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Jason Collins Becomes First Major U.S. Sports Player To Come Out; Five Car Bombs Explode In Iraqi Neighborhoods; Queen Beatrix Abdicates Throne After 33 Years

Aired April 29, 2013 - 16:00   ET


BECKY ANDERSON, HOST: Car bombs rock neighborhoods across Iraq as sectarian violence in the country intensifies. Tonight, why tensions are at their highest since U.S. troops pulled out over a year ago.

ANNOUNCER: Live from CNN London, this is connect the world with Becky Anderson.

ANDERSON: Also ahead on this show. Remember this? The life and death drama of the King of Pop gets another airing in court with billions of dollars at stake.

And NBA player Jason Collins becomes the first openly gay player in a major American team sport. Ahead, why he decided to come out.

First up for you tonight, new fears that tensions between Sunni and Shia Muslims in Iraq could once again erupt into full scale sectarian war.

Five car bombs exploded across Iraq today in majority Shia areas. At least 25 people were killed. Two of the bombs exploded near a busy outdoor market in the city of Amarah. No one has claimed responsibility for today's attacks. The sectarian violence in Iraq has, though, surged recently with more than 200 people killed in just the past week alone.

Well, Iraq's prime minister suggests the uptick in violence could be a spillover effect from Syria in comments over the weekend. Nouri al-Maliki said sectarian strife, quote, came back to Iraq because it began in another place in this region, an apparent reference there to the Syrian civil war.

Senior correspondent Arwa Damon spent years in Baghdad covering the war in Iraq. She's following developments tonight from Beirut.

What do we know of the details of these attacks at this point, Arwa?

ARWA DAMON, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, as you said there the groups that are carrying out these attacks continue to go after soft targets -- marketplaces, busy streets. But important also to address the prime minister's comments. When he says that the sectarian violence returned to Iraq from yet another country he is not entirely mistaken. The effects, the dynamics that we see taking place in Syria most certainly do have an impact on what is happening in neighboring Iraq, but Iraq's sectarian tensions are by no means a novelty to that country, nor has the country ever fully resolved its own underlying sectarian issues.

And there have been ongoing demonstrations in majority Sunni areas against the predominately Shia government of Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki for months now. Many people are accusing the prime minister of carrying out a Shia agenda. We also do see on a number of occasions the Iraqi security forces really going after the Sunni demonstrators, most notably earlier in the week where there was significant clashes between Iraqi security forces and Sunni gunmen in one town that is some 250 kilometers to the north of Iraq.

So while on the one hand we are seeing an increase in sectarian tensions, it is not entirely surprising, because Iraq has never fully dealt with these issues. And the very existence of Iraq right now, the very structure and framework of the Iraqi government as it is, is most certainly sectarian.

So what we're seeing right now has just been Iraq really boiling over, growing increasingly more tense, much more tense right now than it has been in the last few years. So much so that the UN special representative to Iraq is now warning that the nation is at a crossroads, Becky.

ANDERSON: Arwa Damon for you on this story tonight.

Let's back up a bit and have a look at what Arwa there was talking about. This latest wave of violence, as Arwa suggested, beginning last Tuesday following raids by government security forces here in Hawuja here in northern Iraq. That sparked angry clashes with Sunni protesters. At least 51 people were killed. Well, further violence later reported in Mosul, Fallujah, Baqubah and Najaf.

Then on Friday in Baghdad, bombs exploded at Sunni mosques in Baghdad and a restaurant in the Shiite district of the city. At least 14 killed at that point.

And then we fast forward to today and the violence spreading, as you can see these spots emerging here in cities down to the south, at least 25 people killed in a series of car bombings, including at least 13 in the city of Amarah.

Let's get some perspective on all of this on somebody who is a regular guest on this show, Fawaz Gerges. He is director of the Middle East Center at the London School of Economics regularly comes in and talks to us about exactly what is going on in this region.

We've got a sense from Arwa what she believes to be the details out of Iraq. We've heard from al Maliki suggesting this is a spillover from what is a regional conflict. Talk me through the interior of Iraq first, and then what we know about outside.

FAWAZ GERGES, LONDON SCHOOL OF ECONOMICS: It's misleading, Becky, to say as the prime minister, the Iraqi prime minister says that it's only basically a sectarian conflict spilling over from Syria into Iraq. It's basically a severe political crisis. The American political -- the Iraqi political system put -- set up by the Americans after the invasion basically is dysfunctional, that is, is not working. And the country, of course, is polarized along ideological, sectarian and political lines.

And yes, the spillover from Syria into Iraq has exacerbated an already dangerous situation. In particular sectarian situation. It all started here on the 23rd of April in Hawuja, where government forces, using massive force, basically stormed a sit-in protest killing 51 people and injuring 120 Sunni Arabs. These protesters, like other protesters in the rest of the Arab world, are calling for a bigger say, a bigger voice in the political system in Iraq, because the system is seen by a majority of Sunnis in this part of Iraq as basically not taking, not representing the Sunni community, the central government in Baghdad is seen as a Shiite led government as opposed to being an inclusive government.

ANDERSON: So why do we hear al Maliki saying what he said?

GERGES: Well, what do you expect the prime minister to say? The prime minister is saying this is not an internal conflict, this is basically coming to us from Syria and also coming to us from the Gulf states, from Qatar and from Iraq and from Saudi Arabia. They are basically exporting their salafi, militant ideology...

ANDERSON: And you don't believe that's happening at all?

GERGES: That's not the question. It is happening, of course. The spillover of the Syrian conflict, not just into Iraq and to Lebanon as well, but we should not neglect the essence of the crisis in Iraq. It's a severe political crisis. The system is not inclusive. The Sunni Arabs, who are a minority, represents about 18 percent, do not feel represented. They feel excluded and disenfranchised in the post-Saddam Hussein Iraq.

ANDERSON: What happens next in Iraq?

GERGES: Iraq now is in the eye of the storm, because as you said the conflict is spreading into many parts of Iraq. It's no longer in the Sunni dominated areas here and in Baghdad, it's spreading into the Shiite areas all over Iraq. And the reality is Iraq could easily descend into all out sectarian strife given the sectarian polarization that has taken place not just in Iraq, in Syria and Lebanon.

So the prime minister is correct to say that the conflict in Syria has really basically exacerbated the sectarian polarization, but he needs to take into account the political aspirations of the Sunni minority that feels alienated from the political system in Baghdad.

ANDERSON: Interesting analysis. Fawaz, always a pleasure.

You're watching Connect the World here on CNN with me Becky Anderson.

Still to come tonight, another member of Bashar al-Assad's regime is targeted for an assassination attempt. Another live report from Damascus on the latest from Syria's civil war.



ANNA COREN, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Oh my god. So, I've just seen myself black out.


ANDERSON: All those Top Gun wannabes out there, I'm going to show you what it takes to become a fighter pilot in an exclusive report you will hear and you will not want to miss.

And when friends turn foes on Mount Everest, the melee at 7,000 meters.

All that and much more when Connect the World continues.


ANDERSON: Right. 12 minutes past 9:00. You're watching CNN. This is Connect the World. I'm Becky Anderson for you in London.

Some other news headlines for you now. And British retailer Primark says it will compensate victims and families of those killed in last week's Bangladesh building collapse. Now the company had some clothing produced at the factory in the building. The government is vowing to inspect all garment factories as the search for survivors nears an end. The confirmed death toll now 398. Rescuers saved more than 2,700 people.

Officials have arrested seven, including the building's owner who was caught apparently trying to flee the country. He appeared in court today.

Syria's prime minister has escaped an assassination attempt. A bomb targeting his convoy exploded in an upscale Damascus neighborhood earlier today. Let's get some details from Fred Pleitgen. He's just arrived in the Syrian capital and joins me on the phone.

What do we know, Fred.


Well, I drove passed the blast site a little earlier today and needless to say obviously there still is a lot of debris out in that area. There were some people out in the area, however. And as you said, it is an upscale neighborhood. It's a neighborhood also where a lot of government officials live, the (inaudible) neighborhood.

And one of the interesting things there is, is that there are a lot of checkpoints there that are supposed to prevent exactly what had happened just now, of course, with that car bomb.

And from talking to people in Damascus, they tell us that they'd actually gotten the impression in the last couple of weeks of the situation that's been getting a little more stable here, a little more secure for them. But of course now this attack really ripped through all that. It's caused a lot of uncertainty here in the Syrian capital, Becky.

ANDERSON: Fred Pleitgen for you out of Damascus this evening.

Russia's Interfax news agency reports two missiles targeted a Russian passenger plane as it flew over Syria today. It says unidentified people fired land-to-air missiles, which exploded near the plane. Now the civilian jet was en route to Russia from Egypt. It landed safely as scheduled.

Now Russian government officials will say only that the plane's crew, and I quote, "spotted military activity." They are trying to clarify details with Syrian authorities.

Well, Czech officials now say a gas explosion caused a powerful blast that ripped through central Prague. At least 35 people were injured. The blast shattered windows, collapsed the building's first floor ceiling and could be felt more than a kilometer away. More than 200 people were evacuated. And it could be late Tuesday before officials give the area an all clear.

Now 23 people remain hospitalized as a result of the Boston bombings two weeks ago. That number comes as the investigation into the terror attack deepens. And elusive figure called Misha has now been interviewed by the FBI as part of the probe.

Nick Paton Walsh joins us from Russia with more from that side of the story.

Nick, you've been on this story now for what is it a couple of weeks, day in, day out. What are we hearing from Russia and Moscow tonight?

NICK PATON WALSH, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, interestingly a lead developed early Sunday morning. Special forces in Dagestan, a village called Champal (ph), conducting a raid on a house there in which they said they killed a militant called Sheikh Radine as-Habov (ph). Now why is he important? Well, he's part of a militant group down there that used to be led by a man called Abu Dujan. He also was killed in December. Why is he linked to Boston? His video, a video of him, was linked to by Tamerlan Tsarnaev on his YouTube channel.

So, we don't know if any of these men ever met at any point. We know that as-Habov (ph) and Abu Dujan were in the same militant operation. But what is interesting, though, is while the FBI and FSB continue to exchange information, we have a statement from the White House in which President Obama thanked President Putin for all the cooperation they got in counterterrorism.

As that cooperation continues, Russian special forces have been taking out members of Abu Dujan's group on the ground, Becky.

ANDERSON: All right. Nick, thank you for that.

The FBI also visiting the widow of suspect Tamerlan Tsarnaev. It appears that her family home in Rhode Island earlier today Katherine Russel and her three year old child have been staying at home with her family since the attacks. The FBI says they were there as part of their ongoing investigation and would not give specifics.

Well, UK's Duke and Duchess of Cambridge are celebrating their second wedding anniversary today, albeit apart. The Duchess spent the day visiting a children's hospice, while Prince William's air force commitments kept him away.

In 2011, their marriage, of course, was celebrated the nation over. From Buckingham Palace to the back streets of Britain, parties ran through the night. Two years on, the royal couple are expecting their first child, which is due in July.

Well, with one royal dynasty blossoming, it seems, another is about to change hands. On Tuesday, Queen Beatrix of the Netherlands will formally abdicate after 33 years on the Dutch throne.

From Amsterdam, CNN's royal correspondent Max Foster explains why.


MAX FOSTER, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, it feels like the world has converged on Amsterdam. You can see the bits of orange appearing. Queen's Day is always a big celebration here, but this year of course it's special because the queen is stepping down. And it all happens in the royal palace behind me.

All she does is sign a simple piece of paper, it's called the instrument of abdication. But once her signature is complete, she's no longer queen, she's princess and her son takes over.

The nation will get their first glimpse of King William Alexander from a balcony over there where he will address the nation with his new queen alongside him and the rest of his family.

Later on, he'll head over there to the Nieuwe Kerk, the New Church, for the investiture ceremony.

They don't crown monarchs here, they simply read out an oath. And after that point, it becomes a formal appointment.

It's also a joint session of parliament to give it the formality it needs.

And also in presence here will be all the crown princes and princesses of the world.

It's a truly grand occasion. And once it's complete, well, let the party begin.

Is everybody excited about the big day?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Yeah. A lot of people like the king. So tomorrow it will be a big party.

FOSTER: What's it going to look like. What's Amsterdam going to look like?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Completely orange. Everyone dressed up.

FOSTER: It's looking pretty orange already.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I know, but this is just a little bit. You will see a fantastic -- this is going to be the most fantastic event you ever saw in your life.

FOSTER: Well, you're going to have a good time.

Max Foster, CNN...

CROWD: Amsterdam.


ANDERSON: Well, new video has been released showing former South African Nelson Mandela. The 94-year-old was said to be in good spirits during a meeting with the current president Jacob Zuma and is home in Johannesburg earlier today.

Now these are the first pictures that we've seen of Mandela since he was released from a hospital following treatment for pneumonia earlier this year.

Live from London, this is Connect the World.

Coming up, a first in major American professional team sport, and it didn't take place on a pitch, or on a court.


COREN: Oh my god. So, I've just seen myself black out twice.


ANDERSON: Find out why our Anna Coren was left fainting after a very special ride in South Korea.


ANDERSON: Right. This is CNN. And it's the time on the show when we do a bit of sports.

An extraordinary story in the world of sports today. Basketball player Jason Collins has become the first active openly gay athlete in any of the four major American professional team sports. Amanda Davies is here to tell us more. How did this young man come out, if that's the term we should use. Whoops?

AMANDA DAVIES, CNN SPORTS CORRESPONDENT: Oopsy daisy. Yeah, it's basically Jason Collins, a veteran of 12 NBA seasons, has given an author an exclusive piece for the Sports Illustrated magazine whereby as you said he has come out as the first active male professional sports person in America.

It's a really fantastic front page, a very moving image and a very moving article. He starts the article with the words, "I'm a 34-year-old NBA center. I am black. And I'm gay." And that really summed it up.

He then went on to say, I didn't set out to be the first openly gay athlete playing in a major American team sport, but since I am I'm happy to start the conversation.

So as you can imagine because this is such a rarity in professional sport in America, the reaction has been absolutely incredible.

The timing of this is quite interesting. He is a relative veteran after 12 seasons at the age of 34, but he's also a free agent. And we had the MLS footballer Robbie Rogers who came out earlier this year, the footballer, but he came out and then retired. He said I don't feel I can carry on in a team sport having come out as gay.

But Jason Collins says he does want to carry on and carry on his career in professional sport. It just remains to be seen whether a team will take that step and take him on.

ANDERSON: I've been keeping an eye on the social media sphere as it were since this story came out. Gratified to see in 2013 so much support for Jason out there. There are some naysayers. They are absolutely allowed to say -- have their own opinions, of course, but the overwhelming support for this young guy.

Did he say why he hadn't made this decision earlier in his career?

DAVIES: He said he started thinking about in 2011 when there was the lockout. So his normal routine of being a professional basketball player was thrown out the window and he suddenly had a bit more time to think about it. And he basically said I'm now a free agent both on and off the court. And that was why he decided to make this move now.

But the reaction as you said both the people who know him from inside basketball and elsewhere on the whole has been incredible. His former teams he's played for, lots of them, he's played for six different teams in professional basketball. The Wizards, the Hawks, the Boston Celtics, they've all supported his decision as has the NBA commissioner David Stern. And some big name players have spoken out.

I think we can have a look at a tweet from Kobe Bryant. He says, proud of Jason Collins 34. Don't suffocate who you are because of the ignorance of others #courage #support."

And Steve Nash has come out as well. He says -- or -- he has come out -- come out in support, I should say, "the time has come. Maximum respect."

An interesting person who has come out in support of Collins is Bill Clinton, the former president, because his daughter Chelsea was at Stanford with Collins. And he said, "it's also the straightforward statement of a good man who wants no more than what so many of us seek, to be able to be who we are, to do our work, to build families, and to contribute to our communities."

ANDERSON: And what I think that what Bill Clinton has just said there probably sums up the answer to the next question, which is just how significant is this to the world of sport do you think? Let's say there will be some naysayers out there.

DAVIES: There will. There -- it's a very difficult one. It's undoubtedly a very big step. But in the past when Robbie Rogers came out, when Gareth Thomas, the rugby union international, came out, people said this will open the floodgates. It will allow other sports people to realize that, you know, they can come out and they will be supported.

However, it hasn't opened the floodgates in the past.

Robbie Rogers, has interestingly, said that give the support for his announcement he is thinking of coming back to professional football.

It's incredible to think Martina Navratilova, the tennis great, came out in 1981, that was 32 years ago. And she's been very interesting talking about this saying that she still believes there is a very big different, yes, between women and men in sport coming out, but also a very big difference between individual athletes and team athletes is what she had to say.


MARTINA NAVRATILOVA, TENNIS LEGEND: Times have changed and homophobia is no longer acceptable. If anything, it's the homophobes that need to be in the closet as opposed to the other way around. So I don't think -- I don't think we'll see a whole huge amount of players coming out all of a sudden, but now that Jason has kind of broke the barrier, it'll be a lot easier and with each player that comes out it will be less and less of a big deal which is exactly what we want it to be. We don't want it to be an issue, but until we have equal rights under the law and equal protection under the law, it will be an issue. And I'm sure Jason has helped move that ball forward a little bit.


DAVIES: So there we are. A lot of people who are coming out having their say about it. And it's -- it'll just be great to see him back on a basketball court and yeah...

ANDERSON: And what a great he is -- what a great sportsman full stop.

DAVIES: Full stop. That's the thing.

ANDERSON: Yadda, yadda. Thank you young lady. Thank you for helping me out with reorganizing my bits and bobs here in the studio.

Amanda, always a pleasure, thank you.

The latest world news headlines just ahead. Plus, the Jackson family in court. Find out why the pop star's family believes concert promoters bear the blame for his death.

As if climbing Everest, that's Mount Everest right, isn't hard enough, what happens when those who are supposed to help you try to hurt you? We're going to be finding out about that.

Plus, of course your headlines as you would imagine. It's CNN. Bottom of the hour. Those are up after this.


ANDERSON: Welcome back, bottom of the hour out of London, I'm Becky Anderson for you, this is CONNECT THE WORLD on CNN. The top stories this hours.

British retailer Primark says it will pay compensation to victims and families of those killed in last week's building collapse in Bangladesh. Primark has some clothing producer factories in that building.

Syria's prime minister survived a bombing in Damascus that targeted his convoy. Earlier, his bodyguard and five others are reported killed. No one has claimed responsibility. This is the third attack targeting a top regime official since last July when the defense minister was killed.

Meanwhile, still no claim of responsibility after a series of car bombs in Iraq. Four struck predominantly Shiite cities, the other a Sunni dominated area. Twenty-five people were killed and dozens were wounded.

And these are the first public pictures of Nelson Mandela since his birthday last year. South African president Jacob Zuma says the 94-year- old is in good shape after being treated by -- for pneumonia in hospital.

All right. Well, Michael Jackson's family are in court today for the start of a trial that could win them billions -- and I say billions -- of dollars. They've taken concert promoters AEG Live to court saying the company helped cause the pop star's death. Kyung Lah is in Los Angeles with the latest from the courtroom. First, though, let's get a little background on this case from CNN's Casey Wian.


CASEY WIAN, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Michael Jackson was in the last weeks of rehearsal for what was to be his grand comeback. The exhausted 50-year-old insomniac died in 2009 from an overdose of sedatives and the surgical anesthetic propofol.

Dr. Conrad Murray was convicted of involuntary manslaughter for giving Jackson the fatal dose in an effort to help him sleep. He's in prison. Now, the company that promoted the comeback tour, AEG Live, is fighting legal claims by Jackson's mother and children that it shares responsibility for the singer's death because it hired and supervised Murray.

PIERS MORGAN, HOST, "PIERS MORGAN TONIGHT": What do you think, as his mother, caused his death?

KATHERINE JACKSON, MICHAEL JACKSON'S MOTHER: I don't know. All I know is they used propofol, and they shouldn't have used it, and they used it in the wrong setting. That's all I know, and that's what caused his death.

JODY ARMOUR, PROFESSOR, USC LAW SCHOOL: The gist of the plaintiff's claim against AEG is that you controlled Dr. Murray and you used your control over Dr. Murray to pressure him into taking unnecessary and excessive risk with his patient, Michael Jackson, leading to Michael Jackson's death.

WIAN: AEG Live's attorney says there was never a signed contract with Murray and that Jackson was the only one who controlled him.

MARVIN PUTNAM, AEG ATTORNEY: He was chosen by Michael Jackson, he'd be there at Michael Jackson's behest, he'd be Michael Jackson's doctor alone, but this was only being done because Michael Jackson asked for it. Michael Jackson was the only person who could get rid of him at will.

WIAN: Potential witnesses include Jackson's teenaged children, Prince Michael and Paris. Producer Quincy Jones could testify about the billions of dollars Michael Jackson would've earned if he had lived, money his heirs now want from AEG, a multibillion-dollar sports, entertainment, and real estate conglomerate.


ANDERSON: Well, the opening statements of that trial began today in a small court in Los Angeles. Kyung Lah is there, and she -- she joins us now live. Kyung, what's happened so far?

KYUNG LAH, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, the morning portion of opening statements has already occurred. What's happening just now, Becky, is that court has just started the afternoon session. It has just opened after a brief lunch break.

And what we are hearing is that the Jackson attorney, the plaintiffs, will -- is now finishing up that opening statement. There are about 30 minutes left. The judge has put a very tight cap of 2.5 hours for each side to make opening statements.

I can tell you from having sat -- sitting in this court, it's a multimedia opening statement, various slides, video showing Jackson performing, a clip from "This is It" tour.

These are all things that the plaintiff's attorney is trying to lay out, laying out the case, saying that what they believe, what the Jackson family believes, that being Katherine Jackson and the three children she represents, Prince, Paris, and Blanket, is that she believes that AEG Live saw dollar signs more than they cared about Michael Jackson's frail health, a health that they were very well aware of, according to the Jacksons.

What AEG Live is saying, Becky, is that this is something that solely lies, as far as responsibility, in Michael Jackson's lap, that the author if his death was himself. And so that's the battle that we're seeing played out, at least in opening statements, certainly getting a lay of the land here.

ANDERSON: All right, good stuff, Kyung, you're going to be on this for some time as the case is expected to go over the last few weeks of the pop star's life in minute detail, and it'll raise the question of just how much responsibility a company has for their clients.

Is there precedent for this? What do we think is going to happen next? Well, joining me now from Los Angeles to discuss the case is Debra Opri, a defense attorney, a former attorney for Michael Jackson's parents.

Pitting the family of one of the biggest global superstars against one of the biggest global entertainment companies, is there a precedent for this, Debra? Out of interest?

DEBRA OPRI, DEFENSE ATTORNEY: Absolutely. Absolutely there's precedent because the world loved Michael Jackson, and Katherine Jackson and her children will be sitting front and foremost by the jury.

Is there precedent against the corporation who had minimal concert dates set and then kept booking and booking and increasing the concert dates and the numbers of the concerts and pushing Michael and his doctor to deliver him? Absolutely there's precedent on what control a corporation will have over the medical condition and the condition of one of its performers.

And that's why you see a lot of the entertainers lined up as witnesses, potentially to testify against AEG.

ANDERSON: That is fascinating. There is a lot of money at stake here. Do we know just how much?

OPRI: Well, the reports say $40 billion, the family members have said not as high. AEG probably never offered much to begin with, but what is it? The damages will be based upon Michael Jackson's ability to have performed until the day he died. AEG will say no, he never would have performed that long, and the family said no, he was worth in the billions of dollars.

It will be up to the jury. I think Katherine Jackson does not have a high hill to climb. I think the defense does, and I think in the end, Katherine Jackson and the estate will win.

ANDERSON: Where do you draw the line between the responsibility of a company for their clients and not, as the case may be?

OPRI: Well, I was very heavily involved with the case, media, and the family back in Michael Jackson's child molestation trial, and the pressure was absolutely enormous. They're going to mention his drug usage, his addiction to prescription drugs, and that this was the type of person that came to them already in this condition.

You have to understand that when Michael contracted with AEG, he contracted to do a finite number of concerts. In my conversations with the family during that period of time of preparing for the concerts was, in fact, that they kept adding the concert performance dates, and this was doing a lot of pressure on Michael.

So, what do you do to draw a line? How do you gauge the liability of this corporation? Well, the big question is, how involved were they in making orders about delivering him, whether or not he was in a good condition or not for all of those concert dates.

ANDERSON: Conrad Murray, of course --

OPRI: That's my opinion.

ANDERSON: -- has been convicted of involuntary manslaughter. My sense, as far as I understand it, is that we will not see him as a witness for AEG, is that correct?

OPRI: In the United States, if you have an appeal going and you may, in fact, be going back to trial on a criminal matter, you have a right not to testify, and I believe that Conrad Murray will assert it. He's already made those statements in former interviews to that effect.

ANDERSON: Briefly, why are they doing this now, the family? Why now?

OPRI: Why is the family suing now? Because I believe they had to get past the Conrad Murray criminal trial, and I believe that they waited as long as they needed to, and I don't think the delay was due to the Jackson family. I think it was due to the steps in our jurisdiction out here and in how long things take to get to trial. California's been very slow in civil trials.

What I will say, and which is of note, it's my understanding that the Jackson family really want their -- Michael's two oldest children to testify, and if they get on the stand, this will be an enormous blow to the defense, especially if they have a lot of insight into Michael Jackson's last days. Look for that, that'll be a very important event.

ANDERSON: And look for the way they've changed. We're showing pictures of them as they were with Michael Jackson --

OPRI: Yes.

ANDERSON: -- and indeed, of course, when he just passed away. They are a little older than that now, and perhaps a little wiser. All right, thank you for that. Debra, a pleasure to have you on.

Live from London, you're watching CONNECT THE WORLD here on CNN. What you're seeing is the most sophisticated bionic arm in the world. Find out more after this.


ANDERSON: All right. Well, the latest innovations in science and technology affect all of us wherever we are in the world, don't they? A brand-new CNN show called "The Art of Movement" highlights everything from ballet to bionics.

And to kick the series off, Nick Glass travels to Johns Hopkins University in the US state of Maryland to take a look at the world's most advanced bionic arm. Have a look at this, it's quite remarkable.



MICHAEL MCLOUGHLIN, JOHNS HOPKINS UNIVERISTY APPLIED PHYSICS LABORATORY: Yes. We call this the modular prosthetic limb, or MPL. This is the most sophisticated arm in the world. It can do virtually everything that your natural limb can do.

GLASS: That's quite a claim.

MCLOUGHLIN: Yes, it is. This arm has 26 individual joints that we can control.

GLASS: Has there ever been an arm quite like it?

MCLOUGHLIN: Never. So, this arm is intended to work with your brain just like your natural arm works.

GLASS (voice-over): Johnny Matheny from West Virginia worked in the baking trade until he lost his left arm to cancer in 2008. He heard about the bionic arm and signed up as soon as he could.

The bionic arm weighs much the same as a normal one, about nine pounds. And it can mimic pretty much anything a normal hand can do, has almost the same dexterity, 26 joints, 100 sensors, as we've been told. Also 17 motors and a tiny computer built into the palm of the hand. The effect is almost musical.

GLASS (on camera): And what's it like?

JOHNNY MATHENY, PATIENT: It's crazy. I mean, to actually be able to work a hand just like you had. In 2008, when they took the arm, I never figured I'd ever have another actual hand. I'd seen the hooks, and I figured that's exactly what I'd be getting. And then they come out with this, and it's like, wow!


GLASS: The arm has to be carefully programmed on computer, coded to respond to electrical impulses from Johnny's stump. He thinks about moving his old arm. You can see the impulses on the screen, little waves and squiggles. The computer recognizes each pattern and makes the bionic arm move accordingly.

At the beginning, did Johnny believe it would work?

MATHENY: Well, you know, you believe it, but then there's always that little bit of doubt that in the end, it's not going to work. And when it did, it was like -- yes! I was ready! Give me more! Give me more!

GLASS: It was time to have a go myself, to slip on a special glove with sensors linked up to the bionic arm.

GLASS (on camera): How like my real arm and hand is this?

MCLOUGHLIN: It can do virtually anything that you can do with your natural hand. Yes, and you can move your -- yes, you can move your wrist, right? It's very fluid.

GLASS: My goodness. I could wave like the queen.

MCLOUGHLIN: That's right. And you can think about things like playing the piano eventually, doing very complex types of things.

GLASS: You imagine someone with bionic arms playing the piano?

MCLOUGHLIN: I think we'll get there someday. We're not there yet, but we'll get there.

GLASS: Do you feel privileged?

MATHENY: Oh, yes, very privileged. Very privileged to be able to do this, to show any upper amputee person what is -- what they'll be able to do. What's coming their way, and it's not going to be way in the future. The future's coming now.


ANDERSON: Remarkable stuff. Nick Glass reporting there, and you can find out more about bionics and our new series. Just get to the website and do your stuff,

Coming up after this short break on CONNECT THE WORLD, a tussle on top of the world. The climbers who say they had more than Mount Everest to contend with.


ANDERSON: Well, Everest, the mountain that demands the very best in people, can, it appears, also bring out the very worst. Seven thousand meters up, the world's highest peak, a disagreement between three European climbers and a group of Nepalese guides, Sherpas, erupted in violence this weekend.

Now, this is the visitors' account. "By the time the climbers descended back to camp two, some 100 Sherpas had grouped together and attacked them. The statement added that the Sherpas became instantly aggressive and not only punished and kicked the climbers, but through many rocks as well."

Well, the climbers allege that they were told by that night, and I quote, "one of them would be dead." Police in Nepal say they are investigating. The Sherpas are said to have been annoyed after a piece of ice fell on them. But the feud does appear to be over, with the trek to resume.

Minigma Tenji Sherpa is a professional mountain and trekking guide and has led expeditions up Mount Everest. Speaking from Calgary in Canada, he's been telling us about the role of a Sherpa on a mountain like that. Have a listen to this.


MINIGMA TENJI SHERPA, PROFESSIONAL MOUNTAIN AND TREKKING GUIDE: The role of the Sherpa is, I don't think there is -- it's a -- they have a big role in particularly in Mount Everest, they have a big role to leading the group.

But I don't think they have any particular role. The member and Sherpa has to be the same. They both have a big role. Both are respecting back and forth. It's really unfortunate they had this kind of thing happen, but it's not very common to happen. And it's pretty unfortunate that how they ended up like this, and it's very complicated how that happened.

We respect our Western and European climbers to come there. It is our -- occupation that we really respect them. And even if one Sherpa fights, I don't think all Sherpas grouped together to throw the rocks, that they'd do that together.


ANDERSON: All right, I'm going to come back to what our guest there just said in a moment with somebody else I want to discuss this incident with. Next month, it'll be 60 years since the first climbers reached the Mount Everest summit. Ever since, the lure of repeating the achievement has been of huge importance to Nepal's tourism industry.

For more on this, we can speak to climber Byron Smith, who scaled Everest twice. He's in Sienna, Italy via Skype tonight, a less arduous trip, I would expect, to Sienna than to the top of Everest.

Listen, when I first heard this story, I couldn't believe it. I've been to the top of Kilimanjaro, which is about 21,500 feet or so. I could hardly breathe. The idea of a bruising brawl at that height seems almost impossible to me. How did you react when you heard about this?

BYRON SMITH, MOUNTAIN CLIMBER: Well, I just heard about this today, and it's something that I have never come across before. I've been to Nepal a dozen times, and the Sherpa people of Nepal are a very calm, accommodating ethnic culture.

This is really out of character if, in fact, it happened the way it's being described in the news. I just don't know how this could have evolved into such a melee, to be quite honest.

ANDERSON: Yes. Let em bring a map up so our viewers get a sense of, first of all, how high these guys were with so little oxygen and in a position, still, to fight. And what we -- what allegedly happened.

You see, base camp, and then sort of section one, two, and three up here. And then the top. And the couple of climbers were alleged by the Sherpas to have ignored orders to hold their climb, and they'd actually triggered an ice fall, it's alleged, which hit the Sherpas, who were laying down fixed ropes for another climb.

Which does beg the question -- this brings me back to my climb on Kili -- there are an awful lot of people on this mountain these days. When we were climbing Kilimanjaro, it was almost like the morning commute to a global city.

Are there too many people up there doing -- trying to do too much? And are things like this going to happen in the future. You say that this is the exception that proves the rule, as far as you're concerned, but is it really? Do you think there's going to be more?

SMITH: You know what? Mount Everest is a big mountain. It can take and handle a lot of people on it. People are competitive. Altitude does different things to different people, and they can react emotionally differently at sea level than they will at 23,700 feet, which camp three is at, approximately.

So, who knows what went on and how it was triggered and what really caused the rush of adrenaline to take place. But at that altitude, for the most part, people are not going to have the ability to start scrapping and fighting, really. You can have verbal arguments, but to really take it physically, I would think --


SMITH: -- that that's a very rare occasion.

ANDERSON: Yes, and I by no means want to sort of dismiss the importance of this out of hand, but when I say that I could hardly breath at 21,500 feet, I cannot imagine the idea of having a sort of brawl or brutal row with anybody at that height.

Anyway, there you go. It happened, and apparently it's all sorted out. I'm going to have to move on, mate. Thank you.

If climbing a mountain looks like too much hard work, how about reaching for the sky another way? Our Anna Coren was invited for a ride in a supersonic jet in South Korea.

First, though, she had to pass what was a fairly tough test. It took place under the close scrutiny of South Korean Air Force trainers and a medic who could instantly stop the test at the first hint of any threat to Anna's well-being. Have a look at what happened.


ANNA COREN, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): It's not every day you get an opportunity to go up in a fighter jet, but that's what I've been offered by the South Korean Air Force. There is, however, a catch.

COREN (on camera): I'm ready.

COREN (voice-over): I had pass a series of tests at the aerospace medical training center that involve withstanding extreme G forces in the simulator.

COREN (on camera): And I got very dizzy this last time. That's normal?


COREN (voice-over): The key to enduring this force is a special breathing technique.


COREN: Something I'm having real difficulty with. After a quick practice, it was time for the real thing. Within seconds, I black out. The problem is, I have to reach 6 Gs.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Back! Back! OK, you -- thank you!

COREN: Oh! Oh! Going again.

COREN (voice-over): That's six times the force of gravity against my body, and I must hold it for 20 seconds.

COREN (on camera): And I have to do it for 20 seconds.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Yes, 20 seconds, perfect.

COREN: How am I going to do it for 20 seconds?

COREN (voice-over): After a break, it's time for another go.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: She's a bit scared.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: You can see it in her face now.

COREN: My supportive crew watching from the control room, enjoying my pain.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We should take bets on how long she lasts.


COREN: I black out again, this time, my eyes rolling back in my head.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Was that five seconds? Or no.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I don't think it was five seconds.

COREN: My instructor decides to let me watch the footage to see what I'm doing wrong.

COREN (on camera): Oh! Oh, my God! So, I'm just seeing myself black out twice.

COREN (voice-over): Then, it's back to the simulator.

COREN (on camera): This is going to be my third and hopefully my final time going up to 5 Gs and to 6 Gs, because I blacked out twice now, and it's not a good feeling. So, hopefully, hopefully, I've got my breathing down pat, and we might pass this time.



UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Starting. Stand by. All right! Push!

COREN: Flip!

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Can you hear me?



COREN: Whoo!



COREN: Should I try 6 Gs?



COREN (voice-over): This is the test I need to pass.


COREN: Pass?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Yes. Pass. Good. Good job.


COREN: Ooh! I was seeing stars, but I was like come on, come on!


COREN: Thank you.


COREN: I am happy. I am happy, I have overcome my fear. I was honestly terrified. Terrified, but I worked it out, sort of working out the breathing. I was seeing stars at one stage, but just had to keep going. So, that now means that we can go up in a fighter jet, go at 6 Gs, is this right?


COREN: So, all good.

COREN (voice-over): Anna Coren, CNN, North Chungcheong province, South Korea.


ANDERSON: So proud of her! Tune in to CNN on Tuesday. We'll show you Anna taking to the skies and breaking the sound barrier. What an experience that is, that is part two of her exclusive reporting there.

Just before I go tonight, our top story. A wave of deadly car bombs in Shia majority southern provinces of Iraq raised the specter of a new era of sectarian violence. Your thoughts on this and anything else that we've covered on the show.

You can tweet me @BeckyCNN, of course, and you can also let us know what you think on our Facebook page at That's @BeckyCNN or the Facebook page.

I'm Becky Anderson, of course, in London. That was CONNECT THE WORLD. From the team here, it's a very good evening. Thank you for watching.