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CONNECT THE WORLD
Amnesty International Accuses Turkish Government Of Human Rights Abuses; Silvio Berlusconi Backs Italian Prime Minister In Confidence Vote; Tom Clancy Dies at 66
Aired October 2, 2013 - 15:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
JONATHAN MANN, HOST: Tonight, showdown at the White House as congressional leaders get ready to sit down with President Obama, we examine the impact of a potential U.S. default on economies around the world.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE (through translator): They were bombing and they hit with one of the bombs. And they were bombing us indiscriminately.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MANN: Stranded in a country torn by war, we have never before seen images of life for Syria's millions of internally displaced people.
And the final chapter for one of America's most successful authors. We examine the legacy of Tom Clancy.
ANNOUNCER: Live from CNN Center, this is Connect the World.
MANN: Thanks for joining us. It is day two of the U.S. government showdown -- shutdown, rather. And this evening, President Obama is trying a showdown of his own to try to break the deadlock.
Now he'll meet congressional leaders in just over two-and-half hours from now. On the agenda, reopening the government and raising the debt ceiling. Mr. Obama has summoned leaders from both sides of politics. From the House of Representative's, he's summoned Speaker and Republican John Boehner and House Minority Leader Democrat Nancy Pelosi; from the Senate, Majority leader Harry Reid will be representing the Democrats, Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell from the Republicans.
All four will be heading across town to meet the president at the White House. A spokesman for the White House said a short time ago Mr. Obama won't negotiate, there will be no give and take when he sits down with Republican leaders.
This, as the severity of the shutdown was emphasized by the director of national intelligence.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
JAMES CLAPPER, DIRECTOR OF NATIONAL INTELLIGENCE: I've been in the intelligence business for about 50 years. I've never seen anything like this. From my view, I think on top of the sequestration cuts that we're already taking, that this seriously damages our ability to protect the safety and security of this nation and its citizens.
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MANN: Let's get to correspondent Athena Jones for the very latest. She's joining us now from Capitol Hill.
So what is the plan now? Is there any obvious new room for compromise?
ATHENA JONES, CNN CORRESPONDNET: Hi, Jonathan. The answer is right now, no. There is no obvious room for compromise. You heard what White House spokesman Jay Carney said about the president's position going into this meeting a couple of hours from now. His position is the same we've heard echoed by Senate Democrats, of course. They want House Republicans to pass what's called a clean spending bill, that means a bill with no strings attached that would reopen the doors of government, send these hundreds of thousands of furloughed workers back to work, pass that bill and then we'll sit down and talk about budget issues and fiscal issues and reducing the deficit, the kinds of things we know that both sides have said they want to work out.
And so going to this meeting, though, it doesn't look like anyone is willing to budget. We know that on the House side, they have sent over and over again spending bills to the Senate that would in some way hurt the implementation of the Affordable Care Act, also called Obamacare. That's already up and running as of yesterday. And yet House Republicans are still standing by their plans not to do what the president and Senate Democrats want them to do.
Later today, they're planning to vote on several piecemeal spending bills so they can fund parts of the government they want to fund like Veterans Affairs, or national parks, or even the National Institutes of Health, because they've seen headlines about these children stricken with cancer who aren't able to enter clinical trials.
So, both sides are dug in right now. It seems to be a messaging war, a war of press conferences, but not a lot of movement, Jonathan.
MANN: Athena Jones live from Washington, thanks very much.
Well, as the U.S. is well into the second day of a government shutdown, another date is weighing heavily on lawmakers. Treasury Secretary Jack Lew says October 17 is the day when his department runs out of options to keep the U.S. government below its debt ceiling. That's when Washington will no longer be able to guarantee it can pay its bills and risks default.
The president met more than a dozen Wall Street bank chiefs at the White House a short time ago, among them the CEO of Goldman Sachs who urged leaders to resolve the crisis.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
LLOYD BLANKFEIN, CHAIRMAN AND CEO, GOLDMAN SACHS: There's precedent for a government shutdown. There's no precedent for a default. We're the most important economy in the world. We're the reserve currency of the world. Payments have to go out to people. If money doesn't flow in, then money doesn't flow out. So we really haven't seen this before. And I'm not anxious to be a part of the process that witnesses it.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MANN: Now a U.S. default won't just impact the American economy, it will have ripple effects across the globe. Let's bring in Diane Swonk, chief economist at Mesirow Financial. Thanks so much for talking with us.
So all of this leads us to a much bigger potential problem, this vote -- we don't know which way it will go -- but this vote in two week's time on the debt ceiling. What do you expect lawmakers are going to do? And why is it such a more important deal than even the promise the U.S. government is having now?
DIANE SWONK, CHIEF ECONOMIST, MESIROW FINANCIAL: Well, the real issue is if we actually threaten to default on our debt or actually do even go into a small couple of hours default, we call it a technical default. That could undermine people's confidence in what they see the risk free asset, which is the U.S. Treasury Bond, in the world. And if you can't price the one thing you think is risk-free, guaranteed out there, how do you price anything else the world over?
And so we've seen a lot of global interest in what's going on in the United States, because everything else is based upon basically the Treasury bond at the, you know, as the least riskiest asset that you can have out there.
So, this has collateral damage across he world. It's also, the Treasury bond is considered the risk-free asset for what banks carry as capital. And we saw in 2011 when Standard & Poor's downgraded the U.S. Treasury Bond, the fed immediately issued a stance saying because it still had AAA status we were still considered a very good bond status by the rest of the rating agencies, that it was still considered what we call tier one capital, that meant that all of a sudden banks didn't lose all the money they had on the balance sheet as capital.
Because this could be destabilizing to the financial market and precipitate the kind of financial market crisis, if it were to occur, and we went into a default much like 2008, if not worse. And I don't think anybody wants to go down that road again.
MANN: Well, I want to ask you about that, first -- but let me just ask you about the cost calculation, because the debt ceiling could potentially effect economies around the world. And people have been trying to figure out the exact cost. The International Monetary Fund, for example, estimates that the economic shock of a U.S. default could shave around half a percentage point off growth around the world. That's bad news for Europe with economies across the EU just emerging from years of recession, if they're even out. China, Japan and other Asian nations are holding trillions of dollars in U.S. Treasuries. And emerging markets there are already being impacted by talk of U.S. federal reserve cutting back on its stimulus program.
So this could affect people around the world, or could at least affect bankers around the world. Are ordinary people, the people who work in factories and offices, who buy their goods in shops, are they going to notice anything?
SWONK: Absolutely. If we default, then everybody will notice. Believe me, this will be the shot heard round the world many times over. And it will circle the globe many times over.
I think the real issue here is that we know if we were to actually default, the kind of ripple effects, the kind of effects on employment -- when you -- you can't have an economy flow without the money underneath it to support it. And what you do is are basically pulling the plug on all that money and the ability to value money the world over.
MANN: Now I want to ask you about this, because people listening to this conversation are going to feel like the entire world economy is being held hostage by really just a few hundred lawmakers in Washington, D.C. Do Democrats and Republicans in Congress have all the cards? Is there anything the governments of China or other countries that hold U.S. debt, or the leaders of the European Union can do to protect themselves from what the people in Washington may do to inflict on them?
SWONK: I think the most -- the biggest insurance policy out there is that there is one clause in the amendment, the 13th amendment that the president believes allows him to actually raise by executive privilege the debt ceiling if need be, if pushed to an absolute brink.
Now this will be challenged in the courts, but likely go on long after his presidency. But if push comes to shove, when we get to an 11th hour where we actually come to a default or come close to that cliff of default, I think the president will intervene and lift the debt ceiling.
That said, that will not resolve any of our issues regarding the budget. And it would just further rentrench some of the people who feel the debt ceiling is an important lever out there. So that will bring on a whole other legal debate out there, but it could -- it would, actually, help to ensure for the rest of the world that we don't default on our debt and cause problems for them. That's the best insurance policy we have at this point in time, one that's, you know, marred with a whole other Pandora's Box of problems.
MANN: Two week's time to a whole lot of trouble potentially. Diane Swonk of Mesirow Financial, thanks so much for talking with us.
Still to come tonight, crackdown on Golden Daw, the head of Greece's far right party appears in court.
Also, a surprise U-turn, why Silvio Berlusconi is making a few more headlines in Italy today.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE (through translator): They were bombing, and they hit with one of the bombs. And they were bombing us indiscriminately.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MANN: The struggle to stay alive in Syria. We hear from two families firsthand. That, and much more, when Connect the World continues.
MANN: You're watching CNN. And this is Connect the World. I'm Jonathan Mann, welcome back.
The leader of Greece's extreme right Golden Dawn Party appeared in court a short time ago. Nikos Michaloliakos was taken to the Athens courthouse under heavy security, charged with forming and participating in a criminal gang. Earlier, three other Gold Dawn members were released on bail pending trial. They were rounded up in a police crackdown on the party after the stabbing death of a well known hip hop artist.
Journalist Elinda Labropoulou is following the court appearance and joins us now.
Elinda, it is not all that unusual for politicians to get into legal trouble. Usually it's for white collar crime like corruption or embezzlement, this seems like an entirely different kind of thing. What are they being accused of?
ELINDA LABROPOULOU, JOURNALIST: Well, you're absolutely right. This isn't a very usual charges that we're facing here. We're looking at founding and participating at a criminal organization.
Now six Greek MPs have been charged with these charges, including the leader of Golden Dawn, the extreme rightwing party. He is currently testifying in front of a prosecutor, it's probably the most interesting of the testimonies that we're going to hear.
Another four MPs have already testified, three of them are out on bail, and one has been remanded in custody.
Now, what's interesting here is that we're looking at a party that we know for a long time has been allegedly involved in criminal activity, but this is the first time that this has really comes to the fore and that people have freely heard and made the connection between crime and the politicians in question.
MANN: And this is street crime accused against a political party that's in parliament. This is not a marginal party, but it is a very controversial one. Can you tell us about Golden Dawn?
LABROPOULOU: Yes. You're absolutely right. It is a very controversial party. It's also a party that effectively came out of nowhere.
In 2009, the general elections before the crisis hit, this party got 0.3 percent of the vote. Now in 2012, the next general elections, and when the country was in a very different financial state, this party got almost 7 percent of the vote.
And since then, in just one year, its popularity has almost doubled.
Now what the party has been running on is very much a nationalist and populist ticket. It's been having food handouts for Greeks only, clothes, it's been very much sort of a party that's very much linked to the financial crisis.
And what a lot of critics are saying is that it's also a party that its popularity is going to decrease immediately and deflate if the financial conditions in Greece to get better.
But having said that, the party leader Nikos Michaloliakos was testifying now, is no stranger to court cases, courthouses. He is someone who has actually served a year in jail in the late 70s. And somebody who has been linked to extreme right-wing activism and activity in the past.
MANN: And all of this is just getting underway. Elinda Labroupoulou, thanks very much.
To Italy now and a surprising new turn in the world of politics there. Prime Minister Enrico Letta has won a vote of confidence in the Senate after former PM Silvio Berlusconi dropped his bid to topple the government.
What happened? Ben Wedeman has more.
BEN WEDEMAN, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: The body language in the Italian Senate spoke for itself, a confident, upbeat prime minister Enrico Letta and a far left allegro Silvio Berlusconi, who had tried to bring down the five month old grand coalition between his right of center People of Liberty Party and Letta's left of center Democratic party.
"Last night, I didn't sleep like many of you," Letta told the Senate before the vote of confidence.
He was occasionally interrupted by Berlusconi's allies. But the outbursts were short liked.
With Italy struggling through it's worst recession since the Second World War, Letta stressed the need for stability and reform. The Italian people are weary of drama, he said, and need a proper government.
When it came his turn to speak, it was an uncharacteristically subdued Berlusconi who called off the attack.
"We've decided not without internal pain," he said, "to express a vote of confidence for this government.
It was members of his own party who stole Berlusconi's thunder, worried that a man who has been convicted of tax fraud, who has courted scandal and controversy, was fast becoming a political liability. It may be the beginning of the end, says Professor James Walston.
JAMES WALSTON, POLITICAL ANALYST: This is devastating defeat for Berlusconi. He had to go through -- he was forced into a U-turn, which makes him look very silly.
WEDEMAN: Some praised his U-turn as a noble gesture.
"Despite all his human errors, Berlusconi has shown himself to be a true gentleman again," this woman says.
While others said they just hoped the politicians would get back to work.
"For those of us who are just miserable cogs in a big machine," Benadetta (ph) says, "let's see if this government of Letta will do something for us now.
WEDEMAN: On October 15, Silvio Berlusconi will begin to either serve a year under house arrest or do a year of community service for tax fraud. It has yet to be determined which.
He's also facing a one to three year ban on holding public office for the same conviction.
After 20 years, Silvio Berlusconi, il cavaleire (ph), as his supporters call him, may have had his last stand in Italian politics.
Ben Wedeman, CNN, Rome.
MANN: Chemical weapons inspectors are in Syria's capital working to destroy the country's stockpile. Their first task, verifying the list of chemical sites and stockpiles declared by the Syrian government last month.
This, as the AFP news agency reports that diplomats have said the UN security council has agreed to a statement calling on Syria's government to improve access to humanitarian aid.
The UN believes more than a 100,000 people have been killed in Syria's civil war. Activists say the number is really much higher. Millions of those who have survived are homeless with children especially vulnerable as winter now approaches.
Atika Shubert has the story of two families and their struggle to stay alive.
ATIKA SHUBERT, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: They've done their best to make a small storage space seem like home with little more than a mattress and a woven mat.
This mother says their home in Syria was destroyed by a bombing raid. She fled the fighting and now lives here in another part of the country with her children, searching for medical treatment for her young son badly burned in the attack.
Like many displaced Syrians, she spoke to CNN on the condition that we do not identify her or the family's location because she fears for their safety.
"It was indiscriminate," she says. "All of a sudden, they started bombing us every day and on a daily basis there was bombing. There is no day that passes by without having people killed, dead people every single day," she says.
Her 4-year-old son is still in need of medical attention.
"My heart burned when I saw him this way," she says. "It's a very hard feeling for me. But there are many people who were killed and injured every day."
These are Syria's internally displaced. The UN says more than 4 million are without homes within Syria's borders, half of whom are estimated to be children.
And consider these other numbers from the UN. More than a million homes destroyed, one in every three Syrias is in need of humanitarian aid. And food is increasingly scarce. Last year, 4 million people in Syria went hungry. And that number is rising rapidly.
This grandmother says two of her own children were killed in an attack and she fled with her grandchildren, including this little girl with burns from a shelling.
They now call this abandoned building their home, but she says the children are lucky if they are able to get even one meal a day.
"We had no choice, but to leave the land, she explained. Our homes were destroyed and so we came here without a choice."
Whether those fleeing the civil war are considered refugees or internally displaced, the result is the same, the suffering of ordinary Syrians in this civil war knows no borders.
Atika Shubert, CNN, London.
MANN: And we want to bring you the first details of a developing story we're following closely at CNN. The Russian embassy in Libya's capital Tripoli has been attacked by armed men in just the last couple of hours, causing damage to the building, we're told, though no reported casualties. Reports say at least 10 unidentified attackers in two vehicles were involved in that attack. Details are still sketchy, though, and we'll have more on this story as it develops.
Live from CNN Center, this is Connect the World. Coming up, tributes to the master of the military thriller. Tom Clancy, the author of the "Hunt for Red October" and "Patriot Games" dies.
And as Turkey's leadership is accused of human rights abuses, we'll hear from a protester who says she witnessed the needless and excessive force herself.
MANN: Welcome back. You're watching Connect the World live from CNN Center. I'm Jonathan Mann.
The American author Tom Clancy has died at the age of 66. Clancy was famous, of course, for thrillers featuring the U.S. military. His first book, the Hunt for Red October brought him into the spotlight back in 1984. It was later made into a Hollywood blockbuster starring Sean Connery.
Clancy published a total of 28 books, including 17 that appeared on the New York Times best sellers list.
His newest novel, Command Authority, is still scheduled to be released. It's coming out in December.
Clancy was an insurance agent before beginning his writing career. He was from Maryland. And he was part owner of the Baltimore Orioles Baseball Team.
Clancy's publisher said it was a thrill to print his books every time one was released.
Let's get more now from our Nischelle Turner who is New York.
Nischelle, so many people -- millions of people -- read the books, or saw the movies. He'll be missed.
NISCHELLE TURNER, CNN CORREPSONDENT: Yes, definitely. And there are millions of his fans that are still stunned because of this news.
You know, we first kind of got wind of it last night, Jonathan, worked through the night to confirm the fact that he did pass away yesterday in Baltimore.
One of the things you talked about, you talk about he had 17 bestsellers, that first one "Hunt for Red October," in 1984.
You know, President Reagan really legitimized that book. He came out and he praised the book. And that was part of what helped it make it to the best seller's list -- and also make it to number one on the best seller's list. So he really did have influence in Washington and also had influence on millions of readers. And then, of course, it crossed over to Hollywood and that character Jack Ryan became so famous. I mean, you talk about Sean Connery, Alec Baldwin played Jack Ryan. Harrison Ford played Jack Ryan. Ben Affleck played Jack Ryan. So he definitely did leave his mark on Hollywood and the literary world.
MANN: And still another book yet to come out. Nischelle Turner, live for us, thanks very much.
What's your favorite Tom Clancy book? The team at Connect the World wants to hear from you. Facebook.com/CNNconnect. Have your say. And tweet me @JonathanMannCNN your thoughts @ JonathanMannCNN. I guess I like the "Hunt for Red October" best.
The latest world news headlines just ahead. Plus, taking Turkey to task, a scathing report from Amnesty International slams authorities for their role in the Gezi Park protests.
And a modern new rail line has found itself on a decidedly ancient route, more on a spooky discovery under London's soil.
MANN: This is Connect the World. I'm Jonathan Mann with the top stories this hour.
The U.S. government shutdown is now in its second day. House Republicans have proposed funding individual departments, the Democrats are rejecting that idea as a ploy. Some 800,000 federal workers remain furloughed. U.S. national parks and monuments are closed as well.
The leader of Greece's far right Golden Dawn party has appeared in court. Nikos Michaloliakos is accused of forming a criminal gang. He was arrested Saturday, along with several other Golden Dawn lawmakers. Party members say the charges are politically motivated.
Italy's prime minister has won a confidence vote in the Senate with an overwhelming majority. This, after former prime minister Silvio Berlusconi unexpectedly dropped his bid to topple Enrico Letta's government. Members of Berlusconi's party were already in rebellion and planning to back the confidence motion.
Russia has charged 14 Greenpeace activists with piracy in connection with a demonstration against Arctic oil drilling last month. The activists had tried to climb on top o an oil platform.
Turkish authorities are under fire for their handling of this summer's protests. A report from rights group Amnesty International says police used "brutal and abusive tactics" to break up sit-in demonstrations and has labeled the actions as a "gross violation of human rights." Let's hand over to Ivan Watson, who has more.
IVAN WATSON, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Yes, Jon, this Amnesty International report really does slam the human rights record of the Turkish government back in the days of May and June during these massive street protests and the ensuing huge police crackdown.
It's important to note that on Monday, the Turkish government unveiled a series of legislative reforms dubbed a "democratization package" aimed at relaxing some restrictions on various religious and ethnic groups in Turkey. It's been widely received as a step forward, but many groups have criticized it as not enough to truly democratize Turkey.
And the frustration with the government is being expressed, though the main street protests appear to have really been brought to a halt, that frustration is being expressed in more peaceful means and more creative means in different ways all across Istanbul, Turkey's largest city.
(HIP HOP SONG IN TURKISH)
WATSON (voice-over): Angry words of political defiance.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE (singing, through translator): I ran to the streets because they always lie. I heard them say they are decent but that somehow I'm evil. I screamed for freedom, they called me an anarchist. So be it. I will not be ruled, I'm free.
WATSON: This hip hop call for freedom by rapper Ozbi hit the internet during one of the most turbulent summers in modern Turkish history. A tumultuous period during which the music video's director says he's seen an explosion in Turkish political art.
OGLU BARAN KUBILAY, MUSIC VIDEO DIRECTOR: Besides being politicized, it became much more smarter. Now people know what they want to say, and they feel much braver than ever to use it in their art, to show it through their art.
WATSON: Protests first erupted in Istanbul last May as an environmentalist sit-in against government plans to bulldoze a park in Istanbul and replace it with a shopping mall. Since then, the government has repeatedly used force to crush what it describes as "illegal street protests."
While Turkey's prime minister has repeatedly denounced and threatened anti-government protesters, Turkey's president recently told journalists he was proud that demonstrations had largely been organized over environmental concerns.
Those concerns now reflected at Turkey's most prestigious art festival, the Istanbul Biennial, where several exhibits criticized the recent glut of government-backed mega construction projects.
BIGE ORER, DIRECTOR, ISTANBUL BIENNIAL: We see a ball hitting the facade of the building. She wants to -- make reference to how the buildings are demolished.
WATSON (on camera): Last month, Istanbul's municipal government painted this staircase gray to cover up a local man's decision to paint these steps the colors of the rainbow. The resulting popular outcry forced city authorities to back down, and now, the rainbow staircase is back, and other rainbow steps have popped up across this city.
CENGIZ AKTAR, POLITICAL SCIENTIST, BAHCESEHIR UNIVERSITY: People are buying the colors themselves, they are paying for it, and they are going ahead with it.
WATSON (voice-over): Political scientists Cengiz Aktar argues this is a healthy trend for Turkish democracy.
AKTAR: The fear is gone. So as soon as the fear is gone, people started to express themselves everywhere, and in every fashion and way.
WATSON: In this political climate, even a staircase can become a potent political symbol.
WATSON (on camera): And Jon, in the competition of the political symbols here, it's worth noting that supporters of the Turkish government have embraced their own symbol. It's this: the symbol 4, which was used by supporters of the Muslim Brotherhood in Egypt, in Cairo, in Rabaa Square, which was attacked by Egyptian security forces.
The Turkish prime minister has made it almost a personal campaign to denounce that deadly crackdown by the Egyptian security forces, and he and many of his supporters have spread this symbol throughout their neighborhoods and in their online avatars on social media. Jon?
MANN: Ivan Watson. And Ivan put it well: Amnesty's report comes at a particular time in Turkey. For more, we're joined, now, by Turkish blogger and political scientist Binnaz Saktanber, who took part in the protest early this summer and joins us now from Istanbul. Thanks so much for being with us.
The report from Amnesty International speaks of -- and this is their phrase -- "brutal and unequivocal, unnecessary and abusive force." You were there. Is it right?
BINNAZ SAKTANBER, POLITICAL SCIENTIST: Yes. Unfortunately, in my opinion, the report is very accurate. The unnecessary and excessive use of police force, police violence, police harassment, and sexual assault, those were all things that were mentioned in the report and that we witnessed --
MANN: OK, I want to ask you about --
SAKTANBER: -- by ourselves.
MANN: -- one of those issues in particular, but let's just talk about the report for a moment. It focuses once again on what happened back in May and June when police tried to end a sit-in at Gezi Park that ultimately spread around the country.
Amnesty International says Turkish authorities committed human rights violations on what it calls "a massive scale," and it documents the use of riot control equipment like teargas and plastic bullets indiscriminately, which contributed to thousands of injuries.
Amnesty also says there were beatings and sexual assaults used to crush the street protests. Amnesty is calling for an export ban of riot control equipment to Turkey until it allows independent investigation of all of this.
Now, Amnesty mentioned it and you mentioned it and jumps out at you, the idea -- the accusation, apparently made by a majority of the women that Amnesty spoke to, who fell into the authorities' hands that they were insulted sexually, they were threatened sexually, they were harassed sexually, and some of them were actually sexually assaulted.
Now, I'm curious, assuming this is true, are we talking about criminal acts? Widespread criminal acts committed by men in uniform? Or was it a strategy -- a government strategy to try and intimidate women in particular?
SAKTANBER: Well, I cannot talk for the government, but in general, I think the Gezi Movement show that the government not only blatantly disregarded the right to peacefully protest, which is one of the simplest traits of a democracy, and especially for a government who is coming forward with a new democratization package.
But also the government put insult to injury by using excessive, unnecessary police force, violence, and harassment. And on top of everything, it's failed to bring the responsible parties, responsible members of the armed forces to justice.
MANN: Now, you call that an insult and injury. Turkey is at the same time -- or practically the same time -- apparently taking steps ahead, Turkey's prime minister unveiling a long list of political reforms this week, many of which were aimed at the Kurdish community in particular, and they have suffered enormously under Turkish military regimes.
The most significant is the lifting of the ban on women wearing head scarves in public institutions. That was illegal in Turkey., for Islamist women or particularly devout Muslims to wear head scarves in public places, like schools or government offices. It does leave out women working in the police, though, the military and the judiciary.
Reforms will also allow schools in Turkey to teach Kurdish, the Kurdish language -- I alluded to that a moment ago. That was illegal in Turkey even though millions of Turks consider themselves Kurds. Now, the government is allowing the use of the Kurdish letters Q, X, and W, which don't exist in the Turkish alphabet.
So, these are some measures. What do you make of them? Are things, however bad they were for the demonstrators, getting better overall?
SKATANBER: I think the Gezi Movement showed the moment, if I may call it, showed us that the public and especially the younger generation are well ahead of the government in terms of democratization and in terms of knowing the universal norms of human rights and civil rights. And to be honesty, they are -- we are just waiting for the government to catch on.
In that regard, I think the reform, unfortunately, fails. Although it has some points to praised, these reforms are rather cosmetic than fundamental. And also --
MANN: Ivan Watson, our correspondent in Turkey, makes a point, though, and it's an interesting one and, frankly, one hopes it's true, which is however reluctant authorities in Turkey may be to distribute more freedoms and more rights to the people of Turkey, the people of Turkey are pulling the authorities with them, because they are out in the streets, they are more political, they're more active, they're more demanding than ever before.
SKATANBER: Yes, and there's nothing wrong with that. I think the public is showing the government -- is trying to tell the government that democracy cannot be hidden just inside a ballot box. So yes, the people are on the streets, and I think they will continue to be on the streets as long as they think that the fundamental rights and freedoms are not protected enough.
MANN: Well, I want to ask you, finally, about this, because you talk about "the people" --
SKATANBER: And -- yes --
MANN: A lot of "the people" voted for the Turkish prime minister. They voted for the Justice and Development Party. And one had a sense, especially during the protest, that Turkey was really split down the middle between people who wanted to be there on the streets, who wanted the people on the streets to get their demands, and other people who were horrified by them.
That the country really is divided between supporters of the Islamist government and people who are looking west, hoping to live in a country that is more Western.
SAKTANBER: Well, I don't think the country is that divided or there are that opposite poles that you just mentioned. But I do think that the government is trying to create those very far away poles from each other. And in reality, I do not think that the public is that very segregated.
MANN: Binnaz Saktanber, political scientist, protester, and blogger, thank you so much for talking with us.
SAKTANBER: Thank you.
MANN: We should let you know that we reached out to the Turkish government and to the Justice and Development Party to take part in today's discussion. They were unavailable to join us tonight.
Live from CNN Center, you're watching CONNECT THE WORLD. Coming up, a London rail project leads to ancient Rome, but it didn't have to go as far as you might think. More on a remarkable discovery, coming up in this program.
MANN: Welcome back. It's a global crossroads and one of Asia's crowning glories: Hong Kong. A place where East meets West, the past meets the future, and there's no sign things are slowing down for the city, with an increase of 56 million passengers hitting its airport in the past year alone.
CNN's Andrew Stevens got an inside look at just how Hong Kong International Airport is dealing with so much success.
ANDREW STEVENS, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): It's a detailed dance, with a plane either landing or taking off almost every two minutes, the coordination in the control tower at one of the world's busiest airports is key.
CARL MODDER, ACTING CHIEF, AIR TRAFFIC CONTROL OPERATIONS: On a clear day, or normal day, everything runs on rails.
STEVENS: But now, as Hong Kong International Airport celebrates its 15th anniversary, the definition of "normal" is changing.
C K NG, EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR, AIRPORT OPERATIONS: When we first opened the airport, we handled around less than 500 flights a day. We now handle about more than 1,000 a day. So, what I would like to say is to the error -- that the buffer for error is no longer there.
STEVENS: With the increase in air traffic in Asia and passenger numbers expected to rise from the current rate of more than 50 million a year to more than 100 million a year by 2030, the pressure is on to stay on time.
STEVENS (on camera): Do you have a goal that you're working towards as far as keeping the percentage of flights going out on time or coming in on time? Do you have a number?
NG: Now, I think our on-time performance, minus those factors that we cannot control, is up to about 80-plus percent.
STEVENS: About 80 --
NG: Plus percent.
STEVENS: OK. Do you have a target you want to get to?
STEVENS: Which is?
NG: Hopefully it's 99 percent.
NG: We're working very hard.
STEVENS (voice-over): And here's where the hard work is going.
STEVENS (on camera): This is what's known as the Midfield Concourse, and it's a massive new development. This is the terminal building, which I'm standing in at the moment, but by 2015, this construction site out there in front of me will be loading bridges for some 20 aircraft. And beyond that, parking stands for another 18. And all-in-all, that will increase the capacity of Hong Kong Airport by 10 million passengers a year.
KEVIN POOLE, DEPUTY DIRECTOR, PROJECTS: We're actually building an I Concourse, which is a different configuration to the original plan, but it recognizes the way that air traffic's changed. And it also -- this concourse also allows for two -- it obviously allows for the large aircraft to park, but it also allows for the A380 as well, two stands for that as well.
STEVENS (voice-over): Plans for a third runway are also on the table, which would give the airport the ability to handle more than 600,000 flights. The current two runway system can handle just over 400,000.
With an expected increase in movements from around 350,000 last year to over 600,000 by 2030, this is essential to the future of flight here.
MODDER: To meet the expected traffic growth for the future, the current two runway system is not possible. It needs to expand.
STEVENS: It's all part of Hong Kong International Airport's master plan to make sure it remains a major hub for Asia's aviation industry.
Andrew Stevens, CNN, Hong Kong.
MANN: Coming up after this short break on CONNECT THE WORLD, you've heard of skull and crossbones, but do you know about skulls and Crossrail? I'll explain after this.
MANN: Welcome back. Workers on a massive rail project in London stopped in their tracks during a recent dig. Deep under the city, they came head-to-head with 20 heads -- 20 human skulls. It may sound gruesome, but it isn't scaring archaeologists any. Erin McLaughlin went to the site to see for herself.
ERIN MCLAUGHLIN, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): In this ancient city that seems always under construction, a bit dig for a new railway line, and a remarkable find from antiquity -- 20 ancient Roman skulls, part of a treasure trove buried under 2,000 years of mud and debris. Why so many skulls were together in one place is a mystery lead archaeologist Jay Carver says his team is trying to solve.
JAY CARVER, LEAD ARCHAEOLOGIST: So, the immediate conclusion is that these skulls have been washed down in winter storm events and deposited in an area that happens to coincide with our excavation.
MCLAUGHLIN: It's an excavation that's part of a massive transportation project called Crossrail, building a high-speed train tunnel across the city.
MCLAUGHLIN (on camera): This is Liverpool Street station, a hub for thousands of the capital's commuters. Looking around, it's difficult to imagine that right underneath my feet, the remains of an ancient city once called Londinium.
MCLAUGHLIN (voice-over): Carver says his team has been digging up vast quantities of Roman remains and artifacts from that period. Each find, he tells me, has a story to tell.
CARVER: We'll tell as much as we can through detailed analysis when we get these skulls back to the labs. We'll be looking for any kind of telltale signs of who they were, how old they were, what their diet was like from the surviving teeth.
MCLAUGHLIN: Carver has also found Roman bracelets and pottery. He says it's all part of a larger puzzle, clues to how this ancient city began.
Erin McLaughlin, CNN, London.
MANN: Well, for now, there are only theories about the skulls, but we're pleased to have an expert on the subject to help us make sense of it all. Dominic Perring, director of the Center for Applied Archaeology and Research -- a research fellow, I should say, at the University College, London. Thanks so much for being with us. It is so intriguing --
DOMINIC PERRING, DIRECTOR, CENTER FOR APPLIED ARCHAEOLOGY: Thank you.
MANN: -- what they found, and intriguing what they didn't find: 20 skulls, but no skeletons. Heads with no bodies. What do you make of it?
PERRING: It's a mystery, and it's not a new mystery. We've been finding these skulls in London since the early 19th century. And usually skulls and no bodies. It's very interesting, and a mystery.
MANN: Do we have any idea? Do you have any idea who these people were or what happened to them?
PERRING: Well, we do know that they are early Roman, and we do know that they are found in the rivers, the wells, the wet places around the edges of London, mainly a river on the west side, but also to the north.
So, we know they're early, we know they're in wet places, and we know that they are mainly young adult males. There are some older people, there are some women, but it's mainly young men.
And so, there have been lots of different ideas about why they're there and the sorts of things that Crossrail are now finding will hopefully give us some very new clues to help resolve this longstanding worry, argument, mystery.
MANN: Our correspondent Erin McLaughlin alluded to the fact that maybe they weren't buried there, they were just kind of washed there. And you're saying wet places. Is water the key thing here?
PERRING: Water is certainly part of the answer, and some of them almost certainly are being washed out of cemeteries. But if you're washing bodies out of cemeteries, you'd find more of the body parts. And the fact that they're just skulls is a bit special.
But also, we know that early Roman London is seeing lots of quite major historical events and activities going on. When people first started finding these skulls, they thought they were victims of the Boudican Revolt, when Queen Boudica rolled into London and slaughtered those who couldn't flee.
But that's not what you'd really expect young men and adult men to be the victims. They're the ones who should've been able to get out of town in time. It's the women and old who should be lying around -- lying around -- been there to be captured.
So, it looks more likely that we're perhaps seeing, perhaps trophies, victims' executions. And we do know that the Gauls who were part of the Roman army that came into Britain, came from a headhunting background.
There were such practices going on in pre-Roman Gaul. Why not coming in here with the Roman army to Britain and as a result, these may be the victims of Roman reprisal. Some of them. Others --
MANN: What's -- what's so amazing is not only that they've been found, but they haven't been found, really, by people like you. It's not the archaeologists who dug this hole, it's a bunch of men in hard hats trying to dig a tunnel for the Tube. The Crossrail project isn't well- known around the world, but it's enormous, and I gather they're finding all kinds of things.
PERRING: They are, and you've already been speaking to Jay Carver, who's the lead archaeologist for Crossrail, and the Museum of London have been working on lots of these sites ahead of the game. So, a lot of these sites are being investigated in advance.
In this particular case, the burials were at a greater depth than expected because they're lying in the bottom of an ancient river course, one of these rivers that cut through London. And charting the exact location of all these rivers is hard work, and we don't know where they all are. So, some will come up by surprise.
MANN: Now, I gather -- and I may have the facts wrong on this, because it's complicated to me -- that these skulls were actually found below other human remains, thousands of them, from a very different period in British history.
PERRING: That's right. We've also got burial grounds associated with the Black Death, there are medieval cemeteries. And these are also being excavated in advance of the Crossrail projects. These we know a little bit more about in advance, and most of those are being worked on now and in the coming months.
MANN: You get a sense -- I get a sense, I'm not from the UK or from London -- that London's paved with dead people, that every time they dig a hole, they seem to find somebody who's been there an awfully long time.
PERRING: I -- to a certain extent, that's true. Not just dead people, also their houses and the places they lived and worked. But the dead are there, and when they're found, people get excited. And in particular, in cases like this, where there's a bit of a mystery, thrills us all.
MANN: Fascinating stuff. Dominic Perring at the Institute of Archaeology at University College London. Thanks so much for this. And good luck with the work. It is amazing stuff.
PERRING: Thank you very much. Thank you.
MANN: And the dig continues. Well, join us for a special edition of CONNECT THE WORLD Friday, a very different subject. Football's world governing body, FIFA, expected to vote on whether to move the World Cup in 2022, not to a different place, but to a different season: winter.
Becky Anderson will be live in Qatar with all the reaction to the decision. It just gets too hot there in the summer. That's the worry. But she wants to hear from you. Should Qatar's World Cup be moved from the summertime? What impact do you think that would have? Tweet her @BeckyCNN, that's @BeckyCNN, and let her know.
Well, it seems like it's been an unusual day of finds in London, and our next discovery for you is definitely, well, a little cuter than those skulls. In tonight's Parting Shots, say hello to London's new baby tiger. Zookeepers captured the little cub with its mother on a hidden camera.
The keepers don't yet know if it's a boy or a girl cub because they're letting it spend some quality time alone with Mum first. The tiger's pregnancy was even kept a secret until now. The cub is the zoo's first newborn tiger in 17 years.
I'm Jonathan Mann, you've been watching CONNECT THE WORLD. Thanks for being with us.