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CONNECT THE WORLD
DNA Test Confirms Irish Roma Couple Parents Of 7-year-old Girl; Firefighters Still Battle Blazes In Southeastern Australia; German Government Claims Angela Merkel's Cellphone Might Have Been Tapped By NSA; Prince George Christened; The Hunt For The White Widow
Aired October 23, 2013 - 15:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
BECKY ANDERSON, HOST: Tonight, echoes of ages past. New allegations emerge suggesting U.S. spy agencies might have targeted German Chancellor Angela Merkel's mobile phone.
Also ahead, a CNN investigation reveals new information about so- called White Widow Samantha Lewthwaite. She's wanted for questioning over the Kenya mall attack.
And bursting the fat myth. We're going to take a closer look at a new study suggesting saturated fats aren't too bad for us after all.
ANNOUNCER: Live from CNN London, this is Connect the World with Becky Anderson.
ANDERSON: We begin tonight's show with news that's just come to CNN in the last hour. The German government says that Chancellor Angela Merkel's cellphone may have been monitored by the United States. And they have asked for clarification.
But according to the White House, President Barack Obama told Merkel that the U.S. is not monitoring and will not monitor her communications.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
JAY CARNEY, WHITE HOUSE PRESS SECRETARY: The president assured the chancellor that the United States is not monitoring and will not monitor the communications of the chancellor. The United States greatly values our close cooperation with Germany on a broad range of shared security challenges.
As the president has said, the U.S. is reviewing the way that we gather intelligence to ensure that we properly balance the security concerns of our citizens and allies with the privacy concerns that all people share.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
ANDERSON: All right, we're going to do more on this. We're joined by CNN's world affairs correspondent Jill Dougherty in Washington and in Atlanta tonight, our Berlin bureau chief Frederik Pleitgen.
Starting with you, Fred, what more do we know at this point? Do we know what the source of these allegations is?
FREDERIK PLEITGEN, CNN INTERANTIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, it's not clear what the source of the allegations is at this point, Becky, however the government spokesperson for Germany has come out and said the German government has information that Angela Merkel's cellphone might have been hacked by the NSA, might have been monitored by the NSA. And as you said, there was a phone call between Angela Merkel and Barack Obama earlier today where she demanded clarification. And she also said that there needs to be a treaty between the two countries that makes sure that stuff like this doesn't happen in the future.
The German government also said that it put questions like this to the U.S. government earlier this year and wants clarification on some of those issues.
Of course, the Germans have been questioning how much the U.S. has been eaves dropping on Germany -- on German government institutions, on EU institutions, also of course on German citizens as well.
There's many people -- or many people in Germany who believe that the German government was quite weak on that issue when all of this surfaced last year. But certainly now you see a very forceful reaction by the German government.
The interesting thing is that Angela Merkel is actually very well known for being on that cellphone pretty much the entire time. She's known as the SMS queen in Germany. And people were always saying that phone is bug proof, it's impossible to eaves drop on that phone. But now it appears that that is not actually the case, Becky.
ANDERSON: All right. Stay with me.
Let's get to Jill. We've heard from the White House spokesman today. The U.S. is not and will not monitor Merkel's communications. Does that, though, mean that they haven't been monitoring her cellphone in the past. That's the big question, isn't it at this point? What more do we know?
JILL DOUGHERTY, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, I think you have to take their statement at face value. There's not a lot of detail in it. And that's one of the problems so far. There hasn't been a lot of detail in that pushback by the administration on a number of these issues.
But let's go over it again. They are saying in a statement that the president assured the chancellor the United States is not monitoring and will not monitor the communications of Chancellor Merkel. And here is Jay Carney from the White House.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
CARNEY: The president assured the chancellor that the United States is not monitoring and will not monitor the communications of the chancellor. The United States greatly values our close cooperation with Germany on a broad range of shared security challenges. As the president has said, the U.S. is reviewing the way that we gather intelligence to ensure that we properly balance the security concerns of our citizens and allies with the privacy concerns that all people share.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
DOUGHERTY: And then right after Carney made that statement, a journalist asked, well is it possible that the U.S. could have picked up those communications as part of a broader sweep of collecting information. Carney said he is -- you know, quoting again what the president said, which is is assured the chancellor that the U.S. is not doing it and is not going to monitor the communications.
But obviously, Fionnuala (sic) this is creating problems. I just came out of the briefing here at the State Department, and a good part of that briefing was precisely on this, the issue with the French just yesterday and then today. So there are some real problems that the U.S. is facing right now with these reports from its closest allies.
ANDERSON: Yeah, it's Becks, Jill, by the way.
We make no apologies for rerunning that sound. It's important that both Jill and I sort of eluded to the sort of present and future intentions of the state, so far as Carney is concerned.
Jill, this is what Barack Obama had to say about the NSA program in August of this year when he was defending allegations that the agency had been spying. He said I don't have an interest and the people at the NSA don't have an interest in doing anything other than making sure that we can prevent a terrorist attack.
If it were to be confirmed that in the past the NSA had snooped on Merkel's cellphone, the sort of statement he's made in the past would elude to the fact that he would -- or the NSA would have felt that she was also part of a terrorist plot.
I mean, what's been said in the past and what seems to be slashed out or being slashed out is quite disturbing, isn't it? And the sort of noises that the White House has made in the past perhaps not good enough, as far as many people are concerned.
DOUGHERTY: Well, you know, I think it's important to analyze this from two perspectives. One is right now we have this big blow back about all of this information that has been leaked and apparently is coming out from Edward Snowden who is still in Russia. As we know, the leaker who leaked a lot of NSA information.
Now, that's part of it.
There's kind of, let's call it the PR side of it. And then there's the more technical side of it: what was the NSA doing? How are they monitoring? Were they monitoring strictly on, let's say, terrorist activity, or were they doing something else.
You know, political monitoring, spying on allies, is something that goes back a long time. That has happened.
So, was it done, you know, to spy on the allies to see what they're up to? Entirely possible. But we don't know that.
So, the -- one of the issues, Becky, all along has been the NSA when denying that it is doing any of this -- like look at the statement from director of national intelligence today -- denying that that information about 70 million recordings of French citizens' telephone calls is false, he said. But he gives no information specifically to deny it. So that's one of the issues.
They say they can't -- or give too much information, because it exposes sources and methods of deriving this intelligence.
ANDERSON: All right, Jill, thank you for that.
As Jill suggested, this is just the latest in a string of spying allegations. Monday, the report published in Le Monde alleging the National Security Agency intercepted some 70 million French phone calls over a 30 day period.
The head of U.S. intelligence James Clapper later denying those claims were true. But France and Germany aren't the only countries asking questions. Mexico, Brazil, countries in Europe and China, these are just some places demanding answers from the U.S. and the NSA for intrusive methods.
Over the weekend, Germany news magazine Der Spiegel revealed how the agency systematically eaves dropped on Mexico's government, went as far as hacking into former President Felipe Calderon's email accounts.
Mexico says that that is a blatant violation of international law.
Let's bring Fred back for us for just the time being.
Fred, how will these allegations go down in Germany?
PLEITGEN: Oh, I think it's going to make things very difficult for Angela Merkel. And of course now you're seeing that that they're very angry. And you could see as all this was unfolding earlier this year, when the -- all these NSA leaks came to light. And the Germans found out that there are actually other countries who have a more privileged partnership with the United States as far as information sharing is concerned and that Germany was actually one of the countries where the NSA was snooping a lot, where a lot of data was being gathered off the Internet, where a lot of phone calls were being monitored, a lot of phone call data was being monitored as well.
And I think the German government was very much taken aback by that. They thought they were a closer ally of the United States than that.
At the same time, the German public has been very critical of the Merkel government for what it sees as her being too soft on the United States on this issue. When all of this broke earlier this year, Angela Merkel sent her interior minister to Washington to talk there to officials from the NSA and people felt that nothing came out of this meeting. All they said in the end was the U.S. said it won't happen again. We were perfectly satisfied with that. And that was basically it.
So she was being called out on that.
And now that this is happened, you see this very much stronger reaction. And there are people in Germany asking where was the German government when all this came to light about regular people being monitored? And now that the government is being monitored there is this very strong reaction.
So certainly the Germans very, very angry over this. They said in their statement, the German spokesperson for the German government said that this is not something that can happen between allies. And they told the United States this has to stop immediately -- Becky.
ANDERSON: Fred Pleitgen is in Atlanta for you this evening. Of course, he's our Berlin bureau chief. Fred, thank you.
Well, still to come tonight, she's wanted and on the run. Why this woman could hold clues to Kenya's Westgate terror attack.
Plus, firefighters say the worst may be over, but Australia is not out of the woods just yet. A report from one of the hardest hit areas.
That, after this.
ANDERSON: Well, she is one of the most wanted women in the world for terror. The so-called White Widow, Samantha Lewthwaite is a British national already wanted in Kenya for a 2-year-old weapons charge now sought as a potential link to the horrific terror attack on Nairobi's Westgate mall last month.
Our Nic Robertson tracked down an apartment she's said to have once rented there and sent us this report.
NIC ROBERTSON, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: This is the lady who was in the apartment here?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Yeah, she is the one.
ROBERTSON: Do you recognize her?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Yeah.
ROBERTSON: Samantha Lewthwaite aka the White Widow here on a fake passport seized by police in a raid two years ago. She's the world's most wanted female terror suspect. Once married to London's 7/7 suicide bomber Germaine Lindsay, suspect of involvement in terror attacks in Kenya dating back to 2011 on the run from Interpol. A building manager wants his identity withheld, explains how she hid.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: She can give me a number to in the morning at 8:00. At 9:00, if I call her, she has changed the number.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I say 10:00 or 11:00, another line, at 4:00 another line. So...
ROBERTSON: So, lots of phone lines.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Identical to this apartment, just feet from hers, the building manager says she shared the 100 square meters of upmarket living space, cost about $1,000 a month, with four children and a man he believes was her husband.
They arrive February 2011 and were anything but normal. Lewthwaite would spend many hours in the local mall in the Nakamat (ph) department store where he would sometimes go with the family.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: By that time, she was going to not much. She kind of stayed there for three -- three hours, four hours then she come back.
ROBERTSON: So she would go to Nakamat (ph) for three or four hours and sit there and watch who was coming and who was going?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Was going to working Nakamat (ph) sometimes children drags things. He obeys (ph). Then she goes to saloon. Then she come back.
ROBERTSON: So she spent a lot of the time -- a lot of the time she spent here was keeping check -- keeping watch on Nakamat (ph), see who was going, who was shopping.
From her balcony, she could see directly to the shopping center that she was spying on. This is a middle class neighborhood where a white woman like her really wouldn't look out of place.
The mall, known locally as Junction Mall, is popular particularly with affluent expats, just like its larger companion mall Westgate targeted by terrorists last month. In that attack, these islamist terrorist gunmen let victims go if they were Muslim. The building manager now sees a chilling connection. He says Lewthwaite's husband asked him to spy at the mall, find out who is Muslim.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Asking me (inaudible) can you monitor the people who are coming this Nakamat (ph). Are they Muslims or was Wazungus (ph) or other tribes in Kenya? Can you tell me which people are coming very many in number.
ROBERTSON: So he wants to know if there are a lot of Muslims going to that or not?
Authorities believe that Junction Mall was a potential terror target and had investigated, though they haven't named Lewthwaite as a suspect in the case.
Still, as they search the ashes at the nearby Westgate Mall, many Kenyans are asking did she have a role there?
Where she is now, no one knows. She fled the apartment in a hurry, August 2011.
ANDERSON: Nic is joining us now from Naibori. Nic, is there any evidence at this point, specific evidence, that she was involved in the Westgate Mall attack?
ROBERTSON: There isn't specific evidence that's been made public. What we do know from leaked national security documents is that she is listed as being involved in a planned attack, quite a large planned attack with multiple targets in the Kenyan capital in 2011. It would have targeted parliament buildings, UN offices, parliamentarians, senior politicians here in the capital. She is listed in that.
Of course, a lot of speculation because of her very high profile and the people she's been connected with, alleged to be connected with, al Shabaab who claimed -- who claimed responsibility for the attack on the Westgate Mall, that's led to the high level of speculation.
But publicly not as yet linked directly to it, Becky.
ANDERSON: Nic, what is, then, the latest from Kenya in the hunt for Lewthwaite?
ROBERTSON: Pressure on the police, that's really the headline from here. Just last week we heard that police were gathered in in Mombasa, which is where another building that she had been living in was raided, which was where a computer of hers was found with a lot of documentation, photographs of hers, some of her email searches still sort of in the hard drive there even though it was evidently appeared to be partially smashed.
So, that pressure on the police to find out where she is now is still perhaps the highest point here. But of course, the fact that she's been detailed in national intelligence documents now for quite some time as being a person whose suspect, who is wanted, her name past last month that Interpol red notice put out for her. It still hasn't led to any confirmed public sightings of her here yet, but the police are really feeling the pressure that they should get her in soon, Becky.
ANDERSON: Nic Robertson is in Kenya for you this evening. Nic, thank you.
Live from London, this is Connect the World. Coming up, the dangerous streets of Syria, a doctor tells CNN that snipers are deliberately targeting women and children. We first shared doctor's horrific account yesterday. Tonight, he joins us live.
ANDERSON: Well, some news just coming in to CNN. A source tells us that DNA tests have confirmed that the 7-year-old girl taken from a Roma couple in Ireland on Monday is indeed their biological daughter. Erin McLaughlin joins us live now from Dublin outside this couple's home.
And what are you hearing, Erin?
ERIN MCLAGHLIN, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Hi, Becky.
Well, the sister of the girl who Irish police are not naming spoke to the media outside the family home just a short while ago. She says she expects her sister to be home very soon.
The past few days has been upsetting for the family, to say the least. This all started wen a member of the public sent in a tip to a local crime program about a far-haired, blue-eyed girl living with a Roma family outside Dublin. The tip was forwarded to police who took action.
The family says that 20 police officers turned up on their doorstep on Monday. The police officers questioned them. They were not satisfied with the documents the family provided, so the girl was taken into the custody of social services.
Now that the ordeal appeals to be over, the family says that they have a big party planned, but -- and that they're grateful to have this little girl back, Becky.
ANDERSON: Erin McLaughlin for you this evening.
A German bishop who has come under fire for his extravagant lifestyle has been suspended by the Vatican. Bishop Peter Tebartz-van Elst who has been coined the Bling Bishop is under investigation after his residence was renovated to the tune of $42 million. The Vatican says the bishop should stay outside his diocese during the investigation.
Well, just 24 hours ago, we were telling you about Facebook dropping its ban on violent content in a controversial decision to allow graphic videos of beheadings to be posted on their sight. Well, now, they are reversing that decision once again.
But it's not a complete U-turn. Facebook has taken down a graphic video that appears to show a woman being beheaded, saying it was removed because it glorifies rather than condemns violence.
But, it says, videos that condemn human rights abuses, terrorism and other actions will be allowed with warnings, leaving viewers fairly confused about where they draw the line.
Earlier this year, the company issued a temporary ban on graphic material.
And for the first time in three months, the world got to see Britain's Prince George. The little royal was christened today at a small and intimate ceremony at St. James' Palace.
Max Foster has more.
MAX FOSTER, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Prince George making his first public appearance since the summer, held in his father's arms and dressed for the occasion. A young prince for a young modern monarchy and suddenly a new way of doing things three months on since this photograph taken by his grandfather, Michael Middleton, at the family home in Bucklebury.
The christening is only his third public appearance. And we won't get to see the photos from inside until late on Thursday.
PRINCE WILIAM, HEIR TO THE BRITISH THRONE: I'm just doing the way I know. And if it's the right way, then brilliant. If it's the wrong way, then, well I'll try and do it better. But, no, I'm just -- I'm quite -- I'm reasonably headstrong by what I believe in, what I go for.
FOSTER: The christening was held here at the chapel royal, a small intimate affair with only close friends and family invited. It's a distinct break from the traditional larger ceremonies that George's father and grandfather enjoyed in the music room at Buckingham Palace.
Being christened into the church is more significant for George than for most. When he becomes king, he'll also become supreme governor of the Church of England.
JUSTIN WELBY, ARCHBISHOP OF CANTERBURY: All babies are unbelievably special, not only royal babies. As a nation, we're celebrating the birth of someone who in due course will be the head of state. That's extraordinary.
FOSTER: This is a moment in British history, the christening of a future monarch. William and Kate are doing it in what's becoming their signature low-key manner.
Max Foster, CNN, London.
ANDERSON: Well, the latest world news headlines, as you would expect at the bottom of the hour here on CNN. 24 minutes past 8:00 in London.
Plus, if you like a generous helping of butter on your toast or cream on your desert, you might be doing less damage to your health than what we all first thought. Find out why later in the show.
And even as diplomats seek peace in Syria, the war claims more innocent victims. A firsthand account of chilling attacks on women and children when Connect the World continues. Please, stay with us.
ANDERSON: This is Connect the World. The top stories for you this hour. The German government says it has information indicating that Chancellor Angela Merkel's mobile phone may have been monitored by the U.S. National Security Agency. Mrs. Merkel is said to have conveyed her concerns to President Barack Obama during a phone call earlier Wednesday. The White House press secretary says that Mr. Obama assured the chancellor that the NSA is not spying on her.
A source tells CNN that DNA tests have confirmed that the 7-year-old girl taken from the Roma couple in Ireland on Monday is indeed their biological daughter. The girl may be reunited with her parents in the next few hours.
In Australia, firefighters say that the worst of the crisis has been averted, but the threat is not over. More than 60 bush fires, 26 of which are uncontained, are still raging in New South Wales. 1,500 firefighters are still battling those flames.
Russia has dropped piracy charges against 30 people detained on board a Greenpeace ship. The court charged them with hooliganism instead. According to the Russian news agency Ria Novosti. Now Russian authorities seized a ship in September after activists tried to scale an oil rig in the Arctic.
Well, as you will be aware, world diplomats are moving ahead with preparations for what they are calling Geneva II. It's a peace conference on Syria even though some of the most critical parties still have not committed. The UN says special envoy Lakhdar Brahimi will meet with U.S. and Russian officials on November 5 to work on logistics.
Now they are hoping that the conference will happen some time later that month.
But a meeting yesterday in London underscored some potential problems. Syria's main opposition group is divided with some insisting President Bashar al-Assad resign before any talks in Geneva.
Opposition leaders still considering whether they will actually attend the Geneva conference at all.
I want to return to a story that we brought you at this time yesterday. It was an extremely difficult watch, but it helps us understand just how horrific daily life for many Syrian civilians has become. The accounts of sniper attacks on women and kids resonated very strongly with many of you.
So today, we're going to follow up and speak directly to the volunteer doctor who shared the story with CNN's Atika Shubert. First, a brief reminder of what this doctor witnessed, and we do warn you, once again, the images are disturbing. They won't be suitable for all viewers.
ATIKA SHUBERT, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): It is a chilling image of just how horrific the Syrian civil war has become. A sniper's bullet in the skull of an unborn fetus. The pregnant mother was the victim of a sniper attack.
British surgeon Dr. David Nott volunteered at several hospitals in northern Syria with the charity Syria Relief.
DAVID NOTT, DOCTOR: You actually see the bullet hole here, going from one side of the uterus to the other side, and the baby was caught in the middle.
SHUBERT: These images are graphic, but they are all survivors. Dr. Nott says 90 percent of the surgeries he performed on any given day were sniper wounds. Up to 20 gunshot wounds a day.
Syria Relief provided CNN with these pictures of sniper victims in order to raise awareness of the growing violence. Dr. Nott says he believes snipers are specifically targeting pregnant women and sometimes children in a vicious game of war.
ANDERSON: Well, Dr. David Nott joins me now here in the studio. I've got Nick Paton Walsh with me as well this evening. I want to start, though, with you, David. That was -- that's some pretty horrific scenes that we were witnessing through your eyes to a certain extent. Just describe what you found on the ground in the past six weeks when you were there.
NOTT: Well, every day, we would receive between 12 to 14 sniper wounds a day. Of those, the majority were civilians. A majority were women and children that were shot. And these were people that were just going along their routine daily work, just going to get bread and provisions.
And most of them were going from one side of the city to the other side of the city. And I was told that there's around 10,000 people per day go from one side to the other side. And of that side, a small proportion of them are shot with --
ANDERSON: This is daily life for regular civilians --
NOTT: This is daily life --
ANDERSON: -- in Syria?
ANDERSON: The report didn't point out who these snipers were. It's chaotic on the ground. Was it unclear?
NOTT: Well, you work in a hospital -- I was on the rebel side, so you work in the hospital and you receive the casualties and all the casualties are all civilians. And so, I think -- one tries to remain apolitical with that and completely neutral, but you can't help hearing who is shooting who. And you try and remain neutral --
NOTT: -- but the word on the street was that it was coming from the government side.
ANDERSON: From the government side.
ANDERSON: You're back. You've been back for 10 days. When you reflect on what you saw, what you witnessed, how do you feel?
NOTT: Well, I feel terrible, to be honest with you. It's taken me -- only now do I start to feel worse, really. I've been back to work 10 days now, and I'm in the operating theater, and it's a different world completely to what I've just been through.
And it's actually -- I'm not getting flashbacks, but you do tend to really think, at the moment, every morning I'm waking up at 5:00 in the morning thinking about it, thinking about the horrendous things that I've seen.
ANDERSON: The video was difficult enough to watch. If you can just take us through some of what you did see, because I think it's important that people realize just what is going on. We talk a lot about what's going on, but we very rarely get access to what's going on.
NOTT: As a doctor, you're there to try and help anybody that comes in. You're offering humanitarian help to the wounded people, whether -- if they're fighters, if they are civilians --
NOTT: -- and a majority of the people that you treat, it's all life- saving stuff. So, if you weren't there or a doctor wasn't there, a surgeon wasn't there, that patient would day.
And so every case -- I used to tell -- I used to talk to the colleagues I was working with saying, it's unusual that a doctor from the UK that every case that he operates on is life and death. If you didn't do the operation that patient would exsanguinate, would bleed to death.
But they're not very easy operations, either, because you're dealing with blood vessels and you're -- you have to be able to know how to dissect them, how to clamp them, how to then --
ANDERSON: In what sort of conditions, let me ask?
NOTT: We're in conditions whereby you've got -- in the hospital where I was working, we had three operating theaters, and you don't have much equipment, you have poor lighting, you have not much blood, you have poor - - hardly any chest drains or bottles. And certainly, the surgical instruments that we were using were pretty --
ANDERSON: Basic stuff.
NOTT: Basic, basically.
ANDERSON: David, stay with me. Some news just coming in. Syria's state news agency is reporting what it calls, and I quote, "a terrorist attack" on a gas line to a power plant in south Damascus. Now, they say that is the reason for what is now a country-wide blackout. It is unclear if that is the cause, but activists are posting videos of a fire near Damascus airport.
I want to bring in CNN's Nick Paton Walsh on this. He's following developments in Syria from neighboring Lebanon. You're an award -- and Emmy award-winning journalist, Sir Nick, these days, after the coverage of Syria -- your coverage of Syria over the past couple of years. You're covering this story from Lebanon tonight.
It's very difficult for anybody to get in, so it's been important that we hear from David tonight, what he witnessed over the past six weeks or so. Let's start with what you're hearing out of Syria today, and then we'll move on.
NICK PATON WALSH, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, certainly this blackout, as some people are referring to it, as the energy minister referring to a number of power outages in all provinces. Now, we don't know how extensive that is, and I should point out that electricity across a civil war-torn country is, of course, hard to come by at the best of times.
But clearly, this is an adequately large attack on the infrastructure. They felt obliged to comment on it on a cabinet level. And of course, they're blaming what they refer to as terrorists.
So, we don't know if this is some sort of rebel victory or if they are simply trying to explain to a beleaguered population why their power has gone off and blame the opposition to the government there.
Still early days, but dramatic images of fires lighting up the sky around Damascus, but we're going to have to wait for the hours ahead, Becky, to work out exactly what's really happened.
ANDERSON: I want to talk to both of you about the importance of establishing humanitarian corridors at this point. This has been a conversation that has been ongoing, as Nick is well aware, and I'm sure you are, David, for -- what now? -- as long this war has been going on. It's - - in play once again now as we move towards this Geneva II conference.
Firstly, Nick, what's -- are humanitarian corridors realistic in the chaos that is Syria on the ground today?
WALSH : I think you could establish corridors in the north, certainly, but you face a problem up there of al Qaeda-linked militants, deeply distrustful, in fact, more violent towards external, particularly Western intervention.
Around Damascus, they will be much more complex because of the intensity of fighting around there. There was a bid to allow women and children to leave one particular besieged part of the Damascus suburbs, but still, people concerned about those left behind, effectively starving or dying from a lack of medicine as you would have just been hearing.
That's been a key issue. Not only hospitals targeted, but medical care so extraordinarily hard to come by. But really, humanitarian corridors increasingly in need because of the number of people displaced, simply, inside Syria, 2 million, perhaps more, some say.
That will continue to be a burden as the neighboring countries get more aggressive about trying to keep Syrian refugees out because they're all, effectively, getting to the limit of their capacity at the moment, Becky.
ANDERSON: All right, Nick, stay with me. David, I know that you believe that humanitarian corridors are absolutely critical at present. Given what Nick's just been saying about the difficulties on the ground, do you think it's realistic?
NOTT: I do think it's realistic, because I think at the moment, you've got the UN there as chemical weapons inspectors. They're all going around with their notepads and books. They've negotiated a cease-fire so they can go --
NOTT: -- and look at the chemical weapons. I can't see why the UN can't do the same sort of thing and bring in food and water with some sort of US priority route. I just cannot understand why it doesn't happen.
ANDERSON: And why it hasn't happened already. Nick, finally, I want to get to you, because as this chaos ensues on the ground, many people still wondering just who it is who is bankrolling and backing these factions on the ground. Can you just briefly, to your mind, give us a sense of how what is this proxy war is playing out and why.
WALSH: In short, the Syrian regime, as many know, are bankrolled by Iran. Many say a lot of Russian support there, military arms sales and diplomatic cover for them at the United Nations Security Council.
On the other side, with the rebels, it's much more complex. There are Gulf states, Saudi Arabia and Qatar, not always founding common ground themselves but in may ways openly funneling both money and weaponry to rebels in the north, certainly, and in the south, too.
At issue there, the dividing line between the radicals, moderates, and the far end of extremists with links to al Qaeda not always clear quite where that aid ends up, and that's been a major impediment for Western suggestions they might like to contribute to their part in the proxy war there as well.
And then, of course, people looking to the south of the country exactly how aid is filtering in from Jordan. Jordan in a tricky position. They're always having to bear in mind the possibility that Bashar al-Assad may stay in power and be an angry neighbor, trading on the fence, a lot of the time, but also mindful of the fact they need to, perhaps, expedite some sort of change to slow down the refugee flow across their border, Becky.
ANDERSON: Nick Paton Walsh for you this evening. Dr. David Nott, we thank you very much, indeed --
NOTT: Thank you.
ANDERSON: -- for joining us. Well, live from London, you're watching CONNECT THE WORLD. Coming up, the big fat debate. Are bad fats actually good for us? We're going to do this after this.
ANDERSON: Well, 15 years ago, Kai Tak was home to Hong Kong's international airport. Passengers on planes from around the world skimmed dramatically over the city's skyline before touching down. If you ever did that trip, you will know what I'm talking about.
Well, now the airport has gone, but Hong Kong hopes to recreate what was a breathtaking experience for another breed of passengers as a new cruise ship terminal opens there. The Gateway explores its evolution from aviation to maritime hub.
CHARLES TEIGE, CAPTAIN, ROYAL CARIBBEAN: It is one of the best terminals in the world, at least one of the top five. It was very easy for us to come in here today because of the layout of the terminal.
ANDREW STEVENS, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): With its grand opening this year, Hong Kong's Kai Tak cruise ship terminal is looking to lure the world's biggest lines, and it's ideal for ships the size of Royal Caribbean's Voyager.
TEIGE: From the past, we have -- because the Voyager is one of the largest ships in the world, we had to go to container terminals, and of course, the first impression for a guest to come into a container terminal is not so good as you can give today with this fantastic, very modern terminal.
So, it's a win-win situation both for us, that the guests like this terminal, and a win-win situation for Hong Kong because you can give a good first impression.
STEVENS: Fifteen years ago, Kai Tak gave travelers by air a very different first impression. Arriving flights skimmed right over Hong Kong, seemingly rushing past buildings, a dramatic way to arrive in the city.
The architects, Foster and Partners, wanted the design of the ship terminal to pay homage to that history.
RICHARD HAWKINS, PARTNER, FOSTER AND PARTNERS: One of the fantastic things about this site, which used to be, of course, Kai Tak's runway, is it's aligned such that the aircraft had the freest approach through the human gap. And we're sort of celebrating that view with the feature art, which frames it, almost like a gateway framing the flight path as it used to be.
STEVENS: They also added public green space, a column-free design to allow for other uses, like conference and exhibitions, and gave the building eco-friendly touches.
DAVID CHAK, HONG KONG ARCHITECTURAL SERVICES DEPARTMENT: This is the triangular window designed by Foster, and it's not only a window. It's an environmental window, because at the top of it, you can see the triangular shape, it reduces the sun's rays coming into the building, so it actually makes the building cooler.
Lower down here, we've got the very wide window, so we can see outside. The whole Victoria Harbor can be seen 180 degrees here.
STEVENS: This is Kai Tak's chance to prove that once again, it's a center of Asian travel.
CHAK: Before it was a gateway to Hong Kong by plane. But now, we changed it into the gateway to Hong Kong again by boat.
ANDERSON: We're going to take a very short break here on CONNECT THE WORLD. We're going to hear from a controversial doctor after that who says we need to rethink we view fat, and a professor who very much doesn't agree with him. That debate coming up.
ANDERSON: For years, we've been told that foods like cheese, butter, and red meat contain a lot of saturated fat. Many of us, me included, try to avoid eating them. Well, not to much, anyway. But now, one cardiologist is challenging what he calls the demonization of saturated fat.
He says no clear link has ever been made between its consumption and heart disease. In fact, he says, avoiding saturated fat has actually made our health worse because we often choose sugary, processed foods instead.
Well, the man who's challenging the four-decade-old view of bad fats is cardiologist Aseem Malhotra. His controversial view has been published in the "British Medical Journal," and I've got a copy of that here. He joins me now, live in this studio.
Also with me this evening is Professor Neil Poulter, a specialist in preventative cardiology at Imperial College London. He's worked with the World Health Organization on this issue and thinks there is no evidence to suggest doctors should change their advice on saturated fats. So clearly, not two men who agree on this subject.
Let me start with you, Aseem. Forty years of research and you tell us we've got it wrong. Is this the greatest medical error of our times?
ASEEM MALHOTRA, CARDIOLOGIST, CROYDON UNIVERSITY HOSPITAL: Well, I think the devil is really in the detail, and I think from the analysis I've done and looking at different studies, saturated fat from non-processed food isn't as harmful as we believe it to be.
And in fact, there was a meta analysis published in -- which was published a few years ago done by Harvard researchers that looks at about 21 studies, about 350,000 people. And they concluded there was no actual evidence to suggest that saturated fat was implicated in cardiovascular disease.
Now, more specifically, we're talking about dairy products. So your butter, your cheese, et cetera.
ANDERSON: So you've got your report --
MALHOTRA: So part of -- part of the --
ANDERSON: -- portraying fats --
ANDERSON: -- and we're going to show this.
MALHOTRA: Part of the problem, though, however, is as you've alluded to already, is that we've replaced saturated fat with refined carbohydrates and sugar. And the emerging evidence is telling us, actually, these are potentially harmful in driving all these diseases of what we call the metabolic syndrome.
ANDERSON: Professor Poulter, nonsense, you say. Why? It sounds pretty sensible to me.
NEIL POULTER, PROFESSOR OF PREVENTATIVE CARDIOVASCULAR MEDICINE: Well, I think it seems right insofar as one of the problems is being we should cut down saturated fat, there's no doubt about that. And there's lots of evidence.
If you cut down saturated fat, you reduce the LDL cholesterol, that's the bad bit of cholesterol. If you cut that down, you reduce cardiovascular events.
But Aseem's point is right that if you replace that missing saturated fat with sugars, then you won't get the benefit. What you have to do is replace it with polyunsaturated fats, which you've got examples of --
POULTER: -- over there. So, monos and polys, if you replace them with that, that's the other fats, then you will get the benefits from reducing saturated fat.
ANDERSON: Let's get basic, because I know I get confused by this stuff. You guys are experts. Many of our viewers won't be. So help me out, cameraman. They're going to do this for us. So, Aseem. We've got saturated fats on this plate.
MALHOTRA: Predominately, yes. Saturated fat with steak, butter, yes.
ANDERSON: Bad fats? Good fats?
MALHOTRA: Well, I would say neutral, but certainly I agree --
MALHOTRA: -- these are -- there is very good evidence to suggest that foods based upon a Mediterranean diet, more polyunsaturated fats, definitely are cardio-protective.
ANDERSON: Got salmon here, and we've got avocados.
ANDERSON: Things that are called trans-fat --
ANDERSON: Are these guys goodies or baddies?
MALHOTRA: Well, they're baddies, really. You've got trans-fats, obviously, in that doughnut, really, and sugar. Probably quite a lot of sugar in there was well, and white flour, basically refined carbohydrate. You've got, again, carbohydrates in there --
MALHOTRA: Trans-fats, deep-fried, that kind of stuff.
ANDERSON: All right. And neither of you disagree that these are baddies, right?
POULTER: Trans-fats are a group that are particularly bad, but I stick to the argument that saturated fat should be reduced, it's just what you replace it with that matters. And replacing it with the unsaturated fats will give you good benefits. It will lower your cholesterol.
ANDERSON: So, when I read that you had pretty much -- rubbished, it seems, published work today in the BMJ, why was that?
POULTER: Well, I seem to be the first to admit, this was -- it seems opinions. He hasn't done any particular work, it's just his opinions looking at a whole lot of data, and he's picked bits of information which fits with his beliefs. And they're just not my beliefs.
And over 40 or 50 years of increasing evidence, it's not the beliefs of the vast majority of those who spend our lives trying to prevent cardiovascular disease. We think that the things he's picked out are absolutely wrong.
ANDERSON: Big pharma makes an awful lot of money out of things called statins. I know my parents take them, I'm probably going to be taking them sometime soon. It's a multimillion-dollar business. I know that you yourself some time ago led a research study, I think I'm right in saying, on statins.
Big pharma are not going to like what you are saying today because this multimillion-dollar industry, which feeds the likes of those who are worried about their cholesterol levels, this is -- they'll say this is nonsense, absolute nonsense.
MALHOTRA: Well, of course, the pharmaceutical industry, a multibillion-dollar industry from statins, for example, and ultimately they are a profit-making business. Now, we have to look at this in the perspective in the fact that we have an increasing burden of non- communicable diseases. And we need to really embrace prevention a lot more than we do pharmacotherapy, in my personal opinion.
And we haven't done that in terms of diet. We have a huge problem worldwide with obesity and increasing prevalence of types of diabetes. And certainly, we're not going to counteract that with medications.
Now, medications have a role in that. I do not in any way disagree that there is a very good role and strong role for statins in secondary prevention in people with established heart disease. From my analysis of the data, it's a little bit more dubious when it comes to primary prevention, preventing heart attacks in people that don't have heart disease.
ANDERSON: And that is --
MALHOTRA: And I think that diet actually should be embraced a lot more than that.
ANDERSON: And you are going to be accused of not having done your research and only looking at and analyzing certain data, right?
MALHOTRA: Sure. But the other thing I would say to is, I'm in some ways independent in a way, because I'm not somebody that has been funded by the industry --
ANDERSON: All right.
MALHOTRA: -- or I'm trying to promote something.
ANDERSON: You laughed.
POULTER: Well, that implies that all the people, the cholesterol- lowering treatment trials collaboration is totally independent of the pharma industry. They put together the results of 160,000 people who've been experimented on properly, investigated properly.
And what it show is that by lowering LDL cholesterol, that's the bad bit of the cholesterol, using statins, is the best thing we've got in preventing cardiovascular disease.
For a one millimole reduction in LDL cholesterol, you see about a 20 to 30 percent reduction in all the cardiovascular events. There is nothing we've got that good. And to suggest that this is all industry brouhaha is completely unreasonable.
ANDERSON: I've got to give you 20 seconds to respond to that --
ANDERSON: -- but I've got to get out of this show.
MALHOTRA: I would say one thing is that in the real world data, which is published in Annuals of Internal Medicine, has actually said that up to one in five people experience unacceptable side effects from statins, which is out of keeping with the data that comes from the industry, which says one in 10,000. So, I think there's some discrepancies there that need to be explained further.
ANDERSON: Do your research, I think, viewers, and keep doing it. But it's been fascinating to have you both on this evening. Thank you very much, indeed, for joining me here in London.
We are going to take a very short break and get out of this show, but before we do, Parting Shots tonight. We want to show you a slice of political life on this side of the Atlantic.
Over the past month we've witnessed US politicians on Capitol Hill go head-to-head over President Obama's health care policy. Their refusal to back down, you know, caused the US government to partially close and almost forced the country to default on its debts.
Well, with the American public divided over Obamacare, some might argue that what we are seeing is democracy in action. Others that it's simply political posturing with the public left to suffer.
Well, here in the UK, the hot-button issue among politicians right now is the cost of energy. A pledge by the opposition Labour Party to freeze prices if they win the next election was promptly followed by a serious of hefty price rises by some of Britain's biggest firms. Now, this has sparked a furious row here in the House of Commons today. Have a listen to this.
DAVID CAMERON, PRIME MINISTER OF BRITAIN: Labour's briefing, this is what it says: "Ed Miliband was energy secretary in the last government. Isn't he to blame for rising bills?" And we all know the answer, yes he is.
(CROWD SHOUTS IN AGREEMENT)
CAMERON: Ed Miliband!
ED MILIBAND, LABOUR PARTY LEADER: Our suggestion. He should implement Labour's price freeze.
MILIBAND: There's an energy bill going through the -- the other place. We can amend that energy bill and we can bring in that price freeze right now. Two parties working together in the national interest.
MILIBAND: Let's do it, let's --
MILIBAND: Mr. Speaker! Mr. Speaker, I think you've been following too much of his own advice, wearing too many wooly jumpers, I think. You're getting a bit overheated. Let's do it, Mr. Speaker! We can bring in this price freeze right now.
JOHN BERCOW, SPEAKER OF THE HOUSE OF COMMONS: Prime Minister?
CAMERON: He knows perfectly well, it is not a price freeze, it is a price con. The right honorable gentleman is acting like a con man. That is what we're seeing.
CAMERON: He is promising something he knows he can't deliver. He knows he can't deliver, because he never delivered it when he was in office.
BERCOW: Let me just say, I let it go the first time. The word "con man" is, frankly, unparliamentary.
BERCOW: And let me order -- and let me order -- he is -- the prime minister is a man of great versatility in the use of language. It's a bit below the level.
ANDERSON: Democracy in action, or just a whole load of hot air? Tweet me @BeckyCNN, that's @BeckyCNN. That is it from this show for this evening. CNN, of course, continues after this short break. "Quest Means Business" at the top of the hour.