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CONNECT THE WORLD
Oscar Pistorius' Lead Investigator Charged with Attempted Murder; Double Bomb Blast Rocks Hyderabad Marketplace; Titan Tires CEO Starts Workers Row in France; CNN International Wins News Channel of the Year; Companies Put Pressure on Uzbek Cotton Producers
Aired February 21, 2013 - 16:00:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
BECKY ANDERSON, HOST: A new and bizarre twist in the Blade Runner's bail hearing. the lead investigator is booted off the case after it was revealed he, himself is facing attempted murder charges.
Tonight, where that dramatic development leaves Oscar Pistorius.
ANNOUNCER: Live from CNN London, this is Connect the World with Becky Anderson.
ANDERSON: Also ahead on the show...
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED MALE (through translator): We won't stand for being insulted like this.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
ANDERSON: Punctured cries: the French hit back over an American boss's comments about workers at this ailing tire factory.
And a Hollywood reinvention: why actors like Ben Affleck are turning to the director's chair.
We first up tonight, a bizarre twist in the murder case against Olympian Oscar Pistorius. South African police have now replaced the lead investigator on the case, revealing that he's charged with attempted murder himself.
Let's go straight to Nkepile Mabuse for the details. She's live tonight in Johannesburg. And Nkepile, as if this case needed any more intrigue, just explain what happened today.
NKEPILE MABUSE, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Exactly. A lot of drama today, Becky, but you know the whole world is shocked and amazed that the kind of incompetence that has been displayed by the South African police service so early in this case at such a crucial stage in the case.
But, you know, this is the kind of thing that South Africans see all the time. On average, nearly 50 people are killed every single day in South Africa. And they don't have the international spotlight that would force swift action from the national police commissioner. As I speak to you right now, one of the country's top investigators has been put on the Oscar Pistorius case. This man has more than 30 years experience. And this is the not the kind of service that an ordinary South African would get. So Reeva Steenkamp's family is very, very lucky that the world is watching and really pointing out the wrongs in this case.
But let's just take a look, Becky, quickly at how today's drama unfolded.
MABUSE: He was investigating the biggest crime case currently in South Africa, but ended up being a big part of the story. The investigating officer in the Oscar Pistorius murder case is himself facing charges.
In late 2011, Hilton Botha and a number of colleagues allegedly shot at a minibus loaded with passengers. They were allegedly drunk at the time. They were all charged with attempted murder, but the case was later withdrawn.
The charges were reinstated in early February, 10 days before the Pistorius shooting, a development that immediately tainted the credibility of one of the state's main witnesses. The prosecutor was caught unawares and apparently Botha was too.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Clearly, Mr. Botha was still not served with his summons. So as far as he knew, he was -- you know, there was nothing still, you know, it's all so new to him I believe.
MABUSE: The national police commissioner was forced to act.
RIAH PHIYEGA, SOUTH AFRICAN POLICE COMMISSIONER: We have now put a team of top detectives who are skilled, who are experienced to now investigate this matter thoroughly so that we can prepare the case for court readiness.
MABUSE: Before being removed from the case, Botha was in the spotlight for his poor testimony the day before. He conceded the possibility of inadvertently contaminating evidence at the scene. And was forced to admit that Pistorius' version of events, that he thought he was shooting an intruder, couldn't be ruled out. Now it's no longer just Pistorius in the spotlight, but the quality of South Africa's investigators.
Experts have been quick to point out that a lot still rests on the weight of forensic evidence. So far it remains undisputed that Oscar Pistorius killed his girlfriend, whether it was accidental or intentional is what the parties need to prove in court.
Nkepile Mabuse, CNN, Johannesburg South Africa.
ANDERSON: Well, we briefly saw South Africa's police commissioner there in Nkepile's report. Riah Phiyega also spoke with CNN's Hala Gorani earlier today and she says the investigator's removal is not an embarrassment to the force and denies the attempted murder charges came as a surprise.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
PHIYEGA: It is not a surprise. We at the police knew that there were those charges. They were carried in 2011. The MPA was involved in them. They appeared in court. And they were withdrawn by the MPA because they wanted to do more investigations.
It is only yesterday that we at the police were informed of the outcome of their investigation and that they wanted to continue with this matter.
So we did know.
The case that is being spoken about, it is a case that took place during the course of his duty. He was at work. And they were -- they were patrolling. They saw this car. The car refused to stop. They called for support. And they shot the tires of the taxi.
So we cannot prejudge a matter. It's got to be investigated, charges have to be laid and justice has to prevail both criminally as well as (inaudible) to the department.
HALA GORANI, CNN CORRESPONDENT: And commissioner, you don't regret not having put your lead, best investigator on this from the very beginning? I mean, do you feel on some level that this is an embarrassment to the South African police?
PHIYEGA: It is absolutely no embarrassment. I would like to say our investigating officer, Botha that we are talking about, is a very experienced investigator too. He's got 22 years of experience. And I think in terms of this hearing and the bail application, he has presented the case of the police well. And we will wait for the court to judge.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
ANDERSON: The South African police commissioner there.
Well, Oscar Pistorius himself returns to court tomorrow for another day of his bail hearing. Prosecutors want him locked up pending his trial on a charge of premeditated murder. Pistorius admits firing shots into his bedroom, but says he mistook his girlfriend for an intruder. In final arguments today, prosecutors said the defense team has failed to explain why two cell phones were found in the bathroom. They say it bolsters their claim that Reeva Steenkamp didn't merely get up to relieve herself in the middle of the night, but in fact had locked herself in the bathroom with her cellphone to protect herself from Pistorius.
Of course, stay with CNN for full coverage of this murder investigation.
You're watching Connect the World live from London. I'm Becky Anderson for you.
Still to come, one of India's biggest cities comes under attack. A horrific scene after bombs planted on bicycles ripped through a crowded area.
A gun battle in the gambling capital of the world. We'll have details on a Las Vegas shootout coming up.
And more than just a cool trick, how basketball is helping this little otter. All that and much more when Connect the world continues.
ANDERSON: Right. A horrific scene in Damascus today after one of the deadliest bombings there since the Syrian civil war began. The government blames terrorists linked to al Qaeda. It says 53 people were killed when a powerful car bomb exploded. Opposition groups put the death toll even higher.
The bombing targeted the headquarters of Syria's ruling party, but the majority of victims were civilians.
Well, at least three people have died after a shooting and multiple car pileup on the famous Las Vegas strip. Police said the incident began in the early hours of Thursday morning, the heart of the city, near some of the most well known hotels including the Ballagio and Caesar's Palace.
CNN's Miguel Marquez is there for us. Miguel, what happened?
MIGUEL MARQUEZ, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, an absolute surreal situation here, Becky, overnight. Very early in the morning this all started and it is -- has shut off, literally, the very heart of Las Vegas.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Horrific nature, the fiery end to this horrible accident.
MARQUEZ (voice-over): A shocking shoot-out on the Vegas Strip in a city not easily shocked.
Police say it started at 4:30 a.m. Someone in a black Range Rover with dealer plates fired into this Maserati, killing the driving, causing it to go out of control. The Maserati continued through an intersection and then smashed into this car. Hard to tell, but that is a taxicab. It burst into flames. The driver and passenger trapped inside died.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It's possible that the cab may have been running on propane. This is -- investigating the engineering and mechanicals of that vehicle.
MARQUEZ: Still on the loose, the black Range Rover with dealer plates, a common vehicle here. Police warning citizens the occupants are armed and dangerous.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It has very dark tinted windows and is occupied multiple times by black males.
MARQUEZ: Now police are pouring tons of resources on the scene here. This is still blocked off, as you can see, and they're going to have it blocked off for several more hours now. They're going to hold a press conference in a little bit. It's an all hands on deck, pressing, trying to find that black SUV and the occupants in it and figure out what exactly happened, Becky.
ANDERSON: We know the where and the how, but we certainly do not know why at this stage. And more work on that by our correspondent there in Vegas. And as we get more, of course, we'll bring it to you. Miguel thank you for that.
And all major cities in India are on high alert tonight after two deadly bombings in Hyderabad. Now the blast went off just minutes apart in a crowded shopping area. Police say bicycles were used in that attack.
Sumnima Udas joins us now from New Delhi. What's the latest from the scene there?
SUMNIMA UDAS, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Becky, this is still very much a developing story, but what we do know right now is 12 people have died and more than 50 others have been injured by these twin bomb blasts. Those two bombs were tied to two bicycles which were just a few hundred meters apart in a very busy marketplace in Hyderabad. Hyderabad, of course, being a leading business center here and IT hub. Those explosions happened, again, in a marketplace a little bit on the outskirts there. It's still a very major commercial area. There are several cinemas there. There are lot of restaurants.
It happened around 7:00 pm local time when a lot of people were there. It's a busy time. And so the authorities do expect the death toll to unfortunately rise, Becky.
ANDERSON: There has been some talk of this being a terror attack, of course. Do we know who has taken responsibility for this, if anybody?
UDAS: Well, the police are calling it an act of terror, but they're not naming any terror groups and certainly no one has taken responsibility yet for those bomb attack, a special investigation team has arrived in Hyderabad and the authorities are hoping they will have more clarity on what exactly happened, who is responsible and why soon.
Meanwhile, the prime minister of this country, Manmohan Singh, has come out, appealed for calm. He's called these attacks dastardly, and he has said that the guilty will be punished -- Becky.
ANDERSON: Sumnima out of New Delhi for you this evening. Thank you very much indeed for joining us.
All right, three men have been found guilty of plotting what could have been a major terror attack in the UK. Prosecutors say the men were modeling their attack after the 2005 7/7 London bombings. And as Dan Rivers now reports, they were building their bombs in a quiet Birmingham neighborhood.
DAN RIVERS, CNN SR. INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: The specter of another terrorist atrocity has stalked Britain since the 7/7 attacks in 2005. These men tried to do it again, but on an even bigger scale.
Irfan Naseer the ringleader; Irfan Khalid his deputy. Together with nine others, they planned to detonate up to eight rucksack bombs, each containing up to 10 kilos of homemade explosives.
DEP. INSP. ADAM GOUGH, WEST MIDLANDS POLICE: These are a group of committed, passionate extremists with a real intention of causing as many deaths and maiming as many people as possible. There is no doubt that not only have they got that intention, but they also crucially got the capacity, the technical know-how and the ability to carry out those intentions.
RIVERS: And this was their HQ, a suburban bomb factory at a house in Britain's second city, Birmingham. Evidence presented at trial showed how Irfan Naseer and Irfan Khalid traveled from Birmingham to Pakistan's lawless border lands in March 2009 for eight months, and again in December 2010 for seven months, where they recorded martyrdom videos and learned how to build bombs.
By 2009, al Qaeda training camps like this had been destroyed by drone attacks. Instead, the men trained behind closed doors in Mir-am Shah (ph) in Waziristan. By their return in the summer of 2011, West Midlands police and spies from MI5's headquarters in London were watching them, as the men pretended to fund-raise for a Muslim charity to bankroll their plot.
But then their plot started to unravel when 26-year-old law graduate Rahid Ahmed (ph) haplessly gambled with the cash on a currency trading web site. He lost a quarter of the money. The men's phone calls were intercepted. Their homes were bugged. So was their car. The men joked it didn't matter the vehicle's paperwork wasn't in order, because they'd be dead soon.
The men were going to use sports injury packs like this to build a homemade bomb. Covert surveillance at this house reveals the men planning to grind up the contents, heat it, and then disguise the noise of a test explosion by drilling into the wall.
This piece of paper contained the recipe for the bomb. The men tried to destroy the evidence, but neighbors started to notice unusual activity.
ALISON, NEIGHBOR: One day I saw them bringing in about 40 boxes, 40 boxes (inaudible) on the side. I'm not sure what was in it, but it was at that point that my partner said, they're terrorists.
RIVERS: By mid-September, police and security services felt the threat was too great. The men were experimenting with chemicals to make a homemade bomb. Just before midnight on September the 18th, they followed this car with Ashiq Ali (ph), Irfan Khalid and Irfan Naseer inside. They stopped them on Ladypool (ph) Road. After months of watching and listening, the plot was finally being disrupted.
Irfan Khalid described their plans as another 9/11, a date the men celebrated. A security source says they were just weeks or days from building a bomb. The target of the plot was never known, but surveillance teams heard the men talking about crowded places. If all eight rucksack bombs had gone off somewhere like this, the results would have been devastating.
Dan Rivers, CNN, Birmingham.
ANDERSON: All right. Well, live from London, this is Connect the World. Coming up it's something you don't see everyday snow on the PGA Tour. We're going to tell you where these unusual scenes are coming to you from? That's up next.
ANDERSON: Let's get you some sports headlines, shall we? I'm Becky Anderson.
And for the second time this season Tottenham fans, that's the North London team, were the targets of an attack on the eve of a Europa League match. Mark McKay has got the details from CNN Center.
This, of course, happened in Rome last month. These fans subject to racist attacks. And now I believe in Lyon in the south of France. What happened Mark?
MARK MCKAY, CNN SPORTS CORRESPONDENT: Well, Becky, this was on the eve of tonight's match, actually. This happened Wednesday night at a pub in Lyon as Spurs fans gathered ahead of the return leg match in the round of 32, the Europa League match between Tottenham and Lyon in France. At least seven people suffered what were called minor injuries when Tottenham supporters were attacked by a group of some 50 masked men who burst into a Lyon pub in the city center throwing chairs and stone.
Someone who works at the pub described what happened.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I've witnessed violence before, of course, but only football violence between football fans. That last night was not football violence, that was racism, that was pure and utter violence against a specific race, nothing to do with football whatsoever. There have been football fans walking town all day, no one was touched. It was Jewish ransom and then they attacked the pub.
Shaken about it? Yeah, very shaken, because the customers in the pub last night were not young kids who could defend themselves, they were people in their 40s and 50s who were having a nice pint and a gin and tonic. There were ladies in the pub who definitely are not part of this rubbish that's going on. And they didn't deserve to be on the other end of that either.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MCKAY: Three people have been arrested in connection with that attack, at least for questioning. They're being held for questioning tonight in France.
As for the match itself, it's over. And Tottenham advance. They came to France with a 2-1 lead on aggregate, what played out on Thursday a 1-all draw in Lyon, that means Spurs go through to the last 16 in the Europa League 3-2 on aggregate.
One other football note, a man is being held for questioning, suspected of being part of the big match fixing organization. He gave himself up to Italian police, Adam Sojister (ph), 31 year old Slovenia arrested Thursday at Milan's airport following his arrival from Singapore. He's a former footballer, been accused of direct involvement in a transnational criminal group said to be comprised of individuals from Singapore and the Balkans, which have been targeted by the last bet investigation.
Authorities say the group activities included influencing results of Italian league matches dating back to 2009. Interpol says the person they have in custody, Becky, was one of more than 500 fugitives wanted by 59 member countries. And this particular individual had been on the run since December 2011.
ANDERSON: You know, you see a story like that and another racism story in football. This season matches across Europe, of course, on the pitch have been punctuated by racist attacks. It's a game. We used to enjoy it. And let's just try -- well, let's hope that we can get rid some of this nonsense that surrounds what is -- you and I will absolutely agree, and most -- our viewers watching tonight who enjoy football. You know, it's a beautiful game. It's crazy, isn't it?
Anyway, Mark, on a lighter note. It's not often you see snow on the PGA Tour, but we saw it on Wednesday. Where was this?
MCKAY: I know you're a golfer. Could you play in these conditions, Becky? Welcome to Arizona. You see the cacti in the background. What you see in the foreground and all over the course, snow. This was supposed to be the first day of the world golf championships matchplay tournament in Arizona. Rain turned to snow. The greens were covered on Wednesday, but play was scrubbed, Becky, on Wednesday. So they come back Thursday morning thinking, OK, we can start the tournament. No. a four hour delay as they let the white stuff melt.
It is all gone now, but you don't usually see that. You try -- good luck trying to fall a little white ball. Try putting a little white ball in the air with a little white snowflakes. It becomes virtually impossible, don't you think?
ANDERSON: Yeah, absolutely. I'm just thinking, you know, in the north of Arizona we used to ski in the north of Arizona. I mean, the San Francisco peaks are actually high enough, but I'm absolutely sure that that's not where this course is. I mean, I lived there for four years. I've never seen the likes of that, nor do I expect -- PGA expect to see that.
And you say -- you are very kind to say I'm a golfer. I'm a rubbish golfer. And I can't play in regular weather, let along like that.
Mark, listen, you're going to like this. Look out LeBron James, there's a new basketball sensation in the United States. And this guy, well, boy can he dunk. He's Eddy the Sea Otter. And he's perfecting his layups at the Portland Zoo in Oregon. His handlers found that he was suffering from arthritis and began using basketball as a way to make him exercise. They say that Eddy's gotten so good that he rarely misses a shot. How nice is that?
MCKAY: Oh, you know what, we began on a down note, I think we're going to end it with everybody smiling. Those are some great pictures.
Mark, he's back with world sport, of course, as ever at the bottom of the hour, half past 10:00 London time, and whatever time it will be in your region. Mark, thank you for that.
Look at him, gorgeous. And Eddy the Otter too.
The latest world news headlines just ahead.
Plus, why the head of a U.S. tire company has punctured the reputation of French workers.
And no dates at the park, how the CNN Freedom Project is tackling child labor in Uzbekistan.
Plus, does being an actor make you a good director? Well, as Ben Affleck reaches the top of the Hollywood heap, take a look at cinema's love affair with reinvention. All that coming up after the headlines which will follow this short break. Stay with us.
ANDERSON: You're watching Connect the World. I'm Becky Anderson out of London for you. These are world news headlines.
South Africa's police force remove the lead investigator from the murder case against Olympian Oscar Pistorius. Now prosecutors reinstated attempted murder charges against Hilton Botha for a shooting incident several years ago. Now Pistorius remains in jail ahead of his bail hearings resuming on Friday and we just got this statement from the Pistorius family just moments ago, quote, "Oscar Pistorius and his family fully respect the bail hearing process and the sequence of events leading up to this point." It goes on to say, "our hearts and thoughts are with the family of Reeva Steenkamp during their time of bereavement."
A powerful car bomb rocks the center of Damascus killing at least 53 people. It detonated at a checkpoint near the headquarters of Syria's ruling party. So far there has been no claim of responsibility.
Well, two bomb blasts hit the southern Indian city of Hyderabad killing at least 12 people earlier today. Authorities say the bombs were planted on bicycles passing a crowded area. The city's police commissioner says terror involvement can't be ruled out, but refused to identify any group as a suspect.
Well, the boss of U.S. tire producer Titan International seems to have offended the whole of France. Maurice Taylor's response to the French government about potentially buying a struggling factory, well it's ignited a fire storm. Have a listen to this.
Taylor sent a letter to France's industry minister saying, and I quote, "how stupid do you think we are? The French work force gets paid high wages, but works only three hours. They have one hour for their lunch breaks and lunch, talk for three and work for three. When I told this to the French union workers to their faces they told me that is the French way."
Well, the minister wasted no time in replying. He called the comments extremist and insulting. And he pointed out that Taylor's U.S. company is 20 times smaller than the French tire giant Michelin and 35 times, in fact, less profitable.
Well, French unions chimed in, in what is fast becoming a war of words.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
MICKAEL SEMEDO, UNION DELEGATE (through translator): We won't stand for being insulted like this. We will retaliate, that's not a problem. Mr. Taylor, he will learn that in France we don't insult people like they do in other countries.
LAURENCE PARISOT, HEAD OF MEDEF EMPLOYERS' UNION (through translator): He generalizes it to the functioning of all the companies in France and to the whole of France basically. And this generalization is shocking.
SEMEDO (through translator): Mr. Taylor, saying he will pay a euro an hour to Chinese workers to give us crappy products, excuse my language, but crappy products for our French farmers, I'd like to see that.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
ANDERSON: Well, this has put France's work ethic back in the spotlight. The country is well known in Europe for its 35 hour working week. And there are worries that slow business activity there could drag the EuroZone into a fourth quarter of recession.
Well, earlier I asked Richard Quest, my colleague, if France -- if he thinks at least, that France is really what is holding back the EuroZone.
RICHARD QUEST, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: There is the very real possibility that the slowdown in France could overhang, if you like, those countries that are growing faster. Look at the way and think of it as this, they -- both of these countries, Germany and France, vital cogs in the EuroZone economy. The problem is Germany is moving fast, it's just down a little bit, but it's still growing at 52.7, still growing, whereas France is 42.3. The economy is contracting. And the risk, of course is, that France slows the whole thing down to a stop.
ANDERSON: So those numbers being what? Remind us?
QUEST: Those are the purchasing managers index. They are a reflexion of what business believes is actually happening. And what we do know is that those numbers eventually reflect into GDP, which is why when you look at these numbers here, you start to see the significance.
This is competitiveness, Becky. Switzerland amongst the most competitive in the world, but number one France 21. For Italy, 42.
So the line is clear. These countries highly competitive and these less so.
ANDERSON: Look at where France is compared to Germany.
I want you to talk to this number here, because Italy of course has an election this weekend. It will be front and center so far as the economic narrative is concerned in Europe going forward. What's the story here?
QUEST: There is no question that Italy is one of those countries that has to improve its core competitiveness. Now that's not just exchange rate, that's about labor reforms, it's about health care costs, it's about cost of living, it's about...
ANDERSON: Structural reforms.
QUEST: Absolutely. And the structural reform required is vital, because not for some esoteric reason of delight and love, because it's got to get that number to this sort of realm. As long as Italy remains down in the doldrums here, 42nd in the world according to the WEO, that's jobs, that's a cost of living, that's a quality of living.
ANDERSON: Yes, it is.
And all eyes will be on Italy this weekend as the country goes to the polls to elect a new government. Will Silvio Berlusconi make a comeback? And if he does, what will that mean for the country's economy?
Well, I'll be in Italy for you, so be sure to join us of a special edition of Connect the World Monday 9:00 pm GMT, that's 10:00 pm in Rome and Berlin. That's Monday. Join us for that. Itay's elections a big story here for Europe and the rest of the world.
Live from London, you're watching Connect the World.
Coming up, want to make a difference to children? You have no choices in life. Well take your conscience to the cash register. We'll explain a lot more than a slogan after this.
ANDERSON: Forced out of the classroom and into the fields. Tonight, CNN's Freedom Project, our stand against modern day slavery reports on child labor in Uzbekistan. Now this central Asian state is one of the world's biggest exporters of cotton. And the billion dollar a year industry takes advantage of kids, I'm afraid. But one thing that makes a difference, a big difference, is the role of consumers, that is you and me.
Jim Clancy reports.
JIM CLANCY, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: The fight against forced child labor isn't being won on factory floors, but in shopping malls. More than ever before, consumers are taking their conscience to the cash register.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Today is an era of transparency. And people are choosing brands who are committed to not having forced labor inside their products.
CLANCY: Case in point, cotton from Uzbekistan. In 2011, rights defenders risked jail to document on video the system of cotton harvesting in place since the Soviet era. They exposed a system that forced students sometimes as young as five into the fields. The students did the work. Human rights campaigners say government officials harvested the profits.
Elena Urlaeva is one of the Uzbek rights defenders in the forefront, seen here last fall protesting near the education ministry. Child labor had been widely used under the Soviet regime, she wrote to CNN. It has been around in the 20 years of independence as well, after all it's free. Children and their parents have been taught that cotton is the white gold and national pride of the country. Those who disagree have been presented as enemies of the state.
Uzbekistan is the world's second largest cotton exported. After the expose videos, growing international pressure forced the government to officially ban the use of child labor and coercive tactics.
Fast forward to last November's harvest. Human rights activists in Uzbekistan say the worst practices were easing, but local officials were still forcing older students out of their classrooms and into the fields.
"I spent exactly two weeks harvesting cotton," this young man says. Adding things had not changed. He had to walk more than a dozen kilometers some days even to reach the fields.
The mother of another students says it was either send her child to harvest cotton or pay local politicians a $150 fine, which is more than two weeks pay for most Uzbeks.
Uzbek rights defender Elene Urlaeva says the situation may have improved for the youngest students, but forced labor continues, hidden by heavy security. Last harvest, her rights team documented 11 to 18 year old students picking cotton, but in order to get that evidence she said she had to engage in car chases with police worthy of an action movie.
Uzbekistan's embassy in Washington responded to CNN in writing. "The statements about arrests, beatings, and detentions of those who are involved in the cotton harvest do not correspond to the reality. Uzbek cotton has a superior quality. And these statements may be the result of the efforts of our competitors to create unhealthy enviornment and dishonor Uzbek producers." The embassy added, "today, 100 percent of the cotton is produced by private farmers."
Trying to verify the facts isn't easy. Uzbek authorities forced Human Rights Watch to close its Tashkent office in 2011.
STEVE SWERDLOW, HUMAN RIGHTS WATCH: Without an open, civil society, without international organizations able to get in and without reporters able to get in, it's going to be extremely difficult to verify what the government is doing as it says to combat the problem of forced child labor and forced labor of adults.
CLANCY: Despite the hurdles, activists are encouraged. The number of global brands which have pledged not to knowingly use Uzbek cotton doubled from 60 a year ago to more than 120 today.
Activists concede the fight against forced labor is far from over. Companies signing the pledge have to audit their supply chains. Activists have to keep up the pressure on countries and companies alike and inform consumers must sustain their point by not buying clothes sourced with slave labor no matter the cost.
Jim Clancy, CNN, Atlanta.
ANDERSON: Well, as Jim mentioned, the number of companies that have signed the pledge not to knowingly use Uzbek cotton is growing. They include big names like Wal-Mart, Target, Disney, and the Gap as well as design houses like Gucci and department stores like Macy's and Carrefour and the Swedish fashion chain H&M.
Well, the retailers have signed the pledge through what's known as the Responsible Sourcing Network, a project of the U.S.-based human rights group As You Sew.
Now activists say the push has to be for the companies, the companies that have signed to follow through by closely examining their supply chains, which is an expensive process, but it guarantees the Uzbeks and consumers alike that companies are making good on their pledges.
Well, Justin Dylan is a modern day abolitionist and the founder of Made in a Free World, which is dedicated to ending forced labor. We have spoken to him on CNN before as we've talked about our pledge to try and help end modern day slavery. He joins me now from Oakland, California via Skype.
When you see that report from Jim there on Uzbekistan, does it resonate with you? I mean, I'm guessing -- and it's sad to say this, you've probably seen this sort of thing before, but does it resonate?
JUSTIN DILLON, MADE IN A FREE WORLD: Of course it's resonates. And it resonates on two levels. One, there's been incredible ground gains. And two, we've got a long way to go. And so while it moves me, it also moves me to think of new ways in which we need to take the next few steps.
ANDERSON: Right. And how is that being done? We talk there about the companies that have taken a pledge, as it were, to at least take a look at their supply chains to make sure that consumers aren't taking advantage of kids in the cotton industry in Uzbekistan. What's your experience? Do companies who take these and make these pledges actually come good on their promises in the end?
DILLON: Well, I think (inaudible) social contract. And I'm grateful to organizations like (inaudible). bring companies into this space I think we have to continue to amplify this the shared value that we have as consumers and producers. I haven't a company yet (inaudible) who wants to have slave labor supply chains.
What they'll (inaudible)...
ANDERSON: Technology is letting us down tonight, isn't it? But you heard there from Mr. Dylan who is a regular guest on this network as we, and he, fight to end modern day slavery. Apologies for that. We'll move it on.
You're watching Connect the World with me, Becky Anderson. Up next...
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
BEN AFFLECK, ACTOR/DIRECTOR: I need you to help me make a fake movie.
JOHN GOODMAN, ACTOR: You want to come to Hollywood and act like a big shot without actually doing anything?
GOODMAN: You'll fit right in.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
ANDERSON: So, Ben Affleck has literally directed himself out of the Hollywood wilderness just in time for the Oscars. All the drama up next.
ANDERSON: Well, it may be the comeback story of the year. Once in the Hollywood wilderness, Mr. Ben Affleck has been picking up some serious silverware for directing, even beating Hollywood legends like Steven Spielberg. Well, with Sunday's Academy Awards looming, there's already an Affleck twist in that plot, too.
Nischelle Turner reports from Hollywood.
BEN AFFLECK, ACTOR/DIRECTOR: I'm thrilled. I never thought I would get to this place in my career at this point.
NISCHELLE TURNER, CNN CORRESPONDENT: And what a career it's been for "Argo" director Ben Affleck. Fifteen years ago, he and fellow Boston buddy Matt Damon took home screenwriting Oscars for "Good Will Hunting."
AFFLECK: Thank you, thank you so much!
TURNER: He quickly became one of Hollywood's hottest young stars, but after early success came a series of flops like "Jersey Girl" and "Gigli," both co-starring Jennifer Lopez, to whom Affleck was once engaged. The couple dominated tabloid headlines throughout their relationship, which ended in 2004.
AFFLECK: I had some stuff that worked and some stuff didn't, and I ran afoul of the press a little bit and became overexposed, causing me to kind of turn around and question, what do I want to do in this industry?
TURNER: What he did was become a director, starting with "Gone Baby Gone" in 2007, followed by "The Town," considered one of the best films of 2010. George Clooney, co-producer on "Argo," credits Affleck's move behind the camera for the resurgence.
GEORGE CLOONEY, ACTOR: He was in actor jail for a couple of years. We've all done it. He directed his way out of this.
TURNER: Which bring us to "Argo." Widely regarded as Ben's best directing project. It's been a box office success and was an early contender heading into awards season. Then last month, came the snub heard round Hollywood when Affleck was not nominated for best director at the Academy Awards, despite "Argo" getting a best picture nom. That snub, however, hasn't hurt him in the awards circuit -- quite the opposite, actually. Golden Globes, Directors Guild, BAFTAs, you name the award, Affleck has won it for directing "Argo." The drama is now a frontrunner in the Oscar best picture race. Whether Affleck will once again be the toast of the Oscars remains to be seen, but according to long-time pal Matt Damon, a lot has changed since their big night 15 years ago.
When we first saw you and Ben Affleck, you were these kind of kids about town in Hollywood
MATT DAMON, ACTOR: In one respect, it feels like yesterday, and then I look at, you know, we're both, you know, we're married, we've got these beautiful children, we've lived a lot of life.
TURNER: Nischelle Turner, CNN, Hollywood.
ANDERSON: Well, less than two weeks ago Hollywood's hottest reinvented property was here in London with me on the BAFTA red carpet.
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ANDERSON: Well, I've got somebody I think most of our viewers will be delighted to see tonight. I've got Mr. Ben Affleck with me. And you are nominated with your film Argo.
AFFLECK: Seeing somebody their excited about.
ANDERSON: You have an awful lot of nominations for BAFTAs tonight, not least best film, best director, and leading actor.
AFFLECK: I know. I feel like there must be some mistake. I -- it's really thrilling. I mean, I've never been to the BAFTA before, never been nominated, never been invited, nothing. So I feel like I'm sneaking in under the gate and I'm just thrilled.
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ANDERSON: Well, you heard from Nischelle that George Clooney is Affleck's co-producer on Argo. It seems he's keen to see them both cement careers as modern day Renaissance men of the movies with a wink and a smile.
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ANDERSON: I'm very well. I've very well. Good to see you here. Looking forward to the BAFTAs once again?
GEORGE CLOONEY, ACTOR: Yeah, I am actually. It's fun. I mean, you know where else can you come just get rained on every time.
ANDERSON: Just spoken to Ben, you're involved in Argo of course. What a tremendous movie.
CLOONEY: It's great, isn't it? He's a really (inaudible) director. I'm really happy for him.
ANDERSON: And leading actor.
CLOONEY: Yeah, no, leading actor, yeah.
ANDERSON: And every thing else.
CLOONEY: He's multi-hyphen. I hate him, as a matter of fact.
ANDERSON: I was going to say, don't like him very much.
CLOONEY: No, you're right. I don't like him. I take it all back.
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ANDERSON: Takes it all back.
Other actors who like to be the boss include Clint Eastwood. He took home the Oscar, of course, for best director and best picture in 2004 for Million Dollar Baby which also scored a knockout $200 million at the box office.
Not be left out, Ms. Angelina Jolie. She took the helm for her Bosnian war film In The Land of Blood and Money.
And double Oscar winner Dustin Hoffman who recently chose a directors chair at the age of 75. He says, "I think some of the best directors were actors: Marty Ritt, Elia Kazan, Ben Affleck, Warren Beatty. It doesn't hurt," he says.
Well, author and Village Voice entertainment writer Michael Musto joins me now from our New York bureau.
It does seem that we're seeing an awful lot of people on the move, as it were, from the acting chair to the director's. Why is that, do you think?
MICHAEL MUSTO, VILLAGE VOICE: Well, everybody wants to diversify, nobody wants to be limited by one genre. And it's the old cliche. I want to direct. But it's true, because a lot of these actors have a sympathy for how actors are treated. And they want to get in that director's chair and treat them well.
ANDERSON: Does that make them any good, though?
MUSTO: Fanstay of -- most of them are extremely good. And if I could add to that list you just said, Ron Howard won an Oscar. He was an actor. Woody Allen was a comedian who became an actor/writer/director. Barbara Streisand. Kevin Costner won an Oscar. Clint Eastwood won two. Mel Gibson, am I allowed to even say that name? I don't know. Remember he won for Braveheart.
There's something about the sensitivity of being directed that lets you know how an actor should be treated.
That doesn't mean you were directed poorly, but you can pick from the best of your experience and funnel it back to other actors. And also, all -- 90 percent of the people I just mentioned put themselves in the movie as well, including Ben Affleck.
And by the way, George Clooney also became a director/actor.
ANDERSON: And a very good director he is too.
Let me stop you there. Let me stop you there for a moment. Let's put you on the -- I don't want you standing on the fence now. I want to put you in the spotlight here and say how do you think Ben is going to do, then, with his film. He's not up for best actor -- sorry, he's not up for best director even though he won that BAFTA and a number of other awards for that.
How is he going to do with the film?
MUSTO: Well, we know he's not going to win actor or director, because he's not nominated. We don't have a write in vote -- or Mickey Mouse would have won years ago.
But Argo is a lock to win best picture. It's partly because everyone loved it. It's a political film, a historical film, yet it's also a satire of Hollywood and also makes Hollywood look good, because they're collaborating with the CIA to get these American hostages out of Iran in the 70s.
But combined with the fact that people admire the film is this wave of sympathy for Ben, because he was snubbed for a director nomination. And if you notice his behavior at all these things, it's just perfect. It's self deprecating. It's geewiz, oh gosh I never thought I would get here. He's not acting bitter or hurt. He is thrilled that Argo is the front runner to win best picture and has won the Golden Globe, the SAG, the Writer's Guild, the Critics Choise and the Director's Guild. Nobody has never won all of that.
ANDERSON: He not going to win best director, because he's not up for it. Then who is going to win best director?
MUSTO: That's kind of up for grabs. But I think it'll be Steven Spielberg for Lincoln. And that was the early frontrunner to win everything. It kind of lost momentum when people felt a little hotter about Argo.
But Spielberg has won before for Saving Private Ryan when he didn't win for best picture. That was the year Shakespeare in Love won for picture.
So I think it'll be a similar split. Though Ang Lee could sneak in there and win director for Life of Pi.
ANDERSON: Fabulous. Always...
MUSTO: ...surprises Sunday.
ANDERSON: All right. I'm going to have to leave it there. Thank you very much indeed for joining us. Out of New York, your film buff this evening. Well, Ben Affleck has since been persuaded to step back in front of the camera by the man he says he took filming advice from, that being the Oscar winning director Terrence Malick. Affleck says he couldn't refuse the lead role in his mentor's new film To the Wonder.
Well, I asked co-star Olga Kurylenko what it was like to work with two award winning filmmakers. Have a listen to this.
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OLGA KURYLENKO, ACTRESS: Unfortunately on Terrence's film he didn't - - he didn't really want us to like rehearse together or anything, because he wanted us to be raw. And he wanted everything to be spontaneous. And anyway, he's against rehearsals.
But at lunch times, we had a great time, because we would all sit and talk politics and Ben is amazingly smart. And Terry is very funny. And those two, they're good friends. So when they get together, they just -- they tease each other and it's quite funny.
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ANDERSON: And I'm going to bring you the former Bond girl Olga Kurylenko's full interview next week on Connect the World.
And this just coming in actually to CNN. Let's take a look at the breaking news here. Egyptian voters will be going to the polls soon. A member of Mohamed Morsy's presidential team just announced on state TV that parliamentary elections will now begin April 27. These are parliamentary elections, remember. The election will be held over a number of stages, but a spokesman did not specify the exact number.
We knew those parliamentary elections were forthcoming, we didn't know when. It's important to get them done. The country is in a mess. So now a date for you there.
Late April, parliamentary elections in Egypt. Official from Mohamed Morsy the president's party tonight.
Well, we are almost done, but before we close out, our parting shots tonight, something of a celebration for all of us here at CNN.
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UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It was a strong year for the winner. The jury praised the channel for its distinctive coverage, its energetic and vivid reporting. They were ahead of the curve in Pakistan interviewing Malala the young woman who was later shot by the Taliban, and their interview with the FIFA president Sepp Blatter became a major news story revealing racism and football at the highest level.
The news channel of the year is CNN International.
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ANDERSON: Well, the royal television society award ceremony in London on Wednesday night. CNN International won the prestigious news channel of the year award. Executive vice president Tony Maddox says the award is a testament to the determination and fearlessness of our reporting.
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TONY MADDOX, VP, CNN INTERNATIONAL: For CNN to compete in this marketplace with such formidable competitors and to win this award means a great deal. I want to pay tribute to the endeavor, courage and bravery of our people in the field, many of whom are represented here tonight, also to those who make the programs on CNN put a great deal of work into the thought and production.
And also I want to pay tribute to the fact that CNN continues to invest so heavily in international news and international news coverage. There are easier ways to make money, but the believe it's important. It goes back to the very earliest days of CNN and our sense of mission. No doubt, this award means a great deal to us. And I thank you all for it. Thank you.
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ANDERSON: Well, Richard and I were at that award ceremony so I thought you might seeing a picture of us as we celebrated.
We don't see the award there, that's because it's here. I've got it in my sticky little paws. I'm going home and I'm going home with this tonight firmly in my grasp.
That was Connect the World. Thank you for watching.