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CONNECT THE WORLD
UN's Ambitious Plan To Educate 400,000 Syrian Refugee Children; Ukrainian President Sack Ministers; Mohamed Morsy Back On Trial
Aired January 28, 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: And tonight small steps to victory for the Ukrainian opposition as the protest law is scraped and the government quits. Demonstrators still won't go home. Tonight, we'll ask them what exactly it is that they are waiting for.
Also this hour, with just hours to go until the annual State of the Union address, I'll speak to a former speech writer about what goes on behind the scenes in the runup to the U.S. president's big day.
Plus, crumbling palaces and crumbling finances, find out why the queen's household is running out of cash.
ANNOUNCER: Live from CNN London, this is Connect the World with Becky Anderson.
ANDERSON: A very good evening from London.
Activists in Ukraine say they simply are not satisfied with moves by their government to end weeks or protest. President Viktor Yanukovych has accepted the resignation of his prime minister and his cabinet. And lawmakers voted to repeal a controversial recent anti-protest law.
Now the European Union's foreign policy chief Catherine Ashton is, as we speak, en route to Kiev, the very latest let's cross to CNN's Diana Magnay in Kiev. And Diana, just talk us through today's developments if you will.
DIANA MAGNAY, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, two very significant developments, the resignation of the prime minister, the removal of his cabinet, even though they are still acting as the cabinet for now, and the repeal of these anti-protest laws.
But let's not forget that these people came out onto the street more than two months ago for very different reasons. The anti-protest laws only came about on January 16. So the fact that they've been repealed simply reverts things back to the level that they were then.
And also a comment that you'll always hear from people in the square behind me is, you know, we want a different system, we don't just want different faces and the same system.
So yes, the cabinet may have gone -- gone as long as President Yanukovych actually signs this into law, which will mean that figures such as the interior minister, who many people here blame for what they see as an excessive brutality against the protesters here, that he's gone. But for these people, this is just not enough, Becky.
ANDERSON: We are well aware that there is this sort of, you know, positioning by those who were looking to the west and those who are looking to the east in Ukraine. Now Russian President Vladimir Putin was asked about this political shakeup today in Ukraine. Well, he expressed concern over the economic implications of what is a potential turn back towards the European Union, he rejected all international interference in the country. Have a listen to what he says. I want you to give us a sense of how you read this.
Have a listen.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
VLADIMIR PUTIN, RUSSIAN PRESIDENT (through translator): Russia is respecting and will respect the sovereign rights of all international entities, including new states that emerge after the breakdown of the Soviet Union as well as any other nation anywhere in the world.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
ANDERSON: Conciliatory words, and a fairly diplomatic position from the Russian president. Diana, given that just recently this is a man who effectively said we will bail you out, Ukraine's economy is on its knees, or we'll buy your government debt and we'll sort you out so far as gas prices are concerned, do you buy what you've heard from the Russian president today?
MAGNAY: Well, I think you have to take what President Putin says in relation to Ukraine and the idea that you should not interfere in Ukraine's sovereign affairs with a massive pinch of salt, seeing what we did in December with that deal that he struck with President Yanukovych. President Putin said back then that the economy of this country needs a lot more than the $15 billion he'd be giving it if he was to modernize its industrial base to the standards that the EU would require. He knows that the $15 billion he gives, which he now says wasn't given to any specific government, but was a gift to the Ukrainian people is effectively just a sticking plaster that will help through the Ukrainian economy through in the short-term.
And if Ukraine was to look towards the west to the EU to an IMF deal, which would be tied together with this association agreement, it would have to go through some very punishing short-term economic gain for a better long-term economic future if that IMF package does indeed work.
So, I mean, let's not forget also, Becky, President Putin has the Sochi Olympics coming up. He wants to look good in the eyes of the world right now. He's been widely lambasted internationally for meddling in Ukraine's affairs. So it doesn't surprise me at all that he's standing back and saying, look, let them sort if all out and we shouldn't interfere.
ANDERSON: With a view to the opposition, Di, stay with me. I want our viewers to get a sense of where at least one member of the -- what is sort of morphed opposition as it were is saying today. CNN spoke with Eugenia Tymoshenko earlier. She now is the daughter of the former Ukrainian Prime Minister Yulia Tymoshenko and part of the Fatherland opposition party.
Now, her mother, you may be well aware, has been imprisoned since 2010 on charges that the U.S. and Europe have called politically motivated.
Now Eugenia says today's resignations won't bring meaningful change because, as she says, President Yanukovych still holds power. Have a listen to what she had to say.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
EUGENIA TYMOSHENKO, DAUGHTER OF FRM. UKRAINIAN PRIME MINISTER: The fact are is that the national majority in the parliament is controlling the parliament and can just reshuffle the government, so just change the label but to leave same people, like for example now Vice Prime Minister Arbuzov is now, you know, put -- been put instead of Prime Minister Azarov.
But also at the same time, presidential power is controlling the ministers. So any just change of the government without parliamentary elections, without new pro-European democratic majority is just, you know, a futile empty change which will not really bring the system change, the reload of the system. That's what people here in Midan (ph) have been demanding, especially after the illegal attacks of the police on the people at Midan (ph).
(END VIDEO CLIP)
ANDERSON: It's interesting, Di, isn't it that -- you know I wonder whether this is the sort of sentiment you are hearing from protesters on the ground. And further, whether there is at this point any one figure that the opposition is sort of coalescing around, because to date, at least, it's been a quite confusing picture as to -- if the president were to stand down tomorrow, which is fairly unlikely, who would it be that the opposition were looking to lead Ukraine going forward?
MAGNAY: Well, that's true, Becky. And I don't think there is one clear figure. It's certainly not Yulia Tymoshenko. But I think that Eugenia speaks really more for the protesters in general than she does for her mother or for the Fatherland Party.
I'm going to bring in Mustafa Nayem, he is somebody who has been very, very active in this demonstration right from the start.
You were here calling people to demonstrate on the 21st of November when the EU decided against this association -- sorry, Ukraine decided against this association agreement. There is a lot of -- well, there is some sense that, you know, you're demands as a protest movement have morphed over the course of these two months. Is that fair?
MUSTAFA NAYEM, JOURNALIST AND ACTIVIST: Yeah, it's true. But, you know, people are not satisfied with this repealing of this law that they did today, because it's too late. During these 12 days was died five protesters, a lot of people are arrested, disappeared more than 30 protesters. And it looks like government, they have hostages, because they're now telling us please clear the streets and we will -- even we will make them freedom.
MAGNAY: OK, but the government is trying to make amends for that now. They've said, all right, we'll repeal those laws. Our interior minister, who is possibly responsible for all of that, he's out -- or he will be out. And you're not satisfied.
So what do you want now?
NAYEM: You know, I'm journalist, actually. So as a journalist, first of all I want to know who is responsible for shooting my colleagues, because a lot of my colleagues they were crippled during these protests and no one are responsible for this.
The second is that we know that they used brutal force against people and a lot of people was bitten and there is no anyone from militia who is guilty, anyone who was jailed. What does it mean?
So, they are jailing people, protesters, and they are not -- they have not anyone who is charged on this situation.
So, it's not -- I think the situation you are right that situation has shifted. It's not about that, what was two months ago. Now we want -- we know what -- on what they are capable. We know that they have this law and it doesn't mean that they will not adopt it again.
MAGNAY: OK, but there have to be -- if the government shows some kind of accountability, what do you want beyond that? Do you need President Yanukovych to go what is it going to take for people to go back home?
NAYEM: You know, I think the resigning of government and Yanukovych it's just instruments, it's just the way how we want to change the rule of governing, change the rule in the country, that's why people went out in November, not because they don't like Yanukovych or don't like Asarov, our prime minister, but they don't like the rule country is leading. And this two month we told them that, you know, it's (inaudible) you have to leave in this country. You don't have any choice. We don't like it.
MAGNAY: OK, Mustafa Nayem, thank you very much.
So, Becky, it seems that it doesn't necessarily matter so much, as Mustafa (inaudible), Yanukovych stays in or not, the question for him is accountability for the brutality that we've seen on the streets in the last 10 days. You know, we'll see how long it does take until this situation is resolved. But it clearly doesn't look like those streets are going to clear out any time soon.
ANDERSON: Yeah, fascinating given the weather in the Ukraine it's these guys have sticking power, at least.
All right, Diana, as ever thank you very much indeed. Diana Magnay is in Kiev for you this evening.
Still to come tonight, a major initiative to enroll hundreds of thousands of Syrian refugee children in schools.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
GORDON BROWN, UN SPECIAL ENVOY FOR GLOBAL EDUCATION: An education has always been at the front of the list of priorities. And we need to push it further up so that these children have hope.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
ANDERSON: We're going to speak about the effort with the UN's special envoy for global education Gordon Brown.
Also, a dramatic day in court. Egypt's ousted president demands answers from a judge while speaking from inside a locked metal and glass cage.
And we are just hours away from the U.S. president's State of the Union Address. We talk to a former speechwriter about what sort of final touches might be added right now. The pressure is on behind closed doors at the White House. More on that after this.
ANDERSON: All right, another day of deadlock at the Syrian peace talks in Geneva, but no one is walking out, at least not yet. That update from UN special envoy Lakhdar Brahimi. He was mediating these talks.
Now CNN's Nic Robertson is joining us from Geneva to talk about what are the major sticking points. And Brahimi, Nick, giving everyone the afternoon off so that they can, I guess in his words or to paraphrase him make a fresh start tomorrow morning. What is the likelihood that a decent night sleep will change anyone's negotiating position at this point?
NIC ROBERTSON, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Very little. And we don't even know if they're going to get a good night sleep. I talked to a diplomat this morning and asked him how it was all going and he said they're digging in, they're sort of digging the trenches. So I rather suspect they won't be sleeping tonight, they'll be digging those trenches deeper, that's the sort of diplomatic analysis.
What happened earlier today and the reason that Mr. Brahimi gave the - - both sides the afternoon off was because the government side put forward a document where it accused the United States of supplying weapons to terror groups inside Syria. The United States State Department says that is ludicrous.
I spoke to the presidential adviser Bouthaina Shaaban about this earlier today. I said to her, look, they're not supplying arms to terrorists, what they're actually doing is supplying non-lethal aid. And she said, no non-lethal aid amounts to the same sort of thing.
But I also said what you're doing is essentially holding up the talks. This is how she responded.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
ROBERTSON: This statement has effectively put the first pause in these talks. This is what the government...
BOUTHAINA SHAABAN, SYRIAN PRESIDENTIAL ADVISER: Well, we tried to ask the other side to condemn this move on the U.S. side, but of course they didn't. And quite the contrary, they started defending the system. If you want to ask me about the Syrian people and they find it absolutely terrible that the U.S. should do this on the eve of Geneva. And it's an expression of lack of will to reach a political solution for the Syrian crisis. We wanted the U.S. to stop Saudi Arabia from arming and financing and now the U.S. itself is sending armament to these rebels.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
ROBERTSON: Well, Mr. Brahimi has said absolutely nothing has been agreed so far, but that's OK by him. They're still sitting there. They still agree to keep talking. And he hopes, I guess, for a better day, Becky.
ANDERSON: And I guess patience is a virtue at this point. Nic, thank you for that.
Every day this war drags on the humanitarian crisis gets worse. Millions of Syrians have fled the violence, many seeking shelter in neighboring states. The UN warns that Syria's refugee kids are at risk of becoming, and I quote, a lost generation if the world doesn't do more to help.
Well, one Syrian woman is taking matters into her own hands. Back in November, CNN visited a school she runs for refugee children. Have a listen -- or look at this.
ANDERSON: This is Banyam Martyr School on the Turkish-Syrian border. Run in a home by Syrian women who have fled the brutality of the ongoing war, more than 300 children who have lost one or both parents receive not just an education, but also psychological counseling.
Reem Badosh (ph) fled Syria with her children and husband and now manages this school.
"My children have had a private education, but they have regressed by two years. After I'd worked with them, they had become better, so I decided to make this school first for the sake of my children and secondly for the sake of the children of martyrs."
Despite having witnessed the horrific brutality of the ongoing war, they are eager to learn.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I play tennis every Friday. She plays tennis every Friday. What is the difference between those sentences?
ANDERSON: In this class, English teacher Rana (ph) goes over basic lessons that the kids had forgotten since being out of school.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: My name is Rajani (ph). I am 12-years-old.
ANDERSON: Many of the children carry the scars of war, having witnessed terrific brutality unfold before their eyes. This 12-year-old boy whose family did not want him identified describes how his father was killed.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE (subtitles): I heard someone screaming and people ran to help him and I went to help him too and then the second rocket hit.
ANDERSON: According to UNICEF, more than half a million Syrian refugees are not in school while living in other countries.
"We found the children were very receptive to our education and they loved the school and even sometimes during school break the children would say we do not want a break, we want to come."
Damage and destruction has rendered one in five Syrian schools useless. Outside Syria, children are trying hard to rebuild a normal life.
ANDERSON: Well, this month the United Nations launched what was an ambitious effort to enroll 400,000 Syrian refugee children in school before the spring. Now UN special envoy for global education Gordon Brown calls it a brilliant time share plan. He says refugee children in Lebanon, for example, will be taught in existing schools outside normal operating hours.
Well, I spoke with the former British prime minister last week when he was raising funds for the effort at the World Economic Forum in Davos.
BROWN: 100 years ago we established the principle that in a conflict the Red Cross would provide health care and then Medecins Sans Frontieres did even more in the 1970s and 80s when they introduced their service that kept health services going even in the worst and most intolerable conditions.
Now we've got to establish the principle that even if you're in a difficult area and there is no more difficult area than the Syrian peninsula at the moment once you're in that area you can still provide some of these services. And we want, we want to see education provided for as many children as possible. And then a route to jobs and a return to normality as quickly as possible.
ANDERSON: Where would our help be the most appropriate at this point, Gordon?
BROWN: There's a website that Western Union the company is running asking people to contribute directly. Avase (ph) the social network site raised a million in only a few days from contributors wanting to fund education.
So private citizens can give money. But of course we want the governments of the world to do more. And I've listed the governments that have been helping. And I've listed that governments that are considering helping. And any pressure, of course, that ordinary citizens can put on this will make a difference.
You can't allow a situation to develop when there is the possibility of getting 400,000 children to school for only $400 per person per year. You can't allow this possibility to be lost.
ANDERSON: Lest we forget, there is a conference in Geneva efforting to at least the process towards peace going forward. What would your message to the players there around the table be?
BROWN: To work harder to achieve a settlement. But at the same time to recognize that even if we achieved a settlement, which will be very difficult in the next few months, the humanitarian needs go on. These are the innocent victims, but often forgotten victims of a crisis. We know that more than half the refugees are children. We know that they have been pushed out of their homes already, but we know also that they're lacking the food and the shelter as well as the education. And we really have to take humanitarian aid more seriously.
The pledging conference did well, but not well enough to meet all the needs. And education has always been at the bottom of the list of priorities. And we need to push it further up so that these children have hope.
ANDERSON: Gordon Brown speaking to me earlier. Well -- certainly earlier in the week.
Well, getting kids the education they need is just one challenge faced by millions of Syrians forced from their homes.
I want to take a moment to highlight what is a new feature on the website. It will show you just what life is like inside the Zaatari Refugee Camp. This is home to some 100,000 Syrians of all ages on the Jordanian border. Now, if you click on the interactive buttons here for reports show you how residents are coping from basic needs like finding electricity to the personal stories of young residents. It's fantastic. I wouldn't normally overflog something like this, but the guys here at CNN in the field have done an amazing job. Have a look at it, CNN.com/middleeast. That's CNN.com/middleeast.
Live from London, this is Connect the World. I'm going to have to take a glass of water here, but let me tell you what's coming up after this break. Egypt's ousted president and his dramatic day in court, our reporter in Cairo with the story for you.
ANDERSON: From president to prisoner, Mohamed Morsy was defiant as his trial resumed today in Egypt. It's only his second appearance in court since he was overthrown in a military coup last July.
CNN's Reza Sayah with the details for you.
REZA SAYAH, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Mohamed Morsy back in court on Tuesday. It's hard to believe that roughly seven months ago this man was the first democratically elected president of Egypt. Today, he's in jail facing charges in four separate trials. In this trial, Morsy charged with breaking out of prison back in January 2011. Morsy appearing in court in a white prison jump suit. He was held during the hearing in a glass enclosed sound proof cage. Right next to him his fellow defendants, other leaders of the Muslim Brotherhood also in a soundproof cage.
Soundproof because the judge wanted to control and avoid any disruptions. You'll recall last time Mr. Morsy and his fellow defendants appeared in court, they disrupted the hearings so much that very little could get done.
But this time the judge had control over the sound system, essentially turning the volume up and down. At one point, Mr. Morsy was able to cry out who are you to the judge. The judge replying I'm the head of this criminal court.
Here's the exchange.
MOHAMED MORSY, DEPOSED PRESIDENT OF EGYPT: (SPEAKING IN FOREIGN LANGAUGE)
SAYAH: Eventually Mr. Morsy seemed to compose himself as he addressed the court, rejecting the proceedings. At one point complaining that he hadn't been able to see his lawyers or his family since November and accusing the army chief, Field Marshall Abdel Fatah al-Sisi of conspiring against him.
The trial adjourned until next month.
Also on Tuesday, an aid to the interior minister assassinated by gunmen in Cairo in a sign that there's a growing insurgency here in the middle of all this crisis. Many Egyptians now waiting for Field Marshall Abdel Fatah al-Sisi to announce his candidacy for the presidency. Many believe that will be inevitable after Monday's powerful endorsement by the army.
Reza Sayah, CNN, Cairo.
ANDERSON: Well, the former Bosnian-Serb army chief Radko Mladic was called as a defense witness in The Hague today. He took the stand in the war crimes tribunal of the former Bosnian-Serb leader Radavan Karadzic.
Mladic refused to answer some of the questions, denouncing the UN- backed court as, and I quote, "satanic."
Both men are facing war crimes charges for their role in the Bosnian War in the 1990s.
Well, Thailand's government says it will go ahead with elections this weekend despite warnings it could end in violence. Earlier two people were hurt after shots were fired at an army facility where the prime minister met with the election committee. The protesters are calling for her to resign.
Police in Japan have arrested a factory worker over suspicions that he may have poisoned frozen food with pesticide. Toshiki Abe (ph) denies contaminating the food with a chemical used to kill mosquitoes and head lice. Well, almost 3,000 people fell ill across Japan after eating the frozen meals. The tainted food has been recalled and the company involved has apologized.
28 minutes past 8:00 in London. The latest world news headlines are just ahead as you would expect at the bottom of the hour here on CNN.
Plus, the State of the Union speech just hours away. We discuss what's sure to be a frenzy of activity in the West Wing of the White House in the leadup to that address.
And she may be royalty, but why is Britain's queen been asked to tighten the purse strings? More on that when we return.
ANDERSON: The headlines this hour. After days of pressure from demonstrators and opposition parties, there has been a major shakeup in Ukraine's government. The country's prime minister and his cabinet have resigned. Lawmakers also repealed an anti-protest law that triggered the violence in the streets.
Syrian peace talks ended earlier in Geneva earlier after an impasse at the morning session. The Syrian regime and opposition are supposed to be negotiating a mutual agreeable transition government. UN mediator Lakhdar Brahimi says they will try again tomorrow.
Former Egyptian president Mohamed Morsy appeared in a Cairo courtroom today. He and dozens of co-defendants are accused of breaking out of jail in 2011. It's just one of the charges the ousted leader is facing. The proceedings were adjourned until next month.
And the former Bosnian-Serb army chief, Ratko Mladic has refused to answer questions at the war crimes tribunal of Radovan Karadzic. Mladic denounced the UN-backed court as Satanic. Both men are charged with war crimes for their roles in the Bosnian War.
The final touches are being put to the US president's State of the Union speech as he prepares to address America in just over five hours' time. Now, Barack Obama is set to touch on several domestic and international issues, laying out his agenda for the year ahead. Our senior White House correspondent Jim Acosta gives us a little insight into what we might expect.
JIM ACOSTA, CNN SENIOR WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): It was the shortest of sneak previews in a six-second video using social media.
BARACK OBAMA, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Tomorrow night, it's time to restore opportunity for all.
ACOSTA: Despite that optimistic tone, White House officials say President Obama will announce in his State of the Union that he's ready to get tough and bypass Congress when necessary.
ACOSTA (on camera): It sounds like he's frustrated and maybe a little bit bluster.
JIM CARNEY, WHITE HOUSE PRESS SECRETARY: Well, he's an American citizen, and it stands to reason that he might be frustrated with Congress, since most American citizens are.
ACOSTA (voice-over): So in Tuesday's speech, aides say the president plans to highlight new executive actions, some aimed at job training and retirement security programs. But White House officials caution he'll still call for legislation when needed, on immigration reform and the minimum wage.
CARNEY: The president's view is that he should use every tool available to him to move the country forward.
ACOSTA: There's no mistaking the message.
OBAMA: I've got a pen and I've got a phone, and that's all I need.
ACOSTA: The president's vow to use executive authority to achieve a year of action --
DAN PFEIFFER, SENIOR ADVISOR TO PRESIDENT OBAMA: And we're putting an extra emphasis on in 2014.
ACOSTA: -- has Republicans on edge.
SEN. RAND PAUL (R), KENTUCKY: It sounds vaguely like a threat, and I think it also has a certain amount of arrogance in the sense that one of the fundamental principles of our country were the checks and balances.
ACOSTA: The White House says there's a reason for the new approach. Remember these bills?
OBAMA: The time has come to pass comprehensive immigration reform.
OBAMA: Raise the federal minimum wage to $9 an hour. The families of Newtown deserve a vote.
ACOSTA: They all stalled.
DOUGLAS BRINKLEY, RICE UNIVERSITY, PRESIDENTIAL HISTORIAN: He likes to talk about oh yeah, well I still have my pen and executive power. Then use it. Do it. One after the other. Take them on.
ACOSTA: But presidential historian Douglas Brinkley says there's a big problem with promising a year of action. What if there isn't any?
BRINKLEY: When you say you're going to do a lot of executive action, it's the year of action, and it becomes May and the record doesn't show that, then you truly become a lame duck.
ACOSTA (on camera): As for the speech itself, officials here at the White House say it's almost ready, but the president will be busy long after Tuesday night. He'll be hitting the road to sell his message, first making a stop in Maryland before heading onto a steel mill in Pittsburgh, then onto Wisconsin and Tennessee.
Jim Acosta, CNN, the White House.
ANDERSON: Well, earlier today, the White House announced President Obama will use his executive powers to raise the minimum wage of new federal contract workers. That's just one detail in what will be a myriad of issues the president will raise in what's known as the State of the Union.
John Avlon knows the pressures ahead of a big address. He's a former chief speechwriter for Rudy Giuliani during his time as mayor of New York. John is currently the editor in chief of the Daily Beast, joining me live from New York.
Now, let's be under no illusions that despite the president being the man delivering this speech, it is the staff in the West Wing who will be crafting this speech well into the early hours. They hope that this will, of course, be a speech the world remembers. It's his penultimate speech, is it? Just get us behind closed doors. What is going on in the West Wing tonight?
JOHN AVLON, EDITOR IN CHIEF, THE DAILY BEAST: Well, right now, there's a flurry of activity as the speechwriters huddle with the president to try to get every phrase just right. This is the highest-profile speech of any presidential year, and it does suffer from being -- having a laundry list-like quality.
But actually, the president's former chief speechwriter, Jon Favreau, is a columnist here at the Daily Beast, and he's walked us through the process. The president, a writer himself before he became president, is very, very involved in the crafting. The speechwriters take it during the day, the president's been working on it at night.
And today, he stands in front of the night with the American people in just a few hours. And it's a big speech for the president, trying to prove that he has got plenty of life left in his administration.
ANDERSON: Rehearsals, hissy fits, it's a pressure cooker, right? Is everybody getting on tonight?
AVLON: Look. This is as intense as it gets when you're a speechwriter for a major figure. These are one of the dates that you have on your calendar, and you've been working for over a month on getting this speech just right and hitting that right balance between rhetoric and the policies, and really challenging both Congress and the American people.
The president is not just speaking to the members of Congress, of course. He's speaking to all Americans watching at home. And so this is a high-take speech.
And what we can tell from what they've floated is that he's going to really be challenging to Congress to say look, if we can't find a way to work together, then I'm going to take executive action. And that already has some feathers ruffled among the Republicans in Congress.
But this is a very serious speech in a time when growing inequality, the president's got to make the case that he's going to take executive action to improve things for the middle class, which has been squeezed for so very long.
ANDERSON: All right. It's not just a domestic audience, of course, John, because CNN will carry this speech live --
AVLON: That's right.
ANDERSON: -- as will many other international broadcasters. Listen, let's hear the words of a former speechwriter for President Obama. Jon Favreau says, and I quote, "There are 3:00 AM, 4:00 AM nights leading right up to the speech. No matter how far in advance you try to plan, you are always changing the speech up to the last minute."
And then there's this, I love this, from Mary Kate Cary, President George W. Bush's former speechwriter who says "It's the prize nobody wants." She went on to say she'd rather write the speech pardoning the Thanksgiving turkey, which I hasten to add, she did three times, over the State of the Union in a New York minute.
This is a make or break, isn't it, for speechwriters in their career? Listen, I was slightly unfair suggesting the president only delivers this. I am sure, there is no doubt, that the president of the United States has a part to play in this. But this really is a big deal for those guys behind closed doors, isn't it? The chief of staff --
AVLON: No question about that, Becky.
ANDERSON: -- and the rest of that lot in the West Wing.
AVLON: Absolutely. No, this is really a marathon. For speechwriters, this begins really probably over the holidays and continues unabated at those midnight meetings and beyond. At the end of the day, when the decisions have been made and it goes back to the speechwriters to incorporate those changes.
And there are a huge number of stakeholders, cabinet officials, paying very close attention to every line and address that goes out to this kind of a forum. So, it is intense. There are a thousand cooks in the kitchen, and at the end of the day, there's the speechwriter and there's the president.
And in this case, this president, he's a pretty active pen himself, because he has been a writer, a very successful one before becoming president.
AVLON: So the hours are long, it is a marathon, not a sprint. But in these last hours, the marathon ends with a sprint.
AVLON: And it is all out --
ANDERSON: John --
AVLON: -- inside the West Wing right now as they get ready for tonight.
ANDERSON: Yes or no, did you write the speeches for Mayor Giuliani or did he write them and you just gave them the nod? Yes or no, be honest.
AVLON: It -- Rudy was definitely his own man, but it was always an honor. In some speeches, he read and some speeches he just winged it because he knew his own mind pretty well.
AVLON: The more formal the event, the more likely they are to just stick to the script. That's a general rule.
ANDERSON: Appreciate your honesty.
ANDERSON: Good luck. Thank you, sir.
Well, listen, the president will address America's most important issues in his State of the Union speech, but in the past, there have been some very odd moments, to say the least. John Berman takes us through some of the more memorable.
WILSON LIVINGOOD, FORMER SERGEANT AT ARMS OF THE US HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES: Mr. Speaker, the president of the United States.
JOHN BERMAN, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): From the very moment the president walks down the aisle, it is a parade of people-watching. Members of Congress jockey for position like it's a Justin Bieber concert.
Former congressman Dennis Kucinich, maybe he's the biggest Belieber, or maybe he just likes aisle seats. He always seemed to be there for the big hello.
BERMAN: All hellos not created equal. Maybe the most famous, Senator Joe Lieberman once appeared to get a kiss from President George W. Bush.
Sometimes, Mr. Freud seems to seep into a president's speech. In 1974, some inadvertent foreshadowing from President Richard Nixon.
RICHARD NIXON, FORMER PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: And I urge the Congress to join me in mounting a major new effort to replace the discredited president -- present welfare system.
BERMAN: And in 2000, President Clinton perhaps revealing his true political colors.
BILL CLINTON, FORMER PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Tonight, I ask you to support new funding for the following things to make American communities more liberal -- livable.
BERMAN: There was always loud applause, but also head-shaking, stony silence, and the supreme example of disapproval, when President Obama criticized a campaign finance ruling, a full out mouthing of "not true" from Supreme Court Justice Samuel Alito.
But for every nightmare, there is a dream. The forever dreamy Tom Brady, once in the stands for George W. Bush. On the subject of dreams and nightmares, guess which one John McCain was having in 2007. Ooh, a big yawn from Harry Reid in 2010, and for Vice President Biden, perhaps a moment of meditation in 2011.
Mr. Biden's hands have their very own chapter in the State of the Union history book. With so much sitting and standing and clapping, easy to see why he might have a timing issue.
OBAMA: For less than one percent --
BERMAN: There is the air-boxing fist pump.
OBAMA: That dream is why a working-class kid from Scranton can sit behind me.
BERMAN: And of course, the palms to the sky shrug.
OBAMA: -- because nobody messes with Joe.
OBAMA: Am I right?
BERMAN: We have the constitution to thank for this annual address, and even if the State of the Union is animated, sleepy, or dreamy, according to the president --
OBAMA: The state of our union will always be strong.
ANDERSON: All the gaffes and all the promises. CNN bringing them all to you in our full coverage of Obama's State of the Union. Anchors Wolf Blitzer, Anderson Cooper, and Jake Tapper leading our coverage, kicking off before the address at 8:00 PM in Washington. That is 1:00 AM here in London.
Well, live from London, I'm Becky Anderson. You're watching CONNECT THE WORLD, 43 minutes past 8:00. She was recently named one of Fortune's 50 Most Powerful Women in Business, but how did she get there? Well, we're going to meet one of the few female tech titans in the world after this.
ANDERSON: When we think of technology, some people think of the likes of Steve Jobs or Bill Gates. But one woman who's joined the ranks has taken a top job at Intel, the world's largest computer chip maker. CNN's Poppy Harlow met with Renee James, who talked about the challenges of getting to the top.
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POPPY HARLOW, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): It's a familiar logo and sound. Chip-making giant Intel, founded in 1968. For the first time in history, a woman is at the helm.
RENEE JAMES, PRESIDENT, INTEL: An Intel-based phone --
HARLOW: Part of the two-person leadership team, President Renee James and CEO Brian Krzanich.
JAMES: Two people in one role. I report to Brian, but the two of us run the company in our executive office. And so the rest of the company all reports to the two of us.
Now we're going to lead the industry into a new era of computing.
HARLOW: It was perhaps inevitable James would run a tech company. She grew up in California's Silicon Valley, the epicenter of the world's leading tech companies. And there's also this.
JAMES: My dad's a mathematician. And I definitely had this I'm not going to be like Dad. Which is funny, because I am exactly like Dad.
We chose to continue to expand our data center business.
HARLOW: I met up with James at the Fortune Most Powerful Women summit in Washington, DC, an annual gathering of top business execs and inspiring leaders.
HARLOW (on camera): Women in technology, especially in your part of the tech sector --
JAMES: In hardware.
HARLOW: -- are just far to rare.
JAMES: They are. We have to keep young women engaged. So, it's -- we have two points of loss where we lose women in technology. One is early on, about middle school, and the other one is when they leave for -- to have a family.
HARLOW: Is it also about the messages that we send --
JAMES: It's about the message --
HARLOW: -- to girls about --
JAMES: Yes, that it's OK to be smart, that it's cool.
Affordable genomic --
HARLOW (voice-over): As a woman in high tech, James says as she rose through the ranks, she experienced gender bias, even unstated.
HARLOW (on camera): So, what did you do? Did you address it head on?
JAMES: I always had this sense that if I made it about being a woman, that would be worse for me. So instead, I had to focus on the behavior or the issue. So, what I would do is I would call out the behaviors.
HARLOW (voice-over): Among her many accomplishments, last year, US president Barack Obama named James to his national security telecommunications advisory committee.
HARLOW (on camera): Do you purposefully hire women ever in part because they are women?
JAMES: You know, I don't. I didn't ever want to be hired because I was a woman. I never wanted to be promoted because I was a woman, I never wanted to be given anything because I was a woman, I didn't want people to think I was woman. I was like, no.
HARLOW (voice-over): James credits running track and field in high school and college for giving her discipline, which has gotten her far.
JAMES: No one is ever going to tell you what the future's going to be. So when your gut instinct is you're on to the next big thing, you have to imagine success and work backwards to what are you going to do to make that be the outcome. Anything's possible until it's not.
A very, very interesting product, I think.
ANDERSON: And coming up after this short break, fancy the royal treatment? Well, Buckingham Palace may be forced to keep its doors open to the likes of you and me to help pay the queen's bills. That story after this.
ANDERSON: Well, Buckingham Palace is in need of some repair, and there is apparently not enough money to fix it. Well now, Britain's parliament is saying that the royal family needs to get a better handle on its finances. Our royal correspondent Max Foster has the story from London.
MAX FOSTER, CNN ROYAL CORRESPONDENT: The queen has been overspending, according to an influential parliamentary committee, forcing her staff to dip into the palace reserves, which now stand at an all-time low of $1.6 million.
To save money, the palace has put off repair work, leaving a number of palace buildings in a dangerous state of disrepair.
MARGAREG HODGE, BRITISH MEMBER OF PARLIAMENT: And the sort of thing we're talking about is the boiler in Buckingham Palace. It's 60 years old, it needs replacing. If you don't replace it, your bills go up. That's not happening.
The Victoria and Albert Mausoleum, a really important heritage site, we've known for 18 years that it needs repair. They still haven't got a plan to tackle that.
FOSTER: The Palace responded by saying "a significant financial priority for the royal household is to reduce the backlog in essential maintenance across the occupied royal palaces." The parliamentary committee pointed out that the royal household had escaped cutbacks in other parts of the public sector by only reducing spending by 5 percent over 6 years.
The committee suggest the number of household staff should be cut, and the palaces opened up to more paying tourists to raise money.
Max Foster, CNN, London.
ANDERSON: Well, a more visitor-friendly Buck Palace, some people call it, wouldn't be the first time a major UK landmark has been repurposed to make a bit of cash. These days a car bridge is -- well, it's more than just a bridge, let me tell you. It is a venue to a really long and narrow one. You can rent out the walkways for parties and events.
Or how about your very own Tube station? London's Brompton Road underground station was closed down in 1934 but the building is still there and the UK military put it up for sale last year to cut its cost. It was reportedly sold for more than $80 million to an unknown bidder.
Viewers, if you find out who it is, please tweet me, @BeckyCNN. I'm fascinated who bought that. It's just up the road from where I live.
Or perhaps you fancy a walk around the real Downton Abbey. Highclere Castle, where the TV show is filmed, is opening its doors to the public over Easter and during the summer for a fee, of course.
And if you fancy a party under the fossilized bones of a diplodocus -- I think that's how you pronounce it, I can't remember. I was five last time I saw one. You can hire out the main hall of London's Natural History Museum, starting at $33,000 a night.
So, getting back to the royal family, the queen's reserves have dropped from $58 million in 2001 to just $1.6 million today. Well, does this mean we'll see the palace rented out? Royal historian Kate Williams joins us now, live.
Before we talk about what happens, what on Earth has gone wrong? That's an awful lot of money to have --
KATE WILLIAMS, ROYAL HISTORIAN: Gone Yes. Disappeared.
ANDERSON: Frittered away, let me put it that way.
WILLIAMS: Well --
ANDERSON: Why do we care?
WILLIAMS: -- we've had a rather expensive royal time. We've had the Jubilee, the Diamond Jubilee, we've had some weddings. But really, it's a bit of a surprise. And every year, the queen is spending more than she brings in.
ANDERSON: So Kate, what does happen when the queen's boiler packs up. What's the process?
WILLIAMS: The queen's boiler is about to pack up, that's the thing. In 2012, there was a survey of all the palaces, and nearly 40 percent of them were found to be below par, not habitable.
And the thing is, as you say, it's not like you and me, when we've got a hole in our roofs. You can't just nip down to the DIY store and put a bit of something there. We can't just fill the hole with a bit of cello tape or something. This is Buckingham Palace. It costs an absolute fortune.
And what the government are saying in this report is we're not giving you the money. You've got to find it from somewhere.
ANDERSON: So, are we really looking at a future whereby the likes of you and I, the hoi polloi, as I'm sure the royal family would have us known, renting their gas house at the very loft and weathered --
WILLIAMS: For our birthday parties.
ANDERSON: -- for our birthday parties. You -- and I guess in the future, should we ask ourselves, could we possibly rent out the White House?
ANDERSON: If --
WILLIAMS: Houses of Parliament, oh, I think would do very well for my next party, actually. Ideal. We could party on.
WILLIAMS: As you say, this is it. It would be much easier if the queen sold Buckingham Palace and moved out into one of our skyscrapers --
WILLIAMS: -- but of course, she can't do that, because it's a palace and everyone expects to visit her there. It's a working palace. It has its own post office.
But this is what the MPs are saying. You've got to open it up more, more corporate dues, and that's what's going to bring in the money, because the queen can't sell off photo opportunities. She can't sell 100,000 pounds to have a photo with her.
ANDERSON: I would wager you -- I want to show our viewers a picture of a very, very special residence for the queen, that being Balmoral. Even if the queen had to rent Buckingham Palace out and possibly even Windsor Castle --
ANDERSON: -- I would wager you that Balmoral would be sacrilegious, as it were.
WILLIAMS: She loves that one. She still has Sandringham. She has a lot of property. So, if we had to rent out Buckingham Palace, perhaps we can all sleep in there. There are lots of people who -- perhaps it could be a big Australian youth hostel, a big youth hostel, Buckingham Palace. She can still have -- she has many properties.
I don't think this is the problem. She has a lot of properties, a lot of them to keep up, and I think the MPs are right to say, open them all around the year. It will be eagerly come.
ANDERSON: It wouldn't be the first time that a member of the royal family, who was the sovereign here in the UK was hard up. I seem to remember King Henry VIII, right? And really --
WILLIAMS: Throughout his reign --
ANDERSON: -- bring up the bodies at the moment. Yes.
WILLIAMS: It is a problem, because when you go to Parliament for more money, of course, when Windsor Castle burnt down in 92, the queen asked Parliament for the money, they were about to give it to her. Public outcry.
And over and over again, Charles I was one of the worst for going to Parliament for money, and we know what happened to him. He lost that head. So, I think that the government just think it would be too unsafe in the current climate. So, Buckingham Palace parties asunder.
ANDERSON: You stop there, because I can see you straight to the tower with her.
ANDERSON: Kate Williams, always a pleasure. Thank you.
In tonight's Parting Shots, fans in the United States and around the world are mourning the death of Pete Seeger, who has died at 94 years old. Now, he was known for fearlessly taking on social issues, from the war in Vietnam to the environment, gaining both fans and critics in his decades- long career.
The American singer-songwriter helped popularize the folk music genre. "Guantanamera" and "Turn, Turn, Turn" are among the sing-along songs that he made famous. Many were remade by popular artists throughout the years, songs like this one.
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ANDERSON: A legend. I'm Becky Anderson, that was CONNECT THE WORLD. Thank you for watching. From the team here, it's a very good evening.
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(MUSIC - "IF I HAD A HAMMER" BY PETE SEEGER)
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