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Mohammed Tops List of Most Popular Names in England, Wales; What's Driving Modern-Day Electric Cars?; Does the Lisbon Treaty Need Modification?

Aired October 28, 2010 - 16:00:00   ET


MAX FOSTER, HOST: Forget Jack or John, Mohammed is now the most popular name for baby boys in England and Wales. The name has topped the list for years in many Middle Eastern countries.

So why is it so popular across Europe -- and why now?

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

The Muslim population has almost doubled across Europe over the last two decades, but it's still very much in the minority.

So is the rise of such a symbolic religious name a sign of the times?

Joining the dots in London, I'm Max Foster.

Also coming up, another massacre brings still more misery in Mexico, as we continue our week long look at a country torn apart by violence.



MATT DAMON, ACTOR: I think, at the end of the day, the -- I will -- I will do what I can to get him elected again because I believe the alternative is just too terrifying.


FOSTER: He is the third of our Hollywood heavyweights and he's ready to fight the good fight for Obama. Matt Damon answers your questions as our Connector of the Day.

Remember, you can connect with the program online via Facebook. The address is

Move over Jack, even Oliver, and make room fu -- make room for Mohammed. There's a new leader on the list of the most popular names for baby names in Britain.

As Atika Shubert now reports, it's a reflection of shifting demographics, as well as pride in the Muslim prophet.


ATIKA SHUBERT, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): What's in a name?

Well, if it's the ranking of most popular baby names in Britain, a lot, especially if the number one name is Mohammed. Recently released data from the Office of National Statistics shows that for 2009, Mohammed and variations of that name ranked highest, with 7,545 babies named last year. Oliver comes in at a close second and Jack is third.

So what do Londoners think?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Mohammed. Yes. It's shocking.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Not every -- everybody in the Muslims are terrorists, you know?

So a lot of people kind of shy away, but a lot of strong reasons have come forward. That's why I've seen a lot of them are naming their children after Mohammed, because it's like a -- a move -- a statement for them, basically.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I'm not surprised, but I'm not happy. I'd like to think that our own indigenous population -- a name from our own indigenous population would be top of the charts. It's a shocking thing, really.

SHUBERT: In fact, variations of the name Mohammed have been among the top 10 baby names for several years now, a result of Muslim immigration and high Muslim birth rates, say analysts.

TIM FINCH, INSTITUTE FOR PUBLIC POLICY RESEARCH: Ten percent of the British population now are from migrant backgrounds. It's about six million people out of a -- out of a population of around 60 million. That's significantly more than it was. Britain is changing. I mean if you have a -- have a sort of chocolate box image of Britain as a place of -- of pubs and thatched cottages and everybody playing cricket, then -- then maybe this doesn't accord with that.

SHUBERT: But here in the U.K., only 4.6 percent of the population is Muslim.

So how did Mohammed become such a popular name?

(on camera): Well, to answer that question, we asked Imam Abdullah al-Hasan. He has a newborn son and he is contemplating naming him Mohammed.

IMAM ABDULLAH AL-HASAN, EAST LONDON MOSQUE: It's a miracle, the Koran. We really -- the first reason why people keep the name -- they choose the name Mohammed is because of their love of the Prophet Muhammad. So they want to emulate him. They want to copy him, not just in his behavior and his conduct, but through all -- also in his name.

SHUBERT: (voice-over): The Muslim population in Western Europe has swelled from 10 million in 1990 to 17 million today. But amidst public anxiety, new laws are targeting Muslim communities. France has banned the burka. Switzerland has stopped the building of minarets and other nations are considering following suit. For those who might be alarmed by the number of Mohammeds in Europe, al-Hasan has this message.

AL-HASAN: You shouldn't be scared. You shouldn't be frightened or anything like that. It shows that Islam is here to stay in Britain. Islam is here to stay in Europe. Islam is here to stay. Islam it not something -- it's -- it's not alien from the Western society. It's not alien from the British -- the British context.

SHUBERT: Not unexpected, perhaps, but surprising nonetheless.

Atika Shubert, CNN, London.


FOSTER: Well, it's certainly not just Britain. If you're traveling across the Middle East, chances are many hands you shake may belong to a man named Mohammed. The name is popular throughout the Muslim world. Just some of the countries where it is the number one name given to boys -- Morocco, Libya, Egypt, Iran and now we can add the U.K. to that list.

Well, religious names, of course, are important to people of many faiths. But the huge popularity of Mohammed among Muslims is testament to the deep reverence they have for their prophet.

To find out more, we thought the best person to ask was our very own Mohammed Jamjoom.

MOHAMMED JAMJOOM, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Now, while the name Mohammed is the most popular named for boys in many of the countries in the Middle East, it's only the second most popular name for men here in Iraq. In Iraq, the most popular name for men is Ali.

Why is that?

Because Iraq is a predominantly Shiite country and Shiite Muslims consider Ali to be the first imam and the rightful successor to the Prophet Muhammad. The Imam Ali Shrine is in Iraq. It's in the city of Najaf. And it's considered to be the holiest site in all of Shiite Islam.

But it's important to point out that not all the boys with the name Mohammed are given that name as a tribute to the Prophet. In many cases, it's because it's a family tradition. In my case, my father decided to name me Mohammed because it was his father's name. I'm named after my grandfather. It's quite common in this part of the world for fathers to name their first born sons after their fathers, which is why my name is Mohammed Ihsan (ph) Mohammed Jamjoom.

Mohammed Jamjoom, CNN, Baghdad.


FOSTER: And while it is interesting to note that while the U.K. and the United States both have only a tiny percentage of Muslims, really, the name Mohammed is far less popular in the US; frankly, around number 200.

Let's talk about all of this now with Akbar Ahmed.

He is the author of "Journey Into America: The Challenge of Islam."

He's also a former Pakistani ambassador to the U.K.

Thank you very much for joining us.

What, if anything, can we read into this?

What does it actually mean?

Does it mean anything?

AKBAR AHMED, AUTHOR, "JOURNEY INTO AMERICA," FORMER PAKISTANI AMBASSADOR TO U.K.: We need to not read too much into this. It's simply a cultural phenomenon. All religions pay tribute to their founder. For example, in Hinduism you'll hear the name Rahma or Kristan (ph), named after Hindu gods. And among the Christians, Jesus is very popular in the Spanish speaking world. And, of course, Mary, the mother of Jesus, is a very popular name. And then, of course, the disciples feature Paul and so on.

Now, among Muslims, you will have Mohammed as the most popular name among males -- Mohammed or its derivatives -- Ahmed or Mahmoud. These are all derivatives of Mohammed, the name of the prophet of Islam. And my own name is Akbar Salahuddin Ahmed. My father was Mohammed Salahuddin Ahmed. So you had both Mohammed and Ahmed. And, of course, my father was born when the British ruled India and his father would have named his son, that is my father, as a tribute -- again, a cultural tribute, a nod, an honor -- to associate with the central figure in Islam, which is the prophet of Islam.

FOSTER: Each individual case seems to make sense. But when you look at the fact that 4.6 percent of Britons are Muslim, it seems surprising that Mohammed is the number one name.

Can you explain that -- help explain that, do you think?

AHMED: Yes. It's not particularly surprising to me, as an anthropologist looking at society, because if Muslims tend to name their male children Mohammed, right now, perhaps, there may be 100 or 300 or 400 million Muslims called Mohammed.

And if the same number of Muslims, in terms of percentages and proportions, are being born within the United States or the U.K., the chances are there will be a high density of boys called Mohammed.

And since other religious cultural systems don't really name their children -- Christians don't call their children Jesus, for example, in the U.K. or a lot of Jews don't call their children in the -- David or Abraham, they may have chose other names, you, therefore, have a higher concentration of Mohammeds.

And in the context of the world we are living in, this whole jumpiness about Muslims, the association of Islam with terrorism, I can understand why people would suddenly start getting alarmed and begin to try to see some kind of pattern, perhaps a sinister pattern, in the naming of Muslim males. And, in fact, there is no sinister pattern, because this has been taking place for the last -- over -- over the last millennium, I would say.

FOSTER: Yes, it's no surprise to Muslims, I guess. But it's interesting when you compare the U.K. and USA, because both countries have relatively small Muslim populations, and yet it's -- Mohammed is number one in the U.K. It's number 200 in the U.S.

What do you think that says about the two countries?

AHMED: It seems that the Muslim population in the USA is less than, in terms of percentages and proportions, than Muslims in the U.K. And that's what it really says. Also, I think it reflects the fact that a lot of Muslims in the U.K. are from South Asia. I think it may be 70 or 80 percent of them -- where the name is very, very popular. It's a very popular name among Muslim males.

In the USA, the Muslim world is represented here, so Muslims from all over the world. A lot of African-Americans, who are -- one third of them are African-Americans. Now this means that the African-Americans very often take the name Mohammed, but very often also keep their own name before they converted. So I've met African-American Muslims who may be Kevin or Richard or John and they've simply kept the name and have become Muslim.

FOSTER: OK. Akbar Ahmed, it's very interesting stuff.

Thank you very much, indeed, for joining us on the program today.

Now, a final thought here. With the world's population pushing seven billion, it's hard to come up with exact global statistics on baby names, but according to the Sixth Edition of "The Columbia Encyclopedia," Mohammed may very well be the most popular boy name in the world, with at least 150 million people sharing that name. So what are some of the world's other leading names for boys?

Well, in India, it seems to be Raj, whilst in Japan, a react survey found that parents favor Hiroto for their little boys. And in the United States, a biblical name tops the list there, Jacob.

Now, the Lisbon Treaty hasn't celebrated its first birthday yet, but it's not stopping European leaders from saying it needs a rewrite. We're live in Brussels for that.

And still to come, also, Matt Damon -- actor, Oscar winner, family man and some have called him the sexist man alive, apparently. He is also our Connector of the Day.


FOSTER: Clean energy -- how can we get it?

And more importantly, can we afford it?

All this week, we're looking at how scientists are using cutting edge technology to create a more sustainable future. And we've seen this truly electrifying game in Japan, where football fans are generating people power -- their fancy footwork transferred straight into rechargeable batteries.

Let's not forget this incredible green garage. U.S. talk show host, Jay Leno, yesterday showed us his latest eco-designs, blending his love of cars with his passion for the environment.

One car which we did spot in Mr. Leno's garage was the -- the Baker Electric. Now his dates back to, well, maybe 100 years. And he says it still runs smoothly, as well.

But what can we expect from these alternative fuel cares of the future?

Let's take a look at what's really driving the modern day electrics and why this mineral could revolutionize the auto industry.


FOSTER: (voice-over): In one of the most isolated regions on earth, Armando Avizo Flores (ph) shovels salt under an unrelenting midday sun. For this work, Armando and his co-workers will earn $7 a day. The men see promise for the future, not in the salt they collect at the surface of these flats, but in the lithium metal that lies beneath it.

In Michigan, the spiritual home of the American car industry, another team of workers is preparing to make history. Engineers with General Motors are inspecting the giant lithium ion battery packs that will power the new Chevy Volt.

Tony Posawatz is the lead engineer of the Volt. The plug-in extended range vehicle is expected to go on sale to the public in December, 2010.

TONY POSAWATZ, LEAD ENGINEER, CHEVY VOLT: And it will be the first mass produced, mass marketed electric vehicle. We intend to set a few records in the process, because this is such a revolutionary, transformational vehicle.

FOSTER: Revolutionary it may be, but other car manufacturers are close behind. Around the world, more than 40 election cycle or plug-in model vehicles will be introduced in the next two years. Most, if not all, will run on lithium ion batteries. So the real question isn't whether lithium is the fuel of the future, but where enough of it can be found.

Bolivia, currently one of the poorest nations in South America, could provide the answer. High in the country's Andes Mountains, the Salar de Uyuni stretches more than 10,000 square kilometers, making it roughly the size of Lebanon. Deep into this vast tundra of salt, another cluster of workers separates lithium from other elements. This small project here is Bolivia's first foray into lithium extraction.

JOSE PIMENTAL, BOLIVIAN MINING MINISTER (through translator): Bolivia is a country with a mining tradition for gold, silver, tin, zinc. Lithium mining, however, is an imperfect science.

FOSTER: The United States Geological Survey estimates Bolivia could have more than 40 percent of the world's supply of lithium, what some analysts are now calling the gold of the 21st century.

JUAN CARLOS ZULETA, LITHIUM EXPERT: You need a real revolution here, what I have called a scientific and technical revolution.

FOSTER: Juan Carlos Zuleta is an expert on lithium. He fears Bolivia is taking too long to decide how it will extract the valuable metal and he says the one resource his country doesn't have is time.

ZULETA: We need to -- to enter the market as soon as possible, because if we stay out of the market for the next 10 years or so, then it will be more difficult for Bolivia. It's going to take at least two decades, but we need to start.

FOSTER: So, as the world's car manufacturers turn the corner from gas to lithium, Bolivia could find itself in the driver's seat. Still, the question remains whether the country can use its vast resources to one day help the millions, like Armando, to dig out of poverty.


FOSTER: Well, another option that's being test driven right now is the air pod. It may sound like your latest Apple gadget, but this is a French designed car that actually runs on compressed air. It's got three wheels, but no steering wheel, just a joy stick. It's emission-free and runs on about 50 cents per 100 kilometers.

Is this the future of urban transportation?

Make sure you're watching tomorrow right here on CONNECT THE WORLD to find out.

Now, the Lisbon Treaty, the backbone of the European Union, is not even a year old, but Germany and France say it needs urgent manipulation to protect the Eurozone against a future Greek-style bailout crisis. The Merkel-Sarkozy proposal, which includes stripping over spending E.U. members of their voting rights, initially met with fierce resistance.

RTL's Lothar Keller joins me now from Brussels.

He's been monitoring all of this for us.

In terms of this Sarkozy-Merkel plan, what sort of progress has there been today?

LOTHAR KELLER, RTL, GERMANY: Well, there were actually two points. I think you mentioned it already. There was, first, this -- the two point, actually, demand by the Germans, the first backed by the French, this idea to amend the Lisbon Treaty to give help for states in financial trouble a new basis. And then the other point, to give the Union the possibility to suspend voting rights of countries that do not comply to the stability rules several times.

The second point -- and there was no agreement on this second point tonight. This was postponed. But there was an agreement with the other countries in this first point, to change the Lisbon Treaty and to -- to respond back so to financial crisis in the EU.

And this is astonishing that there is disagreement, because France and Germany were criticized heavily in the last days for their agreement before the summit.

And so there have been many telephone calls. There has been a lot of explaining, some pressure and some bargaining. There were probably some deals made, for example, between Merkel and Cameron for Cameron's demands on the E.U. budget.

FOSTER: Yes, in terms of that -- of those demands on the E.U. budget, he thought the E.U. was getting too big a budget increase.

He had a bit of a trial today, didn't he?

KELLER: Yes. Merkel and Cameron talked today. And they talked at the summit some days ago. And they agreed immediately on opposing the demand of the E.U. Commission and the E.U. Parliament to increase the E.U. budget by 6 percent.

Of course, the U.K. and Germany, as well, are facing budget cuts in the next years. And so there -- it was impossible to sell to the people in the U.K. or in Germany that the budget of the E.U. will rise.

Cameron wanted to freeze the budget, actually, but since so many countries are net recipients, so they get money from the EU, that was not possible. And he will probably face some pressure at home now.

The president of the E.U. parliament, Buzek, was quoted, saying that every euro spent by the E.U. is better spent than by national governments. And it's an easy guess that the national governments did not agree and they sent Buzek a letter today explaining to them their position very clearly.

FOSTER: High politics in Brussels.

Lothar Keller, thank you very much, indeed, for the latest from Brussels.

Richard Quest joined me a little earlier to give his take on these latest developments out of Europe, as well.

He began with that discussion about the new budget pact.


RICHARD QUEST, HOST, QUEST MEANS BUSINESS: None of the leaders, going into this summit, would really want a very large increase in the European Union budget, for the simple reason they are making dramatic cutbacks at home.

How can you say to your electorate, we're going to cut child welfare, we're going to cut unemployment benefits, housing benefit, we're going to raise the rif -- the pension age in France, and then, oh, by the way, we're going to have a 6, 7 or 8 percent increase for European bureaucrats or Eurocrats in Brussels?

So, this is a compromise, a 2.9 percent increase in the European budget seems to have been agreed to late (ph).

FOSTER: Some people are suggesting it will weaken the Union.

Also, this public debt issue, we're going to go into that, as well, because there's a lot of concern about that, including sanctions for countries with public debt of more than 60 percent, isn't it?

They've been debating that. As it stands at the moment, 12 E.U. members can be classed as over spenders and would be facing some kind of punishment if the limit was enforced. Topping the list is Italy, with a debt that is 116 percent of GDP; Greece, 113 percent, a figure that's only expected to get worse, as well; and France, 78 percent; higher than Portugal's 76 percent. Even Germany would be in trouble if the proposals go ahead, with a debt of 73 percent; so, too, the U.K. and Ireland, both above the...

QUEST: Well...

FOSTER: -- 60 percent limit.

So what's going to change here...

QUEST: Well...

FOSTER: -- because everyone seems to be affected.

QUEST: Well, the best intentions of Angela Merkel to try and force through these automatic sanctions, the loss of voting rights, the automatic fines -- she says it would have needed a change in the Lisbon Treaty. Lord help us, it was hard enough to pass the Lisbon Treaty to start with.

And there's no way, I think, that they're going to agree. Barroso called it irresponsible. Viviane Reding said it was opening a Pandora's Box.

And anyway, there's more to this than just the debt to GDP. You've got the budget deficit, you've got the debt to GDP. You've got all sorts of other criteria within the stability and growth pact.

The truth of the matter is that tonight, the European leaders have to, again, find a compromise. What they desperately, desperately want to avoid is a roguish country coming along nearly derailing the whole program and project with an irresponsible budget deficit and requiring a bailout.

No more bailouts -- that's what they want.

FOSTER: So after all this is said and done tonight, do you think the European Union's credibility is in question?

QUEST: The European Union's credibility will be in question until they finally get over this hump of crises. The way in which they handled the euro in the Greek debacle called it into question. The inability to agree whether it should be automatic sanctions or not called it into question. The -- the entire system of decision-making calls it into question.

It will survive, but European leaders are resigned to the muddle through politics that actually makes the thing work.


FOSTER: Richard Quest speaking to me a little earlier.

Do stay with us. We have much more ahead on the show tonight, including our daily look at how difficult life has become in Mexico, as the drug wars spiral out of control.

We'll be right back.


FOSTER: You are back with CONNECT THE WORLD.

I'm Max Foster in London.

Coming up, on the streets of Mexico, crimes with no consequences, criminals acting with impunity.

Can the government stop this deadly cycle of violence?

And the roads of Lebanon, where there's little accountability and no respect for the law -- why its reckless driving culture may be killing its citizens.

And finally, your Connector of the Day -- the Hollywood star and philanthropist, Matt Damon, is answering your questions.

All those stories ahead on the show for you.

But first, let's check the headlines this hour.

At least 343 people are dead and hundreds of others are still missing after Indonesia's strong earthquake and tsunami. International donors are pledging to help, as aid groups struggle to get supplies to the worst hit areas.

The death toll from the cholera outbreak in Haiti now stands at 305 and there are more than 4,600 confirmed cases now. Officials are warning the outbreak has yet to peak and that the country should prepare for the disease to hit the capital.

European Union leaders have agreed the bloc's 11-month old constitution, the Lisbon Treaty, may need to be tweaked. German Chancellor Angela Merkel has led the push for tougher rules that will prevent another Greek-style bailout crisis.

There's a new name at the top in Britain. When all spellings are taken into account, Mohammed is the most popular name for baby boys. Oliver and its variations come in second, followed by last year's leader, Jack.

We are learning more today about that massacre at a car wash in Western Mexico, the latest in a string of mass killings in less than a week.

Our Rafael Remel -- Romo -- is helping us track the violence in Mexico all of this week for us.

And he joins us now live from the CNN Center -- Rafael.

RAFAEL ROMO, SENIOR LATIN AMERICAN AFFAIRS EDITOR: Max, it's been a terrible week. It's been four massacres in Mexico in the last six days and the victims are mostly young people. In one case, heavily armed men attacked a house party, shooting even children. It's a new turn in Mexico's war on drug cartels.


ROMO (voice-over): The shooting happened at this car wash. Fifteen youth who were gathering here were shot to death by a group of heavily armed men. The massacre in the Mexican northwestern city of Tepic, the fourth so far since Saturday, prompted an angry reaction from President Felipe Calderon.

FELIPE CALDERON, MEXICAN PRESIDENT (through translator): Criminals, in their murderous and irrational savagery, in their fights among themselves or against their adversaries, mercilessly kill their victims, taking the lives of many innocent people.

ROMO: A massacre of 14 people in the border city of Ciudad Juarez last Saturday terrified residents. Armed men stormed a house party, shooting people at close range. A 7-year-old boy was among the wounded.

The following day, a group of armed men burst into a drug rehabilitation center in Tijuana, killing another 13 people. Seven more were killed in Mexico City Wednesday.

These killings are putting more pressure on President Calderon to back up his strong words with equally strong actions.

CESAR PRIETO, SECURITY ANALYST (through translator): The reaction of the state is mistaken, and the state is failing. First, there are no proper investigations, and second, criminals are not held responsible. This is generating terrible impunity. They keep on killing because there are no consequences.

ROMO (voice-over): National Security Secretary Genaro Garcia Luna pushed again for a proposal to centralize police departments at the state level throughout Mexico to give more resources to local departments.

GENARO GARCIA LUNA, NATIONAL SECURITY SECRETARY OF MEXICO (through translator): The concept is to unify police agencies under a centralized command. A new model that creates new profiles, new systems, and new certification procedures for officers.


ROMO: In another turn of events today, a bus carrying factory workers was attacked in Ciudad Juarez across the border from El Paso, Texas. Four people died and 15 were wounded, according to the Mexican government information agency. Max?

FOSTER: Rafael, you've been reporting on this for us all week, and there's been some extraordinary stories. But people watching will be getting a very bad impression of Mexico. Is this the typical picture of Mexico right now?

ROMO: The reality, Max, is that this week, as we have seen, in just six days, you have four massacres. We used to count fatal victims. Now this week, we're counting massacres. But the reality is that the violence so far has been concentrated in the northern states in Mexico. Those states along the border with the United States, and not so much so in central Mexico or other tourist areas that our international viewers know very well, such as Cancun and Acapulco, Max.

FOSTER: OK, Rafael Romo, thank you very much, indeed. Fascinating series.

Now, coming up next, navigating some of the most dangerous roads in the world. We'll tell you about efforts to improve safety in Lebanon, while some drivers focus on improving their skills in Kenya. That straight ahead on CONNECT THE WORLD.


FOSTER: It's been a deadly year for traffic accidents in Lebanon, home to some of the most dangerous roads in the world. Laws that could improve safety have been tied up in parliament for years, now. And CNN's Arwa Damon met a family begging lawmakers to act now, before more people lose their lives.


ARWA DAMON, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Another innocent life senselessly lost. Friends and family march in memory of 17-year-old Talal Kassem, and in protest, tracing his last footsteps to the spot where he was killed by a speeding car.

Talal's mother implored the authorities to implement laws and regulations, which could have saved her from a parent's worst nightmare.

ZEINA KASSEM, VICTIM'S MOTHER (through translator): I thank you, my love, Talal, that your last words to me were that you loved me.

KASSEM (in English): For this month, I mean this week, how many dead on the roads? Nine, ten? I don't know. More.

DAMON (voice-over): Much more. That week, the body count in Lebanon was 21, according to YASA, the Youth Association for Social Awareness.

ZIAD AKL, YASA FOUNDER: In the beginning of the year, we had warned all Lebanese people that we're going to lose more than 1,000 people on our road. Politicians didn't take that seriously.

DAMON (voice-over): They should. The official government death toll for this year through the end of September is 390. But YASA follows the injured to hospitals for a longer period, and takes into account those who die of their wounds. Their count is double, 775 for the same time frame, not to mention the 12,000 injured, 40 percent of them pedestrians.

For a country of 4.1 million people and 1.5 million cars, these are staggering statistics. In Lebanon, reckless driving kills three times more people than homicides and suicides combined. The sentence for that, six months to three years, is rarely enforced. Current fines are hardly a deterrent for traffic offenders. Most violators get away with $30, the driving culture a byproduct of engrained recklessness, a lack of respect for the law, and little accountability.

AKL: The traffic police in Lebanon has no priority to enforce traffic laws, and this is the responsibility of the internal security forces.

ZIAD BAROUD, LEBANESE INTERIOR MINISTER: They are lacking of tools. We don't have enough staff.

DAMON (voice-over): And for Ziad Baroud, that's not the only challenge.

BAROUD: Politics are, believe it or not, have some influence on this. Some consider that this is not the priority.

DAMON (voice-over): The draft for stricter and harsher traffic legislation has been in parliament for five years, and the longer politics postpone the issue, the more blood, like Talal's, will be wasted. Arwa Damon, CNN, Beirut.


FOSTER: Even with hundreds of people killed in road accidents every year, Lebanon does not have the world's deadliest roads. According to the World Health Organization, that distinction goes to the African nation of Eritrea. The death toll there was 48 deaths per 100,000 people in 2007, the highest number in the world.

The Cook Islands in the South Pacific came in second, with 45 deaths per 100,000 people, though the population is only 13,000, so it's a statistical story, that one, really.

Egypt is close behind at number three, just over 41 people per 100,000 died in traffic accidents that year. And its neighbor, Libya, follows with more than 40.

One country hoping to distance itself from those kinds of numbers is Kenya, where 3,000 people are killed on the roads every year. Traffic schools offer courses to help people navigate the dangerous and deadly roads there. CNN's David McKenzie went along for a ride.


DAVID MCKENZIE, CNN CORRESPONDENT (on camera): What do you think of the traffic here?


MCKENZIE: The traffic. Is it bad?


MCKENZIE: I have to say, if I had to come here and this was coming up behind me, I think I probably would panic.

MCKENZIE (voice-over): The pace might suit a forklift operator just fine. But for the thousands of other drivers who take to Nairobi's streets each day, traffic can be frustrating, even downright dangerous.

MCKENZIE (on camera): What do you think about the traffic?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: This is not a good situation at all. You spend so much time on the road instead of you would be working.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: The exhaustion and the tiredness and you feel like you've done a thousand miles.

MCKENZIE (on camera): This is a typical street in Nairobi, and it's actually the main street, and this is how you find yourself driving around town. Jam packed, people getting a bit grumpy, some people even reading the newspaper while they try to get through traffic.

And when you do get going, it's often difficult driving in Nairobi. You've got circles, you've got matatos, it's really stressful driving.

MCKENZIE (voice-over): While it's estimated that gridlock costs more than $700 million in lost productivity last year alone, it's also spawned an industry devoted to keeping high-paying clients safe in head-spinning traffic:

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Let's go go go go go go go go go!

MCKENZIE (on camera): So, now you've seen some of the unique challenges of Nairobi traffic, so I've come to see how we can negotiate the traffic. Here is the Glen Edmunds Performance Driving School, and this is Glen Edmunds.


MCKENZIE: I'm very good.

EDMUNDS: You look good.

MCKENZIE: Now, Glen is going to show us a little bit how you can manage the traffic in a city of Nairobi.

EDMUNDS: Yes, and hopefully we can keep some people safe. So, why don't you jump in?


The African roads can be dangerous.


MCKENZIE: What do you teach people to help?

EDMUNDS: Well, we teach them, first of all, how to brake, how to steer. Car control. And that's a big issue, how to reverse. People don't realize that without the correct braking techniques, and if you don't know how to stop a car quickly, all it's going to do is lead to an accident.

UNIDENTIFED MALE: OK, this one is called child avoidance. That cone, it will be a child.

MCKENZIE: Does it get -- as you go faster, it's just a little bit harder?

EDMUNDS: Yes. It gets a lot harder.

MCKENZIE: A lot harder.

EDMUNDS: Four times harder. As the speed goes up, you actually multiply. Most people just think that, as I said, at 20 kilometers an hour, when you're doing something slowly, it'll be the same at 60, when it's actually not.

MCKENZIE (voice-over): Of course, in a city that averages carjackings per day, it isn't only other cars that drivers need to worry about.

A large part of what Edmunds teaches is helping clients avoid and escape violent crime. Even if, in this exercise, the criminals use pool noodles.

MCKENZIE (on camera): Do you get people who just completely freak out when they're doing the test, that pretend hijacking?

EDMUNDS: Yes, we do. And that's the thing. The moment you start to add a little bit of pressure, people forget where to find reverse, how to engage gear, and then they just go into freeze mode. And once they're in freeze mode, then, it's very easy for the attack to occur.

MCKENZIE: You're a rally driver.


MCKENZIE: Do you get a kick, still, out of teaching people how to do these things?

EDMUNDS: Yes, I do get a kick out of it. But ultimately, we do this in the hope that people will -- that we can save lives. And that's why we're here.

MCKENZIE (voice-over): An aggressive take on teaching in a city known for its aggressive driving. David McKenzie, CNN, Nairobi, Kenya.


FOSTER: He was smiling, whether or not he was happy. After the break, our third and final Hollywood star reveals more about one of his most famous movie series.


MATT DAMON, ACTOR: They're making another "Bourne" movie without me, but that's not going to interfere with my ability to come back with Paul Greengrass and make another "Bourne" movie.


FOSTER: Matt Damon for you, answering your questions, in just a moment.


FOSTER: Well, as promised, here is tonight's Hollywood star, your Connector of the Day.


(BEGIN FILM CLIP - "Bourne Identity")


UNIDENTIFED FEMALE: They gave you so many identities. Cheiver (ph), Lee, Kane, Bourne.

FOSTER (voice-over): To many, he's Jason Bourne.

JASON BOURNE: Someone made me what I am. And I'm going to find him.


FOSTER (voice-over): To others, he's the talented Mr. Ripley.

(BEGIN FILM CLIP - "The Talented Mr. Ripley")

TOM RIPLEY: We were at Princeton together.

MARGE SHERWOOD: How do you do?

TOM RIPLEY: You're so white.


(BEGIN FILM CLIP - "The Departed")

COLIN SULLIVAN: Hey, last time I checked, I tipped you off, and you're not in jail.


FOSTER (voice-over): And to a few, he's the bad cop from "The Departed." But regardless of how you identify him, one thing is clear, Matt Damon is an A-List.

(BEGIN FILM CLIP - "The Green Zone")

MILLER: How'd you know that?


FOSTER (voice-over): Known for his good looks and versatility, Damon has tackled some of Hollywood's most sought-after roles, earning him awards and admiration around the world.

DAMON: We're about 60 kilometers outside of Mekele, Ethiopia.

FOSTER (voice-over): But recently, he's put on a very different hat. The Academy Award winner is working with OneXOne, a charity devoted to improving children's health in impoverished areas. Damon has traveled with the organization around the world, including trips to Rwanda, Ethiopia, and Haiti.

Today, he's teaming up with medical icon Paul Farmer to bring more attention to the issue. The two talked to me about their goals.

DAMON: I think it's a very easy -- particularly as a parent, to -- when you're trying to get involved, it seems to me to make a lot of sense to be getting involved in the lives of children. Because a lot of the times, they're not the ones who created the circumstances that they find themselves in, and there are a lot of really practical and easy solutions to make their lives a lot better if people just take the time to get involved.

FOSTER (on camera): Paul, your own group does all sorts of medical work in areas where there is extreme poverty. I'm just trying to understand what you hope to achieve by partnering up with OneXOne.

PAUL FARMER, CO-FOUNDER, PARTNERS IN HEALTH: The approach to health problems is to not ignore the fact that we're going to need what's called in medicine tertiary care, a hospital-based care. But also to link that to community-based care.

So, in Haiti, for example, we have some thousands of employees, all Haitian, who are spanning villages, towns, and cities and trying to create partnerships, again, to improve health outcomes. We have a particular interest, as you might imagine, in vulnerable children and women and people living in poverty in general.

FOSTER: This is from Mindy. "Where does the Haiti cholera outbreak fit into the context of the work you're currently doing?"

FARMER: One of our jobs is to make sure we are able to, as I said, link villages to clinics and health centers, but also to hospitals. But we still have to find a way to fight for public -- really, public goods, like water, which is something we're going to do in partnership with the public authorities. That's a very difficult job to do, but the cholera epidemic is a reminder of that fragility if we don't invest in basic public services.

And I think the same holds true for education, children's education. If they can't be sure that they'll have the right to primary and secondary education, the poor are always going to be the most vulnerable there, as well.

FOSTER: Matt, you've been a big supporter of President Barack Obama, and Alex has got a question about that. He asks, "How do you think Obama is doing? And do you think he's focusing on the right things?"

DAMON: I have been a huge supporter of his in the past. I worked hard to get him elected, and I'll work hard again to get him elected. I have taken exception with a lot of the stances he's taken and a lot of things the administration's done. But it's my job as a citizen to make noise about those things.

I'm not particularly happy with the way they dealt with the financial industry. You can go check out the movie "Inside Job," that I was involved with. I'm proud of what that movie says, and it's very instructive, I think, about what happened and what has happened to us all.

And there are certain other things I take exception with. But I think at the end of the day, the -- I will do what I can to get him elected again, because I believe the alternative is just too terrifying.

FOSTER: Matt, there's obviously a lot of pressure for your time, I'm sure lots of charities want your support, but Luca asks, "With all the causes out there, how do you decide which one to support?"

DAMON: That's a great question, and there are a lot of things that I would want to give my time and energy to, because as the questioner says, there are a lot of really wonderful causes that need support.

But with an issue like tonight, or particularly water, which I'm very involved with, I think about water, and I think about the fact that on our planet, every 30 -- a child every 15 seconds dies because of lack of access to clean water or sanitation. So there are a billion people without clean water, and two and a half billion without a toilet.

And that is, in this day and age, just -- it's just really ridiculous. It's not like these are things we don't have solutions for. So, when you actually look at how easy some of these interventions are and the pointless death because people aren't getting together to get involved, that was really why I ended up kind of with water.

And then, this group tonight does wonderful work. They support, and they support a number of other wonderful organizations all over the world, including Partners in Health and -- without speaking for Paul, I think we both agree that this kind of stupid, pointless death just because of extreme poverty really is unacceptable in this day and age.

FOSTER: And Matt, would it surprise you to hear that lots of the questions were about the "Bourne" franchise? And pretty much everyone asking, are we going to see you as Jason Bourne again?

DAMON: I really hope so. They're making another "Bourne" movie without me. But that's not going to interfere with my ability to come back with Paul Greengrass and make another "Bourne" movie. Maybe at Partners in Health facility in Haiti.


FOSTER: Watch that space. It's hot gossip in Hollywood, that story. Now, Matt Damon was speaking there, wrapping up your fantastic Hollywood week, which also featured Harrison Ford and Michael Caine.

And if you thought it couldn't get any better, check out this lineup of talented singers that we've got in store for you. Nelly Furtado, Neil Diamond, Seal. Their music has touched so many generations, and next week, they'll be right here on CONNECT THE WORLD to answer your questions. Anyone can send them in.

Just head to and ask away. Remember, we love to hear from you, all of you. Don't forget to tell us where you're writing from, if possible. Tonight, though, we'll be right back.


FOSTER: For tonight's Parting Shots, some are speculating that Vladimir Putin has been a victim of one. The Russian prime minister was pictured wearing a rather thick layer of makeup to cover what appears to be some dark shadows or bruising of some sort around his eyes.

Mr. Putin's spokesman put it down to bad lighting and tiredness, but Russian and Ukrainian media have been suggesting that the judo enthusiast may have taken a hit during a bout. Or during one of the country's other pastimes that have earned him his Rad Vlad image.

Here he is in the -- on the front line of whale research, shooting for a sample of skin. In this one, he was behind the wheel of a boat in a Russian wildlife sanctuary, steering possibly a little close to the bear you see there.

And Mr. Putin got even closer to a polar bear in April. All good, of course, for the macho image. So, too, this -- Putin the pilot. He took to the air in a water bombing plane to join the firefighting effort in August.

And his bike of choice, a Harley Davidson, of course. The Russian prime minister pictured here on his way to a motorbike's meeting in July. A slight delay with pictures for you, but we're getting there. With a photographic portfolio like that, you'd have to say a little bit of makeup isn't going to bruise Vladimir Putin's tough-guy image too much. That was tonight's Parting Shots.

Now, you've probably heard the adage, "waste not, want not." That's a lesson one lady in New York says she wants to teach Americans, but she's trying to do through an almost obsessive collection of discarded umbrellas, as Richard Roth now shows. She says it's all for a good cause thousands of kilometers away.


RICHARD ROTH, CNN SENIOR UN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Thunderstorms send most New York City residents ducking for cover. But not Catherine Charlot. She takes to the streets when strong storms hit, picking up umbrellas people have left behind.

CATHERINE CHARLOT, DESIGNER, HIMANE: In March, during the really windy month, I collected 437 umbrellas.

ROTH (voice-over): Charlot finds discarded umbrellas in streets, subway stations, and even trash cans.

CHARLOT: Yay! Woo!

ROTH (voice-over): Charlot is a designer. She takes the fabric from the umbrellas into her studio and transforms them into unique pieces, such as dresses, purses, tote bags, and dog clothes.

CHARLOT: It is a doggy coat. It came out. And everything's all umbrellas. Old, recycled umbrellas.

ROTH (voice-over): She has even made a wedding dress from dirty, donated umbrella fabric.

CHARLOT: The actual umbrella dress made out of 15 umbrellas from Dutch umbrella.

ROTH (voice-over): Some New Yorkers are confused when they see Charlot in action.

CHARLOT: One day, I was practically digging in the garbage, because there was a nice umbrella, and it was all the way down, and they have all those steaks. I said, "Oh, God, do I have to do that?" So I always carry gloves with me. And this lady comes to me and says, "Oh, my God, are you hungry?"

ROTH (voice-over): Her umbrella obsession can annoy people.

CHARLOT: I'll be on a date, and I'll be collecting umbrellas. And one guy was, "Catherine, come on, this is ridiculous." I said, "Listen. It's either, like, I collect that umbrella, or you drop me home. Because I need to get that umbrella."

ROTH (voice-over): She believes part of her job is to teach her customers about recycling and hopes they will think twice the next time they throw something out.

CHARLOT: I think I'm doing a lot, I'm helping a lot. Because all those umbrellas and all those fabrics were going to head over into the landfill. By collecting and recycling them, I'm doing really a good thing. I'm helping out.

ROTH (voice-over): You would have to open your wallet for the umbrella dress line. Charlot's creations start at $200. She says it's money well spent, because 10 percent of every sale goes to a school she is building in her native Haiti.

CHARLOT: It's not going to be only a school, it's going to be something, like, young kids can just go and learn something positive. Learn how to recycle, how to do something with their hands and be useful for tomorrow.

ROTH (voice-over): Meanwhile, Catherine Charlot hopes when it rains, it pours. Richard Roth, CNN, New York.


FOSTER: And it's going to pour in New York, it seems. A big storm is on the way, people will be getting their umbrellas out, she'll have lots of raw material, Guillermo, in the days to come, probably.

GUILLERMO ARDUINO, CNN METEOROLOGIST: Yes, they're lucky because they're always moving to the north in Canada, so it's going to be mostly wind. We've seen a lot of it. You see this low is here, coming with a lot of wind and snow, blizzard-like conditions in Canada and also in the upper midwest in the States.

For example, Minnesota. And let's show our viewers the iReport picture. It's an airport, hello. The weather was so bad that they had to sleep at the airport. Let's come back here. That was only one of the airports where we had problems. You see, the last 24 hours, we see tornado, hail, and wind damage in here.

And associated with the same thing, still, the chance of snow in Minnesota, the Dakotas with a lot of snow. Look at the radar. Fortunately, New York, now, in the clear. Behind, we may see some bad weather associated with that.

If you're coming to the States now, especially upper midwest or into Canada, Winnipeg, five degrees, the high of the day. And in Europe, I think the bad weather remains here in Greece and Turkey, the east Med is where the problems are.

Max, I think that you are okay for tomorrow. Friday will be fine in London. The problem is to the north, there, and also windy conditions all over, even in London. But then, the weekend doesn't appear to be so nice, but when we look at these problems her in Cypress and also in Turkey, in Greece with that, London's going to be fantastic. No problem at all.

The rain is coming to some spots in the Middle East, we are happy to report that. Good night.

FOSTER: OK, Guillermo, thank you very much, indeed, for that.

ARDUINO: Thank you.

FOSTER: I'm Max Foster, that is your world connected. "BackStory" is next, but we're going to check the headlines first.