CNN CNN


 

Return to Transcripts main page

CONNECT THE WORLD

Syrian Neighbors Meet To Discuss Refugee Crisis; U.S., France Debate Action Against Syria; Ariel Castro Found Dead In Prison Cell; Fukushima's Uncontainable Leaks

Aired September 4, 2013 - 16:00   ET

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


JONATHAN MANN, HOST: Tonight, convincing skeptics on Syria.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

BARACK OBAMA, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: My credibility is not on the line, the international community's community is on the line.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

MANN: Obama takes his case for intervention abroad. But Syria's neighbors aren't all convinced. The Lebanese foreign minister gives us his view just ahead.

Plus, how do one of America's most notorious kidnappers end up dead in prison? We'll be live in Cleveland, Ohio.

And...

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Samsung Galaxy Gear.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

MANN: The smartwatch the world has been waiting for, or has it? The verdict coming up.

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

MANN: Thanks for joining us.

Leaders, lawmakers and diplomats around the world are speaking out today on possible military action against Syria. We begin in Washington where President Barack Obama just won the first congressional test of his effort to punish Syria for an alleged chemical weapons attack. A senate committee has approved a resolution authorizing the limited use of force by a vote of 10 to 7. The measure now goes to the full Senate for debate next week.

A House committee is also debating possible military action. We're covering developments on Syria around the world tonight. Our Nic Robertson is live in the region. We'll get to him in a moment. But first, a quick look at a very busy day.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

MANN: The Obama administration is pressing its case for a military strike on Syria with congress, a process that began on Tuesday when Secretary of State John Kerry told the Senate foreign relations committee...

JOHN KERRY, U.S. SECRETARY OF STATE: This is not the time for armchair isolationism. This is not the time to be spectators to slaughter.

MANN: Today he made the same arguments to the house foreign affairs committee, this time against a backdrop of red hands raised by demonstrators in silent protest.

KERRY: This is about the world's red line, it's about humanity's red line.

MANN: As Kerry addressed lawmakers on Capitol Hill, Barack Obama arrived in Sweden where he sought to convince the rest of the world that it is right to respond militarily to the alleged breech of a ban on chemical weapons.

OBAMA: My credibility is not on the line, the international community's credibility is on the line. And America and congress's credibility is on the line, because we give lip service to the notion that these international norms are important.

MANN: A point that was echoed by French Prime Minister Jean-Marc Ayrault in Wednesday as his parliament debated the issue in Paris.

JEAN-MAR AYRAULT, PRIME MINISTER OF FRANCE (through translator): We assert that the Syrian regime has already used over the last few months chemical weapons on a much reduced scale in order to attack the opposition.

MANN: French lawmakers are to vote on military intervention at a later date.

Meanwhile, Russia has against urged the west to wait for a UN mandate. President Vladimir Putin even telling a Russian TV network that his government is ready to act against Syria if the evidence is there.

VLADIMIR PUTIN, PRESIDENT OF RUSSIA (through translator): If we have objective, precise data of who is responsible for these crimes, then we'll react. Right now we are just guessing. It is too early to say. Yes, we will do this or that. This would be absolutely incorrect.

MANN: In Washington, congress is expected to vote on a military strike as early as next week. That may well come before the UN releases its findings on what actually happened in this Damascus suburb on August 21st, an investigation that was tasked only with finding out what kinds of weapons were used and not what Russia is seeking, proof of who is responsible.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

MANN: Let's get some perspective now from our senior international correspondent Nic Robertson live in Amman, Jordan.

And Nic, the news just a short time ago, the Senate foreign relations committee approving 10 to 7 the limited use of force. Now that's just a committee. It's not the full Senate. And even in that committee it wasn't a ringing endorsement. But has the U.S. moved one step closer to military action in Syria?

NIC ROBERTSON, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: It certainly seems to be the case. And that vote expected on Monday in the light of this again seems perhaps as you say another step in that direction, perhaps more likely because of that, certainly in this region it remains the expectation here nothing that leaders here that we've been talking to hearing from the United States nothing that they're hearing is making them change their opinion.

Do they think strikes are likely? The Jordanian prime minister in an interview with CNN in the past they said his expectation was that strikes were coming. Clearly, that was before this particular vote. But the general expectation is here that the vote will be passed and this does seem to be another step in that direction, John.

MANN: Nic, I'm going to ask you to stay with us. While we look at how the votes are stacking up, and at this stage, this is what we know. We are tracking the votes in Congress on Capitol Hill, most of them remain undecided. In the Republican controlled House of Representatives, there are more no votes than yes, 85-26 as things stand. And we'll be watching the house closely, because that could be a place where the Obama administration has big trouble. Let's give some context to it, though, a large majority of representatives again still undecided. In the Democratic controlled Senate, and that may be overstating things a little bit, the opposite pattern is emerging. 22 senators favor a strike, 14 oppose, and there are still 64 undecides.

So where Washington is concerned, the case has not yet been made. But now Russia is making a very different kind of case. Startling allegations being put forward by Russian authorities about chemical weapons, but not, the Russians say, used by the Assad regime.

What can you tell us?

ROBERTSON: Well, Russia has released what it says is an investigation into an attack in March near Aleppo in a place called Khan al-Assad (ph). They say that the investigations they've done on that alleged chemical attack there where 26 people were killed, they say, show that the chemical composition of the sarin nerve agent that they say was used was not made by industrial methods, an indication they say that it was made by rebels.

And they add to that saying that the charge that was used to deliver the explosives to the battlefield was not a regular -- not a regular battlefield munitions charge, it was something that was homemade. They pinpoint a particular rebel group and say it's typical of the homemade explosives that they've been making.

So what the Russian investigation has said into the Khan al-Assad (ph) alleged chemical strike in March is that the rebels were responsible.

And if we remember back to then, that was the alleged chemical strike where the regime said that it was rebels at the time and that they invited the UN to come in and inspect that. And that was one of the places the UN inspection team that was in Syria just recently was expected to go to when the most recent strike took place.

Perhaps we should in the context of this investigation the Russians say they've completed also reflect on the day, the 21st of August when that chemical strike took place, alleged chemical strike, around Damascus took place. The Russian's very quickly, within hours in fact said that the rebels were responsible for that as well. And at that stage it was -- appeared premature, and as much as there had been no inspection of those sites at that time.

But the Russians certainly, if you will at the moment, opening a question, a different dialogue on a different attack -- and if you listen to what President Putin said today in his comments, he said to President Obama an open question, what will you do if the rebels had been found to be using chemical weapons?

It does muddy the waters at this time, John.

MANN: Well, it tuns the Obama administration's allegations on their head if the Russians are right, then it was the rebels who introduced chemical weapons first, not the Syrian government if, indeed, the Syrian forces used chemical weapons in August.

But let me ask you, is there any way to know if it's true? I mean, how are we supposed to know what to believe?

ROBERTSON: That's the dilemma that is indeed the dilemma that faces President Putin, the dilemma that faces President Obama, it's -- it is not clear the United States hasn't (inaudible) has any other -- any European government been able to provide conclusive, categoric, copper-bottomed if you will evidence that says that the regime was responsible.

Very clearly, the United States and most European countries believe that Bashar al-Assad was responsible for these latest strikes.

But it is very, very difficult to get at the facts. It wasn't possible for international monitors to get into Khan al-Assad (ph). The monitors who got into the area around Damascus got in six days after the attack. The government had been continuing to shell that area. So gathering the evidence has been incredibly difficult.

And of course what in political terms this means is it makes it very hard at the United Nations to get unanimous support for what the United States would like to do, which is strike Syria and perhaps as we've seen Russia all along over the past couple of years support Bashar al-Assad and his government. This, perhaps, underlies what is -- the political rationale for what is happening at the moment. Russia does not want to see a vote at the United Nations to strike Syria. So all of the questions that you have said, how do we know who is responsible? What does it mean? We may never get those concrete answers.

But it's clear, it seems, that we're likely as well to get UN support for U.S. strikes inside Syria, John.

MANN: And we're having this conversation with you and you're in Jordan. So when you think about it, the conversation is between the authorities in Washington, the authorities in Moscow, the United Nations in New York. How do the people of Jordan, who are right next door to this war, feel about the debate thousands of miles of away while the war rages on in their midst?

ROBERTSON: They're very worried about how it will affect Jordan. Jordan, several diplomats have told me, has never been in such a precarious position. At the UNHCR in Geneva today, the high commissioner there held a meeting involving the Jordanian foreign minister, representatives as well from Turkey, from Syria, from Iraq, all overwhelmed at the moment with refugees coming from Syria.

They quoted some shocking, startling figures that the population of Jordan has gone up by 11 percent because of the influx of refugees, that is economically and politically destabilizing.

So people here are very concerned about the continuing war across the border in Syria. Intelligence officials here are worried about the implications that al Qaeda groups in Syria are gaining strength. And that can have serious implications here in Jordan where groups like that would love to get a foothold. There are considerations as well that if Jordan gives military support over military support to the rebels, and there's a possibility they could get dragged into this war, chemical strikes here potentially.

And of course the political upheaval in a country itself being buffeted by the Arab Spring.

So on the street here there is real concern about what the United States may do and the implications for what may happen here. Jordan has been buffeted by the wars in Iraq, now by Syria, and people remember all of this and they see and...

MANN: Nic, I'm going to cut you off, because Jordan is not alone -- Nic Robertson in Amman, Jordan.

We want to talk about Lebanon now, because it is warning that an attack on Syria could destabilize the entire region.

Wael Abou joins us now on the line from Geneva, Switzerland, the nation's social affairs minister.

You have been meeting with representatives of other governments. What kind of concerns did they have? And what kind of consensus emerged about what to do.

Wael Abou, can you hear us?

WAEL ABOU, LEBANONESE MINISTER FOR SOCIAL AFFAIRS: Yes, I can hear you.

MANN: Tell us about the meetings in Geneva with the other governments that have received refugees. What kind of consensus about what should be done.

ABOU: The main issue is in this meeting today is that we are all -- we all agreed that the international response so far to the refugees issue in Lebanon and Jordan and Turkey and also in Iraq is frustrating. So far nothing has been done. We've -- until now 27 percent of the (inaudible) that was launched by the UNHCR, only 27 percent was financed by the donors. So this means that if -- if nothing will change in that, it's becoming very alarming in Lebanon and Jordan and Turkey and everywhere.

MANN: Now you're talking about the financial shortfall. And that's a critical problem. But the base problem is the war in Syria. As you well know, the United States is contemplating air strikes. The government of Turkey would like to see the Assad regime toppled. Both of those must frighten the people of Lebanon.

ABOU: OK. Now we are talking about a strike. I think they are -- it's too late, but even if there will be a strike right now, the only decision that can be taken -- I'm not talking on behalf of my government, I'm talking on behalf of myself and my party, the only way is to overthrow Bashar al-Assad. This is the only way to stop this war and to stop the flux of refugees.

I think sooner or later, this decision should be taken.

MANN: Now you say you're not speaking on behalf of your government. Does your government feel that way? Do many people in Lebanon feel that way that half measures won't be enough and there should be an international effort to topple Assad?

ABOU: We are divided in Lebanon. 50 percent of the Lebanese people are maybe supporting the regime, the other 50 percent -- and we are among them -- are supporting the revolution. But away from all this political affiliations here in Lebanon, it's very -- it's very rational to say, and it's very logical to say that if Bashar al-Assad won't be overthrown there will be no solution in Syria and there will be no solution for the refugees issue.

MANN: Hezbollah is a very powerful party in your country. It is a very powerful military force in the war in Syria. What will Hezbollah do if the United States and France and any other nation carry out airstrikes against Syria? What would Hezbollah do if there was an international effort to do what you're calling for and topple Assad?

ABOU: I think that Hezbollah involvement in Syria was a big mistake. And I think that it was a bigger -- the biggest mistake if Hezbollah will have any response to any strike that will be launched against al-Assad. I think that they are -- they will be wise enough not to get involved in any reaction, because we cannot afford it in Lebanon.

MANN: Now Lebanon badly needs money. You began our conversation by talking about that. But it needs obviously for this war to end. What is going to happen in the next few months, in the next few years, if, indeed, the fighting continues?

ABOU: To tell you the truth, the truth is becoming very alarming. It's not any more about the financial support, it's about the stability of Lebanon to now -- I think that we've crossed our red line and we proposed our president, President Michel Suleiman, that we should be some of the Arab or the western countries should also try to share the burden and to share the numbers with us, because it's -- it's becoming beyond the ability to deal with this issue, to tackle this issue.

MANN: Understandably so.

2 million refugees having fled Syria, many of them in Lebanon.

Wael Abou, minister of social affairs on the line with us after a meeting of refugee welcoming governments in Geneva. Thanks so much for talking with us.

Well, the crisis in Syria is almost certain to overshadow the G20 summit, the annual forum of the world's leading economies begins tomorrow in Russia. CNN will be there, of course, covering developments on and off the main stage. Join us all through it for the very latest.

Still to come, though, tonight. The radiation levels are getting higher as the amount of toxic water grows. The latest crisis at Japan's crippled nuclear plant.

But first, one of America's most notorious kidnappers if found dead. A live report from Cleveland, Ohio when Connect the World continues.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

MANN: Welcome back. You're watching CNN. And this is Connect the World. I'm Jonathan Mann, thanks for being with us.

U.S. serial kidnapper Ariel Castro is dead. An Ohio coroner's office says Castro committed suicide hanging himself with a bedsheet. Castro was sentenced to life in prison, plus 1,000 years for the abduction, repeated rape and abuse of three women over a 10 year period. We're joined by CNN's Martin Savidge in Cleveland, Ohio.

And Martin, we know the very basic facts, but what can you tell us about what happened?

MARTIN SAVIDGE, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Yeah. Well, there are a number of things still to be understood. The family, certainly, of Ariel Castro believes that -- let me tell you a little bit about just where we're standing, because it is kind of unusual. The house of horrors, as it was known on Seymour Avenue here in Cleveland is no more. That was torn down. This community garden is what is the result. This is how the community is coming to grips.

But for the death of Ariel Castro, first of all, came as a shock to everyone. And then the issue of suicide. He was not necessarily under a suicide watch, but he was under a certain kind of protective observation in which authorities say that they would check on him every 30 minutes.

Apparently within that window, he was able to use a bedsheet, according to the coroner, and how himself in his prison cell.

I asked the family of Ariel Castro if in any way they had doubts that maybe it was something else, maybe foul play. They have questions, but they certainly don't think it was foul play, they just would like to have more details, how did it happen, how could it happen, when a man is being so carefully watched. There's an investigation underway, Jonathan.

MANN: Any reaction from his victims or the families of his victims?

SAVIDGE: No. No. And of course, you know, that's where everyone's heart is right now, that's what everyone is thinking about is these three women now who are still adapting to life in freedom after a decade of being held captive in that home and treated so horribly. There has been no word. I've reached out to their attorneys and they do not anticipate that the girls are going to have any statement. Right now they are saying absolutely nothing.

MANN: Martin Savidge, live in Cleveland, Ohio. Thanks very much.

A strike by thousands of miners in a dispute over pay has hit production at a number of South Africa's gold mines. But the main union behind the stoppage says it's willing to relax some of its demands. CNN's Errol Barnett has more.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

ERROL BARNETT, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: During the first 24 hours of nationwide strikes at gold mines here in South Africa, two-thirds of these mines were severely affected. The rest saw little to no impact at all.

Already it seems this strike, plus President Jacob Zuma's comments Tuesday urging both sides to come to an agreement, seem to already have had a positive impact. You see, NUM, the dominant union which called for these strikes, told us on Wednesday that they are willing to come down from their 60 percent wage increase demand, but they maintain they still want double digits.

Meantime, the chamber of mines, which speaks on behalf of the industry, said negotiations are moving in an encouraging direction. They previously offering 6.5 percent raises.

This means that 10 percent could potentially be the magic number to end this dispute. However, the industry isn't out of the woods just yet.

Am Coup (ph), the rival more aggressive union, was not part of this strike. It's still pushing for 150 percent wage increases. And it's unclear what it will do next.

And the gold mining industry will have to find ways to cut costs in the years to come as it becomes more expensive to extract this valuable material from beneath South Africa's surface.

Africa's largest economy may have avoided a crisis this time around, but the government here will have to contend with more labor issues stemming from massive economic inequalities in the years to come.

Errol Barnett, CNN, Carletonville, South Africa.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

MANN: No strike, but more of Venezuela was literally left in the dark Monday. 70 percent of the country suffered a power failure. Though it's unclear what caused the power cut, Venezuela's President Maduro, blamed sabotage.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

NICOLAS MADURO, PRESIDENT OF VENEZUELA (through translator): Service was simply sabotaged on one of the transmission lines forming a triangle of power failure that affected, as they hoped for, practically all of the country.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

MANN: Live from CNN Center, this is Connect the World. Coming up, it's enough radiation to kill you within hours. We'll speak to a nuclear expert on why the Fukushima crisis is worse than we thought.

And a building that reflects such powerful light it melts cars. We'll tell you how developers have tackled a bright, if bizarre, issue.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

MANN: You're watching Connect the World live from CNN Center. Welcome back. I'm Jonathan Mann.

Radiation readings at Japan's Fukushima nuclear plant have jumped to a new high. Readings taken near storage tanks holding tons of toxic water now measure radiation of 2,200 millisieverts, that's up from levels on Saturday, and enough to kill an unprotected person within hours.

The news comes a day after Japan's government officially stepped in, promising just under half a billion dollars to deal with the crisis.

The plant's owner, Tepco, has been struggling to address a series of leaks at the plant. And the amount of radioactive water is growing as groundwater continues to seep into the site.

So, just how bad is the situation? What are the solutions? Well, to address some of those questions we're joined by Mycle Schneider, a consultant on nuclear policy and author of the World Nuclear Industry Status Report.

Thanks so much for being with us.

The plant is still leaking and it's been, what, more than two years? How worried should we be about this?

MYCLE SCHNEIDER, NUCLEAR EXPERT: I think if indeed an increasing crisis -- I mean, one would think that we're at least on the right way after two years, but just to fix the orders or magnitude what we are dealing with here, this amount of water which is now something like 400,000 tons of water of which one-quarter is in basements that were never built for it and 300,000 tons in makeshift tanks that are leaking, this water contains roughly three times the amount of radioactive (inaudible) that was released at the Chernobyl accident.

So...

MANN: Well, let me jump in on that very thought -- people kept saying at the outset this isn't Chernobyl. Is it getting to be like Chernobyl?

SCHNEIDER: Well, it could turn out much worse. I mean, the tanks are -- have never been built for that purpose. They're makeshift tanks that are bolted together instead of you know being welded at least. And they're exposed to corrosion from sea water.

So we've seen now two tornadoes. Have you seen the damage the tornadoes have been doing in Japan over the past few days. So such a tornadoes over the site of Fukushima could -- or another earthquake -- could destroy those containers.

MANN: Those containers aren't really solving the problem. The problem, as you mentioned, is in the groundwater as well. And so there's this latest plan, which sounds like, I don't know what, science fiction if not a comic book. But they're going to inject frozen water into the ground and try and build a frozen wall around the dangerous water to try and contain it and keep it from escaping that way.

Does that make sense? Has that ever been done?

SCHNEIDER: No. Unfortunately in that -- in those dimensions has never been done. It has been done in small scale like for tunnel building or so for -- you know, smallscale freezing of water in the environment, but never over a kilometer and for years to come.

So, I think it's very much a decision that is oriented towards the Olympic decision that is to come up. And I would have expected that the government comes -- uses the opportunity and says, well, what we need to finally tackle the problems on site is a sort of an Olympic team with the world's best experts we can find and put together a task force that develops concepts that are sustainable and not, you know, unproven technologies that are in the end hoping from repair job to repair job.

MANN: Well, that's what I wanted to ask you about, in fact. Is what we're learning now the job they faced much bigger than anyone thought at the outset? Or is the work that they've done much worse than we've been told all along?

SCHNEIDER: Well, on one hand I think it was very clear within two weeks that this problem was not just an accident, it was a catastrophe of unprecedented proportions. And I just looked it up, but within two weeks I had written to the French nuclear safety authorities asking whether they would be ready to join an international task force.

So I think we have -- yes, we are facing an unprecedented catastrophe. But where are the means to face, you know, such a disaster?

And I think here it's also a call on the international community to take some responsibility.

MANN: Mycle Schneider, thanks so much for talking with us.

The latest world news headlines are just ahead.

Plus, rising and rising: the United Nation's refugee releases alarming new higher figures on the Syrian crisis.

Also, 12 million people take the journey each year, we cross one of the world's busiest stretches of water on the gateway.

And have a look, is this the next big thing in technology? Samsung has unveiled its smartwatch. We'll have details.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

MANN: Welcome back, this is CONNECT THE WORLD, the top stories this hour. US president Barack Obama has won the first congressional test of his effort to punish Syria for an alleged chemical weapons attack. A Senate committee has approved a resolution authorizing force. The measure would now go to the full Senate. A House of Representatives committee is also debating possible military action.

Ariel Castro, the US man who kidnapped and held three women for more than a decade at his home in Ohio, has been found dead. The 52-year-old was discovered hanging in his prison cell late Tuesday night. An investigation is underway.

A strike by thousands of miners in a dispute over pay has hit production at two thirds of South Africa's gold mines. The main union behind the stoppage says it is willing to relax some of its demands.

Samsung's CEO unveiled the Galaxy Gear SmartWatch at a conference in Berlin Wednesday. The tech company's latest device is designed to link up with SmartPhones. The SmartWatch is to launch on September 25th, not sure about what time.

The United Nations says more than 2 million people have now fled Syria. The majority have gone to neighboring countries. Lebanon has seen the most arrivals, with more than 720,000 refugees crossing over. Turkey has taken in almost 464,000. About 172,000 have fled to Iraq, Egypt has accepted 111,000 more, and more than half a million are in Jordan.

Well, as the US Congress considers a military strike against Syria, fighting inside shows no signs of abating. Arwa Damon has this look.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

ARWA DAMON, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: "Hyam" (ph) is not this 25-year-old's real name. She is terrified. When she first arrived here in Lebanon's Bekaa Valley from Syria, she went to a small local group that was distributing food.

"They called me back in the evening saying, 'We have a distribution at 7:00 PM,'" she recalls. She says she got there with a friend of hers. Two men then said they had to drive to the warehouse.

"They attacked us. We started to scream and cry," she remembers, speaking softly. She says the men tried to rape them, but they fought back.

"They said, 'Why are you scared? Nothing happened. You're married. Why are you afraid of this? It's not your first time.'" There was no one she could turn to, not even her family.

"They will say, 'Why did you go there?' and they aren't going to listen. Either they will kill me, or they will send me to my parents, and they will kill me. We are a tribal society."

And so, the mother of three suffers in silence. The stigma prevents many of the victims of sexual abuse from seeking help, and there is no way to know how widespread such abuses are. But as the Syrian refugee population grows, so, too, does the landscape for all forms of exploitation.

Rahaf (ph) is just 14. Her mother says she sent her to clean houses to make much-needed extra money. One day, three teens tried to corner her. She ran home crying.

"They scared me. They made me hate life," she remembers. Her mother adds, "She said, 'Mama, I would rather die in our country than have these problems.'"

At least 2 million Syrians are now refugees in neighboring countries, and that's just the registered number. In reality, aid groups say it's much, much higher. Host countries simply cannot adequately handle the influx, and even organizations like UNHCR say they have less than 50 percent of the funds required to meet basic refugee needs.

The global community has failed to unite and end the war in Syria, but there's no justification to failing to provide funding for refugees or for protecting the most vulnerable among them.

Arwa Damon, CNN, Beirut.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

MANN: If you want to help Syria's refugees, go to our website at cnn.com/impact and you'll find details of more than a dozen organizations working to help refugees across the region.

Well, the crisis over Syria is almost certain to overshadow the G-20 summit. The annual forum of the world's leading economies begins tomorrow in St. Petersburg, Russia. Our Jill Dougherty is there with a preview.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

JILL DOUGHERTY, CNN WORLD AFFAIRS REPORTER (voice-over): The streets of St. Petersburg are decorated with banners for the G-20 summit. The scene, economic growth and jobs. But the host, Russian president Vladimir Putin, says it's a good opportunity to discuss Syria.

Putin and President Barack Obama could have a chance to speak on the margins of the G-20 summit, US officials say, but they're skeptical there will be any meeting of the minds. And in an interview with the Associated Press and Russia's state Channel One television, Putin was standing his ground.

VLADIMIR PUTIN, PRESIDENT OF RUSSIA (through translator): The American people didn't choose President Obama for him to be nice to Russia, and your own servant was not chosen by Russia to be nice to anybody else. We work, we argue, we are human, sometimes we irritate each other.

DOUGHERTY: Obama is urging Congress to approve military action in Syria, but Russians, like Ilya, an IT analyst, agree with their president that would be a mistake.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It's a great tragedy to the world. I don't know what can be done here. Everything which I can think about makes things worse. Everything.

DOUGHERTY: Putin wants Obama to provide evidence beyond doubt that the Syrian government used chemical weapons in an attack near Damascus, and Nikolai, a railroad worker, says at the G-20, the two presidents should lay their proof on the table.

"So, let them sit down and we'll see who's right and whose intelligence works better, American or Russian."

The two presidents are divided by more than Syria. NSA leader Edward Snowden is still in Russia after being granted temporary asylum. Obama has been a vocal opponent of Russia's anti-gay propaganda law and is expected to meet with human rights and gay rights activists while here.

It's gotten personal, Obama saying while their talks can be productive, Putin sometimes "looks like the bored kid in the back of the classroom," Putin questioning why Obama, a Nobel Peace Prize winner, would want to launch a military attack against Syria.

DOUGHERTY (on camera): At this G-20 summit, it's still unclear which leader's argument will prevail.

Jill Dougherty, CNN, St. Petersburg.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

MANN: And stay with us for our extensive coverage of the G-20 summit in St. Petersburg, but with its mind very much on events in Syria.

You're watching CONNECT THE WORLD. It is the world's busiest shipping lane, where merchant chips contend with fishing vessels, luxury yachts, and even swimmers. Next on the Gateway, we sail the English Channel.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

MANN: Welcome back. Sitting between England's iconic White Cliffs of Dover and France's sandy shores of Calais lies the world's busiest shipping lane. All this month on the Gateway, we're taking a look at the English Channel. This week, we're on the water, where about 500 ships cross the celebrated stretch of sea each day.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

ATIKA SHUBERT, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): The White Cliffs of Dover -- the first or last sight of England for those who travel by sea. An unmistakable border, they rise over a stretch of water like no other, the English Channel. Sandwiched between Britain and continental Europe, this is the world's busiest shipping lane.

TONY EVANS, SENIOR WATCH MANAGER, DOVER COAST GUARD: All ships in the Dover Strait, this is Dover K Star.

UNIDENTIFED MALE (via radio): This draft showing at seven decimals six meters.

SHUBERT: Thirty-four kilometers across at its shortest point, this blue motorway comes with its own strict rules of the road. Coast guards on both sides of the water are on duty to enforce them 24-7.

EVANS: There are currently nine cross-channel swim attempts in the southwest lane. Vessels are advised to proceed with caution and keep a sharp lookout.

KAIMES BEASLEY, CNI5 MANAGER, DOVER COAST GUARD: The nature of the vessel traffic in the Dover Strait, it will literally carry anything and everything. We're monitoring the vessel traffic that's transiting the Strait, we're doing this job in collaboration with our French colleagues as an international waterway.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE (via radio): Can I have your last port of call and destination? Over.

EVANS: Primarily with the Dover Strait, the vessels transiting from the north down to the southwest pass on the English side of the Dover Strait in a designated lane, and conversely, on the French side, the traveling to the northeast travel that side.

The main rule of the road that we have issues with is crossing. Some vessels seem to think that they can cross at whatever angle they like. It's like a motorway, and if you can imagine if you were trying to creep across a motorway, it would be very difficult for the oncoming traffic to work out what you're doing.

SHUBERT: Over a 24-hour period, about 500 vessels from all corners of the globe sail along the Channel. In addition to the heavy east-west traffic, ferries crisscross the straight, linking France to Britain.

SHUBERT (on camera): To avoid collision, vessels use AIS technology, and this allows captains to know the exact position, course, and speed of every craft at sea.

SHUBERT (voice-over): The Automated Identification System is a useful tool for the likes of Captain David Miller, who is at the helm of Spirit of Britain.

DAVID MILLER, SENIOR MASTER, P&O FERRIES: 16.8 knots.

SHUBERT: Over 200 meters long, this passenger ferry can carry up to 20,000 people every day between France and England.

MILLER: As a ship, she is the equivalent of the new A380 Airbus. She's the largest ship that can operate from Dover to Calais. The way I describe it, it's a bit like driving a Porsche through the center of London. You've got a hugely power piece of equipment, and you have to maneuver it through buses, taxis. But you're ably assisted by some very fine equipment.

SHUBERT: Fine equipment paired with a good sense of seamanship.

MILLER: As long as everybody observes the rules, then there is room for us all

SHUBERT: After a 45-minute turnaround in Calais, the ship is ready to set off once more. On these busy waters, traffic and weather conditions are ever-changing. On the other side of the Channel, fog is descending on the Cliffs of Dover.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

MANN: Coming up after this short break on CONNECT THE WORLD, never mind the traffic, car owners in London have a new hazard to worry about: the possibility of their cars melting. And --

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

JK SHIN, PRESIDENT, SAMSUNG MOBILE COMMUNICATIONS: It is Samsung Galaxy Gear.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

MANN: It's more than just a wristwatch. Samsung has unveiled what it calls a new wearable concept for us.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

MANN: Welcome back. The developers of a new London skyscraper have put up some scaffolding after complaints that the building was reflecting powerful rays of light, like way too much of them. One businessman who had parked near the skyscraper returned to find parts of his car had melted. Martin Lindsay said his Jaguar suffered nearly $1500 in damage.

Twenty Fenchurch Street, nicknamed the Walkie-Talkie building for its shape, cost more than $300 million to build, but because of a design flaw, is reflecting intense rays of light. Well, Jenny Harrison joins us now. You're bright and shiny and reflecting, I suppose --

(LAUGHTER)

MANN: -- but this is astonishing.

JENNY HARRISON, CNN METEOROLOGIST: It is.

MANN: A building. What's going on?

HARRISON: It is astonishing, isn't it? It's astonishing we've not heard about it up until now as well, Jon, but it's all, of course, to do with the sun, the way it's hitting the building, and then of course the way the sun is then being reflected off that building and coming down onto the ground.

So this, as you can see, is an example of what's going on. So, you might wonder why it hasn't happened before, of course, particularly through the summer months. We've had some very hot, some very, very sunny days. Here's another image of that Jaguar that was so badly affected.

Whether it's metal or whether it's actually some form of plastic, hard to tell, but just so that you know, there are so many different types of plastic, but PVC, for example, that is -- the PVC is actually -- it doesn't -- it actually melts at about 212 degrees Celsius, to give you an idea just how hot that sun might be.

So, as I say, what is going on? Well, its location of the glare dependent on the angle of the sun, so it's a different time of year. Remember, we've passed the time of year where we've had the longest day, when the sun's at its highest spot. So, it's quite possibly it's actually now hitting a different point in the building.

Also, I have to say, of course, remember, this building is not completed, so was there even a glass -- there isn't actually some glass in the building at that time. It varies, as I say, with the time of the day and also the date. As I say, we're getting into the time of year the sun's not quite so high in the sky.

And also, of course, the glare hits the parking spots at different times of the day and also not for a very long time, so it just lasts up to two to three weeks. So Jon, it's just, I think, one of those things that happened, happened for a short space of time, and perhaps it won't happen again But it's interesting to see what can happen.

And also, if you were a person standing there, presumably, for a period of time, if it can do that to a car, be it plastic, be it metal, it's going to have some real impact on you, isn't it?

MANN: Absolutely. The astonishing thing is in the normal year, London would be rainy and cloudy and it wouldn't happen. It's just the summer they've had --

HARRISON: Well -- they've had a very hot summer. In fact, I'm trying to think what I've got coming up next, and I think I've actually got this, so just to give you an idea. It has been a really, really hot summer, one of the ten-hottest summers in the UK. For the southeastern UK in particular, it's been very, very dry.

And in fact, in terms of the amount of sunshine, the seventh-sunniest summer since records began in 1929. So, all of that combined, but as I say, the last couple of days in particular, lots of sunshine, and so, yes, that was the result on that man's car.

And also, when it was reported, it then seems that a few other people have sort of come out of the woodwork and said, well, actually, I had a van parked there, it happened to my van. So, It's not just this man with his Jaguar. It has happened to other people. But obviously, he's got a more expensive vehicle.

(LAUGHTER)

MANN: He's angrier.

HARRISON: This is more concerning -- yes, he's very angry.

MANN: Jenny Harrison, thanks very much. Well, for more on architecture and bright light and all kinds of mistakes, we're joined by Professor David Dernie from our London studios. He's a professor of architecture at the University of Westminster. Thanks so much for being with us.

I just have a very basic question. The optics of mirrors have been pretty-well understood for, what, two centuries? It sounds like the kind of thing they could have predicted.

DAVID DERNIE, PROFESSOR OF ARCHITECTURE, UNIVERSITY OF WESTMINSTER: I would agree. If I could start by saying we often have nice summers in England.

(LAUGHTER)

MANN: OK, fair enough. I withdraw my unjust proposal about your weather.

DERNIE: However -- however, it is a particularly hot, hot, hot summer. But if you see that in the scope of global warming, the last two decades, we've had 17 of the world's hottest years in those 20 -- the span of 20 years.

And so, this question of heat intensity at certain times -- at unexpected times of the year -- is going to repeat. This is a problem of the altitude of the sun, the geometry of the building, and architects are increasingly enjoying playing with the shapes that are enabled by heightened engineering and so on.

MANN: Well, can I jump in on that very thought?

DERNIE: Yes.

MANN: Because the architect who designed this building in London also designed a building in Las Vegas, a hotel. And we know Las Vegas is the desert. We know it's hot and sunny there, and the same thing had happened. It's astonishing.

DERNIE: Yes. It's to do with the concave form, probably of the building. As you rightly say throughout history, probably for two millennia, has been understood to potentially focus the sun's rays. And the axiom is well-known.

But I think it's -- innovation in architecture is risky, and I think it's -- we shouldn't be pointing the blame at any one designer or set of consultants. These things are complex processes. But we should certainly learn from the past and design with respect to our changing climate, both in the --

(CROSSTALK)

MANN: It's not just climate. The problems of global warming are terrifying, if you think about them, and I don't mean to be lighthearted about them, but there have been other famous buildings that have had other kinds of problems and -- I suppose you know better than most of us. But the Millennium Bridge is named as one of them. That's close to home. What was the problem there?

DERNIE: Well, the problem was it was a very complex adjustment to the engineering of the bridge, which was done relatively straightforwardly and that leap into slight unknown territory, into territories which are difficult to model, has made for one of the most wonderful experiences in London now.

So, whilst I hear what you're saying about the problems, architects, engineers, and so on can create, I still back the kind of innovation and creativity that embodies some of these buildings. These buildings are striking feats of engineering and --

MANN: They are, and I don't mean to diminish them, but we're having a bit of fun at the expense of a lot of hardworking architects and architecture firms, and in that spirit, the Walt Disney concert hall in Los Angeles, what was the problem there?

DERNIE: Well, again, hugely complex form that breaks all sorts of boundaries in terms of what a building means for a city and so on and so forth. It can be clad in anything. A very shiny material, stainless steel, was used. And there are concave forms in that, which focus the sun's heat on certain parts of the pavement, so the locals apparently were able to roast hotdogs or whatever you do.

(LAUGHTER)

DERNIE: And it's a useful kind of cultural comparison to England, where you're frying eggs. The same effect.

MANN: It's a beauty. Different problem at the John Hancock Building in Boston, and I remember this story, but I'm going to let you explain what the problem was.

DERNIE: Well, that's some time ago. When this modernist aesthetic was trying to find a way in which it could be clad in shiny blue glass, so look as slender as it could be and reflective and clad itself in this very rigid material, which is glass.

But such a slender building will move with heat. The rigid glass won't move in the same way, and the difference of movement started to make the glass pop off and it's sort of a famous failure. And there are a number of those failures in the early use of glass in this kind of modernist aesthetic.

MANN: Once again, all in good fun. The problems architects have are kind of obvious and enduring. Most of our problems, happily, are in private. David Dernie of the University of Westminster, thanks so much for joining us.

DERNIE: My pleasure.

MANN: Samsung's CEO unveiled the Galaxy Gear SmartWatch at a conference in Berlin Wednesday. The tech company's latest device runs on Google's Android system, and it's designed to link up with SmartPhones.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

SHIN: Galaxy Gear has a pretty cool feature, allows you to make and receive calls through voice control. It notifies you about your SNS updates, or text messages via quick glance. Memographer makes it easy for you to quickly snap video memos with a camera.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

MANN: One more place your e-mail will find you. Galaxy Gear is to launch September 25th, the same dated Samsung's new tablet and SmartPhone also hit the shelves. So, will consumers take the time out to check out Samsung's new Gear? CNN's Isa Soares took to the streets of London to find out.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

ISA SOARES, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: We've all been there, looked at our watches and panicked, just like in "Alice in Wonderland."

KATHRYN BEAUMONT AS ALICE, "ALICE IN WONDERLAND": It's just a rabbit with a waistcoat -- and a watch!

BILL THOMPSON AS THE WHITE RABBIT, "ALICE IN WONDERLAND": Oh, my dear and whiskers, I'm late! I'm late! I'm late!

SOARES: Now it seems, time is also running out for SmartPhones. With a market gradually heading towards saturation, tech companies are gearing up for a new race.

SHIN: Samsung Galaxy Gear.

SOARES: Samsung is the first major player out of the blocks with a phone that it says will have everything not at your fingertips, but on your wrist.

SOARES (on camera): But with our lives already dominated by the concert of time, in this case, Big Ben, your cell phones, your iPhones, your iPads, or your BlackBerries, will Samsung's SmartWatch even catch on?

Look now. None of you crew have watches. What do you use to tell the time?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Mobile phone.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: My mobile phone.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Yes, I think we've got no watches because our mobile phones can do the same as a watch and I don't like watches.

UNIDENTIFED MALE: I don't think I would wear one, to be honest.

SOARES: Why not?

UNIDENTIFED MALE: I just think unless it did anything different to what my phone does, I'll just keep using my phone.

SOARES (voice-over): Despite the skepticism, experts say there is an appetite among consumers to be ever-more closely connected to their devices. According to recent data from an industry research group, 36 million SmartWatches are projected to be shipped by 2018, and the industry, says Credit Suisse, will be worth $50 billion.

For others, like James Bond, no doubt, these devices may be a hard sell.

EVA GREEN AS VESPER LYND, "CASINO ROYALE": Rolex?

DANIEL CRAIG AS JAMES BOND, "CASINO ROYALE": Omega.

GREEN AS LYND: Beautiful.

SOARES: With many preferring the classical style instead.

UNIDENTIFED MALE: I'm a bit traditional, I'm sorry.

BEAUMONT AS ALICE: Wait!

SOARES: Before you know it, though, telling the time could be our watch's least important feature.

THOMPSON AS WHITE RABBIT: No time to say good-bye, hello, I'm late! I'm late! I'm late!

SOARES: Isa Soares, CNN, London.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

MANN: Tech industry analyst Jeff Kagan thinks the SmartWatch will be a big hit. You can check out his editorial article at cnn.com. And would you wear a SmartWatch? Get in touch with the CONNECT THE WORLD team at facebook.com/CNNconnect to have your say. And you can tweet me @JonathanMannCNN with your thoughts as well.

I am Jonathan Mann. This has been CONNECT THE WORLD. Thanks for watching.

END