Return to Transcripts main page


James Gandolfini Dies At 51; Chinese Astronaut Teaches Schoolchildren From Space; Rio, Sao Paulo Back Away From Fare Hikes; Syrian Refugee Crisis Worst Since Rwanda, Says UNHCR Head; Designer Looks To Build Wind Powered Minesweeper

Aired June 20, 2013 - 16:00:00   ET


MAX FOSTER, HOST: Tonight, too little, too late: the Brazilian government roles back fare hikes, but protesters head back to the streets.

Plus, a strategic win, but at what cost? A look inside the Syrian city of Qusayr.

And tributes pour in for the actor James Gandolfini, dead at the age of 51.

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

FOSTER: Protesters across Brazil are on high alert this hour as protesters vowed to continue their demonstrations. Commuters in Rio de Janeiro are happy after a move to roll back hikes in bus fares. But for many, the protests have grown into a much wider movement.

Shasta Darlington is in Sao Paulo for us tonight. How is it different from yesterday, Shasta?

SHASTA DARLINGTON, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: It's a little hard to hear you, Max, because the crowds are really beginning to grow here. In fact, we've got this huge crowd right behind me at the beginning of Avenida Paulista.

This, however, is a little different from some of the protests we've seen over nearly two weeks now. This is definitely a victory lap. And that's because as we've said, you know, this protest really got started as a movement against a hike in bus fares. And they got what they wanted. Brazil's two biggest cities Sao Paulo and Rio decided to cancel that increase. And so they're out on the streets celebrating that.

The question is what is going to come next. And that's because over these two weeks, this has really come to mean so much more. We've seen tens of thousands of people take to the streets and many of them said that they didn't care that much about the bus hike, they came out on the street when they saw police firing rubber bullets at protesters, they came out on the street because they said it's just another symptom of a government that they feel is corrupt, that take their tax money and spend it on things like the World Cup instead of health and education.

So while their demands may not be as specific as this bus fare demand, they still are angry and we're not quite sure how they're going to channel that going forward, Max.

FOSTER: And the response from the government, is this as far as they're going to go in terms of concessions?

DARLINGTON: Max, I think so. I mean, it's really an individual kind of thing and that's because on the one hand President Dilma Rousseff came out and she said that she emphasized with the protesters. She said basically I'm one of you. She has a leftist background. She, in fact, was arrested and tortured during the military dictatorship here. And she said we're fighting for the same thing. We want better education. We want better health. And the fact that you're out demonstrating is a sign of a healthy democracy.

But this decrease in bus fares as to be taken on a state by state and a city by city level. So she can sort of stay clear from all of this -- from all of this turmoil, if you will.

What will happen, though, if people really start making corruption the focus of this, she will come under fire. It's her party, the Worker's Party, that's been in power for more than two administrations. And they're the ones who are going to have to basically come out and explain what's going on, Max.

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

Let's go to another part of the country. Matthew Chance is in Rio. What does it look like there?

MATTHEW CHANCE, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, some very dramatic scenes, Max, taking place in the center of Rio as well. We've spoken to the police. They estimate the crowds that have gathered here to be at least 30,000 strong. I can tell you from my vantage point I can't see the end of where these crowds get to. I mean, it's absolutely a sea of people all demonstrating for various causes. I mean, as you know, these protests nationwide were really sparked by the hike in transport costs. The government has U-turned on that.

And as Shasta was just saying, there is a sense of a bit of victory scored by these protesters on that issue.

But the protests have morphed into something much, much broader. They're no longer about the cost of transport. Again, that was just the straw that broke the camels back. You speak to people here and what they tell you is that their number one concern is official corruption, the fact that money is wasted and goes into the pockets of corrupt officials, at least that's their perception. They're deeply concerned about the poor -- or what they think is a poor education system in the country and a pour healthcare system as well. And what they describe as very high crippling taxes for ordinary workers.

You're getting a lot of discontent that's pouring out now, particularly after this victory scored by these protesters over the issue of the transport fare hikes.

A real sense of energy amongst the crowd here, Max.

FOSTER: OK. Matthew Chance in Rio, thank you very much indeed for that.

So, who are the protesters and why are they so angry? Well, one survey in Sao Paulo revealed some intriguing statistics. Firstly, the makeup. 77 percent of the demonstrators in Sao Paulo have higher education, but not that many are students, only 22 percent. They're young. Over half are under 25. For nearly three-quarters, this is the first time they've protested.

Now the reasons, 56 percent say it's the hike in fares. Corruption a concern, as Matthew was saying, for a big chunk 40 percent. For a round of third, it's a protest against violence and repression, just over a quarter are protesting for better transport system.

Just before the show, I spoke to Alessandra Orofino, co-founder of My Rio, a movement campaigning to improve Rio de Janeiro ahead of the World Cup and Olympics in Brazil. She told me the protesters are now a diverse bunch, but for many a more democratic city is key.


ALESSANDRA OROFINO, CO-FOUNCER, MEU RIO: Brazilian democracy is young. And my generation is the first generation that was born in a democratic country. So clearly there's a lot that we need -- taxes are still (ph) (inaudible) what we have, in order to work on our democratic institution. I think -- I hope this week will be a turning point for Brazil and we'll be able to build even better institutions moving forward.

FOSTER: How many members have you got signed up to your movement? It's a pretty extraordinary figure, right?

OROFINO: Yeah, we've been working for about a year-and-a-half and we have over 80,000 members. It's approaching 90,000. After the past week, we're not even sure how many we have, because it's been -- we've been in the spotlight quite a lot. So, we think we're going to close the week of 100,000 members.

FOSTER: And why are people signing up, would you say? Have you managed to understand what's their feeling? What makes them -- what motivates them?

OROFINO: Well, people who sign up to the members of Meu Rio are usually young people who want to take part in state politics, want to make sure their voices are heard and that the city reflects their needs and wants.

FOSTER: Do you think this is a long-term demonstration, that we're going to see a long-term series of protests, if you like, angry or, you know, somehow motivated to express themselves, or is it over now?

OROFINO: I don't think it's over by any means? I'm not sure how long it's going to last in terms of actual demonstrations on the street, but I think we're going to be seeing the results and the (inaudible) of what's happening in Brazil for the past week for a long time hopefully.

I don't think people are (inaudible) stand aside with what we've gotten so far, because fundamentally people are on the streets because we have very different demands, but they don't have support for extracting them and for being heard. And the bus fares were just one of these many, many different demands.

FOSTER: The government says they are listening to you. Do you feel that they're listening?

OROFINO: I think that the government is listening to what they want to listen. I -- Brazil is a democracy and I (inaudible) right to demonstrate, that right hasn't been respected to some extent. Of course, it's violence (inaudible). But we're still out on the streets and that has (inaudible) respected.

I think that what government hasn't understood is that there will be no single demand that will calm people down per se. I think fundamentally if they don't open up, if they don't become more transparent and truly welcome the participation, people will continue to demonstrate. It might be for now or it might be in the future, but this is not going to go away until we have a democracy that works.


FOSTER: Alessandra Orofino speaking to me earlier.

Well, still to come tonight, it was once a key battleground between Syrian government forces and rebels, now it's a ghost town. Frederik Pleitgen takes us around the devastated streets of Qusayr.


UNIDENTIIFED MALE: We left in the first six months of 2013 more refugees coming out of Syria than all the new refugees that emerge in the world in the whole of 2012.


FOSTER: The shocking scale of the humanitarian crisis in Syria. Our interview for the UN high commissioner for refugees still to come on Connect the World.


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

Now global stock markets tumbled today. All the major indexes closed in the red. The Dow was down 350 points, the worst loss this year. It is on the back of the U.S. Fed Chairman Ben Bernanke hinting that the central bank may scale back his bond buying program if the economic recovery continues. Government bond yields have spiked to their highest levels in nearly two years.

More on this story in 15 minutes time. We'll be live at the New York Stock Exchange for you.

Right now, the U.S. has said the peace talks with the Taliban will go ahead in the next couple of days. The talks were widely expected to be held this Thursday at the Taliban's newly opened office in Qatar, but the Afghan president pulled out of negotiations over anger at the manner and language the Taliban used in opening their office.

Hamid Karzai said they were trying to undermine the legitimacy of his government. As our Reza Sayah reports, steps have now been taken to rectify the situation and try to bring all the parties to the negotiating table.


REZA SAYAH, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: We're back here in front of the new offices of the Afghan Taliban. Security guards here say there's no one inside, but we've noticed two significant changes. First off, the Taliban's white flag that was flying here yesterday. We can no longer see it. It's still there, but it has been lowered behind those walls.

Also missing, a sign that was right next to the front door that read Islamic Emirates of Afghanistan. That's the name the Taliban used during their reign from 1996 to 2001. These are two items that made the government in Kabul led by President Hamid Karzai furious, two of the reasons why they pulled out of the talks.

Clearly, the U.S. government is trying to allay some concerns by talking to Afghan officials, talking to the Taliban. And it looks like the Taliban have responded by at least lowering the flag and taking down that sign.

Will this be enough to get Kabul back in these talks? It's not clear at this point. U.S. officials sound like they're confident that these talks will take place. Again, it's not clear when that's going to happen.

Reza Sayah, CNN, Doha.


FOSTER: In Qatar, five people have been sentenced to prison for a deadly fire at a shopping mall last year, including a member of the royal family. 19 people died in the blaze, 13 young children among them. Jomana Karadsheh has more.


JOMANA KARADSHEH, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Lilly Jackson (ph) and Wilshire Weekes celebrate their second birthday. But within months of this celebration, the triplets from New Zealand were dead along with 10 other children who perished inside a daycare center in Doha's Ballagio Mall (ph).

Parents Martin and Jane Weekes are left with their memories and questions.

MARTIN WEEKES, FATHER OF TRIPLETS KILLED IN BLAZE: The phrase we tend to use is that we're deafened by silence, silence in own house, because I mean, we had a really busy house with three two year olds. And similarly we've been deafened by silence from the authorities in Qatar who just failed to communicate or show any interest.

KARADSHEH: Qatari authorities have not responded to CNN's calls and emails, but in the aftermath of the tragedy officials offered their condolences to the families and launched an investigation that concluded that the fire was caused by a short-circuiting light bulb and quickly spread because of flammable paint.

Witnesses describe a chaotic rescue operation that lasted for hours. In their daycare center, the children and their helpers were trapped. Four nursery staff and two firefighters died along with the 13 children.

WEEKES: The second out of the daycare, which the children could have used to escape, was locked shut from the outside so they couldn't get out. The emergency services had no map of the mall, seemed to be completely oblivious of anything that was in there.

KARADSHEH: The investigation cited safety issues and blamed the incident on, quote, "lack of adherence to laws, systems and measures by all concerned parties to differing degrees."

But the investigating committee has so far only released highlights of its findings. The Weekes and other families want the entire report made public.

Given the findings of the investigation, many questioned whether Qatar is ready to host a growing number of tourists and the 2022 football World Cup.

SHABINA KHATRI, EDITOR DOHA NEWS: I think awareness is higher on all ends from the people who hear fire alarms to the people who respond to fire alarms, but the problem is that there just aren't enough people, there are not enough civil defense, firefighters and officials to look into all the different buildings that are not safety compliant.

KARADSHEH: This is one of the last videos the Weekes family have of their children, something to hold on to as they wait for answers.

The couple also wait the arrival of twins this coming August.

WEEKES: We almost haven't allowed ourselves to really celebrate and enjoy it, which in itself is a shame. Our new children can never replace Lilly (ph), Jackson, and Wilshire (ph).

KARADSHEH: Jomana Karadsheh, CNN, Abu Dhabi.


FOSTER: Devastating floods in northern India have killed at least 150 people and left tens of thousands stranded. Rescue workers are searching for survivors, but many towns are still completely underwater. Officials fear the number of casualties will be significantly higher once the water levels subside.

Raging forest fires in Indonesia have left the city of Singapore under a thick layer of smoke. Strong winds have been pushing smoke into the city since the beginning of the week. Residents are being advised to wear face masks and visibility is very low.

The country's air pollution index reached 173 on Wednesday. Keep in mind, anything over 200 is considered very unhealthy.

Barcelona's star football player Lionel Messi will go to court in September to face possible charges of tax fraud. He and his father are accused of defrauding Spanish tax authorities of $5 million over a three year period. Prosecutors say Messi tried to avoid paying by selling his image rights abroad. He and his father firmly denied the allegations.

Live from London, this is Connect the World. Coming up, the loss of a Hollywood star. We'll bring you global reaction to the sad news of James Gandolfini's death.

And how this fun looking object is taking on a very serious task. More details stil to come.


FOSTER: American actor James Gandolfini died on Wednesday in Italy while on vacation with his family. He was 51 years old. His managers believe he suffered a heart attack.

Gandolfini was best known for his role as a mob boss on the popular TV series the Sopranos. Niscelle Turner looks at the reaction to his untimely death.


NISCHELLE TURNER, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): The sudden death of James Gandolfini rippled from Italy to the Jersey Shore.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I can't believe it. I'm in shock.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Want to take him back. I mean, he was such a young man and such a nice guy.

TURNER: The Emmy Award winning actor's death confirmed by HBO, the network where he shot to fame as the tough talking mob boss, Tony Soprano, on the hit drama "The Sopranos."

GANDOLFINI: I couldn't ask for more.

TURNER: The HBO representatives said the 51-year-old actor may have had a heart attack, though the official cause is not yet known. The news blind-sided his closest Hollywood friends, "The Sopranos" co- star, Steven Van Zandt tweeting "I have lost a brother and a best friend. The world has lost one of the greatest actors of all-time."

The show's creator, David Chase, mourned the loss in a statement saying, "He was a genius. Anyone who saw him even in the smallest of his performances knows that. He is one of the greatest actors of this or any time. A great deal of that genius resided in those sad eyes."

Gandolfini was vacationing in Italy where he was scheduled to attend a festival in Sicily later this week. The press-shy star made one of his last public appearances at this charity event for the Stella Adlor Acting Studio in New York City just last week. Among his last film roles was playing Defense Secretary Leon Panetta in "Zero Dark Thirty."

GANDOLFINI: You guys ever agree on anything?

TURNER: He may have enjoyed global fame, but he never strayed far from home, New Jersey.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: He put New Jersey on the map, all positive, you know. He just made Jersey better than it already is.

TURNER: One of his best known fans, New Jersey Governor Chris Christie said in a statement saying, "It's an awful shock. James Gandolfini was a fine actor, a Rutgers alum and a true Jersey guy. I was a huge fan of his and the character he played so authentically, Tony Soprano."

The ice cream shop in Bloomfield, New Jersey, which served as the diner setting for the final scene of "The Sopranos" was overflowing with fans after news of the actors death spread.


FOSTER: Well, news of the actor's death spread quickly online drawing reactions of shock and sadness from other Hollywood stars. On Twitter, actress Susan Sarandon who starred on screen with him wrote, "so sad to lose James Gandolfini, one of the sweetest, funniest, most generous actors I've ever worked with. Sending prayers to his family."

Actress Rosario Dawson also took to Twitter to express her sadness saying, "thank you for showing your truly tremendous talent with us."

And look at this tweet from filmmaker and social activist Michael Moore. "James Gandolfini, one of the good guys, kind and generous and an active supporter of documentary filmmakers. RIP."

The Sopranos aired from 1999 until 2007. But Tony Soprano was a character who defined more than a decade. Entertainment analysts say he changed TV entirely. Gandolfini portrayed a deeply flawed hero, the kind of character now seen in shows like Mad Men, Homeland and Breaking Bad. But at the time audiences have never seen anything like him.

Now, the show left a legacy as well. Here's what one critic had to say at the time of his finale.


CRAIG TOMASHOFF, TV GUIDE: The Sopranos didn't shy away from language or subject matter, any of that, and it just made it a little freer for all of TV to be a little bolder.


FOSTER: Now, the Sopranos showed HBO and other cable networks that they could develop successful original series that compete with the movies. Sex and the City came after the Sopranos, so did Deadwood and The Wire. And today, Game of Thrones is a global sensation.

And the latest world news headlines are just ahead. Plus, Syria is the most dangerous and serious humanitarian crisis since Rwanda, that's the assessment, at least, of the UN high commissioner for refugees. Our interview with him on World Refugee Day straight ahead.

Plus, we have a preview of CNN Films Girl Rising, how one girl's family sacrificed everything so she could escape the slums of Calcutta.


FOSTER: This is Connect the World, the top stories this hour. Cities across Brazil are on alert this hour as protesters vow to continue their demonstrations. A move to roll back bus fair hikes has been welcomed, but many protesters are still angry over a number of issues.

The United States is working to planned formal discussions with the Taliban at the group's new office in Qatar. Afghanistan has not rejoined in the plans for peace talks, that's despite some modifications at the Doha office apparently made to placate the Afghan government.

Football superstar Lionel Messi has been summoned to appear in a Spanish court in September to face possible charges of tax fraud. Messi and his father are said to owe $5 million of taxes. They deny the charges.

Global stock markets tumble today on the back of the U.S. Fed Chairman Ben Bernanke hinting that the central bank may scale back its bond buying program. Government bond yields have spiked to their highest levels in nearly two years.

Felicia Taylor joins us now live from the New York Stock Exchange. And I gather we've been doing the sums, Felicia, and this is the biggest fall of the Dow this year?

FELICIA TAYLOR, CNN CORRESPONDENT: It is. Absolutely. There's no question about it. You know, we've got a 350 point loss on the Dow today. And that's about a 2.25 percent pullback. We were down as much as 380 points. And you know all of this centers around the Federal Reserve and when that stimulus, that spigot that's been in the marketplace that's sort of helping to prop up the marketplace for the last few years is going to be turned off.

The debate is out there, is it going to happen by the end of this year? Some economists believe it can happen in September. I stress some. There isn't really enough positive economic news for that to happen in most people's estimation. But nevertheless, the conversation is out there. And that is what spooks investors and traders.

But you know it's interesting, though, because I spoke to another trader, and he reminded me that, you know, obviously there's too sides to every single trade. He told me that every trade he got today was a buy. So you've got to remember that for a lot of people this is a moment that they are considering getting back into the marketplace, because obviously if stocks are at a cheaper place.

So we have to see how things are going to continue from here on.

Naturally, the market has been expecting this. That conversation has now begun. And that's what puts a little uncertainty into the marketplace.

So also tomorrow is what they call quadruple witching, which is the expiration of certain futures contracts. That could add to the volatility. So we might see a further pullback on Friday.

But like I said, for a lot of people out there, today was actually a buying opportunity -- Max.

FOSTER: We were talking, Felicia, about the economic problems they've having in Brazil. And the stock markets been down there. And that's almost directly linked to what's happened in the U.S. This concern that there's going to be less cash coming out of the U.S.

So this is a global story, isn't it? It's not just about the market where you're sitting.

TAYLOR: Absolutely. There's no question about that. And you can also see that, you know, one of the other things that drove the market down today was the fact that there was a pullback in factory activity in China. And obviously that's one of the greatest trade partners for many of the countries around the world. There's no question that this is a global story.

So when you take a look at the Federal Reserve, you then have to look at other central banks around the world. Will they also start to pull back? And that's of real concern to a lot of people out there. So, yes, every single one of these pieces is interconnected.

And, again, you know, late in the day about 30 minutes before the end of the trade there was word from the IMF that they could stop providing stimulus to Greece. That's not going to help the marketplace either, because again that puts uncertainty into the EuroZone -- Max.

FOSTER: Felicia Taylor at the New York Stock Exchange. Thank you.

There isn't much left but rubble in the Syrian town of Qusayr. Two weeks ago, government forces regained control of the strategic supply hub from Syrian rebels following heavy fighting. Federik Pleitgen went there and discovered a ghost town.


FREDERIK PLEITGEN, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Driving into Qusayr, it's clear just how fierce the battles here must have been. The local church badly damaged, just like the historic mosque and Qusayr's main landmark, the iconic clock tower.

Almost all residents fled during the fighting. Only a few are now coming back.

George, who would only give us his first name, fled when Qusayr was in opposition hands.

"Of course we want to keep living here," he says. "We are trying to get help from the government so that we can make this town worth living in again."

Qusayr was held by the opposition for more than a year. It's close to the Lebanese border and became a strategic hub for the flow of weapons to rebel forces in central Syria.

Regime forces, backed by Hezbollah fighters, launched an offensive on the town and retook it earlier this month, but the cost was immense.

(on camera): It's really hard to see how anyone could claim victory here in Qusayr. Look at these houses, look how badly damaged they've been due to the fighting. There's sort of a rough cleanup operation going on in town, but it seems to us as though many of the structures here in Qusayr have been damaged beyond repair.

(voice-over): In a rare TV interview, a Syrian military commander shows me how pro-Assad forces captured the town.

"First, we surrounded the city and then we attacked it from all sides," he says. "And of course we killed a lot of them. And there were a lot of wounded. The rest of them ran away through the valleys and the mountains, mostly to Lebanon. And now we can announce that Qusayr and its suburbs are totally cleansed of Islamist fighters."

Totally cleansed and totally destroyed. Qusayr also highlights the increasingly sectarian nature of the Syria conflict.

George, like many of those now returning, is Christian. He took me to his brother's destroyed house, couldn't hide his anger at Qusayr's Sunni Muslims, many of whom supported the opposition.

"My brother used to live here with his kids," he says. "He's an engineer. His son came to the door and they shot him because they think all Christians are against them."

George says he's willing to forgive, but after so much bloodshed, it seems hard to imagine that Qusayr will ever return to what it used to be: a quiet town on the Lebanese border where religious affiliation did not matter.

Fred Pleitgen, CNN, Qusayr, Syria.


FOSTER: Now many, many of George's neighbors have presumably crossed that border to escape the fighting. We have some images that give you a sense, really, of the life that their leaving to endure. Just for a bit of security, and these Syrian children are waking up in their temporary home, a tent in Lebanon's Bekkah Valley.

Elsewhere in the north of the country, this Syrian family live in a classroom. The school has been occupied by refugees. 8-year-old Aziz (ph) and his sister Isha (ph) also fled the country. They live inside a one bedroom house in Amman, Jordan. Both Aziz (ph) and Isha (ph) suffer from cerebral palsy.

This is 9-year-old Rania (ph) who sits on a swing inside her extended family's home in eastern Amman. Now all of the men in her family, including her father, are still in Syria. And the charity Save the Children says right now across Jordan, Turkey, Lebanon, Iraq and Egypt. There are 1.6 million people from Syria in need of refugee assistance.

Now that humanitarian crisis is the focus of World Refugee Day today. The UN High Commissioner for Refugees Antonio Guterres visited a camp in Jordan housing tens of thousands of Syrians. He told me the crisis is the most serious and dangerous since Rwanda.


ANTONIO GUTERRES, UN HIGH COMMISSIONER FOR REFUGEES: It's not only the dramatic humanitarian impact on the people that is suffering so much, those that fled the country, 1.6 million refugees, those that need assistance inside the country, 6.5 million people. But it's not only that, it is the fact that it became a threat to the stability of the countries of the region with the conflict spilling over to Lebanon, to Iraq, and a global threat to peace and security.

FOSTER: What sort of support are you giving those countries around Syria to try to cope with this crisis? Jordan, for example, you mentioned Lebanon.

GUTERRES: Well, Jordan, Lebanon, also Turkey, Iraq and Egypt, but especially Jordan and Lebanon because of the overwhelming number of refugees and the dimension of the countries, of the population, the economy, are making a gigantic effort. They have been extremely generous, not only opening their borders but there are people opening their doors, their hearts, sharing everything. And in a country like Jordan, for instance, water is an extremely scarce resource. There is no water at the present moment in several neighborhoods in Amman, but there is water for the Syrian refugees in Zaatari Camp.

So these countries have been really extremely generous. And I have to say that the international community has not yet been able to show the solidarity that they require.

They need massive support. And that massive support is not coming enough.

FOSTER: Your latest report doesn't include the rise in those forced from their homes in Syria during the current year, does it? But have you got any sense of the numbers that you're dealing with this year?

GUTERRES: Well, it's much more dramatic than in the past. We will have in the first six months of 2013 more refugees coming out of Syria than all the new refugees that emerged in the world in the whole of 2012.

This shows the staggering escalation of this conflict. This shows how dramatic it is from the point of the view of the suffering of people.

I met today several families in Zaatari Camp, families that had lost brothers, sisters, husbands, wife. Situations in which children, their drawings were only about bombs, planes, people killing each other. A whole generation traumatized by violence that will probably be very difficult to fully recover.

Indeed, an amount of suffering that is difficult to describe. The number of victims of rape, situations that really break your heart and that make you feel how important it is to stop this conflict sooner rather than later.


FOSTER: Well, meanwhile, some Syrian women have escaped the dangers in their own country only to be confronted by shocking new threats as a refugee.


ARWA DAMON, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: It's impossible to confirm or quantify reports of rape and assault in this huge sprawling camp, but there are plenty of stories about Syrian women here turning to prostitution out of desperation. And there's another disturbing phenomenon, what are known as supra marriages (ph), marriages for protection.


FOSTER: Well, hear their stories in an Arwa Damon special investigation, that's Syria Uncovered Friday at 4:30 in London, 5:30 in Berlin right here on CNN.

Live from London, you're watching Connect the World. It's round, it rolls and its being put to good use. Find out how this cool looking invention could save lives after this short break.


FOSTER: It's estimated that there are more than 100 million landmines buried underground around the world. The problem is, how to find and clear them without putting human lives at risk.

In today's blueprint, we meet one man using his roots to design a new way to dig up the mines.


MASSOUD HASSANI, DESIGNER: My name is Massoud Hassani. I'm graduated from the design academy in (inaudible). And one of my projects was based on my childhood toys from Afghanistan. And me and my brother, we used to make a lot of this wind power toys, because where we were playing with these toys were a lot of landmines. I thought if I make one of these bigger it will detonate the landmine, because it's heavier.

Minecaphone (ph) means detonating of landmines. Caphone (ph) means in Dari (ph) explosion. A minecaphone (ph) is a wind powered device. It weighs about 70 kilograms. And it is moved by the wind. It has about 175 legs staying out of a core. And if it rolls along and it presses a landmine on the ground, it makes it detonate. With every explosion it will lose two legs, it depends how strong explosion.

In Afghanistan, there are about 10 million landmines. At the moment, the clearance of landmines are very slow. It's very expensive and it's dangerous as well, because it's done by hand.

Theo Jansen is a kinetic artist, and he make creatures which are powered by the wind and they walk on the beach. He is doing this work for almost 20 years.

THEO JANSEN, ARTIST: I'm just looking at your machine.

HASSANI: You could also use bamboo, because it's very light.

JANSEN: The first thing is I admire the idea.

It's almost going already.

HASSANI: Yeah, yeah.

JANSEN: That you can use wind power to get rid of these mines.

HASSANI: It's necessary to be like ground fit or it could be points sticking out of something.

JANSEN: It's OK for a spheric animal. It's an animal, right?

HASSANI: Yeah, it's an animal.

JANSEN: What you have really a great idea, because if it really works you do a good thing in the world. You need to test every day and learn every day, because what you think of -- reality is much more creative than we are. So if you -- every time there's a dialogue between the field and you than you get wiser very fast.

I think it needs a second generation. It has a basic structure.

I think the footprint is too small, that's why my suggestions would be make it big.

HASSANI: One of his suggestions was to make a cylindrical device.

JANSEN: And I think it would walk on a nice beach, but it wouldn't walk on an uneven terrain.

Of course it's a lot of work to make.

HASSANI: What would you do if you say you have only six months the time to come up with the best solution?

JANSEN: Six months is nothing.

HASSANI: Because sometime, I have...

JANSEN: Let's say six years.

HASSANI: Because I have some time I have the feeling that I'm running out of time, because it's (inaudible) should be done very quickly, also because of every time if we have to wait and the problem gets worse.

When we left there was north of Kabul accidents happened almost every day in our neighborhood.

JANSEN: While he is in a hurry, he wants to be finished next year. But that won't happen.

He can make things, but it won't work. He needs continuous feedback.

Design for me is the same as evolution.

HASSANI: My hope for the future, the next five years there are no landmines, that's the dream. But I hope to make more products, more inspired by Afghanistan, because we have very rich culture, to make bridges between like west and Asia.


FOSTER: Coming up after this short break on Connect the World, fighting for an education when everything seems against you. We'll bring you a previous of CNN's Girl Rising just ahead.

And then, a Chinese classroom in the sky. Could this be the face of modern teaching?


FOSTER: The CNN film Girl Rising is a personal look at the struggle girls around the world face to receive an education. Many families will sacrifice anything to make sure their children have the opportunity to go to school, like in India where sometimes living on the streets is not too much to ask.


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: In Kolkata, India, homes made of plastic tarps are a common site. For some people, it's their only option. But for girls like Raksana (ph), her family lives on the street so she can go to school.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE (through translator): My name is Raksana (ph). I am in the fourth grade. Next to the tree is a building. And under that tree we have a home. Here I'm sleeping.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Raksana's (ph) family left their home in a nearby village so they could give her an education and encourage her talents.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE (through translator): I like to draw. It comes from my heart.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Screenwriter Sooney Tarapovala (ph) met Raksana (ph) during the making of the Girl Rising film and sees her drawings as an important means of expression.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: The art is also fantastic. So I think it can open us up to a lot of interior feelings and to reveal what's going on inside.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE (through translator): I want to change where we live on the street to a better home.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Education is a chance for girls like Raksana (ph) to see the possibilities ahead of them.


FOSTER: We're happy to pass on that Raksana (ph) is excelling in school and is now in the sixth grade. She's also been formally trained in dance and art.

To learn more about the campaign behind the film Girl Rising and the 10X10 fund for girls' education, do go to

And to see a special presentation of CNN Films Girl Rising Saturday night June 22 at 8:00 in London, 9:00 in Berlin, 11:00 in Abu Dhabi right here on CNN.

The power of education can make a difference, that's in some cases quite literally out of this world.

Our Nic Robertson takes a look at a Chinese woman who is changing the statue quo in more ways than one.


NIC ROBERTSON, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: A new milestone in China's space race: lessons from orbit. China's three astronauts, now over halfway through their 15 day mission, are teaching class from their space lab 300 kilometers above Earth.

Wang Yaping, the only woman on the team, is wowing China's school children with experiments no earthbound teacher could pull off, creating floating balls of water, a lesson in surface tension, gyroscopes, a secret to stability in 3D motion, a two-way live dialogue just like a regular teacher.

"How do you measure the weight of objects in daily life," Wang asks?

"I measure my weight with an electronic scale at home," the student answers.

Beyond this classroom, another 60 million Chinese children and their teachers tuned in to watch the extraterrestrial lectures. These space classes designed not just to enthuse a new generation to set academic goals on the stars, but to energize China's vast earthbound population about space travel. And more importantly, support the cost of it.

Even before they left for space, Wang and her two male colleagues were being hailed as heroes, the hopes of the nation to catch up in the global space race riding on their exploits.

Now, as the mission draws to a close and the space lab, soon to be shut down and replaced by something bigger, readies to close its air lock doors for the last time, it won't just be the astronauts breathing a sigh of relief, it will be China's leaders, too. So far, an apparently flawless operation, a lesson in what China can do.

Nic Robertson, CNN, Hong Kong.


FOSTER: Well, everyone around the world has opinions of this, of course. Do let us know what you think about the importance of girls' education and any personal stories that you wish to share with us. It may depend on where you are. The team at Connect the World wants to hear from you. Have your say. And you can tweet the team also @CNNConnect. Your thoughts please @CNNconnect.

Now many of today's educational tools can be found online at a new project by internet giant Google that's trying to give more people access to those tools. They're taking the idea of a mobile hotspot to a higher level. Right now, there are internet access points all over the place, but Google wants to put them over your head, too.

Jonathan Mann explains how balloons could bring the internet to billions more people.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: One, two, three...

JONATHAN MANN, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Balloons: Google's vision for the future of the internet. Two dozen helium filled balloons were launched in New Zealand this week, part of a new experiment dubbed Project Lune.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: But what if there was a way to light up the entire globe, to finally make all the world's information accessible to all of the world's people?

MANN: The goal is to bring internet access to the two-thirds of the world's population who currently can't get online.

RICHARD DEVAUL, CHIEF TECHNICAL ARCHITECT, GOOGLE X: Balloon powered internet may sound crazy and on some level it kind of is, but sometimes if you want to make a huge, big leap you have to try something crazy.

MANN: Fully inflated, the balloons are 15 meters in diameter, small enough that you need a telescope to see one in the sky. Floating into the stratosphere 20 kilometers up, they fly twice as high as commercial air traffic. They run on solar power, are equipped with GPS, and carried by the wind. The balloons constantly circle the planet beaming internet access to the Earth below at 3G speed or better.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The balloons communicate with specialized internet antennas on the ground. So this antenna here points up at the sky and talks with this balloon. And each one of these balloons talks to their neighboring balloons and then back down to the ground station which is connected to the local internet provider.

MANN: Farmer Charles Nimmo is the first among some 50 people in Christchurch to test the technology.

CHARLES NIMMO, TVNZ: We got Google homepage, then I checked the weather, then I started watching a video. So it gives you an idea of, yeah, of how it went.

MANN: And it's not just checking the weather. Google says the network could prove vital during natural disasters.

MIKE CASSIDY, PROJECT DIRECTOR, GOOGLE X: When things on the ground get knocked out, communication gets knocked out, the balloons can easily reach the ground and provide communication, which was one of the biggest problems that happens after a natural disaster.

MANN: Project Lune is years away from completion, but Google hopes to eventually to have thousands of balloons in the sky and potentially bring five billion people online.

Jonathan Mann, CNN.


FOSTER: And in tonight's parting shots, a surprise visit aboard the Pope Mobile for this lucky young man. 17-year-old Alberto D'Tulio (ph) was attending Pope Francis' weekly general audience when he was invited on board by the pontiff to see how it feels riding up and having up there.

Now, the pope then let him spend some time in the specially designed open top Mercedes car. D'Tulio's (ph) lucky break might have come down, perhaps for the Argentina jersey he was wearing. And being touched there by the pope as well, that jersey -- he's Argentinian, of course, as well. And so, an amazing moment in a really hands on moment for this new pope really showing the difference with his predecessor.

I'm Max Foster, that was Connect the World. Thank you so much for watching.