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U.S. Intelligence Worries Assad Holding Out On Chemical Weapons; Bolshoi Ballet Artistic Director Takes Stand Today; Report Concludes Moderate Possibility Yasser Arafat Poisoned With Polonium 210

Aired November 6, 2013 - 15:00   ET


BECKY ANDERSON, HOST: Tonight, a rare glimpse of what daily life is like in war torn Aleppo.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We just work day and night (inaudible)


ANDERSON: As Syrians struggle to even survive, we ask if peace lies in partitioning the country.

Also ahead, new details emerge on the death of Yasser Arafat. But are we any closer to knowing if he was poisoned?



ROB FORD, MAYOR OF TORONTO: Yes, I have smoked crack cocaine.


ANDERSON: Has Toronto's mayor now damaged his credibility to serve the public?

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

ANDERSON: A very good evening.

We start with fresh concerns about Syria this evening. The U.S. thinks it may be hiding undeclared chemical weapons. U.S. intelligence sources tell CNN new information has shaken their confidence in al Assad's promise to destroy his stockpile. Weapons inspectors have of course been inside Syria since September.

Well, meantime al Assad's regime says it will attend peace talks without preconditions. Official talks were delayed once again yesterday, but Russia said today it is ready to host informal talks between the regime and select opposition parties.

Well, on the ground the violence continues. Eight people were reportedly killed in a bomb explosion in central Damascus.

Well, 2 million Syrians plus have fled the conflict. And for the ones left behind, life is a daily struggle. It is chaotic.

We've been bringing you exclusive stories on Syria all this week. And tonight exclusive and rare footage from inside war ravaged Aleppo. Nick Paton Walsh with this report.


NICK PATON WALSH, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: The world may not always be watching, but that doesn't slow the slaughter in Syria. The regime is still firing SCUD missiles. Weeks earlier, creating this moonscape in Aleppo.

70 dead, women, children, witnesses say, bodies left under the rubble.

"This is how Bashar al Assad claims he's fighting terrorism," this man says.

Humanity slowly extinguished here. Out of the death and dust, though, sometimes life emerges.

This is Mice (ph). A barrel bomb, the regime's crudest way of killing by jet, hit her home. Her family is gone. That is all her new parents who never had children themselves know about her.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE (through translator): They found her crying so hard. It's a miracle. The whole building gone and only her left. Her whole body was blue with dust. She has no one.

WALSH: This is being a lucky orphan in Syria. Six families share this one house.

Some survivors left stranded. Brothers injured in the same blast from the moderate Badaa Brigrade (ph). Abu Mushar (ph) is blind until complex surgery fixes his left eye.

"I don't have the money to pay for the operation now," he says. "In liberated areas, we don't have the capability."

Neither can use the gun they keep nearby for protection, waited on by their mother.

The few remaining doctors are near breaking point. This doctor is British.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: He has shrapnel (inaudible) it's in the heart.

WALSH: And they have to test for a heartbeat by inserting their fingers into the chest.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We cannot hear the sounds of the heart. In this case, 99 percent he's dead.

WALSH: Daily, he watches patients die who he could save with proper equipment in a hospital.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: (inaudible) We just work day and night and (inaudible) dying horrible for no reason. We don't have anything. And you know you can do something, but this is (inaudible).

WALSH: Suffering, still finding ways to worsen in Syria.

Nick Paton Walsh, CNN, Gaziantep, Turkey.


ANDERSON: Well, Syria's conflict is now nearly 3-years-old, two years and eight months to be exact with no solution in sight.

Some people are suggesting a partition of the country. Now it wouldn't be the first time. In the 1920s, a French mandate divided Syria into four substates loosely based on sectarian populations. In orange was the state of Alawites with mostly Alawites, a sect of Shia Islam. In red was the state of Aleppo, this had a majority of Sunni Muslims. And if we bring it back to today, some already believe Syria is on the route to partition.


DOMINIQUE DE VILLEPIN, FORMER FRENCH PRIME MINISTER: Today we have to change the view we have of Syria. Under the French mandate in the 20s and the 30s Syria was a federation divided into four regions. Today we have to face the fact that Syria is not a country anymore.

LORD DAVID OWEN, FORMER BRITISH FOREIGN SECRETARY: I think the honest answer is there needs to be a negotiation. And there may have to be in the light of the oral report and the change in the balance of the elements of the Shia groupings that there will be partition.


ANDERSON: Interesting.

All right, well how realistic is this for Syria? I'm joined by long- time Middle East commentator Dilip Hiro who is pushing for partition at least at the Nth degree. So why?

DILIP HIRO, AUTHOR: I think it's -- let's say if we take the best scenario, you know, the Geneva II happens and then there's some kind of ceasefire, et cetera, et cetera -- but even if that ceasefire takes place, the jihadists against Assad will not accept that for the jihadis and the secular opponents of Assad to stop fighting. So, you know, that is shall I say the best.

Now therefore we have to think of the ultimate solution. You know, where main thing is how to protect the minority Alawites, who are Shiites, and Christians.

ANDERSON: The problem here is, is this isn't it, if there aren't peace talks where indeed we were looking at pushing for a political solution to this, and ultimately elections, how can you push ahead to partition a country without asking the people on the ground? I mean, we're talking about Syrians here. The whole place could be divided up without the population having anything to do with it. That can't be right, can it?

HIRO: No, I think you see again you are bringing in the question of election. The question is who is going to elections under whose supervision and what would be the transitional government? All of these are unknowns.

So ultimately you see you have to look at the bottom line. The bottom line is protection of the minorities which is Alawites who are in charge now. There are only 30 percent of the population, and Christians who are 10 percent.

Now if these minorities cannot be protected if the Sunni majority comes to power. Already the city of Raqqa, there the jihadists are in power, they already destroyed the two Christian churches. They have burned the Bibles in public...

ANDERSON: We're three years in -- two years and eight months to be precise. We'll looking at a map as you and I speak now of a country that could be significantly changed going forward.

How rapidly do you think things will progress at this point?

HIRO: I think this kind of a ding dong will go on for at least a couple of years.

ANDERSON: A couple of years?

HIRO: At least, you know...

ANDERSON: Thousands more dead at the end of this?

HIRO: No, but you know, Lebanon -- Lebanese civil war went on for 15 years. So I think here again -- because you see ultimately as long as Assad has access to the Mediterranean so he can get arms from Russia, as long as arms are coming in from Iran through Iraq he can keep on fighting.

You see, ultimately the Alawite soldiers, who are two-thirds of the (inaudible) soldiers, if they know if Assad goes they'll be butchered. So they're not really fighting for...

ANDERSON: He says he's not going.

Do you ever see the end of Assad at this point?

HIRO: No, I think the -- it should be at least two years. But the key point is whether the transitional government accepted by both sides, which it doesn't seem likely.

ANDERSON: No, it doesn't. Thank you very much indeed for joining us.

We could be talking about this for a couple of more years as you suggest.

CNN has been bringing you exclusive content on Syria all this week. Catch up with all of Nick Paton Walsh's reports on our website starting with his trip into southern Turkey where he met a man who collects jihadis from the airport and helps smuggle them into the north of the country of Syria.

And more on life in a town in northern Syria that's being run by al Qaeda linked militants, all this exclusive content,

Well, you know where to find that.

Still to come tonight, a new report brings new attention to the question of whether the late Palestinian leader Yasser Arafat was poisoned. More on that to come.

Plus, the latest on the Bolshoi Ballet trial, the man almost blinded by an acid attack is on the stand.

And, explosions hit Communist Party offices in northern China ahead of a major party leadership meeting. A report from Beijing coming up.


ANDERSON: You're with CNN. This is Connect the World. I'm Becky Anderson in London for you. It is 12 minutes past 8:00.

Palestinian leader Yasser Arafat may have been poisoned to death in 2004 with radioactive polonium according to a new report published on al Jazeera's website.

Now the report represents the findings of Swiss scientists analyzed in samples from Arafat's body. It concludes, taking into account the analytical limitations the results moderately support the proposition that the death was the consequences of poisoning with polonium 210.

Let's cross to senior international correspondent Matthew Chance who is standing by in Jerusalem.

You got the report there, Matt. What do you make of it?

MATTHEW CHANCE, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORREPSONDENT: Well, it's very dense, I can tell you that. 105 -- 108 pages long, in fact, of very in depth chemical analysis of the tissue samples and the personal affects that they've been looking at for traces of polonium 210 to try and determine whether it was that radioactive substance that killed Yasser Arafat back in November 2004.

Unexpectedly high levels of radioactive polonium 210, that's what the report concludes, moderately supporting, as you mentioned, the idea that the -- that the theory, rather, that Yasser Arafat the former, the late Palestinian leader was poisoned. Already that's been seized upon by the widow of Yasser Arafat.

Suha Arafat speaking in Paris has said that the results reveal a real crime, a political assassination.

But the report itself is far less conclusive. And you can take a look at some of the excerpts of what it says highlighting the problems with its findings.

It says that the report published on the al Jazeera website highlights four main problems with its study. It says a lack of adequate biological specimens, such as blood and urine manes investigations were performed on very small specimens.

Also the authors of the reports caution that since eight years passed between the death of yasser Arafat and the investigation there is, quote, uncertainty of the analytical results and their interpretation.

They also go on to say that the chain of custody of some of the samples, particularly the personal effects, are not clear indicating that they could have been contaminated elsewhere.

Nevertheless, the conclusion generally, as we mentioned, is that the tests moderately support the idea that Yasser Arafat was poisoned with polonium 210 -- Becky.

ANDERSON: Matt, let me just remind our viewers who Yasser Arafat was. He was the most prominent face, of course, of the Palestinian opposition to Israel. In 1969, of course, he becamse the leader of the PLO. The group was known for terror until 1991 when Arafat denounced it.

Arafat signed the Oslo accords with Israel in 1993, which gave Palestinians the right to self government and led to the creation of the Palestinian Authority. And in 1994, he won the Nobel Peace Prize along with two Israelis for his work towards peace.

Two years later, he was elected president of the Palestinian National Authority, a position he held until his controversial death in November 2004.

I spoke with Yasser Arafat's wife Suha in March 2012. And this is how she reacted when I posed a question about the circumstances surrounding Arafat's death then.


ANDERSON: Would you have wanted a full autopsy done on his body, though?

SUHA ARAFAT, WIDOW OF YASSER ARAFAT: Yes. But this was the decision of the Palestinian Authority. And I respect their decision. Maybe Yasser died with his secrets with him and nobody can, you know, the (inaudible) nobody can know the truth now.


ANDERSON: Suha Arafat speaking to me in 2012.

Live from London this is Connect the World. Coming up a special report into the shady world of drugs, power and politics in Mexico. We're going to have more on that.

And a new occupant for Gracie Mansion as New Yorkers elect Bill de Blasio as their first Democratic mayor in 20 years.

Stay with us.


ANDERSON: Connect the World, live from London. I'm Becky Anderson.

Right, voters across the U.S. have taken part in the first major round of elections since President Barack Obama's reelection last year. In New York, in the city left leaning Democrat Bill De Blasio trounced his Republican rival and the first Democrat to lead America's largest city in 20 years.

In neighboring New Jersey, Republican governor Chris Christie also cruised to victory. Hi decisive reelection in a traditionally Democratic state makes him a leading Republican contender for higher office come 2016.

Republicans, though, didn't fare as well in Virginia where Democrat Terry McAuliffe narrowly defeated a conservative Republican supported by the Tea Party.

And in another sign of Tea Party troubles, Bradley Burn, a candidate close to the business wing of the Republican Party was able to win the Alabama congressional race.

Well, let's cross to Lisa DesJardins who is standing by on Capitol Hill.

Not just a Democrat in power in New York after decades, Lisa, but a very left leaning Democrat. Should we be surprised by that?

LISA DESJARDINS, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Yeah, how about that, Becky. The Big Apple in a big way went to the left last night by 73 percent they voted for Bill De Blasio.

You know, this is an untested candidate, frankly. Right now he's the public advocate in New York, basically a watchdog for the citizens of New York. No one is sure exactly what he will be like as a top administrator in America's largest city.

But you're right. I think the lesson here is about a move toward the left of New York City and its mayoral candidate.

De Blasio criticized the current Mayor Bloomberg, saying he was doing too much to help the wealthy. And in his speech last night he talked about the idea of inequality.


NICK DIBLASIO, MAYOR-ELECT NEW YORK CITY: The best and the brightest are born in every neighborhood. We all have a shared responsibility and a shared stake in making sure their destiny is defined by how hard they work and how big they dream and not by their zip code.


DESJARDINS: Another thing that propelled De Blasio who really was an underdog, Becky, at the beginning to the top here is the stop and frisk policy in New York under Mayor Bloomberg where police were allowed to stop suspects, sometimes based just on an assessment by eye, which many believe was racial profile. De Blasio said he would stop that as mayor. That was something that got him a lot of attention -- Becky.

ANDERSON: Listen, did we also see the launch, the possible launch of a candidate for the 2016 presidential campaign? I'm talking Chris Christie here in New Jersey.

DESJARDINS: Right, those in time zones across the world, if you're not familiar with Chris Christie, now is the time to certainly pay attention. The man is a Republican in a very Democratic state. And listen to this, last night Chris Christie in New Jersey got more support than President Obama did in 2012.

There's no doubt that Chris Christie could be a candidate for president. Today, Becky, he tried not to talk about it saying he's focused -- of course he is -- on being Governor. That's what they always say. But listen to his words last night in his acceptance speech. He certainly sounded presidential.


CHRIS CHRISTIE, GOVERNOR OF NEW JERSEY: I know that if we can do this in Trenton, New Jersey maybe the folks in Washington, D.C. should tune in their TVs right now, see how it's done.


DESJARDINS: So, again, talking about how his experience really may apply to people here in Washington. And you know there is a lot to that kind of idea. Most Americans are very tired of Washington. The idea of an outside seems like it would have appeal in a couple of years from now when President Obama retires -- Becky.

ANDERSON: If he were to win in 2016 he's either have to jettison that part of the party, the Tea Party members as it were who did so badly last night, surely. I mean, you know, or he's going to have to bring them onboard and make them work in -- as far as the American people are concerned. What do you think these elections, if anything, said about the way Americans feel about their politics and politicians and their parties last night.

DESJARDINS: You know, Becky, I'm going to be honest. I'm one of those who thinks things are a little less clear this morning. And I don't think the races we've talked about --either Chris Christie in New Jersey or Bill De Blasio in New York -- shed much light on anything. Those are two personal characters that voters seem to vote for the man in both of those incidences.

But if you look into my home state of Virginia. That's a state that goes back and forth between Republicans and Democrats, narrowly voted for a Democrat last night over a very conservative Republican. And I think that that is a sign that this divide is going to remain in tact.

This was a Tea Party Republican who nearly won in Virginia, a state that voter for Barack Obama.

I think things have yet to settle down in Americans' minds as to who can best govern this country. Right now it seems like Americans don't trust anyone and for the most part are trying to pick the best options that they don't like.

So I think the next three years we'll sort that out. But I honestly - - sorry, Becky, I don't have an answer. I think a lot is in the air right now for American politics, especially concerning the Tea Party.

ANDERSON: Listen, you've got two years to work it out so you don't need to apologize this evening. But you haven't got enough Lisa. Thank you very much indeed. Lisa is in Washington for you this evening.

The artistic director of the Bolshoi Ballet has taken the stand to testify against the star ballet dancer accused of nearly blinding him.

Pavel Dmitrichenko is on trial for allegedly planning an acid attack on Sergei Filin in Moscow.

Now, Filin also announced his plan to file a civil lawsuit against Dmitrichenko.

Diana Magnay has more from Moscow.


DIANA MAGNAY, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Sergei Filin broke down at the end of a difficult day of testimony, telling the judge that his life was destroyed, that he could no longer even see his three children.

He described the night of the attack saying that the acid in his face was the worst pain that he'd even known and saying, quote, "it is a horror about which I no longer want to speak. But I want to say that I forgive no one for what happened to me, no one."

He also spoke about his relationship with Pavel Dmitrichenko who is accused of being the mastermind behind this attack, saying that he was a great dancer, but that he was emotional, that his inner life was difficult to understand and that he'd always felt vaguely threatened in an indirect way by Dmitrichenko.

Then in a strange twist, Dmitrichenko himself stood up. And it was almost as though he was putting Filin on trial, accusing him of having slept with ballerinas, bringing up various conflicts he had had with Bolshoi Ballet members. And in the end claiming moral responsibility for the attack, although he has in the past said the although he had talked to a second defendant, Yuri Zarutsky about wanting to see Filin roughed up, that it had been to Zarutsky who then took the initiative and used acid in this incredibly savage attack, which has left Filin badly maimed.

He's had 23 operations on his face and to try and recover his sight. This was his one and only day of testimony because he'll be going back to Germany to have more treatments. He can see 80 percent with his right eye, but only make out large objects with his left. So his future at the Bolshoi is unclear whether he'll be able to go back as artistic director and when. And as he said, it is a time that's very difficult for them right now not even able to see his own children.

Diana Magnay, CNN, Moscow.


ANDERSON: Well, a man accused of murdering the British student Meredith Kercher in Italy in 2010 has taken the stand tow defend himself. Raffaele Sollecito and his former girlfriend Amanda Knox are facing a retrial in Italy. Their convictions were overturned in 2011 for a lack evidence.

Sollecito said the charges against him are simply absurd.


RAFFAELE SOLLECITO, AMANDA KNOX' BOYFRIEND (through translator): All this has had a dramatic impact also psychologically, because it's really difficult for me to continue to look into the future and to be positive and look for the future.

I ask you humbly to really look at reality, the reality of everything in relation to this incident and to consider the damage done.


ANDERSON: Well, in northern China, authorities are investigate a series of explosions in front of Communist Party offices in Shanxi Province. Now the blasts follow a deadly Beijing's Tienanmen Square last week. David McKenzie with the details for you.


DAVID MCKENZIE, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: A series of small explosions rocked a northern Chinese city early Wednesday. According to police, one person has been killed and eight people injured. The explosions happened right outside the Communist Party headquarters and apparently devices of some kind were placed in the flower pots outside the gate.

State media says that people found ball bearings and circuit boards in the aftermath suggesting that they could have been homemade explosive devices.

This all happens during a period of intense security here in China in the wake of another incident last week on Tienanmen Square where a Jeep plowed through tourists and caught alight. Communist Party is calling that incident a terror attack.

The incident happened during an extremely sensitive period here in China with a major Communist Party meeting in Beijing just days away.

David McKenzie, CNN, Beijing.


ANDERSON: Well, the latest world news headlines just ahead here on CNN. To forgive or not to forgive, we're going to see why some politicians survive scandals that others don't.

And how are we faring in the war against drugs? Well, I speak to an investigative journalist who knows the trade inside out.

That, after this.


ANDERSON: This is CONNECT THE WORLD, I'm Becky Anderson. The top stories for you this hour.

Palestinian leader Yasser Arafat may have been poisoned to death in 2004 with radioactive Polonium. That according to a new report published on Al Jazeera's website. The report presents the findings of Swiss scientists analyzing samples from Arafat's body.

An explosion in a central Damascus square killed several civilians Wednesday. Syrian state media said it was a terrorist bomb placed at the entrance of the Syrian railway headquarters. Eight people were reportedly killed and dozens more were wounded.

Al Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb has claimed responsibility for the killing of two French journalists on Saturday in northern Mali. The claim came in a statement reported Mauritania's Sahara media. Now, the terror group says the journalists were killed in response to crimes carried out by French, African, and international troops against Muslims.

Big day for the micro-blogging site Twitter. The year's hottest IPO is expected to get priced later today. That means its shares will begin trading on the New York Stock Exchange on Thursday.

The US is offering a $5 million bounty for the capture of a Mexican drug lord just months after his conviction was overturned. Now, Rafael Caro Quintero was killed -- sorry, jailed -- for the killing of a US Drug Enforcement Administration agent and his pilot. He had already served 28 years of his 40-year sentence when he was released in August.

Now, this all comes as Kofi Annan and former Brazilian president Henrique Cardoso renew their call to stop the war on drugs. They say the criminalization of drug use should be replaced by a public health approach, and they are not the first to have said that recently.

Mexico's drug war has killed more than 60,000 people in six years, but with violence ongoing, that number is most likely higher. Now, Anabel Hernandez is an investigative journalist who's written a book on Mexico's drug cartels. Together, we look at how the situation remains extremely volatile.


ANDERSON (voice-over): Faces of some of the world's most-wanted men. High-profile drug arrests in Mexico make regular headlines.

MICHAEL HOLMES, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: One of the most wanted and feared drug lords in Mexico now under arrest. Authorities say Miguel Angel Trevino Morales, aka Z-40, is the head of the Zetas drug cartel.

ANDERSON: So, too, their grisly crimes.

KRISTIE LU STOUT, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Turning now to Mexico, where authorities have made another gruesome discovery: dozens of mutilated bodies were found along the road to the state of Nuevo Leon.

RAFAEL ROMO, CNN SENIOR LATIN AMERICAN AFFAIRS EDITOR: Forty-nine people were killed, but also that their bodies were decapitated.

ANDERSON: Award-winning journalist Anabel Hernandez has spent five years investigating the cartels and the toll they've taken on Mexico.

ANABEL HERNANDEZ, MEXICAN INVESTIGATIVE JOURNALIST: The drug cartels are really destroying my country. Just this year, between January and July, 10,000 people have been murdered in Mexico by the drug cartels.

ANDERSON: Her book, "Narcoland," alleges that the cartels have thrived with the help of corrupt politicians, judges, and businessmen at the cost of thousands of lives.

HERNANDEZ: I hope that with this book, now in English, "Narcoland," all the world maybe can understand better that each person that buys in one corner one gram of illegal cocaine are paying the bullets in Mexico.

ANDERSON: In 2006, then-Mexican president Felipe Calderon declared a war on drugs, a campaign Hernandez slams as totally ineffective.

HERNANDEZ: It's a fake war. When the Mexican government put in jail to one of the heads of this cartel, the Mexican government never, never confiscated their money or their property. So that dirty money is still moving the cartel. That money moves the economy not only in Mexico. That dirty money moves the economy in many countries of the world.

ANDERSON: An official at the Mexican embassy in the UK says its anti- drugs campaign puts the well-being of citizens at the forefront of its concerns by emphasizing prevention and the reduction of crime. The Mexican government is fully committed to upholding the rule of law.

Even journalists covering the drug cartels are not safe. Hernandez says she's received death threats since she began her investigation and is now accompanied by bodyguards.

HERNANDEZ: Mexico is one of the most dangerous countries to be a journalist. In Mexico, 89 journalists have been killed. Five -- just five -- this year.

ANDERSON (on camera): Why do you write about this?

HERNANDEZ: I really believe in good journalism. I really believe -- maybe I'm a dreamer -- but I really believe that good journalism can change the story of one country. I hope my -- I hope that my work can help the people to understand what is happening. And if the people understand what is happening, the people can change the things.


ANDERSON: Well, my next guest agrees that Mexico is a mafia state. He says the war on drugs is a fake war. Pretty controversial stuff, considering that for more than a decade, Antonio Maria Costa was the director of the UN's Office on Drugs and Crime. Joining me this evening from Geneva.

This book not only seeks to explain how the drug trade works, Antonio, but also claims that the Mexican government has been -- and possibly still is -- actively colluding with the cartels. Do you have evidence to substantiate these claims?

ANTONIO MARIA COSTA, FORMER EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR, UNODC: Yes, sure. But I would like to be careful not to talk about the Mexican government. That is a very comprehensive term. Certainly the federal government is trying very hard.

But by the constitution of Mexico, it's such that it allows the states and the local administration a good deal of responsibility, including in fighting guns and narcotics. And there is where the corruption problem is.

Local police, local administrators, mayors, state military parties are really the big problem more than the federal government, so we need to separate the power as it distributed in the country of Mexico.

ANDERSON: All right. I know that you've talked about four pillars to this problem, one of which is corruption. Just give me a sense of the other three and what you believe needs to be done next.

COSTA: About corruption, before going to the --


COSTA: -- I think that Anabel Hernandez got it right when she said this, what is going on in Mexico, is not a war on drugs. It's actually a war between drug cartels with Mexican authorities siding with one or another cartel, depending on who paid the most. So, we have to really de- emphasize the old notion of "war on drugs" and focus more on corruption. That would be my first pillar.

The second pillar, which I would say is the most serious indictment about the banking system leaving aside what happened in the crisis in 2008 and beyond, it is -- huge amounts of money laundering going on through legitimate channels through very-well established banks.

The Wachovia Bank case, you may recall, indicted in 2010 and -- found guilty for laundering several hundred -- $466 billion -- billion dollars -- into the United States. The same, CitiBank. The same more recently HSBC. The most prestigious names in banking involved and colluding --


ANDERSON: Antonio -- yes, OK. Let me just stick with money laundering for the time being, because your experience is so important when you talk about this.

When you talk about money laundering, and sort of money that is being made by the cartels in the States and being laundered, allegedly, into the United States, the money being made in Mexico, how much are we talking about? Are we talking about tens if not hundreds of billions of dollars here?

COSTA: The Wachovia Bank case, they were indicted for $460 billion, an amount of money which is just beyond imagination and is several percentage points of the --

ANDERSON: All right.

COSTA: -- the equivalent of Mexican exports.

ANDERSON: I know that Anabel has said this dirty money is, effectively, moving around and in some cases supporting economies around the world. This collaboration goes much further than just the Mexican authorities. Is that what you're saying?

COSTA: Definitely. And it is obviously beyond just drug trafficking. It's criminal money. But the bulk of it is, indeed, obtained by cartels through the drug trafficking into the United States.

And that leads me to the second problem, the second pillar, if you wish, since you mentioned three: the continuous demand -- continuing demand for drugs from the United States.

The tragedy of Mexico, the hundred thousand people killed and all the violence and the crimes are related to the fact of demand for narcotics persist in the United States. More than 20 dozen tons of cocaine are being consumed annually, and that is --

ANDERSON: All right. And I've heard you say that before. And I know the last pillar that you've talked about is legal weapons sold in the US, and these have become the firepower for the Mexican drug cartels.

Question to you: we've had Kofi Annan and a plethora of Latin American former presidents saying now let's put an end to this war on drugs, let's legalize or decriminalize and put this in the public health sphere. You don't agree with that, I know. Why?

COSTA: No, you are not right, and I'm sorry to correct my interviewer.


COSTA: I am certainly in agreement with the notion of not criminalizing or penalizing addicts. They are sick people who need to be put in the hospital and not in hospital. But certainly, I am very tough and hard on traffickers, on those who extract thousands of millions, billions of dollars out of the suffering and the pain of those who are indeed addicted.


COSTA: Two different problems.

ANDERSON: And I stand corrected, and I don't take offense by any stretch of the imagination. It's always a pleasure to talk to you, and let's do more on this, because this is a subject which is not going away. Thank you sir.

Plenty more on the website. You can read a piece by Anabel Hernandez where she talks about her work and the danger that she faces. Also, there is a piece penned by the former UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan and the Brazilian -- former Brazilian president calling for a new strategy on the war on drugs, as I have just suggested,

Live from London, this is CONNECT THE WORLD. Coming up, he dropped a bombshell on residents of his city, but Toronto mayor Rob Ford still won't resign. Can he regain the public's trust?

It's a city built on islands and connected by more than 300 bridges. Find out how this jewel of the north comes alive at night. That up next.


ANDERSON: Known as the Venice of the North, St. Petersburg is made up of a cluster of islands connected by more than 300 bridges. Now, some of these are drawbridges that open up in the dead of the summer night to let cargo ships through, turning what is a sparkling city into a Gateway to Russia.


ANDERSON (voice-over): Founded as Russia's imperial capital, St. Petersburg is a maritime city that sits on the banks of the River Neva.

ANDERSON (on camera): St. Petersburg is spread across a cluster of islands connected by more than 300 bridges. Of those, 13 are like the drawbridge behind me, and it is at night that these centuries-old structures come to life.

ANDERSON (voice-over): For the past 34 years, engineer Sergey Matveev has been the custodian of the Palace Bridge, a trade that has become a family tradition.

SERGEY MATVEEV, SR., ENGINEER, PALACE BRIDGE (through translator): The Palace Bridge is under my control. The Tuchkov Bridge is under the control of my eldest son, and the Trinity Bridge is under the control of my youngest son and wife.

ANDERSON: His eldest son works only a few minutes away.

SERGEY MATVEEV, JR., ENGINNER, TUCHKOV BRIDGE (through translator): I've been here for more than ten years. My brother and I grew up on the bridge, so when it was time to choose where to work, there wasn't much of a choice for me.

ANDERSON: Tonight is quieter than most. The bridges all rise to let only a handful of cargo vessels through. An oil tanker has already left the port, gliding silently down the river.

ANDERSON (on camera): We are on the bridge of the oil tanker the Volgaflot 7, which has just started its three-hour passage across the city. This is Captain Sergey Barisov. Just how challenging is this part of the journey?

SERGEY BARISOV, CAPTAIL, VOLGAFLOT 7 (through translator): This section is the most challenging. The bridges are very narrow and the passage is difficult. Time to pass through is limited.

ANDERSON (voice-over): In the height of summer, up to 40 ships per night make their journey connecting the Baltic with the rest of Russia. It's crucial these bridges rise on time.

MATEEV, JR. (through translator): If, God forbid, a vessel arrives and we're not able to lift the bridge up in time, then the vessel will have to work against the currents and maneuver in one place.

BARISOV (through translator): All the ships are now lined up and ready as we wait for the bridges to be drawn.

ANDERSON: With precision, skill, and coordination, they rise one after the other.

ANDERSON (on camera): It's 2:00 in the morning and we've just passed one of the bridges that's been raised to let the night cargo through. Now, 9 million tons of freight travel this way every year between May and November.

ANDERSON (voice-over): It's a sight Sergey Matveev never tires of.

MATVEEV, SR. (through translator): I think the bridges are a symbol of St. Petersburg, both in the past and in the present. In the past, apart from street lanterns, there were no other additional lights. Now, it looks more beautiful.

ANDERSON: Some things may have changed since the drawbridges were first constructed, but they remain essential and charming portals to and from St. Petersburg. As the city sleeps and the bridges close, no more ships shall pass.


ANDERSON: And coming up after this short break on CONNECT THE WORLD, the remarkable things that some politicians seem to be able to get away with. As one Canadian mayor admits to smoking crack, we explore what it takes for voters to forgive.


ANDERSON: In what was a bombshell confession, and now a political defiance, it's been a busy couple of days for the mayor of Toronto, Canada, Rob Ford, after he admitted to smoking crack cocaine. He insists he's still there and has the public's trust, but the Ontario Premier is calling on police and prosecutors to take action. Paula Newton reports.


ROB FORD, MAYOR OF TORONTO: These allegations are ridiculous.

PAULA NEWTON, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): After months of bold-faced denials --

FORD: I do not use crack cocaine nor am I an addict of crack cocaine.

NEWTON: -- Toronto mayor Rob Ford's confession was as riveting as it was blunt.

FORD: Yes, I have smoked crack cocaine.


FORD: But no -- do I? Am I an addict? No.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: When have you smoked --

FORD: Have a tried it? Probably in one of my drunken stupors probably approximately about a year ago.

NEWTON: And there it was, the sordid truth that this mayor could no longer outrun. Months of secret police surveillance of Ford was made public last week in connection with the arrest of the mayor's friend and part-time driver. Sandro Lisi faces drug offenses as well as extortion charges, but police say so far, the mayor isn't charged with anything.

Police did confirm that they have a video, the one that allegedly shows Mayor Ford smoking crack cocaine from a pipe. And Mayor Ford says he wants to see it.

FORD: I want everyone in the city to see this tape. I'd like to see this tape. I don't even recall there being a tape and a video, and I know that, so I want to see the state that I was in.

NEWTON: But now, Mayor Ford says he's put it all out there, he's looking for forgiveness.

FORD: I have nothing left to hide. I embarrassed everyone in this city. And I will be forever sorry.

NEWTON: He had a lot to say except the words "I'm stepping down."

FORD: I was elected to do a job, and that's exactly what I'm going to continue doing.

NEWTON: He intends to run for mayor again next fall.

Paula Newton, CNN, Toronto.


ANDERSON: Well, it is by no means the first time the mayor of a leading North American city has gotten into trouble for smoking crack cocaine. In 1990, let me remind you, Washington, DC mayor Marion Barry arrested after the FBI secretly filmed him puffing a crack pipe. But in a remarkable turn of events, he returned to politics after a stint in prison and is now a member of the DC City Council.

It's not always about drugs. Jerry Springer might be better known for his outlandish TV show, but back in 1974, he was forced to resign from Cincinnati's City Council after admitting to hiring a prostitute. His honesty about the incident helped him win back his seat in 1975, let me tell you, by a landslide.

And remember Bob Filner? Well, earlier this year, he was forced to resign only months after being elected as mayor of San Diego after 17 women accused him of sexual harassment.

So, how do voters choose -- or why do voters choose to forgive some politicians embroiled in controversy and not others, and what's the best public relations advice for a mayor under fire?

To help me decipher all of this, I'm joined by Ben Page, he's the CEO of Ipsos Mori, which is a leading market research company here in the UK. Were you surprised by the mayor's admission, but then his decision not to stand down?

BEN PAGE, CEO, IPSOS MORI: Well, I think he's got quite a lot of faith, hasn't he? He's just -- he's borne it out for months, now. He's going to wait now -- he'll hang on by his fingernails until, I guess, if he gets arrested or something, and that's the only thing, I would suggest, that's going to make him stand down, as far as I can tell from that individual.

ANDERSON: As we have been suggesting, he is by no means the first to get himself into trouble and probably won't be the last.

PAGE: Almost certainly not. And they seem to have a habit of it, really, don't they? I think the thing about politicians, though, people actually, although we all want politicians to be squeaky clean and everything else, actually, the public are more forgiving than we might think, and contrition is very important.

You've talked about a whole set of politicians, some of whom said "sorry" and got reelected. But people like Hugh Grant, had a major indiscretion in Hollywood, he comes on, he's very sorry and everything else, and he's rehabilitated. You can't keep doing it. But everybody does actually have a stock of "sorrys," and maybe Rob Ford is using one of his.

ANDERSON: Yes, Hugh Grant's one thing. What about a president, like Bill Clinton. I mean, he had --


PAGE: Well, Bill Clinton --

ANDERSON: -- his own problems, didn't he?

PAGE: -- he's now at the moment, he seems to be a respected elder statesman, trooping the world, raising millions for charity. And yet, he appeared to have problems keeping his trousers on.

George Bush seemed to drink quite a lot in the past, I heard, but again, became president. So, you are allowed some mistakes.



PAGE: But hypocrisy is the thing --

ANDERSON: -- so what do voters, do you think, care about -- I was going to say -- yes --

PAGE: Yes.

ANDERSON: What do they care about? Is it hypocrisy? Does it have to a criminal offense before people are upset and concerned by it, although you can pop back? What have you found are the things that people really just say, you know what? Red line. Not up for this.

PAGE: Well, I think there are -- I'm sure that -- get into list out every single crime and misdemeanor. But there are -- if it's sort of human things, which lots of people do: an infidelity, drunkenness, I'm not sure about crack pipes. But those sort of things, actually, most people know somebody who's done those things.

ANDERSON: So, how do these politicians and these men and ladies in the -- who make the front page, how do they bounce back?

PAGE: Well, you say "sorry." You try and put some space behind. And of course you try and move on. And actually, that's what he's doing now. He's saying, actually, "OK, maybe I was sort of a bit drunk and all this, but I'm doing my best for the city, and I'm very sorry. And I'm not going to do it again."

ANDERSON: Do you think that there are times when power goes to one's head?

PAGE: Yes. I think people are so -- often so removed from the normal mores, shall we say, that in the end -- and also, people who get into politics, it's -- politics is a risky business. You get kicked out of office just like that. And so, generally, they're a bit more -- less risk- averse, perhaps, than some people.

But ultimately, it is going to be about saying sorry, and if you're otherwise competent, otherwise OK, people will give you, well, the first time at least, some benefit of the doubt.

ANDERSON: Fascinating, thank you.

PAGE: Not at all.

ANDERSON: Well, how would you react if the mayor of your city was caught using illegal drugs, and what are the conditions for forgiving politicians caught red-handed? We've heard some.

What do you think? The team at CONNECT THE WORLD wants to hear from you, You can always have your say, as you know, @BeckyCNN, your thoughts, please, @BeckyCNN.

Tonight's Parting Shots just before we go, stunning footage showing ice climbers -- stay, you've got to see this -- ice climbers scaling Norway's ice falls at night. These structures are actually frozen waterfalls. The waters freeze in mid-flow when the winter weather sets in, I am told. Some measure up to 500 meters tall.

And to jazz it up, they use colorful lamps and floodlights to capture the ice like it's never been seen before. Something you'd do in your spare time?


ANDERSON: No. Neither do I. But good for them. It looks very scary, but also just lots of fun.

I'm Becky Anderson, that was CONNECT THE WORLD. From the team here and in Atlanta, thank you for watching. A very good evening. CNN continues.