour to the immigration debate in the US, it's an important one. Barack Obama didn't really press immigration reform during his first four years in office, but he has made it a priority of his second term.

Today's call to action comes just a week after he was inaugurated, and he says a broad consensus has emerged for comprehensive change.


BARACK OBAMA, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: So at this moment, it looks like there's a genuine desire to get this done soon. And that's very encouraging. But this time, action must follow. We can't allow immigration reform to get bogged down in an endless debate. We've been debating this a very long time.


ANDERSON: Well, as President Obama suggested there, the issue is extremely contentious. Many Americans agree with him that the timing could finally be right to get real reform passed on Capitol Hill. Lest we forget, this is a story about people.

Let's get more now from our senior Latin affairs -- American affairs editor, Rafael Romo. What do these reforms actually mean? Spell it out for us, Rafael, if you will.

RAFAEL ROMO, CNN SENIOR LATIN AMERICAN AFFAIRS EDITOR: Well, Becky, it means in very practical terms that for the very first time, 11.5 million undocumented people living currently in the United States have a real chance, a real hope of being legalized in this country.

Now, it's not going to be fast, and it's not going to be easy. The president and also senators and representatives in Congress who have spoken in favor of immigration reform say that those who apply for what would eventually be immigration reform need to comply with a number of requirements.

But what the president and these senators are calling for is number one, more effective enforcement of immigration laws -- current immigration laws -- and of the border. Also, they're talking about a path to legalization, which eventually will take people to citizenship.

And number three, they're talking about modernizing the system, because they say they're trying to retain people who go to American colleges and universities, and that it's very difficult for them to stay in this country, and then they go and contribute somewhere else.

And also, they want to attract highly-qualified individuals who may contribute to the economy of this country. And Becky, let me tell you, in the last few months, I've had opportunities to talk to immigrants who are right now going through the same situation of living in the shadows because they're not living in this country legally. Let's hear to what some of them have to say.


ANA LAURA RAMIREZ, UNDOCUMENTED IMMIGRANT: I didn't have a choice to come here. But I have done nothing bad here.

ROMO (voice-over): The Ramirez sisters were toddlers when they were brought to this country by their parents.

RAMIREZ: I wen to school here, I grew up here. I don't -- my whole life was lived here. So I would consider myself a US citizen, but I'm not.

CESAR VALDEZ, UNDOCUMENTED IMMIGRANT: I went to the registering office and they just let me know, you're undocumented, the laws have changed, you can't register.


ROMO: Now, Becky, if you want to talk about a timeframe, the senators say their plan would probably come to fruition in the spring and probably be voted on in the summer. The president says, if you don't do anything right now, I will.

ANDERSON: I thought that was a very pointed remark from Barack Obama today. All right, Rafael, thank you for that.

Let's hear from both sides now in the debate over immigration reform. We're joined by John Kavanagh, a Republican representative in Arizona's state House. Of course, that's the state that borders -- or one of the states that borders Mexico, and Lawrence Benito, who's the executive director of the Illinois Coalition for Immigration and Refugee Rights.

And Lawrence, let me start with -- let me start with you. You say this is a good first step, but you say the devil is in the detail, and you are not satisfied that this reform might go far enough to help those who are illegal immigrants at present. Why?

LAWRENCE BENITO, EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR, ILLINOIS COALITION FOR IMMIGRANT AND REFUGEE RIGHTS: Well, Becky, thank you for having me. First and foremost, we want to thank the president for leading on this issue, for the bipartisan group of senators that put forward the proposal.

We see that this -- the momentum is building for this issue, and both parties are looking and exploring the mandate that Latino and immigrant voters in the past presidential election sent to them. We want and expect not just words. As the president said, action must follow. And we're hoping that this gets done -- expecting this to get done this year.

ANDERSON: All right. Let's interrogate what's been said today. John, you're in Arizona, somewhere I was at college. I understand what the concerns are in a state that borders Mexico and has problems -- or has certainly had problems in the past with immigration.

But you say you're unhappy with the way that Obama has suspended parts of the anti-immigration laws that you yourself helped put in place in Arizona. What is it that you don't like about what you've heard today?

JOHN KAVANAGH (R), ARIZONA STATE LEGISLATURE: Well, I don't -- I have never supported illegal immigration, and I do not support amnesty, both on principle and on the practical standpoint that it encourages future behavior.

But clearly, the climate in this country has changed, so I don't think my position will prevail, so I'm focusing more now on trying to ensure that safeguards are put into this plan, if it's passed, so that we don't have repeat of what happened with the 1980s amnesty 20 years from now.

ANDERSON: Lawrence --


KAVANAGH: And those --

ANDERSON: -- John just brought up the -- sorry, John. Let me just put something to Lawrence here. You just brought up the word amnesty. This is being thrown around a lot.

And I guess there will be people watching this show tonight from afar who say, listen, at times of economic hardship, why would America offer amnesty to millions of illegal immigrants when things are so tough for those who legally try and work and reside there?

BENITO: Well, the reality is, these 11 million people, these are families, these are workers, they're working in this country now. So, why not put them in a process to be legalized and to pay taxes just like everyone else. This will help our economy if we provide a path to citizenship and give people the opportunity to fully participate in our democracy.

ANDERSON: John, that does make sense, doesn't it?

KAVANAGH: No, it doesn't. Look, these people are line jumpers. They jumped the line ahead of their compatriots in their home countries who are trying to get here, and now we're going to reward them by letting them stay here and giving them citizenship, which will then allow them to bring their family members in.

So more people will jump the line of decent people all over the world who are waiting to legally come to this country. That's just bad policy and it's unfair.

ANDERSON: Lawrence, do you want to see more not less in this immigration bill? Obama says if he doesn't get it -- if they don't settle on something soon, he's going to put his own words into action, as it were.

BENITO: Well, I think --


KAVANAGH: I certainly --

BENITO: -- the bipartisan -- go ahead. Sorry.

ANDERSON: Go on. Go on, Lawrence. I'll let you, John, have the last word. Go on.

BENITO: So, the path to citizenship for the 11 million families here, that's important because the immigrants today are the same as immigrants from past generations. They came for the same reasons, for a better life for themselves and their families, and we can't lose site of that.

America -- this is what made -- has made us strong as a country. This is our history, and it's our value. So, I think as we go forward in the debate, we can't lose sight that these are people, these are families, these are workers who want to be Americans.

ANDERSON: John, last word.

KAVANAGH: Yes, I certainly hope that if this goes through above my own objections, that we do secure the border, we do have internal workplace enforcement, and we do have protections against giving these people full benefits, which could bankrupt this country.

Overall, I'm not pleased with this program, and I'm very pessimistic that there'll be any protections once the dust settles.

ANDERSON: Fascinating. Guys, we thank you very much. John, Lawrence, your experts on the subject tonight. Up next on CONNECT THE WORLD --

BENITO: Thank you for having me.

ANDERSON: -- picture this. You're the first person in your family to go to college, and you wind up scaling the heights in the world of finance. We're going to show you a Leading Woman doing exactly that.


ANDERSON: Welcome back. Now, it's that time of the week when we get behind the scenes with our Leading Women. Amongst them this month, the Asia Pacific chief operating officer of Bank of America Merrill Lynch. That's a big job, isn't it?

Jennifer Taylor was the first person in her family to go away to university, and is now one of the world's top female executives across the world. She's in banking, of course. My colleague Kristie Lu Stout caught up with her in Hong Kong.


KRISTIE LU STOUT, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Bank of America Merrill Lynch. This is the global side of one of the world's largest financial institutions. Operating in more than 40 countries, helping customers with everything from trading to investment advice to entering capital markets.

Step inside the Asia Pacific headquarters, though, to see a more individual side of the global business.

JENNIFER TAYLOR, COO, ASIA PACIFIC, BANK OF AMERICA MERRILL LYNCH: Do you want to set the stage for what we're hoping to try and achieve today?

STOUT: It's not hard to spot executive Jennifer Taylor. With her blonde hair and her Irish accent, she stands out in a sea of suits. And in this global teleconference concerning the changing regulatory environment, she is the one in charge.

She runs the backbone of the business in Asia Pacific, everything from the technology that supports the traders, to the policies that ensure compliance with international regulations.

STOUT (on camera): How would you describe your job to a general audience?

TAYLOR: Well, my role is called chief operating officer of Bank of America at Merrill Lynch. And what that essentially means is I help manage the day-to-day running of the business across all 12 countries in Asia.

STOUT (voice-over): This multitasking, multipassioned executive is Jennifer Taylor.

Hong Kong is a city of skyscrapers and downtown, finance rules. The lofty towers packed with Asian headquarters of the world's largest banks. Jennifer Taylor arrives most mornings for work at 7:00 AM, walking through the web of skyscrapers to reach her office on the 15th floor.

The early mornings let her get a head start on her inbox. She reads every single e-mail she gets, and it takes some time to think about the day before her conference calls and meetings begin.

TAYLOR: I have a -- I think the ability to handle a lot of issues at one time and knowing when you need to get into the detail on an issue is really, really important.

STOUT: After that, it's time for meetings, the way this busy executive stays on top of the broad range of issues and offices she oversees.


TAYLOR: How are you? I don't know whether to say "Good morning" or "Good evening," because I can't remember what it is in San Francisco.

I think my role a lot of the time is as a facilitator, so I bring a lot of groups together. So, a number of the meetings that I chair or hold are getting groups across the line of business, across support functions, to come together to make a decision, then to take action and move on.

And Crystal, how is the client project going?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: We are finalizing to finally getting the revenue data.

STOUT: And so goes the day of a top banking executive: discussion, decision-making, and distilling lots of information into action.

TAYLOR: I think that's what I bring. I can take large volumes of information, summarize them into the key facts, and then encourage and help people to make the right decisions.

STOUT: Taylor joined Merrill Lynch in London in 1997, armed with a law degree. She has risen up the ranks, eventually becoming general counsel, and now serving as Asia Pacific COO for five years.

STOUT (on camera): How would you describe your own leadership style?

TAYLOR: I think my leadership style is I like -- I try to build consensus, but if a decision needs to be made, I'm very willing to take the risk and make the decision.

STOUT (voice-over): As a female leader, she's in good company at Bank of America. More than 30 percent of the company's managers are women, but it's not that way everywhere in finance.

STOUT (on camera): Banking is a very male-dominated industry. How long is it going to remain that way?

TAYLOR: I think we've made a lot of progress over the last 20 years. I think it's no longer as much the absolute preserve of men as it once was, but I think we still have a long way to go.

STOUT: If there were more women on boards of major banks, would it have made a difference?

TAYLOR: I'm not sure that it would. I think there were some truly extraordinary circumstances that surrounded the global financial crisis that that may not have been a big differentiating factor.

STOUT: But do you think having more female representation on banking boards will change diversity of thinking? Leadership styles?

TAYLOR: I think we need to have a more inclusive approach in general, not just to boards. So, I think if we're truly going to make change, both in the financial services industry and more broadly, we have to have more women in all parts of a company, not just the board.

STOUT: And the cynical question: why do we need more women in all parts of the company?

TAYLOR: I think the -- an inclusive environment, where there's a difference in approach and a difference in how to deal with issues ultimately leads you to making better decisions.

I myself went to university in Ireland.

STOUT (voice-over): In the coming weeks, find out why Taylor thinks mentorship is the key to bringing more women into the business, and how such a busy executive still finds time for family dinners.

TAYLOR: I think the secret is learning how to prioritize and knowing what call or meeting is really important. One of the things I do every weekend is go into my calendar and take four meetings out the following week. And it works.


ANDERSON: And for more on all of our Leading Women, head to our website, Read all about the BRIC brigade. Ooh. Those ambitious women from emerging economies making an impact on the world stage. It's a great series. Not saying that because I'm part of it, but just saying.

Anyway, coming up shortly after the break on CONNECT THE WORLD, a talented but controversial striker is moving home. Details on that with Pedro are up next.


ANDERSON: Well, AC Milan have picked up a well-known striker from one Manchester City. Known for his antics as well as his play. Who are we talking about? Pedro Pinto joins me now. Mr. Mario Balotelli.


ANDERSON: Why is he going home. He's Italian, of course.

PINTO: Yes, he is. He's going back to a city where he lived for many years, represented Internazionale. Now, he's going back to play for the cross-town rivals, AC Milan, and they share the same stadium, of course.

Mario has actually been a Milan fan all his life, so I think this will be a dream come true for him. The details are, it's $31 million, about 20 million pounds, that Milan are going to pay Manchester City, and he's signing a four and a half year deal, pending a medical exam that he'll have on Wednesday.

ANDERSON: Good luck, management at Milan because this is a guy who's young -- I think he's absolutely brilliant, but he is not easy to manage, is he?

PINTO: No, I think -- I think his career off the pitch reads like a comedy of errors. It's unbelievable. From clashing with teammates to clashing with the coach to sending fireworks off --


ANDERSON: From his bathroom.

PINTO: -- from his home --


PINTO: -- to crashing his car. Look, Mario is very talented, there's no doubt about that. He's still only 22 years old, so it's a calculated risk that Milan are taking. The question is, will they be able to control him off the pitch, and will he have the kind of rock star lifestyle that he had in Manchester?

Because if he does, his image will continue to be tainted, and it might affect not only his performance on the pitch --


PINTO: -- but the relationship he has with his colleagues.

ANDERSON: And you made the point that he's only 22 years old, so this question may seem really ridiculous, but given his reputation, I don't think it is. Is this his last chance?

PINTO: I was thinking about that, and I would say no, it's not. Because even if it doesn't go well for him in Milan, I still think that there'll be a few clubs that'll take a gamble on him. But definitely not for the kind of money that he would like to take, and definitely not for the kind of competition that he would perhaps like to participate in.

We've seen a lot of footballers have their careers on the field affected by their behavior off it, and right now, this should be a consideration, and a serious one, for his agent, Mino Raiola, who's great at getting his players, like Zlatan Ibrahimovic a lot of transfers and a lot of money --


PINTO: -- but he's not great at educating them.

ANDERSON: OK. Let me give you one question.


ANDERSON: Who would you rather have a drink with, Mario or Alan Shearer?

PINTO: Probably Alan Shearer, to be honest with you.

ANDERSON: Oh, really?

PINTO: Yes, yes. Because --

ANDERSON: I'm not suggesting he's boring, I'm just saying that, you know.

PINTO: No, I know, I know. But at least -- at least --


ANDERSON: Let the kid live a little, eh?

PINTO: Alan Shearer had a great, long career.


PINTO: Super Mario, I just don't think --


PINTO: -- he has much to say. I'd rather go partying with Mario Balotelli --

ANDERSON: That was my point. I wasn't being that serious.

PINTO: OK. But like --

ANDERSON: But thank you for the serious answer.

PINTO: No, no, no --


PINTO: OK, well --

ANDERSON: We've run out of time.

PINTO: OK. Clubbing with Mario, drink after dinner with Alan.

ANDERSON: Excellent answer.

PINTO: Right.

ANDERSON: All right. I've go it.


ANDERSON: Tweet him. Is it @PedroPintoCNN?

PINTO: That is correct.

ANDERSON: There you go. Freaky foams. In tonight's Parting Shots, the weather conditions that brought on massive flooding in Australia seem also to have a rather lighter side effect.

The howling storm winds have churned up the sea near the Sunshine Coast, causing masses of what can only be described as sea foam to wash up on the beaches there. Hugh Whitfeld from Australia's Seven Network checked out the sudsy surf.


HUGH WHITFELD, AUSTRALIA SEVEN NETWORK CORRESPONDENT: The howling winds churned up huge seas here. Some waves, nearly four meters high, are breaking up to a kilometer off the coast. And earlier today, where I'm standing now simply disappeared, covered by an unprecedented amount of foam.


WHITFELD (voice-over): It looks like they're playing in a giant bubble bath, but this is sea foam, full of air and whipping its way onto Port Macuarie's Oxley Beach. For those who took the plunge, not necessarily pleasant.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It was disgusting, putrid stuff.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It's really weird. It's like you're jumping into a big play-dough.

WHITFELD: The phenomenon is a repeat of the bizarre scenes on the Sunshine Coast yesterday, where a car emerged from nowhere. Here, the dirty water from the swollen Hastings River, turned today's wild ocean a filthy shade of brown. It's churned up into foam and washed ashore.


WHITFELD: But not everybody's happy about it.

UNIDENTIFIED GIRL: Our beaches are ruined!

WHITFELD (on camera): You want your beach back?


WHITFELD: The churning ocean looks like a washing machine, and this the soap. But further out, the strong winds are causing rough seas, making for dangerous conditions.

WHITFELD (voice-over): Beaches right along the state's coast today were closed. The conditions were way too dangerous. Newcastle called the rough conditions, too, this morning, as waved swept across the Merewether Baths. The highway was hit by driving rain and strong winds last night, but not as bad as those forecast.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Oh, absolutely, we did. But sometimes weather would make our forecast a bit scary sometimes.


WHITFELD: The winds felled trees on some suburban homes, but most of the region escaped major damage. On the central coast, huge waves pounded a bunker, creating a family spectacle of a different kind. But none quite as much fun as further north.

In Port Macuarie, Hugh Whitfeld, Seven News.


ANDERSON: I'm Becky Anderson, that was CONNECT THE WORLD. What patience, he? Thank you for watching. The world news headlines will follow at some point from CNN. They'll be up shortly.