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Saudi Arms Deal; French Strikes Continue; The Boy Mechanics of Afghanistan; Canadian Air Force Colonel Sentenced to Life for 88 Charges Including Murder, Rape, and Sexual Assault. Iraqi Rowing Team Teaches American Military How to Row. History of Iraq's Olympic Performance. Matthew McConaughey Shares How He Balances Family and Fame. Viewers Respond to French Strikes Over Change in Retirement Age. Russian Spy No Longer Under Cover.

Aired October 21, 2010 - 16:00:00   ET


BECKY ANDERSON, HOST: The U.S. strikes a $60 billion deal to send aircraft and arms to Saudi Arabia. The sale is intended to counter Iran's influence in the region.

But could it ruffle the feathers of other American allies nearby?

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

Well, it's one of the biggest foreign arms deals in U.S. history -- why Saudi Arabia and why now?

Joining the dots from London for you, I'm Becky Anderson.

Plus, as France braces for further strikes, are images like this one tarnishing its brand abroad?



MATTHEW MCCONAUGHEY: It's not my life and then a celebrity life. I mean I have my life and I happen to be a celebrity.


ANDERSON: Striking a fine balance, Hollywood heartthrob Matthew McConaughey answers your questions as your Connector of the Day.

And do remember, as ever, you can connect with me and the program via Twitter. My address there is @beckycnn. Log on and join in the conversation, why don't you?

First up tonight, the U.S. government says Saudis live in a, quote, "dangerous neighborhood" and need protection from a range of threats. But clearly, for Washington, the biggest regional concern comes from Iran. The U.S. trying to counter Teheran's growing influence and military might with the biggest arms sale in its history.

Let's kick off tonight with Jill Dougherty, who is in Washington for you with the details -- Jill.

JILL DOUGHERTY, CNN FOREIGN AFFAIRS CORRESPONDENT: Well, Becky, it really is huge. You know, $60 billion over a long period, 10 to 20 years. That's the maximum it could be. And it includes fighter planes, like the F-15, 84 of them. Seventy would be refurbished; 200 helicopters. It's enormous.

So now you're looking at the -- the significance of it. The U.S. says it essentially wants to send a message to the neighborhood -- and you can read Iran right there -- that is it going to defend the security interests of its friends. And then, also, the U.S. saying that it wants to protect or allow Saudi Arabia to protect its oil infrastructure. And that is extremely important for the United States.

But at a briefing here at the State Department, the assistant secretary of State, Andrew Shapiro, denied that this would create some type of arms race in that region.

This is what he said.


ANDREW SHAPIRO, U.S. ASSISTANT SECRETARY OF STATE: That's one of the things that we look at, is we do not want our arms sales to be destabilizing. But we -- in our view, this -- this arms sale has the opposite impact by providing greater security capability for a key partner in the region and that we think that it will enhance regional stability and security rather than diminish it.


DOUGHERTY: Now, when you look at the balance in this region, there's certainly another factor, and that is Israel, which does have -- and the United States welcomes this -- a military edge.

How would it affect Israel?

Well, the United States says it won't have any effect, that edge will continue. I spoke with a -- an Israeli official today who spoke on background because it was a sensitive issue, who said that, actually, Israel isn't thrilled with this, as he put it, but they raised no objections with the United States. And they do believe, although this is a huge package, that ultimately the edge of Israel will continue, that it won't be diminished -- Becky.

ANDERSON: Fascinating.

All right, Jill, thanks for that.

Jill Dougherty is in Washington for you.

Arms sales to the Middle East are on the rise overall, increasing by about 38 percent during the past five years or so compared to the previous five. An analysis by the Center for Arms Control and Non-Proliferation found that the U.S. is, by far, the biggest supplier of arms to the region. According to that group, from 1999 to 2006, the U.S. completed nearly 60 percent of all arms sales agreements with the Mideast and South Asia. And that's almost five times greater than Russia's, which is the second highest supplier, and more than 18 times greater than China's.

Germany and France accounting for about, together, 7 percent of the sales to the region.

Well, in the past, Israel has loudly objected to arms deals with its Arab nations. And it's not the case this time around.

Two reports for you now on regional reaction to Washington's record weapons sale.


KEVIN FLOWER, CNN JERUSALEM BUREAU CHIEF: I'm Kevin Flower in Jerusalem, where news of large American arms deals with Arab countries is news that's not always received so well. But the U.S. deal to provide $60 billion in weapons to Saudi Arabia has elicited an official "no comment" from the Israeli government here. Now, one senior Israeli official CNN spoke to said they were apprised of the details as the deal was being made and that they were given assurances by the American government that Israel would maintain a qualitative military edge over its neighbors.

Now, perhaps making the deal slightly more palatable for Israel, too, is it's the common belief here that Saudi Arabia will be a good counterweight to the growing military influence of Iran.


When the U.S. toppled Saddam Hussein in 2003, it greatly decreased Iraq's regional might. But one outcome of that was that it inadvertently increased Iran's strength.

Now, Iran has been playing a larger role in Iraq's politics the past several years. Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki leads a Shiite coalition that is Iranian-backed. And even in the past few days, he went to Teheran to meet with leaders and to shore up support among his backers there.

Now, that isn't sitting well among many here in Baghdad. Former Prime Minister Ayad Allawi, al-Maliki's chief political rival, have accused Iran of trying to foment unrest in Iraq.


AYAD ALLAWI, FORMER IRAQI PRIME MINISTER: We know that, unfortunately, Iran is trying to wreak havoc on the region and trying to destabilize the region by destabilizing Iraq and destabilizing Lebanon and destabilizing the Palestinian issue.


JAMJOOM: Now, when it comes to moves to counter-balance Iran's power in the region, as the U.S. is now trying to do with this arms sales to the Saudis, you'll see mixed reactions among the power players of the political scene here in Iraq. And Iraq has become a pawn in a larger battle between Iran and Saudi Arabia for dominance here in the region. What you're seeing is that there's a proxy war going on between the Saudis and between the Iranians. The Saudis are throwing more money at Sunni politicians here, the Iranians are backing Shiite politicians.

But ask any normal Iraqi here, they will tell you what they want to see most is a strong, stable and independent Iraq.

ANDERSON: Well, it's not just in Iraq, Saudi Arabia and Iran are competing for influence across the region, of course. But as Washington comes down clearly on the Saudi side, Iran's president actually reaching out to the Saudi king himself, calling him twice in the last eight days, reportedly to improve ties.

Let's find out what's really going on here, shall we?

Fawaz Gerges is a regular guest on this show, one of our panelists, one of our Big Thinkers. And he is here to discuss all of this.

Before we talk about sort of regional power plays here, let's just be slightly cynical for a moment. $60 billion worth of arms sales is a really good deal for the state. And for those who make those arms, it's a really, really good deal. And this is business at the end of the day, surely, isn't it?

FAWAZ GERGES, LONDON SCHOOL OF ECONOMICS, PROFESSOR OF MIDDLE EASTERN POLITICS: Absolutely. And the Americans are really open about it. Today they said the -- the arms deal creates hundreds of thousands -- hundreds, Becky, of thousands of jobs in the arms industry in the next 20 years.


GERGES: This is the biggest arms deal in America's history -- big money and jobs (INAUDIBLE).

ANDERSON: Right. OK. So let's mark our cards there. But it is important, at the end of the day, who those arms are sold to. Do the Saudis really need to spend billions on arms at this point?

GERGES: Well, this is -- this is a big question. I think what you're talking about here, Becky, is that there is a raging cold war in the Gulf between the Iranians, on the one hand, and the Saudis and the Gulf States on the other hand.

To be fair, the Gulf States, including Saudi Arabia, are very anxious about the rise of the Iranian power, about the increase and the spread of the Iranian influence in their own societies. It's not just about the Iranian nuclear petroleum. It's about how the American invasion and occupation of Iraq has basically turned -- transformed Iran into the unrivaled superpower in the Gulf.

And what the Saudis and the Gulf States are trying to do is to basically find a way to deal with Iranian power.

ANDERSON: OK, so this is evidently a big message from Saudi, and, indeed, from Washington today, to Teheran, it appears -- at least reportedly so, that Teheran is trying to reach out to the Saudis at this point. Now, whether we believe that or not and whether it's true or not, would it surprise you?

GERGES: No. You're absolutely correct. The Iranian leadership has been really trying very hard to say to the Gulf States, listen, our security is not sure. We are not, basically, trying to undermine the security of the Gulf States. What we need to understand, Becky, at the end of the day, this is American strategy.

And the question is, what do the Americans want in the Gulf?

What the Americans want in the Gulf is to create a firewall -- a firewall that then defends missile technology and fighter jets in order to contain Iran. This is a containment architecture.

You might say, does Saudi Arabia need a $60 billion of arms now?

What the Americans are trying to do is to position advanced missile technology and fighter jets so if a crisis emergencies, American soldiers will not really have to deploy heavy equipment. The equipment is over there and the Americans could easily -- could easily deal with an emergent crisis.

ANDERSON: To your mind -- and let's just take ourselves back a bit. The first George Bush had an incredibly close relationship with the House of Saud. It's -- it was a relationship that continued through his son's presidency.

Two questions to you.

Does Obama have as good a relationship with the Saudis?

And is there, secondly, the possibility that, at some stage, not just Saudi, but the rest of those who are working in the Gulf Region might say, why do we care about Washington?

Two questions.

GERGES: Absolutely, Becky.

The first question, initially, the Obama foreign policy team raised some questions about the special relationship between the Saudi Arabia and the United States. But the reality is this is one of the most strategically important relationships for the United States.


Saudi Arabia produces 11 million barrels of oil a day. Saudi Arabia basically has billions of barrels, in terms of oil reserves. I mean the world economy runs on inexpensive Saudi oil. And this -- in this particular sense -- sense, Saudi Arabia is very critical.

The second question is no. No, because even though -- even though you might say that many people in the Gulf might complain about American foreign policy, the reality is America provides the security umbrella that allows states in the Gulf and regimes in the Gulf to feel secure. And this is -- at the end of the day, it's a mutual relationship between the United States and the ruling establishment in the Gulf.

ANDERSON: Well, very briefly -- very briefly, how volatile is the -- is the relationship between Saudi and Iran at this point?

I'm wondering whether, you know, viewers around the world have had their eye off the ball -- and perhaps I have as well -- as to where the kind of flash points in the region might be.

GERGES: To give you an idea of what I'm talking about, the Americans made it very clear today that the Israelis had been consulted about the $60 billion deal and the Israelis did not raise any objections.

Iran today appears to have replaced Israel as the strategic rival and threat to the Gulf States. By the way, this is not the only deal. Between 2005 and 2009, the United States has sold almost $40 billion of arms to the Gulf States, including Saudi Arabia.

And guess what?

There is another -- another deal in which the United States is planning to upgrade the naval infrastructure of Saudi Arabia -- another $30 billion.

So the question is here, you have Iran. The containment of Iran is the most fundamental objective of American foreign policy, and, also, the Gulf States feel very threatened by the rise of Iranian power and the spread of the Iranian influence in their own Sunni-dominated societies.

ANDERSON: And it happens to make good business if you are, as I said, in the business of building arms in the state.

GERGES: The biggest business -- hundreds of thousands of jobs for the hard-pressed American economy.

ANDERSON: We're going to have to leave it there.

As ever, always a pleasure.

Thank you very much, indeed for joining us, connecting the world here on CNN for you, the show that joins the dots on the big stories around the globe.

Next up, the crisis in France deepens -- more strikes, more disruptions.

We ask, is this ongoing resistance trashing the image of France in and of itself?

And from Baghdad to Boston, the Iraqi rowers hoping to win their country's second ever Olympic medal. That story coming up.

Stay with us.


ANDERSON: Piles and piles of rubbish littering the streets of Marseilles. This is the grubby side of the French protests, which have brought garbage collection to a halt for more than a week.

iReporter Tony Gab sent us these images of the French city, which has resorted to bringing in the army to oversee the cleaning up of a crisis that can only be described as stagnant.

You're watching CONNECT THE WORLD here on CNN.

I'm Becky Anderson in London for you.

Well, the standstills are far from over. Unions have announced another two days of strikes in what has now become a direct stand-off with the president, Nicolas Sarkozy. The French leader today accusing the protesters of holding the country to ransom.

Jim Bittermann explains how the crisis has just become a whole lot deeper.


JIM BITTERMANN, CNN CORRESPONDENT: The French unions essentially saying that they mean -- that they are conceding the battle over pension reform, but they are not conceding their war against the policies of the Sarkozy government.

Basically, they've set two new dates for massive mobilizations, next Thursday and then on November 6th. But both of those days will almost certainly fall after the pension reform bill has already been turned into law.

But the unions said tonight in a news conference that basically what they believe is that their movement has taken root within French society, especially among workers who feel that the Sarkozy reforms over the last three years have not been justified and are not just and that, in fact, workers are behind their movement, and, in fact, the general population is behind their movement.

Now, of course, that begs the question, what happens with the strikes that are already on?

Does this mean they'll go away?

Probably not. In fact, the refineries that -- that are being struck right now, there's no evidence at all that those strikes -- those strikers are going to go home until this next day of mobilization. In fact, it looks like they'll probably continue.

So the strikes will probably continue on a very sporadic kind of a basis here. It also means that this whole fuel shortage issue, which is one of the biggest concerns for the government, may well continue to be a concern.

Today it was announced that there are fewer gasoline stations that are totally without gas, but not much fewer. About 2 percent fewer. And, in fact, it's evidence that the government is having a difficult time keeping up with its promise that there would be a normalization in the fuel supplies within four or five days.

And out of the gas pumps, it's difficult to say where the blame is going to lie. But at least for some motorists, it lies with the strikers themselves.

Here's what one woman had to say.


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE (through translator): We have had enough. We are really sick and tired of these idiots who are turning the country upside down. We've had enough of all these horrible trade unions that are messing up the country. And that's it. That's all I have to say.


BITTERMANN: As for the pension reform bill, it will continue going through the senate process, probably being voted and approved by the senate tomorrow. And it will go to a conference committee after that and then approved -- a final version approved by both houses early next week.

But, clearly this social movement, this union movement that's started, is going to continue, at least as far as the unions are concerned, after that pension reform bill is voted and over other issues.

Jim Bittermann, CNN, Paris.


ANDERSON: All right, well, the French strikes have been making front page news around the world. It is, of course, a big story in Europe, with headlines as dramatic as this one in Cypress: "France on Fire." The paper highlights the disruptions to travelers. It's illustrating its point with two images of the riots.

Well, the French strikes also led stories in the States. The "Los Angeles Times" focusing on the chaos that they are causing travelers. Even in China, the riots shared the front page with a typhoon threat and rate rises. Quote, "Paris Youth on the Rampage" is the headline there in the "Shanghai Daily."

Well, it's publicity that can't be good for France, which considers itself, of course, a pillar of the European economy.

For more on the impact of this high profile resistance, I'm joined by Nicolas Trad from what is known as The Reputation Institute, which measures just how countries are viewed as a brand. It doesn't look very nice. It certainly doesn't smell very nice.

How is it being viewed abroad, though?

NICOLAS TRAD, THE REPUTATION INSTITUTE: Well, it def -- it definitely doesn't look -- look very nice. I mean, obviously, and, in general, countries work at minimizing their -- their reputation risks. And in doing that, massive strikes due to reform is obviously something a country would rather avoid. So -- so that's how it's being seen from the outside. It's really seen as -- as a bit -- France is -- it's losing control, perhaps, on -- on the short-term.

ANDERSON: OK. That we can see, perhaps, from the -- the sort of narrative that we're hearing on the television and reading in the newspapers.

Let's get down to the nitty-gritty here. I'm talking about money.

Does it really, what we're seeing on the television screens around the world, will they -- will this really affect, for example, foreign direct investment in the country?

TRAD: Well, I -- I -- I do believe that it will. I mean, obviously, what -- what we see from The Reputation Institute is that there is a direct link between perceptions from the different audiences with whom a country interacts and then whether or not they will -- will support that particular country. That goes either for whether its tourism or whether it's foreign direct investment.

And we all know that we -- we all want to visit countries with -- with happy people. We feel that if people in the country are unhappy, well, then -- then we'll probably visit another country when -- when we choose our destination for a vacation.

Seeing masses on -- on the streets of Paris fighting these reforms doesn't give one the idea that France is -- is fully of happy people. And that makes you -- that makes you insecure -- will the airports be open when I arrive in Paris, will the streets be barricaded, etc.?


TRAD: With a large...

ANDERSON: Let me -- let me stop you there. It's a story, of course, which will resonate with the Greeks, who suffered with their tourism over the summer, post the crisis there. And, you know, I think way back when, the winter of discontent here in the U.K., back in 1976. Certainly those who arrived here on the streets and the pictures people saw around the world didn't do us any favors here in the U.K.

I guess that begs the next question, which is simply this -- what can Sarkozy do next to prevent the image of France getting any worse?

TRAD: Right. Well, I mean it -- it all began but the fact, I guess, that -- that -- that he didn't mitigate the risk that the country was in before it really announced the fact that it was going to do what it -- what it has.

And so one of the first things that countries should do is obviously try to mitigate -- mitigate the -- the risk that is standing in -- in front of them.

With regards to what -- what Sarkozy should do next, it just really seems to go into dialogue and make it absolutely transparent why it is that he has chosen to do what -- what he has, i.e. Change or reform. There is a very specific reason why he's done that and it doesn't necessarily seem as if the people on the streets of Paris understand exactly why he -- he has done that. Some have but some just haven't.

ANDERSON: OK. All right. We're going to leave it there.

We've got to take a very short break.

Interesting stuff, though.

The -- the picture from the outside world, perhaps, as we watch these scenes in Paris and cities around France.

Sir, we thank you for that.


This is the show that joins the dots, as it were, on the day's biggest stories.

I'm Becky Anderson in London.

And we continue with a special series of reports for you from Afghanistan. From the battlefields of Kandahar to the car shops of Kabul, a look at the daily struggle for these kids just to survive.

And from there, we're going to cross to Canada this evening, where a decorated military officer has been exposed as having led a deadly double life -- an extraordinary case, in just a moment.


ANDERSON: Sowing the seeds of hope -- all this week, we've been highlighting those trying to bring peace back to a war-ravaged country. Well, on this trip, Afghan and Pakistani ministers are picking up some agricultural techniques, learning ways to improve crop production in their home countries from farmers in Iowa.

Well, then we headed straight to the battlefields of Kandahar.

We're concentrating on Afghanistan this week, where U.S. troops are using million dollar vehicles with the latest technology, trying to protect themselves from bombs that cost just a few dollars to make.

And on Wednesday, we looked at another coalition weapon, one, though, that is using faith to fight terrorism. This is the Jordan Army's imam challenging the Taliban's views by being the voice for moderate Islam.

Well, tonight, we're back on the back streets of Kabul, where life is pretty difficult and the weight of the world rests on some very small shoulders.

Our Barbara Starr takes a look at the boy mechanics who dare to dream of a different future.


BARBARA STARR, PENTAGON CORRESPONDENT: (voice-over): Meet the boys of the Saroy Malem Mechanics Yard (ph). Young boys are sent here to work on cars and trucks by families desperate for income. The boys work 10 hours a day, six days a week.

Fourteen-year-old Nazar Ahmed (ph) has worked here for the last year. He agrees to talk to us. His few words convey a young life of dreams and heartbreak.

"I never go out to play," he says. "I just work here and don't have time for any fun."

Nazar's boss pays him less than a dollar a day -- the only income for a family of five, his father blinded years ago by a Soviet rocket. Nazar used to go to school, but now he just works. He says he dreams of going back to school and becoming a teacher.

The boys here do have dreams of another life for themselves. "I don't want to be a mechanic, I want to be a doctor," says 12-year-old Mohammed Azem (ph).

His father, Najibullah (ph), brings him here to cook lunch for the workers and then he can go to class. "Knowledge is good. Education is good," he says, "but most of these boys are poor and they just have to work."

As Nazar struggles here, he tells us why he wants to be a teacher. He says it's the best way he can serve Afghanistan. But for now, he and his family often go hungry on his small wages.

(on camera): For these boys, life is very hard. They may never get the chance to go to school or play soccer with their friends. And for something as simple as being late for work or not working hard enough during the day, their boss may beat them.

Barbara Starr, CNN, Kabul.


ANDERSON: And tomorrow our journey in Afghanistan ends where reconciliation begins, this time at the Bagram Air Base, where around 240 detainees have been given their freedom. Now, this is all part of a new initiative by the coalition to help reintegrate those who are willing to pledge a commitment to peace. So do stay with us for that here on CONNECT THE WORLD.

Well, still ahead tonight this Thursday, prosecutors call a decorated air force colonel one of the worst criminal offenders in Canadian history. Russell Williams learned his fate after pleading guilty to crimes that stunned a nation and the world.


BECKY ANDERSON, CNN HOST: It's just about half past nine in London. You are back with CONNECT THE WORLD. I'm Becky Anderson in London for you. Coming up, once respected and entrusted, a Canadian prosecutor costs this man one of the country's worst offenders ever. We'll have more on these horrific crimes.

Then, Iraq's next Olympic hopefuls. They are a long way from the turbulent waters of the Tigris, but can they still row their way into the country's record book? We'll have to take a look.

And our Connector of the Day today. He's a Hollywood star. All I'm going to tell you is you're going to have to hang around for him answering your questions here on CONNECT THE WORLD.

Those stories are ahead. As ever at this point in the show, we get you a quick check of the headlines.

The promise of more protests in France. Six major unions are calling for two more days of demonstrations on October the 28th and November the 6th. They are furious over the government's plan to raise the pension age from 60 to 62. The final vote could come tomorrow.

The former Israeli soldier who drove a bulldozer that killed an American peace activist testified in court today. Rachel Corrie died in Gaza in 2003. Her parents are suing the Israeli Defense Ministry in a civil action. The former soldier testified from behind a screen to protect his identity.

Moscow's new mayor is Sergei Sobyanin, hand-picked by his former boss, Russian prime minster Vladimir Putin, and approved by Moscow's legislature. Russian president Dmitry Medvedev fired the previous mayor last month after nearly two decades on the job.

No reports of damage or injuries after a powerful earthquake today, centered between Mexico's Baja California and its Sinaloa state. Seismologists say the 6.9 magnitude quake was centered beneath the Gulf of California.

He was trusted with Canada's military secrets, commanded its busiest Air Force base, and was once even a pilot to prime ministers and Queen Elizabeth. Yet, Colonel Russel Williams was living a double life as what a judge called a, quote, "sick and dangerous man."

Today, an Ontario court sentenced Williams to life in prison with no chance of parole for 25 years. Williams has plead guilty to 88 charges, including the rape and murder of two women, other sexual assaults, and home break-ins.

Earlier this week, courtroom spectators gasped as they watched an excerpt of a videotaped confession, in which Williams recounts gruesome details of his crimes. He begins that videotaped confession appearing confident, smiling, chewing gum, while denying all charges. Later, he's drawing a map leading police to one of the bodies. Melanie Nagy shows us what happened in the hours between.


MELANIE NAGY, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): This is how the police interrogation of Colonel Russel Williams begins.

JIM SMITH, DETECTIVE SERGEANT, ONTARIO PROVINCIAL POLICE BEHAVIORAL SCIENCES UNIT: You ever been interviewed by the police in a room like this before?

RUSSEL WILLIAMS, CANADIAN AIR FORCE COLONEL: I have never been interviewed like this.

SMITH: Oh, no? OK.

NAGY (voice-over): Williams immediately notices a video camera in the room and smiles. He appears to act like a man with nothing to hide.

SMITH: Jessica Lloyd is one of four cases that we're currently investigating.

NAGY (voice-over): Detective Sergeant Jim Smith, a member of the Ontario Provincial Police Behavioral Sciences Unit is tasked with interviewing Williams.

SMITH: Has the ever been a time you've been in there?



NAGY (voice-over): At first, Smith questions Williams' background. But then, he turns to the crimes.

WILLIAIMS: So, no. I don't actually know who that was.

SMITH: OK. Have you ever visited Marie-France Comeau at her residence?


SMITH: OK. All right. So, you're quite positive there'd be no reason why your DNA would by on any of those?

NAGY (voice-over): The questions keep coming. Williams keeps cooperating, allowing police to make an impression of his boot treads, and agreeing to give a DNA sample. Williams is asked about Marie-France Comeau, the first murder victim. He's also questioned about the second woman to die, Jessica Lloyd.

SMITH: The identified those tires as the same tires on your Pathfinder.



NAGY (voice-over): About two and a half hours into the interview, Smith leaves Williams. When he returns --

SMITH: This is a footwear impression.

NAGY: Williams' boot treads are a match to one found at Jessica Lloyd's house.

SMITH: These are identical. Your vehicle drove up the side of Jessica Lloyd's house. Your boots walked to the back of Jessica Lloyd's house.

NAGY (voice-over): The minutes pass. Williams sits in silence.

SMITH: I also know your mind's racing right now.

NAGY (voice-over): Williams barely moves. All there is is more silence.

SMITH: What's the issue you're struggling with?

WILLIAMS: I'm struggling with how upset my wife is? I'm concerned that they're tearing apart my wife's brand new house.

NAGY (voice-over): More than four hours into the interrogation, Williams' confidence appears to vanish, and he confesses.

SMITH: OK. Got a map?

NAGY (voice-over): Williams confesses to the murders of Lloyd and Comeau. He also admits he sexually assaulted and confined two other women.

Smith continues to question Williams for more than ten hours. All the gruesome details of his crimes are revealed. When asked why Williams let these terrible things happen, he responds by saying --

WILLIAMS: I don't have any answers. And I'm pretty sure the answers don't matter.


ANDERSON: At his sentencing, Williams apologized for the pain and suffering he's caused, saying he deeply regrets his despicable crimes.

You're watching CONNECT THE WORLD, here on CNN. Coming up next, a remarkable sight on the Charles River in Boston as a rowing team from half a world away glides ever closer to its Olympic dream. Stay with us.


ANDERSON: It's taken years to establish even a semblance of stability in Iraq since the US-led invasion threw lives there into turmoil. The sports community was disrupted by years of neglect and conflict before that but, now, the rowing team is heading, it seems, in a new direction. CNN's Richard Roth reports from Boston for you.



RICHARD ROTH, CNN SENIOR UN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Team work. Americans and Iraqis.

NOZAD: Yes, good. Stay like that. Good. Very nice.

ROTH (voice-over): This time, though, it's the Iraqis training the Americans.


ROTH (voice-over): And this isn't Baghdad, it's Boston.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Watch your head, watch your head.

ROTH (voice-over): And it's not the Tigris River, but the historic Charles River.


ROTH (voice-over): Members of the Iraqi Olympic Rowing Team have come to America. And on this picturesque fall day, Americans who fought in Iraq in Afghanistan are also here to learn how to row.

Safety is important to the Iraqis, who have been practicing for years on the Tigris River during turbulent times.

ROTH (on camera): What about safety and convenience compared back home to here?

NOZAD: It's a big difference. Here we feel safe, everything is organized.

ROTH (on camera): Boston's Charles River offers a welcome break from the tensions back home. And the visitors will get a challenge here. They're going to be racing in the famed Head of the Charles River Regatta next weekend.

ROTH (voice-over): Conditions in Iraq are still dangerous, but rower Haidar Nozad believes things are beginning to improve. Now, the goal is to win at the Asian Games later this year.

NOZAD: I feel very good. That's why we are here. We'd like to get a medal to make our people happy, you know? It's very important for us to get that.

ROTH (voice-over): On the water here, the Iraqis took charge.

KEVIN KENNEDY, US AIR FORCE: We're just following off them. They're the experts at this, and we're the rookies out here, so we just definitely follow their lead.

ROTH (on camera): Did the Iraqis and the Americans work together as a team here? If it doesn't always work overseas, does it work here on the Charles?

TOM TIFFANY, COXSWAIN: Very much so, with good humor.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Get ready! Full power, both sides, here we go!

BRUCE SMITH, EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR, COMMUNITY ROWING: We're not there to fight. We're there to win the peace. And anything we can do to build relationships, even if it's just a tiny little thing, it's better than shooting a bullet.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Thank you. Thanks for leading us through that. Thank you.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Hey, good job, good job, good job. Thanks.

ROTH (voice-over): Richard Roth, CNN, Boston.


ANDERSON: They get my vote. They look pretty fit, don't they? After their tour of the US, the rowing team will head to China as part of the qualification process for the 2012 Olympic Games which, of course, are here in London.

As it stands now, Iraq only has one medal since the country began competing in the Olympics. A bronze for weightlifting in Rome back in 1960. From 1984 to 2003, Saddam Hussein said his son, Uday, was in charge of the Olympic team. He was known for torturing and even killing athletes who did not live up to expectations.

And the US -- since the US-led invasion of Iraq, trouble has still plagued the team, I'm afraid. In 2008, Iraq was initially banned from participating in Beijing because of a dispute between the International Olympic Committee and the Iraqi government. It was resolved in time for four athletes to compete, including two of the rowers.

They're certainly putting in the hours. So, how far has this Iraqi team come? I put that question to Ed Hula, who is the editor and founder of "Around the Rings." It's an insider's guide to all things Olympics. He's currently in Mexico attending an Olympics conference, but here's what he told me a little earlier on.


ED HULA, EDITOR, "AROUND THE RINGS": It's been a very fitful history for Iraqi Olympians. Ever since 1948 when the team first competed in the Olympics, there's been one medalist, a bronze medalist in wrestling many years ago.

During the Saddam Hussein regime, it was extremely hard for Iraqi athletes. They were tortured if they failed to succeed in international competitions, and for the Olympics, they were sending one or two athletes. And the results, of course, you know you're going to get tortured if you don't win, if you don't do well. It was not a great deal of initiative for Iraqi athletes.

There was a new national Olympic Committee formed in 2004, just ahead of the Athens Olympics. There was a great deal of hope, a great deal of optimism that the corner had been turned for Iraqi sport here. And indeed, the soccer team, the football team, almost got a bronze medal at the Athens Olympics. It finished in fourth place.

But ever since Athens, it's really been downhill, once again, for the Iraqis. And I think it's largely due to the internal strife within the country more than anything else.

ANDERSON: So, how are these rowers going to do, do you think?

HULA: It's good for them to get out of Iraq and into a stable environment where they can train, where they can not worry about their survivor or the quality of their conditions. They're in a good environment in the United States. It's that kind of thing that they need to grow and to be able to compete successfully at the international level.

I don't think we're looking at a medal-winning performance at all here, but just consistency, just coming to competition after competition and steadily improving their results. That's what they need.

ANDERSON: And isn't that what the Olympics are all about? I mean, it is about inclusion, being inclusive, getting involved at the end of the day, isn't it? Or am I underplaying this?

HULA: No, I think exactly right. The idea of participating, of getting together with your fellow competitors from around the world regardless of whether you're going to be a gold medalist, a bronze medalist, or finish 28th. It's that fellowship, that camaraderie, that being together that is, I think, the power, really, the glue that holds together the Olympics.

ANDERSON: Who might surprise us, do you think, in 2012?

HULA: Well, maybe the Iraqis. I don't think somebody from Afghanistan, for example, another place where there's been difficulty.

Maybe Palestine. Wouldn't it be nice? There's a big effort underway right now to try to improve the situation for Palestinian athletes. There's a Palestine National Olympic Committee, and they've forged a new alliance with the Israelis to, hopefully, engage in some cooperative exchanges there.

There's been, as I say, some more attention being focused on Palestine, and maybe that's where we could see a breakthrough. Some athlete there, maybe not getting the medals podium, but certainly, making it to London and making a credible appearance at the London Games.


ANDERSON: Interesting stuff. After the break, we are with one of Hollywood's finest for you. He's got the brains, definitely got the brawn, the body, and the charm, making him one of America's most beloved rom-com stars. Your Connector of the Day is Matthew McConaughey, and he talks about how he balances family and fame in just a moment.


ANDERSON: You're with CONNECT THE WORLD here on CNN. It's just after a quarter to the hour. As promised, here's the man who makes women swoon across the globe. Take a look at this.


ANDERSON (voice-over): With his rugged good looks and southern drawl, Matthew McConaughey is one of the film world's greatest heartthrobs. Since first stepping onto the silver screen in the 1993 cult classic "Dazed and Confused," McConaughey has cemented his role as a Hollywood golden boy.

He's starred in a series of blockbusters, and is usually accompanied by a bevy of beautiful co-stars. But his own leading lady is Brazilian model Camila Alves. The couple, who have two young kids, have become a paparazzi favorite in Los Angeles.

Off the screen, the proud Texan is known for his love of sport and has become a big proponent of physical fitness in schools. In 2009, he started the j.k. livin foundation, an organization that offers free after-school fitness programs to teenagers in public schools.

Well, I caught up with him while he was visiting a local school's gym and asked why he chose to get involved.

MATTHEW MCCONAUGHEY, ACTOR: I was looking for something to do with kids, and then I thought back to my own life, my high school years as being sort of those crossroads years where you're still young enough to where you've got to kind of listen to your teacher, your parents and such, but you're about to gain your independence and make your own decisions.

And as we all know, once you get out on your own, the consequences of life hit a little big harder. So I said, "Let's go to Title I schools. Schools that need it, schools that don't have an after-school program, place for kids to go, and let's give them a place to go exercise, learn some things about nutrition on a budget. Teach them how to make some healthy choices in their lives, not just in nutrition and exercise, but also life choices.

ANDERSON: Matthew, give me some examples of stories that you think are really moving.

MCCONAUGHEY: There was one girl that wanted to go to the prom. And it was months before the prom, and she couldn't fit in her prom dress. So she said, "I'm not going to go to the prom." Well, she started the program and started exercising anyway. Worked her body down to a size where she fit in her prom dress, and she went to the prom.

You've got some other kids that were not even runners who, next week - - we've got over 30 kids that are going to be running a half marathon.

ANDERSON: Listen. Jason asks, "Was your interest in schooling encouraged by having your own kids, Matthew?"

MCCONAUGHEY: They sort of happened part and parcel. I think I started the foundation before I had my own kids. But the kids, now that I have, give more reason and more resonance to having the foundation for sure.

ANDERSON: I know your kids are little at this point, but have you got them involved in the program in any way?



MCCONAUGHEY: Not yet. They've come down here with us to a few -- to the school a few times. But they're not really that involved at 9 months and 26 months.

ANDERSON: All right, fair enough. Listen, Andrela's got a question, and it's pretty much this. She says, "With all this celeb -- celebtacracy around," celebrities getting involved in philanthropy, she says, "does it really work, or is it just a fad?"

MCCONAUGHEY: You know, a lot of people choose to do their charitable work silently, whether it's through donations or complete anonymity. Others, like myself, are choosing to do it and say, hey, you know what? I'm in a position to be a bit of a voice box, to have a platform to come talk to you and show you what we're doing, and I think it's worth sharing.

But I think it's -- I think there's a lot of people doing a lot of giving, as far as celebrities go. But there's much more, I think, media attention to it now. And I think that's a good thing.

ANDERSON: Good stuff. Lewis has written to us, Matthew. He says, "You've always seemed like a pretty low-key guy who enjoys surfing and hanging out more than the glitz -- "


ANDERSON: "And the glamor of Hollywood. Is this true, and do you find it hard to balance a normal life with a celebrity life?" he asks.

MCCONAUGHEY: Sure, it's a challenging balance at times. But I've been doing it for a while, so you get better at it, you know? And it's now -- it's not my life and then a celebrity life. I have my life, and I happen to be a celebrity. So, which comes first? I have my life first, but I'm also a celebrity.

So, I think when I started looking at those two as one instead of two different things, it became a lot easier. But there's a -- it's challenging at times, but it's not something that's not handleable.

ANDERSON: Well done, you. Listen, there are millions of people watching tonight who want to know what Matthew is up to next.

MCCONAUGHEY: Can I talk about some movies?

ANDERSON: Absolutely.

MCCONAUGHEY: We've got a thing called "Lincoln Lawyer." "Lincoln Lawyer," I'm back in the courtroom. It's been since "A Time to Kill." I'm back in the courtroom on late March in the Unites States here, so we should be over there in your land pretty soon after that.

And then, I've got a couple other things coming up. I'm about to go do a movie called "Bernie" with a friend of mine, Richard Linklater, who I did "Dazed and Confused" with.

And then I'll do a film called "Killer Joe" this fall. And then, hopefully in January, March, February, I'll be going to make the fourth one in a row.

So, I've been out of it for a couple of years, raised a -- made a family and raised a family. Now, I'm getting back into it, I'm going to give you something to see.


ANDERSON: We look forward to that. We've got plenty of big stars to come next week for you, including this incredible singer who has sold more than 20 million records across the globe. I'm sure you'll all remember her first hit, "I'm Like a Bird," which hit the charts back in 2000. Since then, Nelly Furtado has spiced things up just a little bit, with a string of top-selling singles, including "Promiscuous" and "Maneater."

So, if you've got something that you'd like to ask any of our Connectors, do send in your questions. And remember, we love hearing where you're writing from, so do let us know that as well,, that's the site. Tonight, we've got a couple of minutes left. We'll be right back after this.


ANDERSON: A couple of minutes left on CONNECT THE WORLD. Let's get your reactions, shall we, to one of the main stories tonight. And it's the French strikes, which have sparked quite a bit of debate on, it's got to be said. Unions have announced another two days of demonstrations as anger continues over plans to raise the retirement age from 60 to 62.

Well, 88mphh thinks it's all a bit ludicrous and writes, "Wow, all this for an increase of two years to the retirement age? I have officially lost respect for the French."

Somebody who goes by the name of TBAGSHAW thinks, "We Americans could learn a few things from the French when the government steps out of line."

Bunnyfoofoo writes in, "Ironically, what they're protesting for is greater reliance upon government. Clearly the sign of a mature and independent society." That's an interesting point.

And chrsnck from America says, "It saddens me to think that we used to be those people in France back when we started this country, that is standing up and fighting the good fight for all."

You know we love your opinions here on CONNECT ON THE WORLD. We've got another way you can link up with the show. We have the -- we decided it was high time we were on Facebook. CNNconnect, that's the name. And what I'll be doing each week on the site is answering your questions, any questions that you might have for me about, well, about anything, really. Try to stick to the news, but anything.

Today, I responded via video to questions about how to break into journalism, what's the most surprising interview I've ever done, and even where I get my dress sent, if you can call it that. So send in your questions, your requests, and do become a CNNconnect friend, I know we're late to the party, but we are there now.

She's the redhead Russian spy whose cover was very publicly blown. Well now, Anna Chapman has decided to give up espionage as a career. She's using that publicity to her advantage, as Jeanne Moos reports.


JEANNE MOOS, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): It's not what you'd expect.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Wish I had that body.



MOOS (voice-over): To spy a Russian spy --

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: She's not undercover anymore, right?

MOOS (voice-over): Anna Chapman went from her busted spy mug shot to her cover shot in the Russian version of "Maxim."

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Oh, she's hot. She's definitely hot.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I like my wife more.

MOOS (voice-over): She was the spy the media couldn't resist, digging up old tape.


MOOS (voice-over): Everyone was so excited by her looks, she became an action figure. You can even play Poker with her, using this iPhone app.

After being arrested, she and nine other spies were swapped for Russian prisoners, and now she's maximized her assets in "Maxim."


MOOS (voice-over): But the US has its own beautiful spy, and when we sprang the "Maxim" cover on her --

WOLF BLITZER, CNN HOST, "THE SITUATION ROOM": Take a look at this picture over here on the new issue --


BLITZER: The Russian issue of --

VALERIE PLAME, FORMER CIA OFFICER: Well, now we know why she was hired.

MOOS (voice-over): Outed operative Valerie Plame noted her Russian counterpart is 20 years younger. As for her own offers --

PLAME: I was asked to be on "Dancing With the Stars," but I politely declined.

BLITZER: But nobody asked you to be on "Penthouse" or "Playboy" or "Maxim"?

PLAME: That e-mail, I think, got lost in, you know, in all the e- mails I get every day.

MOOS (voice-over): But she does have actress Naomi Watts playing her in the new film "Fair Game," featuring Sean Penn as her husband.

(BEGIN FILM CLIP - "Fair Game")

DIANA: So you have, like, lovers all over the world? Do you have a gun? And have you killed people?

(END FILM CLIP - "Fair Game")

MOOS (voice-over): The way female spies are portrayed in other films bothers Plame.

PLAME: It's very much sexuality, physicality, how good she is with an AK-47. And this is your best weapon. (Points to head.)

MOOS (voice-over): But in "Maxim," Anna is wielding a handgun.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Her grip is completely off. I go to a shooting range, I have a boyfriend who's an ex-Marine. I've been trained. This chick is definitely not.




UNIDENTIFIED MALE: She looks like Jessica Rabbit.

(BEGIN FILM CLIP - "Who Framed Roger Rabbit")

JESSICA RABBIT (singing): Give me some money, too.

(END FILM CLIP - "Who Framed Roger Rabbit")

MOOS (voice-over): Oh, Anna's getting some money. She's a cross between an Austin Powers girl and a Bond girl.


HONEY RYDER: What are you doing here? Looking for shells?

BOND: No. I'm just looking.

(END FILM CLIP - "Dr. No")

MOOS (voice-over): Same goes for fans of Anna. And judging from his comments to Leno, the fan club includes Vice President Biden.

JAY LENO, HOST, "TONIGHT SHOW": Do we have any spies that hot?

JOSEPH BIDEN, VICE PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Let me make it clear. It wasn't my idea to send her back.


MOOS (voice-over): Jeanne Moos, CNN, New York.


ANDERSON: Oh, what an answer. I'm Becky Anderson, that is your world connected. "BackStory" is up next, after a very quick check of the headlines at the top of the hour.