Return to Transcripts main page


Cypriot President To Announce Plan B; President Obama Talks Tough To Syria In Israel; "Chinese Girl" Portrait Sells For $1.5 Million;US Concerns About Chemical Weapons in Syria; Vicious Cycle of Forced Labor; Slavery in Asia; Leading Women: Oprah Winfrey; Beckham in China; Michael Phelps in Retirement; David Bowie Retrospective Breaks Records; Students at Bowie's Old School Invited to Perform; Parting Shots: Marmite Back on New Zealand Shelves

Aired March 20, 2013 - 17:00:00   ET


MAX FOSTER, HOST: On his first presidential trip to Israel, the U.S. president talks tough on Syria.


BARACK OBAMA, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Once we establish the facts, I have made clear that the use of chemical weapons is a gamechanger.


FOSTER: Barack Obama lays down the law as he orders an investigation into who fired what in a deadly Syria attack.

ANNOUNCER: Live from CNN London, this is connect the World.

FOSTER: Also ahead on the show, as crisis talks are held in Cyprus, we hear from the lawmaker who says his country could be the first to leave the euro.

And the most reproduced print on the world, what this painting fetched at auction.

First tonight, it was the message that Israel wanted to hear from its strongest ally, the United States. Barack Obama offered a pledge of eternal support, an unwavering commitment to Israel's security today. His first trip to Israel as U.S. president is meant to reset relations without being a bit rocky over the years. He met with Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, repeatedly calling him Bibi when they spoke afterwards to the press.

The focused on security issues, including Iran's nuclear program and recent reports that chemical weapons may have been used in Syria. President Obama vowed to investigate those allegations, warning any use of chemical weapons will be a serious and tragic mistake.


OBAMA: When you start seeing weapons that can cause potential devastation and mass casualties, and you let the genie out of the bottle then you are looking potentially at even more horrific scenes than we've already seen in Syria. And the international community has to act on that additional information.


FOSTER: For his part, Prime Minister Netanyahu focused mostly on Iran's nuclear program, saying Mr. Obama supports Israel's right to defend itself against existential threats. But it's clear from comments made earlier in the day by Israel's justice minister that Syria is also a major concern.


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Have you seen any evidence of proof that there's been chemical weapons used in Syria?

TZIPI LIVNI, ISRAELI JUSTICE MINISTER: It is clear for us here in Israel that it's being used. And the problem is that while it's being used, we have Syria, we have Hezbollah in Lebanon, and the situation is that the (inaudible) is that it's not going to be only in Syria, but it -- Hezbollah can reach all these chemical weapons and use it against Israel in the future.


FOSTER: Both Syrian rebels and the regime in Damascus are accusing the other of launching a chemical weapons attack. Ivan Watson has been looking into the claims from Amman in Jordan. Ivan, what have you managed to ascertain as to what actually happened?

IVAN WATSON, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, still a lot of questions out there. Did a new weapon, was a new weapon introduced to the grinding conflict of Syria on Tuesday, a conflict that has claimed more than 70,000 lives over the last two years, has the possible use, the debated use of chemical weapons on Tuesday, could that have crossed an American red line in this grinding conflict?



WATSON (voice-over): Did someone use chemical weapons on the bloody Syrian battlefield? The Syrian government accuses rebels of firing some kind of chemical weapon at the town of Khan al- Asal. Damascus says it killed at least 25 people on Tuesday. Government TV aired interviews with survivors.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE (Through Translator): It was the Free Syrian Army. They shelled the neighborhood with a missile, and when people smelled the stench, they fell down and couldn't breathe.

WATSON: Syrian rebels quickly denied the accusations, instead accusing the Syrian government of carrying out a chemical weapons attack.

(On camera): Some chemical weapons experts say so far they've seen little evidence to prove nerve toxins were used in Tuesday's deadly attack but that hasn't stopped at least one senior U.S. lawmaker from pointing the finger at the Syrian regime.

ROGERS: I have a high probability to believe that chemical weapons were used. We need that final verification. WATSON (voice-over): The White House is repeating its warning to Damascus that chemical weapons use would cross an American red line.

DENIS MCDONOUGH, WHITE HOUSE CHIEF OF STAFF: We are going to be very clear to the Syrian regime, as we have been throughout, and to all the Syrian supporters throughout the world and then obviously to our partners in the region, that if this is substantiated, obviously it does suggest,

as the president just said, that this is a game-changer and we'll act accordingly.

WATSON: It's hard to imagine that poorly armed Syrian rebels with their homemade weaponry could have had the ability to fire a projectile with a poison payload. The Syrian military, meanwhile, has Scud surface-to-surface missiles. Damascus is believed to have fired dozens of these huge weapons at Syrian cities and towns with devastating, deadly results.


WATSON: Now, we've just heard a couple of hours ago from the American president saying it's still too early to tell whether or not chemical weapons were used, that the U.S. government is using a lot of resources to try to figure out just what happened in this Syrian government controlled town just to the west of the divided Syrian city of Aleppo on Tuesday.

Meanwhile, some of the opposition journalists and activists that I'm in touch with, they say that they also can't reach that town to investigate for themselves, because the government still very much controls that town that is seen to be one of the strategic entryways into that divided city of Aleppo.

Many Syrians, perhaps, asking why is the potential use of chemical weapons, why has that become a redline for the U.S. government when all of the killing over the last two years and the mounting death toll of more than 70,000 lives in Syria when that is not a red line for the U.S. government and the international community -- Max.

FOSTER: Well, indeed. Ivan, thank you very much indeed. Some experts are not convinced that chemical weapons were used in Syria. One of them is Dr. Jean Pascal Zanders, senior research fellow with the European Union Institute for Security Studies.

Thank you so much for joining us Jean Pascal. What do you think happened here?


Well, I don't really know what has happened. For one thing, I do not believe this was an incident of chemical warfare. The images that I have seen, the footage that I have seen, particularly those in -- taken in a hospital where nobody was wearing gas masks, nobody was wearing protective garment. People were wandering around holding their patients. If that would have been a chemical warfare agent, we assume is in the arsenals of Syria, then all those people would have either been fatally contaminated or seriously affected.

FOSTER: But if that were the case, the opposition wouldn't have stepped in, would they, and suggested that there might have been a chemical attack and it should be investigated? Both sides are asking an investigation.

ZANDERS: Well, probably what has happened, given the number of people who seem to have been exposed to something, and apparently the 25 fatalities that have occurred, an incident may have taken place.

One must bear in mind that today the battlefield is a very toxic environment. Just remember in the case of the war over Kuwait in '91 that so many American troops have suffered a variety of ailments resulting from the battlefield there. Today, this is the case -- this has been the case in Yugoslavia, this is

the case in Syria, in Iraq after 2003.

So if a storage site with some toxic compound or other implements have been damaged and dust or whatever got out into air, then it's quite possible that people were attained (ph) by something.

But as far as I can judge, this was not an act of chemical warfare.

FOSTER: And the Telegraph newspaper in the United Kingdom is quoting sources in the British government saying that Britain has airlifted hundreds of chemical weapons detection and protection kits to Syrian rebels. What do you think of that? Is that a wise move?

ZANDERS: Well, obviously -- I mean, there is a risk -- the Syrian army is known to have a variety of chemical warfare agents. And even if the regime of Assad does not use those weapons, there is always the possibility of inadvertent strike hit against one of the storage sites of chemical weapons. So in that particular case, you would have an unintentional release of toxic agents. Anybody who would be in the vicinity of such an area is best protected, of course.

So it is a precautionary principle that's being applied, but in and of itself it should not be taken as an indication of preparations for chemical warfare.

FOSTER: Jean Pascal Zanders, really appreciate your time today. Thank you for joining us.

The Palestinians and the Middle East peace process were mentioned in today's news conference in Jerusalem, but clearly were not the focus. That's not too surprising considering Mr. Obama himself said he didn't want to come to the region with some big announcement that just wouldn't work.

Many Palestinians feel abandoned and betrayed by the country that normally plays a critical role in brokering Middle East peace talks. These demonstrations took place in the West Bank ahead of Mr. Obama's meeting there tomorrow with Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas.

A prominent lawmaker accuses Mr. Obama of breaking promises and ignoring the Palestinian's long struggle for freedom.


MUSTAFA BARGHOUTI, PALESTINIAN LAWMAKER: We have to send a message to President Obama, you cannot shy away from reality. There is a system of apartheid and Israeli segregation here. And we are peacefully and nonviolently struggling against it. They destroy our tents, we build 10. They remove us from one village, we come back and again and again. And we will not stop until we achieve our freedom like the Civil Rights movement lived in the United States.


FOSTER: There are also demonstrations today in Gaza. Some protesters wore screen masks and Israeli flags bearing human skull emblems.

President Obama is promising to listen closely to Mr. Abbas tomorrow about the Palestinian's concern. We'll see if their meeting stems the anger there on the streets.

Some news just coming in to CNN. State television in Cyprus is reporting that the Cypriot president will present a bailout plan, plan B, to the leaders of the country's political parties on Thursday. No word yet on what exactly a plan B might involve.

Meanwhile, Cyprus says it will keep its banks closed until next week as it works to avoid default and capital flight. But so far, there's been little progress. This comes a day after lawmakers blocked an EU bailout that involved imposing a one-off levy on bank accounts held there.

We're going to speak with a member of the Cypriot parliament and former finance minister just after the break.

Plus, why North Korea's latest YouTube video won't be winning any Oscars or favors stateside.

And later in the show, what Oprah Winfrey considers her most important job. Find out when our Leading Women series continues.


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

Now repeating news just coming into to CNN, state television in Cyprus reporting that the Cypriot president will present a bailout plan B to parties on Thursday. No word yet on what exactly a plan B might involve. While the president held an emergency cabinet meeting in Nicosia, his finance minister was in Moscow searching for an alternative rescue deal and banks in Cyprus will remain closed until Tuesday at the earliest.

This comes after Parliament overwhelmingly rejected an EU proposal for a one-off tax on Bank deposits. Brussels responded saying its now up to the Cypriot government to work out a plan.

With the country's main banks facing possible collapse, some lawmakers have raised the prospect leaving the EuroZone. Joining me now is MP and former finance minister Marios Mavrides. Thank you very much indeed for joining us.

First of all, Plan B. This idea has just been presented to the media in the last few minutes. Do you know anything about it?

MARIOS MAVRIDES, MP, CYPRIOT DEMOCRATIC RALLY PARTY: Yeah, I know a few things. And I can tell you, first of all I'm not former finance minister. I'm just a member of the parliament of the ruling party.

Now, the plan B may involve nationalization of the (inaudible) plans and pensioner plans of the state employees and some private employees, which may give us up to 3 billion to 3.5 billion euros. Also, it includes the sale of state assets such as semi-government organizations and banks. And third, the rest of the money will come out of a tax on deposits, which has met a lot of resistance yesterday. But we are going to eventually have to do it at a lower percentage.

FOSTER: So this levy on bank accounts will still be in the plan B. Have you got any sense of what form that will take?

MAVRIDES: Well, it will be in the form of -- I think it will be in the form of deposits higher than 100,000 euros.

FOSTER: At what percentage?

MAVRIDES: Well, whatever the money -- whatever money is needed, we -- the percentage is going to be set. In other words, we don't know exactly the percentage. We need to know how much money we can get from other sources. And I also forgot to mention that there will be an issue of state bonds, which are -- which will be backed by the proceeds from the natural gas.

So, whatever money is left from the 5.8 that we need to raise, it will be a tax on deposits. We don't really know. Definitely a smaller percentage, maybe 3 to 5 percent.

FOSTER: And it will calm a lot of people with savings of less than 100,000. But it's still going to cause a flight of cash for people with over 100,000.

MAVRIDES: Yeah, I don't think so, because people will consider that the financial system will become stable, because once we get the money we'll get 10 billion euros from troika and we'll get 5.8 billion from bailing money, from inside. Then the banks will be fully capitalized and then the economy will begin to recover slowly, slowly.

In the past, we have our banks not capitalized and not left the country. So I think that it will be to the best of everyone the fact that the financial system will be fully capitalized and stable and that will promote trust in our banking system, something that was lost in the past few days.

FOSTER: This news is only just coming in. We haven't had any sort of official reaction here. But there obviously is a reason for taxing bank accounts, or rather getting the money somehow. Cyprus is in a desperate situation. But the side effect of this was apparent when everyone tried to sort of start taking that money out. It's just too simple an idea, isn't it? You need to come up with a less damaging immediate impact on people, don't you, because you're going inevitably have people worried about their cash. People aren't going to understand the message. They might have less than 100,000. They're still not going to trust their savings in Cypriot accounts.

MAVRIDES: Well, as I said, from the beginning we should have deposits under 100,000 euros not being taxed. That was the most important thing about the banking system.

FOSTER: But it's the principle of just taking money out of someone's bank account. I realize money has to come from somewhere, but there's a real issue with the principle here. And you're making the same mistake again.

MAVRIDES: Well, we -- it's not a matter of making a mistake, it's a matter of survival of our economy. There is no other solution. The other solution is to go back to the pound.

So we take the best alternative under the circumstances. You must realize that the situation here is very difficult. Banks have...

FOSTER: Yeah, but the price you're paying here, a complete loss of faith in the banking system, which is a fundamental sort of pillar of the economy. And there are other ways which won't

dent confidence as much.

MAVRIDES: Well, it's important to realize that there is a directive, European Union directive. And there is a law in Cyprus as well which ensures deposits up to 100,000 euros. So as long as we cover that, I think that money which is above 100,000 euros is not fully insured. People should realize that.

And we should also -- I should also tell you that the interest incomes here in Cyprus is people get interest between 4.5 percent and 5 percent. So there is always a little bit of risk when you get a higher interest. And I think that we will continue to give that type of interest. And I don't think we're going to have people fleeing money out of the country, except from the foreign people -- foreign money which is connected to the companies that come here in Cyprus, especially from Russia.

Those companies might consider leaving Cyprus if they find a better place elsewhere, which is difficult to find in Europe.

FOSTER: Marios Mavrides, this is a very challenging situation, but thank you very much indeed for giving us that information on the breaking news story. Thank you very much.

Let's just remind you why this tiny island nation is so important.

Well, Cyprus has a strategic location between three regions -- Southern Europe, the Middle East, and Northern Africa.

Its low corporate tax rate of 10 percent has made it an international tax haven, especially for Russians. About a third of all money in Cypriot banks is Russian, a total of some $31 billion. And the Russian speaking population there is as high as 40,000.

And there's another reason for Russia's interest in the island. As the oil and gas reserves sitting in Cypriot waters, there's speculation that Russia may offer Cyprus financial assistance in exchange for exploration rights to offshore gas deposits.

CNN's Nick Paton Walsh has been speaking to the Russian community living in Cyprus. He joins us now from the seaside town of Limassol. What did you find, Nick?

NICK PATON WALSH, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, Max, it's an interesting picture talking to Russians here. There's concern amongst ordinary Russians that they were, until the parliamentary vote yesterday to knock down the idea of a levy on lower deposits, that they themselves would also perhaps lose part of their money in the banks too. There's a fear, I think, that many came here to avoid tax potentially in Russia or find a place just to basically grow old in the sun, enjoy the weather here, and that may be damaged by these levies and also by a lack of trust, now, perhaps in the Cypriot government.

Remember, member Russians felt they were safe here to bring their money, to invest in housing in some of the beautiful hillside we've seen around here. So there's concern, certainly.

And I think there's a broader overarching issue, too. You know, we do have the Cypriot finance minister now in Moscow staying until tomorrow a little longer than expected, potential talk about maybe some sort of Cypriot gas concession being offered to the Russians or there's even been talk

knocked down earlier on today that the Russians may buy one of Cyprus's banks. All still very unclear. But there's certainly something left for them to discuss in Moscow.

And many Russians here, of course, have a broader suspicion that perhaps were Russia to get involved in the banking system that their deposits here, which they brought offshore, may become under scrutiny from Moscow and perhaps even get taxed. That, in some degree is their own personal suspicions and perhaps far from reality.

But it's really unsettled. Many people here who came here really as an escape from Russia -- Max.

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

Live from London, this is Connect the World. Coming up, other stories making news this hour, including why this piece of art made a big splash at a London auction.


FOSTER: South Korea is on heightened alert after a cyber attack on media outlets and banks. Computer servers were disrupted at three broadcaster, four banks and two insurance companies. With tensions between North and South Korea at a boiling point, suspicion immediately fell on Pyongyang. South Korea's government has set up a crisis team to investigate.

Now, it's being dubbed the Mona Lisa of kitsch. And those it's no Da Vinci, this portrait did a star turn earlier on the auction block fetching 1.5 million. CNN's Erin McLaughlin went along to Bonham's Auction House in London to see what all the fuss was about.


ERIN MCLAUGHLIN, CNN CORRESPONDENT: She's known as The Chinese Girl. With a green face and golden tunic, she was one of the most reproduced paintings of the 1960s and 1970s.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: But I think what I think is so amazing is the detail here. I just think as a technically it is a tour de force.

MCLAUGHLIN: Copies of The Chinese Girl adorned everything from toilets to magnets.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It is, I suppose, the Mona Lisa of kitsch, but it is a great work of art as well.

MCLAUGHLIN: Both reviled and revered, she was auctioned Wednesday at Bonham's in London.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I think the colors he's used are slightly discordant in some way, and that's what evokes reaction in you. As to some people, I might want to get a knife and slash it, but for others they think it's amazing. And that's the mystery.

MCLAUGHLIN: Chinese Girl is the best known work of Russian artist Vladimir Tretchikoff.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: You can't ignore what he was doing. And he was painting very different works of art at the time. I mean, he was radical.

MCLAUGHLIN: He painted her in South Africa. His model, then teenager Monica Pan (ph) now in her 70s, even she has some doubts about the painting.


MCLAUGHLIN: Are you a fan of his work?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: yes. I mean, I can certainly...

MCLAUGHLIN: Honestly speaking, are you a fan of his work?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: If you were to ask me would I have one of his works hanging in my house, I would say no for two reasons. One is I can't afford them. And secondly, I would -- if I could, I would probably chose other works, but that's just pure personal taste. But you know what, that's the whole business about selling art is that every picture reacts differently.

MCLAUGHLIN: And that certainly seems to be the case with the Chinese girl. The iconic image sold for almost $1.5 million at auction.

Erin McLaughlin, CNN, London.


FOSTER: Now, it wasn't exactly the usual morning commute. At 7:00 this morning UK time, Queen Elizabeth, the Duchess of Cambridge and Prince Philip all turned up at the Baker Street Tube Station to mark the 150th anniversary of the London Underground. The recently hospitalized queen was all smiles and beamed when the Duchess was given an unexpected gift.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Ladies and gentleman, I'd just like to give the Duchess a little extra present, a new baby onboard.


FOSTER: Well, Kate is expecting her first baby in July with Prince William. The child will be third in line to the British throne.

A tough day on the road for the U.S. President's limousine. Barack Obama, his reinforced limo nicknamed The Beast, had to be towed through the streets of Jerusalem. The U.S. Secret Service can't confirm reports that the car was refueled with petrol instead of diesel. A second presidential limo was on hand luckily to transport Mr. Obama.

The latest world news headlines just ahead, plus their freed from forced labor, how needy children were lured into modern day slavery and what finally brought them to freedom.

Also on the show, will Michael Phelps make a comeback?

And later in the show -- we can be heroes, how David Bowie is inspiring the class of 2013 to reach their dreams.


MAX FOSTER, HOST: This is CONNECT THE WORLD. The top stories this hour. Barack Obama is pledging unwavering commitment to Israel's security. On his first trip to the country, the US president met with prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu to discuss, among other things, the recent reports of a possible chemical weapons attack in Syria.

President Obama has said that would be a red line. Our John King looks at US calculations in the event of such an attack.


JOHN KING, CNN CHIEF US CORRESPONDENT: The president has been very clear, his national security team has been very clear, they don't see any scenarios under which you would put US boots on the ground.

Now, would there be some special operations to try to take out additional chemical weapons? Certainly the president would say that he would want the regime held to justice after the fact, but what do you do in the short term? That is the big question. Do you do more to help the opposition, or is there a direct US military role?

Because if you take out -- it's very dangerous, Wolf, to take out a chemical weapons site. Sometimes if you just bomb a chemical weapon site, you can disburse those chemicals and do more harm than good.

So, the military options from the very beginning, one of the reasons the US has not talked at all about any military options, is that they range from bad to worse.


FOSTER: Cyprus state television reports on Thursday the country's president will present an alternative plan to avoid financial meltdown. This after parliament blocked the European Union respite plan. Meanwhile, the central bank in Cyprus says the country's banks will be closed at least until next week.

French police have raided the Paris home of IMF chief Christine Lagarde, but lawyers say it's part of investigation into her role in settling a business dispute when she was the French finance minister. They say she has nothing to hide and is cooperating with investigators.

A bleak budget for Britain. UK finance minister George Osbourne has sliced Britain's growth forecast in half. He also cut the UK's business tax rate to try and coax some growth out of an austerity-weary nation.

Tonight, a closer look at the vicious cycle of forced labor and what's being done to wipe it out. CNN launched the Freedom Project two years ago now to raise awareness of the more than 20 million people trapped in often brutal jobs they can't leave.

According to the International Labor Organization, three out of every 1,000 people in the world are victims of forced labor. The vast majority are in Asia, which has nearly 12 million victims of trafficking.

But this is no numbers game. We've seen over and over how modern-day slavery is fueled by greed, which then takes advantage of the desperate. That's what happened in an Indian village where people trying to stay alive were lured into bonded labor.

A year and a half after the Freedom Project exposed this abuse, CNN's Malika Kapur went back and found more evidence of human trafficking.


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Come on, are you going outside?


MALIKA KAPUR, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Five hundred people rescued during a raid on a brick kiln in southern India. Bonded laborers toiling under brutal, oppressive conditions brought home to their village in Odisha state. We reported on their newfound freedom a year and a half ago.

Now, we're on the road again to report on a similar case in another village close by. Here, more than 140 bonded laborers have just returned from a different brick kiln. Lucky Singh was one of them. He normally earns $18 a week weaving baskets, not enough to feed a family of six. That's why he was willing to listen when an agent visited his village.

LUCKY SINGH, RESCUED BONDED LABORER (through translator): He said, "Come with me. We will give you work. You'll have food, water, all sorts of conveniences." And he gave us 22,000 rupees in advance.

KAPUR: Lured by the money, about $400 US, Singh and several other villagers followed the agent to a brick kiln like the one we reported on in 2011.

SINGH (through translator): We didn't get time to eat or to bathe. One day, I dosed off. Then the boss came and beat me with a stick. See?

KAPUR: Other laborers say they also faced brutal conditions.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE (through translator): They used to say you won't get food or water if you don't work. We'll beat you. See what happened to my finger while working?

ANU GEORGE, INTERNATIONAL JUSTICE MISSION: There are tens of millions of people trapped under the bonded labor system.

KAPUR: Anu George works for the International Justice Mission, a human rights group fighting bonded labor, an illegal practice in which workers pay back an advance with manual labor, not money.

Acting on a tip from an escaped worker, IJM and the local government raided the brick kiln in January. They rescued 149 people. Of those, 34 were children.

KAPUR (on camera): What are they doing here?

GEORGE: They're actually tossing the bricks even so that the moisture gets dried up evenly. And children as small as two and a half years old, they recall from the muscle memory, so if you ask them to explain what they did, they will not be able to say, and that's the reason why we were unable to find out at the time of release that these were also bonded child laborers. So now we need --

KAPUR: So, all these children here are bonded child laborers?

GEORGE: All of them here are bonded child laborers, and all of them, even if they are not able to communicate how exactly they worked --

KAPUR: They can show you.

GEORGE: They can show you.

KAPUR (voice-over): Though bonded labor was banned in India in 1976, it's still widely practiced in the countryside. Though the government has employment schemes through rural India, they don't reach areas this remote, leaving these people with no choice but to go back to basket weaving and making saris or else take their chances with the next recruiter who comes to their village.

Malika Kapur, CNN, Odisha state, India.


FOSTER: The director of Anti-Slavery International, Aidan McQuade, is with me now here in the studio. We've been reporting so widely on this for a couple of years now, but we talk about Asia being a particular problem, but it's a global problem.

MCQUADE: It's a global problem, but in terms of numbers, Asia is probably the most -- the most serious problem. But it's also quite emblematic because it demonstrates, particularly in India and particularly as your report's shown, just what in important issue rule of law is in terms of dealing with these issues.

So, there is fine law on the books in India, and there's been some very imaginative law put in place this past year or so by the current Indian government, but it's not being implemented. There's not enough judges, there's not enough police, there's not enough honest police, there's not enough honest judges or women judges in order to do this.

And until you get an extension of rule of law into the small villages and towns of places like India and Pakistan and Nepal, you're going to continue to have people flouting the law for their own personal gain.

FOSTER: What can individuals do about this? Because many of the people living in these communities probably feel a bit helpless. It's a cultural problem, isn't it?

MCQUADE: Yes. They're forgotten by the world. They're actually -- let's be honest -- they're ignored by the world, generally speaking. What individuals can do about this, I think, is two things.

Just very quickly put your hands in your pockets. There's a lot of very good anti-slavery, anti-trafficking charities across the world operating on shoestrings who can do with more money.

And secondly, write to the big charities and your own governments and your own representatives and ask what they're doing about it in order to mainstream this issue into the political mainstream in order to deal with it as a priority issue in the world.

FOSTER: And in terms of the project over the two years, what progress, what impact would you say it's had?

MCQUADE: It's slow going still. I think first of all, the CNN project's unprecedented for anybody else haven't done this. Some other credible and honorable news organizations are taking up the issue now, but CNN has really blazed a trail on this.

And that's been very important. It's brought it to the front of people's attention. Now, we have to take it to the front of the political agenda across the world and really make change in aid, in tread, in diplomacy, so that this becomes something which -- people watch the film "Lincoln" and say how much we're inspired by this, but let's see the politicians of today demonstrating a modicum of the courage that Abraham Lincoln had in the past.

FOSTER: OK. Aidan McQuade, thank you very much, indeed.

MCQUADE: Thank you.

FOSTER: For more on how you can help, follow the CNN Freedom Project on our website, go onto

Live from London, you're watching CONNECT THE WORLD. Coming up next, what this world-famous media mogul has been up to since her daytime talk show ended. Our Leading Women series continues after this short break.


FOSTER: Well, she's known around the world by just her first name. Oprah Winfrey hosted a daytime talk show in the US for 25 years. Now she's running her own network and inspiring women to follow their dreams. Felicia Taylor profiles Oprah on this week's Leading Women.



FELICIA TAYLOR, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): From media personality to mogul.

OPRAH WINFREY, CHIARMAN AND CEO, OWN: My dream is that the channel will be the home base for people who are seeking the best of themselves.

TAYLOR: How a TV talk show host become one of the world's wealthiest, most powerful, and most inspirational women.


TAYLOR: Using her influence to help others follow their own dreams.

PATTIE SELLERS, SENIOR EDITOR-AT-LARGE, "FORTUNE" MAGAZINE: She has never stopped thinking about, OK, I have a platform, I have a TV show, what more can I do with it than the normal person would do? Something constantly pulls at her to do more. And I think she feels it's a higher calling. It's a responsibility.


TAYLOR: A responsibility that comes with being Oprah Winfrey, not just the person, but the brand.

WINFREY: I'm Oprah Winfrey, and welcome to the very first national "Oprah Winfrey Show"!

TAYLOR: Including her self-named TV show that started in 1986.


TAYLOR: And ran for 25 seasons. Harpo, her own name spelled backwards, the production company she founded to produce her show and others, and now, OWN, the Oprah Winfrey Network, the cable company that she launched in 2011.



TAYLOR: But Oprah says her most important job is not on her resume at all. She considers herself a teacher who instructs others on how to better themselves.

WINFREY: I've reached the point in my life where I don't just want to do nice things or do good things. I really want to be able to change people's lives forever. And I strongly believe that the way to do that is by changing the way people think about their lives.

MEHMET OZ, HOST, "THE DR. OZ SHOW": That's why I always jokingly call her Professor Oprah.

TAYLOR: Dr. Mehmet Oz was a regular guest on "The Oprah Winfrey Show." She became his television mentor, eventually giving him his own show in 2009.

OZ: She likes to impart information -- meaningful information to people, the kind of information that as a kid when you had the best teacher in the world, you'd walk out of class and say oh, my goodness, eureka! Those are such cool ideas to take away. That experience will change my life.

TAYLOR: Empathy and positivity are qualities Oprah brings to her leadership style as well.

SELLERS: A lot of successful women don't like being called women leaders. Oprah's comfortable with it. And one reason Oprah is comfortable with it is because she cares about women. Women are her audience. She speaks to women. And frankly, as a leader, she has -- she has a very sort of female management style.

WINFREY: I believe. I believe in you.


TAYLOR: Her goal ultimately is to inspire others to be their best.

OZ: What I love the most about watching Oprah inspire others is how passionate she is about giving people confidence that they matter. She's never taken her eye off that desire to make a difference in people's lives.

WINFREY: And what do I want? I don't want to just be successful in the world. I don't want to just make a mark or have a legacy. The answer to that question for me is I want to fulfill the highest, truest expression of myself as a human being.


FOSTER: Oprah Winfrey is teaming up with another of our Leading Women. Find out who by going to

Coming up after this short break on CONNECT THE WORLD, Olympic gold medalist Michael Phelps has hung up his swimming cap and goggles. We're hear what the swimmer's life is like in retirement and whether a return to the pool could be in the offing.


FOSTER: Footballer David Beckham's certainly a star in Europe and he's done a stint in the US. So, why not China? Don Riddell joins me now from CNN Center. Let's just not talk about how much he's earning.


DON RIDDELL, CNN SPORTS CORRESPONDENT: Yes, let's -- please let's not do that. Yes, you're absolutely right, David Beckham was in China on Wednesday in Beijing. He took off his jacket and had a bit of a kick around with a few school kids.

And he is there to promote his new role as the special ambassador for Chinese football. Now, Chinese football, Max, desperately could do with an image makeover, given that they really have recently been embroiled in an absolutely terrible match-fixing scandal, a scandal that saw 33 top officials, players, and referees either banned or jailed.

There's a population of 1.3 billion people in China, and they all like watching football, or a lot of them like watching football, but not that many of them enjoy playing football. So, this is something where Beckham is hoping to achieve, he's hoping to improve the interest in the game from the grassroots up. And he denies that he's there to clean up any of the mess that's gone before him.


DAVID BECKHAM, GLOBAL AMBASSADOR FOR CHINESE FOOTBALL: I don't think there will be any damage to my reputation simply because I'm not a proper politician, and I'm not involved in any scandals and corruption that has gone on in the past.

I'm here for the future. I'm here to be an ambassador for the grassroots football and for the continued success of the game leading forward. Whatever's gone on in the past, like I said, I'm not a politician, so nothing to do with me.


RIDDELL: Max, some people are wondering if Beckham will end up actually playing in China next after he's done with Paris Saint-Germain. He is expected to play in one exhibition game later this year. Who knows what will come after that?

FOSTER: And he's a guy that doesn't seem to do retirement. Someone else, though, Michael Phelps, has done retirement, and we've got an idea of how he's been adjusting to that.

RIDDELL: Yes. Well, I think he's found adjusting to life as a retired 27-year-old very easily. By all accounts, he's having an absolutely great time. And he doesn't miss his competitive lifestyle at all, or at least not the competitive swimming lifestyle that he enjoyed.

CNN recently caught up with him, actually, in Rio where he was a part of the Laureus Sports Awards. Our man Pedro Pinto got to speak with him, and of course he asked, is a comeback in the offing?


PEDRO PINTO, CNN SPORTS CORRESPONDENT: I have to ask you: Michael Jordan did it, Mario Lemieux did it --


PINTO: -- many boxers did it. You don't know what the question is yet.



PHELPS: I mean, I already know where you're going. It won't be --

PINTO: So, is there a comeback?


PINTO: No way? Not even when you're here in Rio?

PHELPS: I'll be here. I'll be watching. But no. I've done everything I've wanted to in the sport, and there's no need to come back.

PINTO: What do you think you'll miss the most? The smell of chlorine? Maybe not.

PHELPS: No. What's funny is, I just had my hot tub filled up in my pool in my house, and they put chlorine in it, and I was like, no, I really don't miss that smell.


RIDDELL: He's absolutely right Max. He has nothing left to do in the world of swimming. But he is having a bit of a dabble with the game of golf, and if you join us on "World Sport" in about 40 minutes' time, he'll be very honest with us and tell us just how hard he finds it. Join us for that.

FOSTER: Good stuff. Don, thank you very much, indeed, for that. Now, one of the hottest tickets in London for an exhibition that hasn't even opened yet, the city's Victoria and Albert Museum has sold a record 40,000 advance tickets to its David Bowie retrospective. It opens this weekend.

The V&A says it had an unprecedented access to Bowie's archive, his music his memorabilia, and his costumes. And as CNN's Neil Curry reports, students at Bowie's old school have been invited to bring on the Ziggy Stardust and perform at the show.


NEIL CURRY, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): The class of half a century ago at Bromley Technical High School near London, and one boy stands out from the crowd, with his sharp haircut and side-on pose.

Today, the school has updated both its name and facilities, but the art block and corridors where pupils jammed during breaks from lessons remain little changed.

CURRY (on camera): If you'd been walking down this staircase 50 years ago, you may have seen the young, 16-year-old David Jones practicing his music. He became known to the world, of course, as David Bowie, and his influence is still being felt in the school today.

LAURA YANDELL, HEAD OF DANCE AND DRAMA: So, can you just double check that you're in an appropriate position? And remember that we were discussing how David Bowie has this alter-ego, Ziggy Stardust, and how we were using this concept of having an alter-ego and you have created your own alter-egos through this process. So, could you remember your starting positions for your alter-ego, and can you create that character now?

CURRY (voice-over): Pupils are creating a piece of musical theater inspired by their famous alumni, which will be performed at the Victoria and Albert Museum's A Retrospective Exhibition on Bowie.

YANDELL: You're seeing students' interpretations and ideas about David Bowie, who he is, what he is, and what he is to them. In terms of the music academy, they are playing his songs, researching who he was throughout his different styles, different eras, and they are now going to be putting together their own piece of music.

PAIGE RICHARDS, DANCER: Now, we're more aware of David Bowie, since we've started the project now, we're sort of walking around school sort of thinking, oh, he was here, and that's what we're doing. So, it's really, really interesting and it does put it in perspective for all of us that we can do that if we want to. So, I think it's really great that he sort of came here and we are following in his footsteps.

DON GRIMSHAW, DANCER: Looking at David Bowie and his success, it gives us inspiration to do what he did. Maybe not in the same way, but in any way we want to individually, we can be successful. And he's a good role model for us, which is why we're enjoying doing this project.

YANDELL: One boy was just very excited that he found he lived three streets away from where David Bowie lived, and he went and got pictures of the street sign. And it was just -- they say it themselves, they are walking in his footsteps.

CURRY: Walking in his footsteps is one thing, but singing David Bowie's songs in David Bowie's school carries a special responsibility.

STEFAN MAHENDRA, SINGER: Hopefully everyone will see it and just people will be blown away by what David Bowie has written and composed and what he's made of the world.

YANDELL: And you should have by that point picked up a tan.

CURRY: And if you're wondering about the use of soup cans in the dance, that was inspired by Bowie's interest in Andy Warhol's pop art. But a shortage of soup at the local shop necessitated a change of brand.

Neil Curry, CNN, London.


FOSTER: And in tonight's Parting Shots, we bring you a tale from Down Under, where New Zealanders are toasting the end of what's being called Marmageddon. For the first time in a while, the popular breakfast spread Marmite is back on supermarket shelves.

The culinary crisis dates back to early 2011, when the country's only Marmite factor was damaged in the Christchurch earthquake. Now, the factory's up and running again and the breakfast treat is back. Kiwis celebrated by posting photos on Twitter of what many are calling the return of black gold.

I'm Max Foster, thank you for watching. That was CONNECT THE WORLD.