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CONNECT THE WORLD
Ukrainian Protesters, Government Forces Continue Clashes Tonight; Pussy Riot Members Attacked By Russian Police; EU, U.S. Calling For Sanctions Against Ukrainian Government; Phone Hacking Prosecutors Show Email Between Tony Blair, Rebekah Brooks
Aired February 19, 2014 - 15:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
JONATHAN MANN, HOST: This is the scene in Ukraine's capital city tonight. Tense standoff underway after last night's deadly violence. As western powers call for sanctions, I'll ask a former ambassador to Ukraine whether sanctions alone can stem the tide of bloodshed.
Also this hour -- bypassing America as the German chancellor proposes a European firewall safe from U.S. snooping. The experts tell us if it could work.
Plus, home at last after making it to the South Pole and back, our British explorers finally return. Ben Saunders tells me about his epic journey.
ANNOUNCER: Live from CNN Center, this is Connect the World.
MANN: Thanks for joining us.
Our eyes are on the Ukrainian capital tonight and the tense standoff between government forces and opposition protesters. The European Union and United States are threatening to impose sanctions if the situation doesn't improve. Meanwhile, the country's army chief has been replaced.
Have a look at scenes in Kiev's Independence Square a day after 26 people died in violent clashes. You can see the barricades there still burning bright. Ukrainian officials are undertaking what they call a nationwide security operation to restore order.
Both sides are calling for a return to the negotiating table.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
ARSENIY YATSENTUK UKRAINIAN UNION PARTY: This is about the future of my country. And we urge the president and the government to stop the violence, to stop crackdown they launched yesterday and to sit at the round table in order to start peaceful talks to fix the political and economic crisis in my country.
LEONID KOZHARA, UKRAINIAN FOREIGN MINISTER: The government of Ukraine has implemented almost all requirements by the opposition, including the dismissal of the government, the cancellation of the (inaudible) which were not accepted -- not accepted by the opposition. And we are ready to discuss the constitutional reform.
Unfortunately, it looks like the opposition doesn't want to share their part of the responsibility with the Ukrainian government.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MANN: Demonstrators in Kiev's Independence Square are fortifying their barricades at this hour preparing potentially for another night of unrest. The square has been the flashpoint for months of it.
CNN's Nick Paton Walsh is there and joins us now.
Nick, we can see the lights of the city behind you. I don't know if those are fires as well. What's going on in Kiev tonight?
NICK PATSON WALSH, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: The bangs you my hear while I'm talking are fireworks. I've just been down to the square behind me where protesters are building up their barricades. It's chaotic, because of lot of where they're standing is rubble, rankly a very dangerous place to put yourself if there were some sort of charge against them.
The police moving in in substantial numbers to the side street down there.
It's always hard to tell if that is a change of shift or a building up of numbers. But definitely we've seen them increase as dusk approached earlier on today.
We're entering an interesting period now, because with the knowledge that tomorrow these key European foreign ministers, French, German and Polish would arrive in Kiev to talk that possibly puts off, I would imagine, the chance of any action against the square. Viktor Yanukovych surely won't want to greet those people, or have them arrive in the capital city after any action here.
But the decision to replace the head of the army does raise very interesting questions, Jonathan. People, of course, will speculate -- did he leave his position, because he didn't want to do something he was asked to do? Or did he leave his position because he wasn't willing to follow orders specifically?
So that's going to be something that people try and pick apart in the forthcoming hours, Jonathan.
MANN: Is the president saying anything about all of this? Afterall, Tuesday was the bloodiest day many Ukrainians have ever seen in their country. The whole world was taken aback. Is Mr. Yanukovych speaking to people's concerns?
WALSH: Well, the statement he did make was to simply say that he hoped opposition leaders would denounce the radicals in their midst. Very forthright, very strident standing as though he was the guy who could save the country from falling apart, I think in his mind, and characterizing those behind me as radicals or certainly extremists in their midst.
For more worrying developments is the head of the security service here Alexander Yakamenko (ph) saying very openly that regards the country now as having an anti-terror operation underway that will use defense personnel, police personnel effectively just to clean up what's been happening in the past few days across the country.
That's troubling, because when you hear governments use phrases like anti-terror operation it means pretty much every resource is on the table for them. Though we do keep hearing Ukrainian officials saying the army isn't going to be used in this instance.
That makes the decision to replace the army head slightly more troubling, because it raises the specter of dissent, perhaps, within the ranks of the Yanukovych administration. And of course nobody -- with something as out of control as this, nobody wants the president of the country to be losing grip on the levers of power. I'm not saying that's happening, but it is a concern, Jonathan.
MANN: Live in Kiev, once again against the sound of fireworks ringing through the air. Thanks very much.
U.S. President Barack Obama is condemning the violence. He says he expects the Ukrainian government to show restraint. He adds that officials have to be sure to deal with protesters in what he calls an appropriate way. And there will be consequences if people step over that line.
Those sentiments echoed by Secretary of State John Kerry who is among those threatening sanctions. Kerry called on Ukrainian President Yanukovych to compromise.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
JOHN KERRY, U.S. SECRETARY OF STATE: President Yanukovych has the opportunity to make a choice. The choice is between protecting the people that he serves, all of the people, and the choice for compromise and dialogue versus violence and mayhem. We believe the choice is clear and we are talking about the possibility of sanctions or other steps with our friends in Europe and elsewhere in order to try to create the environment for compromise.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MANN: And the European Union is also threatening to impose sanctions on Ukraine. Foreign ministers from several EU nations are to be in Ukraine tomorrow to assess the situation.
How much impact could the EU actually have? We're joined in London by Robert Brinkely. He served as the UK's ambassador to Ukraine from 2002 through 2006. Ambassador, thanks so much for being with us.
You served in Ukraine during a time that was not so different from now, it was the Orange Revolution. It was a popular uprising against a rigged election, but it was peaceful. What in that country has changed?
ROBERT BRINKLEY, FRM. UK AMBASSADOR TO UKRAINE: Well, you're right. Certainly when these protests kicked off in November there were a lot of echoes of the Orange Revolution.
When half a million people turned out and stayed on the streets, on the snowy streets of Kiev for two-and-a-half weeks until they succeeded in having a stolen election rerun. But the big difference this time, of course has been this dreadful violence, the horrific scenes last night and earlier violence a few weeks ago. And my deepest sympathy is with the families of those who have been killed and all those who have been injured.
MANN: Let me ask you for more than your sympathy, but for your expertise. The U.S. and the EU are talking about sanctions. What can they actually do?
BRINKLEY: Well, the regime of Viktor Yanukovych has become notorious in Ukraine and even detested for raiding companies, for building up their own wealth while the people of the country feel that they're not getting any richer themselves. And some of that wealth has been put in accounts and properties in the European Union countries.
So measures which would say to people who are responsible for violence crackdowns that they can't access their bank accounts and they can't travel to the European Union would have some personal impact on those people.
MANN: Well, let me ask you about that. I mean no disrespect, but essentially you're talking about something that's in the air, which is asset freezes and visa bans so that the prominent figures of the regime wouldn't be able to bank in London or shop or Paris. At a time like this, is that really anything more than symbolic? I mean, it doesn't move the ball forward.
BRINKLEY: It's certainly much more than symbolic. When you remember that the main motivation of Yanukovych and people around him is money and power. So it's stopping them from enjoying the use of that money.
MANN: Let me ask you about the power side of the equation. The protesters are demanding a constitutional change and an early election. Essentially, they want regime change. Is that what the EU and the U.S. should be demanding as well? Measures that will essentially push Yanukovych slowly and democratically, but clearly from power?
BRINKELY: Well, what we want is to get this back quickly into the channel of negotiations and talks among the people of Ukraine, the leaders of Ukraine away from violence on the streets. And it looked until yesterday as if it was going in that direction.
The Prime Minister Azarov and his government had resigned. The parliament had repealed a set of repressive laws, which were pushed through without debate in January, an amnesty was passed, prisoners were released, buildings were freed up. And then we had all the violence yesterday.
So it needs to get back on that track. And remember that it was President Yanukovych who increased the powers of the president after he came to office. So what the opposition are calling for is to go back to the 2004 constitution, which gives a better balance between parliament and president.
MANN: And tonight in Kiev, they are fighting for it still. Robert Brinkely, former UK ambassador to Ukraine. Thanks so much for talking with us.
BRINKELY: Thank you.
MANN: In Ukraine itself, CNN iReporters are capturing some amazing images of the protests. Among them, Chris Collison, an American living and working Kiev for the past two years. He's been documenting the unrest since it began back in November. Callison took these shots of a fiery confrontation between protesters and police in Kiev's main square. He tells us he arrived on the scene Tuesday night just as police stormed the protesters camp.
If you're in Ukraine, we want to hear from you. Have you been an eyewitness to the unrest? If so, get in touch with us. Contribute your images, videos and stories through CNN's iReport. You can also find us at Facebook.com/CNNConnect. Have your say and you can tweet me @JonathanMannCNN. Your thoughts, please, we want to hear from you. @JonathanMannCNN. But by all means stay safe. Don't put yourself in any danger.
Still to come tonight, a Sunni militant group claims responsibility for today's suicide bombings in Beirut and warns that more may be to come if a key demand isn't met.
And drama a the palace of justice in Venezuela. An opposition leader is accused of high crimes and turns himself in.
Disappointment for Russian fans in Sochi as their cherished ice hockey team crashes out of the games. That and much more when Connect the World continues.
MANN: Welcome back.
A Sunni militant group linked to al Qaeda is claiming responsibility for two suicide bombings today in Beirut. Cars packed with explosives blew up near an Iranian cultural center during morning rush hour. Officials say at least four people were killed, more than 100 others wounded. The Abdullah Azam Bridages calls it retaliation for Hezbollah's involvement in Syria's civil war. And it warns more attacks will come, unless the Iranian backed militia stops fighting alongside Bashar al-Assad's troops.
Much more on this story ahead in the program.
An autopsy is set for this week to determine what caused the sudden deaths of two security officers on the Maersk Alabama container ship. The bodies of the American men were found Tuesday in the Seychelles where the ship is moored.
Now the Maersk Alabama may sound familiar, that's the ship portrayed in the movie Captain Philips based on the true story of a pirate attack on that very ship.
Tensions are high in the Venezuelan capital as a government brings opposition leader Leopoldo Lopez to court. Lopez's supporters are out in force outside the palace of justice in Caracas. He's accused of terrorism and murder in connection with deadly protests. Lopez denies the charges.
Meanwhile, the family of a student and beauty pageant winner who was shot during an anti-government protest in Northern Venezuela says she's died. Genesis Carmona becomes the fifth person to lose her life in the clashes.
Let's get more now on the Lopez court appearance. Karl Penhaul joins us now on the line from Caracas.
Karl, what's happened in court? What's going on outside the court?
KARL PENHAUL, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, as far as we know, Jon, that court appearance has been postponed until some time this afternoon. And that, of course, was a great disappointment to several thousand opposition protesters who had gathered outside of the courthouse this morning. They were out there chanting in support of Leopoldo Lopez, calling for him to be freed and also calling for the government of socialist president Nicholas Maduro to quit.
But as the morning wore on and Lopez was a no show, then pro- government supporters gathered at the other end of the street chanting slogans. And at some point threatening to break through cordons of riot police. And that spooked the opposition protesters and so those numbers dwindled really to the point that there were more riot police than protesters. That does, of course, also call into question the opposition strategy. Are they really well organized enough to take on the socialist government of Nicolas Maduro and push it to the brink of resigning as they want to happen, Jonathan.
MANN: Karl Penhaul waiting for us at the court. Thanks very much.
More stunning revelations today at the UK phone hacking trial. The London court heart newspaper executive Rebekah Brooks was advised by none other than former Prime Minister Tony Blair just days before she was arrested and charged. Atika Shubert has details.
ATIKA SHUBERT: Well, a final piece of evidence from the prosecution released by the court in the phone hacking trial today. This memo from Rebekah Brooks to James Murdoch details her conversation with former prime minister Tony Blair. This was at the height of the phone hacking crisis. And she asked for his advice.
Now in this memo, Tony Blair gives his advice to form an independent unit to investigate the phone hacking allegations. He says, quote, "to publish a Hutton style report." Now that, of course, is a reference to the report that investigated the details around the death of David Kelly, a former UN weapons inspector in Iraq. It was very well covered at the time.
There were some other intimate details in this memo, including saying that Rebekah Brooks should keep strong and definitely take sleeping pills. And also saying that he offered to be a, quote, "unofficial adviser" to Rebekah Brooks and the Murdochs, but this needs to be between us.
Now the prosecution has put this memo out as evidence saying it shows the state of mind of Rebekah Brooks at the time of the phone hacking crisis. But obviously clearly shows how close the former prime minister was to Rebekah Brooks and the Murdochs.
Now, we're -- the trial started in October. It's expected to go until mid-May. So we're about at the halfway point. But this entire time for the last 14 weeks or so, we've heard only from the prosecution laying out their case, their evidence they say showing widespread evidence of phone hacking within the news room at the News of the World newspaper.
We have not heard from the defense. And for the first time we may hear from Rebekah Brooks tomorrow. She is due to take the witness stand. She, of course, faces several charges of conspiracy to phone hacking, conspiracy to bribing public officials and conspiracy to hide evidence from a police investigation, all charges that she denies.
Atika Shubert, CNN, London.
MANN: A Christian missionary from Australia is being detained in North Korea, according to his wife. 75-year-old John Short was arrested in Pyongyang Sunday. His family says he was carrying religious materials that had been translated into Korean.
Short's arrest comes as North Korea continues to face pressure to release an American missionary. Kenneth Bae has been held for more than a year.
Live from CNN Center, this is Connect the World. Coming up, Pussy Riot's troubles continue. A day after their release from custody, members of the Russian provocateur punk band say they were beaten by police. We'll have a full report live from Sochi.
A heroes welcome for two explorers, we'll speak live to one of the men who has just returned from a historic Antarctic adventure.
MANN: Welcome back. You're watching Connect the World live from CNN Center. I'm Jonathan Mann.
We take you to Sochi where members of the punk protest group Pussy Riot say they were attacked by security forces. Have a look at some video we've got that appears to show police and Cossacks using pepper spray and clubs on the band.
Members say they were trying to film a music video at a port in Sochi when they were attacked.
Two of the band members, Maria Alykhina and Nadezhda Tolokonnikova posed these pictures of their injuries online. The alleged attack comes a day after the two women were released from police custody. They were briefly detained for questioning apparently about a theft at their hotel, according to authorities.
CNN has reached out to Russian authorities, but so far they haven't commented on the group's accusations.
Ivan Watson is live in Sochi with details. What's happened to them now exactly?
IVAN WATSON, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, you pretty much summarized it, Jon. The band was trying to record part of a music video that's titled Putin Teaches How To Love Our Motherland. And as you can see in the video snippet that you just showed, within seconds, quite literally, of the band stepping out in their trademark balaclava masks, men who looked like they were dressed up in Cossack costumes began whipping them and spraying them with pepper spray.
Now Cossacks have been on patrol here around the Olympic games alongside Russian police. They've been a colorful addition to the huge security presence on the ground. I've been to this exact spot in downtown Sochi where this incident took place. It is heavily patrolled by not only Russian police but also by Cossacks. And I'm very surprised that the Russian security forces at no time intervened to try to stop what was clearly some form of an assault on unarmed people who very clearly are critics of the Kremlin. They're trying to film a provocative critique of the Kremlin.
But that said, there was no intervention whatsoever. And this is just the first -- this is just the most recent case of harassment of this group of demonstrators in recent days. They say they've been detained no less than three times and interrogated by the Russian security forces.
And Jon, they are part of a much bigger crackdown on what seems to be any attempt at public protest of the Olympic games here. We have documented the arrest of an ethnic Circassian leader who was detained and there is a prominent environmentalist who has just been sentenced to three years in a penal colony. And he is now on hunger strike -- Jon.
MANN: You know, it would look like a harmless protest if it weren't for the Cossacks and whoever it was who was punishing these women. Do they attract enough attention in Russia among Russians to be worth attacking this way for the authorities?
WATSON: It's hard to say. I'm not sure that particularly in a conservative part of Russia that these punk musicians Pussy Riot necessarily have a great deal of support. It was surprising. Our crew caught up with them as they tried to go into a hospital several of the women for treatment of some of the bruises they received. And they were stopped at the gate, a security officer there was heard on our cameras saying you're provocateurs. You're not allowed in whereupon they responded and said we were the ones who were beaten, how can you call us provocateurs?
And one of the singers then turned to our camera and said this. Take a listen.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
NADEZHDA TOLOKONNIKOVA, PUSSY RIOT (through translator): In Russia, there is no possibility of speaking out. If you want to say that you don't agree with the current policy, you will be chased away. You will be thrown in jail. You will be beaten and possibly even killed.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
WATSON: Now, Jon, the Russian President Vladimir Putin has made it very clear, he does not want politics to mix with the atmosphere of sports and athletics here in the Olympic park behind me. But what is also very clear is that the Kremlin has -- does not want any form of political protest, any form of dissent at this point. And what really seems to be the trend is a growing crackdown on anybody who seeks to challenge or question these Olympic games, particularly here in the Olympic city.
The International Olympic Committee when asked about this particular case and other protests that -- where the dissenters have been arrested or detained, the International Olympic Committee has said it's not really our business, because this isn't connected to the Olympic games themselves -- Jon.
MANN: Ivan Watson in Sochi. Thanks very much.
Let's talk about the Olympic games themselves. When it comes to sports in Sochi, heartbreak for the home side is the headline. The Russian men's ice hockey team crashing out of the competition after losing to Finland in the quarterfinals. Aside from that shocker, Sweden made it through and will face Finland in the semis. And in last hour Canada and the U.S. have both won their matches and are set to face each other in the semi on Friday.
At the end of day 12 of the games, have a look at the medal table. Norway has taken the top spot ahead of Germany for the first time in days. It has 9 golds and a total of 20 medals in all.
Germany is bumped down to second place with the United States moving to third. And hosts Russia down in fourth.
The latest world news headlines are next.
Plus, unspeakable anguish, relentless barrel bomb attacks, they're creating a new wave of refugees from Syria. We'll hear some of their heartbreaking stories.
Also ahead, the German chancellor proposes a brave new strategy to protect European data and secrets from U.S. government spying. We'll have details coming up.
Plus, award season continues. Tonight, it's the UK's version of the Grammys, the Brit Awards, as rumors swirl that Beyonce will headline. We'll bring you the latest from the red carpet.
MANN: This is CONNECT THE WORLD, the top stories this hour. Barricades are still burning, the protesters are still out, and the police still have them surrounded. US president Barack Obama calls for the government of Ukraine to show restraint in the face of ongoing demonstrations. Obama condemned the recent deadly violence and said there would be consequences if officials step over the line.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
BARACK OBAMA, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: I want to be very clear that as we work through these next several days in Ukraine that we are going to be watching very carefully and we expect the Ukrainian government to show restraint, to not resort to violence in dealing with peaceful protesters.
We've said that we also expect peaceful protesters to remain peaceful, and we'll be monitoring very carefully the situation, recognizing that, along with our European partners and the international community, there will be consequences if people step over the line.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MANN: Crowds of protesters have turned out in Venezuela's capital to show support for a detained opposition leader. Leopoldo Lopez is due in court today to face charges of murder, terrorism, and arson in connection with anti-government protests.
President Obama, who we saw just a moment ago, was speaking from Mexico, where he's attending a North American summit with the leaders of Canada and Mexico. The presidents and prime minister are expected to discuss new trade agreements and possibly creating a trusted traveler program between their countries.
The UK unemployment rate has risen slightly for the first time in a year, according to the Office of National Statistics. The small rise, from 7.1 percent to 7.2, took economists by surprise. The overall picture remains positive for the UK, as the number of people out of work has fallen.
Now to the latest in a string of bombings targeting Iran's powerful Shia ally in Lebanon. Coordinated suicide attacks killed at least four people today in southern Beirut, a Hezbollah stronghold. Officials say two cars 100 meters apart blew up near an Iranian cultural center.
A Sunni militant group linked to al Qaeda has claimed responsibility. Abdullah Azzam Brigade is demanding that Hezbollah pull its fighters out of Syria, where they've been supporting government forces.
Beirut has been the target of multiple bomb attacks in recent months. February 3rd, a suicide bomber killed himself and one other person on a mini bus in a southern suburb of the Lebanese capital. January 21st, four people killed in a suicide attack on a Hezbollah stronghold in southern Beirut. That same area was hit in another bombing just weeks earlier. At least five people died in that blast.
In December, seven people died in a powerful explosion downtown, a former Lebanese ambassador to the US among the dead. And last November, nearly two dozen people were killed when bombs detonated outside the Iranian embassy in Beirut.
The same group behind today's bombings has claimed responsibility for that November attack as well. It is once again demanding Hezbollah withdraw its forces from Syria. But just a few days ago, Hezbollah's chief made clear it will stay and fight.
Let's bring in Mohammed Jamjoom, now, to talk more about the links between Lebanon and Syria's civil war. He's in Amman, Jordan. Still more evidence, it seems, mounting evidence, that Syria's civil war is spilling over into neighboring countries. That's part of the reason you're in Jordan. But what can you tell us about these bombings?
MOHAMMED JAMJOOM, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Yes, this is another very disturbing example of how the violence from Syria is spilling over, continues to spill over into Lebanon.
You know, Jonathan, you and I have spoken many times about the fact that as sectarian lines and tensions have deepened in Syria, so have they in Lebanon, because the sectarian divisions in Lebanon mirror those of the sectarian divisions in Syria. Lebanon has been inextricably linked with Syria for so long, and they get drawn closer and closer into the Syrian civil war more every day.
Here's another example: as you mentioned just a minute ago, it was just a few days ago that the head of Hezbollah, Secretary-General Hassan Nasrallah, spoke. He once again defended his position with regards to his fighters fighting alongside the Syrian regime in Syria.
Because of that, there has been mounting anger, especially from amongst Sunni militant groups in Lebanon, towards Hezbollah. And because of that, Hezbollah and their patrons, Iran, have been the target of more and more attacks throughout the last several months. This is just the latest example.
And many of the people that I speak with in Beirut are really concerned that these types of attacks are only going to continue and get worse. In fact, in the last week alone, we heard about at least three car bombs that were discovered by security forces and defused before they reached their targets.
At least two of those car bombs were heading to the southern suburbs of Beirut, which are a stronghold -- although we must say, a densely- populated residential neighborhood, but a stronghold of the group Hezbollah.
So, it really does look as though these attacks have stepped up. Planning for these attacks have stepped up. And because of that, there is a lot more concern in Lebanon.
The one bright spot the past few days has been the formation of a new government after 11 months without any government. But one of the things that Lebanese are really looking toward this government to try to do is to try to make sure that Lebanon doesn't get drawn more and more into the Syrian conflict. Jonathan?
MANN: And it's not just the violence that's spilling over. People, literally, are spilling over Syria's borders into neighboring states. That's part of the reason you're in Jordan. You were at the Zaatari refugee camp today. What can you tell us about life there?
JAMJOOM: Zaatari has grown exponentially in the year since I had been there last. Today, it really does look like a city unto itself. And in fact, Zaatari has become the fourth-largest city in Jordan. There are over 100,000 Syrian refugees in Zaatari. That's almost too difficult to comprehend. It really has become much more organized than it was before. People continue to flood in every day.
And one of the things that we saw that was a bright spot amongst all the sadness that you really feel there is the fact that there are now schools on the Zaatari refugee camp, three in particular. These house 16,000 students. But the fact of the matter is that 20,000 students have enrolled, but they only have capacity for 16,000.
Now, we were in those classrooms yesterday. Yesterday was a special day, because Malala Yousufzai, she was visiting. She was there to try to point out to these children how important education was. And they were so happy to see her there.
But even without her presence, the children that I spoke with in those classrooms, it's unlike other kids you see around the world who aren't happy to be in class. They feel that this is giving them the second chance that they deserve, because many of them weren't in school for so long after they fled Syria, and they are as eager to learn as they are to survive.
But we must mention one more thing, Jonathan. Even though 20,000 students are enrolled in Zaatari, there are at least 50,000 children there, so there are a lot more kids there that aren't enrolled in school and that hope to be very soon. Jonathan?
MANN: Mohammed Jamjoom, live for us this evening from Amman, Jordan. Thanks very much.
It's fear that makes people flee, fear and bloodshed. The Syrian regime is intensifying both in its campaign to seize every piece of Aleppo from rebels at apparently any cost. War planes have been dropping waves of barrel bombs on Syria's largest city, once the country's economic hub.
The attacks are forcing terrified families to escape, in this case, to Turkey. CNN's Arwa Damon talked to some of them about what they've been doing.
(CHILD CRYING, SHOUTING)
ARWA DAMON, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): "They killed my siblings!" six-year-old Mohammed cries out, covered in dust. One of his sisters was pulled out of the rubble alive, but the other killed.
It was a barrel bomb, 55-gallon drums filled with explosives and shrapnel, shoved out of helicopters, capable of flattening entire buildings, delivering a level of sheer, raw terror so intense it's forced a new wave of refugees into neighboring Turkey.
Eleven-year-old Basmali (ph) remembers the first one she saw. "I saw it land, and then the smoke, and I ran," she tells us. "I was so scared, I almost peed myself."
Her young voice is unnervingly strong and steady. Basmali's mother, Nadia, crosses into Turkey minutes later.
DAMON (on camera): They're saying that even this morning, as they were fleeing, there were still barrel bombs that were just raining down on the neighborhood.
DAMON (voice-over): They tried to tough it out for so long, despite the airstrikes, artillery, and snipers. But they no longer can.
"They are watching us die," Nadia says, referring to global leaders. Like so many other Syrians we've spoken to, she can't understand how the world can watch, playing politics at their expense, and making a mockery of their misery.
Despondent and weary, the family moves their belongings, not knowing where they will find shelter. At the bus station close to the border, others wait. A small non-profit doles out pasta and oranges. Syrians, a fiercely proud people, hardly imagined it could ever end up like this.
Jamal (ph), not this man's real name, asked that we conceal his identity. He was a lawyer in Syria, among the first in his village to demonstrate against the regime. But Syria's dark, bitter path since then has left him grappling with emotions that overwhelm even the proudest of man. Jamal breaks down when we ask about leaving Syria behind.
"It rips our heart to shreds," he responds. But the barrel bombs were closing in on them like a tsunami, he says. "Our children have aged decades. They are aware of everything," he tells us.
For the children, nothing stands out. The horrors they witnessed all blend together in a never-ending nightmare that haunts them, even here.
Arwa Damon, CNN, Kilis, Turkey.
MANN: Live from CNN Center, you're watching CONNECT THE WORLD. Still ahead, after revelations of widespread US government surveillance, Europe talks about a high-tech way to protect itself. Can it work?
MANN: Welcome back. Can Europeans keep America out of their e-mails? German chancellor Angela Merkel held talks with French president Francois Hollande today, and one of the issues, the idea of setting up a European communications network which would bypass American servers. This, of course, after those revelations of widespread spying by the US National Security Agency.
Here, essentially, is what Merkel's proposing: Europe would work to build up its own communications network and end reliance on US providers. E-mails and other data would be stored on servers within Europe rather than having to pass through servers in the US. As a result, personal information would stay under the jurisdiction of Europe's strict data protection laws.
Well, for more on the ambitious proposal and whether it can really work, let's cross to CNN's Samuel Burke in New York. Let me ask you, first of all, really, what this amounts to. Are they trying to build some kind of wall between Europe and America, or are they trying to build a European internet?
SAMUEL BURKE, CNN BUSINESS CORRESPONDENT: Well, Jonathan, not only would this be a radical response to the allegations of American eavesdropping, it would be a fundamental shift in the very internet as we know it, and the principles of the internet as we know it.
I think the best way to describe this would be a kind of internet island in Europe where they wouldn't have to depend on American servers so much. But I spoke to a very prominent lawyer, Craig Newman, here in New York, who specializes in this very matter, and he explained why this would be more than an uphill battle.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
CRAIG NEWMAN, LAWYER AND MANAGING PARTNER, RICHARDS, KIBBE & ORBE, LLP: The idea of US companies locating their data centers in Europe is not a silver bullet. Regardless of where they put their data centers, American companies are still subject to their legal obligations in the United States.
Which means that you can put your data centers in Sweden, you can put them in Finland, you can put them in Germany. It's not going to matter, because US companies are still going to have to comply with US legal process, which means if they get a subpoena or a request from the government, they are going to have to turn over user information wherever its stored.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BURKE: And specifically, those two tools, Jonathan, that the United States government uses to get information overseas are, of course, the US Patriot Act, passed after 9/11, and the Foreign Intelligence Services Act. So, if they didn't want to depend on these American companies, like Facebook and Google, they would essentially have to build alternative companies to these tech giants inside of Europe.
MANN: Well, let me ask you about them. That, presumably, is something they can recognize as clearly as you can. Could they do it? How much money would it take? How much time? And would it succeed?
BURKE: The experts that I've spoken to said it would take a tremendous amount of money. Think about how much time it took to create Facebook and Google? Obviously, technology has advanced, so it wouldn't take as much time, but they would have to give lots of incentives to European companies to create this. It would be a very big challenge.
Could Germany create a search engine that was better and more efficient than Google, and would they really want to create a competitor to that? Because that's essentially what they would have to do.
They would have to create competitors to all these companies, because like the lawyer, Craig Newman, said, regardless of where the servers are, if they're American companies, they would have to comply with American law.
MANN: I a sense, it sounds like a great idea, though. If you want to create jobs, if you want to invest in high tech, this would be like the space race for Europe. They could funnel a lot of money into state-of-the- art technology.
BURKE: Oh, absolutely. And of course, there are many places in Europe where the technology scene is blossoming. But the government would have to pour tons of money into bringing down the barriers for entry in those markets, encouraging entrepreneurs to open businesses. And of course, we know in a lot of countries inside Europe, there are very high barriers to starting your own company.
MANN: Samuel Burke, live for us in New York. Thanks very much.
Coming up right after this short break on CONNECT THE WORLD, he's walked for more than 100 days across the ice going by the South Pole. An incredible polar explorer has finally made it here, now, to an interview with us on CNN. Stay tuned for that.
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CROWD: One Direction! One Direction! One Direction!
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MANN: And little doubt about who these fans want to win at this year's Brit Awards. We're on the red carpet with all the action from tonight's prize ceremony.
MANN: Welcome back. It was an expedition that ended in disaster for Captain Robert Scott and his team of polar explorers over 100 years ago. But now, two British men have successfully walked to the South Pole and back, spending 105 days trekking across the ice, a journey that took its toll mentally, physically, and emotionally.
In a moment, we'll be joined by one of the explorers who's just made it back to London, but first, a reminder of an epic adventure.
MANN (voice-over): From the cold of the South Pole to the warm embrace of their loved ones, British explorers Ben Saunders and Tarka L'Herpiniere home at last after four months in Antarctica, returning triumphantly. They say they've set a new record for the longest polar journey on foot. When the pair set off to Antarctica last October, they prepared down to the smallest detail.
TARKA L'HERPINIERE, EXPEDITION TEAM MEMBER: Normally you cut the handle off, but I'm going for a luxury pull-handle length. But in order to compensate for the weight, I've got to make holes in it.
MANN: They saved every gram of weight they could, crucial when carrying 105 days worth of supplies across almost 2900 kilometers of cruel terrain in temperatures plunging to minus 46 degrees Celsius.
In 1910, Captain Robert Falcon Scott and his team set off on the same journey, but they died in the last stage after running out of food. Saunders and L'Herpiniere were determined not to make the same mistake.
BEN SAUNDERS, EXPEDITION TEAM LEADER: And it's been really, really hard at the very start with these heavy sledges, nearly 200 kilos each. Not much scenery today. We've had almost complete whiteout, but fingers crossed, things improve tomorrow.
MANN: But things soon got tough, and by day 70, they had to call for an emergency food drop. Their hopes of completing the journey unassisted were shattered, but the expedition was now achievable. Even after consuming 6,000 calories a day, both lost nearly a quarter of their body weight.
L'HERPINIERE: It's really hard.
KATE L'HERPINIERE, TARKA'S WIFE: Look at those little legs!
L'HERPINIERE: I know!
K. L'HERPINIERE: I struggled to buy jeans that fit him round the side. He had big legs, and now they're little sticks in some baggy jeans.
MANN: While the expedition may have been physically and mentally exhausting for them, it was emotionally draining for their families.
BRENDAN JOHNSON, BEN'S MOTHER: It's been the most anxious four months of my life throughout, yes.
MANN: For Saunders and L'Herpiniere, the journey is over, but their place in history will surely last forever.
MANN: And Ben Saunders, the leader of the expedition, just arrived back in London as we saw, and he joins us now from CNN London. Thanks so much for being with us. Congratulations, and I don't know where to start expect by asking you, what? Seventeen kilometers a day dragging a 300-kilo sled, is there any way to describe how hard that was?
SAUNDERS: Yes, one of the biggest challenges at the moment, I think, is trying to put the scale of this journey and the challenge into words. And I think one of the hardest things is that Tarka and I are the only people who will ever know what it was like.
You can try and say, well, it was minus 46 degrees Centigrade, it was cold. We skied 1800 miles. It was a long way, 2900 kilometers, 69 marathons back-to-back. But no one really has an reference points. So, it was a journey that defies any description, really. It was a challenge that certainly took us both to our very limit.
MANN: What do you bring home in yourself after an odyssey like that? What lessons do you learn about yourself or about the environment or about the men who preceded you and failed a century ago?
SAUNDERS: Yes. I think we've come home -- we're coming home pretty tired, first of all, as you can probably imagine. Got back to London yesterday morning. I'm still -- it's still very strange being back in the warmth and in civilization.
I think also it's a journey that left us with just a sense of awe at what these men went through more than a century ago. With no hope of being rescued if anything went wrong, they were sailing away from home to Antarctica but for years at a time with no safety net, no communications.
They may as well have been on Pluto. It must have seemed an utterly alien world to them. And they were using hopelessly inadequate clothing and gear by today's standards. So, I'm just in awe at what they achieved and how close they got to pulling this journey off.
MANN: They got close, but they failed, they lost their lives. Why did you succeed where they failed? Was it because of that one crucial food drop?
SAUNDERS: Yes. We were very different expeditions. Captain Scott was, in a sense, heavily supported. It was kind of siege-style assault on the South Pole, so a very big team at the start with vehicles, with dogs, with ponies, laying these big depots on the outward journey.
Tarka and I were pulling everything from the start, so in a sense, even though we had modern-day equipment, modern-day clothing, modern-day nutrition, that enabled us to push ourselves far harder than Scott did, certainly at the very start.
We were pulling 200 -- about 205 kilos each, 450 pounds. So, that's the same weight that Scott's weakest ponies were dragging at the start. So, even though we had advantages that Scott couldn't have dreamt of, we were still pushing ourselves very hard, indeed.
MANN: How close were you to failure? What was the weakest moment? What was the best moment for you?
SAUNDERS: The highs and lows -- it's hard to pick a single low point. I think the Beardmore Glacier, we traveled up and then down again the Beardmore Glacier, it's one of the largest glaciers in the world. It's about 110 miles long.
That was challenging physically. You're traveling uphill on the way up, and it's heavily crevassed. It was probably one of the riskiest parts of the journey. You can't land a plane on it, so if anything had gone wrong there, if we were injured, that would've been very serious indeed.
And I think I'd underestimated how tough the high plateau itself was going to be. We spent four weeks above 10,000 feet, around 3,000 meters. The average wind chill for a month was minus 35 degrees Centigrade. So, that was a tough, tough, period.
But the entire journey as a whole, we never had an easy day. And Antarctica definitely started to develop a personality, and it kind of seemed like it was against us. It didn't want to give us anything easily - -
MANN: I think it --
SAUNDERS: -- we had to battle for everything.
MANN: I think that's a fair assumption. It is against you.
MANN: Every man for himself in a place like that. Ben Saunders, I am in awe. I think everyone is. Thank you so much for talking with us.
SAUNDERS: Real pleasure, thank you.
MANN: The Brit Awards, Britain's version of the Grammys. Tonight at London's O2 Arena, some big names performing, including Katy Perry, Justin Timberlake, and the Arctic Monkeys -- funny timing for that one.
There could be more, in fact. Beyonce is rumored to appear. And this could be the year that David Bowie wins. He's nominated twice for his comeback album, "The Next Day." He would be oldest ever winner at age 67. Ch-ch-changes. Our Isa Soares was on the red carpet with the stars.
ISA SOARES, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: The fans are out in force, and the music is due to kick off at the Brit Awards 2014. We're expecting sizzling performances from the likes of Katy Perry, Arctic Monkeys, Pharrell Williams, as many other -- along with many others. But there's only one group that seems to be on everyone's mind. Try to guess what it is.
CROWD: One Direction! One Direction! One Direction! One Direction! One Direction! One Direction! One Direction! One Direction!
SOARES: It's not just about the young, though. I spoke to some very well-established performers early on the red carpet. Take a listen.
PHARRELL WILLIAMS, MUSIC PRODUCER: You guys have David Bowie. You have -- the Gallaghers. You have Disclosure. Ziggy Stardust. Like all the great, great, great music, a lot of great music comes from here. So, to be include in it, it's just -- it's an amazing feeling.
SOARES: If there's one in particular that you feel very close to that means a lot to you, what would it be?
BASTILE, BRITSH ROCK BAND: I put it out there a lot that I would like to win Best Female, but --
BASTILE: I'm hoping --
SOARES: You're fighting Ellie for that one.
BASTILE: I'm good.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: He's got the hair, though.
SOARES: Yes, you have.
One of the favorites to pick up an award is David Bowie. He has been nominated in two categories. The 67-year-old is expected to make huge buzz when he shows up tonight, so hopefully he'll walk away with a gong. Many are saying will be David Bowie versus the kids.
Isa Soares, CNN, London.
MANN: And I can report that Bastille, who you just saw in that report, have just picked up the award for British Breakthrough Act.
I'm Jonathan Mann, you've been watching CONNECT THE WORLD. We're breaking through, I guess. Thanks for joining us.