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U.S. Braces for Billions in Budget Cuts; Police Brutality in South Africa; Courtside Diplomacy in North Korea; Man Disappears in Florida Sinkhole; Austerity Concerns in Europe

Aired March 1, 2013 - 16:00:00   ET




BARACK OBAMA, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: It's just dumb. And it's going to hurt. It's going to hurt individual people, and it's going to hurt the economy overall.


FOSTER: With little chance of a last minute deal, the U.S. braces for billions in spending cuts. Tonight, what it means for workers across the globe.

ANNOUNCER: Live from CNN, London. This is CONNECT THE WORLD.

FOSTER: Ultimate (ph) power as eight police officers are arrested in South Africa, accused of dragging a man through the street. We'll ask what (inaudible) is next in a police force under fire. And court-side diplomacy in North Korea. (inaudible) could become the best of friends.

The sequester cuts loom large for the United States. With no deal struck as yet, in just a few hours massive automatic budgets cuts will begin to come into force. About $85 billion, to be saved from public spending across the board. While it may sound like a lot of money, the cuts will be staggered. Earlier, President Obama blamed the Republicans for blocking an agreement. But House Speaker John Boehner said that wasn't the case.


OBAMA: We will get through this. This is not going to be a apocalypse, I think, as some people have said. It's just dumb. And it's going to hurt. It's going to hurt individual people, and it's going to hurt the economy overall.

JOHN BOEHNER (R-OH), U.S. HOUSE SPEAKER: The president got his tax hikes on January 1st. This discussion about revenue, in my view, is over. It's about taking on the spending problem here in Washington.


FOSTER: Well, this round of federal spending reductions is known as the sequester, it will hit just about everything from defense to education. To explain just what's involved is Jonathan Mann.


JONATHAN MANN, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Look for longer lines at U.S. airports, because there will be less money for security screeners' salaries and fewer of them to process passengers. Illegal travelers may notice that security is lighter along the border, because money for patrols is slated to be cut, too. And 70,000 children will loose access to the Head Start preschool program. The Defense Department is already cutting its presence in the Persian Gulf and Indian Ocean, where there are normally two aircraft carrier groups. The reason - the latest budget crisis in Washington and drastic spending cuts scheduled to start on Friday.

OBAMA: These cuts are not smart. They are not fair. They will hurt our economy. They will add hundreds of thousands of Americans to the unemployment rolls. This is not an abstraction. People will lose their jobs. The unemployment rate might tick up again.

MANN: The cuts are known as sequestration. $85 billion in salaries and spending that Washington will have to go without this year. Total spending will still rise, but by less than the government expected. If the threat of something big and bad for the U.S. budget sounds familiar, it should. The ongoing battle between Democratic and Republican lawmakers has brought budget negotiators to dramatic deadlines several times already. Sequestration was originally President Obama's own idea to break the budget standoff and force Democrats and Republicans to agree. It was written into law as the penalty for failure, but negotiations failed anyway. Now, many Republicans are blaming Obama for creating the problem and exaggerating its impact.

SEN. RAND PAUL (R-KENTUCKY): You know, he proposed the sequester. It was his idea. He signed it into law and now he's going to tell us that oh, it's all our fault? I voted against the sequester, because I didn't think it was enough. The sequester cuts the rate of growth of spending, but the sequester doesn't even really begin to cut spending, which we have to do.

MANN: Congress still has time to finally come to an agreement. If not, Democrats will blame Republicans, Republicans will blame Democrats, but Washington will have unwittingly find a way to finally cut its budget, because doing so any other way proved essentially impossible.

Jonathan Mann, CNN.


FOSTER: Well, the markets have been up and down all day. They shot up after Barack Obama spoke, but turned as the today went on. Felicia Taylor joins me to talk about what effects we can expect the budget cuts to have on the market. So this has been quite a week, hasn't it, for the markets, nearly touching record highs, and now all of this.

FELICIA TAYLOR, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Yeah, the markets have really priced this in. I mean, they expect that these budget cuts are going to go automatically go into place at midnight, Eastern time tonight, and so it really didn't react much to it, and it hasn't reacted to it. It's really, you know, been looking at other fundamentals, whether it's economic news or corporate earnings, or any other news to help drive up and prop up the market. So as far as the markets are concerned, there will be very little reaction to this, because they expect that Washington isn't going to be able to get their act together, and indeed that's probably exactly what we are going to see.

But, you know, what's really worrisome is, if these things - and we hit this continuing resolution, which comes up on March 27 as kind of the next big date for whether or not they can get these, you know, cuts to go into place and get the deficit reduction plan going, you could see as much as 700,000 jobs lost by the end of this year. I don't want to say that it's going to happen that quickly, but that's just exactly what we don't want to see, and that could have an effect on the marketplace, because clearly, if Washington can't do something to enact that kind of, you know, to reverse the idea of unemployment benefits going out, then that's going to be a real problem for the economy, obviously. And that could raise the unemployment rate significantly.

FOSTER: And when the people are really going to start feeling the reality of this? Because I guess a lot of people in the U.S. are so disillusioned with politics and all the talk, perhaps they are actually going to start feeling this now, aren't they?

TAYLOR: Well, they are. I mean, there are certain notices that have to go out. So, it's not going to be felt immediately. You're probably going to start to feel it in the next couple of weeks, but most significantly, in April and May. For instance, you know, Medicare is going to be reduced. So, doctors are going to see their Medicare benefits being, you know, slashed significantly. That's going to have an effect. Not necessarily on patients, but certainly on the Medicare and medical industry. So, those things will probably start to really be felt in April and May, but the defense spending cuts, which are supposed to be about 13 percent, the non- defense spending cuts will also start to be felt in April and May. So, those are the significant months. But let's hope between now and then that Washington will be able to do something and get their act together and figure out how to cut the budget.

FOSTER: Felicia, thank you.

TAYLOR: In an appropriate way, not the automatic way.

FOSTER: Absolutely. Felicia, thank you very much, indeed. So, with potentially hundreds of thousands of jobs at risk as a result of the sequester measures, will the U.S. see angry protests like those anti- austerity marches in Europe? Well, Richard Quest will join me to talk about the fallout in the U.S. and beyond later on this show.

Those come tonight, South African authorities make arrests in the case that shocked the world. We'll have the latest in the death of a Mozambican immigrant who was dragged behind the police van.

And with election day fast approaching, many Kenyans are on the edge hoping to avoid the violence they've seen in the last elections. We're live from Nairobi just ahead.

Plus, a man in Florida is presumed dead after a bizarre accident. All the details on that story and much more when CONNECT THE WORLD continues.


FOSTER: You're watching CNN, this is CONNECT THE WORLD, with me, Max Foster. Welcome back to you.

Now, eight South African policemen have now been arrested and accused of murder after a brutal instant that's outraged the world. We're about to show you video of the instance captured on the cell phone, and we do warn you, it's very disturbing. Officers handcuffed a Mozambican taxi driver to the back of a police van, and dragged him down the road. In full view of a crowd of horrified onlookers.

We aren't showing you the point in the video where police dropped the men's legs on the ground, because he's clearly in distress. He died hours later in police custody from head injuries. Errol Barnett is following developments tonight for us from Johannesburg. Errol.

ERROL BARNETT, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Max, it's absolutely tragic for South Africans, though, which is just the latest example of what they feel is mounting evidence that the police forces here can be quite violent and overly so. To kind of put that video into context, we understand that that 27-year old taxi driver had allegedly, you know, parked illegally and resisted arrest before cameras started rolling. And one reason South Africans are so shocked is that, as you see in that video, it takes place in broad daylight. There are children around, bystanders, people even saying, you know, to the police officers be careful what you're doing, we are recording you. And yet still we know that after that video was shot, the taxi driver was found dead in his cell sustaining injuries to his head and internal bleeding.

Now, the autopsy was released by an independent watchdog called the Independent Police Investigative Directorate. Their job is to look into all of these claims of police brutality. We also know that the taxi driver had a seven-year old son. The taxi driver being his sole guardian. So, people here are just really scratching their heads, wondering how this could have happened, but knowing that it's not the only incident we've seen just in the past six months.

FOSTER: And in terms of the culture that people are analyzing in South Africa now, people are talking about this culture of violence, linking it to a couple of other high profile instants, but can you really describe it as that, or is that just a few isolated incidents?

BARNETT: Well, the police will tell you that these are isolated incidents, but the fact of the matter is, a few weeks ago, during the Oscar Pistorius hearings, his attempted murder charges which ought to be levied against him, the lead detective was removed from the hearings because he has a number of attempted murder charges against him Just six months ago - - more than six months ago, in August of last year, we witnessed on video as South African riot police fired upon striking mine workers who were arguing for higher wages. 34 of them were killed in that incident. That is now being continued to be looked - looked at in a judicial inquiry.

But get this, Max. The IPID tells us that last year they received more than 6,000 complaints relating to police misconduct ranging from people being mistreated, people being taken in by police and then let go with no charges, all the way up to torture. So, although this most recent incident has been condemned by President Jacob Zuma all the way on down, people are wondering if this is a sign of a culture of violence, and if it is now seeping into the police forces here.

FOSTER: Interesting, Errol. Thank you very much, indeed. We will have much more on the story coming up, including an interview with South Africa's shadow police minister, who is demanding sweeping reforms.

Now, U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry is now in Turkey for talks on the Syrian civil war. Although the visit is being clouded by controversial remarks made earlier this week by a Turkish prime minister. Recep Tayyip Erdogan linked Zionism with crimes against humanity at a U.N.-sponsored forum.


RECEP TAYYIP ERDOGAN, TURKISH PRIME MINISTER (through translator): Just like Zionism, just like anti-Semitism, just like Fascism. It has become inevitable that Islamophobia to be seen as a crime against humanity.


FOSTER: Secretary Kerry called those remarks objectionable, and says he'll raise the issue directly with the Turkish prime minister. Kerry attended talks in Ankara today on ways to strengthen the Syrian opposition. Nick Paton Walsh has details.


NICK PATON WALSH, CNN CORRESPONDENT: U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry will in Ankara have met with the Turkish government. A much fiercer view of the kind of assistance the international community should be giving Syrian rebels. Turkey wants to create a buffer zone in the north of the country and directly assist rebels in toppling the Assad regime, and the U.S. has announced this week has so far gone as far as to give armed rebels food or perhaps medical supplies in the future, and assist with governance in rebel-held areas. That's far from what the rebels want, which is heavy weaponry to help tip the balance on the battlefield.

As a glimmer of light, perhaps, in the E.U. twisting its sanctions slightly to allow maybe non-lethal equipment like body armor and night vision armored cars to be given, maybe Britain or France will assist with that, but that gulf remains, and we did hear key from Senator John Kerry the fact that he believes that real solution to this is political talks.

JOHN KERRY, U.S. SECRETARY OF STATE: I want to stress, to begin with, we both believe that the first priority is to try to have a political solution. We would like to save lives, not see them caught up in the continued war. But we are clear about who we support in the effort to restore freedom and unity to the people of Syria.

WALSH: Now, it is so different what both the rebels and the Assad regime think they can achieve. They both believe a military victory is (inaudible). That gulf of expectations still wide there, and while the press conference between Kerry and this Turkish counterpart was very anodyne and amicable, that massive gulf and how everyone is dealing with the rebels still remains. Max.


FOSTER: Britain's Queen Elizabeth has - Queen Elizabeth II has canceled a trip to Wales this weekend, because she's unwell. A Buckingham Palace spokeswoman has told CNN the monarch is experiencing symptoms of gastroenteritis. We are also told that the queen is spending the weekend at Windsor Castle, and that her condition will be assessed in the coming days.

How would you spend your first day off in eight years? Well, Pope Benedict - rather, Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI went to mass. He also prayed in the gardens of Castel Gandolfo, his home until a new pope is elected. That's when the papal apartments will reopen. As the clock ticked 8 p.m. in Italy time, on Thursday when Benedict's resignation took effect. The rooms were closed and sealed with the Vatican stamp. (inaudible), secret vote to elect a successor will start. Cardinals are due to meet on Monday, but a Vatican spokesman says a conclave date may not be set then, even.

Whoever is elected to lead the world's 1.2 billion Catholics, will have to address simmering scandals which have rocked the church to its core. One of them was a resignation of Britain's most senior Catholic cleric. Only this week, Cardinal Keith O'Brien was the leader of the church in Scotland, and he's accused of inappropriate behavior towards fellow priests. Now, the whole affair threatens to get worse. Our senior international correspondent Matthew Chance is in Edinburgh. Matthew.

MATTHEW CHANCE, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Thanks very much. There's been very little focus on the issue of sexual abuse in the church in Scotland, up until recently, at least. And that will change though with the resignation of Cardinal Keith O'Brien. You mentioned him there, over his alleged conduct in the 1980s. And as the spotlight has really started to shine on the activities of the clergy here, over the course of the past several decades, this country has found itself very much at the center of those allegations that have been so damaging for the Catholic Church elsewhere in the world.


CHANCE: It's been called the worst crisis in the church for 500 years. Scandals that have seen its reputation crumble. And Scotland is the place where the damage has been painfully (inaudible).

These are the medieval ruins of St. Andrew's Cathedral, the ancient seat of bishops and archbishops of St. Andrew's since the 12th century. The latest holder of the office was Cardinal Keith O'Brien, the man at the center of allegations of inappropriate relationships with junior priests . He's denied any wrongdoing, and has stepped down, but now damaging claims are resurfacing about how the church under Cardinal O'Brien handled past allegations of abuse.

MARTIN HANNAN, FORMER TRAINEE PRIEST: Well, this is my mother and father with...

CHANCE: Martin Hannan was a trainee priest as a teenager at a Scottish seminary called Blairs College, when now Cardinal O'Brien later became rector. And Hannan says boys, including himself, were routinely propositioned there, and worse.

HANNAN: We know that at least one priest carried out very serious sexual abuse over 14-, 15 year old boy. That priest went to jail for it. And that was back in the 1970s when I was at Blairs.

CHANCE: There is no suggestion any abuse took place when Keith O'Brien was in charge, but he did have contact with the abused boy, known only as Michael X.

It was years after the abuse took place here at Blairs College near Aberdeen. But Michael X, by then married with children, discovered that his abuser was still serving as a parish priest. He complained to the then Archbishop Keith O'Brien, who chose not to go to the police, but to deal with the matter internally.

The priest was sent to a church clinic for sex offenders. The church paid Michael X more than $60,000, but the abuse was only reported to the police by Michael X himself several years later when he discovered the priest was still working with children.

HANNAN: In the past, there was definitely an institutionalized culture of cover-up and allowed abuse to flourish. The poor victim didn't get any help at all. And people like Michael X, who was horrendously abused, had to go on with their life and suffer horrendous psychological trauma.

CHANCE: CNN asked Cardinal O'Brien about the allegations of a cover- up, but received no response. Back in 2010, though, the cardinal apologized on behalf of the church to those who had suffered abuse. "Catholics who were aware of such crimes and didn't act to report them, he said, bring shame on us all."

But some victims want more than apologies. Amid calls for a full investigation into the Scottish church's past (ph). Until then, critics say old scandals may continue to haunt its future.


CHANCE: Well, Max, old scandals continue to haunt the cardinal here. Keith O'Brien was meant to travel to the papal conclave in Rome to vote there, but because of this controversy he's decided to stay at home instead. Back to you.

FOSTER: Matthew, thank you very much, indeed. Coming up, why scenes like this still haunt Kenya five years on. This time, there are promises of a peaceful election, but not everyone (inaudible).

We're live in Nairobi.


FOSTER: You're watching CONNECT THE WORLD, live from London. Welcome back. I'm Max Foster.

Now, in the aftermath of Kenya's disputed elections in 2007, more than 1,000 people were killed, and tens of thousands were displaced. In just three days, Kenyans will once again head to the polls to elect a new president. The presidential front-runners include Uhuru Kenyatta, Kenya's deputy prime minister. He's also the son of Jomo Kenyatta, Kenya's first president.

Kenyatta and running mate William Ruto, you see here, face charges at the International Criminal Court for their alleged roles in orchestrating murder, rape and violence after the 2007 vote. They deny the allegations. The other front runner, Raila Odinga, is Kenya's prime minister, appointed to a power sharing move, or in one, at least. Let's go live to Nairobi now. CNN's Nima Elbagir is following developments for us. Nima, do you think things will be different this time around? What's changed in Kenya?

NIMA ELBAGIR, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, definitely, constitutionally there has been a pretty broad reform process in the way that Kenyans will now elect their leaders. In fact, this election, where not only do you have to have gotten 51 percent of that vote, but you have to have gotten 25 percent of the vote in half of Kenya's 47 counties -- and although that sounds pretty complicated, the intent behind that is to ensure that no one tribe can act as a solidified voting block and push in their preferred candidate into power. They've also moved into a two-House system, and they have 47 governorships that they are going to be voting for, and 47 national assemblies, all in a push to try and decentralize and distribute power a little bit more evenly. Max.

FOSTER: In terms of the sense of feeling there amongst voters, are they convinced that things will be better or are they -- are they nervous about any violence that might come up this time around as well?

ELBAGIR: Well, the phrase we keep hearing, Max is that people say to us, we're bracing ourselves. There is a lot of worry. This is a really tight race. The polls are showing a 2, 3 percent difference between Kenyatta and Odinga. And that will just be too close to call come election night.

There is also a concern that there hasn't been enough done to the perpetrators of the violence that marred the last elections. In fact, we went up to the Rift Valley, which was the epicenter of much of that violence. We met a few very heavily armed men, who said this time, they're just not prepared to take the risk of waiting for the government to intervene. Some told us that they had - they were actually too scared to even return to their homes. Take a listen to what this farmer had to say to us, Max.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I've got nothing left worth fighting for. I will never live here again.


ELBAGIR: The reality is that we just don't know. Most of the analysts we've been speaking to are - it's pretty much guess work. There's been a lot of concern even about the polls that are predicting the election results come Monday. Well, voting's Monday. Wednesday is when we are hoping to see official results. But people are incredibly tense. Reports of stores running down their stocks, people moving their families out of the country. And in amongst the peace initiative that have been gaining support, there is definitely a sense that Kenyans are working and hoping for the best, but also very much fearing the worst, Max.

FOSTER: Nima, thank you very much, indeed. We will watch you with interest, of course. Still to come on CONNECT THE WORLD, with just hours to go, no deal reached. We look at the potential consequences of the U.S. budget cuts for the rest of the world. Also, (inaudible) cell phone, a smoking gun in the murder case (inaudible) Olympian Oscar Pistorius.

Plus, could a friendship be brewing between a former basketball star and the North Korean leader? All that and more, when CONNECT THE WORLD continues.


FOSTER: A warm welcome to our viewers across Europe and around the world. I'm Max Foster, these are the latest world headlines from CNN.

The United States is bracing for wide-ranging budget cuts due to begin at midnight Eastern time. So far, Republicans and Democrats have been unable to reach a satisfactory agreement to stop the $85 billion in mandatory savings being brought into fore.

Eight South African police officers have been arrested on suspicion of murder in connection with the brutal death of a taxi driver. Cell phone video surfaced this week showing the driver being tied to the back of a police van and dragged down a road. The man later died in police custody.

US secretary of state John Kerry is in Turkey and dealing with a regional row. He chided Turkish officials over a comment about Israel. Earlier this week, prime minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan called Zionism a "crime against humanity." Kerry said the US finds the remark objectionable.

A Florida man is presumed dead after an incredibly unfortunate accident in his own home. A sinkhole suddenly opened up underneath his bedroom at the back of the house. His family raced to help, but found that the man and his bedroom had disappeared. CNN's John Zarrella is near the sinkhole in Seffner near Tampa. John, please explain.

JOHN ZARRELLA, CNN MIAMI CORRESPONDENT: Yes, Max, what I can tell you is that you look behind me here now, that is the house, and it's hard to believe that in that house, two of the back bedrooms there have completely collapsed and they're gone, and they took with them one man by the name of Jeff Bush, who was in his bed at the time when suddenly family members heard this -- what they described as a train coming into the bedroom.

They raced in there. By the time they got in there, all they could see was a giant hole, Max. And the mattress about -- only about six inches to eight inches of the mattress is exposed. They tried to dig Jeff Bush out, they could not, to no avail. When police finally arrived at the scene, they grabbed them, they pulled these people out because it was unsafe.

Now, all day today, what they have been doing here with ground- penetrating radar, with electric probes, they've been testing to see how safe the ground is. The big concern is now -- because they presume that Jeff Bush is dead -- the big concern now is that no one else is killed.

So, they're not going back in the house. No one has been back in the house since late last night, when the family members were all pulled out, Max.

And what I can show you right back there, that's called a ground- penetrating cone, Max, and they are there, drilling down and looking to see where the stability is in the ground.

And all those men there -- well, the one man that's there now, you can see he's wearing a harness. He's attached to a harness because of the great concern that at any moment this house could collapse if that sinkhole should grow any bigger. Max?

FOSTER: But people there don't have the -- the benefit of harnesses like that. They have to live there, don't they? So, how concerned are they? And actually, what causes these? I know they're quite common in Florida, but not in areas like that.

ZARRELLA: Yes, they really are quite common. The people on the other side, they've been evacuated, this house has been evacuated, these people don't have anything left, everything's stuck in the house, all their things -- belongings are in the house.

And quite frankly, they are common. You have limestone ground underneath in Florida, it's pretty much limestone bedrock. You get running water in there from groundwater, and over time, it erodes, and then suddenly you have sinkhole.

Now, we did have an opportunity, Max, to talk to two family members who are still holding out some hope that perhaps Jeff Bush is still alive.


JANELLE WICKER, VICTIM'S SISTER: It sounded just like a car hit the house. And screaming.

BUDDY WICKER, VICTIM'S GRANDFATHER: I know they're going to just come in there and push it down, be done with it. Fill the hole up, be done with it. But there's too many memories and lots of stuff in that house, memories. If walls could talk.


ZARRELLA: I talked to one family member who told me, Max, that they have a place to live the next couple of months. Someone in the community generously offered them a place to live. But again, they can't get any of their belongings out of that house right now, and no one is sure how long it'll be before anyone can get in there to try and assess the situation.

FOSTER: Extraordinary situation. John, thank you very much, indeed, for bringing us the details.

So, the US is poised for budget cuts in an enforced austerity drive that could mean the loss of thousands of jobs. Europe is paying close attention. Last weekend saw anti-austerity protests on the streets of Spain.

And it's no wonder, because the latest unemployment figures out today are pretty bleak: 26 percent unemployment in Spain, 27 percent in Greece, almost 12 percent in the eurozone as a whole.

But it seems in the United States, interest in financial news is waning. Comparing two recent polls, in January, people were asked if they were keeping in eye on fiscal cliff news, almost four out of ten people said they were paying very close attention.

But fast-forward just eight weeks, and when asked a similar question about the sequester, just one in four gave the same answer. But should people be more bothered. I asked Richard Quest just what impact these cuts are likely to have.


RICHARD QUEST, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: The economic shockwave starts at the White House. By law, the president must sign the order before midnight, and with that order, sequestration, as it is called, will start to ripple out.

Come in and you'll see just where we go. We cross the Potomac, we go to the Pentagon first of all, which will be hit with a 13 percent cut for defense programs.

Now, you have to remember that it's defense, non-defense, security, non-security, but where it is effective, where those programs are included, it is across the board. So, the Pentagon will get a 13 percent cut for the third -- for the several months left in this financial year.

From Washington, the United States, programs across the country are going to feel the effect. Non-defensive programs particularly, 9 percent cut. It'll go from the Northeast to the South. But what's -- when you factor in for the total economy, most people believe it'll be a hit of about half a percentage point.

Medical research, education, disaster response, all these areas, the list goes on and on. And in total, about half percent of GDP.

As for the rest of the world, the international impact, it will be felt, but it's likely to be limited. The IMF says the United States' trading partners will feel some of the downdraft, but nobody as yet, Max, is really prepared to say just how much that will be.

FOSTER: It is the world's most powerful economy. Surely economists are sort of poring over these figures to see if there is a possibility of impact elsewhere?

QUEST: They are, but it's the uncertainty. We know that the US economy will grow about 2 percent this year, but that's a suspect number to start with. Now, if you take out -- let's just say that number's wrong by half a percentage point, and you take another half percentage point out, you start to see that US growth becomes very fragile. That transmits itself to the rest of the global economy.

Jeffrey Sachs, the eminent economist, was not nearly as pessimistic about the international, immediate effect when I spoke to him earlier.

JEFFREY SACHS, DIRECTOR, THE EARTH INSTITUTE: I don't think it's that big. I think the consequences are in the US. I doubt that it's going to have big effects in the short term in the US. I think it's just another step of America not investing in its future. In other words, I don't see this as a major short-term macro-economic calamity, I just see it as sad.

QUEST: The reality, Max, is this is more of a political crisis than an economic one, but one could very quickly become the other.


FOSTER: Richard Quest. Still to come, South Africa is hit with yet another scandal over alleged police brutality. We'll talk about the disturbing death of a taxi driver with South Africa's shadow minister of police.


FOSTER: South Africans are outraged over the police abuse of a taxi driver that apparently led to his death. One opposition politician says it's particularly horrifying that the abuse took place in public in broad daylight. She says it shows impunity prevalent in the police force today.

Eight police officers have been arrested on suspicion of murder after a taxi driver was handcuffed to a police van and dragged down a road. He died hours later as he stayed in police custody. The man had allegedly parked illegally, creating a traffic jam.

This instance is just the latest in a string of scandals involving South Africa's police force. You may remember a few months ago, police opened fire on striking mine workers, killing 34. It was one of the deadliest police shootings since the end of apartheid. Police are accused of planting guns on some of the victims to incriminate the strikers.

South Africa's shadow police minister says authorities must confront the causes of police brutality, not just the symptoms. Dianne Kohler Barnard is a member of parliament for the opposition Democratic Alliance. Thank you so much for joining us.

There has been discussion of this being a culture within the police. It's a big thing to say, but you think a culture has emerged.

DIANNE KOHLER BARNARD, SOUTH AFRICAN SHADOW POLICE MINISTER (via telephone): Yes, I think it has. It began with the remilitarization of the SAPs just prior to which the then deputy minister of police came out with the infamous "shoot and kill the bastards, take them out with a head shot, I'll deal with the regulations, don't you worry."

And it encouraged a climate whereby SAPs members today treat civilians as criminals first and as citizens and civilians second. And this has led to any element within the SAPs with a tendency towards criminality to use their positions in full criminal actions.

We are seeing reports of hundreds and hundreds of deaths in custody, 720 complaints of death in police custody or by police action in the last year. And that, of course, does not include the SAPs members found guilty of rape or of -- indecent assault or --


BARNARD: -- of armed robbery, et cetera. So, yes, there is definitely, there is a definite section within the SAPs.

FOSTER: And what's particularly worrying about the latest images we've had of this man being -- dragged off by the police van is if you look at the images, there's a very large crowd there. You get the sense that they could have done something about it. Almost that there's an acceptance that the police do behave in this way.

I mean, they are shocked, but they don't seem to be stepping in in any way, which perhaps in some countries they would. Do you think to start, it's got to a level where actually society expects police to act in this way?

BARNARD: Yes, we have come to this stage. We no longer are at a stage where we would run to the police for assistance. We, in fact, as a nation run away from the police because many people have been shot in the back as they're running away or fleeing.

People are fearful of the police, as they were during the apartheid era. They are seeing increased brutality. And remember, we have watched as a nation the killing of Andre Stander on screen virtually live as they shot him at close range with rubber bullets, and he died.

We know about Marikana and we've seen the outcome of that. We've seen the footage over and over and over. And civilians don't really want to take the police on. They know they'll be shot.


FOSTER: Well, frankly, there has been footage --

BARNARD: They will yell and scream, but they won't get --

FOSTER: -- of these events as well. Frankly, there has been footage of these events, because there has been recompense for the victims involved, and the wrongs have been righted, as it were.

But these were exceptional pictures. They're very hard to get, these sorts of pictures. How many -- do you think there would have been prosecutions without the media attention that's been heaped on these particular incidents?

BARNARD: Absolutely not. What we have already had is the initial statement by those very police saying that it was all his fault. All his fault. And that they were just doing what they had to do. This was before they knew that they had been filmed dragging him off behind the vehicle.

And only then did the police commissioner step in and, and what she did was this sort of halfhearted, OK, I'll suspend a few of you. And as this went viral and as you showed it and as it was shown all over the world, so she realized that it was a huge blunder.

And she, after I put out a statement saying why is it that time and again police are committing crimes and not being charged? How can they possibly be suspended for murdering a man when the average civilian would have been arrested on the spot.

And only then was there a very grudging move to arrest these men, eight of them now, and they will be charged on Monday. And the police -- head of the police station, they're simply being removed from that station and put elsewhere.


FOSTER: Dianne Kohler Barnard, we have to leave it there --

BARNARD: Just the normal, average --

FOSTER: Thank you very much, indeed, for joining us from the Democratic Alliance of South Africa.

South African police recently faced a scandal of a different sort when one of their officers was taken off the Oscar Pistorius murder case. Turns out, he was facing attempted murder charges himself. Investigators, meanwhile, may have found a smoking gun that could help prove Pistorius's guilt or innocence. Nic Robertson explains.


DESMOND NAIR, MAGISTRATE: He does not verify this cell phone information of the deceased.

NIC ROBERTSON, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): During Oscar Pistorius's bail hearing, the magistrate, frustrated with the police investigation. Two cell phones found near the murder weapon, no checks made.

ROBERTSON (on camera): While the magistrate in this courtroom here castigated the police for not tracing the phone calls made from those cell phones, the phones themselves may contain vital data for propping up or punching holes in Pistorius's testimony. Namely, the precise location of the phones as they moved through the house.

ROBERTSON (voice-over): To learn how, I came to top private investigator, Kyle Condon, an expert on global positioning GPS cell phone technology.

KYLE CONDON, DNK CONSULTANTS: GPS capability on cell phones in today's age would allow you to precisely know what has happened with that particular handset. There's no doubt that the complete history and movement of that phone is available to the investigators.

ROBERTSON (on camera): So, an investigator would know if we just walked downstairs in the house to a different room, right?

CONDON: He would know within a meter of where that phone has been.

ROBERTSON (voice-over): Evidence powerful enough, he says, to make or break Pistorius's case.

CONDON: In this particular case, the phone could become the smoking gun, so to speak.

ROBERTSON: It wouldn't be the first time a cell phone was the smoking gun. In 2006, popular musician and theater director Taliep Petersen was shot dead, his wife convicted after her cell phone tracked her precise movements, downstairs making calls when she said she was asleep in bed.

Today's cell phone technology is even more sensitive, Pistorius's movements already on public record.

ROBERTSON (on camera): Pistorius's affidavit was read out from here in the courtroom, and it precisely narrates his movements that night.

At 10:00 PM, he said, he was in the bedroom. In the early hours of the morning, going to the balcony, then hearing a noise, going to the bathroom, firing the shots, then going back to the bedroom to put on his prosthetic legs, then going back to the bathroom, finding the fatally- wounded Steenkamp and carrying her downstairs.

ROBERTSON (voice-over): Plenty here for investigators to cross- reference.

Nic Robertson, CNN, Johannesburg, South Africa.


FOSTER: You're watching CONNECT THE WORLD. When we come back, when sport paved the way for diplomacy. Coming up, we'll look at whether basketball could help warm relations between the US and North Korea.


FOSTER: Dennis Rodman has a flair for basketball and body art, but what about diplomacy. At a time when relations between North Korea and the US are extremely tense, the former NBA star has visited the Communist state, even meeting with its leader, Kim Jong-un. And they make a peculiar pair, as CNN's David McKenzie explains.


DAVID MCKENZIE, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Surrounded by fans dressed in regulation black, Dennis Rodman catches an exhibition game with his new friend for life, supreme leader of North Korea, Kim Jong-un. To many, the pairing of Rodman and the youthful dictator couldn't be more bizarre.

VICTOR CHA, SENIOR ADVISOR, CENTER FOR STRATEGIC AND INTERNATIONAL STUDIES: I think it's sort of reality TV meets sports meets diplomacy. Which is you could not get a more bizarre figure going into a more bizarre country under the most difficult diplomatic circumstances at the official level. So, it's about as bizarre as you can get.

MCKENZIE: The North Korea dress, haircuts, travel, and all other aspects of life are tightly restricted. Compare that to Rodman, the free- wheeling former NBA bad boy, who isn't too fazed by conventions.

Rodman arrived earlier this week with a vice film crew on an unofficial basketball diplomacy trip to an official welcome. Quickly tweeting, "I come in peace, I love the people of North Korea," the real- time -- or surreal time -- tweets made possible only days before, when the government allowed 3G connections for foreigners.

MCKENZIE (on camera): The question is, why did famously closed-off North Korea let in Dennis Rodman and his entourage at all? One reason makes a bit of sense: it's basketball.

MCKENZIE (voice-over): Friends of the teenage future dictator says Kim Jong-un was obsessed with the game, in particular, the Chicago Bulls. It turns out the Bulls were something of a family team. Kim's eccentric father, Supreme Leader Kim Jong-il was a fan, apparently.

Basketball diplomacy has been tried before. Then secretary of state Madeline Albright gave elder Kim a ball signed by Michael Jordan to try and warm ties. It didn't work.

Kim Jong-il continued building up North Korea's nuclear weapons plan before he died, and younger Kim took up the mantel, ordering a third nuclear test earlier this year. It's only served to increase North Korea's isolation. So a trip by larger-than-life Rodman makes sense in another way.

CHA: The North Koreans try to use opportunities like this to congratulate themselves on their accomplishments, as they see them, as well as congratulate this new leadership and try to give him legitimacy on a world stage.

MCKENZIE: Just days ago, Pyongyang called for the miserable destruction of the United States, so whether basketball diplomacy can warm relations with another leader famously obsessed with the game, well, that's a Hail Mary at best.

David McKenzie, CNN, Beijing.


FOSTER: Amanda Davies from "World Sport" joins me now. How did this come about? Extraordinary.

AMANDA DAVIES, CNN SPORTS CORRESPONDENT: This is extraordinary. If you were ever going to pick a sports star who would be friends for life --


DAVIES: -- with Kim Jong-un, I'm not sure it would be Dennis Rodman.

FOSTER: That's such a great picture, isn't it?

DAVIES: It is a great picture, and he's not a sports star who's done things quietly in his life. He's been an incredibly successful basketball player with the Detroit Pistons, with the San Antonio Spurs, won five NBA championships.

But he did it in style with his brightly-colored dyed hair, with his tattoos, with his earrings. He's had relationships with the likes of Madonna. He briefly married Carmen Electra. So, there's so much more to him than just the basketball. He's friends with Hulk Hogan, he's appeared in films with Jean-Claude Van Damme.

Politics, though, isn't -- that's a whole different ballgame, literally, isn't it? And this is fascinating. We saw that report there, but we have since had a little bit of reaction from Dennis Rodman. This is what he had to say when he left North Korea.

FOSTER: Explain yourself, Dennis.



DENNIS RODMAN, NBA HALL OF FAME INDCUTEE: It was amazing how they were so honest, and the one thing that -- guess what? His grandfather and his father were great leaders, and he's such a proud man. As a young kid, a northern kid, that's why he's so awesome. And he loves his wife so much. He loves his wife so much.

I'm going back to America. I'm going to see my kids first, hug them, and do one thing. Don't hate people. That's the first thing I'm going to say. Guess what? Life's not about that.

And one thing: he's proud, his country likes him -- not like him, love him. Love him. Guess what? Yes, yes. I love him. I love him, the guy's awesome.



FOSTER: Awesome? Extraordinary. Dennis Rodman is not the first athlete, though, to find himself in the middle of foreign policy. 1971, the US table tennis team visited China for what will forever be known as Ping Pong Diplomacy, paving the way for a summit between the two countries.

For years, cricket has been the way to create dialogue between rivals India and Pakistan. And just this week, American participation in the wrestling World Cup in Iran was a topic of friendly banter between nuclear talks involving the US and Iran.

It's something that comes up in your bulletins occasionally, isn't it?

DAVIES: Yes, I mean, sport on the whole is known -- is seen as something that is a power for good that can cross cultural and religious divides. And we have seen lots of incidents of it in the past. Because, I think, sports stars and sports teams have such fun. You can very much use that. Manny Pacquiao is a very successful politician, the boxer, in the Philippines.

And of course, we saw Nelson Mandela just after he'd been appointed in South Africa, using the 1995 rugby World Cup that the South African rugby team that had long been a team supported by the white half of South Africa, he befriended Francois Pienaar, he -- he used that as a tool for uniting the country of South Africa.

And it can do so much good, but it's -- it's a political tool, it's also a business tool, and quite often, we'll see in the background, for example, of David Cameron's press conference or on his different tours, you'll see Richard Scudamore, who's the chief executive of the English Premier League, and that's because sport is a business, and a very powerful one and can have influences across the board.

FOSTER: Amanda, thank you very much, fascinating stuff. I'm Max Foster, thank you so much for watching. That was CONNECT THE WORLD.