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CONNECT THE WORLD

Egyptian Vote On New Constitution Today; Nigeria Passes Anti- Homosexuality Law; Attack Leaves Russian Gay Man Blind In One Eye; Obama to Unveil NSA Reforms; French President Faces Press; Way Forward for France; EU Immigration Issues

Aired January 14, 2014 - 15:00   ET

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


BECKY ANDERSON, HOST: Well, tonight a vote for the future or a step backwards. Egyptians take part in the first ballot since the military overthrow of President Mohamed Morsy. I'm going to ask the head of the body that drafted this new constitution if today's vote paves the way for this man, Egypt's army chief, to run for president.

Also ahead...

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

FRANCOIS HOLLANDE, PRESIDENT OF FRANCE (through translator): I have one principle, that is that private affairs are dealt with in private.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

ANDERSON: Francois Hollande ducks questions about an alleged affair, but will stories about his personal life distract him from the affairs of state?

And the heat is on Down Under quite literally. How some players at the Australian Open are complaining about the extreme temperatures.

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

ANDERSON: A very good evening to a landmark referendum in Egypt. First this evening, the people's first say on their own future since last year's military coup. Security is tight for what is a two-day vote on a new draft constitution. Amongst other things, it would ban religious parties and strengthen the power of the military.

But it's important to note that the vote is also considered a referendum on the army's handling of the democratic transition as well as the popularity of the army chief Abdel Fatah al-Sisi. He may end up running for president.

Well, a constitution is expected to easily pass despite a boycott by the Muslim Brotherhood.

Sporadic clashes broke out today between Brotherhood supporters and security forces. At least six people were killed.

Well, let's get more now on the first day of voting. Reza Sayah joins us live from Cairo.

Reza there, what's the mood?

REZA SAYAH, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: We're seeing a variety of moods, Becky, throughout the day. We saw joy, elation, celebration from Egyptians who supported this constitution, support the army chief General Abdel Fatah al-Sisi. We saw anger from Egyptians aimed at others suspected of speaking out against the constitution and probably because of that, we also saw some fear. People are afraid to speak out that they are against the constitution. And finally we sensed some apathy and resignation from Egyptians who are convinced that Egypt is going backwards, back to the Mubarak era in a state dominated by the police and the military when there was only one narrative. And going against that narrative could be bad for your health.

So, those are the moods that we observe. Let's tell you what we observed on the streets.

Voting day started out ominously: a bomb blast in front of a courthouse in Cairo. There was a lot of people concerned that there are some groups that want to disrupt this two-day referendum. That was the intention clearly with this bomb blast. The bomb in front of this courthouse. No one killed, no one injured, but certainly the message was clear.

Authorities also say at least eight people were killed in violence throughout Egypt in polling stations throughout the country.

Obviously this military-backed government wants a strong turnout to boost its credibility and its legitimacy. It's hard to say how many people turned out today.

Earlier in the morning when we were at polling stations we saw some relatively long lines, but during the evening hours we saw several polling station that were nearly empty.

Day two of the referendum is tomorrow. This is a milestone day for this country that struggled to establish this identity ever since the 2011 revolution in -- this is a defining moment for this country and where it goes based on the outcome of this referendum.

ANDERSON: Well, Reza Sayah is in Cairo in Egypt for you. Reza, thank you for that.

Once past that, Egypt's new constitution will replace that which was approved by referendum in 2012, you'll remember seven months before the military ousted President Mohamed Morsy.

So let's go through some of the main features and see just how it differs from the 2012 version.

The preamble calls for the creation of what is called a civilian government. Now that word civilian is interesting as it is taken to mean the future government should have neither a religious nor military identity.

Hold that thought.

Similar to the previous charter, the new one also states that the principles of Islamic law are the basis for legislation, but it removes the old document's precise definitions of those principles that some had argued could be used to enact stricter Islamic law.

Three, it also deletes a reference to a role for Al Azhar, the country's main Islamic institution in overseeing legislation.

Both constitutions effectively shield the military budget from legislative oversight, but a key clause in the 2014 version gives the armed forces the right to name the defense minister over the next two presidential terms. And that places the military above any civilian oversight for eight years.

The new charter also bans political activity based on religion. That is bad news for movements like the Muslim Brotherhood or the ultraconservative Salafi Parties, but there are changes, because some of these will be considered negative.

There are changes that had been welcome. For the first time lawmakers will be able to remove a president and call for early elections if they have a two-thirds majority and after a public referendum.

And the new charter is generally seen as being more clear about gender equality stating that women and men are equal.

Well, critics say the constitution gives way too much power to the military, troubling giving Egypt's long history, of course, as a police state.

Well, CNN spoke earlier with HA Hallyer, a Middle East expert with the Brookings Institution. And he explained why the new constitution will be approved and what's really behind the public support.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

H.A. HELLYER, BROOKINGS INSTITUTION: Today's vote is not on these articles that you have gone through over the last few minutes, it's on stability, it's on how you feel about the Muslim Brotherhood and how you feel about the military. And a big part of it does have to be considered for stability and hoping that if the referendum passes, which invariably it will do, the economic situation will improve and people's lives on a very material level will get better. That's what people I think are far more interested and about today.

The revolutionary camp is quite small in Egypt. Those who rejected the moves by the Muslim Brotherhood during Morsy's tenure and the military now and the military over the last few years are a very small camp. And at the moment they don't have critical mass.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

ANDERSON: All right. Well, the veteran diplomat Amir Moussa headed the commission that drafted this new constitution. You may remember him as the former Secretary-General of the Arab League. I talked to Moussa before the show and asked him if the new constitution meets the demands of Egypt's revolution in 2011.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

AMIR MOUSSA, HEADS COMMISSION THAT DRAFTED CONSTITUTION: It's very clear in that, it talks about rights, about freedoms and about the interests of the people, different groups and the demands of today and of tomorrow.

ANDERSON: How do you answer critics who say that the only thing this constitution does is that it legitimizes the very powerful and unquestioned position of the army in Egypt today? And I know you talk about special circumstances, but assuming the Egyptian economy gets back on its feet, we're not talking about special circumstances, are we, going forward for the next eight years. You would hope that circumstances would be normal again.

MOUSSA: Yes, indeed. And therefore, the clause about the defense minister will have -- will be deleted, because it is for only eight years and two presidential periods. If the progress that you are talking about and we are hoping for and working to achieve produces the results it is certain that the -- this clause will cease to exist.

ANDERSON: Sir, you wrote an opinion pieces...

MOUSSA: So, it is because of the circumstances prevailing in Egypt.

ANDERSON: OK.

You wrote an opinion piece for the New York Times, which I have read, explaining how he constitution maps out a blueprint for an inclusive democratic Egypt. I'd like to read our viewers a part of that. You said, "you're committee of 50 gave every one a seat at the table. Talk that the process left out critical religious voices in inaccurate. An invitation was extended to all Islamic groups including the Muslim Brotherhood. Of the parties of political Islam, only the Salafist Al Nour responded, the Muslim Brotherhood did not."

Well, this begs the question, sir, didn't you ban the Muslim Brotherhood? How could they possibly get involved in an inclusive process if they've been banned?

MOUSSA: Let me tell you, that they constitution does not exclude any group, any individual, any citizen. The constitution caters to all Egyptians from all walks of life. Muslim Brotherhood members can run for a seat in the parliament or field candidates in the parliamentary elections or presidential elections. The constitution differs sharply from the previous one, which is called the Muslim Brotherhood constitution that it excluded, it banned members of the previous regime, previous to them previous regime from participating, from running for parliament, for running for elections. This constitution did not do that. This constitution opens the door for all citizens, including representatives or members of the Muslim Brotherhood to run and to enjoy all those rights.

ANDERSON: If the defense minister and military leader al-Sisi were to run for president, would you support him?

MOUSSA: Yes. I would. He would run as an independent candidate and former officer, not -- he's not going to run as the commander in chief of the army, he will run as a citizen that has the right to run and a former officer in the army.

This has to be clear for everybody. It is not the commander in chief that is running for elections, but a former commander. And this has happened in America and every -- in so many other places.

ANDERSON: You think he will run? You're convinced?

MOUSSA: I really believe that he is going to run, but I cannot tell you that he has told me so. But all indications lead to that. Let us to see within the next few days or a week or so what kind of decision he's going to take.

First of all, he has to resign his post as commander in chief. Second, he has to express his desire and take all the necessary procedures to put his candidatures into effect.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

ANDERSON: Amir Moussa there. Interesting stuff.

Well, a final word tonight on Egypt as we've said this new constitution gives considerable power to the military. But you may be surprised to hear that some 70 percent of Egyptians support army rule that is according to a new study. You can read about that at the website CNN.com/international.

Right, still to come this evening. It is 12 minutes past -- it is 12 minutes past 8:00 out of London. The president and the press: Francois Hollande faces questions of his private life and claims he had an affair.

Nigeria bans gay marriage as well as gay clubs and societies in an act of legislation the U.S. calls dangerous for all Nigerians.

And back on the streets of Bangkok, Thai protesters try to drive the prime minister out of office. That and much more after this.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

ANDERSON: Welcome back.

Now embattled New Jersey Governor Chris Christie is about to give his state of the state address as it is known. And these are live pictures from Trenton, New Jersey. Christie is on the defensive and under investigation on two fronts. Officials examining whether his aids may have cause gridlock on a major bridge to get back at a mayor who refused to back his reelection bid.

Now he's also facing a federal probe over whether funds donated for Superstorm Sandy recovery were misused.

Let me tell you why this is important, he's not just a local state politician in the U.S., he is the frontrunning the candidate, effectively ,without having actually launched a campaign, for the Republican Party in 2016. So this is a man who could be enormous news not just domestically, but internationally post-2016.

But it seems it is open season on Mr. Christie at present. He has a lot of allegations to answer. A lot of questions need answering -- here he comes. He's walking towards the podium as we speak. And as we said, it's going to be what's known as this state of the state address, some calling it the state of the bridge address this time.

Difficult times for this man.

We're going to come back to this story for you. He's taking some time, of course, to -- as politicians are want to do -- to get up there. And I don't suppose for a moment he's going to start talking straight away.

So let's get you some other stories. Let's get back to Chris Christie as he launches himself into his speech in a few moments.

Up to 300 women and children were killed when an overloaded ferry capsized in South Sudan. The accident happened on the White Nile River in the northeast of the country on Saturday. And army spokesman says they were trying to get away from the violence that has gripped the nation for weeks.

At least 17 people have been killed in -- by an attack in northeastern Nigeria. The car bomb exploded near a post office in the city of Medugris (Ph) and is the birth place of the militant group Boko Haram who officials suspect are being the attack.

There were no immediate claims of responsibility.

Thousands of anti-government protesters are back on the streets of Bangkok. They have marched on government buildings and blocked major road intersections calling for the prime minister there to step down. Saima Mohsin sends this report from the midst of what is the Bangkok shutdown.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

SAIMA MOHSIN, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: And this is the moment that everybody sitting in this protest has been waiting for, Subat Taxiban (ph), the protest leader addressing the crowd. He's been doing this throughout the two-day protest so far, visiting each stage of the seven major intersections they've chosen to blockade.

Take a look at this crowd here. People from all walks of life, young and old, some people coming straight from work have chosen to camp out here.

There are, I don't know if you can see in the distance there, some mosquito netted tents as well. The people have been spending the night here.

This is a really busy area for Bangkok. A lot of tourists might be familiar with it, a shopping district. And because of that -- a lot of people here really cheering their leader -- a lot of shops have had to shut down. These department stores, many of them international brands, have chosen to shutter down tonight in response to this protest.

Usually, they stay open to 10:00 or 11:00 at night. Today, they've shut early.

But on the flip side, many traders who are store holders usually on this strip doing a roaring trade.

The protesters say they will not go until the government steps down. They are unequivocal. Yingluck Shinawatra, prime minister's office, called Wednesday. Protesters are saying (inaudible).

Saima Mohsin, CNN, Bangkok, Thailand.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

ANDERSON: A Chinese doctor has received a suspended death sentence for child trafficking. The maternity doctor worked at a hospital in Shaanxi Province. She was convicted of selling seven babies to a trafficking ring. And David McKenzie has been on this story for awhile. More now from Beijing.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

DAVID MCKENZIE, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: It was a scandal that rocked China, a doctor who tricked parents in giving up their newborns and then sold them to traffickers throughout the country. And now that doctor has been sentenced.

She told mothers that their newborns had congenital defects. But when one mother got suspicious, it exposed the scam, and the country was gripped by extraordinary scenes of reunion.

When we visited the center of the scandal in Fuping, parents told us they believed the doctor because she was from their community.

"We trusted her so much," this father told us. "How could she be so cruel and sell our babies."

Just days later, they were reunited with their twins.

The court heard that Zhang Shuxia sold seven babies for around $3,000 each to traffickers across the country. They then sold them to desperate Chinese couples.

Zhang received a suspended death sentence. In China, it could mean life in prison. She probably avoided execution by confessing her crimes.

State media has hailed it a victory against trafficking.

China says it's tackling human trafficking head on, but the country was actually downgraded by the U.S. State Department last year in its annual trafficking report, giving it the worst possible rating.

David McKenzie, CNN, Beijing.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

ANDERSON: I want to get you to Trenton in New Jersey now. Chris Christie, the embattled New Jersey governor making his state of the state speech. Let's listen in.

GOV. CHRIS CHRISTIE, (R) NEW JERSEY: To remember that, four years ago right now, we were in the throes of an economic crisis, today, our unemployment rate is 7.8 percent. That is the lowest in five years. ??

(APPLAUSE)??

ANDERSON: Right. And as Governor Chris Christie talks about the state of his state, just a couple of lines that come out from what he said as he's been talking in the last five minutes.

He said the last week has certainly tested this administration. Mistakes were clearly made, he said, and as a result we let down the people that we were entrusted to serve. I know our citizens deserve better, much better -- an apology there from the governor.

Today the state, he said, is good and getting better.

This is a man who has been under pressure on two fronts, a saga about a traffic logjam on a bridge and accusations that that was done because a local mayor didn't support him, a local mayor from one of the other -- from the Democrat Party, this is a Republican governor, of course. And indeed now allegations over what happened to funds after Sandy -- Hurricane Sandy.

All right, we're going to get back to this as and when we get -- the importance of this speech, of course, is this man could be the serious frontrunner for the Republican Party come the presidential elections in 2016.

You're in London, this is Connect the World. I'm Becky Anderson.

Coming up, his eyes turned to Russia ahead of the Sochi Winter Games. We'll find out how life has changed for gay people in the country since the introduction of its homosexual propaganda law.

Also ahead, France's president tries to focus on the economy while reports of an affair swirl around him. The latest from Paris. That's coming up as well.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

ANDERSON: Well, Nigeria has banned same-sex marriage and civil unions. President Goodluck Jonathan signed the bill into law, bringing with it a ban on people running gay clubs or societies.

Well, U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry has called the legislation dangerous. And the U.S. ambassador to the United Nations says it was a big setback for human rights for all Nigerians.

Vladimir Duthiers has more from Lagos.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

VLADIMIR DUTHIERS, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: A big setback for human rights for all Nigerians, that's what the U.S. ambassador to the UN, Samantha Power, tweeted in response to a new law signed by President Goodluck Jonathan that punishes same-sex relationships with prison time.

Under the law, anyone in a same-sex marriage or union would face up to 14 years behind bars.

Gay partnerships reached overseas are also banned and would be considered void in Nigeria.

Other gay rights related offenses, including being a member of a gay rights group, or public display of a same-sex relationship can land you in jail for 10 years.

Nigeria is among nearly 40 other African countries that criminalized consensual same-sex conduct. And while this law is not as severe as the one passed by Uganda last month, which punishes certain homosexual acts with a life sentence, Nigeria's has still drawn international condemnation. In a statement, U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry said, quote, "the law dangerous restricts freedom of assembly, association and expression for all Nigerians. Moreover, it is inconsistent with Nigeria's international legal obligations and undermines democratic reforms and human rights protections enshrined in its 1999 constitution."

Now the UN high commissioner for human rights Navi Pillay called it, quote, "draconian." Saying, quote, "rarely have I seen a piece of legislation that in so few paragraphs directly violates so many basic universal human rights."

But Nigerians overwhelmingly support this law. It's one of the least tolerant nations in the world when it comes to homosexuality. Fewer than 1 in 10 Nigerians say homosexuality should be accepted by society, according to a 2013 Pew Research study.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: When I heard about this, I thought the western world would so much pressurize us to start (inaudible), but hearing that the president sign against (inaudible). I'm very glad that he could stand his feet and stand against such a taboo. Because I mean, it's un-African. We don't want such thing in our country. I'm so happy that he signed against it.

DUTHIERS: And so for a president battling a growing terrorist threat in the northeast, poverty, corruption and a host of other challenges, the signing of this bill can be seen as a way to rally many Nigerians around a common cause, even if many in the international community see it as stripping away the human rights of Nigeria's gay community.

Vladimir Duthiers, CNN, Lagos.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

ANDERSON: Well, with the Winter Olympics approaching Sochi in Russia there's growing international reaction against a Russian law that bans so- called gay propaganda aimed at minors. Phil Black spoke to the victim of what was a brutal homophobic attack about his fears that the Russian law is promoting violence against the country's gay community.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

PHIL BLACK, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: When we meet Dmitry Chizhevsky, he still has a pellet from a pneumatic gun lodged in his left eye. He has received terrible news.

DMITRY CHIZHEVSKY, ASSAULT VICTIM: The doctor said I will not see by this eye.

BLACK: Chizhevsky is gay. He has no doubt that's why he was shot and beaten by two masked men during a meeting with friends.

CHIZHEVSKY: I don't remember such attacks to meetings in Russia before.

BLACK: This is where it happened, the office of Le Sky (ph), an organization that helps HIV positive gay men.

Anya (ph) tells me there are about 20 people here for a regular social event when the attackers pushed past her through the entrance, swinging a bat and firing a pneumatic gun. A pellet like this left Dmitry Chizhevsky blind in one eye.

Does this make you think about leaving Russia?

CHIZHEVSKY: Yes. My mom ask me very hard ask me to leave Russia.

BLACK: Chizhevsky and many other gay people in Russia say hatred and violence towards them has escalated since the introduction this summer of the gay propaganda law, which makes it illegal to speak positively about gay relationships to children.

Chizhevsky says there will be more attacks, because of the message politicians are sending.

CHIZHEVSKY: They're telling people that we are not human and it's awful.

BLACK: Gay people in St. Petersburg, more so than in other Russian cities, believe they have a true sense of community here. They're organized. They have social and support groups and they say that's why they're shocked by this attack. They do not believe it was random or opportunistic, but rather deliberately designed to intimidate the whole community.

This is where members of that community come to learn tango. And even here, people tell us the attack has made them feel nervous and vulnerable. These are not gay rights activists, they're just having fun on a Thursday night, but they say groups like this are also an important support network during an increasingly dark time for gay men and lesbians in Russia.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I would describe out community as a kind of family. And we've become really close, too, in this period.

BLACK: These dancers still hope to one day compete with straight couples in local competitions. Dmitry Chizhevsky is also trying to be optimistic.

CHIZHEVSKY: I'm trying to believe that Russia will be a country with peace and where we can live together.

BLACK: In a country of surging intolerance, such hopes are becoming more distant.

Phil Black, CNN, St. Petersburg.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

ANDERSON: The latest world news headlines are just ahead at the bottom of the hour, as you would expect, plus French president Francois Hollande faces the media over his alleged affair with an actress.

And later in the show, this is a very hot Australian Open, but is it too hot to actually play? That after this.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

ANDERSON: Egyptians have one more day to take part in a nationwide referendum. This is our top story. Voting began Tuesday on a new constitution endorsed by the military-backed interim government. Amongst other things, it would ban religious parties, guarantee equality for women, and give the military considerable powers.

There's been fresh reports of violence in the Iraqi capital Baghdad and near the city of Falluja, which has been experiencing relative calm after more than a week of fierce fighting. Security forces, tribal fighters, and al Qaeda-linked militants have been battling.

Russia has struck a deal to double the electrical power production at Hungary's only nuclear plant. Moscow agreed to invest up to $14 billion to expand the Paks plant about 100 kilometers south of Budapest.

And let's get you to live pictures from Trenton, New Jersey, in the state where embattled governor Chris Christie has admitted mistakes were made. Christie, a leading Republican contender for president in 2016 says that he will cooperate with the investigations he's facing after two recent scandals.

Officials are looking to determine if his staff staged traffic gridlock at America's busiest bridge to settle a political score. Questions also being asked over a possible misuse of Super Storm Sandy relief funds.

US president Barack Obama has some troubles of his own he hopes to put behind him. He's expected to introduce reforms to the National Security Agency's controversial spying programs on Friday. But some critics and world leaders are still concerned the changes won't go far enough to protect people's privacy. Brianna Keilar reports.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

BRIANNA KEILAR, CNN SENIOR WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): President Obama meeting up with yet another leader of a country upset with US spying: this time, Spanish president Mariano Rajoy Brey for the first time since it came to light in October that the NSA reportedly scooped up information about 60 million phone calls made by Spanish citizens.

"The explanations were satisfactory," Rajoy said, "as long as there are no new developments." It comes as President Obama finalizes reforms that he will detail on Friday.

KEILAR (on camera): Where's he at in that process? Are those decisions complete?

JAY CARNEY, WHITE HOUSE PRESS SECRETARY: They are near completion. He is finishing his work and will be doing so for the next several days. So we're not quite concluded yet in that process, but coming close.

KEILAR (voice-over): The president has signaled an openness to some changes, especially spying on allies.

BARACK OBAMA, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Just because we can do something doesn't mean we necessarily should.

KEILAR: And the White House is considering several other reforms, including an improved system for issuing security clearances and limiting access to classified information, a response to NSA leaker Edward Snowden's easy access to vast amounts of classified data.

Also, new transparency reports that detail how many times the NSA queries phone companies and how many people have their records pulled. But the president has defended much of the intelligence-gathering.

OBAMA: We believed that we had scrubbed these programs and struck an appropriate balance.

KEILAR: Even though outside experts wonder if the programs really helped. A new analysis of 225 individuals linked to al Qaeda and charged with terrorism since September 11 says NSA bulk surveillance programs, quote, "had no discernible impact on preventing acts of terrorism." And a review of intelligence-gathering ordered by the president said the meta data collection was "not essential."

KAREN GREENBERG, DIRECTOR, FORDHAM CENTER ON NATIONAL SECURITY: Do we want to live in just-in-case society where they have everything they want and they can say to the American people we want to do this just in case. That's really what we're talking about.

KEILAR (on camera): These studies show traditional intelligence- gathering, such as informants and tips, generate the best information. But White House officials argue that the meta data gathering, having a store of phone calls where you can see where a call originates, where it ends, and identify a phone number, helps connect the dots.

Brianna Keilar, CNN, the White House.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

ANDERSON: Oh to be a politician. It really is a week this week when, I'm sure, these leaders wish they weren't, as it were. French president Francois Hollande faced the press today for the first time since allegations of an affair surfaced. Now, with the country's first lady in hospital, he tried to keep the focus on the French economy, but the first question he faces was over his personal life. More now from CNN's senior international correspondent Jim Bittermann.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

JIM BITTERMANN, CNN SENIOR EUROPEAN CORRESPONDENT: President Hollande clearly wanted to get his message out about his reset of economic policy, and he did do that in a two-and-a-half-hour news conference.

But there were a handful of questions about his private life, including the first one, in which the journalist pointed out that he has a trip planned to the United States for a state dinner with President and Michelle Obama and that the Obamas have invited President Hollande and the first lady, Valerie Trierweiler. And the question was, is Trierweiler still the first lady?

FRANCOIS HOLLANDE, PRESIDENT OF FRANCE (through translator): Everybody in their personal lives can go through hardship. That is our case. These are painful moments, but I have one principle: that private affairs are dealt with in private with respective intimacy of each other. Therefore, this is not the place nor the time to do this.

BITTERMANN: Hollande went on to say that he would give an answer about whether Trierweiler will go to Washington sometime before that trip takes place. He also said that at no point during any of his travels, either the public ones or the private ones, has his security been in danger.

And when he was asked about the health of Valerie Trierweiler, who's been in the hospital since Friday, he said simply, "She's resting."

Jim Bittermann, CNN, Paris.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

ANDERSON: Hollande's alleged affair has captured headlines around Europe in recent days. Let's take a look for you. The French daily, "Le Monde," well, you'd expect this to have made front and center, and it did. The headline says "Hollande promises to clarify his marital status."

Spain's highest-circulation paper, "El Pais," is focused on how Hollande's alleged affair may have compromised his security. And the German tabloid "Bild" calls the scandal Hollande's "relationship crisis" and quotes the president as saying, "We are living through painful moments."

While the spotlight remains firmly on Hollande's private life, the president himself did here try to shift the focus to the French economy today. Given the lack of recent growth and an unemployment rate above 10 percent, there is certainly cause for concern.

I asked the European Commission vice president, Viviane Reding, before this show how France can find its way back from the brink of recession. This is what she told me.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

VIVIANE REDING, VICE PRESIDENT OF THE EUROPEAN COMMISSION: The European Commission, as you know, analyzes all the national budgets before they go to the national parliaments, and we make our recommendations in that sense.

We have made these recommendations also for France, and we have called for very strategic fundamental reforms in France. We just hope that the French president and its government will hear these calls, because yes, we do need a strong French economy in a strong European economy.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

ANDERSON: Well, concerns over that economy and migration within the European Union are making headlines on a weekly basis. On January the 1st, Bulgarians and Romanians gained the same rights as other EU citizens to live and work throughout the European Union.

Here in the UK, the British prime minister, David Cameron, says migrant numbers are, and I quote him, "out of control" and debate swirling in the UK over whether to limit migrant access to benefits. Well, Viviane Reding told me the states can't pick and choose when it comes to the single market.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

REDING: You can always say things which are unrealistic, but let's go back to real realism. The border controls and to whom you are giving social help, social security, those are member states' responsibilities. So, if you are very open to give care benefits to everybody who puts a foot on your continent, then of course, the ticket will be very expensive.

Now, free movement is a European decision. Social security is a national decision. Let the national states do their job and let Europe all together do their job.

ANDERSON: Yes, but surely that's what David Cameron is asking for, he's asking for the national states to do their job.

REDING: It is unrealistic to think that you can change the rules of the single market. The single market has freedoms, the freedom of free circulation of capital, of goods, of services, and of people, and you cannot pick and choose on this. Britain has given its signature for the whole single market and not for a piecemeal single market.

ANDERSON: What of an upcoming British European referendum. What are your thoughts on that?

REDING: The British referendum is an absolutely British affair, and this has nothing to do with European politics. That has to be clarified by the British people.

ANDERSON: So, you'd be happy to see the UK opt out, would you, going forward?

REDING: I'm happy to see nothing. I am the one who is responsible to keep that Europe together, to see that 28 nations can work and thrive together in order to become more strong at the world scene.

And that is exactly what I would like to hand over to the next generation, not a fragmented Europe with nothing to say where others impose their say on the Europeans, but a strong Europe with one voice, which counts on the world scene.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

ANDERSON: A wide-ranging discussion, there, with Viviane Reding.

Live from London, you're watching CONNECT THE WORLD. I'm Becky Anderson. They not only have to beat their opponents, they also have to beat the heat, it seems. Coming up, how players are coping at the Australian Open. And how one woman refused to be a political wallflower. More on that and her after this.

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ANDERSON: She is a lawyer, a philanthropist, and a mother who spent decades in the spotlight. In fact, for ten years, Cherie Blair was best known as Britain's first lady. But rather than being just that, as it were, Mrs. Blair successfully carved out her own stellar career.

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ANDERSON (voice-over): As a known global figure and wife of former British prime minister Tony Blair, Cherie Blair is used to the spotlight. I met her at the old courtroom building at Gray's Inn in London where trained as a barrister. It's a place that has great significance for her.

ANDERSON (on camera): How did you meet Tony?

CHERIE BLAIR, FOUNDER, CHERIE BLAIR FOUNDATION FOR WOMEN: I met him first of all here, in this room, when we were both candidates for a scholarship from the Inn. And because he's Blair and I'm Booth, we sat next to each other.

ANDERSON (voice-over): They married in 1980 and spent 24 years in government, including a decade at 10 Downing Street.

ANDERSON (on camera): So, if I asked you how you kept your own voice and your priorities in the foreground during the period of time that Tony was the British prime minister, it was the access to everything else that you hadn't had access to before, perhaps.

BLAIR: That helped. And also, I continued with my career. And that was something that I think people hadn't expected me to do. But in the law courts, in my field, of course, I still could speak for my clients, because the advocate never speaks for themselves, they speak for the clients.

And that gave me an anchor, if you like, and an identity of my own, which was very, very important to me. But at the same time, I was developing this wider perspective and opportunities that I could only have dreamed of in another life.

ANDERSON (voice-over): Cherie Blair grew up north of Liverpool in England and went on to study law at the London School of Economics. She became a barrister in 1976. At the time, she was one of the few women in a male-dominated industry.

ANDERSON (on camera): Can you describe what sort of level of discrimination you faced in those years?

BLAIR: Well, in a sense, it was just the way it was and you just accepted that you were unusual and rather stubborn to be a woman to think you could do that. And so I was just determined to show that I could do it.

ANDERSON (voice-over): And she has, so to speak, done it, recognized as a humanitarian and received numerous awards for her work. For the mother of four, the accolades and the doubts from naysayers are all part of what comes with being a woman.

ANDERSON (on camera): Does the question of how did you get here as a woman annoy you, or do you see some validity in it?

BLAIR: Oh, I absolutely -- it doesn't annoy me at all. I often ask that question myself, and that's why I say, I feel that I was just so lucky, because I could so easily have been born at a different time or a different place and not got anywhere because I wasn't able to use my potential. And it's that, trying to set free the potential of women, that's so important to me.

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ANDERSON: All right. Coming up after this short break on CONNECT THE WORLD, how much heat is too much heat? We'll show you how high temperatures are affecting the Australian Open, or the players, at least, and the fans, as you can see.

And how one person's trash is another person's treasure. A heartwarming tale of a woman being reunited with something incredibly precious. All that and much more after this.

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ANDERSON: A school in Pakistan is being renamed in honor of one of its student. Aitazaz Hassan Bangash was killed when he tackled a suicide bomber outside the school, as you may remember, last week, saving the lives of a number of his schoolmates.

You'll remember this story because we brought it to you here on CNN. The 14-year-old has also been nominated for Pakistan's top bravery honor, and as Ralitsa now tells us, his act of bravery won't be forgotten soon.

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ASAD RAZA, CLASSMATE (through translator): We are very proud of his martyrdom, but we are very saddened by his leaving us.

RALITSA VASSILEVA, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): His classmates and his nation are honoring their new hero, Aitazaz Hassan Bangash. Members of Pakistan's Human Rights Commission visited his family, the latest to pay homage.

The ninth grader died last Monday after stopping a suicide bomber targeting his school, saving hundreds of lives. The school is in a predominantly Shiite area which borders the lawless tribal territories rife with Sunni extremist groups.

Aitazaz and his classmates were at the school gate when they were approached by a suspicious man in school uniform. Aitazaz tried to chase him away with stones. When that didn't work, he tackled him, and died when the bomber detonated the suicide vest.

Even in grief, no one is more proud than his father.

MUJAHID ALI, FATHER (through translator): As soon as I heard about the martyrdom of my son, I thanked Allah Almighty. I am proud of my son, who sacrificed his life and saved the future generation of the country. We are all proud of him.

VASSILEVA: On Monday, the provincial governor laid a wreath at the teen's grave, a wreath from the prime minister. Pakistan's president sent flowers, and the local government announced Aitazaz's school will now bear his name.

Words of praise poured in across the country. In Islamabad, the party of cricketer-turned-politician Imran Khan organized a vigil.

TEHREEK-E-INSAF, LAWMAKER AND SENIOR WING LEADER OF PAKSITAN (PTI) (through translator): We're here to pay tribute to Aitazaz Hassan. We are here to salute his sacrifice. We are here to thank him. He is a martyr, and he has become immortal.

VASSILEVA: On Saturday, came more honors for Aitazaz from high places. A wreath from Pakistan's army chief. And on Friday, Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif recommended him for the Star of Bravery, one of the highest civilian distinctions. The same honor was bestowed to Pakistan's other teenage hero, Malala Yousufzai, who survived a Taliban attack in 2012 for speaking out for girls' education.

The Pakistani media also praised Aitazaz's act of bravery, but asked why isn't the government standing up to the growing militancy the way its children are?

Ralitsa Vassileva, CNN, Atlanta.

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ANDERSON: Uplifting story, isn't it? Well, the heat is on. Players at the Australian Open have their work cut out for them, I've got to tell you, and are now forced to compete under extreme heat. Temperatures have been over 42 degrees Celsius, and players have got to struggle to keep their cool.

World number two, Victoria Azarenka has described playing on court like "dancing in a frying pan." And Frank Dancevic has called conditions "inhumane." The Canadian fainted during his opening match, and he wasn't the only one who suffered from heat stroke. A ball boy also fainted in one of the other courts.

So how long is this hot spell meant to last? Well, Jenny Harrison joins me now, live from the International Weather Center. Whoo, it is hot. Will it continue?

JENNY HARRISON, CNN METEOROLOGIST: It will continue, Becky, unfortunately, yes. In fact, really through Friday. I think Saturday really should bring significant relief to the heat that of course has been building in.

Now, if you remember, it began out across the west. Certainly Friday was really one of the warmest days first of all. But just look at this temperature on Saturday night in Perth. So remember, this is the overnight temperatures, not the daytime high: 29.7, and that was certainly the warmest night ever recorded in Perth. And by day, 43 Celsius.

So, just unbearably hot for obviously most people. And again, another record was broken on Tuesday in Keith in south Australia, 47 degrees Celsius. The average there for this time of year is 30 degrees.

Melbourne, the average is not quite as high this time of year. As you can see, it's 26 degrees Celsius. On Tuesday, reaching 43 degrees, so no wonder all the tennis players are suffering so much.

But for the first time, the Australian Bureau of Meteorology are actually piloting a heat wave forecast. They've not done it quite like this before, so this, as you can see, is where they're showing the heat wave to be in place as you go through Wednesday into Friday. And of course, the areas in red are where they're saying it's most dangerous because the heat is at its most extreme.

So the idea is, they're not just looking at temperatures, but they're really considering how long the heat is in place, the overnight temperatures, the humidity, all these sort of factors to give people a really good gauge as to really whether it is dangerous or not. And as I say, certainly when it lasts for a number of days like it is, that is very significant.

It's 31 Celsius in Melbourne right now. We're at 19 in Canberra. So you can really see how the heat is much more across the south, really. All these areas around the Great Bight, and it's because of this area of high pressure, which is moving towards the east, and that means that the winds are coming through the interiors. So just really, really, pumping in this hot, dry air.

Now, of course, we've seen these pictures already just a moment ago from you there, Becky, but just look at this. Because remember, it is obviously dangerously hot for players doing any sort of exercise, particularly at the level that they do it.

But even for the spectators just sitting there under these blazing skies of just pure sunshine, again, it is very, very dangerous. You need to stay so well-hydrated. And of course, again, here's that same picture that you just saw of this particular tennis player just really trying to cope with it.

So, as we go into Wednesday, there's a little bit more cloud around, but high temperatures still expected to get about 40 Celsius in Melbourne for those players. And again, the overnight low not dipping below about 26 degrees Celsius.

But then, on Thursday, less cloud, and so that means more sunshine and we could certainly see that temperature go up to 41. And remember, when we give you these temperatures, it is always in the shade. So, in the sunshine, feeling even hotter than that and, of course, dangerously so.

But as I say, by Saturday, there's going to be quite a drop in temperatures. So, for example, Melbourne 40, 42 Thursday, Friday. Hopefully, Becky, by Saturday, that temperature should be in the low 20s. So it should feel a lot better. I think it should help to know there is an end in sight.

ANDERSON: Excellent stuff. Jen, thank you for that. And from scorching heat to freezing cold. In tonight's Parting Shots just before we go, how an ice storm led to a heartwarming reunion. Suffering from last week's polar vortex -- remember that? -- a couple in Illinois were struggling to unfreeze their pipes.

Little did they know that something precious had been stuck in one of the pipes for the last five years. So imagine their surprise when they unearthed a diamond and sapphire wedding ring. Yes, after some digging, they confirmed that the ring belonged to the house's previous owner. It's now been returned to them just in time for their 40th anniversary. They were delighted.

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LOUISE HEARNE, LOST WEDDING RING: I was heartsick. I was. And we tore the house apart.

RANDY HEARNE, LOST WEDDING RING: He said that the ring just popped out.

L. HEARNE: So, the sub-zero temperatures, the timing on that was really nice.

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ANDERSON: That's going to save them some money, isn't it? I bet she asked for a ring for her 40th.

So, what do you think about the stories that we've brought you tonight, that we've been doing tonight? You can always get in touch, you know that, facebook.com/CNNconnect. I'm at Twitter @BeckyCNN. That is @BeckyCNN. You can get us on Instagram, search for Becky CNN and you can watch the daily preview of the show.

So, I am Becky Anderson. There you go. That was CONNECT THE WORLD. Thank you for watching. From the team here, it's a very good evening.

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