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Pakistan Floods; Heat Wave in Russia

Aired August 9, 2010 - 16:00:00   ET


BECKY ANDERSON, HOST: Pakistan is drowning -- the U.N. says the flood disaster now impacts more people than the 2004 tsunami and the Pakistan and Haiti earthquakes combined.

Extreme weather also causing havoc in China, where heavy rain and mud slides affect thousands.

And from there to a heat wave in Russia -- tonight, are we seeing real evidence of deadly climatic change at play?

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

Well, deadly floods, fires, heat waves and mud slides all over the Northern Hemisphere. It's been a summer of weather disasters. Exploring whether there is a climate connection, I'm Becky Anderson for you in London.

And I want to know your thoughts on this. Tweet us. I'm atbeckycnn. We'll be reading out your comments later on the show.

Also coming up tonight, the aid group whose workers were massacred in Afghanistan suspends its medical expeditions. This, as a terror group in Somalia bans three Christian aid agencies.

We're going to explore why a connection is being made between religion and aid workers.



ANDERSON: He's sold 45 million albums worldwide and now he's answering all the questions you wanted to ask him. Usher is your Connector of the Day.

Just how bad is the flooding in Pakistan?

Well, the United Nations offered a grim comparison today to the 2004 tsunami. Now, that killed far more people, of course. But the U.N. says the total number of people impacted by the flooding, nearly 40 million, now far exceeds the 2004 disaster.

Reza Sayah gives us an up close look at the chaos.


REZA SAYAH, CNN CORRESPONDENT: This muddy lake that you see didn't exist about a week ago. These are the floodwaters that have buried entire villages in the district of Ghotki in Northern Sindh Province. Thousands of people still stranded in some of these villages. And the navy special services here in Pakistan has been using about 20 boats in this region on rescue missions.

We're on their hover craft and we're along for the ride on this mission.

All right, it looks like we've arrived at the village. And, as you can see, most of the homes underwater.


SAYAH: What is he saying?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: He's saying, "Take the people out."

SAYAH: A lot of these people didn't want to go a few days ago. But now, you can see, most of their village is underwater. Now they're saying, all right, it's time to leave. These are conditions these people have lived in for about a week now.

About 40 to 50 people in this village being rescued and they keep coming. Most of them are children. They're grabbing the belongings that they can. We saw what appeared to be a newborn wrapped in a blue blanket. And they just keep coming.

They're saying about a thousand more people left in this area stranded. But this hovercraft simply doesn't have any more room. So they're just telling them we're going to come back. And it's taking a few more people. But they're going to have to wrap up here.

Here's another child. I mean she can't be more than two years old, probably terrified.

There was a little confusion. An elderly woman here who was rescued started screaming. Apparently, one of the children here was taken and her mother was left behind. And so the hovercraft stopped and went back and now we're headed out.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: She says: "I'm 70, 80 years old and never in my history this much of flood has ever came anywhere. At times, we become depressed. But then it also gives us motivation to work more and more, day and night, to help them out.

SAYAH: The navy's responsibility is to get these people to dry land. And then it's up to the local government to get them help. Most of these people have lost everything. So the unimaginable challenge is for them to somehow, some way, start their lives over again.

Reza Sayah, CNN, in Northern Sindh, Pakistan.

SAYAH: Well, the report on what are being called the great floods of 2010. And in other parts of the world, a searing heat wave. Hundreds of wildfires in Russia, devastating flooding in Germany, Poland and the Czech Republic and in Northwestern China. Mudslides have killed more than 330, leaving another 1,000 missing.

Emily Chang starts with our global weather watch.


EMILY CHANG, CNN CORRESPONDENT: This is what remains of Zhouqu County after a massive flood and landslide. It happened in the middle of the night while most people were asleep in their homes. Tons of rock and mud came sliding down the mountain, smothering parts of the town.

Now, some of that rock and debris fell into the middle of the Bailong River, creating a huge blockage. The water built up and that's what caused the additional flood. And the water here is still rushing by very quickly.

Herein the village, or what's left of it, we've been seeing body after body being carried out, wrapped in blankets, on planks of wood. We've seen villagers carrying their belongings on their backs, carrying their children, literally walking out barefoot.

Villagers, as well, we have seen covered in mud after searching for their family members in this thick, heavy sludge. That is what -- is what's making this rescue effort so difficult. In some places, the sludge is several meters high. So rescue workers say they can't walk through it, they can't drive through it, they can't get heavy machinery through it. So they literally have to use their bare hands, using picks, shovels and buckets, looking for signs of life and trying to dig these victims out.


And Russia has been expecting some of its worst weather conditions in memory. Record high temperatures and the longest drought for nearly 40 years have turned firestorms into infernos. Peat bogs dried out in the sun have also ignited, covering vast swaths of territory with a blanket of thick, choking smog.

Muscovites have been advised to stay indoors. The smog has penetrated office buildings and houses, even the city's metro.

So far, more than 50 people are confirmed dead as a result of the fires, but the death toll could be much higher. Authorities say the mortality rate in Moscow in July is twice as high as it was at the same time last year.

FREDERIK PLEITGEN, CNN CORRESPONDENT: I'm Fred Pleitgen in Berlin, where floodwater that has devastated the country for several days appears to be moving further north. Meanwhile, in the southeast of the country, floods have devastated a cultural heritage site, which was flooded earlier in the day.

Meanwhile, however, a lot of the floodwater is receding. And that is bringing to light a lot of the massive damage that the water has caused.

SEBASTIAN WENGER, HOTEL OWNER (through translator): I still can't believe it. I'm normally somebody who can deal with a crisis, but this is just too much. I have three properties along this river and all three have been damaged by the flood.

PLEITGEN: The communities expect that it will take weeks, if not months, to clear up the damage. However, things appear to be even worse in large parts of Western Poland, as well as the Czech Republic, where whole villages and towns were devastated by the masses of water.

ANDERSON: Fred Pleitgen there in Germany.

So that is the story in Germany, China, Russia, and, indeed, the story out of Pakistan.

All this, then, just adding to what is an ongoing discussion on climate change.

Russian President Medvedev recently calling climate change a wakeup call for all of us. And the chief U.S. climate change negotiator, Jonathan Pershing, says that the fires in Russia and floods in Pakistan are -- and I quote -- "consistent with the kind of changes we could expect from climate change and they will get worse if we don't act quickly."

Well, my next guest says that no place on the planet will look the same 40 years down the road if climate change continues.

Heidi Cullen is a climatologist in the United States and the author of the book, "The Weather of the Future: Heat Waves, Extreme Storms and Other Scenes from a Climate Changed Planet."

And she joins us now from Princeton, New Jersey.

I guess the evidence that we are seeing is the evidence you need to back your thesis. Many people, though, just say this is just severe weather and that happens, Heidi.

HEIDI CULLEN, AUTHOR, "THE WEATHER OF THE FUTURE": Well, indeed. I mean what I think we should be listening to is -- is, as President Medvedev said, this is a wakeup call. It's not to say that extreme weather has never happened before. But what it shows us is that despite the fact that we live in a very high tech world, we're still incredibly vulnerable to extreme weather. And what climate models and climate science tells us is that these extreme weather events will actually get worse as we move out in time.



Tell me why.

CULLEN: Well, you know, it -- honestly, it -- it's not terribly complicated in the sense that when you increase the background temperature -- right now, the globe has averaged about -- increased in temperature about 1.3 degrees Fahrenheit, about .6 or .7 degrees Celsius. When you increase the background state, that increases the likelihood of extreme events...


CULLEN: Essentially because, as you warm the planet, you increase the amount of water vapor, more evaporation. That fuels the kinds of storms that we've been seeing.

ANDERSON: Right. And our viewers will have heard this again and again and again. And whether they agree with you or not is, to a certain extent, beside the point.

What I do want to put to you is simply this, are we suggesting that global warming caused the monsoon flooding in 1927, which was as bad as it got in Pakistan until we've seen what we've seen this year?

CULLEN: Absolutely not. I mean I -- I think it's really important to acknowledge that the incredibly huge, massive role of natural climate variability. It -- it is really a huge regulator of our overall climate system. But we have to also acknowledge the fact that there is this steady upward trend in the background state. And so rather than say that these storms were caused by global warming, it's simply to say that global warming is now playing a role. We have to accept that. We have to contextualize our weather and admit that we're -- we're very ill equipped to deal with what we're already seeing.

ANDERSON: Let's have a look at what some of our viewers are saying.

Diego has written to us. See if you can address this, if you will: "The extreme weather," he says, blogging for us tonight on our site, "is due to the La Nina phenomenon -- cooler sea surface temperature in Equatorial Pacific that ended with full force and very fast, replacing El Nino, at the beginning of summer and causing havoc in world weather."

Heidi, is there any chance that he's right or partially right?

CULLEN: Oh, I -- I think he is absolutely partially right. And that's -- that's the point. I mean this is a far more nuanced story than just, you know, is it global warming, is it not global warming?

It's to say that climate is this huge orchestra. We now have this steady drumbeat in the background. And when you look at observational records, we're seeing the trend play out in very heavy precipitation, in droughts, in very high temperatures.

And, again, this takeaway is simply, you know, are we going to chalk it up to bad luck, losing 30 percent of the wheat yield in Russia?

Or as we go to say, listen, there's ways that we can adapt to this and actually learn from it.

ANDERSON: We -- we've made the point that much of what we are seeing -- all of we have the we are seeing at present, certainly what we've reported on tonight on this show, is extreme weather conditions causing havoc in North -- in the Northern Hemisphere.

Again, is there a specific reason for that, do you think?

CULLEN: Well, you know, it's one of these things where weather is an incredibly chaotic process. I mean if -- if these storms had been located to the left or to the right and -- and not impacted, you know, a -- a major city like Moscow, we -- we tend to focus on -- on -- on these large events when they hit, you know, high population areas. But, you know, the weather is a chaotic process. But we expect to see these kinds of storms, you know, and -- and drought and heat events more and more as we move into the future.

ANDERSON: Let me get another viewer comment for you, Heidi, from Ann (ph) tonight, who supports the connection. She says: "There have always been natural cycles. But that does not mean that humans are not adversely affecting our environment and, thus, our climate. The earth is a living organism that lives -- what lives," she says, "can also die."

I was at Copenhagen back in December when there was much confusion as to what was causing climate change, if anything, and whether global warming -- warming really was a manmade phenomenon.

Cancun, the next meeting of climate scientists and those who -- who advocate or are against the subject will get together again in Cancun in -- in December.

Where are we at present in -- in sort of scientific debate?

And, you know, are we convinced, I think, is -- is the main question?

CULLEN: Yes, you know, I -- I think that we are convinced that climate will change and change dramatically as we move into the...


ANDERSON: Oh, I think we've just, sadly, lost our guest, who was coming to us from Princeton, New Jersey this evening.

Fascinating stuff.

I'm going to talk to you here -- I think we can get her back.

We were making some connections for you, or certainly attempting to, as we connect the world here on CNN.

Still to come on the show, a victory for supporters who plan to build a mosque in the shadows of Ground Zero. Almost nine years after September 11th. Emotions are still running high. We're going to look at that debate, one that is deeply dividing New York.

Stay with us.


ANDERSON: Raided and shut down -- an infamous German mosque, Hamburg's Taiba Cultural Center, gained notoriety in 2001 as a meeting place for the September 11th suicide hijackers. Back then, it was known as the Al-Quds Mosque. Well, Hamburg authorities say they don't want their city to serve as a, quote, "incubator" for extremists.

Well, it's been nine years since September 11th and Muslims worldwide are still battling the stigma of those attacks. A controversial plan to build a -- a mosque near the very site of the attacks has only highlighted the divisions.

Now, the project has been given the green light.

But as Allan Chernoff explains, many people are seeing red.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: And the vote to be 9-0 in favor of removing the Landmarks Preser -- removing this building from the Landmarks Preservation Commission's calendar.

ALLAN CHERNOFF, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): The vote denying this building landmark status allows the owner to pursue his vision for a new building that will house an Islamic center and mosque near Ground Zero.

SARIF EL-GAMAL, CEO, PARK 51: We have worked tirelessly to realize an American dream which so many others share.

CHERNOFF: The real estate developer's American dream is a nightmare to opponents, who have argued a mosque simply doesn't belong near the site of the 9/11 terror attacks.

MARION DRYFUS, MOSQUE OPPONENT: I think the -- the goal is very much to manifest control and insert and infiltrate into our culture yet more evidences of Islam and Sharia law.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: You can do it without hurting people. This hurts everybody.

CHERNOFF: But proponents of the planned Islamic center say its intent is to heal rather than hurt. They say the center will focus on helping Americans better understand Islam.

ZAED RAMADAN, PRESIDENT, CAIR-NY: This is a victory for freedom of religion and our constitution. People are trying to attack it through the rhetoric of fear and hate and they did not win.

CHERNOFF: For months already, the building has been open as a prayer space for Muslims. New York's Landmarks Preservation commissioners could have had authority only over the building's exterior, not its use. And now they've chosen not to assume any control.

While the developer has a design on paper, it is not final. His company says, though, it will be a modern building, rather than a traditional mosque -- a community center modeled on the YMCA.

EL-GAMAL: We are Americans, Muslim-Americans. We are businessmen, businesswomen, lawyers, doctors, restaurant workers, cab drivers and professionals of every walk of life represented by the demographic tapestry of Manhattan.

CHERNOFF (on camera): El-Gamal and the project's other leaders say they intend to build bridges to mainstream America. But given the opposition they faced over the Landmark Commission's vote, they've got their work cut out for them.

Allan Chernoff, CNN, New York.


ANDERSON: All right, well, more and more mosques are being built, not just in America, but around the globe. And on Wednesday, Muslims start observing the holy month of Ramadan.

So we thought it was important this week to take a closer look at Islam. It's the fastest growing religion in the world. Estimates say it is more than one-and-a-half billion followers.

But consider this, 20 percent of Muslims live in countries where Islam is not the majority religion. China has more Muslims than Syria. And Germany has more following the religion than in Lebanon. And a recent poll found that Muslims who live in Europe are less likely to work or feel optimistic about their future prospects.

Well, one of the researchers on that Gallup poll which took a global snapshot of the world's Muslim population is Magali Rheault.

She joins me now from Washington.

Does the -- just widen -- widen this discussion for you -- for me, if you will, by setting it in some sort of context where -- give me a sense of what you really found in your research.


Yes, thank you.

Back in 2008, Gallup conducted the first nationally ever representative of the Muslim population in the United States. And one of the most striking findings is the racial diversity of Muslims in America. So out of the several religious groups that we studied, we saw that Muslim- Americans are the most racially diverse religious group.

And that's really very unique to the United States, because when you study European Muslims, for example, or any large Muslim populations in, well say, a Western country, you don't have that rich diversity that you have...

ANDERSON: All right, I get that.

I understand.

RHEAULT: -- in the United States.

ANDERSON: I understand that. So -- so you've got a rich diversity.

But how well integrated is that -- is that richly diverse population in the United States?

We'll talk about Europe after this -- and Asia -- but in the United States?

RHEAULT: OK. So for the United States, just to give you a quick profile of Muslims in America, we see that, for the most part, the population is relatively young. They're under the age of 34. They're highly educated. Many of them have a college degree or higher. Many of them work. And that compares favorably. It's either higher than the American population as a whole or on par with the U.S. population.

So they're young. They're highly educated. Many of them -- 70 percent of them are employed. Many of them, when they do work, are in the professions -- doctors, lawyers...


RHEAULT: -- attorneys, many of them are entrepreneurs for which the very on this side...


RHEAULT: -- a very positive profile.

ANDERSON: Right. I get that. I understand that. But there's still a perception -- and I may be wrong here -- but there's still a perception that a great majority of -- of Muslims and in the U.S., are still persecuted, to a certain extent. They feel this sort of integration -- the integration or a sense of -- of -- of ultimate identity within U.S. society...


ANDERSON: -- as they might, or perhaps as they should. Perhaps it's not as big a problem in the -- in the U.S. as that is so in Europe.

So where are we seeing the differences and why?

RHEAULT: OK. So basically the -- the two faces of -- the two sides of the coin, on the other hand, you have some really strong assets with what I just highlighted. The other side is more of a -- feelings that we're not part, that the community is not part of the fabric of the United States because of what is basically, if you want a mirror, that is sent back to them from Americans as a whole.

But when you compare that to their counterparts in Europe, our research shows that Muslims in America are doing better in terms of the well-being issues because they have a job, because they are able to earn a good living, which is not what we find in the research...


RHEAULT: -- in -- in Europe.

ANDERSON: We're going to have to leave it there on this Monday. But it's a theme that we'll be discussing all this week, as we take a look at the Islam ahead of Ramadan, of course, midweek.

We thank you very much, indeed, for joining us this evening, just kicking off our discussion, as I say, a themed week this week and -- on CONNECT THE WORLD.

The faith, its followers, its future -- more on the fastest growing religion in the world tomorrow.

Coming up, though, two different stories, one war crimes trial that Charles Taylor give Naomi Campbell blood diamonds one night in 1997?

We compare and contrast the supermodel's testimony with actress Mia Farrow's version of events.

That is just ahead.



MIA FARROW, ACTRESS: I don't know how many diamonds there were or what state they were in because I didn't see them. I can only tell you and I swear on the Bible, as I have, to this court and beyond, that is what Naomi Campbell said that morning at breakfast.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: That is your recollection of what Naomi Campbell said?

FARROW: That is my best recollection.

It was sort of an unforgettable moment. I may be fuzzy on surrounding details, but I remember when she came in on the breakfast and said she had received a diamond from Charles Taylor.


ANDERSON: New testimony at the Charles Taylor war crimes trial from U.S. actress and activist Mia Farrow.

Now, that contradicts what we heard from supermodel Naomi Campbell last week and could incriminate the former Liberian president.

Remember, this all has to do with one evening in 1997, when all three were at dinner at Nelson Mandela's house in South Africa.

The question -- did Charles Taylor give Campbell uncut diamonds, something that could link him to the bloody industry backing rebels in Sierra Leone's civil war?

Well, so far, that has gone unanswered. And the evidence doesn't quite add up.

Let's get a -- a quick reminder, shall we, of the Naomi Campbell side of the story.

Here is what she said under cross-examination by Charles Taylor's lawyer.



UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Neither of the men told you that these diamonds came from Charles Taylor. Is that right?


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Furthermore, the next morning at breakfast, you did not tell either Mia Farrow or Carol White that the men said the diamonds came from Charles Taylor, did you?

CAMPBELL: No, I did not.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The suggestion about Charles Taylor came from one of them?


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: And so, consequently, it is pure speculation that these diamonds came from Charles Taylor.

That's correct, isn't it?

CAMPBELL: I just assumed that they were.


ANDERSON: Well, former cricketer turned Pakistani opposition politician, Imran Khan, was also at that fateful meal 13 years ago. He's on the left of this photo.

I spoke to him on Friday and I asked him for his recollections of the event.


IMRAN KHAN, FORMER PAKISTANI CRICKETER: I don't remember anything at all. It was -- at the timing when I don't remember and you talk of diamonds. Maybe my ex-wife does, but I have no idea.


ANDERSON: Well, hundreds of you have clicked onto our Web site to tell us what you think of this trial and the testimony that we've all heard so far.

Sparks61 has written in, saying: "I find it incredible that two strange men would be allowed to get to Naomi Campbell's bedroom door without her minders, agent or security knowing exactly who they were and why they were there."

Well, Darfut adds: "I can't imagine Taylor just giving a few small, uncut diamonds to impress Campbell. I'm going with the theory that it was a big one in the lot, which is well hidden somewhere."

Somebody who goes by the name of Pozzocatone has joined in the debate, saying: "Taylor must be enjoying seeing the ladies contradict each other's stories."

Think41self pointing out to us that: "Not one person has testified that Charles Taylor personally gave her diamonds. If this is the best evidence that they have, well, they can't prove it," he or she says.

And finally, another viewer questions: "Can everybody accurately remember what happened in 1997?"

Well, this is your show, so get your thoughts on air, go to We do read them all, we'll get as many on these stories as we can on air for you.

Well, they loved the Afghan people and risked everything to help them. For that, they paid with their lives. We're going to see how outrage is growing around the world over the killing of ten aid workers in Afghanistan. That and your headlines, coming up.


ANDERSON: It is just after half past nine in London. You are back with CONNECT THE WORLD. I'm Becky Anderson for you here at CNN.

Coming up, Afghan atrocity. We've got fresh details for you about the deaths of ten international aid workers, and we ask if continued attacks there and elsewhere have charities reassessing their commitment.

From killer to Christian convert. We meet a former North Korean commando who's become a symbol of redemption on a divided peninsula.

And before the end of the program, we're going to link up with your Connector of the Day. You've just seen him in the break, Grammy award winner Usher is one of the most influential singers in R&B music around the world. Now he hopes to use that influence to help empower young people around the globe. I'm going to put your questions in as your Connector of the Day.

All those stories are ahead in the next 30 minutes. First, I want to get you a very quick check of the headlines.

Pakistani officials say some 1600 people have died in the worst flooding there in decades. And the United Nations says the number of people impacted has reached 13.8 million. Now, that number exceeds -- far exceeds the number affected by the 2004 tsunami. Though that disaster, of course, did kill far more people.

In northwestern China, the death toll from mudslides has reached 337. Rescuers are searching for more than 1100 people who are missing, and they are trying to get desperately needed food and water to survivors.

Israel has begun an internal inquiry into that deadly raid on a Gaza- bound aid flotilla. The first witness, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, who says the raid in international waters was legal and Israeli troops acted in self defense. The United Nations begins its own inquiry on Tuesday.

Polls are closed now across Rwanda, with President Paul Kagame expected to coast to reelection. This is the country's second presidential election since the 1994 genocide. Official results are expected on Wednesday. Human rights groups already calling it a sham saying there is no real opposition in the country.

A German linguist, a New York optometrist, a British doctor just weeks away from her wedding. We're learning more today about the ten aid workers killed execution-style in Afghanistan. Now, the Taliban are claiming responsibility, accusing the victims of proselytizing for their Christian charity, a charge the group strongly denies. Allan Chernoff looks at one of the lives brutally cut short.


STAN KEY, PASTOR, LOUDONVILLE COMMUNITY CHURCH: Tom Little stood right here four Sundays ago, and he told us about this trip. He and Libby were here, and he said, "Please pray. There's dangers."

ALLAN CHERNOFF, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Optometrist Tom Little knew he was living a life of danger, but it was to do God's work, he passionately believed.

KEY: A lot of talk the gospel. A few people live the gospel. And Tom lived it.

CHERNOFF (voice-over): For 33 years he lived it. He and his wife, Libby, raised their three daughters in Afghanistan so Tom could provide eye care to the Afghans for free.

LIBBY LITTLE, WIFE OF SLAIN AID WORKER: There was danger. There's been danger at times. Rogues along the way. But it really was what we thought God wanted us to do, and we're -- we -- I felt it was a privilege to -- and it was a joy to be doing what we were supposed to do.

CHERNOFF (voice-over): To provide eye care in Afghanistan, where it is badly needed, the Littles endured rocket attacks during wartime and numerous hostile encounters.

LITTLE: We've often just stopped everything when they've held us, sort of hostage, saying, "We're not going to let you go any further." And we'll do eye care on them, or serve them. That's OK. And then they'd let us go.

CHERNOFF (voice-over): But after surviving close calls for three decades, Tom Little was shot and killed Thursday, along with nine other aid workers. An attack for which the Taliban has claimed responsibility.

KEY: It was an act of evil in its rawest, ugliest form.

CHERNOFF (voice-over): Even in the face of such brutality, Libby and her friends say Tom's murder was not in vain.

TOM HALE, FRIEND OF SLAIN AID WORKER: I think it is going to inspire more people, more people who are on the fence, more people who realize that staying in a nice comfortable situation in America is, perhaps, not what God wants them to do.

CHERNOFF (on camera): Tom's wife Libby happens to be in the United States because the couple has been expecting their first grandchild. Allan Chernoff, CNN, New York.


ANDERSON: Let me tell you, the killings are raising new concerns about the safety of aid workers everywhere, but especially those in war zones. Now, militants in one African country are ordering Christian aid agencies out. Al-Shabab, a Somalia-based group linked to al Qaeda says it has banned three Christian aid organizations, accusing them of actively trying to convert Muslims under the guise of humanitarian work.

World Vision is one of those banned charities. Its acting CEO and head of programs in the UK, David Thomson, is here with us this evening and we do thank you for coming. And let's start talking about Somalia, if we can. Al-Shabab says you've been, quote, "active missionaries under the guise of humanitarian work and spreading corrupted ideologies in order to taint the pure creed of the Muslims in Somalia. I'm assuming that you'll tell me this is an unfair representation of your work.

DAVID THOMSON, ACTING CEO, WORLD VISION UK: Well, World Vision is a humanitarian organization. We've been working in Somalia for the past 18 years. Our humanitarian assistance has been reaching half a million people a year as we work there. And our focus is on assisting the most needy, particularly children. And so the claims that are being made are unfounded.

ANDERSON: Let's move away from Somalia just for the moment. The motivation for the deadly attacks in Afghanistan just this weekend were that -- are unclear at present. There are those who say that a Christian aid organization has no business being in a country like Afghanistan. Even those who'd be suspicious of a Christian faith-based group there. Do you at least understand those criticisms or suspicions?

THOMSON: Humanitarian organizations work in countries to reach the most needy people, and we work in a way that is impartial to ensure the most needy receive aid and assistance. And so our work takes us into many different contexts, where for World Vision working in a hundred different countries around the world.

ANDERSON: What makes a Christian aid organization? How does your faith characterize your work?

THOMSON: Thank you very much. For us at World Vision, it's the motive behind what we do. So it's a motivation to go and serve, to work and provide humanitarian assistance in many parts of the world.

ANDERSON: Do you at least hear, or are you cognizant of those who have suspicions about a faith-based charity like your own?

THOMSON: My experience has been having worked in Afghanistan, Sudan, Chechnya for many years that faith-based organizations actually are able to communicate and engage well with other people of faith.

ANDERSON: And yet you have -- not your organization specifically, but faith-based organizations -- Christian faith-based organizations have been kicked out of countries like Morocco, I think back in 2005. Some odd thousand Christian aid based NGOs, workers were thrown out by the Moroccan government there. Somalia, we're just seeing a story resonating there as well. Does this mark the end or mark a juncture at which you think faith- based charities might begin to question whether they might work in a Muslim country, for example?

THOMSON: I think many humanitarian organizations have found over the last 10 to 15 years that it's become harder to work in countries around the world. And it's become harder because of bureaucracy, it's become harder because of politics, and it's become harder because of security. And so there a number of general reasons that have made our work more difficult.

ANDERSON: Do you believe that you're at more danger with an organization like yours than other organizations?

THOMSON: I think not. We've found in the experience -- in my personal experience is that being faith-based actually provides opportunities for meeting points with other -- with populations of people in the countries that we work.

ANDERSON: Finally, I know that you knew Tom, who was -- had been working in Afghanistan for many years. A shocking story. You must have been very moved by it.

THOMSON: Very much so. And the killings are shocking, of aid workers this weekend in Afghanistan. And it just is a reminder for us of how difficult and challenging our work can be.

ANDERSON: All right, we'll leave it there. We thank you very much indeed.

THOMSON: Thank you.

ANDERSON: For coming this evening.

There are career changes, then there are life changes. This man grew up in North Korea where he was trained to be an assassin. He's been growing old in South Korea. It's an understatement to say he has turned his life around. This is CONNECT THE WORLD, I'm Becky Anderson in London. Stay with us.


ANDERSON: In a way, it's like a game of military tag, where the consequences could be deadly. Just as South Korea wraps up a five-day anti-submarine drill near its disputed Yellow Sea border with the North, Pyongyang responded. Seoul says North Korea fired more than 100 rounds of artillery into its side of the Sea.

Tensions along the border are wound tight. In March, an explosion sank a South Korean military vessel, killing 46 soldiers. Seoul blames Pyongyang, which angrily denies any involvement.

This type of tension isn't anything new in the region. Ever since the 1953 armistice that ended the fighting, North Korea has accused the South and the US of planning an invasion. In fact, much about life in North Korea is geared towards war.

But people change. Kyung Lah now with a look at the transformation of one man trained to take lives, who is now saving souls.


KYUNG LAH, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Kim Shin-Jo is a Protestant minister. A gentle leader of his church. But the 69-year-old is best known by history as a trained killer.

He was the face of evil and terror for a generation of Koreans. A North Korean commando fighter who came into Seoul to assassinate the South Korean president at the time, Park Chung-hee. More than 30 years ago, this was the chilling announcement Kim made to reporters.

"I came from North Korea to kill President Park Chung-hee," Kim said, remembering. "I came to cut the throat of Park Chung-hee."

LAH (on camera): It was January 1968. Thirty-one North Korean commandos managed to slip across the border, through the woods, and made it to within a few hundred meters of the president's residence. But a South Korean police officer confronted them. There was a gunfight. There's a memorial here marking that police officer's death. In the end, more than 30 South Koreans where killed. All of the North Korean commandos were killed except for one, who managed to make it back into North Korea, and Kim Shin-Jo, who was captured.

LAH (voice-over): "We were taught that America turned South Korea into a colony," says Kim, "and our mission was to remove the puppet government."

The mission a failure. Kim, now captive, began months of interrogation. Behind bars, a South Korean army general befriended him and broke through his hardened training.

"I tried to kill the president. I was the enemy," says Kim. "But the South Korean people showed me sympathy and forgiveness. I was touched and moved."

The government eventually released him, finding that Kim never fired a shot from his gun and didn't hurt anyone in the assassination attempt. Kim then worked for the South Korean military, became a citizen, married, had a family, and became a minister. He is now the country's symbol of redemption.

Today, tensions on the divided peninsula are the highest in a decade, with few answers for workable long-term solutions. But Kim Shin-Jo is living proof that even the hardest of hearts in this conflict can change.

LAH (on camera): When you look back at the newsreel, do you recognize that young man?

KIM SHIN-JO, FORMER NORTH KOREAN COMMANDO (through translator): On that day, Kim Shin-Jo died. I was reborn. I got my second life, and I'm thankful for that.

LAH (voice-over): Kyung Lah, CNN, Seoul.


ANDERSON: You're watching CONNECT THE WORLD. Up next, your Connector of the Day. He's won Grammy awards and runs his own record label. Now, R&B star Usher's got a new look. Find out how that is helping to empower young people politically. That's after this short break. Stay with us.



ANDERSON (voice-over): With his good looks and crooning vocals, it didn't take long for Usher to dominate the spotlight. At age 14, he earned a music contract and produced his self-titled debut album. Three years later, he came out with a hit, "You Make Me Wanna," establishing him as one of R&B's hottest young artists.

Just this March, the five-time Grammy winner released his sixth studio album, "Raymond V. Raymond." Outside of the recording studio, Usher has continued to have an impact.

His charity, Usher's New Look, empowers young people to become local leaders. And this month, he's joined forces with President Bill Clinton to get his message out. A star on platform, Usher is your Connector of the Day.


ANDERSON: Yes he is. Loads of you wrote into our website,, wanting to ask Usher a question. I spoke to him and one of his co-sponsors of the organization, John Rice, a little earlier on, and we began by talking about why he started up what's called the New Look Foundation. This is what they said.


USHER, SINGER: New Look Foundation started in 1999. Of course, as an entertainer, we all have that obligation to do something positive with the life that we have. And I wanted to mentor youth, giving them a new look on life through real world experiences. We mentor youth in the summer, and then grew on to having not only academies, but award ceremonies like the World Leadership Awards that were hosted with former president Bill Clinton.

It's really just an opportunity to recognize them as service men and women.

ANDERSON: And to both of you, are you seeing a tangible impact on the kids?

JOHN RICE, CO-SPONSER, USHER'S NEW LOOK: No question. The stories are very powerful, and for the businesses that are involved, it's the right combination of education, which we all believe in, and social responsibility. And to see these young people grab onto that, enjoy learning, and understand the importance of giving back, it's just a very powerful thing.

ANDERSON: All right, we've got a question from one of our viewers, Ali. She says, "Why, Usher, did you call it 'Usher's New Look?'"

USHER: A lot of the kids that we've chosen to mentor here in American and now, even, around the world come from impoverished homes. And there's two objectives in life. To be productive and to learn. You can either be a product of your experience or a product of your environment. We offer them a new look.

ANDERSON: John, what is he like to work with?

RICE: He's great because he really gets it. And that's one of the things as I got to know him over the last few years that really impressed me, was how serious and sincere he was about the work he was doing. Nothing frivolous about it. He wants to reach as many kids as he possibly can.

ANDERSON: A couple of questions from viewers about the music. One from Ashley from Cincinnati asking you, Usher, "What's your favorite album to date?"

USHER: Actually, it hasn't come out yet. It's on its way out. It's called "Versus" -- "Raymond V. Raymond." You probably have heard some of the songs from it. "DJ Got Us Fallin' in Love" is a new song that's coming off of "Versus" as well as a track that I did with Justin Bieber called, "Somebody to Love," and also "Hot Tottie," featuring Jay-Z. This one is coming very soon. It's probably my best work to date.

ANDERSON: All right. And somebody who goes by the name of UshersUltimateFan asks where you got the inspiration for the new album?

USHER: Earlier this year, we released "Raymond V. Raymond." "Versus" is an extended experience of "Raymond V. Raymond" with three or four new tracks. There were, I'd say, roughly about maybe 30, 40 tracks that we worked on for the initial album. A few songs didn't make the original cut, so I allowed those songs to be heard on this album with a few new songs.

ANDERSON: And here's another one. Larry asking, "How did it feel when you got your first Grammy," my love?

USHER: Ultimately, I do this for the fans. And I think the first or second time that I released a record, I didn't get recognized, so by that time I'd grown accustomed to not winning a Grammy. But the fact that I did, and what I won for, it's spoken volumes, not only about the determination that you have to have as an artist, but if you truly believe in your talent no matter what happens, you can make it.

I actually won for Best Vocal Performance. And coming from an artist who had totally lost my voice, this was like one of the greatest compliments ever.

ANDERSON: John, how does he stack up compared to those that you have worked with in the past?

RICE: Well, that's the point that strikes you the first time you meet him is he really gets it. He understands that he can take all this talent and use it in a powerful, positive way to teach young people the importance of learning and giving back. And I think he gets it as well as anybody I've worked with.


ANDERSON: John Rice and Usher. We'll spend a full half hour this week on "TalkAsia." He's going to talk about that moment when he saw Justin Bieber on the internet and knew that he wanted to invest in the young singer. That is Saturday, 20:30 in London, 21:30 in central Europe.

And tomorrow's Connector of the Day is one of Pakistan's most controversial military figures. Retired Lieutenant General Hamid Gul headed up one of the country's top intelligence agencies and played a key role in supporting the Mujahideen during the 1980s Soviet-Afghan war. He has strongly supported the Kashmir Insurgency against India.

It is your part of the show. Send in your questions as ever for Connector of the Day, and do remember to tell us where you're writing in from. Head to And tonight, with a couple of minutes left, we will be right back.


ANDERSON: Your World in Pictures tonight begins and ends in the water. European swimming championships are making quite a splash in Budapest. Here we see swimmers from Spain and France at the end of the 50 Meter Butterfly semi-finals.

The international puppet festival is taking place now in the city of Jerusalem. As part of the summer festivities, huge puppets are paraded through the streets.

And speaking of huge, how about mammoth. This life-size mammoth mockup was on display recently at a garden show in southern Germany, then it was back to its permanent home at a natural history museum.

As promised, we're ending in the water, or in this case, just out of the water, in fact. These are shrimp recently caught off the coast of Louisiana. Fishermen say it could be a long time before things return to pre-BP levels, but at least it is a start.

Swimming, puppets, something big, and something small in our World in Pictures this evening.

Let's check out for you before we go some of the best videos feeding into CNN this Monday. In the US, football is full of initiation rituals, isn't it? But few are this embarrassing. This Friar Tuck hairdo is almost bad enough to warrant a fifteen-yard penalty. The Denver Broncos welcomed first-round draft pick Tim Tebow to the locker room with a -- well, with a very special haircut. I'm sure Tebow is expected to wear his new Broncos helmet as often as possible.

Next, amazing video from a storm chaser. Watch as this tornado tears through Wilkin County in western Minnesota over the weekend. The twister touched down near the North Dakota state line, ripping through an open field before swallowing a farmhouse and spitting out debris. The home was empty at the time.

And Jersey meets Jaws. This shark swam up to a Jersey Beach -- oh my goodness. Luckily it was just a brief visit for the young blue shark. It then returned to sea. Probably frightened by the way people were reacting. Experts say this abnormal behavior was very abnormal for that kind of species. Really, terror on the beach.

Before we go, I want to return to the question did Charles Taylor give supermodel Naomi Campbell uncut diamonds. There's a lot of comments coming in. Actress Mia Farrow has given evidence at the former Liberian leader's war crimes trial, and it contradicts what we've heard from Campbell last week. Here's what some of you have been saying.

Plastichead -- that's what he calls himself -- argues for Naomi and thinks she's very accustomed to getting lots diamonds and thought very little of it.

Insanmukmint writes, "What a bunch of slimy dealings between politicians, military generals, and beautiful temptresses involving blood diamonds."

RookFeather argues, "None of this 'she said this, I said that' nonsense is going to sway the tribunal one way or another."

We're going to give tinwatchman the last word on the show tonight. He doesn't mind the celebrity gossip and says, "There's something actually relevant at stake, at least in terms of Liberian politics."

Get your voice heard on CNN. Head to the website, I'm Becky Anderson. That is your world connected this Monday out of London. "BackStory" is up next, right after I get you a very quick check of the headlines here on CNN.