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State Department Asks for Help With Oil Cleanup; Niger Delta Polluted; U.S. Attorney General Visits Afghanistan

Aired June 30, 2010 - 16:00:00   ET


BECKY ANDERSON, HOST: Seventy-two days and counting. As oil continues to wash up on American shores, the State Department finally asks for international help.

But who is helping Nigeria?

Our reporter finds the waters of the Niger Delta polluted from thousands of oil spills over decades. Tonight, from there to Ecuador, South Korea and more -- we reveal how oil spills happen more often than we care to know and yet the world keeps drilling.

On CNN, this is the hour we connect the world.

As we are hooked on a 24-7 drip feed of information from the Gulf of Mexico, oil spills are happening all over the world with frightening regularity.

I'm Becky Anderson in London.

Tonight, why those other accidents have no impact on drilling policy.

Also this hour, a collection of angry responses -- the French government grills its football team manager about what went wrong in South Africa, while Nigeria's president goes one step further and suspends the whole team from international football.

And 10 countries back Italy in its fight to keep crucifixes in the classrooms. The fight for and against religious symbols has ramifications across Europe.

And that is our Twitter question tonight -- how does the issue resonate with you?

My address is atbeckycnn. Tweet back and we will get that debate going on air.

First up tonight, news about the BP spill has been almost as relentless as the flow of oil itself. The 72 day crisis is still ongoing and there is still a global audience for live pictures of the leak in the Gulf of Mexico. Researchers estimate up to 60,000 barrels of oil are gushing from the well every day.

Some of it is being captured, but much of the crude is being washed up on the beaches of many Gulf states, killing wildlife and jeopardizing the seafood industry.

Well, BP is still trying to contain the spill, but says their cleanup efforts have been disrupted by three-and-a-half meter high waves that have been kicked up by Hurricane Alex. The rough seas are forcing BP officials to send oil skimming ships back to shore.

Well, the U.S. Is now getting help from the global community. According to the U.S. State Department, 27 countries have offered to help contain and clean up the spill. The U.S. Says it will accept offers from 12 of those nations and 10 international organizations. And aid includes containment booms and oil slicks from Canada, from France, Japan, Mexico and the Netherlands and Norway.

Well, while the world has watched every twist and turn of the Deepwater Horizon disaster, other environmental crises have captured far less attention. Take a look at this.

Christian Purefoy now reporting on the thousands of oil spills that have been destroying what is the Niger Delta for decades.


CHRISTIAN PUREFOY, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): More than 6,800 oil spills, with some nine million barrels of oil spilled over 50 years. Nigeria's Niger Delta is one of the most oil polluted places on Earth.

As we traveled to a recent spill site from this May, here in the third largest wetland in the world, you see oil just about everywhere, from a blackened roots of the mangroves to the thick oil in the rivers.

(on camera): This oil spill came from a ruptured pipeline deeper into the mangroves. The pipeline has since been fixed, but the oil was washed out here into the mangroves and, as you can see, has left a thick layer of oil over everything here -- the mud, the water and the remains of the cleanup operation has just been left and washed up against the shore.

(voice-over): In this no man's land, we found fisherman Peter Poren (ph) and his wife whilst they're collecting wood to survive. "There's no fish in the river anymore," he tells us. "So there's no way I can feed my family apart from fetching firewood like this."

The U.S. Imports 10 percent of its oil from Nigeria and environmental groups fear that if the U.S. Cuts oil production off its coast because of the BP oil spill, it will only put more pressure on places like Nigeria.

KEN TEBE, ENVIRONMENTAL RIGHTS ACTION: And there will be increased oil drilling in the Niger Delta. There will be increased -- there will be new blocks given out so that we can be able to meet up the quota we send to the U.S. That will mean there will be increased oil spills, there will be more gas leaks that are going to be put up and a resource complete is going to be on the increase.

PUREFOY: Unrest and ongoing conflict in the region, says oil companies, often prevent them from cleaning up any spills properly and Shell maintains that more than 90 percent of its spills are caused by militants and thieves tapping into pipelines to steal oil.

MUTIU SUNMONU, MANAGING DIRECTOR, SHELL NIGERIA: Access has continued to be a problem. Between 2006 and the end of 2009, (INAUDIBLE) our staff go out into the field to do their normal business. But I can assure you, wherever there is a spill, we will mobilize our resources to clean it up and restore the environment to its previous status.

PUREFOY: The problem is, after 50 years, many people here simply don't believe the oil companies anymore.

Christian Purefoy, CNN, the Niger Delta, Nigeria.


ANDERSON: And why should they?

The Niger Delta isn't alone when it comes to dealing with devastating oil disasters. They are happening all over the world and they don't always make a lasting impact with the media. And, therefore, not with you.

Let's go back to December, 2007, and shall we?

Thousands of tons of oil gushed into the Yellow Sea off South Korea's western coast after a tanker collision. At the time, a spokesman for the Ministry of Maritime Affairs called it, quote, "The country's worst spill."

Well, over in Ecuador, indigenous tribes are suing oil giant Chevron over poisoned waterways. They claim the company illegally dumped toxic wastes from its oil production, causing a public health crisis. Chevron denies that its operations caused any illnesses and says the responsibility for cleaning up the area lies with Ecuador's government and the state oil firm.

And bringing us up to date, oil has been washing up at tourist spots along Egypt's Red Sea coast several as -- over the last two weeks. The country's oil ministry says the crude is not from any rigs.

Well, back to the Gulf of Mexico, where besides other nations, even more stars are assisting the cleanup operation. That got us thinking why is so much international attention on this spill when others around the world go largely unnoticed?

And it is a really important issue?

Let's bring in Professor Steiner.

He is a marine conservation consultant who's been advising authorities in the Gulf of Mexico for much of the past two months. He's also worked on the emergency response to the 1989 Exxon Valdez oil spill in Alaska.

And it's a really good question.

What's going on here?

Lawmakers watching this show ought to be thinking of this -- 6,800 oil spills over 50 years in Nigeria. This is not a risk-free industry. There is a cost-benefit analysis going on here, I assume. And yet the attention is focused on the Gulf of Mexico and nowhere else.

Why is that?


STEINER: Yes, it is -- it is a tragedy. And it's unfortunate that people generally pay attention to what's right in front of them and what they can see immediately.

For way too long, the Niger Delta and other places around the world, but particularly the Niger Delta, has been out of sight, out of mind to the American public. And there's been a tragedy which has just continued decade after decade.


STEINER: We, as you mentioned, you know, we import maybe 10 percent of our imported oil comes from Nigeria, yet here we're paying all this attention to what goes on in the Gulf of Mexico, yet very little, if any, attention to what goes on from the Niger Delta, where we get oil from...

ANDERSON: Yes, and Rick, it may be our -- our fault in -- you know, in the media, we -- we choose to identify some stories and not others. But surely it's -- it's an industry specific issue. But the industry should be minded to go out and organize and sort itself out, surely.

But nothing, it seems to me, has been learned over the last five decades about what we should do when and if these things happen.

Do you agree?

STEINER: Absolutely. I mean if one of the hallmarks of intelligent life is being able to learn from our mistakes, we're not looking all that intelligent these days. And you're right, the industry is basically -- the oil industry is a transnational industry, yet it applies double standards. It will generally take care of its business fairly well within developed countries. But in those other countries, which basically have their own sovereign jurisdiction over the -- the industry, like in Nigeria and places in the Middle East and in South America and Russia and such, they have very low standards and the industry exploits that, cuts costs, cuts corners and basically, you know, it's a train wreck -- a slow moving train wreck...


STEINER: -- in these places. So we need to in -- impress upon the global industry that it needs to employ best available technology everywhere it works. And we can no longer, in the United States or in Europe, for instance, simply export our environmental damage to other countries...


STEINER: -- from where we're importing goods.

ANDERSON: You're talking to the international viewer. There may be as many as 200 million people watching tonight. Drilling is unsafe. I mean that is obvious. I mean it...


ANDERSON: -- or it's certainly not risk-free. And that is period.

But is anything going to change?

STEINER: If I have anything to do with it, absolutely. I mean we have to use whatever disaster we have presented as an opportunity to fix things. But if the only thing we fix out of the Deepwater Horizon is better offshore drilling safety and better government oversight in the United States, we've missed the big lesson here. And that is, we need to transition rapidly to clean, low carbon sustainable energy. And if 10, 20 years from now, we look back on this and we have done very little other than offshore drilling safety in the U.S. And -- and ignored all these other transcendent issues, we have really blown perhaps our last best chance to get on with this transition while there's still time.

So let's -- let's hope we get this lesson for what it -- what it needs to teach.

ANDERSON: Rick Steiner is your expert on the subject, tonight joining us there by Skype.

Well, a legal battle that's begun in Italy could affect virtually every state-run school in Europe. We're going to take a look next here on CONNECT THE WORLD about both sides of a debate on whether a crucifix has any place in your classrooms.


ANDERSON: Calling it an attack on its traditions, Italy is appealing a ruling by Europe's top -- top human rights court against crucifixes in public schools. Now, the court ruled that such displays violate students' right to religious freedom and the state's duty to neutrality.

Now if Italy loses this appeal, the ruling could apply to schools in all 47 member states of the Council of Europe.

Now, 10 of the governments from the Council of Europe are backing Italy's appeal, making arguments today before the European Court of Human Rights. No country is intervening in support of the crucifix ban, which I guess is a fairly important point.

The (INAUDIBLE) question is at the heart of this debate, isn't it -- what is the crucifix in the classroom actually mean or symbolize?

Italy argues it's a sign of national identity, not an overt religious symbol meant to indoctrinate.

Well, Paula Newton took the temperature in Rome when the ruling first came out back in November.

Have a listen to this.


PAULA NEWTON, CNN INTERNATIONAL SECURITY CORRESPONDENT: We are at a bar at a signing here in Central Rome to do a story on crosses. Now, you can see even in bars in Italy, a lot of them will have a cross. Bara Fafani (ph) has it. It's very important to them in terms of being their identity.

(voice-over): "It's a symbol of my culture," she tells us. "I respect other religions, but I'm not taking down my cross."

The Josepa Jiacno Belli Middle School (ph) in the shadow of the Vatican teaches its pupils under the steady gaze of a crucifix in every classroom. Its headmistress, Carla Costetti, says it should stay that way.

CARLA COSTETTI, HEAD MISTRESS (through translator): I think that the majority of European countries, where Christianity has played a historical and important role, will hardly proceed with the removal of the crucifix. It does not mean not to adapt. It means, however, that sovereignty is to respect the identity of each independent state.

What about all of our churches, our paintings, the virgin shrines on the streets?

What are we going to obscure, everything, because it could become offensive for those who don't believe in those symbols?

NEWTON (on camera): Now, considering the vital importance of the cross to the Catholic Church, the Vatican's reaction has been downright sarcastic. It says it will do all it can to save one of its most sacred symbols.

(voice-over): The Vatican's secretary of state, Tarcisio Bertone, said: "Unfortunately this Europe of the third millennium only leaves us with pumpkins of the recently celebrated parties and it deprives us of our dearest symbols. This is truly a loss."

And crucifixes may get their salvation. The Italian government is now in court fighting the European ruling because, it says, the proposal to ban crosses makes them doubt the common sense of Europe.

Paula Newton, CNN, Rome.


ANDERSON: Well, other European countries have taken steps to ban religious symbols in public places, as well as religious attire. Let me take you back a couple of years. France passed a law in 2004 prohibiting the wearing of what they call conspicuous religious symbols in state schools. Now these include the Islamic veil, Jewish kipper and large Christian crosses.

In Denmark, well, they passed a similar law in 2008 that applies to courts, not schools, ruling that judges can no longer wear visible religious symbols.

Germany has no such law nationwide, but some of its 16 states do prohibit Muslim teachers from wearing head scarves while allowing Christian teachers to wear clothes like the nun's habit.

So do such bans on religious symbols protect the rights of non- believers or infringe on the believers' rights to religious freedom?

Well, two prominent guests join us now for a debate.

David Pollock is the president of the European Humanist Foundation.

And Gregor Puppinck is with the European Center for Law & Justice.

Guys, let me start with you, David.

And should any symbols, in 2010, be banned?

Or perhaps I should rephrase that question -- should we be wearing any religious symbols in 2010?

DAVID POLLOCK, EUROPEAN HUMANIST FEDERATION: Well, first of all, we must make a distinction between the cases you referred to about burkas and the like and this case.

This case has got nothing to do with any of them. This case is about schools and children. In children whose parents have the right to bring up -- bring them up according to their own religion or belief.

Italy is a secular country. It has a secular constitution. It has been for 20 years or more. It has something like one in five, one in four people who are atheists or agnostics. And yet the state has a law that requires the crucifix to be displayed in every state school classroom.

Now, that is an imposition on immature minds and it is liable to have a very strong effect on them. It's got nothing to do with other cases which, you know, such as the French ban on the burka and the (INAUDIBLE)...

ANDERSON: But we lump them all together, David. We lump them all together.

Gregor, your response?

GREGOR PUPPINCK, EUROPEAN CENTRE FOR LAW & JUSTICE: Yes, it's -- well, this case is a very important case because we have seen, for the first time, a very large coalition of states, many former communist states, former atheist states, who take a strong stand with Italy in order to protect the true religious freedom, which religious freedom does not ameliorate the social dimension because it's a religious freedom that recognizes the social dimension and also respects fully the right of the parents to educate the children.

What is important in this case, it's not really a legal case. It's mainly a really political move...

ANDERSON: Yes, but...

PUPPINCK: -- this is political (INAUDIBLE).

ANDERSON: Let me ask you this question. I -- I'm thinking about it here and I'm thinking back to where religion, church and state stands sort of post-Enlightenment era in -- in Europe.

Do we still live in the European Enlightenment period, where there is, David, a separation between church and state, or have we moved on to a certain extent?

POLLOCK: No, we haven't moved on at all. We're moving toward a greater separation of church and state. The Council of Europe has policies for neutrality in the approach to religious education in schools. The Organization for Security and Cooperation has its own guidelines on the same subject.

And the whole question of banning discrimination based on religion and belief is moving European countries further and further toward neutrality on the part of the state.

Now, this is, of course, a very painful adjustment for people who have been historically used to privileges for the Christian religion. But -- but it is quite clear that if the court now changes the position that the panel of judges reached in November, it will be a huge fight based on political pressure...


POLLOCK: -- and a desperate blow to the right of all of us not to have religion imposed upon us.

ANDERSON: And it will cost an awful lot of money. And I can't think of the millions of dollars that will be spent on this.


ANDERSON: Gregor, the crucifix is a national symbol in Italy.

Should a European court be able to ban it in schools?

PUPPINCK: I would ask the same question to you -- should the European court ban a picture of the queen of England from the U.K. court because queen of England is the head of the church?

So, I mean this is the role of the court (INAUDIBLE) super national court to decide what are the decisions on the society.

But Europe is a very rich and diverse continent with various countries and various conditions. What is important is that (INAUDIBLE) the right to believe, the right to practice, the right not to believe, the right not to practice. Those freedoms are basic and also the idea of the tension between church and state, between temporal and spiritual matters.

Then, the I -- the question of identity, the question of tradition, the question of roots is, I would say, part of the national sovereignty and popular sovereignty. So it's not the role of (INAUDIBLE) to deal with that.

ANDERSON: All right. OK. I guess the question is simply this then. And the last -- the last point from -- from both of you.

Should there be an absolute separation of church and state, David?

POLLOCK: Yes, there should, indeed. And Gregor has been talking about the -- the rights of the Italy -- Italian nation. And it has signed up to the European Convention. And it has, under that, a margin of appreciation in how it implements the convention, not on whether it implements.

What is in question here is whether it implements. And if this case goes in Italy's favor, it will have been given an opt out from guaranteeing the rights of individuals under that convention.

ANDERSON: Right. And if Italy gets it -- gets the case in its favor, what does it happen -- what happens, Gregor, to the likes of burkas and -- and crosses and -- and stars of David going forward?

I mean what -- what are the implications?

What's the significance of this case?

PUPPINCK: Yes, it's a -- the question is, you know, what is the best situation for a European country in order to integrate new immigrants and mainly, of course, many who are Muslim?

And if you have a country without its own symbols, you will see that we can integrate better people if you just renounce your own identity or shall we keep our own identity but continue to be tolerant?

What is important is the tolerance. I believe that -- I'm sorry to say that, but this is not -- it's not very (INAUDIBLE). You know, the question is respect. We respect your belief. You are not forced to practice. You are not forced not to practice. You do what you want. You teach your children. You raise them within the faith or outside the church as you like, but you live in a country.

And Italy (INAUDIBLE) in Italy or in France, it's different.


PUPPINCK: And also (INAUDIBLE) or in Greece, it's even different. And the court of Strasbourg cannot force the states to be all the same. It's not possible.

ANDERSON: And it...


ANDERSON: And with that, we're going to have to leave it there.


ANDERSON: I mean we could go on all night, guys.

Fascinating, fascinating debate.


ANDERSON: We'll have to leave it there.

Gregor, we thank you very much, indeed, Gregor and David, our experts on the subject.

Tonight, now I've been asking you on my Tweets what you think of this.

Some of -- of you are sharing their thoughts on this controversy and I'm just going to go through some of these Tweets as they are -- as they're coming in during the show.

Mambudoc writes: "Religious symbols are no longer pegged to religion. Art, culture and social identity have all taken a piece."

From MsJournalist: "The ban was started by a Finnish mother in Italy. In Nordic countries, there's a strong freedom of choice for kids. It's a noble idea."

Finally, from Keira, recommending tonight on the Twitter atbeckycnn: "Total separation of church and state. We have multiple religions worldwide. Why only crucifixes? Besides, they're kind of scary," she says.

Those are some of the Tweets coming in. Keep them coming. We'll get back to them at the back end of the show.

You're watching CONNECT THE WORLD here on CNN.

I'm Becky Anderson.

We will be right back.


ANDERSON: All this week here on CONNECT THE WORLD, we are bringing you special reports from Poland a part of CNN's what we call I-List. The I-List shines the spotlight on a different country each month, with stories that you won't see anywhere else.

Well, we began on Monday with a report on Poland's economy, the only one in Europe to avoid recession.

Tuesday, we looked at the legacy of one of Poland's most famous sons. Frederic Chopin was born 200 years ago this year, but dedicated music lovers are working to keep his music and his memory alive today.

And tonight, our series continues with an unusual trend in Poland. You've heard of the brain drain. Well, when educated people leave one place to live and work elsewhere, that is a brain drain, but as CNN's Frederik Pleitgen reports, Poland is enjoying the opposite -- a brain gain.


FREDERIK PLEITGEN, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Meet the Modrze Jewski twins -- Jan and Pawel. They've just traded the hectic world of London's financial district for the, well, equally chaotic world of baby fairs like this one in Warsaw.

JAN MODRZE JEWSKI, MON PETIT BEBE: We also felt that we always wanted to start our own business and -- and hence -- hence we wanted to build it here, where we think there is more potential, especially for -- for the industry that we are in, which is not so much penetrated and -- and -- and offers more -- more opportunity going forward.

PLEITGEN: Both were bankers in London. Now, they started what they say is Poland's first high end baby clothing brand. Everything is produced in Poland from 100 percent organic cotton. They say the knowledge they gain from working in the U.K. Is crucial to their success.

PAWEL MODRZE JEWSKI, MON PETIT BEBE: From the sort of way you think about your business and you build it, even from a sort of financial perspective, I think you sort of think the way you should be thinking in a way, you know, even sort of load yourself up in the future mind of, I don't know, financial difficulties because of that.

PLEITGEN: For years, young and dynamic Poles like Jan and Pawel left the country to seek education and jobs abroad -- a process known as brain drain. But now, as Poland's economy has shown itself robust in the crisis, many are returning to seek business ventures here, the government says, even though numbers are hard to come by, unemployment agencies warn the country still faces a shortage of skilled labor.

MIROSLAW KLOSE, MANPOWER: There are lot so job offers, but we also see the talent shortage in the position of project management. We, Poland, as a country, we are still under construction. So there are a lot of projects in many different parts of Poland and that means that employers have a big difficulty to find suitable candidates.

For her part, Klaudia Loretti made the move back to Poland to help in her family's business. She was in marketing in London and now manages several fashion stores in Warsaw and wants to start her own business.

KLAUDIA LORETTI, BUSINESSWOMAN: I wanted to come back here to Poland and bring my knowledge back here to my family. Maybe it happened a bit earlier than I planned, but I definitely don't regret coming back.

Both Klaudia Loretti and the Madriyefsky (ph) twins acknowledge Warsaw is still far from offering the opportunities of cities like London or New York, but it is their home. And with the skills they have acquired abroad they hope to find prosperity here. Fred Pleitgen, CNN, Warsaw.


ANDERSON: And tomorrow our series continues with the complicated work of sorting out ownership of hundreds of family manors, all over Poland. After World War II, Communists nationalized almost all privately owned property. Well, that is tomorrow, at this time on CONNECT THE WORLD.

Tonight, I'm Becky Anderson, and we'll be right back in 90 seconds.


ANDERSON: A warm welcome back with CONNECT THE WORLD. I'm Becky Anderson in London. It is 9:30 London time.

Coming up, one man, two wars; General David Petraeus is confirmed as the top military commander in Afghanistan. We look at the security situation he left behind in Iraq. One year after he presided over the pullout of U.S. troops from Iraqi cities.

Down and out, French failings at the World Cup. See the team coach pulled up before politicians and wait until you hear how Nigeria's squad are being punished for their lackluster performance.

And, saying no to nuclear weapons. Your "Connector of the Day", Queen Noor of Jordon, tonight, tells you why she wants to end the arms race. And she answers your questions.

Those stories, just ahead here on CNN. Let me get you though, first, a quick check of the headlines.


ANDERSON: If anyone doubted how dangerous the war in Afghanistan is just take a look at what happened today. A suicide bomber set off explosives at a NATO airbase in Jalalabad. Militants then opened fire and launched grenades before they were killed.

Well, Taliban claimed responsibility for the attack, which came even as a top Obama administration official visited Afghanistan. Let's get more for you now, as we kick off this part of the show. From Atia Abawi, in Kabul.


ATIA ABAWI, CNN INT'L. CORRESPONDENT (on camera): U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder made a surprise visit to Afghanistan on Wednesday, where he met his Afghan counterpart, as well as other Afghan officials, including the President Hamid Karzai.

Holder was here to reaffirm the American government's commitment to help the Afghan government, particularly with the justice system, as well as fighting corruption. This comes a day after the Afghan Attorney General Muhammad Alako actually accused the U.S. ambassador, Karl Eikenberry of threatening him to drum up false corruption charges against a top banking official here in Afghanistan.

The U.S. embassy says that they will not comment on private conversations held by the U.S. ambassador, but this is proof that the tension between Kabul and Washington continues to grow.

This comes amidst increasingly perilous security situation. Just that same morning, the Taliban tried to infiltrate a U.S. airbase in eastern Afghanistan, that is the Jalalabad Airfield, where they detonated a car bomb on the perimeter where they wanted their insurgents to infiltrate through. NATO forces said that they were able to kill several insurgents, at least eight, although the Taliban say that they were able to enter with six suicide bombers. And the Taliban claimed to have killed 32 foreigners, but it should be noted that the Taliban claim of responsibility and numbers tend to usually be exaggerated.

Atia Abawi, CNN, Kabul.


ANDERSON: Well, the U.S. Senate unanimously voted today to confirm General David Petraeus as the top U.S. commander in Afghanistan. He wants fewer civilian casualties, he says, but warns that, quote, tough fighting could get even more intense in the months to come.

Well, Petraeus is credited with turning around the war in Iraq, and heading off a looming civil war there, he relied on a surge in U.S. forces in 2007 to bolster security and weaken Al Qaeda in Iraq. Following that surge, Petraeus presided over the withdrawal of most U.S. troops from Iraqi cities. Today its exactly one year since that pull out, so, how is the security situation in Iraq a year on? Well, Arwa Damon takes into the heart of one Baghdad neighborhood.


ARWA DAMON, CNN INT'L. CORRESPONDENT (on camera): This is a small marketplace in the Sunni neighborhood of Almaria (ph). This entire area used to be controlled by Al Qaeda and Sunni militants. In fact, in these very streets people would be slaughtered, their bodies left behind, and residents too afraid to collect the dead.

(voice over): Everyone we meet knows someone who died. Khalifa Gharbi's son was shot in 2006 for no apparent reason, when he went to buy medicine for his sick wife.

"The worst thing that I saw was our young men slaughtered and their bodies tossed in the trash," he tells us. "But God willing, those days are over."

"There are explosions of roadside bombs," he adds, "but that's normal."

People tell us that they still suffer the psychological scars of seeing so much death. The children are especially affected.

(On camera): This is the joint security station that was set up by the U.S. military as part of the surge strategy. They have been gone for a year now, and this will be handed over to the Iraqi civil defense units.

Since the U.S. withdrew the Iraqi army commander here says that not once has he had to call the Americans for back up. Still, in recent months there has been a slight increase in roadside bombs and targeted assassinations.

We have also seen a number of attacks on banks and financial institutions. So here, for example, the Iraqis have set up 24-hour heavy security.

Everyone we have been talking to agrees that the security situation has dramatically improved. Still, there are very real concerns about a U.S. military drawdown, especially since the Iraqi government has yet to be formed. People say that they are optimistic, hopeful at least. That the worst is behind them. But they know that nothing here is ever guaranteed. Arwa Damon, CNN, Baghdad.


ANDERSON: Well, if this World Cup's performance is hard to forget, France certainly hasn't forgotten anything. Football bosses were called before parliament for an explanation. It is worse, though, in Nigeria. The president there pulls the plug on the entire team and international play.


ANDERSON: Right, well nothing happening right now at the World Cup, but wait until Friday. Netherlands faces Brazil in the quarter finals. Also, Friday Uruguay and Ghana will see who makes it to the semis. And on Saturday it is Argentina against Germany. I'll fancy that game. And Paraguay faces Spain.

Well, the old saying, it is not whether you win or loose, it is how you play the game, does not always hold true. Take, for instance, Nigeria and France. The Nigerian President Good Luck Jonathan has slapped a ban on the country's football team. He says they cannot compete internationally for the next two years. Well, Nigeria finished at the bottom of the group, remember.

And in France, it is a mix of embarrassment and outrage. French football chiefs were called before parliament to explain why the team failed so miserably. Like Nigeria, France bounced in the first round. Jim Bittermann, then for you, taking a look at poor performance and Parisian politics.


JIM BITTERMANN, CNN INT'L. CORRESPONDENT (voice over): The French are passionate about a lot of things. Football and politics are two of them. And so perhaps it was inevitable that after what some call here the dishonor beyond words brought on by the behavior of the French team in the World Cup, refusing to practice, riding away in what one commentator named the "bus of shame"; skulking back to France in what another called the "plane of shame". After they were eliminated from the World Cup perhaps it was inevitable after all the discredit brought to France by its national football club that politicians would want to have their own look into what happened.

So, first player Thierry Henry went off to explain the team's actions to President Sarkozy. And now, soon to be ex-coach, Raymond Domenech, and soon to be ex-president of the French football federation, Jean-Pierre Escalettes, were invited to appear before a parliamentary committee, which as one member said, just wanted to try to understand what happened.

And after a three-hour hearing closed to the public and cameras, a session described by one of the lawmakers as more like a news conference than an inquiry, the understanding seemed to be that those who were supposed to be in charge of the team, weren't.

MICHEL HERBILLON, FRENCH NATIONAL ASSEMBLY: We have some answers about the way the French team is managed. And I think we have, on this subject, improvements to make.

LIONEL TARDY, FRENCH NATIONAL ASSEMBLY: It was not a question about winning or losing, it was really a question about education, and the image.

BITTERMANN: As much as the French politicians might love to do something about the French football team, they restrained themselves at the parliamentary hearing and seemed content just to gather the facts.

(On camera): One reason they held back, a warning from FIFA President Seth Blatter, that the French team could be suspended if the government started meddling in team management.

(Voice over): But there is not doubt the team's behavior has had a lasting impact here. Even on young aspiring players who teachers say are now left with not a positive example of good sportsmanship, but the negative image of football stars who some officials here said behave like spoiled children. Jim Bittermann, CNN, Paris.


ANDERSON: Are the governments of France and Nigeria overreacting for the World Cup looses? And is this even a matter for the government? Should sport play a part in politics? Harry Harris has twice won the sports journalist of the year award, and he joins me now from Sunningdale.

Ah, France, your reaction? What's going on there?

HARRY HARRIS, SPORTS JOURNALIST: Well, I think every one, Becky, would agree, I'm sure they would, that it is abhorrent for governments to be involved in sports. I do not subscribe it in any shape or form for politicians to get involved in this way. I think sports should be run by the sporting governing bodies. I think the governments should just support those supporting governing bodies.


HARRIS: When it comes to providing finance for World Cup and other major tournaments. But to get involved-

ANDERSON: All right. But in the same vein, Harry, we all know, I mean, you know, Sunday afternoon in the U.K., we were all watching what was a terrible game by England. And it is difficult for politicians to not allow football to transcend sport, given that they're voting public are entranced by it, they're taken by it. They believe in the game.

HARRY: Well, Becky, this goes all the way back to Harold Wilson having an election after England won the World Cup in 1966. Politicians will take every opportunity to meddle in sport, because it can potentially become a vote catcher. The whole of England, of course, France, Nigeria, were a disaster in the World Cup. And the public are up in arms about what happened. So if the government intervenes it would be a popularistic view.


HARRIS: But from my point of view, I think it is the wrong way to go. I think Blatter is absolutely right. And I don't agree with Blatter very often, I'll be honest.


HARRIS: But I think he's right to make sure that the governments but out of trying to run the team. I mean, the next thing you'll know is the prime minister of England trying to pick the team. Actually he probably wouldn't do a bad job at it.

ANDERSON: Yes. We wouldn't want Cameron to do that, because I've got a feeling he's a Filhelm (ph) supporter. And although they did well this season, they didn't do that well.

Listen, let's-let's talk about the Nigeria situation. Because while the France situation is interesting, Nigeria, Good Luck Jonathan has just said, you are not going to compete for the next two years. What sort of message does that send out? Most of these guys don't play in Nigeria anyway, do they?

HARRIS: No, and I think FIFA will make sure that will be extended by at least another couple of years, because they won't take that laying down and they will ban Nigeria for a very long period of time. I think if every country decided they would opt out of World Cups, or international football, because they just felt like it, then we'd bee in a sorry state. And it would just be chaos and anarchy. So that's not going to work and I believe FIFA will make sure it doesn't work. So, I think Nigeria will be put in their place.

ANDERSON: I'm going to throw a shoe in here, because I just wanted to know what you think. It's got nothing to do with what we're talking about. Will Fabio Capella stay as the England manager, or will someone else get the job?

HARRIS: Becky, let me tell you this. I know the FIA and I have done for many, many years. They work in a peculiar way. But the fact is they removed a couple of contentious clauses form Capella's contract, 24 hours before England team left for South Africa. And there is no way the English FIA can afford the 10 million pound pay out to sack the manager. And even if they did want to do that, there isn't any ready made replacement.


HARRIS: And in a few weeks they're playing their first European qualifying title. All in all, it ads up to one particular event and that is Capella is going to stay.

ANDERSON: Harry Harris has forgotten more about football than you will every know, believe me. Harry, it is an absolute pleasure to have you on the show tonight. Harry Harris on politics and football.

We are going to take a very short break. But do not go away, I've got an absolute delight for you coming up after this.



ANDERSON (voice over): With her Western clothes and her American accent Queen Noor seems an unlikely member of the Middle Eastern royalty. But her marriage to King Hussein of Jordan made her an icon in the region. As the daughter of a U.S. diplomat the Queen met Hussein at a social event and they married in 1978. She then renounced her American citizenship and converted to the Sunni Muslim religion. The couple had four children during the course of their marriage before the death of the King in 1999.

Today she's still works to promote the interests of Jordan abroad, and has branched out into a series of other endeavors. She's an ambassador to the Global Zero Campaign, a movement to eliminate nuclear weapons. The initiative was launched in December 2008 to promote the eradication of all nuclear weapons.

An unlikely queen with strong commitments, Queen Noor is your "Connector of the Day".


ANDERSON: I spoke with Queen Noor from Los Angeles earlier this month. I began by asking her about her campaign to eliminate nuclear weapons. And why don't the U.S., Russia, and other countries, that have them, well, basically will ever give them up? This is what she said.


QUEEN NOOR OF JORDAN: Well, certainly at the moment the United States and Russia are leading the way. They have made the commitment. President Obama, several times as of last spring, to work for the elimination of nuclear weapons, the United States and Russia have made a historic agreement to work together for the elimination of nuclear weapons worldwide. The START Treaty was another very significant step forward. And we now have to bring on board the other nuclear states to commit themselves to nuclear zero and to the reductions in their arsenals that can lead everyone to that goal.

ANDERSON: I hear what you are saying. Let's take the example of Iran. Do you have any sympathy for them, in the sense that other nations have the weapons and they are prevented from having a program, effectively?

NOOR: That is absolutely correct. That is why the Global Zero program, which provides for all nuclear states to join on board, as United States and Russia commit to the next set of cuts, down to a 1,000 weapons each. That is going to-that is absolutely necessary, I think, to bring on board other states who look at those who have weapons, and wonder why a different standard should apply to them.

ANDERSON: All right. Queen Noor, Adam Smith writes to us, he says, "What steps will be taken in Jordan, for it to remain transparent in its nuclear operations?"

NOOR: We, like every other state, in our region, and every other state in the world, should have our nuclear-our civilian nuclear programs also under international safeguards. So that all nuclear materials in nuclear, and non-nuclear, states will have their civilian programs also, those materials safeguarded and monitored. That is how we ensure that there are no exceptions. And we can reassure those who might be skeptical about this process.

ANDERSON: OK, but let's get real here. For that to work, countries would have to stay honest. Will they?

NOOR: We have now over 200 former heads of states, military commanders, as I mentioned, other who were the architects of nuclear programs in their own countries, who are part of Global Zero, who believe that this is possible, that the danger of nuclear materials, which are many and poorly guarded, unstable states in the world today, far outweigh any deterrent value that these weapons can provide any country.

ANDERSON: Queen Noor, let me ask you a personal question here. Nellybell says you've have lived such an incredible life, and asks, "Would you have done anything differently?"

NOOR: I have never been asked that question before. Ah, would I have done anything different? I wish I could have saved my husband from the scourge of cancer. His case, like so many others, will have helped advance cancer research, and hopefully prevent others from suffering in that way. But on any other level I've been blessed with a family of millions of Jordanians, and so many others. Our own family and the opportunity to be a public servant.

ANDERSON: A last question to you, Tsao Chun Chung says, "Do you consider yourself more Middle Eastern or more American these days?"

NOOR: I have considered myself, for the last 32, for years to be in my heart, truly, I am a Jordanian, an Arab, a Muslim. I am an American in all the blessing and privileges I enjoyed growing up in this country. And I've never seen any contradictions or disharmony between those cultures and the societies I've been privileged to live and to work in. There is so much more in common that we share and that has been one of the great challenges and opportunities of my life to try to help convey that. And to promote the kind of understanding that can enable us to work more effectively together, the Arab and the Muslim world, and the United States and countries in the West, to achieve real peace and security throughout the world.


ANDERSON: Queen Noor, well you may not recognize our "Connector of the Day" next, but you are surely familiar with the dress she made famous, Diane Von Furstenberg is responsible for one of the most flattering creations in women's fashion. I have one. It is the wrap dress. And she is now talking with us and sharing her thoughts on size zero models. And her latest projects that you won't find in the store. And she is answering your questions ahead., is where you can get involved tonight. We'll be right back.


ANDERSON: Well, you just watched our "Connector of the Day", we'll be putting the best bits together for the last few months on a CNN special. We're going to hear from the famous and the infamous, from Hollywood stars to some of our hardest hitting guests. That is CONNECT THE WORLD, "Your Connectors" debuts Thursday 09:45 in London, and 10:45 in Central Europe. I expect you to be there and watch it. That is on CNN.

I'm Becky Anderson and that is your world connected, here on CNN. "BACKSTORY" is next, right after this check of the headlines.