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Oscar Pistorius Released On Bail; Iranian-American Wrestlers Compete In Tehran; Interview with Paul Conroy; Journalists Increasingly Targets in War Zones; Italian Elections; Italians Living Abroad Have Important Voice in Elections; Leading Women Angeliki Frangou and Daniela Mercury; Moody's Downgrades UK; Plans for Humans to Visit Mars; Bad Week for Tiger and Rory; Cheerleader Makes Half-Court Shot; Denzel Washington, Best Actor Nominee; Parting Shots: South Korean Les Mis Parody Goes Viral

Aired February 22, 2013 - 16:00   ET


MAX FOSTER, HOST: Tonight, what's next for South Africa's Blade Runner Oscar Pistorius. Freed on bail, but barred from his own home. Insight from a former coach coming up.

ANNOUNCER: Live from CNn London this is Connect the World.

FOSTER: Also ahead, can Italy's comeback king do it again. We'll hear from Italians headed to the polls this Sunday.

And, recognize this song? Les Miserables as you've never seen it before.

Oscar Pistorius has won his first legal victory in the murder case against him, but still faces a long battle ahead. Family and friends cried out yes in a courtroom, a Pretoria courtroom today, after a magistrate granted him bail. as Robyn Curnow explains, that freedom comes with certain conditions.


ROBYN CURNOW, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: A media frenzy on a Pretoria road at rush hour. Cameras trying to see what's behind the tinted window of the silver Land Rover, a glimpse of Oscar Pistorius sitting quietly in the back seat.

(on camera): That over there is Oscar Pistorius driving to freedom. He's just got bail and he's driving off down this Pretoria street.

(voice-over): In court this morning, the gold medal winner accused of killing his girlfriend was gaunt, motionless, with no idea whether or not he would be granted bail. Following final arguments, Chief Magistrate Desmond Nair allowed live audio transmission of his ruling, a ruling that meticulously detailed the evidence of the case and the history of the laws relating to it.

Through the almost two-hour presentation, the magistrate criticized the media and alternatively chastised the prosecution and picked at the case for the defense for not presenting definitive evidence, not giving any clue which way he would rule until he finally presented enough evidence to grant bail.

DESMOND NAIR, CHIEF MAGISTRATE: The accused has made a case to be released on bail.


CURNOW: A short burst of joy from the courtroom, but Pistorius was still silent, no reaction, just drained. Outside, a court that was hanging on each development were generally mixed about Pistorius' freedom.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: An innocent woman was prematurely murdered. And if we justice for her, we don't believe that bail was sufficient at this point in time. I believe that Oscar should have been kept behind bars to serve time for the hideous murder that he committed, whether or not it was premeditated.

CURNOW: Others are sympathetic.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I'm quite happy that he's been given bail. The nation is already divided, and I think that more of the younger generation feel a bit of sympathy towards Oscar and it's more the older generation that feel that, no, he should go to jail, he should be put to the sword.

CURNOW: Pistorius is out on bail of one million rand, about $112,000. There are other conditions, including he must give up his passport, so he cannot leave the country. He must report to police twice a week, and he can't drink alcohol, which didn't bother his attorney much after the hearing.

QUESTION: How concerned are you about the issue of alcohol? How concerned are you about...


BARRY ROUX, ATTORNEY FOR OSCAR PISTORIUS: No, he doesn't drink, so that's fine.

CURNOW: But Pistorius is also barred from going to the scene of the crime. So, as he was driven off this afternoon, he knew he could not go home and would be staying with his family, the family telling CNN they will be watching him closely during this time.

Now, this was just a bail hearing filled with emotion, conflict, and overwhelming public interest here, setting the scene for the trial of a revered home country athlete who is charged with the premeditated murder of a young, beautiful model, both with a promising life in front of them. No trial date has been set.


FOSTER: Well, let's just recap the bail restrictions. Quite strict ones facing Pistorius for the next few months.

He can't return to his crime scene, his home of Pretoria. And he had to give up his passport and can't go near any airport. He must report to a police station every Monday and Friday. He can't drink alcohol or use prohibitive substances. And he can't leave Pretoria without getting permission from authorities. We don't know exactly where he is staying.

Many friends of Oscar Pistorius say they can't imagine him murdering in cold blood. We spoke to one of his former coaches today, Andrea Giannini said the Oscar he knows is completely different from the one being portrayed by the prosecution.


ANDREA GIANNINI, FRM. COACH OF OSCAR PISTORIUS: I remember a very good guy is a very sensible person. He's a very gentle guy. So it's up there -- if there is it's very strange story, sad story. And I -- it's not easy to understand all.

FOSTER: In the bail hearing, the magistrate needed to consider whether or not Oscar would be a threat to anyone else out in society. Did you ever experience any sense that he was a threat to people? I mean, violent tendencies?

GIANNINI: No. No, no. He never == when he was with me, he never had violent behavior, never. Really, really self controlled. So this is strange for me. This is really strange. But with -- I was talking for here to -- from 2009 to 2010, so I can't know how he became later.

FOSTER: Do you think the Oscar that you know will go straight back into training to try to sort of -- some sort of therapy if you like?

GIANNINI: I hope for him. The situation is very difficult, but I appreciate -- I appreciated the position of his South African coach (inaudible) that he was with him in this all days. He was close to Oscar also in this very bad moment. So I think should be nice he can train again.


FOSTER: This is a case that has divided a nation and indeed the world. From off color jokes to speculation on his innocence, it seems everyone has an opinion. From here in London, we spotted this tweet from Laura, "so happy to hear that Oscar Pistorius has been granted bail. You deserved to be with your family after such a tragic accident."

Twitter user David takes a different stance asking, "I'm absolutely amazed at a man who shot a woman four times, whatever the motive, is deemed nonviolent."

Nick Evans weighs in on what it's actually like to live in South Africa. He says, "murder is not acceptable in any case, but in a city where there's 50 murders a day can you blame someone for panicking?"

We don't know that this is murder, of course, in this case.

But from Miami, Andre said this about the role of the court. "Important to remember this was about a constitutional right, not innocence or guilt. Right decision. Triumph for South African justice."

Pistorius isn't due back in court until June, so what happens in the meantime and what can we expect when the proceedings do resume. Let's bring in Robyn Curnow. She's live in Johannesburg.

Obviously Robyn, there's been so much coverage of this event over the last week, but what do we expect to see from here?

CURNOW: OK, well we do know that Oscar Pistorius' legal team will go back to that magistrate's court today. They're going to argue some of those bail conditions. In particular, they say, they going to sort of talk about that alcohol ban, even though his lawyer said that Oscar doesn't drink alcohol, they say this is highly unusual and they want to get some clarification on that issue. They're also looking to sort of lower the bail.

Beyond that, we're going to see Oscar again for another court appearance in June. And then he's likely to start facing trial by the end of the year, according to legal experts I've spoken to. They're trying to expedite this, trying to quicken up the process in terms of getting this to trial, but the whole justice system here in South Africa it works very slowly. So we're looking at least another six to eight months, I think, before we do see this case going to trial.

And then legal experts also telling me because this is obviously such a high profile trial, and because there is a lot at stake, that it could take at least a year, perhaps even more, before there's -- you know, that's even completed. So this is potentially going to sort of overwhelm, I suppose, the lives of the Pistorius family and the Steenkamp family for years to come.

FOSTER: Robyn Curnow, thank you very much indeed.

You're watching Connect the World live from London. Our top story tonight, Olympian Oscar Pistorius is free on bail as he awaits trial on charges of premeditated murder. We'll be following all the developments in this story for you right here on CNN.

You are watching Connect the World. Still to come, people with college degrees living in the streets. Record high unemployment. We'll show you why Europe can't seem to get a break.

2,000 flights and counting canceled as the U.S. Midwest grapples with a massive snow storm, the east coast braces as it heads their way. We'll have your up to the minute weather report for you.

And remembering a journalist who is killed trying to uncover the truth.

And remembering a journalist who was killed trying to uncover the truth.

All that and much more when Connect the World continues.


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

Now a government of all Tunisians, that's a pledge from the man tapped to become the country's next prime minister. Islamist Ali Laarayedh is promising an inclusive government for the cradle of the Arab Spring. The assassination of a secular opposition politician earlier this month plunged Tunisia into its biggest political crisis since its dictator was deposed two years ago.

More misery as predicted for millions of Europeans already struggling with record high unemployment. The European commissions says the region's economy will shrink even more this year after contracting during the last three months of 2012. Austerity reforms are biting hard.

Mohamed El-Erian, chief of PIMCO, the world's biggest bond fund manager, told Richard Quest he's worried.


MOHAMED EL-ERIAN, PIMCO: It is not just peripheral Europe that's weakening, even the core Europe: France Germany Netherlands, they are slowing down. And secondly, the social and political implications are meaningful. This will increase the wave of citizen dissatisfaction that is going across Europe and which is questioning the political structure.

So 2013 is just not economic fragility, it's also social political fragility.


FOSTER: Venezuela is out with a somber new report on the health of its president. It says Hugo Chavez is still suffering from breathing problems two months after undergoing cancer surgery in Cuba. A government spokesman says the president's treatment will continue despite what he calls an unfavorable situation.

A harsh winter storm has battered much of the Midwestern U.S. The Blizzard has dumped record levels of snow across the region. And there's travel chaos as flight cancellations and road closures leave thousands stranded. Now the storm is headed east and Jenny Harrison is tracking it from the weather center.

Is it getting stronger then, Jenny?

JENNY HARRISON, CNN WEATHER CORRESPONDENT: The good news, I think, really Max is that no, it's not. It should actually be sort of bringing less snow, shall we say, over the next couple of days. The winds are going to be quite a feature with this storm, so with the snow and the winds combined it's the blizzard conditions which could cause the delays certainly into the northeast -- Boston Logan International, for example.

But you mentioned some of the recordbreaking snow. Well, let me tell you Wichita in Kansas actually saw 36 centimeters of snow. So their second amount of snowfall ever recorded, second highest day of snowfall. And you can see in the last few hours it really has been the Midwest throughout Friday which are being impacted by the snow.

And then along the south, quite a lot of heavy rain. And of course in between we've been getting some icing as well. So for example across into Arkansas in Batesville just over a centimeter of that. And then plenty of snow elsewhere.

43 centimeters in Hays in Kansas. So gives you an idea of the sort of snow that people there are having to contend with.

So as you do go into the weekend. And really from sort of Saturday evening into Sunday midday this is when it's going to impact the northeast at its worst.

Things aren't sort of believe or not, improving a bit in Chicago. We've now got some ground delays, but they're an hour and 30 minutes. For awhile it was actually a ground stop.

We expect to see certainly on Saturday the airports in the northeast obviously impacted as the storm system moves its way northeastwards.

Some parts of New England could pick up as much as 46 centimeters of snow. Typically, it's going to be less than about sort of 15 centimeters. And then a lot of rain in the mix as well.

So for again the other big destinations such as Washington, D.C., New York City itself and also Philadelphia more likely to be rain as they're going through Saturday and Sunday.

Boston is on that line. And this is where we could see some pretty heavy amounts of snow. And in fact you can see the warnings that are in place. And the blue is the winter storm watch.

So obviously it's still about 24 hours out, this storm system. So expect to see that map change as the storm gets closer.

The rain very slow to clear away from the far south. And in terms of temperatures at the start of the weekend it will be cold across the northeast. These are the actual temperatures: minus 1 in Chicago, so feeling colder in those cold winds.

So Max, again, not like the winter visit of a couple of weekends ago, but still pretty long delays expected up in the northeast this weekend.

FOSTER: OK, Jenny, thank you very much indeed for that.

Now a frosty diplomatic relationship between the U.S. and Iran has been in play for decades, but in the sporting world it seems wrestling has the power to bridge the gap. Here's Reza Sayah with a look at the muscle that's forging new ties between the nations.


REZA SAYAH, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: At Tehran's Azadi Arena (ph), under the gaze of Iran's supreme leader, the showdown fans were waiting for: Iran taking on the U.S., two countries whose governments are bitter rivals locking horns in the wrestling world cup.

The atmosphere is electric here, but here's what's remarkable, despite the fierce competition on the mat, there's no sign of bad blood between Iranians and Americans. And here's how you know, right after their own wrestlers, these Iranian fans are cheering loudest for this man, American gold medal winner Jordan Burroughs.

JORDAN BURROUGHS, OLYMPIC WRESTLER: It was pretty cool I mean, every time I step out there, once they see me, they're excited to see me, you know, cheering my name, screaming my name, and giving me praise. It's pretty cool.

SAYAH: True to form, Burroughs dominates his match. But in the end, Team Iran is king. Final score Iran 6, U.S. 1 . After each match, a show of mutual respect, something Washington and Tehran have rarely shown since 1980 when they broke off diplomatic ties.

What you're looking at is Iranian fans right now chasing after Jordan Burroughs like he's a rock star and the entire USA team as they get on the bus.

All these guys just love Jordan Burroughs. They love the fact that the American team is here. And this is the power of sports. Look at this, this...



SAYAH: There is little love in the U.S. for the Iranian government. In a Gallup poll last year, one in three Americans said Iran is enemy number one.

Iran is still viewed by a lot of Americans as a dangerous place. Does that message match with what you see here and all the love you guys get?

NOEL THOMPSON, USA WRESTLING: No. I tell you -- athletes, you go lactic acid. We work, we train together. It enables us to engage with each other.

SAYAH: This was Team USA's 10th visit to Iran. Each visit stirs speculation that sport might help build bridges between the two countries.

ZEKE JONES, FREESTYLE HEAD COACH, USA WRESTLING: When we got here they had their arms wide open to our wrestling program and to Americans because they realize that it's a better world with us together.

THOMPSON: Well, if wrestlers can get together, anyone can get together.

SAYAH: So far, the exception to that wrestler's rule has been Washington and Tehran.

During our visit to Tehran, the Iranian government's deep seated suspicion for the international media was evident. A few hours into our shoot security officials confiscated our video tape and erased interviews with both U.S. and Iranian wrestlers saying we were not allowed to ask questions about politics. We ended up doing the interviews over again. It was a reminder that U.S.-Iran relations remain very complicated.

Reza Sayah, CNN, Tehran.


FOSTER: Live from London, this is Connect the World. Coming up, a photojournalist injured in Syria tells me why he's backing a campaign for the day without news.


FOSTER: A year ago today, journalist Remi Ochlik and Mary Colvin were killed in a rocket attack in Syria. The pair were in a building used as a base by international journalists in the besieged city of Homs. This is the last known footage of Remi laughing and joking with the Syrian Free Army before the fatal attack.

Members of the journalist community are marking the anniversary of their deaths with a day without news as a campaign to raise awareness of the dangers many reporters face. These are just a few of the photos of Remi and his work, one of 70 reporters and photojournalists killed around the world in 2012. The campaign asks you to imagine what it would be like if it became too dangerous for journalists to cover the news.

Paul Conroy was one of the western journalists who survived the attack that killed Remi and Mary Colvin. Wounded, he and a group of others managed a harrowing escape.


PAUL CONROY, JOURNALIST: The shelling was immense. We took a lot of hits in the house today. Certainly guys of the Free Syrian Army run in -- run in and just said get ready to go, threw us in the trucks and we've just been (inaudible) arduous journey to get out of Baba Amr and we're now heading to a relatively safe place.


FOSTER: Paul Conroy, part of the day without news campaign joins me now live from near Exeter in southern England.

And Paul, watching that video, does it feel like yesterday or does it feel like a lifetime ago?

CONROY: Certainly both. If I think about it now it seems like yesterday. And (inaudible) anniversary today. In other ways, it seems like another world. It's (inaudible) intense life changing situation.

FOSTER: It was obviously a terrible tragedy. It really did hit a nerve with not just the journalism around the world, but also with communities that followed their work, follow your work. You try to capitalize on the anger, aren't you? What -- tell us how this campaign will work and how it will change things?

CONROY: Well, ideally the situation as it stands is the targeting and killing of journalists is technically a war crime. Unfortunately I think over the last 10 years over 950 journalists have been killed and targeted with less than a few hundred actually been convicted, you know, tracked down and brought to trial.

The idea, I think, is to raise awareness (inaudible) of the dangers that journalists face when going into these situations. But also there's the committee to protect journalism and Human Rights Watch is the generally (inaudible) people will be brought to justice if they target a journalist.

FOSTER: OK. We'll have to leave it there, Paul. We've got a terrible signal unfortunately. We'll try to come back to you. It's a very important campaign and a tribute to your work.

You're watching Connect the World live from London. Coming up the latest news headlines.

And then former prime minister Silvio Berlusconi is one of the main candidates in Italy's election this weekend. But find out who the wild card is.

The world's top golfer is having some trouble living up to his new multimillion dollar endorsement deal.

Plus, this year's Oscar race has been anything but predictable. Veteran winner Denzel Washington tells us how he plays it cool.


FOSTER: This is Connect the World. The top stories this hour.

Olympian Oscar Pistorius is free on bail as he awaits trial on charges of premeditated murder. A South African magistrate ruled he is not a flight risk nor a danger to society. Pistorius is under strict bail conditions and must check in twice a week with police.

Leaders from Syria's opposition coalition have been meeting in Cairo for a second day. They've been talking about forming an interim government. And members of the opposition saying new government is important. They say Thursday's bombing in Damascus is another sign that the al-Assad regime doesn't have a handle on security.

Tension is on the rise in the West Bank where hundreds of Palestinians clashed with Israeli forces on Friday. The protesters are demanding the release of hunger strikers being held in Israeli prisons. Israeli forces reportedly fired tear gas and rubber bullets to disperse the crowds.

Japan's Prime Minister Shinzo Abe has held talks with U.S. President Barack Obama at the White House. They discussed actions against North Korea as well as trade links between Japan and the United States.

Let's bring back Paul Conroy, part of the Day Without News Campaign. He joins me now, live from near Exeter in southern England. We had a bad signal earlier, but we can hear him now.

Paul, we were talking about the threat that journalists increasingly face, but give us a sense of how quickly things have changed. Because you used to be able to be protected by the sign "press" in a war zone, but actually, that works against you, now, doesn't it? Because you've become targets.

PAUL CONROY, PHOTOJOURNALIST (via telephone): Absolutely. I can remember not too long ago, ten years ago in the Balkans, in Kosovo, we used to regularly cross the front line with our press up on the window and the badge.

Now, I think that would do you more harm than good. I can never imagine trying to cross the front line in Syria to talk to the government troops or in Libya. That would not have been the case.

FOSTER: What do you hope to change, then? You want to stop journalists becoming a target, obviously, but do you -- where do you think the problem is here, that it's somehow become a normal thing in all war zones?

CONROY: Absolutely, and that is -- these governments and regimes know that there is every chance they will get away with it. It's very often not followed up, and journalists are killed and there is no combat. And the aim of the campaign is through diplomatic efforts enforce the laws that are in case. As I said, it is a war crime to attack and target a journalist. It's very, very rarely implemented.

And through a campaign of public awareness and diplomatic pressure, we hope to send the message that anybody who targets a journalist in these situations or kills them will in fact be held to account.

FOSTER: Well, very good luck with your campaign. Paul Conroy, thank you very much, indeed, for joining us.

Italians go to the polls this weekend in parliamentary elections. It is the country's first vote since unpopular austerity measures were introduced. Italians will elect the 630 members of the Chamber of Deputies, or the lower house, and 315 members of the Senate of the Republic, or the upper house.

So, which candidates could unseat current prime minister Mario Monti? Well, take a look at three key players. Many insiders say Pier Luigi Bersani, leader of the center-left is the frontrunner. If his Democratic party emerges with the most votes, he could lead a coalition backed by Mr. Monti.

His main opposition, former prime minister Silvio Berlusconi. While he left office little more than a year ago, the billionaire and media tycoon is mounting a political comeback as the leader of the center-right People of Freedom party.

The wild card is former comedian Beppe Grillo, leader of the Five Star movement, a new populist party. Grillo is gaining support as he's tapped into Italian anger over widespread political corruption.

Well, there's a fairly big Italian diaspora around the world, Italians who have left their homeland but still have an important voice, as Becky now explains.


BECKY ANDERSON, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Just some of the estimated 4 million Italians currently living abroad. They may represent only a small proportion of the country's population of the country's 61 million, but they will be counted on election day.

ANDERSON (on camera): I've heard it said time and time again that Italians are fed up with their politics and fed up with their politicians. But could a change in the status quo come this time not from Bari or Bologna, but from here in Britain or Brazil, where young Italians are emigrating for a better life.

ANDERSON (voice-over): Italy has one of the few parliaments in the world that reserves seats for overseas constituencies. Campaigning here, London-based candidate Manfredi Nulli.

MANFREDI NULLI, EUROPE CANDIDATE, "RIVOLUZIONE CIVILE" (through translator): My message to Italians here and in the rest of Europe is that we can be a driving force and we can send a strong message to Italy, to our friends who live in Italy, to our families who are still in Italy for change and for making Italy, really, a more modern country.

ANDERSON (on camera): What sort of impact do you think that you can have, Pierluigi, as an Italian living here in the UK?

PIERLUIGI VULLO, ITALIAN VOTER: In Italy, we always saw -- convinced that nothing can ever be changed, nothing can ever be improved.

And then you come here, and then I myself, for example, opened my own company after a couple years of living here, and it took me 25 minutes to do this over the phone. If I was in Italy, it would have taken me six months, eight months, just to go through the bureaucracy.

ANDERSON: What is it that Italians need when they're living away from Italy from their lawmakers?

ANTONELLA MAIZZA, ITALIAN VOTER: We don't want to be forgotten, because we moved away, but that doesn't mean that we don't want to go back.

ANDERSON (voice-over): But for these voters, at least until there's real political change, the better life remains abroad.

MASSIMO GIBALARO, ITALIAN VOTER: We've obviously been in different countries for many, many years now. We've learned a different way of doing things. We definitely want to contribute to the Italian politics, but we also want to send a very strong message back to the Italian government that things need to change and things need to change now.

ANDERSON: Becky Anderson, CNN, London.


FOSTER: But all eyes will be on Italy this weekend as the country goes to the polls to elect a new government. Becky will be in Italy for you, so be sure to join us for a special edition of CONNECT THE WORLD on Monday at 9:00 PM GMT, 10:00 PM in Rome and Berlin.

Up next on CONNECT THE WORLD, two continents, two success stories and a world of inspiration. We'll show you some movers and shakers on tonight's Leading Women.


FOSTER: Tonight on Leading Women, we continue our look at Greek shipping executive Angeliki Frangou and her Brazilian -- and Brazilian singer, rather, Daniela Mercury. Becky begins our report.


ANDERSON (voice-over): Maritime shipping executive Angeliki Frangou certainly stands out, not only because she's poised and confident, but also because she's often that rare face at the helm in a male-dominated industry.

ANDERSON (on camera): When you see the way you conduct yourself as opposed to other men, can you see the differences?

ANGELIKI FRANGOU, CHAIRWOMAN AND CEO, NAVIOS GROUP: What you see is you have a diverse way of thinking and you need that. The best companies in the world survived when they had a diverse way of thinking in their executives.

ANDERSON (voice-over): In other words, gender is not an issue. As chairwoman and CEO of the Navios Group, she's in charge of four shipping and logistics companies. She shows me a map of their global reach.

FRANGOU: The next area where we'll be developing in this century will be Africa.

ANDERSON (on camera): So, how does that affect your business and its strategy going forward?

FRANGOU: The issues that you have to see political stability and -- infrastructure development.

ANDERSON (voice-over): Frangou, it seems, is in a job she was destined to do. Her family roots in the industry go back to her great- grandfather. As a youngster, she remembers going to the shipyards with her father and learning form him. He's also well-respected in the industry.

FRANGOU: I like the challenge that you have to deal with everything, from the weather problems to the technical issues to the political movements. I like this continued challenge.

ANDERSON: She entered the business on her own in 1990, when she formed her first company. In 2004, Angeliki acquired Navios, merging it with her existing company. She took the company public in 2005 and went on to form the other companies all under the Navios name.

FRANGOU: I first listed the company in NASDAQ, and then we moved to the New York Stock Exchange, as we're a traditional business.


FRANGOU: So, it was an important day for all my dreams, and of course all my father and my family were there. It was a unique moment. It was a vindication of an effort.

ANDERSON (on camera): Were you nervous when you opened that door and you knew you had to get this team onboard?

FRANGOU: I knew I had to make them trust me. I was coming from a different ownership, and I needed to bring them aboard, create the ties, create the family, and create the teamwork on the entire group.

ANDERSON (voice-over): Teamwork she says that's part of her management style and what such a complex industry requires.

FELICIA TAYLOR, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): I'm Felicia Taylor. Brazilian pop star and business woman Daniela Mercury is a mainstay on the Latin music scene with high-energy performances that electrify her fans.

Mercury sees her music as part entertainment and part inspiration, especially to the younger generation.

DANIELA MERCURY, SINGER AND SONGWRITER: I use my music to give them power, to give back, and I love to sing to big crowds in Brazil because of this.

TAYLOR: Mercury's musical roots are here in Bahia, her birth city, with its own musical pulse. This is the house where she grew up, the very bedroom where she was born. As her brother shows us, it's here that Mercury's dreams of music started. She launched her career singing in Brazil's famed Carnivals.

TAYLOR (on camera): As a young woman -- you were 16, a teenager, 17, 18 -- and you traveled in these trucks.

MERCURY: It's a very big party, a million people on the street. It was a intuitive concert, for hours and hours, six hours, seven hours, singing without stop. Mostly to dance. "Let's go! Let's dance! Come on! Raise your hands!"

TAYLOR (voice-over): Mercury manages her own career and the people on her team and says that controlling her destiny is important to her and key to her success.

MERCURY: I decide about my repertoire, I decide about my clothes, I decide everything. The power to decide is with me. I didn't know that I would be a singer, that I would be famous, I always I knew I had to be a leader of my life.

TAYLOR: A leader both creatively and as a businesswoman.

MERCURY: I have amazing pleasure doing what I do, because I'm in control. I can decide when I want to or not to do a concert.

TAYLOR: Performances that have brought her much acclaim and adulation.



FOSTER: Now, in the run-up to International Women's Day in March, March the 8th, we want to hear about some of the women that you have been inspired by, has a section with our favorite quotes from famous women and would like to share your favorites. You share your favorites with us, just go to


FOSTER: Some news for you coming out of the UK, some pretty grim economic news, actually. It's a world major economy, a very important economy in Europe, and it's credit rating, or at least of the government, has been downgraded tonight from the highest grade, Triple-A, to Double-A1. That's by Moody's credit rating agency. It will come as some grim new to the British government.

They've listed several reasons, and the main one being the continuing weakness in the UK's medium-term growth outlook and the UK's high and rising debt burden. They are reasons why British debt rating, the government's at least, has been downgraded tonight. We'll get some response on that over the weekend, no doubt.

Now, NASA's exploration vehicle, Curiosity, has successfully drilled rock samples from Mars. It is the first time a sample has been taken from inside a rock on another planet. But back on Earth, a team of scientists has plans to send a human being to Mars. John Zarrella has that story.


JOHN ZARRELLA, CNN MIAMI CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Mars. We should've been there already. Just ask the head of the Mars Society who, decades ago, worked on concepts for human missions.

ROBERT ZUBRIN, PRESIDENT, THE MARS SOCIETY: If the Apollo program had not been orphaned and abandoned, the first children born on Mars would probably be entering high school right about now.

ZARRELLA: Just ask the last man to walk on the moon.

GENE CERNAN, APOLLO 17 ASTRONAUT: "We're going to be on our way to Mars by the turn of the century." I said that in 1973. It gave me 27 -- over 27 years to be proven wrong. I won't live to see humans on Mars. I thought I would.

ZARRELLA: But there's a chance, a long shot, that Cernan will at least see humans fly by the red planet. Millionaire Dennis Tito is leading a privately-funded venture to Mars called Mission for America.

The jaw-dropping, seemingly outrageous undertaking would lift off in 2018 just five years from now, when Mars will be within spitting distance from Earth, about as close as it ever gets, roughly 36 million miles.

Tito is no stranger to space flight. He was a NASA engineer, and in 2001 became the first space tourist, flying on a Russian rocket to the International Space Station.

DENNIS TITO, SPACE TOURIST: It goes well beyond anything that I would have ever dreamed.

ZARRELLA: Plans for the Mars mission will be fully unveiled next week in Washington.

ZARRELLA (on camera): While Tito hasn't said it's a human mission, that seems pretty clear. Some of the principal players involved are experts in space medicine and life support. The mission would be what's called a, quote, "fast-free return" and last 501 days.

ZARRELLA (voice-over): That's nothing like what NASA wants to eventually do, have humans land and work on Mars before returning. Sources close to the Mars mission tell CNN this is just a, quote, "really very simple fly around Mars." Talk about an understatement.

What we don't know is who's going and how many, how much it will cost, or how they'll get there, what rocket and spacecraft. Sources tell us, quote, "it's an open field with a wide range of solutions."

There are many millionaires and billionaires out there talking about mining asteroids, space hotels, and moon bases, but all that's way down the road. Pulling off a Mars mission in five years, well, that's shooting for the moon.

John Zarrella, CNN, Miami.


FOSTER: Well, it's been a bad week for Nike. Earlier this week, the company suspended its endorsement deal with Oscar Pistorius after he was charged with murder in the death of his girlfriend.

And now, two of Nike's biggest sportsmen failed miserably on the golf course. Let's bring in Pedro for some more on this. So, what are the odds that Tiger Woods and Rory McIlroy both losing in the opening?

PEDRO PINTO, CNN SPORTS CORRESPONDENT: Yes, you say it's not a good week for Nike. It's not. It hasn't been a last good few months for Nike, if you consider the Lance Armstrong story as well.

The situation with Rory McIlroy and Tiger Woods, not what they wanted to hear, especially considering they just signed a multimillion-dollar move and deal with the Northern Irishman. Both of them were knocked out in the first round of the world golf championship event going on in Arizona.

Rory McIlroy, who was up against Shane Lowry, the lowest-ranked player in the field, he was up by a few holes early but then collapsed late on, still struggling with those new Nike clubs it seems, especially with those irons in his mid-game, and he ended up losing by one hole.

And Tiger Woods, he'd expect to go at least into the second round. He lost as well to Charles Howell III. So, a lot has been said about how the new equipment is perhaps affecting the play of Rory McIlroy.

Tiger Woods has been with Nike for a few years, so he doesn't have that excuse of adaptation. Tiger did talk about his struggles overall following his opening round defeat in Arizona.


TIGER WOODS, THREE-TIME ACCENTURE MARTCHPLAY CHAMPION: I played well. I really did. I hit a lot of good shots out there. As I said, I -- I didn't make a bogey out there, unfortunately. It's -- it's the nature of the format, and I'm not advancing.


PINTO: And of course a lot of fans out there, Max, are still wondering when Tiger Woods is going to win another major. For now, I think as far as this season is concerned, he'd be happy with just a title of any kind.

And Rory McIlroy, he missed the cut in Abu Dhabi in his first event since he signed his multimillion-dollar deal with Nike, and now he lost in the first round. Not a good start.

FOSTER: Let's talk about this video that you dug up.


FOSTER: A cheerleader --

PINTO: It wasn't me personally, I'll be honest with you.

FOSTER: But you like it.

PINTO: I do like it. And when someone else dug it up for me, I enjoyed it.


PINTO: It comes from an American university basketball game, and it's not a player, as you can see. It is a cheerleader. And this is what she comes up with. From half-court -- you know, I've see a few football players do some throw-ins like this to get a little bit more lift and strength on the crosses.

But I've never seen this on a basketball court. Amazing. And definitely my favorite piece of video of the day.

FOSTER: How many tries? Do we know?

PINTO: Now, we don't know --


FOSTER: We just have the one take.

PINTO: She did say she doesn't try it that often, she doesn't practice that much. I don't believe that.

FOSTER: Not at all!

PINTO: It's not like you just show up on a court, see a basketball and think, you know what? I'm going to try a flip and --

FOSTER: And it was lucky a camera was there.


PINTO: Yes, no kidding. No kidding.

FOSTER: Pedro, thank you.

It is the most glamorous night in Hollywood, and this year's Academy Awards also has a suspenseful streak -- is that a word?

PINTO: I don't know.

FOSTER: It is now. None of the main contenders appears to have a lock on the top awards, with a possible exception of "Argo." Ben Affleck's political thriller has been winning serious prizes from the BAFTAs to the Directors Guild Award. But Affleck was left out of the Oscar running for Best Director. So observers predict there could be all kinds of surprises Sunday, and don't forget the tributes.




Expect bells and whistles to mark the 50th anniversary of James Bond, and Adele will be singing the nominated theme to "Skyfall."

As the excitement builds for the 85th annual Academy Awards, CNN's Nischelle Turner sat down with two-time Oscar winner Denzel Washington to talk about his current Best Actor nomination for the film "Flight."


NISCHELLE TURNER, CNN ENTERTAINMENT CORRESPONDENT: Greetings from Hollywood, California and the red carpet, where the Oscars are just days away. There are number of races for this year's Oscars that are very tough races, but one of the toughest is in the Best Actor race.

You've got Daniel Day-Lewis, who's nominated for "Lincoln," up against Joaquin Phoenix, who's nominated for "The Master." You've also got Bradley Cooper, up for "Silver Linings Playbook" and Hugh Jackman for "Les Miserables."

But in this category as well is six-time nominee Denzel Washington, who's nominated for his role as Whip Whitaker, the alcoholic flight pilot in the movie "Flight." Now, Denzel sat down with me and talked about his transition in Hollywood and how he got to be the actor that he is today.

I've never gotten to interview as long as I've been doing this, and I've always said --


TURNER: No, it's my very first time, so I'm kind of excited today. But the one thing I never thought I'd say is that I thought you did better work than you did in "Malcolm X." But I really think Whip Whitaker may -- really be --

WASHINGTON: Well, I'm older, I'm more mature. Hopefully I'm a better actor. It's a -- I won't say it's a more complex role, but it's a complex role. This guy's got -- you know, it's a very well-written -- what do you do?

TURNER: Right.

WASHINGTON: Is he a hero, is he a -- I mean, he killed people, but he saved a bunch of people --

TURNER: Right.

WASHINGTON: But he was drunk. And then he spirals into this drunkenness. When I read it, I was like, oh, I'm doing this one.

TURNER: How do you shake that at the end of the day? Because you convinced me.,

WASHINGTON: Well, you don't drink during the day is how you shake it. I learned that lesson 30-some-odd years ago when I thought I would try to have a drink doing a scene, and it didn't -- me and this other young actor, we were in London. We're like, "Let's get into it -- we're method, man. Let's have some Scotch."

So we drank in this scene, and we were -- the director was like, "What's wrong with you guys? You're terrible." We did terrible. So, you can't do that.

TURNER: What does -- Denzel today say -- or what advice would you give the Denzel who was nominated for "Glory" all those years ago. What would you tell that guy?

WASHINGTON: What would I tell that guy --


WASHINGTON: Or -- ? Relax. Yes, calm down. Yes, I'm much more relaxed now.


WASHINGTON: Older and wiser.

TURNER: And if you ask me, this is definitely one of his best roles ever, and I'd have to say, if it weren't for Daniel Day-Lewis playing the 16th president, Abraham Lincoln, Denzel could very well take home an Oscar again this year.

We will find out who will take home the Oscar for Best Actor as well as all the other categories on Sunday night. Back to you.


FOSTER: Many of you may be hoping "Les Mis" gets called to the winner's stage on Sunday. The epic musical is so well-loved, a modern parody of the film has gone viral. Take a look.



ANNA COREN, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Recognize this song? Well, maybe not the lyrics, but the tune is from one of Hollywood's biggest blockbusters and Oscar contenders.


COREN: The film, "Les Miserables," based on Victor Hugo's epic tale of romance and revolution in 19th century France, was the inspiration for this 13-minute video made by the South Korean Air Force.

It's a parody featuring show-shoveling airmen, a lovestruck soldier, and an uncompromising commander. And in a matter of weeks, it's become a YouTube sensation, receiving over 4 million hits.


COREN: It's still a long way from Psy's "Gangnam Style," which to date has had more than 1.3 billion hits. But it certainly shows that South Koreans know how to cause a stir on the internet.


COREN: Military service is compulsory for all able-bodied men in South Korea. They spend two years training for a potential war with their belligerent neighbor North Korea. And a lot of that time involves shoveling snow.

CHUNG DA-HOON, DIRECTOR, FIRST LIEUTENANT: This winter in Korea, it's been snowing a lot lately, and our men have been shoveling snow every single day. And they've had a hard time. So, we wanted to make a video to cheer them up.

COREN: Director and first lieutenant Chung Da-Hoon says he and his friends were inspired to make the video after seeing the Hollywood musical. Within a month, they wrote, filmed, and edited the clip. The actors had only one day to rehearse together, because they're based at different military outposts around the country.

Twenty-seven-year-old Kim Gun-Hee is an air force sergeant and stars in the video. "People now recognize me in the street," he says. "They take my picture. We're really proud of our production."

And so is "Les Miserables" actor Russel Crowe, who retweeted a link of the video clip to his 800,000 followers. While there won't be any Academy Awards for these soldiers, they say the public's overwhelming support is a prize in itself.

Anna Coren, CNN, Seoul.


FOSTER: And that finishing this edition of CONNECT THE WORLD. Thank you for watching.