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CONNECT THE WORLD
Court Orders Mubarak's Release; Syrian Opposition Claims 1,000 Killed In Chemical Attack; U.S. President Declassifies FISA Court Rulings
Aired August 21, 2013 - 16:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
BECKY ANDERSON, HOST: Tonight, shocking allegations. And we can tell you now the videos that you are about to see that tell the story can be graphic. Are these the victims of a chemical attack in Syria? And if so, who carried it out? The UN is in emergency session. But what can the world do next to save Syria?
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
CATHERINE ASHTON, EU FOREIGN AFFAIRS CHIEF: We are really concerned that Egypt move back to a political process for all the reasons that you would know and expect.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
ANDERSON: Concerned, but how much clout does the EU have to shape things on the ground in Egypt? I put that question to the blocs foreign policy chief.
And after the sudden death of this 21-year-old intern working at a bank in London, we debate whether or not young people are working too long for too little.
Live from Abu Dhabi, it's just after midnight. This is Connect the World.
We'll get you an update on another story that we are following. Moments ago, we learned from Egyptian state television that once freed, that former Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak will remain under house arrest even if freed from prison. We have a live report coming up from Cairo.
We begin, though, tonight's program for you with chilling allegations out of Syria. Opposition groups claim that Bashar al-Assad's regime used chemical weapons on rebel strongholds outside Damascus in the early hours on Wednesday. Right now, the UN security council is holding an emergency session to discuss the situation.
Well, the video purporting to show these chemical attacks was first posted online. I want to warn you now that some of it is very disturbing.
CNN's senior international correspondent Arwa Damon is following the story for us. She joins us now from Beirut in Lebanon.
And we -- I appreciate getting info out of Syria is incredibly difficult, Arwa. What more have you learned about what happened in the early hours of Wednesday morning.
ARWA DAMON, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Yeah, it most certainly is very difficult, Becky. And we need to emphasize to our viewers once again that the images that they are about to see are incredibly disturbing.
The attack happening at around 4:00 in the morning in the eastern part of these suburbs outside of Damascus and to the southwest as well.
(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE) DAMON (voice-over): The videos, even by Syrian standards, are among the most disturbing of this three year conflict -- bodies with no apparent wounds, many children, some limp, other listless or gasping for air. The voice narrating this clip in Arabic cracks as he repeats, "Only God can bring us justice."
Those who survived, helpless. Doctors said that among the symptoms were constricted pupils, rapid pulse and difficulty breathing.
One activist we spoke to said that his vision blurred, he lost control of his limbs and collapsed to the floor, gradually recovering hours later.
So what caused these symptoms?
Rebels blame the Syrian government for using chemical weapons, some saying the symptoms were consistent with sarin gas.
The Syrian government flatly denied involvement.
The incident came while a U.N. inspection team was on the ground examining evidence of prior alleged chemical weapon attacks. The inspectors are guests of the Syrian government, believed to be staying not far from where one of the attacks took place. It's not yet clear whether they will be able to investigate this incident.
With no way to protect themselves, people tried to wash off with water. One doctor told CNN that his field clinic ran out of atropine within an hour. And as the victims kept arriving, all they could do was provide oxygen.
LU STOUT: Arwa, I want to come back to you on what you've just described there. We've heard a strong response from the international community to the claims. The White House expressing alarm, saying it's deeply concerned and will work with the UN to verify the reports. Speaking to me earlier, the EU's foreign affairs chief Catherine Ashton also voiced her concern. Have a listen to this.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
ASHTON: It's deeply alarming. We're hearing horrible figures of the number of people that have been killed. And we've been absolutely consistent in saying that under no circumstances could the use of chemical weapons possibly be justified ever.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
ANDERSON: A sharply different response, though, from Russia saying it is a preplanned provocation by the opposition, adding the fact that the criminal action near Damascus was carried out just when the mission of UN experts to investigate the statements on possible chemical weapons used there has successfully begun its work in Syria points to this.
Conflicting claims there by members of the international community, Arwa. What do we know about where these weapons inspectors are? And what they are going to get access to?
Are they going to get any access realistically, for example, to the area where these purported videos are from?
DAMON: Well, initially we're going to have to wait and see, if following that closed door meeting the security council does, in fact, decide to task them with investigating this most recent attack.
At that point, they would need cooperation, naturally, from the Syrian government and possibly a certain level of coordination with the rebel fighting force. The area where these attacks took place is under rebel control. And at that point, one can only hope that they would be able to come out with more information than what we have right now.
Very difficult to determine exactly what's happening with these various tit-for-tat accusations.
Their original task was to find out if chemical weapons had been used in previous attacks that took place in Syria, but on a much smaller scale. Naturally the timing of this attack is raising a lot of questions, given that they are on the ground already, but one can only hope that they, at the very least, will be able to get some of those incredibly vital answers at this stage, Becky.
ANDERSON: All right. Arwa, thank you for that.
That is the very latest as we know it.
Our next guest has spent a considerable amount of time in Syria. He's been writing on the conflict since it started two weeks ago and corresponds daily with people on the ground there.
Michael Weiss is a columnist for NOW Lebanon with us out of our New York studio tonight.
And I know, Michael, that you've spoken directly to a doctor today in Douma (ph) in the rebel held area affected by these alleged chemical weapons. What have you heard?
MICHAEL WEISS, COLUMNIST, NOW LEBANON: Well, according to the doctor -- he's the medical director of the Douma (ph) facility that was handling the bulk of the cases coming in -- he said that there were several attacks in the early hours of yesterday morning, or this morning rather. The initial attacks were targeting rebel strongholds. And the casualties and fatalities coming in were relatively minor to the subsequent attacks, which he said hit a civilian neighborhood.
And the points that he emphasized that there were over 600 people were affected by these attacks. And one of the reasons he thinks that this was such a devastating development is a lot of Syrians in this neighborhood were sleeping with their windows open. And, you know, depending on the kind of winds and the weather, the chemical agent that was used could have easily blown in -- and indeed blow in, according to him -- into various residents.
He also said that this medical facility was so poorly equipped to handle the scale and size of the casualties that they were dealing with that their own medical personnel did not follow basic precautionary procedures, such as removing the clothing of a victim who is potentially been affected by chemical exposure. So a lot of the personnel themselves were then exposed and had to be treated.
But he told me they were running out of things like atrapine, which is one of the medicines that are -- is almost immediately administered in cases of chemical expore, and that they just could not handle what they'd been dealt today.
ANDERSON: I want you to talk to a map that I've got here. We showed it a little earlier on, but let's just bring it up again. It's a map showing the sites that the opposition alleges, at least, that these attacks took place today. We can't obviously independently verify these and the regime, as we've said, flatly denies them.
But as I -- as we zoom in on these areas around Damascus, just give me a sense of the sort of scale here and what's going on, and what you know about the areas where you believe that chemical weapons have been stored and used as well in the past?
WEISS: Right. Well, the area where you see the biggest concentration on your map, the district of east Gouta (ph). What's important to understand is this is a district that the rebels control almost to a degree that is hard to imagine, actually. They have been in there for months. And they have been -- it has been impossible for the Assad regime to dislodge them. This has been the site of several other chemical weapons attacks in the past, by the way, including one that was scene by an eyewitness, a reporter for the French journal Le Monde.
So what the regime is doing, assuming that these stories are indeed true, is it throwing everything and the kitchen sink at this area to try and dislodge the rebels. And of particular interest, Becky, is that one of the brigades that is most predominant in the east Gouta (ph) district of Damascus is called Liwah al-Islam (ph).
This was the brigade, I'm sure you'll remember last summer, when that spectacular assassination plot took place, killing Bashar al-Assad's brother-in-law, Assef Shawkat, this is the brigade responsible.
So, what you are seeing in the midst of everything else happening in Syria, the fall of Qusayr, the fall of Homs, actually the rebels have been doing quite good in what they call the southern front, including the areas surrounding Damascus itself.
So one of the reasons, or one of the suggested reasons as to why they might use chemical weapons in this area is to prevent those rebels from making any further incursions effectively into the lion's den, into downtown Damascus, or to key sensitive regime installations.
ANDERSON: Michael, thank you for that.
Let's remind ourselves that in the past months Obama has talked about a red line, saying that if chemical weapons were used and there was evidence of that, then that would be his red line in the sand, talking effectively about putting boots on the ground.
Viewers, the UN holding an emergency meeting as we speak. At present...
WEISS: I'm clear, OK. Thank you. Cheers.
ANDERSON: ...about what has come out on that -- we will bring that to you.
All right, ahead tonight, Egypt's democratically elected president is still behind bars, but a former dictator could soon be released from prison. We're going to tell you about a court ruling in Cairo and late word that Hosni Mubarak may be put under house arrest.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
MARK ZUCKERBERG, FACEBOOK CEO: Everyone at Facebook, I just tell them, you know, come in and try to make the biggest impact that you can have. And if we keep building a service that people love and that more and more people use every day, which we seem to be doing pretty well at, then we're going to be fine over time.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
ANDERSON: Speaking exclusively to CNN about his future plans.
That coming up after this.
ANDERSON: You're watching CNN. This is Connect the World. I'm in Abu Dhabi for you this evening. Quarter past 12:00 here.
Two years ago it seemed highly unlikely that he would ever be released, but the former Egyptian leader Hosni Mubarak could be freed from prison within hours. State TV now reporting that Mubarak will be put under house arrest. A court earlier cleared the way for his release accepting an appeal against his detention while cases continue against him.
Well, Mubarak's biggest remaining legal challenge is a retrial on charges linked to the killings of protesters in 2011.
Remember these? The extraordinary scenes from the revolution: millions of Egyptians overjoyed that people power had removed a long time dictator.
Well, let's go to Cairo now for the very latest. Nick Paton Walsh joining us live from there.
And is it really conceivable that Hosni Mubarak hours, minutes, possibly as well as days from now will be released from prison and back at home?
NICK PATON WALSH, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Breathtaking as the timing of this decision seems to be, it is entirely feasible.
Let me unpack the day for you, Becky, what's been happening. A lot of legal confusion, but in short he's been facing three corruption charges and a charge of inciting violence against protesters in 2011. The last of those three charges was today heard again by a judge. Mubarak's lawyer said, look, he's repaid the money he's allegedly gained improperly under this charge and he's also now been in jail without a conviction longer than Egyptian law allows, that's two years.
The judge agreed and said this man should be released.
Prosecutors, who have the right to appeal, said they wouldn't.
So technically we're at the point where he could be freed.
Now we're all looking to see what the political aspect of this is, whether the military and the interim government will think that's a good idea right now. A strong indication in just the last few minutes appearing on state television saying that the deputy military ruler -- it's unclear precisely who they mean -- but this individual has issued a degree saying that Hosni Mubarak should be placed under house arrest.
Now we're still getting more details, but that would suggest that a release is imminent, that they're going to let him out of prison and put him in more comfortable confines in custody. Many would speculate, perhaps, in his rather palatial holiday home down in Sharm el-Sheikh.
So we're still looking to see if he's going to get out, but there's really a political decision behind this, at the end of the day, Becky.
ANDERSON: What is an already volatile situation, another tinderbox. All right, thank you for that.
Nick's in Cairo for you this evening.
Now, Japan's nuclear watchdog plans to upgrade its alert level to serious for radiation leaks at the crippled Fukushima plant. Now the level three rating is pending confirmation from the International Atomic Energy Agency. It will be gravest warning since the 2011 earthquake and tsunami sent three reactors there into meltdown.
The U.S. Army private who leaked thousands of classified files to WikiLeaks will be spending decades behind bars. Bradley Manning was sentenced to 35 years in prison, minus three-and-a-half years already served. He was found guilty of 20 of the 22 charges against him, including violations of the U.S. espionage act.
Manning's lawyer spoke shortly after the sentencing earlier today.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
DAVID COOMBS, BRADLEY MANNING'S LAWYER: I understand that my actions violated the law. I regret if my actions hurt anyone, or harmed the United States. It was never my intent to hurt anyone. I only wanted to help people.
When I chose to disclosed classified information, I did so out of a love for my country and a sense of duty to others.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
ANDERSON: Well, the British government is under fire after it emerged that Prime Minister David Cameron's most senior aid asked The Guardian newspaper to destroy intelligence data leaked by Edward Snowden.
Now this follows the ongoing row over the detention of The Guardian journalist Glenn Greenwald's partner David Miranda.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
DAVID MIRANDA, GLENN GREENWALD'S PARTNER: I think it's really weird, because I was there for like eight hours without talking to anybody outside and like they're just like keeping me. I'd have to ask them, do I have to answer this? And they as just telling me like if you don't answer this you're going to go to jail.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
ANDERSON: Well, Miranda has filed a lawsuit in the British courts. Earlier, The Guardian editor Alan Rusbridger was on Amanpour where he gave his opinion on Miranda's detention.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
RUSBRIDGER: Well, I think the disturbing thing is the use of the Terrorism Act. And there's a former Lord Chancellor, the most senior legal officer in Britain, writing in "The Guardian" today, saying that is not what the Terrorism Act is for. And I think there's a great danger if you start confusing terrorism with journalism.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
ANDERSON: And you can watch the full interview on Amanpour coming up in about 40 minutes from now.
New revelations about domestic spying in the United States. The Obama administration is declassified opinions from a secret court that oversees government surveillance. This is a breaking story. CNN's justice reporter Evan Perez joins me now with the details.
And first, what do these classified court opinions show about these NSA progams?
EVAN PEREZ, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, what it shows is that the NSA is operating these computers, which is supposed to be collecting international communications, things that are outside the United States, and essentially things that could point to perhaps a terrorist attack that could be coming to the United States.
Instead, what these computers were doing was also collecting entirely domestic communications -- emails and Internet traffic of average Americans who have nothing to do with terrorism. And the -- this was a big mistake and they essentially admitted to it in 2011, in October 2011. A court found that what they were doing was unconstitutional. This is a secret court that oversees the government's surveillance programs. And the judge was essentially very angry. He said, you know, this is the third time in less than three years that you're coming forward with these mistakes that are going way beyond what you're authorized to do.
ANDERSON: Right. And this, of course, was a secret court. These documents now, only now declassified.
How does the U.S. government explain why they are collecting these communications?
PEREZ: Well, you know, they say that this is intended to keep the national security of the United States. This is intended to prevent terrorism. And as a result of the fact that, you know, there could be people inside the United States who are working with al Qaeda or other groups. They need to sometimes look at communications that are inside the United States.
But the idea is that you're supposed to be looking at things that, you know, maybe touch the United States, but are also outside under these very broad warrants. And the courts, essentially, have allowed this for several years.
But it appears the NSA's technology -- well, the NSA's intentions got way ahead of its technology. It said that it wasn't able to separate some of the domestic communications of Americans, it wasn't able to separate their emails. And that it was accidentally collecting a lot of this stuff.
In the end, what they had to do was come up with new procedures to be able to stop some of this. And they also had to go back and delete about three years' worth of data that they had collected.
ANDERSON: Evan Perez on the story of the hour. The plot thickens, I guess. Evan, thank you for that.
Live from Abu Dhabi, this is Connect the World. I'm Becky Anderson for you.
Coming up, do interns work too many hours for too little money? We're going to discuss their treatment and whether it is time for a change.
And we're going to talk to the mayor of Seoul about how his city balances growth with quality of life.
ANDERSON: You're watching Connect the World live from Abu Dhabi. Welcome back.
Right now more than half the world's population lives in cities. And that is expected to rise to about 70 percent by 2050.
Well, this week in our series The City, CNN is looking at the issues of urbanization by speaking to five big city mayors. Today, we visit Seoul to see how it's dealing with a growing population.
PARK WON-SOON, MAYOR OF SEOUL: My name is Won-soon Park, mayor of Seoul, Republic of Korea.
Seoul is including more than 10 million citizens, so it was you know exploding since 1970s. So it's still our challenge to provide so many housing and transportation.
The citizen can choose one day in a week as pre-(inaudible). Around 36 percent of all entire citizens are participating in our project. It means, the -- you know, the air quality is getting better. If we set one policy and practice it, it can spread out to other cities.
We (inaudible). We are specifically targeting to reduce the 2 million (inaudible) petroleum, which is -- you know, comparable to capacity of one nuclear plant.
(SPEAKING IN FOREIGN LANGUAGE)
In Korea, you know, we are highly depending on nuclear power plant energy. And also, you know, Fukushima disaster in Japan all shocked the Korean people. The ratio of our independence of electricity is only 2.8 percent. So we are really trying to increase it. So it means finally we are, you know, trying to obtain the goal of electricity independence.
Seoul citizens are very familiar with the apps and Internet. You can see this site, Seoul.net (ph). So, you know, before they are starting to go to the school or office, you know, they can have the information how the air quality is.
One thing is very serious to every city around the world, but you know Seoul is more serious, you know, condition.
This concept of sustainability is most important to the mayor of all cities.
So we made so many trials and errors. So you know our experiences can be clear by many other Asian and developing cities across the world.
ANDERSON: This is CNN. The latest world news headlines as you would expect at the bottom of the hour coming up.
And the European Union decides to halt some arms sales to Egypt in response to a deadly government crackdown. The details from EU foreign policy chief Catherine Ashton.
Plus, how an intern's death has called into question the culture that exists in the world's financial institutions. More on that after this.
ANDERSON: This is CNN, CONNECT THE WORLD, the top stories for you this hour. And as UN weapons inspectors visit Damascus, Syrian opposition groups are claiming that the regime used chemical weapons on rebel strongholds outside Damascus. Hundreds are feared dead. CNN cannot independently verify their claims. The regime flatly denies these allegations. The UN Security Council holding an emergency session now to discuss the situation.
A US military judge has sentenced former army intelligence analyst Bradley Manning to 35 years in prison. He was convicted last month of the largest intelligence leak in US Army history. He admitted to giving WikiLeaks classified files on Iraq and Afghanistan.
Japan's nuclear watchdog plans to upgrade its alert level for the leaking Fukushima plant to serious, pending confirmation from the UN's nuclear agency. The reassessment comes a day after the plant's operator says 300 tons of radioactive water had leaked from a storage tank onsite.
Former Egyptian leaders Hosni Mubarak could be released from prison within hours. State TV's reporting that he will be put under house arrest. Today, a Cairo court accepted an appeal against his detention while legal cases against him proceed.
Well, Egypt's biggest trading partner calls it a very clear signal to the interim government that the violence must end. European Union foreign ministers yet in emergency session earlier today, agreeing to restrict the sale of arms and security equipment to Egypt. They criticized the crackdown on supporters of the ousted president Mohamed Morsy calling it "disproportionate."
Well, I spoke about their statement today with the EU's foreign policy foreign policy chief, Catherine Ashton. Have a listen to this.
CATHERINE ASHTON, EU FOREIGN AFFAIRS CHIEF: First of all, it talks about suspension of equipment that could be used for repressive purposes. And then secondly, talks about assessing and looking at what relationship is had in the context of what we call a common position.
And basically what that means is that a few years ago, all member states agreed that they would supply arms or weapons or equipment, but within a context of some principles. And each member state will now look at that in that context. That's the decision that was taken.
ANDERSON: The military has clearly decided or said that they are intent on liquidating the Muslim Brotherhood at this point. The general from the Egyptian army said that on record to "Le Monde" on Monday. If that is the case, surely at this point, it's not just a suspension of aid, it's over, isn't it?
ASHTON: Well, we're not talking about aid. You asked me specifically about military issues.
ASHTON: And I'm really worried, and one of the things we've been talking about a lot today is the rhetoric that's coming out. Some of the things that are being said in Egypt are really alarming. I'm in contact with the authorities in Egypt, as indeed are lots of other ministers --
ASHTON: -- and journalists and so on. And you will know that there are many people who are not talking in those terms. Of course we are very, very worried, and we do condemn the use of force and violence that has been overzealous.
ASHTON: Let's put it in those terms.
ANDERSON: You must be --
ASHTON: We've also been really worried, too, let me just say as well, about what's happening in the Sinai, acts of terrorism. And, of course, burning of churches, other religious buildings, other buildings --
ANDERSON: I understand.
ASHTON: -- and so on. We are really concerned to see Egypt move back to a political process for all the reasons --
ANDERSON: You must be slightly --
ASHTON: -- that you would expect.
ANDERSON: -- unnerved by the response to yours and other mediation efforts in the past couple of weeks. Back off, effectively, is what the authorities said, and into this void of aid and security and weaponry steps the Saudis and other people from the region that I'm in at the moment.
And they said, don't get involved if you don't want to be involved. We'll step in, we'll replace whatever you, the EU and the other members of the international community, the US, may suspend so far as aid and weaponry is concerned. So, do you -- to a certain extent feel that they are snubbing their noses, not just at Egypt, but in this region, at the international community at this point?
ASHTON: Well, I don't think so. We didn't go into mediate. It's not the job I would say we were trying to do. What we were doing was talking with a lot of different groups and people, based on the experience that we've got in Europe, and trying to find elements that perhaps might be useful.
But it's for the Egyptian authorities, for the Egyptian political parties, for the people themselves -- I always say this -- to actually work out the kind of dialogue they want and to reach the kind of conclusions that they want.
ANDERSON: OK, let me --
ASHTON: And our colleagues with -- in the Gulf, I was talking with one of the Gulf countries yesterday, and we know that they have, many of them, a strong relationship with Egypt. That's for them. I do believe that the Egyptian people and the Egyptian political parties want a strong relationship with the European Union. It's a different kind of relationship.
ANDERSON: All right.
ASHTON: And we value that, and we want that to continue.
ANDERSON: Cathy Ashton, the EU's foreign affairs head speaking to me earlier. Well, we referred, there, to Saudi Arabia pledging to step in and provide funds for Egypt's interim government if the West decides to cut off some of this aid to the military.
The Saudis have a vested interest in the outcome of Egypt's political crisis, as do other countries across this region. Leone Lakhani has a closer look, now, at what is a growing divide.
LEONE LAKHANI, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Deadly divisions play out on the streets of Cairo between pro- and anti-Morsy factions, fracturing Egyptian society and forcing leaders of the Arab world to figure out which side they're on.
Qatar was a major supporter of the Morsy regime, but the rest of the Gulf saw that government and its ideology as a threat.
EDMUND O'SULLIVAN, CHAIRMAIN, MEED: Saudi Arabia and the UAE have made it -- the UAE in particular -- have made it abundantly clear where its position on the Muslim Brotherhood is. It considers its activities -- some of its activities to be unacceptable, and it considers it to be a destabilizing element in its own society and through the region.
LAKHANI: The UAE in particular is seen as a safe haven by many in the region. The government here is keen to keep it that way. In the past year, dozens with ties to Islamist groups accused of plotting to seize power were arrested and sentenced in the UAE.
There was no direct connection to Egypt's Brotherhood, but in this environment, analysts say the message is clear: there's no tolerance for defiance.
SAM WILKIN, MIDDLE EAST ANALYST, CONTROL RISKS: The Muslim Brotherhood is, to an extent, the transnational organization with chapters in many countries across the region, and the fear is that the Muslim Brotherhood's government in Egypt could encourage similar movements throughout the region, including in the Gulf.
LAKHANI: The Gulf states know too well that Egypt's influence extends well beyond its borders. They see the Brotherhood as an ideological threat. But as images of bloody confrontations are seen around the world, these outside players may have to reconsider their tactics.
O'SULLIVAN: The Gulf states sense about their own image internationally, and it cannot be good when a government is seen to be organizing the shooting of its own citizens in the street.
LAKHANI: So far, the majority of Gulf states are giving Egypt's interim government a chance, pledging billions of dollars to keep the economy afloat. With the political landscape in Tunisia, Libya, and Syria still uncertain, political stability in Egypt becomes all the more vital.
Leone Lakhani, CNN, Dubai.
ANDERSON: From Abu Dhabi, you're watching CONNECT THE WORLD. Coming up, the founder of Facebook, Mr. Mark Zuckerberg, speaks exclusively to CNN about what is his new, bold project.
And the tragic death of an intern with a promising future raises questions about working hours. We'll discuss this and more after this short break, 60 seconds, don't go away.
ANDERSON: Twenty to 1:00 in the UAE. The death of a 21-year-old intern working at Bank of America in London has sparked a discussion about the working culture in financial houses around Europe. This report from Jim Boulden.
JIM BOULDEN, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Moritz Erhardt was a 21-year-old German student finishing off an internship at the London office of Bank of America Merrill Lynch when he was found dead in this building, housing for interns or trainee employees trying to establish a career in London's financial district.
While his death is currently unexplained, the police say it is not suspicious. But it has sparked concerns that interns work too many hours trying to break into the financial world.
ANDRE SPICER, CASS BUSINESS SCHOOL: What's wrong is that it creates an unhealthy kind of work environment where people are pushed to the limits, but it's also unproductive. After 12 hours, people stop focusing and start making dangerous decisions.
BOULDEN: Hedge fund manager Paul Hawtin was a trainee stockbroker six years ago.
PAUL HAWTIN, CAYMAN ATLANTIC LTD.: It was very tough. It was hard to get the position. Went through a rigorous process of a lot of interviews, and then the hours were extreme to say the least. In the city is where a lot of money can be made. I'm an ambitious person, I work hard, and I wanted to be in the mix, as they say.
BOULDEN: Unsubstantiated claims on social media say Erhardt worked very long hours in the days before he died, including overnights, and that he may have had an underlying health issue. Bank of America won't confirm that, saying he was a popular intern with a promising future. Career counselors say support would have been available.
ADAM POWLEY, CAREER RELATIONSHIP MANAGER: Big firms will have procedures in place to sort of make sure that the interns have the support that they need in order to be successful in the internship, but also have that person to talk to or have those procedures in place should they need to use them.
BOULDEN: Those who have been through it, even while being paid, say there is little room to complain.
HAWTIN: It was almost impossible to bring it up with the senior -- your seniors, because they'd almost laugh at you, really, and say, look, there's the door. If you can't take the heat, go somewhere else.
BOULDEN: Erhardt was close to graduating and had completed other internships. A promising career cut short for a man quoted as saying he was looking forward to working in strategy consulting.
Jim Boulden, CNN, London.
ANDERSON: So, as Jim said, what started as a promising career has ended in tragedy, but ultimately, who or what is responsible? Well, Erhardt's death has called into question not only the working culture of the finance industry, but internships across the board as well.
I'm joined now from London by Gus Baker from an organization called Intern Aware, a UK charity that campaigns for the better treatment of interns, and Andrew Scherer from Inspiring Interns, a recruitment agency in London that matches young people with internships. I think you're going to have pretty different views.
Andrew, in your experience matching up young people for internships with companies in competitive industries like finance and advertising, for example, how common is it for companies to ask interns to go to excessive lengths, like working all night long several days in a row?
ANDREW SCHERER, COMMUNICATIONS MANAGER, INSPIRING INTERNS: I think you'll find it's extremely rare to find cases where someone is working that many hours that long. I think it's a very isolated case, and certainly not what we see across most of the industries in which we work.
ANDERSON: Gus? What's your experience?
GUS BAKER, CO-DIRECTOR, INTERN AWARE: I agree. I think most of the time, internships, the problem isn't long hours. The problem is that people aren't being paid, and that's pretty bad for interns, because what it means is that those who can't afford to work for free can't get that job on the career ladder that they need to succeed.
BAKER: So, this is a really tragic, isolated case, but we do need to look at the broader issue of whether employees value the contribution that interns make. And too often, they don't, and they should.
ANDERSON: All right. Well, let's talk about pay. Companies are often criticized for using interns as free labor. According to a study of interns by the European Youth Forum in 2011, just over half of interns were paid. Of those who did unpaid internships, the vast majority relied on financial support from their parents to support themselves.
A staggering 65 percent, it's got to be said, to Andrew. Looking at this, Andrew, don't we now have a situation where only youngsters from wealthy families can afford to do internships?
SCHERER: I don't think that's the case, no. If you take the graduates we work with, for example, there are opportunities out there for them to gain financial support while they're doing an internship.
For example, the job centers continue to pay -- in the UK continue to pay job seekers allowance to people doing internships through the work experience program, of which Inspiring Interns is a partner. So, people can continue to receive the benefits that they're entitled to during their internship.
We also find that a lot of universities now have set up bursary funds to help support interns during their internship so that there is financial support there to help people get this important experience, and it is very important that graduates are getting relevant work experience on their CV so they can break into the career they want.
ANDERSON: Right, OK. I hear what you're saying, and you've got more experience in this than I have. It's bee my experience that a lot of interns that I've known as I've worked through my career have, indeed, relied on their parents for financial assistance, but I hear what you're saying.
Let's talk about how useful internships, then, are for securing a job to both of you. After those surveyed in that same study had finished their internships, just over a third were offered a job, 16 percent with the company that the interned with, and 18 percent elsewhere. Of those unemployed afterwards, only 30 percent were hopeful the internship would help them find a job.
So, I guess the question to both of you at this stage is -- and to you, Gus, first -- these odds don't seem particularly great. So, are internships still a good way -- the best way -- for young people to get their foot in the door, do you think, in competitive industries?
BAKER: They're a really important way to get their foot in the door, and that was actually why the issue of pay is so crucial. Because if you can only get your foot in the door if you can work for free and you can rely on the bank of Mum and Dad, then what does that say for the huge amount of people who can't make rent in cities like London and New York.
It means that they're totally excluded from the careers that they probably deserve and they'd be great at. And that's not just bad for young people. It's bad for business, too, because it means that those businesses using unpaid interns aren't getting the best and the brightest, they're just getting the people who've got a big bank at home that they can rely on --
ANDERSON: All right.
BAKER: -- and really, that's bad for all of us.
ANDERSON: You are concentrating on this issue of pay, and I think the study, certainly, that I just quoted -- and I hope it's -- I hope you agree it's a decent one -- certainly suggesting that not everybody is unpaid. I know across the --
BAKER: No, no.
ANDERSON: -- across the divide these days that there are paid internships. Let's move on from that pay issue if we can. Let's talk about whether internships are indeed worth doing at all at this point.
Gus, isn't good for interns to experience what it's really like before they take a job and plunge into full-time work, even if it is difficult to break into industries like finance. You've got to ultimately have some experience, otherwise an employer is going to say, how do I know you're going to be any good?
BAKER: Absolutely. We agree with that completely. And we think that internships are a really key way of people getting into the career market. It's good for the intern when it's fair and they're paid because they get the experience they need, and it's good for the employer because they can try someone out before taking them on on a permanent basis.
And so, yes, internships, when they work well, can be absolutely fantastic for all involved. But they have to be treated fairly. Part of that is about working time, conditions, and part of that is about pay.
ANDERSON: Let me ask you both very, very briefly, did you do an internship? And if so, how was it? Firstly, Andrew.
SCHERER: I've done several internships. I interned in Germany in my year abroad when I was studying, and I've interned back here for both bigger organizations and small.
ANDERSON: Did you get paid?
SCHERER: Some of them were paid, some of them weren't. And in fact, the smaller one --
ANDERSON: And when they weren't how did you --
SCHERER: -- companies like --
ANDERSON: -- how did you cope? Sorry. Let me just stop you. When you weren't paid, how did you cope?
SCHERER: I'd saved up beforehand to pay for my -- to cover my costs while I was working as an intern. But I --
ANDERSON: All right, OK.
SCHERER: -- learned a lot and --
ANDERSON: All right, good.
SCHERER: -- the company gave me hands-on experience, which I really needed.
ANDERSON: Sure. And Gus?
BAKER: I've not done internships before, no. But I know so many people who have who found them useful. And sadly, I've found -- I know so many people who haven't been able to, and that's why we do this campaign.
ANDERSON: Super. Thank you both. Fascinating. What do you think about all of this? The team at CONNECT THE WORLD wants to hear from you, facebook.com/CNNconnect, have your say. You can tweet me @BeckyCNN your thoughts on this issue. It's an important one, @BeckyCNN.
Coming up after this short break on CONNECT THE WORLD, Mr. Mark Zuckerberg discusses his future plans with us and why he thinks global internet access is paramount in today's world. Good stuff. Stay with us.
ANDERSON: It's estimated two thirds of the world's population still doesn't have access to the internet. Facebook's Mark Zuckerberg wants to change all of that. He's announced an initiative to bring the world online, and he sat down with CNN's Chris Cuomo to chat about it. Have a listen to what was an exclusive interview for us.
CHRIS CUOMO, CNN HOST, "NEW DAY" (voice over): When you visit the Facebook campus, you get the sense that anything is possible.
ZUCKERBERG: We want the campus to feel like a little -- like a little city or village.
CUOMO: And now, Zuckerberg wants to make the entire world like the Facebook campus -- in a way -- by providing internet access to the entire world. The idea is called Internet.org, its target, the 5 billion people around the globe without access to the net.
ZUCKERBERG: Here, we use things like Facebook to share news and catch up with our friends, but there, they're going to use it to decide what kind of government they want. Get access to health care for the first time ever. Connect with family hundreds of miles away that they haven't seen in decades. Getting access to the internet is a really big deal. I think we're going to be able to do it.
CUOMO: And the word "we" is the key word here, because this isn't just about Facebook. Zuckerberg has done something extraordinary to achieve the extraordinary: reached out to the biggest players in social media and mobile data -- aka his competitors in part -- to work together.
CUOMO (on camera): How did those calls go?
ZUCKERBERG: It probably varies.
ZUCKERBERG: But in general, these are companies that we have deep relationships with and have worked with on a lot of things for a long time. So, this kind of came out of a lot of the discussions that we had.
CUOMO (voice-over): So, a team of the best in the business is coming together, but for a task this size, uniting five times the global presence Facebook has already, it's going to take a lot more.
CUOMO (on camera): What about the how? How do you do this? How developed is the plan?
ZUCKERBERG: We have a plan -- a rough plan for what we think we're going to need to do to pull it off, and of course, the plan will evolve over time and we'll get better ideas, but if you look at the trends, data is becoming more available to people, right? Apps are getting more efficient to run. There are new business models to help more people get online.
CUOMO: It's also good for Facebook and these other companies, right? Because mobile access to the internet is where your business lies, right?
ZUCKERBERG: If we were just focused on making money, the first billion people that we've connected have way more money than the rest of the next 6 billion combined. It's not fair, but it's the way that it is. And we just believe that everyone deserves to be connected and on the internet. So, we're putting a lot of energy towards this.
CUOMO: People see you as somewhat of a comeback kid right now. Forget about the "kid" part --
CUOMO: -- but just as a phrase, right? That you took some lumps, and you found a way to come back. Are you aware of that? Do you feel that in yourself, that some people thought it wasn't going to happen, that you'd had your run, but look at me now? Do you get a sense of that?
ZUCKERBERG: Yes, we've always just focused on building something great over the long term, right? So, everyone at Facebook, I just tell them, come in and try to make the biggest impact that you can have.
And if we keep building a service that people love and that more and more people use every day, which we seem to be doing pretty well at, then we're going to be fine over time. And that's our focus, in terms of building the company.
CUOMO: Hard to do, though, when you hit the bumps in the road, though, right? It's a great message when everything is OK --
ZUCKERBERG: It's especially important when you hit the bumps.
CUOMO: So, when not trying to connect the world to the internet, you have to run one of the biggest companies. And when you want a distraction from that, you've decided to take on the easy task of immigration policy --
CUOMO: -- in the United States. Why are you wading into those waters?
ZUCKERBERG: When we were first talking about doing this, a lot of people actually were worried that it was going to be a problem for Facebook, and I just decided I think that this is too important of an issue for the country.
There are 11 million undocumented people who came here to work hard and contribute to the country. And it's -- I don't think it's quite as polarized as people always say.
CUOMO: What would be your advice to the people in DC who are trying to balance these two almost diametrically opposed positions? One is immigration policy is about what you're talking about, let's bring in our human potential. And the other one is, let's find a way to get them out.
How -- if you had to enter that, this is your new team, you have these Democrats and Republicans come together. What advice do you think you'd have that's not going on down there now?
ZUCKERBERG: Well, I -- I can't really tell anyone how to legislate. That's -- everyone understands this stuff way better than I do. So, my goal in this is just to try to help support folks who care deeply about getting his done on both sides, and hopefully we can make a difference.
CUOMO: In terms of the politics of it, you think it's just important enough where you're going to do it anyway.
ZUCKERBERG: Yes. I think that there are some things in life that if you believe that it's such a big problem, you just stick your neck out and try to do it, right? And a lot of people think that it's going to be really challenging to connect 5 billion people, too. It is.
But I think it's one of the biggest problems of my generation, to get everyone in the world to have internet access. And similarly, 11 million undocumented people, that's a lot of people whose lives we can improve and make the country stronger.
CUOMO: Good luck with everything --
ZUCKERBERG: Thank you.
CUOMO: You're not even 30 yet. You're doing great.
ZUCKERBERG: Thank you.
CUOMO: You're doing great. Good luck with everything.
ANDERSON: The understatement of the year from Chris Cuomo. Now, you have all seen inspiring convocation speeches, I assume, made by celebrities or academics. But in tonight's Parting Shots, we bring you this. At first, a speech made by a student at the Georgia Institute of Technology looks like any other welcome address, but halfway through, this happens.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
(MUSIC - "ALSO SPRACH ZARATHUSTRA" THEME TO "2001: A SPACE ODYSSEY," BY RICHARD STRAUSS)
NICHOLAS SELBY, STUDENT, GEORGIA INSTITUTE OF TECHNOLOGY: Our tradition of excellence. Our mission as students is not to follow in the footsteps of the astronauts, Nobel Prize Laureates and presidents who graduated before us, but to exceed their footsteps, crush the shoulders of the giants upon whom we stand. We here are all such innovative people, so I am telling you --
(MUSIC - "ALSO SPRACH ZARATHUSTRA")
SELBY: -- if you want to change the world, you're at Georgia Tech! You can do that! If you want to build the Iron Man suit, you're at Georgia Tech! You can do that! If you want to play theme music during your convocation speech like a (expletive deleted), we're at Georgia Tech! We can do that! I am doing that!
(END VIDEO CLIP)
ANDERSON: I don't know whether I should be inspired or terrified by that. I'm Becky Anderson, and I'll go away and think about it, because that is the end of the show. That was CONNECT THE WORLD, thank you for watching. Do not go away. CNN, of course, continues. From Abu Dhabi, it's a very good evening.