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France on Strike; The Future of High Speed Rail; New Technology Against IEDs

Aired October 19, 2010 - 16:00:00   ET



NICOLAS SARKOZY, PRESIDENT OF FRANCE (through translator): It's a different choice and complex. But it was my duty. And the head of state also has a duty toward the future, the youth.


BECKY ANDERSON, HOST: Well, the French president speaks, but the French people aren't listening. As mass strikes against pension reform continue disrupting fuel supplies, the effects ripple across the globe, with flights and trains canceled. Tonight, what Paris can do next.

Going beyond borders on the day's best and biggest stories for you on CNN, this is the hour we connect the world.

A very good evening from London.

I'm Becky Anderson.

Spare a thought for Nicolas Sarkozy. He's not feeling the love from the French tonight, as the president battles to push through benefits reform. He's in meetings with his counterparts from Germany and Russia. While Berlin has successfully lifted its retirement age, Moscow is in a much safer fiscal position.

Tonight, how Paris will handle an increasingly angry workforce.

Also this hour, the benefit of hindsight...


CONDOLEEZZA RICE, FORMER U.S. SECRETARY OF STATE: Sometimes things that looked terrific at the time look pretty bad in retrospect.


ANDERSON: Well, Condoleezza Rice looks back at her time as Washington's top diplomat and answers your questions about her life both before and after she got into politics. She's your Connector of the Day this evening.

Linking London to Frankfurt and possibly to Beijing -- we're looking at high speed rails and the future of fast travel.

And wanting out -- Man U's manager confirms Wayne Rooney is looking for an exit from the Red Devils. We're going to go global and find out who might want him and why.

And would you want him at your favorite club?

Well, Tweet me, @beckycnn. We'll be watching those as we move through the hour.

Well, it's a stand-off turning a nation against its government and leaving a country barely running on empty. More than a million people have hit the streets in cities across France, protesting against a pension reform bill to raise the retirement age.

Let's kick off there.

Our senior international correspondent, Jim Bittermann, takes look at the rolling strike which is keeping planes grounded, fuel pumps dry and schools closed.


JIM BITTERMANN, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Very impressive numbers of demonstrators on the streets today. The union said about three-and-a-half million. The government said about 1.1 million.

But in either case, it appeared to be somewhat less than a week ago, when the huge numbers had turned out. Also, there appeared to be somewhat fewer people taking part in the strikes across France, and especially in the public sector, when you talk to people at the post office and the transportation sector, that fewer people were reporting in, that they were going to be on strike.

So it doesn't look like some of the union solidarity may be weakening, to some extent.

Now, on the streets, one of the things that you saw in these demonstrations, for sure, though, today, was the -- the involvement of students. A lot more students out there. It should be said that there's a fall holiday coming up beginning on Saturday, two weeks of vacation. Some of those students may have been out there because they were kind of taking an early break.

But nonetheless, they're very committed and very passionate. Also, some are feeling a little bit forgotten by the government.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I think they're not really listening to us, because they already said that they don't -- they won't change the law and they won't do anything even if we protest. But we want to show that we disagree with them.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: That we are in a democracy, so we have a lot to say.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: You're supposed to care when you're young, because in two years, I'm going to have to vote for our next president. And I'm supposed to know about it.

BITTERMANN: Apart from those big organized demonstrations, there were sporadic outbursts of violence across the country in various locations, not really representative of the organized demonstrations that the unions put together. In fact, the unions were dead set against these kind of outbursts. But we saw several in different parts of the country, where cars were burned and windows smashed in shops and that sort of thing.

What the French call "chasseurs" getting involved with the young people. These are sort of vandals or troublemakers who infiltrate the crowd and then go off to create mayhem and battle with the police.

Now, President Sarkozy has said that he is going to stand firm against that kind of violence. And he also said it was not an easy decision to take, to, in fact, raise the retirement age by two years, but he felt that he had to do it.


SARKOZY: It's a difficult choice and complex, but it was my duty. And the head of state also has a duty toward the future, the youth and to address the fundamental imbalances in his country.


BITTERMANN: On the energy front, there was an emergency meeting at the prime minister's office this afternoon. And it was agreed by the various players in the petroleum sector that they are going to pool their resources and try to get more of the reserve stocks out to the service stations. It's basically been a distribution problem more than a supply problem. And the prime minister says that things should be straightened out in terms of the service stations and the delivery of fuel to service stations within four or five days.

However, there are still strikes continuing and according to the airport authorities, about a quarter of flights will be canceled tomorrow at Orly Airport.

Jim Bittermann, CNN, Paris.


ANDERSON: All right, well, in an effort to join the dots on this story, let's take a look at the key sectors which have been hit within France and what sort of impact this will have internationally.

As Jim was telling us there, airlines have reduced flights at Charles de Gaulle by about 30 percent and at Orly by 50 percent. Both airports are also supplied by a pipeline that comes directly from refineries that have closed.

Now, the national railroad authority has canceled half its high speed and normal services. The Paris to London Eurostar, though, does remain unaffected.

Around 50 crude oil tankers are reportedly stranded in Marseilles, with a backlog of 65 cargo ships at the world's third largest oil port of Lavera. Eleven refineries have also been halted or reduced, pushing up fuel prices.

And finally, France has been forced to import electricity from neighboring countries. That is, at least, according to one union, which says power plants have reduced output by around 3,000 megawatts.

And now despite just how much this is affecting the country, the government is showing absolutely no signs of backing down, insisting France can no longer afford the earlier retirement plan.

So let's bring in now one of our Big Thinkers on the show, our CONNECT THE WORLD panelist, Eric Margolis, who, by chance, at least, is in Paris at the moment.

Firstly, just how desperately does France need these reforms, Eric?

ERIC MARGOLIS, CONNECT THE WORLD PANELIST: Becky, France needs them very badly. The French have been living much too high on the hog, way above their means, for decades. The French government accounts for over half of the gross domestic product and, in fact, half the country works for the government -- paid too much, works not hard enough. And the lifestyle is cushy and wonderful. It's probably the best in the world.

But the French now understand that they to be competing with China and with Vietnam and with India and they have to start tightening their belts.

And the French do not like this at all, particularly the young ones. So while France understands it's got to reform, it doesn't want to.

ANDERSON: Yes, history dictates that the kind -- the French kind of get what they want if they hit the streets, though, doesn't it?

You know, are these strikes going to make any impact at all?

It seems to me that it's all over but the shouting at this point, isn't it?

MARGOLIS: Well, they may make impact, Becky. You know, there's sort of a semi-carnival atmosphere here. I've been walking through the strikers today. And they're beating drums and there are kids running around making noise. And it's all like a day off from school.

But there's an ugly undertone, as well. And it has to do with the fuel issue. And the left-wing here in France sense it -- smells blood on the water on the -- on the right-wing coalition of Sarkozy and feels that it can really strike down Kar -- Sarkozy now, particularly because it's got its hand on the jugular of France, which is the oil supply.

ANDERSON: I'm just looking at France not in isolation here, but as a member of a much bigger space that, for years, has had a welfare state, of course, and, many people outside of Europe would say, a very comfy time of it.

Surely if the Germans now get it, that they've got to reform and they're going to have to work harder longer and for longer periods of their life, then the rest are going to have to follow in Europe, aren't they?

MARGOLIS: Well, you know, the French don't understand it. The polls show 70 percent of the French are supporting the -- the strikers, in spite of Sarkozy's very modest and essential reforms.

The rest of Europe is, Becky, is watching France right now, intently, because it knows that if Sarkozy breaks and backs down, that many of the other European governments that must also make Draconian reforms won't be able to do it.

So far, the Greeks have gone far in doing it, but France is wobbling. And as France goes, so will a lot of other European countries.

ANDERSON: Yes. And the U.K. looking at the announcement of its spending cuts tomorrow. And, boy, are they going to be tough.

Listen, you're there in Paris tonight. There will be lots of people who are watching both in France and in places where they would be hoping to get to France in the next couple of days.

How long are these transport cancellations going to last, at this point, do you think?

MARGOLIS: Becky, we don't know at this point. The -- we don't know what way the unions are going to go. It depends on how much they cut off the oil supplies to the airports and if the airlines take flight and they can't fly their planes in because they can't refuel to bring them out again. So we really don't know.

And ground transportation is a big mess. Things are still working at 50 percent. So, I wouldn't be scared away from France as a tourist, but I'd bring a lot of my own food and my own walking shoes just in case.

ANDERSON: I was just thinking, what a beautiful sight behind you, with the Arc de Triomphe there. But it looks as if it's raining, so, listen, if you can get a cab, you're off.

We're done with you.

Thank you very much, indeed.

Your regular guest on this show, Eric Margolis.

Well, these strikes may be, of course, in France, having a ripple effect around the world. If you are traveling tonight and caught up in the chaos, we do extend our sympathies.

Well, coming up next, is it the future of the way we travel and is it changing?

We're going to tell you how you may one day board a train in London and ride all the way to China.

Also this hour, a former U.S. secretary of State admits mistakes were made in Iraq and a lot more. Condoleezza Rice talks about that as your Connector of the Day.

Stay with us.


ANDERSON: You're watching CONNECT THE WORLD with me, Becky Anderson, from London.

It's just about a quarter past by -- quarter past the hour.

Well, the Eurostar train had some company in London today, as another high speed line arrived for the very first time. Experts say the German Intercity Express Train could open a new market for rail travel. And it's not the only high speed line with its eye on Britain.


ANDERSON (voice-over): There's a new train in London's St. Pancras Station and it could mean serious competition for rail travel between London and the European continent. The high speed German train pulled into London on Tuesday morning, after a trial run through the Channel tunnel that links Britain and Europe.

If it gets safety approval, it could be carrying passengers between London and Frankfurt in about three years. That would be the first direct competition for rail giant, Eurostar, which analysts say might mean lower prices on train tickets, while executives hope to come into the market for air travel, as well.

JACQUES GOUNON, CEO, EUROTUNNEL: In the years to come, due to environmental constraints, railway -- high speed railways will defeat short airlines travels.

ANDERSON: It's been a big week for European train travel. Friday, a massive drill broke through a wall of rock in Switzerland to complete the world's longest train tunnel. It won't be operational until 2017, but it will eventually cut the travel time between Zurich and Milan by about an hour.

And that's not the only major project on the horizon for Europe. Earlier this year, China announced ambitious plans to build a high speed rail network linking Asia and Europe in the next decade. The trains would reach speeds of 200 miles an hour, carrying passengers between London and Beijing in just two days. It would continue to Singapore and also run to India and Pakistan.

China is planning other routes between Beijing, Russia and Germany and Vietnam, Thailand and Malaysia. Projects like those have stirred up a bit of healthy competition abroad, especially in the United States, which has only one high speed rail line but has allocated $8 billion for expansion.


BARACK OBAMA, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: There's no reason Europe or China should have a the fastest trains.


ANDERSON: That could mean the future of travel isn't up in the air, but on the ground.


ANDERSON: So, what's it going to take to make those grand plans a reality?

Well, a short time ago, I spoke with Nick Talbot of design firm Seymourpowell.

And I began by asking him what the prospect is of us all traveling at high speed or on high speed trains at some day soon.


NICK TALBOT, DESIGN DIRECTOR, SEYMOURPOWELL: If you look at the amount of global activity and the amount of investment from everybody from the Chinese government, even the Americans that have been coming to the cause, are investing a huge amount in high speed rail.

ANDERSON: I want to take a look at the concept train.

But before I do, do you really think at -- at some point soon, we will go from China to London by train?

TALBOT: Yes, I do. And the reason -- well, there's two reasons I do. First of all, the European high speed network has been underway for about 15 years now. I just saw one of your news -- news feeds earlier. Recently, the Swiss have punched a 34 mile hole through the alps to allow a rail passage through there. And the Chinese have made it very clear that in the next 10 to 15 years, they're going to triple their high speed network and they will connect with Europe.

ANDERSON: All right, so it's not the age of steam, because we know that's over. But it may be the age of the train going forward.

Behind this, the look of a concept future train.

What, from a design point, is so different from the trains that we know and sometimes love?


TALBOT: I gu -- I guess there's two things. First of all, people -- traditionally, people have thought of trains as being rather heavy, cast iron, as you said, the sort of age of the steam train thing. Increasingly, rail vehicles are using technologies from the aerospace industry. They're getting lighter. The -- the drive trains, the power trains are much, much more efficient. And what that's meant is that they can go faster and faster and faster.

ANDERSON: Well, let's take a look at the interior of some of these concept trains going forward.

As these trains travel faster and for longer distances, how do things inside have to change?

TALBOT: Well, the -- you know, the only way that we're going to persuade or that anybody is going to persuade people to get out of their cars and certainly out of airplanes is to provide a better experience all around.

I'm sure we'll see the return of proper sleeper carriages and all that -- and dining cars and all that romantic stuff.

ANDERSON: Listen, you're in the business of designing this stuff.

How much investment is there out there?

How much real belief is there that the age of rail is upon us?

TALBOT: In -- in dollar terms, I can't tell you, but it's billions and billions and billions. If you look at what's happening in Europe, if you look at what's happening in China, very recently, there was a company called Union Rail set up by the Abu Dib -- Abu Dhabi government. And they're committed to having a pan-Middle Eastern rail network.

So all of these plans have been laid and they're not short-term, they're planning for decades ahead.

ANDERSON: There'll...

TALBOT: So it is -- it is going to happen.

ANDERSON: There will be people watching this in the States, or Americans who are traveling the world and watching this program today and thinking to themselves, I cannot believe this will ever happen, really, in the States.

TALBOT: Yes. Yes.

ANDERSON: But it's going that way. We've heard Obama say all the right things.

TALBOT: If you look at the -- the commercial tenders that go out every single week, so there's a kind of news wire for commercial tenders, there is a huge amount of activity in the U.S. And that's not political hot air. These are real tenders with the real money behind them.

ANDERSON: Fascinating.

TALBOT: So it's -- it's -- never mind it's going to happen, it's happening all around us.


ANDERSON: There you go, from an expert. You heard it first here. If you are traveling around the world, I hope you are having a comfortable journey.

Still to come tonight, a 21st century military battles a 20th century threat. We'll see how U.S. soldiers in Afghanistan are using space age technology to protect themselves from crude but deadly weapons.

And later, one of the world's most recognizable football clubs and one of the world's brightest stars may be headed for a split. We'll see where Wayne Rooney could end up, next.


ANDERSON: Nobody in al Qaeda lives in a cave anymore. A NATO officials' estimate on the whereabouts of Osama bin Laden kicks off our special look at Afghanistan this week. He told children NATO believes bin Laden has left that country and is now living in Northwest Pakistan.

Well, also yesterday, we also showed you some seeds of hope -- Afghan and Pakistani ministers visiting the U.S. state of Iowa to learn farming techniques that could improve crop production back home.

Well, today, we believe -- or, sorry, we leave the farm belt and head for the battlefield. The biggest threat to U.S. forces in Afghanistan comes from crude devices that cost just a couple of dollars to make.

Ivan Watson shows us how soldiers are using space age technology to protect themselves from what are known as IEDs.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: On your mark. You can be...

IVAN WATSON, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): U.S. Army bomb hunters preparing to go on patrol, getting ready in the predawn hours for a dangerous mission -- to find and disable improvised explosive devices, or IEDs -- the deadliest threat to U.S. and NATO forces in Afghanistan.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Roger, turning away.

WATSON: The convoy of futuristic vehicles rolls through an almost biblical landscape, past locals who aren't always happy to see them.

(on camera): These vehicles come with equipment like these rollers, that are designed to set off hidden roadside bombs and, thus, to protect the vehicles themselves and the passengers.

And take a look at the this. This is called a Husky. It's a one manned vehicle. You see there's just one operator up inside. It's really cramped up in there. And the reason that we're stuck here is because his vehicle broke down.

(voice-over): Mission aborted when the frame holding the Husky's ground penetrating radar breaks. Radar is crucial for finding this -- roadside bombs. A Taliban propaganda video shows barefoot bomb makers building these weapons out of common ingredients, like plastic water coolers and fertilizer.

They are crude but deadly weapons. Nearly all the soldiers in this bomb hunting unit have had firsthand experience with IEDs.

(on camera): And you've been hit by IEDs, too?



GAETH: As a matter of fact, one of my first missions when I came over to the company, I drove over a land mine and pretty close to one -- really close.

WATSON: What happened?

GAETH: I really don't -- I really don't want to talk about that situation. I lost a -- I didn't lose, but a couple -- a couple of close friends of mine were hurt pretty bad.

WATSON (voice-over): Pentagon statistics show a dramatic surge in IED attacks in Afghanistan in the last two years. The United Nations says IEDs caused the majority of casualties among Afghan civilians during the first six months of this year. The bombs that insurgents bury in roads don't discriminate between soldiers and civilians.

US troops are using million dollar vehicles jammed full of electronics to protect themselves from bombs that cost just a few dollars to make.

SGT. DOUGLAS SMITH, U.S. ARMY: It is really that simple, because they can make it like, you know, half of these farmers out here probably have the equipment at their home to make it.

WATSON: It is a bloody battle pitting a 21st century military against a 20th century threat.

Ivan Watson, CNN, Kandahar, in Southern Afghanistan.


ANDERSON: And tomorrow, we're on patrol in Afghanistan with the number one weapon in a Jordanian Army unit. Sheikh Mohammed Majeen (ph), the imam armed only with his faith, sets out to challenge the Taliban's grip on the local population. That is tomorrow, as we continue our in- depth look at Afghanistan here on CONNECT THE WORLD.

Tonight, after the break, it's a very special Connector of the Day for you. Condoleezza Rice tells us what it was about her upbringing that led her to the White House. Find out more, after this.


ANDERSON: Well, you're back with CONNECT THE WORLD.

I'm Becky Anderson in London.

It's just about half past the hour.

Coming up, your Connector of the Day tonight is Condoleezza Rice, answering your questions.

Then, we're in the Democratic Republic of the Congo, where quiet and remote villages are increasingly becoming the scenes of brutal violence and unspeakable crimes.

And could Manchester United fans soon be saying good-bye to their star striker?

We'll take a look at what Wayne Rooney is up in just a moment.

Those stories are ahead.

First, however, at this point, let me get you a very quick check of the headlines this hour.

French President Nicolas Sarkozy says pension reform is essential. But more than a million people took to the streets on Tuesday to fight it. This according to police estimates, at least. Transportation, fuel supplies and education are taking a hit from the ongoing strike.

Well, a Saudi prince is set to be sentenced for murder in London on Wednesday. The jury found him guilty of murdering his aide on Tuesday, after deliberating just 90 minutes. The prince didn't deny killing the aide, but said he didn't intend to do it.

In Chechnya, three suicide bombers stormed the Chechen parliament as lawmakers were arriving at work. The Islamic rebels blew themselves up and killed at least three other people. Russian officials tell CNN six police officers and 11 civilians were wounded.

Well, in the U.S., a dramatic change in Pentagon policy. Recruiters are being told that they can accept openly gay candidates. And an officer who was booted on the controversial "don't ask, don't tell" policy is asking to get back into the Army.

All right, this is CONNECT THE WORLD.

I'm Becky Anderson in London.

We've been promising you a very special guest for your Connector of the Day. And tonight, you're in for a treat.


ANDERSON (voice-over): She's a woman who's achieved many firsts. Most notably, as the first African-American female to become Secretary of State. But for Condoleezza Rice, ambition isn't just a character trait, it's a way of life.

The professor turned politician was born in Birmingham, Alabama, where she grew up fighting the stereotypes and limitations that came with being a black woman in the South.

CONDOLEEZZA RICE, FORMER US SECRETARY OF STATE: When America's founding father said "We, the people," they didn't mean me. My ancestors were treated as property, just three fifths of a man.

ANDERSON (voice-over): At the age of just 19, she graduated from college and went on to become a professor at Stanford University. After serving in the administrations of Ronald Reagan and the first president Bush, Rice signed on to help the George W. Bush campaign as a foreign policy advisor in 2000. Following his election, Rice became Bush's national security advisor and, during his second term, his Secretary of State.

Known to have the president's ear, Rice's close relationship with Bush gave her a voice in major policy decisions, including the controversial choice to go to war in Iraq. She also played a key diplomatic role in relations with both Iran and North Korea.

RICE: Very clear to everyone, the United States has a condition for the beginning of negotiations with Iran, and that condition remains the verifiable suspension of Iran's enrichment and reprocessing activities.

ANDERSON (voice-over): This month, she's released her first volume of memoirs, a reflection on her life up until she got into politics. She talked to me about these years, and the most difficult things to write about.

RICE: Well, the hardest part to write was really about my mother's struggle with cancer and, ultimately, her death. Even though I lost -- I've lost both my parents, my father lived to be well into his 70s. My mother was 61. She was very young. And though I'm very glad she got to see me grow up and be a young woman, not just a child, it's still a very tender spot for me.

ANDERSON (on camera): Politics played a really important position, both in yours and your parents' life, didn't it.

RICE: Yes, it did. My parents were children who were educated by their parents against a lot of long odds. And they, then, passed on that belief that education was absolutely transforming. And they were themselves educators.

They have a whole group of students, people that they taught, who still to this day say that my parents are responsible for who they became. And it includes doctors and lawyers and the first black woman governor of the international monetary fund, and the man who's currently the president of the University of Maryland Baltimore. So, yes, education meant everything to us.

ANDERSON: Condi, why did you choose to write your memoirs in two volumes, starting with your upbringing?

RICE: I felt that I could not adequately tell the story of my parents and my upbringing if I tried, somehow, to attach it to what is going to be a story of a pretty complicated and sometimes chaotic last eight years.

And so many times, Becky, people ask me, "How did you become who you are?" And I would say, "You had to know John and Angelina Rice in order to answer that question." And so, I wanted to answer that question by introducing people to John and Angelina Rice.

ANDERSON: Fantastic. Some viewer questions for you about getting more involved in politics. Michael asks if you would ever run for the presidency.

RICE: Oh, I don't see myself in those role. I didn't even run for student government when I was in high school. I think I'm just not -- I don't have that fire in the belly to run for office. I do a lot of public service. I'm very concerned about the state of K-12 education in the United States. I'm active in that reform movement.

So, there are ways to public service, but I had the chance to be Secretary of State. It's the best job in government. That's enough.

ANDERSON: All right. Let's get back to the books. The first, of course, is about your upbringing. The second volume will be about your political life. Can we expect frank and candid reflections on your time with the Bush administration, both successes and mistakes?

RICE: I feel an obligation to be candid. We are human beings. And we did some things well, and some things not so well. And I have no trepidation about talking about it in that way. I'm trying to write a book that will be as historically accurate as an observer can possibly make it. And, so, in that regard, I think I have to try to be candid.

ANDERSON: Which mistakes would you be referring to?

RICE: Well, I'm not very far into the book yet, Becky. But I do believe -- I would take Saddam Hussein out of power again. But, of course, in the rebuilding of Iraq, there are things that I would do differently. I think we put too much emphasis in Baghdad, not enough emphasis on the provinces. Perhaps we didn't fully understand how -- the degree to which the society would start to come apart as a result of having been held in tyranny for all of those years.

So, there are many things that we can talk about. But I'm also a believer that history's arc is long, not short. And sometimes things that looked terrific at the time look pretty bad in retrospect, and vice versa. So, ultimately, this is a story that will be written by history.

ANDERSON: Let me leave the last couple of questions to our viewers. Brajesh and, I think, Christy, they ask you how you rate the current Secretary of State, Hillary Clinton.

RICE: Well, no, I think she's done a fine -- is doing a fine job. It's a tough job. You're always on an airplane someplace, you never quite know which country you're in, you're always hoping you're not going to make a mistake and --


ANDERSON: Did you every get it wrong?

RICE: A country that you're actually not in. And so -- I did on one occasion, but it -- I hope nobody noticed. So, I'll write about it in the book.

But it is really a job that requires two things. It requires stamina, which Hillary has plenty of. And it requires that you understand the strength of America and try to help structure a more prosperous and a freer world using the great powers of America. And I think she understands that, and I think she's doing a great job.


ANDERSON: Condoleezza Rice, you're Connector of the Day today. And tomorrow's Connector, well, is possibly the only singer who can claim to have gotten her big break working at McDonald's. Sheryl Crow landed her first major singing spot on a jingle for the fast food giant back in the 1980s. Since then, she has racked up nine Grammys selling more than 50 million albums around the world. As well as making waves with her music, she is also working for the Enough Project, which fights to prevent genocide and crimes against humanity.

We've got plenty of big names coming up this week, so don't forget to send us your questions. Head to That's the show site for you.

Coming up tonight, some call it the war the world forgot. Atrocities are still taking place in the Democratic Republic of Congo. We're going to hear from some of the victims and find out what, if anything, the world is doing to stop these crimes against humanity. Stay with us.


ANDERSON: You're watching CONNECT THE WORLD here on CNN. And some news just coming in to CNN Center. A friend of Margaret Thatcher tells CNN that the former British prime minister has been hospitalized. She marked her 85th birthday last week but, sadly, had to pull out of a reception after coming down with the flu. We'll bring you more details as and when they become available. So, that developing story here on CNN.

Five million lives lost and counting. The conflict in the Democratic Republic of Congo is the deadliest in the world today. Militia roam at will in some parts, terrorizing civilian populations, often using rape as a weapon in war. As Nima Elbagir now reports, some victims are violated again and again.


NIMA ELBAGIR, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): South Kivu province in the Democratic Republic of Congo. It's been called one of the most beautiful places on Earth, yet it's also a place where people have seen unspeakable violence during years of conflict.

When we arrived here in Kohungu village, we found the villagers waiting for us outside their local church. There'd been an attack the previous day, and they'd slept in the forest, afraid to return to their homes.

BUAMASHURA CHIZA, KAHUNGU VILLAGE CHIEF (through translator): Last night, people wearing soldiers' uniforms came into the village. It used to be at the beginning of this conflict that we were attacked, the Congolese soldiers would protect us. Now, not only do they not protect us, we fear them as well.

ELBAGIR (voice-over): Both militias and Congolese troops roam this area. A recent UN report accused militia men and the Congolese military of violence and mass rapes. Congo's defense minister denied its soldiers were involved. We're told one man was injured in last night's attack. Just a week ago, his brother was killed.

Women are singled out for their own particular and brutal suffering, the humiliation of rape. Rape carries a huge stigma. It's difficult to even say the word. Being "taken into the forest" is a euphemism for sexual assault.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE (though translator): They hit me over the head and then stripped me naked. They then took me into the forest.

ELBAGIR (voice-over): We were led further into the village by another woman. She wanted to show us her mother's grave. She says her 60-year-old mother was raped and tortured before being set on fire.

ELBAGIR (on camera): The United Nations has said that in the last year alone, 15,000 women have been raped in the east of the Congo. But even they admit that, at best, these are conservative estimates. Here at Panzi Hospital, they have a dedicated sexual violence unit, and they say that they're receiving 10 women every single day. And those are just the ones that they have room for.

ELBAGIR (voice-over): Dr. Denis Mukwegi is the medical director at Panzi Hospital. In the 20 years he's been a gynecologist at Panzi, they've treated around 25,000 women, many with severe sexual trauma.

DENIS MUKWEGI, MEDICAL DIRECTOR, PANZI HOSPITAL: Rape is used like a weapon. It's not only weapon, but is a kind of strategy of war. It's the way they're raping women in front of their own family, the husband, the neighbors. I think that the oldest strategy is to bring women to get shame, their husband will get shame, and in this condition, they have no choice.

ELBAGIR (voice-over): We've concealed the identities of the victims here. Many of the women had only just been admitted. For some, it's their third or fourth visit.

This patient was readmitted three days after being discharged. She'd been raped again.

MUKWEGI: A year we're treating 3,600 women, and we can't keep all these women in the hospital. And when we send them back, it's a big problem because, yes, most of them, they're asking as I'm -- "I will go back, but what will happen?"

ELBAGIR (voice-over): The lush Congolese hills are home to a treasure trove of mineral wealth, and it's this that is sustaining a conflict that was first sparked as insecurities spilled over from neighboring Rwanda during the 1994 genocide. The east of the country is still plagued by army and militia violence, despite a peace deal in 2003.

Here in the half-abandoned village of Kohungu, another reminder.

CHIZA (through translator): The Congolese army, the Rwandan militias, during the day, during the night, we're surrounded.

ELBAGIR (voice-over): Two days after we left Kohungu, we were told it had been attacked again. One man was killed and several women are still missing. Nima Elbagir, CNN, Kohungu, the Democratic Republic of Congo.


ANDERSON: Look, I don't think any of you would disagree that what we saw there were unspeakable horrors the world has simply been unable to stop, despite the presence of some 18,000 UN troops stationed in Congo.

Earlier, I spoke with David Scheffer. He's a former US ambassador at large for what is known as war crimes issues. And I began by asking whether rape should be classified as genocide in Congo, and whether that distinction would make it easier for the world to take action. This is what he says.


DAVID SCHEFFER, FORMER US AMBASSADOR AT LARGE: Yes, it certainly does come under the rubric of genocide. It's a question of how you prove it as a crime of genocide rather than crimes against humanity or as a war crime, and that's a specific task for the prosecutor, for example, the international criminal court. And he has to prove that.

That was done in the Sudan. Rape as genocide is now a charge against President al-Bashir of Sudan with respect to the rapes that have occurred in the Darfur region, which lead towards one of the types of acts of genocide, in this case, bodily or mental harm to the group that can lead to its destruction.

That can be done in the Congo. And it would not surprise me if, in the future, we see rape as genocide being charged in the Congo. It does elevate the issue for the international community --

ANDERSON: All right.

SCHEFFER: It resonates much more strongly.

ANDERSON: Many of our viewers will say, "Listen. We're 14 years in and it still continues." Do you think 14 years from now we'll be talking the same book?"

SCHEFFER: It's entirely possible, Becky, that we will, particularly in the Congo. I just would suggest that the only way you start to elevate this so that the proper resources and political will are galvanized is for the top leaders of major nations, as well as the African Union, to put a full-court press on this issue.

We have a new law in the United States, Conflict Minerals Law, signed into law by President Obama in the summer, that does try to get at one of the core reasons for these rapes, which is getting access by the militia to these conflict minerals that they use to finance their rape and their pillage of the Congo.

So, that's a small step. And I think a lot of other countries, particularly in Europe, should try to follow that lead and shut down the conflict mineral incentive for these troops to roam all over the Congo, rape as they do so, and then profit from the conflict minerals.

If we can shut that down -- and it requires a lot of leadership to do it -- but if we can shut that down, then I think we'd have a greater possibility of not seeing this linger for another 14 years.


ANDERSON: Some advice, there, from David Scheffer, who knows his stuff.

You're watching CONNECT THE WORLD. We'll be right back.


ANDERSON: Wayne Rooney may be all smiles, but the same cannot be said of his manager. After weeks of speculation, Man United's Sir Alex Ferguson has announced that his star striker does want to leave the club. Speaking to reporters, a grim-faced Ferguson said he didn't know why.


ALEX FERGUSON, MANAGER, MANCHESTER UNITED: I feel that we still have to open -- to keep the door open for him, simply because he's such a good player. And -- we've done nothing but help him since he's come to this club. That's another mystery for us.

I don't know how many times we've helped him, in terms of his private life and other matters. We've been abused as anyone can be because we can't quite understand why he'd want to leave.


ANDERSON: Alex Ferguson, there. Well, can Rooney be persuaded to stay? And what would losing him mean for Man United? To answer those questions, let's get you to CNN Center and "World Sport's" Terry Baddoo. They don't know whether he can be persuaded, can he? Do they want him anymore? I don't know.

TERRY BADDOO, CNN SPORTS CORRESPONDENT: Well, I think there's no doubt they definitely want him. Alex has really bared his soul there and said that "We want you but, unfortunately, it seems you don't want us."

Look, this has been rumbling on behind the scenes at Old Trafford since August 14th, we understand. And you can bet that Sir Alex would have kept it in house if he possibly could. He's now reduced to appealing to Wayne's better nature, reminding him of all the club has done for him, and for all the club means.

And really, he's not -- we've had no hint of the hair dryer treatment for which Fergie is renowned. He's playing this very softly, softly, in the hope that Wayne will change his mind. I'm not sure he's going to.

Of course, we don't know the reasons why he's going. Is it something to do with United? Is it something to do with Sir Alex? Or is it all the tabloid pressure he's under in England? Does he want to go abroad to escape that? We just don't know.

What will it mean if he leaves Manchester United? Well, you've only got to look at the way they played this season. He hasn't played well, and so they haven't played well. If you look to other go-to guys on the United Team, who are you talking about? Nani, maybe. Berbatov. But really, they're not of his stature.

So if he goes, it will be a huge deal. They've got to make a lot of money for him by selling him, they're talking about $18 million right now, because they really -- if he leaves, they really need to strengthen their squad. Because at the moment, they're fourth in the Premier League and, of course, they're still in the Champion's League, but they're not looking convincing there.

ANDERSON: And they're saddled with debt, of course. So if they're going to sell him, they should sell him in the next transfer window, making sure that he's still worth something. Stick with me. If Wayne Rooney, Terry, can't be persuaded to stay at Man United, where will he end up next?

That's a big question, and we've been taking a look at some of the betting companies. William Hill, offering odds of 9 to 1 that the striker's next home could be at Barcelona. However, a transfer to Real Madrid is more likely, with odds of 5 to 1.

According to bookmakers, the smart money is on Rooney staying in England with a move to current Premier League champions Chelsea. Put that at around 9 to 4. But the most likely contender would also be the most controversial, and with odds of 7 to 4, it seems United fans need to prepare themselves for the unthinkable, which is a transfer to arch-rivals Man City. Terry, how would that go down in the city of Manchester?

BADDOO: Well, it'll be another Sol Campbell, wouldn't it? The guy who moved from Spurs to Arsenal. It'd be just the same sort of thing. He'd be a pariah on one side of Manchester.

You know, I don't really see him going to Manchester City. They're a team in development. But, of course, they are very much a team based in England. And if it's the tabloid pressure that he's trying to escape, then the natural thing would be for him to move abroad to, say, a Real Madrid.

Having said that, Real don't really need him. They've got a plethora of strikers, and it's hard to see -- in fact, they even say it themselves, where would Rooney fit in?

As far as Chelsea's concerned, that's a possibility, but they're not exactly rolling in cash, so, could they afford him? Becky?

ANDERSON: Yes, fascinating. I remember when Sol Campbell went to Arsenal from White Hart Lane. They burned effigies of him up Green Lane. So, Rooney's going to have to get used to being particularly disliked if he goes to Man City, let's put it that way. Terry, thank you for that.

While the bookmakers predict a move across town, the transfer window, of course, is still months away. It's January. So, could Wayne Rooney be snapped up by the Spanish? Terry doesn't think so. Let's bring in Al Goodman from Madrid. I know there's been a big game tonight, so go on and give us the result of that, and then tell us whether you think Rooney's on your -- on his way to Madrid.

AL GOODMAN, CNN MADRID BUREAU CHIEF: Hi, Becky. Well, Real Madrid pulling a two-nil victory at the Bernabeu, the home stadium right here in Madrid. That ended just a short while ago over AC Milan in a Champions League group stage game. This widely seen as a convincing victory, and also, perhaps Real Madrid's most important victory so far, because the other teams they faced already this year, they were -- they're unbeaten -- have basically been weaker rivals. They have many more to come.

Now, the fans have been really active on the internet this afternoon about what would happen if Rooney came. Even though the Real Madrid sport -- director says that there are not going to be any signings by Real Madrid in the January transfer window. And, as you say, who would they replace?

Well, the fans the have the answers to that. They'd say they'd get rid of Benzema, the Frenchman who's been said to be under performing. Maybe get rid of the Argentine Higuain, who's also seen as very hot. Some of them see this as a great opportunity, the fans, to get Rooney with Cristiano Ronaldo, his old mate at Manchester United.

But a large number of fans on the internet are also saying that Rooney is too expensive, too explosive, too divisive for this team, which is why a lot of the Real Madrid fans would like him to go over to Barcelona. Becky?

ANDERSON: Good stuff. All right, let me bring Terry Baddoo back in. A couple of tweets. I've had a lot on this tonight. Woodpecker039, he says, "Sounds like Man U need more money." But he says, "I wouldn't want him at Liverpool." I don't think they can afford him.


ANDERSON: Anyway, Audia Aray (ph) says, "Rooney is simply not playing well enough. Arsenal, Chelsea, and Real, well, they don't need him. So maybe City, Spurs, or Barcelona." I don't think Spurs need him, either, at this point, do you?

BADDOO: They don't need him at this point, but we're talking about Wayne Rooney as he has been and as he will be in the future. It's not a fair measure of the guy, the way he's been playing recently.

Obviously, he's been struggling with an injury, he had a very disappointing World Cup, with all the pressure, with heat on him to pulling England through, and he didn't do it. It wasn't just his fault. He's come back after a fantastic season at Old Trafford last time out, isn't the player he was, his confidence has gone down.

Add to that all the personal trials and tribulations that have been splashed all over the media and we're -- this is not the Wayne Rooney that we've grown to know and love. So, anybody who's buying him would be buying him for what he can be, not what he is.

ANDERSON: Yes. And Harry Redknapp at Spurs wouldn't buy him at this price. He'd wait for the price to go right down.


ANDERSON: Then he might buy him.

BADDOO: I wouldn't mind seeing him at Spurs, you know?


ANDERSON: If he thought he was worth it.

BADDOO: It would be interesting to see him at Spurs.

ANDERSON: You think so?

BADDOO: I think so. It adds -- I mean, when was the last time Spurs bought an actual really big superstar player? I can't -- I'm sure I can't remember. Maybe you can, you're a Spurs fan.

ANDERSON: Well, Berbatov, and then he moved on to Man U, of course, at that point.

BADDOO: Yes. He was the same as a superstar in the making, and he never got made, did he?


ANDERSON: All right, mate, thanks for that. Terry Baddoo on the potential move from Man U. And, of course, Al Goodman in Madrid for you this evening. We don't think he's going there at this point. Well, certainly Al doesn't, nor does Terry.

I'm Becky Anderson in London. Up next, Parting Shots for you, and two people who really should have stayed at home.


ANDERSON: Just time for the show's Parting Shots, and tonight it's the turn of two people whose bad days saw them end up in court. Back in August, former JetBlue flight attendant Steven Slater decided enough was enough after an argument with a passenger. After cursing over the PA system, Slater allegedly grabbed some beers from the bar, you may remember, and deployed the emergency evacuation slide to make what can only be described as a dramatic exit.

His actions instantly propelled him to fame, with hundreds of thousands of people heading to a Facebook fan page. But authorities at New York's JFK airport didn't see the funny side, and today he escaped a jail sentence after agreeing to a plea deal. Speaking outside court, Slater said it was now time to move on with his life.


STEVEN SLATER, FORMER FLIGHT ATTENDANT: While the public interest in this case was certainly surprising, unexpected, and encouraging, at the end of the day, I am a grown adult and must accept responsibility for my actions. Therefore, I'm looking forward to continuing on moving forward with my life, and I'm very grateful to the court for making these arrangements, which will allow me to do so.


ANDERSON: Somebody else who managed to keep out of jail is British woman Mary Bale. Now here she is on camera with a passing cat. Yet, what happens next beggars belief. Without warning, she picks up that cat and dumps it into the rubbish bin. Luckily, the kitty kept all of its nine lives, but Bale received threats after the video went viral. Today, she was fined and, perhaps not surprisingly, banned from keeping pets for five years. I promise you the cat was fine.

I'm Becky Anderson, that is your world connected this evening. "BackStory" up next, right after a very quick check of the headlines here on CNN.