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CONNECT THE WORLD

Dow Jones Hits Record High; Costa Concordia's Last Moments; Iran Goes To War Against Rats

Aired March 5, 2013 - 16:00   ET

THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.


MAX FOSTER, HOST: Good reason for all those smiles we just saw at the New York Stock Exchange, the Dow is in record territory after soaring to a new all-time high. Let's go straight to Felicia Taylor in New York.

We've been building up for this for some time, but actually pretty exciting moment when it did happen.

FELICIA TAYLOR, CNN CORRESPONDENT: I have to honestly tell you I really did not anticipate this happening. And so frankly I have a little bit of a suspect, you know, question as to how long this rally can really continue, because there isn't any significant news out there that's actually propelling the market higher.

Certainly this was a terrific rally on Wall Street today, there's no question about that. And I think it still had to do with the Federal Reserve and the idea that the stimulus is going to stay in place no matter what happens in the economy, especially with regards to unemployment figures. So that is definitely something that's still in place.

Corporate profits have been pretty good, I mean, but those are on lesser expectations, so that's not really what's driving this. And from the traders that I talk to there's very, very little volume in this. So whether or not the bulls are going to be able to stay in place it's something that's still questioned. I doubt very sincerely so.

FOSTER: We're going to talk about it a bit more in a moment with you, Felicia, about that, but you may think it's odd that the Dow is soaring when the U.S. economy is still sluggish and the government is mired in sequestration. So what is going on?

Well, Ali Velshi reports now that investors can largely thank the Fed.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: We start with business. The Dow and the S&P both breaking records...

ALI VELSHI, CNN CORRESPONDENT: The last time the Dow hit a record high was a long time ago, October 9, 2007.

(on camera): There are different pieces of the economy, but the part that involves your investments if you are a smart investor is looking good.

(voice-over: But as we all know, the good times didn't last. The Great Recession was almost upon us. It's taken the Dow more than five years to claw its way back. But why a new record high right now? Afterall, the U.S. job market refuses to catch fire. And economic growth remains sluggish. In the fourth quarter of 2012, the U.S. economy grew, but only by the slimmest of margins.

Traders say we would never have hit these record highs without the intervention of the U.S. Federal Reserve.

KENNETH POLCARI, O'NEIL SECURITIES: It goes right back to the Fed stimulus, right, and every other central bank around the world. They're pumping the system with so much money and keeping rates artificially low that savers and people looking for yield can't get it any more in the fixed income market, so they force this trade into risk assets.

VELSHI: The Fed has pumped trillions of dollars worth of stimulus into the economy, stimulus that helps keep interest rates on consumer loans low, including mortgages, that's driving what could become a sustainable recovery for the housing market. New home sales just soared almost 16 percent to a four-and-a-half year high.

ANIKA KHAN, SENIOR ECONOMIST, WELLS FARGO: The Federal Reserve is not only buying treasuries, but the Federal Reserve is also purchasing mortgage backed securities, which is an out of the box approach that we call unconventional policies and that is helping to suppress mortgage rates and that should continue to keep housing affordability high.

VELSHI: A healthier housing market means home owners feel better about their economist well being and that helps spur demand for other goods and services. Also helping stocks, the relative stability of the U.S. compared to other world economies, that makes people want to invest in the U.S.

REP. JOHN BOEHNER, (R) OHIO: You can't continue to spend money that you don't have.

BARACK OBAMA, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: This is not an abstraction, people will lose their jobs.

VELSHI: But the congressional budget battles are a constant headwind, and that's one of the reasons why Fed chairman Ben Bernanke says he'll keep interest rates low.

BEN BERNANKE, FEDERAL RESERVE CHAIRMAN: We do not see potential cost to the increased risk taking in some financial markets is outweighing the benefits of promoting a stronger economic recovery and more rapid job creation.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I listen to what you're saying and I think...

VELSHI: A vigorous debate is underway over just when the Fed should reduce its bond buying. But without an active Fed, the economy would surely be looking a lot worse and there's a good bet we wouldn't be seeing these stock market highs.

Ali Velshi, CNN, New York.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

FOSTER: Well, Felicia, as you say there were thin volumes today and not all the markets are doing well, are they? So what can we learn about the U.S. economy from this?

TAYLOR: Well, in terms of the U.S. economy we're really what everybody is looking for is the jobs number that's going to come out on Friday. I mean, there is some economic news coming out over the next couple of days, but that's not really what's going to be the driver of the marketplace.

But, you know, when you think about where people are investing, where else are they going to go besides U.S. equities? I mean, you're not necessarily looking at European equities, naturally, because obviously there's a lot of uncertainty there, not that there isn't uncertainty in the United States, because there certainly is, but where else are you going to go? I mean, seriously, where is that money -- active money going to be put into place?

The only good news out there, truly, is whether or not corporate -- corporate America is going to put money back to work. And that's in dividends and buying back stock, and that's the stuff that we have to keep an eye on and whether or not they're actually going to enact that in the next coming weeks.

FOSTER: And the FTSE, the big European index, I guess, did hit a five year high today. Similar sort of story that is just the -- a good place to put the money even though -- you know, when bond markets aren't doing particularly well, for example?

TAYLOR: Yeah, exactly. I mean, you're not going to put your money into bonds right now, because obviously you're not getting the return that you'd like to see. If you put your money in certain equities, whether it's in the UK or the U.S you have the chance of earning somewhere between 7 to 9 percent. In the bond market you're talking about 1 to 3 percent. So that's -- there's a huge difference and that's what people are playing on. There's no question about that. It's just a question of whether or not this rally is sustainable. And as you've heard me say, and I was wrong yesterday, I didn't think it would be.

FOSTER: Difficult things to predict, these markets, aren't they? Felicia, thank you very much indeed.

And we'll have more on the Dow's historic high ahead in the show. Richard Quest will tell us whether he thinks this rally will last and what it means to the global economy.

Plenty more still to come right after this short break. Conspiracy accusations and an expelled U.S. diplomat. The news conference held to address Hugo Chavez's declining health created more questions than it answered. We'll have the latest from Venezuela next.

Harrowing final moments on board the Costa Concordia cruise ship. We're live in Italy with details from a new report.

It's the game of the season so far. Up for grabs, a place in the Champion's League quarterfinals. Can United stop Christiano Ronaldo as he returns to his old club?

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

FOSTER: The health of president -- Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez has taken a downward turn. A government spokesman said that he's battling a new severe respiratory infection. The Vice President Nicolas Maduro said that Mr. Chavez's health is in its worst state since he underwent cancer surgery late last year. Maduro also made some cryptic comments about how Mr. Chavez became ill.

CNN's Shasta Darlington joins us now from Caracas. Shasta, how did you interpret what you heard today?

SHASTA DARLINGTON, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, Max, it was a really bizarre press conference, to tell you the truth. It came after, as you mentioned, an announcement that Hugo Chavez's health was deteriorating, that he was in a very delicate condition. So the vice president, the man in charge, gets together with top ministers, with top military brass and then calls this press conference. So there was high expectations he would talk more about the health situation. And instead, he rambled for an hour, accusing foreign powers of different interventionist plots and then went on to also accuse foreign enemies in relation to Chavez's health, basically for causing these problems. Take a listen to this.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLILP)

NICOLAS MADURO, VICE PRESIDENT OF VENEZUELA (through translator): We haven't got any doubt that there will come a time in history when there will be a scientific commission that will disclose and reveal the information that Commander Chavez has been attacked with these diseases, our enemies have tried and have damaged our commander's health. We have a lot of leads in relation to this issue. It's a very serious issue. And it will be investigated by a special team and commission of scientists...

(END VIDEO CLIP)

DARLINGTON: We really got the feeling that it was an attempt by the vice president to try to garner support, really drum up support among those avid Chavez supporters at a time when his health isn't doing so well. And if it were to continue to deteriorate, of course elections would have to be called either in the case of Chavez's death or if they declare that he just could not assume his full presidential responsibilities. And Vice President Nicolas Maduro would be the man in line to run for election. So it seems like this is kind of his attempt to really circle those wagons, Max.

FOSTER: OK, Shasta, thank you very much indeed.

As Kenyans anxiously await the outcome of national elections, one newspaper calls it a turning point that will determine whether the country proceeds as a civilized state.

According to early results, deputy prime minister Uhuru Kenyatta is leading in the presidential race over Prime Minister Raila Odinga. But ballots are still being tallied and election officials are investigating complaints of voting irregularities. Kenya's disputed election in 2007 triggered ethnic violence that left more than 1,200 people dead.

A big winter storm is making its way across the northern United States. The snow and ice are making for some hazardous driving conditions. In Wisconsin, a truck driver lost control and plunged into this icy river. Local media are reporting the body of one man, believed to be the driver, has been recovered, but crews are still searching for a passenger.

Let's get the latest on conditions as the number of flights canceled. Jenny is at the weather center. Hi, Jenny.

JENNY HARRISON, CNN WEATHER CORRESPONDENT: Hey there, Max. It's only going to get worse, I think. Unfortunately, the storm system works its way almost completely across the Midwest and it heads on towards the northeast.

Right now, Chicago O'Hare approximately 900 flights have been canceled. And at Chicago Midway, about 245. And there are international flights amongst those numbers.

This, as you can see, is the last few hours. It's moving fairly slowly, this storm system, too, so the snow of course having time to really accumulate. Then we have that pink, which is the line between the snow and then the rain as well.

And these numbers, by the way, these are the current wind speeds. We expect to see some pretty strong winds at times with this storm as it moves its way eastwards.

This is where we are right now with warnings. We've got the winter storm watch right at here across into Boston-New York. And then to the west of that, you can just see this mass of pink and purple. and in fact there's about 35 million people under some form of watch or advisory or warning. And this area that you can see, it's 1.2 square kilometers, which is about the size of Spain and France combined. So it gives you an idea of just how vast this story system is going to be and the impact it is going to have.

So as we continue through Tuesday, expect more widespread problems, delays, and cancellations Chicago, Cincinnati, also Indianapolis and Minneapolis. And then on Wednesday, as the storm works its way toward the northeast, you can expect to see some of these other airports included. So, for example, New York, but then also Washington, D.C. we could be seeing some pretty heavy snow there.

Now it is heavy snow. It's very wet snow. We've got all this moisture coming in and the cold air turning into snow, very windy as well. So it really is going to be very unpleasant. We're likely to see some power outages as well fairly widespread over the next couple of days, but look at the snow continuing to accumulate.

So before this is done Chicago 19 centimeters of snow, the highest March day total ever recorded was 29 centimeters. And then across in Baltimore, maybe another 19 centimeters there. And then eventually it'll continue its journey up into the northeast.

Now the actual direction of this storm is obviously fairly critical between picking up, say, 25 centimeters or more, or you've got the pale pink and then sort of the white areas. You might just see a couple of centimeters. So that is why Washington, for example, D.C. just on the line here. So it could be as much as 36 centimeters, it could be a lot less.

So as we get closer to the time we'll obviously have more really sort of closer information coming out from all these different computer models. So we expect to see this numbers actually changing quite a lot, but that will certainly be very heavy snow in Washington, not seeing any significant snow, believe or not, for over 25 months now in D.C. Just 10 centimeters have come down in the last 25 months. We should have seen by now about 91 centimeters in what has been just over two years.

This is the storm slow moving. At the same time on the south of this system we are going to see some very heavy rain, strong thunderstorms in there and strong winds as well pushing through Alabama and then on into Georgia.

So that's the storm system. It'll stay cold in the north, milder in the south. But as I say, that storm very widespread, Max. So really widespread implications, too, with travel.

FOSTER: I will keep on top of it. Jenny, thank you very much indeed.

The Duchess of Cambridge was out on official royal duties this Tuesday. Huge crowds welcomed her to the English fishing town of Grimsby. Looking healthy, the pregnant Catherine met with rescue crews and firemen. She later went to speak at a local news center supported by her charity. All eyes were on her growing baby bump, of course, but it was largely covered up with a coat.

Iran has deployed sniper teams to deal with a spiraling rat problem in the capital. The rodents, running around Tehran, are massive, some larger than cats. It's a pest problem you have to see to believe. CNN's Reza Sayah reports.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

REZA SAYAH, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: There is another war taking place in the Middle East, and this one has nothing to do with brutal dictators, terrorism, or of people's occupied land. This war has to do with rats. And we're not talking about just any rats, we're talking about very large rats, some as heavy as 5 kilograms, that's about 11 pounds, rats as big as cats.

These rodents are becoming a problem, according to officials in the city of Tehran, the capital of the Islamic Republic of Iran. These rats aren't just big in size, they're big in numbers as well, millions of them roaming around Tehran according to officials, the problem so serious that Iran has literally declared war on these rodents. They've called out the army sniper units in an effort to pick off these rats one rodent at a time.

Obviously, rats are a problem in most major cities, but they're especially a problem in the city of Tehran, because this city doesn't have a proper sewage system, so it makes it a perfect place for these rats to flourish and apparently fatten up.

Why are these rats getting so big? Two schools of thought. Some say the rats have become immune to the rat poison the city is using and the chemicals inside their body is causing them to mutate. Tehran's environmental agency rejects that. They say there's nothing unusual about these rodents. They're the typical Norwegian rats. And some are simply just big.

Ten sniper units from the army are taking on these rodents, but the problem is there's an estimated 25 million rats in Tehran, that's twice the people population, that's why the government is considering increasing the sniper units to 40 in Iran's war against very large rodents. Reza Sayah, CNN, Cairo.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

FOSTER: We're going to take you to a short break now, but when we come back, the last moments on board a doomed ship. Prosecutors release a new and harrowing report in the Costa Condordia case. We'll be live in Italy with the latest. Do stay with CNN.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

FOSTER: You're watching Connect the World live from London. Welcome back. I'm Max Foster.

Now the frightening last moments of victims of the Costa Concordia disaster have been revealed in a 60 page court report. Prosecutors released the document as part of their official bid to have captain Francesco Schettino set for trial on charges of manslaughter.

Senior International Correspondent Dan Rivers joins us live from the scene of the sinking on Giglio Island in Italy.

Bring us the highlights, Dan, if I can call them that.

DAN RIVERS, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Yeah, Max, this is the 60 page report by the prosecutor. And it does go into some harrowing details of the panicked final moments of some of the 32 victims of this disaster on board the Costa Concordia, a ship, which as you can see behind me, remains stranded here on the shore of Giglio Island.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

RIVERS: A year on from the catastrophe of the Costa Condordia, the capsized cruise liner is only now giving up its darkest secrets. A prosecutor's report throws new light on how some of the 32 victims died. The most heartrending, five-year-old Diana Alotte (ph) and her father unable to find space on a lifeboat, the pair of them struggled to the other side of the tilting ship, but fell into a flooded chasm and drowned.

And then the horror endured by bartender Erica Melina (ph) who fell from a lifeboat without a life jacket. She was sucked under water by swirling currents.

And Mario Dentrono (ph) whose body was never found, unable to escape. With the lifeboats full, she was last seen jumping from the ship. She didn't have a life jacket and couldn't swim.

Captain Francesco Schettino has been under investigation for manslaughter and abandoning ship for prosecutors are now recommending he should stand trial together with four other crew and a shore based manager.

One of the accused crew is Manrico Gianpedroni (ph), previously hailed a hero, the last person off the ship, now accused of failing in his duties to help with the evacuation.

The first hearing will be April 15, but for many families, the nightmare of that night is far from over.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

RIVERS: It won't be long, Max, after that first court hearing that the wreck behind me will begin to be moved. They will first of all start to roll it upright. The operation here is frankly incredible. It's the biggest ever maritime salvage operation undertaken. They're pumping 18,000 tons of concrete under the wreck to try and stabilize it. They'll roll it up and there they're going to attach a number of huge metal boxes, a bit like armbands around it to float it off. There are 111 divers on 24 hour duty here based in the big accommodation block behind me that you can see lit up beside the ship.

So an enormous operation to get this ship moved more than a year after the disaster that took 32 lives -- Max.

FOSTER: Dan, thank you very much indeed.

There were more than 4,000 passengers and crew on board the Costa Concordia that night. I'm joined now by one of the survivors, Ian Donald. Thank you so much for joining us.

Dan is talking about a year since. You just can't let go of this, can you? But I guess you need this court case to have some sort of resolution?

IAN DONALD, COSTA CONCORDIA SURVIVOR: Well, I suppose so. But I think in people's minds, the ones that were there, realized that panic that was going on. And in that panic, the fear that one had, that one possibly wouldn't survive. And I think that's -- to relive that every so often as we're now doing so is causing some people a bit of distress.

FOSTER: I know it must be difficult to talk about, but are you able to discuss that moment when you thought you wouldn't survive? Because there was that moment, wasn't there?

DONALD: Yes, there was. And I was with my new wife. We felt that on our honeymoon this wasn't fair. And we felt there was a chance that we wouldn't make it.

FOSTER: You were in a room inside, right?

DONALD: We were actually on one of the decks, which -- because of the angle, the acute angle, it was like an inner deck. To get out was very -- proved very, very difficult.

FOSTER: Whilst it was tipping over?

DONALD: While it tipping over.

FOSTER: How quickly was it moving?

DONALD: Well, it was going fairly very quickly. And we knew that when we were trying to get on the -- we were -- it started moving when we were trying to get on to the lifeboats. When the lifeboats were really realized couldn't go down, because we were on the upper side and there was such an angle that the lifeboats were hitting the side and everybody had to get out of the lifeboat. Then I think panic set in, because nobody knew where to go.

Some went, and must have found a way across the boat and some of them came to their death because of falling down to an atrium trying to get across.

FOSTER: You were effectively in a space. How did you manage to clamor out of it whilst it was going out?

DONALD: We were -- we went along towards the end of the boat. And somebody had found a ladder, which could then get us out on there. So hundreds of people are pushing for people to get up on that ladder. It's very difficult when you've got pushing to actually get up a ladder.

We got up -- once we got out...

FOSTER: ...to get on to this...

DONALD: Absolute scramble. Hundreds.

FOSTER: How many people would you say were trying to get onto that?

DONALD: 400. And it took time. And there was a feeling of complete panic, but a calmness, however, came on people when they got out on the hull, they could see the...

FOSTER: ...the bottom of the ship, I think.

DONALD: Well, no, it's on the side of the ship, the actual hull. And there was, in fact, a rope ladder in the area that we were. And we had to wait for people gingerly to go down on the backsides to the majority of this rope ladder, about five stories high, and then twist around and then drop into a tender put there by the coastguard, the Italian coastguard.

FOSTER: You had to relive a lot of this, aren't you, through the trial? And your story is horrific enough, but there are unfortunately more horrific stories.

DONALD: Oh, yes, I think people took possibly -- you know, took a quick reaction feeling that the boat was tipping over and it wouldn't stop and therefore they came to this conclusion that they would have to perhaps dive into the water even if they had no lifeboat to latch onto. And I think those are the ones that probably, you know, suffered most.

FOSTER: How are you dealing with it? Because you've got Dan standing there in front of the ship. It must be hard even to look at the ship or -- I mean, how are you coping?

DONALD: I'm fairly -- fairly OK, but I must admit, you know, when you're going to a theater, coming out of the theater and there's hundreds and hundreds of people trying to go through, you know, the doorway to get out...

FOSTER: You remember...

DONALD: You -- you recall that. And certainly my -- I think my wife is feeling, you know, very, very sort of tender at those situations.

FOSTER: Can this trial help in any way -- you, and those experiences -- people like you? Can this trial help you move on?

DONALD: I think it will bring closure. At the moment, we're not getting closure, are you? You're getting reminded of each different stage and I think there was a hiatus at the beginning of the year when there was a possibility that it would be brought to trial earlier than April 15 and therefore people's interest in it.

But whilst its there -- and remember if it probably had been floated and floated away and renamed and goodness knows what, then people might would have forgotten, but it's a big thing that jogs everybody's memory.

FOSTER: Do you ever get tempted to go back and look at it or not?

DONALD: No.

FOSTER: Ian Donald, thank you very much indeed.

Coming up, a check of the very latest world headlines for you. And we hear from America's new top diplomat. We ask him if the U.S. is planning to arm rebels in Syria.

Christiano Ronaldo's current and former clubs are battling it out in the Champion's League. Who will advance to the quarterfinals?

Plus, the Bieber backlash. Pop sensation Justin Bieber has faced the music today after angering his loyal fans. Erin is with us.

ERIN MCLAUGHLIN, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: I'm Erin McLaughlin in London with plenty of excited Justin Bieber fans just waiting for tonight's concert. The parents hope that he starts on time.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

FOSTER: I'm Max Foster in London. These are the latest world headlines from CNN.

The Dow Jones Industrial Average closed at a new record high today. It soared nearly 126 points to end the day at 14,253. That tops the previous high, set back in 2007. Richard Quest has more now on the Dow's dramatic rise.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

RICHARD QUEST, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: The return of the Dow Jones has been nothing short of remarkable. From the sharp fall after Lehman Brothers and the Great Recession, the recovery has continued, with a momentary pause after the Triple A credit rating crisis in 2011.

Still, the upward momentum has continued. Which is exceptional when you look at how other markets have performed, how other economies have been performing. Europe in its double-dip. The UK with virtually no growth. And the Japanese market still moribund.

The United States, even with all its political problems in the Washington arena, has managed to come back, largely because the Fed has continued to pump money into the economy, making it clear they won't stop until unemployment is down and growth is up.

House prices are up, too, creating a new feeling of confidence, and corporate profits are well and truly buoyant, largely on overseas business.

The Dow Jones is back at a time when other markets are also recovering, but frankly, it seems to be the Dow and the US economy is the best game in town.

Richard Quest, CNN, London.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

FOSTER: Venezuela has expelled a US embassy attache for allegedly plotting against the government. The vice president accused various foreign countries of attacking President Hugo Chavez and causing his cancer. Nicolas Maduro says the president's health is the worst it has been since his December cancer surgery.

Kenyans are watching closely as votes are counted from Monday's elections. Partial results show deputy prime minister Uhuru Kenyatta with an early lead in the presidential race. Kenyatta faces trial in the International Criminal Court in connection with the violence that broke out after the last election in 2007.

North Korean leaders are threatening to throw out the 1953 armistice that ended hostilities with South Korea. They say it's because of US-led moves to impose new sanctions over Pyongyang's recent nuclear tests. Let's get more now on North Korea's threat and the possibility of tough new UN sanctions. Senior UN correspondent Richard Roth joins us with the details. Richard?

RICHARD ROTH, CNN SENIOR UN CORRESPONDENT: Max, each time, diplomats say this time will be different, it'll be the hardest-ever sanctions aimed at Pyongyang, and we're hearing some of that at the United Nations.

But the US and China, at least, have agreed on a new proposed draft resolution aiming more sanctions at Pyongyang. US ambassador Susan Rice says these sanctions will squeeze even more the leadership in Pyongyang.

(BEGIN VIDEO CILP)

SUSAN RICE, US AMBASSADOR TO THE UNITED NATIONS: The international community is united and very firm in its opposition to North Korea's illicit nuclear and missile programs, and the more provocations that occur, the more isolated and impoverished, sadly, North Korea will become.

It remains our hope that they will change course and recognize that a de-nuclearized Korean peninsula is in the interest not only of North Korea but of international peace and security. And that remains the objective.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

ROTH: At the heart of these new proposed sanctions, the financial arm in Pyongyang, going after cash, bulk cash being carried around, allegedly, by North Korean diplomats. They want to shut off the funding for the technology that goes towards nuclear tests and missile and rocket launches.

There are other sanctions that are aimed at luxury goods, increasing the pressure on the North Korean regime. Racing cars, yachts, jewelry, things like that. Max, back to you. No vote today, maybe Thursday.

FOSTER: OK, thank you very much, Richard.

America's new chief diplomat is still hoping North Korea will engage in talks. John Kerry commented on the latest threat from Pyongyang as he prepared to wrap up his first international trip as US secretary of state. World Affairs correspondent Jill Dougherty has more.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

JILL DOUGHERTY, CNN WORLD AFFAIRS CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): At the last stop on his 11-day, 9-nation trip, John Kerry in his first interview with CNN as secretary of state said don't look for the United States to send weapons to Syrian opposition fighters anytime soon.

DOUGHERTY (on camera): Concern, worry by the administration really has been that if you send arms to the Syrian opposition, they would be diverted into the hands of extremists. Now, Monday you said there's a very clear ability, now --

JOHN KERRY, US SECRETARY OF STATE: -- the Syrian opposition to make certain that what goes to the moderate, legitimate opposition is, in fact, getting to them.

DOUGHERTY: So, if that's the case, then what is the problem?

KERRY: The president always has options and always has the right to adjust the policy as he goes forward. At the moment, this is the calibration that the president believes is correct to try to give the opportunity for a diplomatic solution.

DOUGHERTY (voice-over): Rebel fighters already are getting weapons from other countries, he said.

KERRY: You have to look at this holistically. And in the whole, it is having a major impact. Now, in the next weeks and months, our hope is that this ratcheting up can avoid the level of killing and provide a window of opportunity for President Assad and the Russians and Iranians and others to get a negotiation that actually saves lives and provides a transitional government.

DOUGHTERY: On Iran, Kerry said Tehran should be willing to prove to the world that its nuclear program is peaceful.

KERRY: There are lots of other countries that have peaceful programs and prove it to the world. This should not be complicated.

DOUGHTERY: I also asked Kerry about former basketball player Dennis Rodman's trip to North Korea.

DOUGHTERY (on camera): He is not a diplomat, as we know very well. It was a bit of a circus. But it -- would it be valuable on any level to talk with him, find out what his impressions were? After all, he's met with Kim Jong-un.

KERRY: I've great respect for Dennis Rodman as a basketball player and a -- and as a diplomat, he was a great basketball player. I think that this issue is an issue that needs to be dealt with government to government.

DOUGHERTY (voice-over): And what about Kerry's own new role as secretary of state? On almost every question, he deferred to the president's views, but insisted he's his own man.

KERRY: The president asked me not to come on to be a yes person. He asked me to come on to share my views, my thinking, my years of experience. And I don't think the president appreciates just yes people.

DOUGHTERY (on camera): John Kerry heads back to Washington Wednesday. He says he'll brief the president on his trip and also on the meetings he had with more than 40 international leaders.

Jill Dougherty, CNN, Doha.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

FOSTER: Just some news in to CNN. I'll bring you back, just getting the details. Real Madrid have actually qualified for the Champions League quarterfinals. They were playing Manchester United, they won 2-1. Details on how they did it later on.

Live from London, this is CONNECT THE WORLD. Coming up, the woman who turned an obscure blog into a publishing powerhouse. How she did it, next in our Leading Women series.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

FOSTER: The woman behind one of the most widely-read media brands on the internet kicks off our Leading Women series this month. Arianna Huffington says she made it to the top by dreaming big and not being afraid to fail. Poppy Harlow caught up with the Huffington Post founder.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

POPPY HARLOW, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): She's a woman on the move, constantly. A power player on a global scale who turned an obscure blog into a publishing powerhouse. How she did it is a story of business know-how, networking like crazy, and dreaming very big.

ARIANNA HUFFINGTON, EDITOR-IN-CHIEF, HUFFINGTON POST MEDIA GROUP: I had to do it with my mother, who from a very young age would tell me never to be afraid of failing. So, in that sense, I was actually really fine taking risks.

HARLOW: And she did, launching the Huffington Post in 2005, a New York-based website that's gone global.

HUFFINGTON: I started with one thing to create a site that was incredibly engaging.

HARLOW: As president and editor-in-chief of Huffington Post Media Group, Arianna Huffington overseas a website that boasts it has some 40,000 bloggers and had 46 million unique visitors in December just in the US.

Davos, Switzerland, at the World Economic Forum, where titans of industry gather each year to discuss finance, conduct business, and hobnob.

It's here I meet Arianna Huffington to talk about her Pulitzer Prize- winning website and her path to success. In 2011, Huffington sold her namesake site to AOL for $315 million.

HARLOW (on camera): How would you assess the merger so far?

HUFFINGTON: I think really beyond my wildest dreams. It doesn't mean that it wasn't tough the first year, bringing two cultures together, building the Huffington Post leadership team. But now, we are in the position where the growth that has happened over the last two years would have been impossible without the resources of AOL behind us.

Very good, how are you?

HARLOW (voice-over): Huffington has garnered both praise and controversy, some touting her achievements, others taking her to task, claiming she sidelined those who helped make her site a success by not paying bloggers and aggregating others' content. But Huffington disputes those claims.

HUFFINGTON: The Huffington Post is both a journalistic enterprise that has 850 people on the payroll and pays good salaries and health care benefits and everything, and it's a platform the way Facebook is a platform, the way Wikipedia is a platform, the way Yelp is a platform. And platforms exist for people who want to use them if they want to use them.

HARLOW: Tim Armstrong, the CEO of AOL, calls Huffington a global brand.

TIM ARMSTRONG, CEO, AOL: It'd be hard to find somebody who's as up- to-date on all the mega-trends happening in society, because she really puts herself physically on the edge of change, and I think that's a huge advantage for her in the business world.

HUFFINGTON: The government cannot deliver the mail --

HARLOW: Huffington has been a well-known public figure in the US since the 90s, first as the wife of a wealthy politician, and later as columnist, television mainstay, and at one time --

HUFFINGTON: Come here. Let me finish. Let me finish!

HARLOW: -- candidate for governor of California.

HUFFINGTON: Not to have you write regularly --

HARLOW: When it comes to pressure, she says she doesn't feel it.

HUFFINGTON: Feeling pressure is completely self-imposed, which is what I call the obnoxious roommate living in our head, which is that critical voice that constantly judges us that, according to which, we're never good enough.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

FOSTER: Well, next week, find out why Arianna Huffington teamed up with this month's other Leading Woman, Oprah Winfrey. And you can find out more about all of our Leading Women, past and present, on our website, cnn.com/leadingwomen.

You're watching CONNECT THE WORLD. When we come back, two of the biggest football clubs in the world face off. Will it be Real Madrid or Manchester United advancing in the Champions League? If you were listening a couple of minutes ago, you may have got the tip off.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

FOSTER: Two of European clubs -- football's most decorated teams are facing off with just one of them going through to the quarterfinals of the Champions League. Let's bring in Don Riddell from CNN Center for the latest, because we do have a result, Don.

DON RIDDELL, CNN SPORTS CORRESPONDENT: We do, thanks very much, Max. It ended just a couple of minutes ago. A rather controversial game, it has to be said. The headline is that Real Madrid are through, Manchester United are out, but at the final whistle, Madrid's manager, Jose Mourinho, said the best team lost. "We did not deserve to win."

Let's give you the story of the game. United took the lead in this one, thanks to an own goal from Sergio Ramos. I would say that United deserved to take the lead, they certainly had the better of the first half.

But the moment that many will argue changed the direction of the game was a controversial sending-off of United's player Nani. He was dismissed for a high boot on Arbeloa. It could have been a yellow card. Many would argue it shouldn't have been a red card.

But he was off, and Real Madrid scored two goals in the space of just three minutes through Luka Modric and Christiano Ronaldo to win this one. So, United out, and I think you'll be hearing an awful lot more about the referee in that game. United's manager, Alex Ferguson, was absolutely furious.

FOSTER: Yes, the atmosphere looked like something else, there. There was also another match, though, being played as well. Who came out on that one, then?

RIDDELL: Borussia Dortmund, and fairly comfortably in the end. They beat Shakhtar Donetsk, the Ukranian side, three-nil on the night in Germany, advancing 5-2 on aggregate in that tie. Felipe Santana, Mario Gotze, and Jakub Blaszczykowski scoring the goals in that one.

You're absolutely right, that game was rather overshadowed by the events at Old Trafford, but a very important win for Borussia Dortmund. They won the Bundesliga title in Germany in the last couple of years. They're probably not going to win it this year.

But they've had a good run in the Champions League already. They've already beaten Real Madrid, Manchester City, and Ajax, and now they're into the quarterfinals.

FOSTER: And I know, Don, you've taken note of a particular viral video that's doing really well online, isn't it? Golfing, I gather?

(LAUGHTER)

RIDDELL: Yes. It is a golf video, but you wouldn't know it necessarily if you watched some of it. It looks more like a hip-hop boy band video. But yes, this one is doing very well, already more than a million hits.

These guys are called the Golf Boys. Among their number, you've got the reigning Masters champion, Bubba Watson, also Rickie Fowler, Ben Crane, and Hunter Mahan. This is the second time they've done this. It's kind of a parody on themselves and the boy band scene. It's very, very entertaining. The music's not bad, actually, Max, if you like hip-hop.

And it's all in the name of charity. You can actually download this from iTunes, and the proceeds will go to helping to provide clean water in Africa. So, well done to those guys, and it's good to see golfers not taking themselves too seriously.

(LAUGHTER)

FOSTER: It's fantastic. Done, thank you very much --

RIDDELL: All right.

FOSTER: -- indeed. Now, if you're on Twitter, you'll know that every day is Justin Bieber's day. His 35 million fans have a reputation for their intense, some say maniacal devotion to the pop star, but his tardiness at a London show left young Beliebers heartbroken and their parents fuming, actually. Our Erin McLaughlin is at the London O2 arena where Justin is playing again tonight.

Erin, this has played out over Twitter, hasn't it? And pretty furious fans out there, but probably the parents a bit more angry.

ERIN MCLAUGHLIN, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: That's right, Max. Well, I was just inside watching him perform, much to the delight of thousands of screaming fans. He was on time tonight, lowered onto the stage at precisely 9:00 PM. The fans were delighted.

And his punctuality, of course, in start contrast to last night. He of course was tardy, tardiness which caused quite a bit of controversy here in the UK.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

(CROWD CHEERING)

MCLAUGHLIN (voice-over): Turning up late is so rock and roll, but not when your fans have school the next day. Thousands of parents arrived to fetch their children before Justin Bieber had even made it on stage.

(CROWD BOOING)

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Around us, about 15 people that left. There was a little girl in front of us fell asleep, and her daddy was just like, sweetie, I'll take you home now. It's upsetting to watch somebody that young to come to their hero's concert and him not even to come out. She didn't even see him perform.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: This is my niece, and this just bought her as a birthday present, and it was really badly run. We had to leave early. I felt I've let her down even though she said, oh, no, it's fine. It was just so badly organized. We sat there for an hour, and people were booing.

MCLAUGHLIN: Anger that spilled onto Twitter, with thousands of tweets like this one from an angry parent calling it disgraceful.

The next day, Justin waved to fans outside his hotel and apologized with some tweets of his own, blaming technical issues, saying he was only 40 minutes tardy.

The pop star is due to play three more nights at the O2 arena. The venue promised to do everything in its power to ensure the 19-year-old makes it on stage at the right time when he plays again. After all, when you're a global teen superstar and your fan base has a strict bedtime, punctuality is pretty important, even if they say they'll never let you go.

(GIRLS SCREAMING)

(END VIDEOTAPE)

MCLAUGHLIN: Judging by the energy in the arena tonight, all seems to be forgiven, Max, at least for the fans here to see Bieber tonight.

FOSTER: I know that it was really parents, wasn't it, that were particularly angry here? This -- his fans are schoolchildren, generally, and this was a school night, and the parents just -- they had to get trains home, they didn't want their kids being up all night.

MCLAUGHLIN: Well, exactly. Many of the parents we spoke to on the way in had their fingers crossed that the concert would actually start on time. They were concerned about bedtimes. There is school tomorrow.

As it is, they're already making allowances for their children to be out this late, but as I said, Max, Justin Bieber delivering tonight. His feet touched down on that stage at precisely 9:00 PM, much to the delight of fans and parents alike.

FOSTER: And describe the atmosphere in stadiums when Justin Bieber is playing.

MCLAUGHLIN: Well, it was absolutely electric. Think thousands of girls screaming at his mere movement. He would take off his sunglasses and girls would scream. He would take off his jacket and girls would scream.

So, it really is kind of interesting to see how this 19-year-old teenager has developed into this global superstar capable of captivating teenage girls and other fans alike around the world, Max.

FOSTER: Erin, thank you very much, indeed. Glad you had a good time, and your voice is a bit hoarse, so we wonder if you've been joining them.

MCLAUGHLIN: Yes.

FOSTER: Justin Bieber's behavior might seem tame compared to some rock stars of the past, however. Among them, during a 1981 US performance, Ozzy Osbourne bit the head off a bat that had a fan -- a fan had thrown on stage. Apparently, Osbourne though it was fake.

In 1969, Jim Morrison of the Doors was arrested for allegedly exposing himself during a Miami concert. Morrison denied the charges but was convicted. He died before he could appeal.

Legendary guitarist Eric Clapton wrote in his autobiography he was often so high during some of his early concerts, he would wander off stage, and even did an entire show lying down. Clapton has since given up drugs and alcohol.

And the late drummer for the Who, Keith Moon, allegedly destroyed a few hotel rooms. There's a famous but unconfirmed story that he once threw a TV out of a hotel window and into a swimming pool. A true rock star.

Breaking news. We've heard that Hugo Chavez, the president of Venezuela has died. That announcement is being made by the vice president. You can see those images coming into us, the announcement being made. Much speculation about it his health, of course, but we're going to listen to see what he's saying.

(NICOLAS MADURO, VICE PRESIDENT OF VENEZUELA, SPEAKING IN SPANISH)

FOSTER: We're going to cross to our counterparts at CNN USA at this point.

END