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CONNECT THE WORLD
Impact of Midterm Elections in the U.S.; Parcel Bombings in Athens; The Risks of Air Freight; Ladies First in New Delhi's Subway
Aired November 3, 2010 - 16:00:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
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BARACK OBAMA, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: I'm not recommending for every future president that they take a shellacking like they -- like I did last night.
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MAX FOSTER, HOST: Republicans rejoice and Democrats lick their wounds, after American politics swings to the right.
But what will it mean for a battle half a world away and the war being fought right on America's doorstep?
Going beyond borders on the day's biggest stories, on CNN, this is the hour we connect the world.
The Republicans took back the House of Representatives with the biggest gain by a major party since 1948. But with President Obama now focused on the battles at home, could others overseas get less attention?
Joining the dots from London, I'm Max Foster.
Also tonight, the miracle implant that allowed this blind man to see again.
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SEAL, SINGER: The environment and the planet earth has been here long before us and it will be here long after us. We should concentrate on saving ourselves.
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FOSTER: Seals gives -- Seal gives us his take on the environment -- interesting answers to your questions as our Connector of the Day.
Remember, you can connect to the program online via Facebook. Just head to Facebook.com/cnnconnect.
Now, U.S. Republican lawmakers say they're ready to roll up their sleeves and roll back the size of government, as well as some of President Barack Obama's key policy initiatives. Republicans rode a wave of voter discontent on Tuesday, making huge gains in mid-term elections.
President Obama called it a shellacking. He reached out to the Republican likely to be the next speaker of the House, John Boehner, offering to seek common ground.
Later, they spoke separately to reporters.
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OBAMA: This is something that I think every president needs to go through because the -- you know, the responsibilities of this office are so enormous and so many people are depending on what we do and in the rush of activity, sometimes we lose track of, you know, the -- the ways that we connected with folks that got us here in the first place.
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JOHN BOEHNER, U.S. HOUSE REPUBLICAN: What we need to do is to listen to the American people. They sent a very loud message last night, not only to the House and to the Senate, but if you look at the number of Republican governors that won, the number of Republican legislative bodies that won, it's pretty clear the American people want a smaller, less costly and more accountable government here in Washington, DC. And if the American people see us doing things that -- that they're telling us to do, I think we'll do just fine.
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FOSTER: Well, Boehner just talked about the numbers.
Let's see how they're shaking out. Republicans took back the House of Representatives and now have a commanding lead over Democrats, 239 seats to 185. Eleven races have yet to be decided.
Democrats did retain control of the Senate, but not by much. They have a 52-46 lead over Republicans, with two races still too close to call.
President Obama concedes that many Americans are frustrated with Washington and blames himself for the slow pace of promised reforms. But he won't concede that the election rout was a mass rejection of his agenda.
Let's get more now from CNN political contributor, Bill Schneider -- Bill, thanks so much for joining us.
BILL SCHNEIDER, CNN POLITICAL CONTRIBUTOR, SENIOR FELLOW & RESIDENT SCHOLAR, THIRD WAY: Thank you.
FOSTER: This is a weakened president, isn't it?
SCHNEIER: Well, he is a weakened president. He's gotten a repudiation from the voters, who basically sent the message -- it's not working. We've given you two years. You have this big ambitious program. There's a lot more government. It's not paying off. We haven't seen the economic turnaround.
Where are the jobs?
FOSTER: Is there any sympathy for him, that he's in a touch position?
Do you think, over the next two years he can convince people that he can make it through this tough economic time, if he deals with the economics properly.
SCHNEIER: Well, that's the point. People want to see the turnaround. They want to see the jobs come back. When Clinton lost Congress in -- control of Congress after two years, the economy started to improve. Things started turning around and he got easily reelected. And so did Ronald Reagan, who had a setback after two years.
The problem is this president is a little bit more to the left than Bill Clinton was and there aren't any Obama Republicans for him to work with. So it's going to be very, very tough for him in the next two years.
The one thing that has to happen to save his political future is to see the economy really recovery without an economic stimulus, because there's no support in Congress for any kind of economic stimulus.
FOSTER: Yes, it's going to be interesting to see how he deals with that. The other thing previous presidents haven't had to deal with is this Tea Party movement.
Explain how significant the impact of that was.
SCHNEIDER: Well, it had a mixed impact. There certainly -- the Tea Party, which was a revolt of the base, the conservative base of the Republican Party, did supply Republicans with a lot of energy and enthusiasm. On the other hand, they took over Republican primaries in many states and they nominated some outlandish candidates. And I would argue to you that Republicans would have a majority in the Senate right now if it weren't for the Tea Party. Because the Tea Party nominees, the outlandish candidates in Delaware, in Colorado and in Nevada. And they should have won those races, but they lost because their candidates just weren't very palatable.
So the Tea Party had a very mixed impact.
FOSTER: And what impact will it have on the Republican Party, this Tea Party movement?
SCHNEIDER: It has put the fear of God into Republicans, because the Republicans know that if they don't tow the conservative line, if they're not in agreement with the Tea Party, those people will come after them. They did it in the primaries this year and they got rid of a lot of establishment Republicans. So a lot of moderate and -- and establishment type Republicans are looking over their shoulders and they're saying wait a minute, I don't want to face a primary against these activists who are really angry. And they can come after me the way they did others this year. So they're very worried. Even if you're not a Tea Party Republican, you've got to be worried about the base rising up in revolt.
FOSTER: And could President Obama be helped, in a way, by the Tea Party in that he's created -- or there has been created some infighting within his opposition party?
SCHNEIDER: That's right, the Republican Party does have some division. It's going to be very hard for Speaker Boehner, whom we just heard from, and for Mitch McConnell, the minority leader in the Senate, to control these people. There could be some divisions.
But more likely, the Tea Party could pressure the Republicans to take some more extreme positions, not to give in, not to make deals. These are people who look -- who -- they are not only anti-government, they're also anti-politics. They say they want to change Washington and by that, they mean they want to get rid of politics. They don't want any deal making, no negotiations, no compromise.
If they stand their ground like that and don't make any deals and don't compromise, President Obama can stand up to them and I think he can score some politi -- political points for doing that.
FOSTER: Interesting stuff, Bill.
Thank you very much, indeed.
The next two years are going to be interesting, indeed.
Now, people all over the world watched the results come in, mindful that a political shift in Congress could affect foreign affairs. But some initiatives at the state level also attracted international interest.
Three reports for you now on reaction to the election results.
KEVIN FLOWER, CNN JERUSALEM BUREAU CHIEF: I'm Kevin Flower in Jerusalem, where both Israelis and Palestinians are choosing to put their own spin on the results of the United States mid-term elections.
Now, despite conventional wisdom that a Republican-controlled House will be friendlier to Israel, one Palestinian negotiator told us that the results will allow the U.S. president to focus more time on Palestinian issues.
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NABIL SHAATH, PALESTINIAN NEGOTIATOR: He can, I think, give more time and more energy and more interest to the Palestine issue. And he can play a -- a role that gets the Israelis to end their settlement activities and the siege of Gaza and other measures on the ground so that we can go to the negotiating table with his help.
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FLOWER: While many in the right-wing coalition government of Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu may be pleased with the Republican wins, few here believe it will result in any major change in American policy.
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DANNY AYALON, ISRAELI DEPUTY FOREIGN MINISTER: A peaceful resolution of the Palestinian conflict is in the vital interests of both the United States and of Israel. This was before the elections, of course. And this will continue after the elections. So I do expect and I do look up to continued American leadership and involvement on that issue, just as before the elections.
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FLOWER: Leadership that will be sorely needed to get Israelis and Palestinians back to the negotiating table.
BARBARA STARR, PENTAGON CORRESPONDENT: With the Republican Party now in control of the U.S. House of Representatives, could it change the course of the war here in Afghanistan?
So far, many say no. Now, the Republicans will control the purse strings in the House -- budget spending for the war will have to be approved by them. But the Republicans, like the Democrats, have a long track record of supporting funding for the troops, even if they have policy differences with the White House on the course of the war.
But looming out there is the July 2011 date that President Obama still has on the calendar, the date by which he wants to begin the transition to Afghan forces. He wants to be able to begin planning to bring home U.S. forces.
Some Republicans have objected to that, saying that date does nothing more than give the Taliban an idea of how long they have to wait out U.S. troops.
But so far, no indication that the Republicans will be able to change President Obama's mind or U.S. policy about how to get this war wrapped up in the coming years.
RAFAEL ROMO, SENIOR LATIN AMERICAN AFFAIRS EDITOR: I'm Rafael Romo.
Mexico was paying close attention to the mid-term elections in the United States, especially a proposition in the state of California that would have legalized the use of marijuana. Proposition 19 went down in defeat Tuesday. In Mexico, the government of President Felipe Calderon is committed to a law enforcement strategy and it harshly criticized Proposition 19. A security analyst says the proposition sent shockwaves across the border.
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ANA MARIA SALAZAR, SECURITY ANALYST: There's still a sense that there's kind of a -- a -- a certain amount of hypocrisy in the U.S. position because, on the one hand, they say that they're fighting organized crime and they're going after drug traffickers and trying to reduce consumption in the United States. But, on the other hand, you have states that are clearly trying to seek ways of legalizing some drugs in the United States.
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ROMO: An army operation in the border city of Tijuana last month resulted in the confiscation of 134 tons of marijuana, the largest ever for Mexico.
Rafael Romo, CNN, Havana.
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FOSTER: Let's get more now on the impact -- the global impact of the U.S. mid-term elections.
We're joined by Heather Conley.
She's a senior fellow at the Center for Strategic & International Studies over in Washington.
Thank you so much for joining us.
President Obama has a very tough time. There was a clear message sent to him yesterday. He's going to have to focus on fostering his support amongst voters and they live in the U.S., don't they, abroad?
So, isn't the domestic agenda now going to dominate the rest of his presidency?
HEATHER CONLEY, CENTER FOR STRATEGIC & INTERNATIONAL STUDIES: Well, he has a tough balancing act. He stated today that he wants to spend more time with the American people, yet on Friday, he embarks on the longest international trip of his presidency, very important trip to Asia. So it's a difficult balancing act that he will have to take. The international stakes are very high. Leaders will be looking to see if there's -- if he will be a strong president the next two years or he is weakened by the results of the mid-term elections.
FOSTER: How important is it to his domestic audience that he is a big figure on the international stage?
CONLEY: Not at all. I -- I think that the most important thing that came out of the mid-term elections was that there was no mention of foreign policy, which is pretty surprising considering the number of American troops in Afghanistan. It was all about domestic issues.
When the president does go abroad, however, usually domestic criticism stops. We'll see if that's the tradition that will continue. The stakes are high at the G20, looking at China and trade issues across the Asia- Pacific. This is, in part, a domestic policy, because the president wants to see strong American exports and help bring jobs to America.
FOSTER: Yes, you're talking about economics there. And tough times for the American economy right now.
If he is going to spend any money anywhere, it's going to be in the U.S., as opposed to abroad, isn't it?
I've seen foreign aid -- you're -- you're looking to foreign aid being cut back, perhaps less money on -- on wars?
CONLEY: Right. Well, this is where -- and Barbara's point -- the power of the purse strings of Congress. And they will have a very strong say -- Defense budgets, the State Department budget and the foreign assistance budget. It's unclear how that will work now. You have a very polarized Republican and Democratic Party. Some who are in support of foreign aid and vigorous defense spending. You'll have others who are very strong deficit hawks and want to bring U.S. spending down.
So those two forces will be very much at play as -- as the Congress takes a look at the administration's budget.
In addition to budget, they also have oversight powers. And I think you're going to see a lot more investigations and oversight of spending, whether that's in Afghanistan or Iraq or -- or in the foreign aid budget.
So it -- it's not -- the Congress is not going to make it easy for the administration to -- to conduct its policies.
FOSTER: No. I think we're getting out here of that.
Heather Conley, thank you very much, indeed, for joining us from Washington.
Now, in Iraq, an al Qaeda group announces its latest legitimate targets, as it calls them. After days of deadly attacks, including a brutal assault on a Catholic Church in Baghdad, we take a look at the who the Islamic State of Iraq claims to have on its side.
And in Greece, embassies are on edge and air mail is suspend as authorities reveal who may be behind the package bomb terror campaign that began in Athens and ended on the doorstep of some of Europe's top leaders.
FOSTER: You're watching CONNECT THE WORLD.
I'm Max Foster in London.
Now, after an unprecedented wave of parcel bombings targeting embassies in Athens, international organizations and foreign leaders, Greek authorities now say the dozen or so explosive packages were not acts of international terrorism or linked to those which originated from Yemen last week.
Ivan Watson is in Athens for us with an update of the Greek response - - Ivan, tell us who they think was behind this, then.
IVAN WATSON, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, they are making a point that this was not an act of international terror, as you mentioned there. They were describing the suspects there as homegrown domestic -- a homegrown domestic Greek group. And they detained two men on Monday in possession of two parcel bombs. They were also carrying pistols. They were Greek men aged 22 and 24. And they were carrying pistols and a bulletproof jacket. And those say the spokesman for the Greek police, are some of the key suspects in what they believe to be an unprecedented plot of letter bombs - - 13 in all accounted for so far, Max, by the Greek police.
And they've been sent to a variety of different targets here in Athens, to the embassy of Bulgaria, the embassy of Chile and Mexico, among others. And then outside of Greece, to the office of the German chancellor, to the office of the Italian prime minister.
Terrorism experts here in Greece say that this is the first time they've seen one of the leftist anarchist-inspired groups that commit acts of political violence (INAUDIBLE) a political weapon (AUDIO GAP) try to hit targets outside of Greece and Athens.
FOSTER: Ivan Watson reporting in Athens.
Thank you very much for that.
Sorry for the bad quality of the line there.
Now, the Greek parcel bombers appear to have targeted three powerful European leaders. Ivan was talking about them there. Among them, the German chancellor, Angela Merkel, who was out of the country, luckily, at the time. The package was found and later detonated during a routine inspection in her office mailroom. It had been shipped via cargo plane from Greece.
DIANA MAGNAY, CNN CORRESPONDENT: German Chancellor Angela Merkel came down to visit postal staff in the chancellor's office on Wednesday to thank them for the professionalism they showed in dealing with that letter bomb that arrived here on Tuesday. Now, the fault, the government says, obviously odes not like with the security here that detected the package at the right moment and brought in explosives experts to diffuse it. It lies is the fact that that package was able to come all the way to Greece via air cargo right up to the chancellor's doorstep in the first place.
Now, there's already a national task force that's been established, looking at any kind of security hold in air cargo within Germany. The interior minister will be bringing that to an E.U. level next week.
There is no concrete evidence yet because the investigations are ongoing as to what was contained in those explosives. But it is believed that they were a gunpowder like substance. And, again, the government emphasizing that, to all intents and purposes, there appears not to be any connection to the perpetrators in Yemen.
Diana Magnay, CNN, Berlin.
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FOSTER: From Greece, then, to the cargo plane bomb plot in Yemen that spotlight global terror alert on Friday. We see one common form of transportation for many of these packages, and that is air freight. It's big business for the international carriers, but it is a weakness in our border security that we can afford to ignore?
Well, joining us now from Los Angeles is Erroll Southers.
He is professor of homeland security and public policy at the University of Southern California.
Thank you so much for joining us, Professor.
ERROLL SOUTHERS, UNIVERSITY OF SOUTHERN CALIFORNIA: Thank you.
FOSTER: It's your job to study these things as they unfold.
What sort of analysis have you come up with of what's happened both in terms of the international plot and also what's been going on here in Europe?
SOUTHERS: Well, first, we see the fact that we have a transnational threat. We have the operability -- operation here taking place, originating, perhaps, in Yemen, and then transmitting across the globe and now exploiting a vulnerability that we've known for some time in air cargo.
So we've seen now an adaptive and very intelligent adversary that has now evolved from not just commercial or passenger aircraft, but to cargo aircraft.
And so what we're going to see now is a greater collaboration of our international partners, trying to shore up this vulnerability that's now become glaringly apparent.
FOSTER: Yes, it must be a huge relief to you, because people like you have been warning, as you say, of this vulnerability for some time. But it takes something like this to actually sort it out.
SOUTHERS: Well, it's quite interesting. Three years ago, our Congress enacted legislation for 100 percent cargo screening. And it was to have been met this past August. However, only 65 percent of the cargo being transported in passenger aircraft entering the United States was being inspected. And even less a percentage of that, of pure cargo coming into the country.
So now it is certainly front and center. It will, hopefully, get the attention that it deserves and the appropriate action will be taken, not just here domestically, but also abroad.
FOSTER: Well, yes, and America is at the forefront of checking cargo. But the problem is that's useless if the international system doesn't work, because it naturally, through the nature of the industry, comes from abroad, a lot of it.
SOUTHERS: You're absolutely correct. And you may recall that about a week ago, the United Kingdom was pushing back against some of the policies in place for passenger screening. It -- we do have to have an international effort. We have to standardize and harmonize these policies and procedures. I do know that a number of agencies in the United States have gone abroad now to inspect these facilities that are shipping cargo out.
What's really important here is the special processes that have to take place, the technology that they have, it has to meet our standard. And more importantly, the people working in those facilities need to be vetted as well -- they really are the core of the security apparatus -- for it to be effective.
FOSTER: It's a simple thing to say, though, isn't it, but America has got the money to invest in these very expensive screening systems and other countries haven't.
So is there a way around that?
I know sniffer dogs work, but even they're expensive.
SOUTHERS: Sniff -- explosives detection canines are expensive and technology is expensive. But at the end of the day, as we found out last week in this thwarted plot, it's intelligent and a response to actionable intelligence that's going to rule the day.
With all due respect, when we find a bomb, it's too late. We need to find the bomb makers. We have to find out who these people are, know our enemy a little better. So the technology is only going to enhance our human capital. We have to get better at intelligence -- sharing it, analyzing it and acting on it as soon as we receive it, as was done last week.
FOSTER: OK, Professor Southers, thank you very much, indeed, for joining us from LA.
You are watching the show that joins the dots on all of the big stories for you.
Still to come, the advent of the bionic eye -- we ask, could this be a cure to blindness?
And it's ladies only on this train -- New Delhi's answer to sexual harassment and the problems they have with it there.
FOSTER: Harassment -- simply put, it's sustained unwanted attention. Women in Egypt are faced with it daily, more than 50 percent claiming they endure constant indignities, including groping and indecent exposure.
Homosexual men and women in Uganda are facing increasing harassment, forced underground in a country that regards them as criminals.
All this week on CONNECT THE WORLD, we're taking a look at harassment and how it's used as a tool of discrimination.
And tonight, Janis Mackey Frayer takes us into New Delhi's subway, where it's become a case of ladies first.
JANIS MACKEY FRAYER, CTV CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): In a way defying stereotypes of India, Delhi's new metro is clean, orderly, punctual. Spitting or sitting on the floor is strictly prohibited here. And in the first car leading every train, men aren't allowed either.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: More of a (INAUDIBLE).
FRAYER: Like other major cities in the world, like Jakarta and Rio, the metro here has designated women-only trains, enforced by pink stickers and police who hustle violators, who aren't particularly pleased, especially men who want to sit with their wives.
But in this chaotic mega city, where heathing (ph) crowds are the norm, women say men don't always behave, especially on sweaty trains or buses packed beyond capacity. By contrast, the metro and its Canadian made cars are sleek and invitingly calm.
(on camera): It's also accessible. Even the longest ride costs less than a dollar. But it manages to turn a profit and was finished somewhat on time, form a view of the metro was seen more than transportation.
(voice-over): In an often crumbling country hampered by red tape, something as ordinary as a train at the platform matters as a symbol of India's potential.
SHAILAJA CHADRA, GOVERNMENT ADVISER: They have sort of taken to it as though there's a sense of ownership. It's our metro -- pride in it. That doesn't happen for everything government does.
FRAYER: It could have gone off track, with environmental complaints and mishaps. Still, the metro is one of India's biggest infrastructure projects since independence. And in this small dominion of a subway car, it's also a welcome case of ladies first.
Janis Mackey Frayer, CTV News, New Delhi.
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FOSTER: And women in New York are also taking a stand. One local councilor is being pushed to outlaw catcalls and erect no harassment signs around stores.
Could such a ban go ahead?
We'll speak with one of the New York City councilors considering the bid tomorrow.
Now, deadly bombings in Baghdad have been happening for years, but one this past weekend at a Christian church comes with a demand and an ominous threat of violence against Christians. In Egypt, we'll unravel the details of this troubling story next.
FOSTER: You are back with CONNECT THE WORLD. I'm Max Foster in London. Coming up, after Sunday's deadly hostage-taking in a Baghdad church, an Islamic militant group affiliated with al Qaeda declares all Christians in the Middle East are now legitimate targets.
The bionic body gets another part. The implant that has helped a man see again after more than a decade in the dark.
And then, one of the most identifiable singing voices in the UK, we've put your questions to Seal. The Grammy award winner joins us as your Connector of the Day.
All those stories ahead in the show for you. First, let's check the headlines this hour.
US president Barack Obama acknowledges there hasn't been enough progress on the economy, a key factor in the huge loss for Democrats in Tuesday's election. He also says he has to do a better job. Republicans handily won control of the US House and scored gains nationwide.
The US Federal Reserve will pump $600 billion into the American economy by the middle of next year in an effort to stimulate the recovery. The decision on the second round of the quali -- quantitative enhancement stimulus program comes after a meeting of the Feds Open Market Committee.
Air mail in Greece is suspended for two days after a series of parcel bombs and attempted bombings. The targets, foreign embassies, world leaders, and EU institutions. Two suspects have been arrested. The men, both in their 20s, are Greek nationals.
Former Russian prime minister Victor Chernomyrdin has died at the age of 72. He was the longest-serving prime minister in post-Soviet Russia. Chernomyrdin held the office from 1992 until 1998.
An al Qaeda group in Iraq says Christians everywhere are, quote, "legitimate targets," threatening more violence after the weekend massacre at a Baghdad church. You may remember that 58 worshipers were killed in a brutal attack, but you may not know its connections to demands made on Egypt's Christian community. We begin this story with Arwa Damon, who's in Baghdad.
ARWA DAMON, CNN CORRESPONDENT (on camera): On Sunday, Iraq's Christian community suffered one of the worst attacks against its dwindling population, a dramatic hostage-taking that left dozens killed and wounded. Eyewitnesses that we spoke to told us about the chilling and horrifying details.
DAMON (voice-over): Anna Hannow showed us her elderly aunt's bloodied purse. She was 80 years old, shot in the face, killed along with Anna's cousin.
Silvana Maro was right next to them. She can hardly speak. "It was worse than a horror film," she weeps. "The attackers stormed in, there was gunfire and grenades. Shrapnel was flying from all sides. We scattered and threw ourselves to the ground. We didn't know what would happen to us."
After a terrifying four hours, Iraqi forces with the US advisors raided the church. At least two of the attackers wearing suicide vests blew themselves up.
DAMON (on camera): The Islamic State of Iraq specifically demanded the release of two women it alleges are being held by Egypt's Coptic church after they tried to convert to Islam, and issued a 48-hour deadline for its demands to be met. That has now expired, with the organization saying that all Christians in the region are now a legitimate target. Arwa Damon, CNN, Baghdad.
FOSTER: Egypt's response to al Qaeda is clear. It is refusing to cave into any demands, even though the treat is intended only for Egypt's Christians or Cops. Both the government of Hosni Mubarak and Egypt's largest Islamic group are coming to their defense. State newspaper called the threats an attack against all Egyptians, while the foreign ministry said it rejects having its name or affairs pushed into criminal acts.
The Muslim Brotherhood, joining the criticism, urging Muslims to protect Christian houses of worship. Christians are a minority in Egypt, as they are across the Middle East. According to Reuters, there are about 8 million Coptic Christians in Egypt, around 10 percent of the population.
Lebanon has a much larger Christian population percentage-wise. Its one and a half million Christians make up around 35 percent of the population. Syria has around 850,000 Christians, or four and a half percent of that country' population.
Iraq had similar numbers before the US-led invasion. Its Christian community, one of the oldest in the world, was around 850,000 strong, or three percent of the population, but an estimated 300,000 of those Christians have left Iraq since 2003.
Many Iraqi Christians felt unsafe, even before the church massacre in Baghdad. Now, some are considering joining the mass exodus that's been happening since the fall of Saddam.
Earlier, I talked with the so-called Vicar of Baghdad. He is Canon Andrew White. He's the vicar of the only Anglican church in Iraq, and I began by asking him how the country's Christians are feeling right now.
ANDREW WHITE, "VICAR OF BAGHDAD": Today, Christians are petrified. They do not know about their future, they do not know what will happen. Many of them want to leave. We have already lost more than half of all the Christians in Iraq.
And so, we are left, now, with a very serious situation where Christians are even afraid to leave their homes because they do not know that the situation is going to be safe for them. And they do not know what they will have to bear, and they're now even afraid to come to church after last week.
You have to understand, for a Christian in Iraq, church is a major part of their life. We sadly have seen over the past two months, we've seen probably 40 families alone leave from even our church.
FOSTER: And are we at the point, now, where they are denying that they are Christians, they're being closet Christians for example? And in what way --
WHITE: No. There's no denial of that fact from the Christians of Iraq. But they're absolutely petrified about their future. Our church isn't just a church. We have a huge clinic there, we have dentists, doctors, we provide everybody with food for the forthcoming week, we have a school. So our services are very, very extensive and quite inclusive.
FOSTER: But you're going to have to reduce the profile of those events, now, aren't you, after this treat?
WHITE: It's a very difficult issue. The fact is that we cannot reduce the profile, and things will continue. Our security is quite good, but the security is provided by the Iraqi government, predominantly the Iraqi military.
But the fact is that so many of the military have even left, because all of those who are sent to look after us are actually Christians themselves. So it's actually these very people who are leaving, the people who are there to protect us.
FOSTER: How worried are you personally right now? You are probably the most high-profile Christian in Baghdad. You are appearing on CNN. You are, clearly, a target.
WHITE: I can't deny that I'm a target. And a letter came recently addressed to me saying that "You are going to be targeted as well as your people. We're going to get rid of you and them."
But I have to be honest. My commitment to these people, these Iraqi Christians is so great, that I'm not afraid. I want to be with them, I want to look after them, and I say to them regularly, "I'm not leaving you. Don't you leave me."
FOSTER: Canon Andrew White, there, joining us via broadband. You are watching CONNECT THE WORLD. Next up, the bionic eye, the groundbreaking German study that is helping patients to see again.
FOSTER: Science fiction becomes reality with the help of what's being dubbed a bionic eye. Mikka Terho, a Finnish man, was able to read his name for the very first time since an inherited disease robbed him of his sight more than a decade ago. The German-designed implant is being hailed as a breakthrough that could be the cure, in many cases, of blindness.
Mikka is among three patients who took part in a study just published in the "Proceedings of the Royal Society." Within days of having the groundbreaking retina implants, they were all able to recognize and locate objects, prompting applause from the German inventors. Take a listen.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
MIKKA TERHO, BIONIC EYE RECIPIENT: I see a table right here.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Yes.
TERHO: And a plate.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Plate, yes.
TERHO: And then there is a knife here.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Yes.
TERHO: And this one looks different on the right side. Take a spoon. And then there's a mug here.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
FOSTER: What a moment. British researchers will carry out clinical trials of the implant next year. Dr. Robert MacLaren from Oxford University will co-lead the UK study. I spoke to him earlier and began by asking him just how many people this technology could actually help.
ROBERT MACLAREN, OPHTHALMOLOGY PROFESSOR, OXFORD UNIVERSITY: The technology is really applicable for the people who've lost sight due to loss of the light-sensitive cells known as photo receptors, which lie in the retina at the back of the eye. And the common disease that causes that is retinitis pigmentosa, and this affects about one in 3,000 people in the developed world.
But the clinical trial that we're involved with will involve, certainly initially, implanting patients who are completely blind, and that would be a smaller percentage of the total number.
FOSTER: So, if you can, give us a sense, or give sighted people a sense of what these people can see, or what they can sense after a successful operation like that.
MACLAREN: These patients have had complete blindness for many years, and in one case, the patient who's shown in the video, his sight loss had been more than ten years. And what they describe is seeing letters or shapes as if they were looking at them on the floor of a swimming pool, looking through the surface. So, in other words, seeing a sort of rippling effect of the letters as they read them.
Because we have to bear in mind, of course, that the vision that they see is not normal by any means. Their brain has to learn how to reinterpret the images that come from the electronic chip.
FOSTER: So how, in layman's terms, does it actually work?
MACLAREN: The chip is light sensitive, and it stimulates the retina through electrodes, which are placed on the light-sensitive pixels. There are approximately 1500 pixels, and that gives you an idea of the resolution of the image.
The pixels, then, stimulate the retina, which is overlying the chip, and the retina, which has cells in it which are still there but nonfunctional, is then able to send those signals back via the optic nerve to the brain.
We really didn't know if the retina was capable of doing this after a long period of degeneration. We always thought that that would be the case, but we never really knew for sure. What's really good about this study is the proof of the principle that if you do put an electronic device in the retina, even though there are no light-sensitive cells there, the retina and the optic nerve are still intact, and the patients can see again.
FOSTER: And that technology will only improve, won't it? So the images will become better over time.
MACLAREN: Yes, absolutely. There are a lot of questions which we still need to answer, and this is one of the reasons why we're doing the clinical trial. We don't, for instance, yet know what the maximum size of implant could be, we don't know how long the implant will last, we don't know how many diodes or how many pixels the implant should have.
The only way we can find this information out is by doing this sort of clinical trial. We can do this sort of clinical trial because of the fantastic results that have come out of the study that's just been published today.
FOSTER: And a really big breakthrough would, of course, be somewhere tackling the blindness that people get as they get older. Would this technology help with that?
MACLAREN: If you're referring to age-related macular degeneration, this is a condition which affects 300,000 people in the UK and similar high prevalence in other countries in the developed world, then the mechanism is pretty much the same in that these patients lose the light-sensitive cells, but the rest of the optic nerve is intact. So, in the future, if the technology improves, it may well be applicable for patients who have age- related macular degeneration, absolutely, yes.
FOSTER: So we could look back on this as a truly revolutionary moment in your area of medicine, because it could, in theory, be the beginning of a cure to blindness.
MACLAREN: Yes. We have to bear in mind that this is people who've lost the light-sensitive cells, the photo receptors, but it wouldn't be applicable to those who've lost their eye, or who, perhaps, have lost the optic nerve or some other problem between the eye and the brain.
Nevertheless, loss of photo receptors is a common cause of blindness in a lot of diseases that we treat, which are currently untreatable. And this technology has shown that there may be possible treatments which could help patients in the future, absolutely.
FOSTER: Unbelievable, isn't it? Well, the bionic body is certainly starting to take shape. Let's take a look at some of the other advances that have been made around the world.
Australian scientists are credited with the bionic ear, otherwise known as a cochlear implant. It allows people born deaf to hear clearly.
In July, scientists in New Zealand unveiled robotic legs. Paraplegic Hayden Allen demonstrated how they helped him walk again.
Prosthetic limbs are also getting more and more advanced. Scottish researches are behind the bionic hand, complete with moving fingers.
And a bionic heart, even, is being made in France. The advance twin pump device has already worked on a cow, but tests on humans are imminent. Amazing.
Don't go away. We've got a very special Connector of the Day for you in just a moment. He is known by just one name, but I'm sure you'll recognize this singer by that. What he's got to say about his supermodel wife, as well, Heidi Klum, and the inspiration behind one of his most famous songs.
FOSTER: All this week, we've had some fantastic singing stars on the show, and tonight is no exception. As promised, here's your Connector of the Day.
(MUSIC - "Secret")
FOSTER (voice-over): He has one of the most recognizable names and voices in the music business, and a career that's been equally distinctive.
But British-born singer Seal doesn't take things for granted. Born to Nigerian and Brazilian parents, Seal began singing in the early 1980s, and he got his big break with the release of the 1990 hit, "Crazy."
(MUSIC - "Crazy")
FOSTER (voice-over): He followed that up with the international success of "Kiss From a Rose." Today, he's married to German supermodel Heidi Klum. They have children and have become one of show business's most photographed couples.
Seal has just released his latest album, "Commitment," and he talked to me about his inspiration for this latest album.
SEAL, ENTERTAINER: I draw my inspiration from everything, from things that people say, the people I come into contact with, things that I might see on TV, things that I read in a news article somewhere. Something -- a phrase that somebody will say. A photograph that I may have taken. In actual fact, more often than not these days, I draw my inspiration from photography, because I do actually take a lot of pictures. It's one of my passions.
These things will sort of accumulate and kind of build up in my subconscious until, at some point, I'll be picking up the guitar, and I'll strum a certain melody. And somehow, that melody or that chord progression will inspire a particular sentiment, which will in turn -- or will inspire a melody, which will in turn inspire a particular sentiment of something that I've been wanting to express based upon those experiences. That backlog, if you like, of experiences that I have kind of accumulated or built up over a period of time.
FOSTER (on camera): George asks the question, "You've got one of the most high-profile marriages and families in the world. Do you find it hard to be in the spotlight all the time?"
SEAL: No, it's not difficult. I don't find it hard. Look, you have to look at things -- you're going to have to be realistic about things. I don't have a lot of the problems that face the majority of people in this world. I'm very fortunate, and my family's very fortunate, and my wife is extremely fortunate. Although we've worked very hard for that, but we are fortunate that the kind of chips -- the dice rolled in a favorable way for us.
So, we don't have any problems, and to sort of sit here and complain that, oh, we have a high-profile marriage, and we're constantly in the public eye, it's just nonsense.
FOSTER: Lucas asks, "Tell us your secret." This is a direct question, it's not from us, it's from Lucas. "How did you actually score Heidi?" He's looking for some tips, I think.
SEAL: How did I "score" her? I won her at a lottery.
SEAL: How did I "score" her? How did I score Heidi? How should I -- you should ask her that question. It's all in the voice, mate.
FOSTER: There you are, Lucas, that's your answer.
SEAL: No, I don't know. I think there comes a time, Lucas, where you meet that person that you are supposed to be with, and one of two things happen. Either you can find a way to kind of escape your destiny one more time, or you can commit and you can take that leap against all the voices or all the odds. And you can take that leap and you can commit and you can jump.
FOSTER: Chris Young asks, "What or who was your inspiration for the fantastic song 'Kiss From a Rose'?"
SEAL: You know, I really don't know. I'm often asked that question, what it is -- what is it about? I think it's about a relationship of some sort, but not necessarily between two lovers. It could be between two friends. It's -- my answer to that, and one I'm -- I suspect it's one you're not going to like, is that it -- the song "Kiss From a Rose" is about what you -- whatever it means to you. That's what it's about.
FOSTER: Last question is from Andrew. "Do you ever consider writing songs about saving the environment?"
SEAL: It's really funny how we as species, the human race, are so kind of hell-bent on saving the environment. It's almost kind of arrogant that we think we can either save or destroy the environment. The environment and the planet Earth has been here long before us, and it will be here long after us.
We should concentrate on saving ourselves. And what about famine in Africa? What about the millions of people, of impoverished kids who are just dying every hour, every minute? What about saving them? The environment's going to be just fine. It'll be fine, and it will outlive all of us. Let's talk about saving ourselves. What about saving our families? What about saving -- the preservation of family values? There's a good place to start.
FOSTER: Seal with his own views on the green agenda. Tomorrow, we've managed to find one of the hottest Hollywood celebrity couples around. They've got some serious star power between them and, now, Aston Kutcher and Demi Moore are using this power to launch a fund for victims of human trafficking.
If you've got any questions you'd like to ask them, please send us your questions. Remember to tell us where you're writing from, cnn.com/connect is the address you need to go to. Back in a moment.
FOSTER: Tonight, we've been telling you all about the midterm election results in the United States, what the newly-formed Congress looks like, and what it will mean for the rest of the world as well. The Democrats are out, the Republicans are in, and a number of you have had a bit to say on the Facebook page about the changing face of American politics.
Athar Ali Naqvi from Dubai writes in and says, "Hundreds of millions of dollars-worth of right wing attack ads have been aired this midterm election season, but for the most part no one knows who is paying for these ads."
Keira Rodriguez from New York says, "There won't be any cooperation or bipartisanship, only petty behavior. Obama needs to keep working towards his campaign promises and align himself with the progressive base that elected him."
Okpis Benjamin has this view. "Because of the loss, it means that President Obama will have to now rethink his foreign polices."
And O. Nkemakolam says, "Now Americans will realize what a hung government they just gave their country."
Join this debate, we love to hear from you. Go to www.CNN -- rather, Facebook -- I'll get this right, now. Facebook.com/CNNconnect. That's the address.
Before we go tonight, we want to show you some of the more colorful moments from Tuesday's election. Many of these came during what you might call the ultimate Parting Shots, the speeches after results came in.
First up, the Republican candidate for governor of New York, who lost by a wide margin, but showed up at his concession speech with a baseball bat and a message for the new governor.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
CARL PALADINO, DEFATED NEW YORK GOVERNOR CANDIDATE: Make no mistake. You have not heard the last of Carl Paladino.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
FOSTER: And next up, we've told you just last night about Delaware Senate candidate Christine O'Donnell. She was forced to spend much of her campaign defending a decade-old clip where she admitted to dabbling in witchcraft. She lost her race, but then made comments that seemed to indicate otherwise.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
CHRISTINE O'DONNELL, DEFEATED DELAWARE SENATE CANDIATE: I cannot thank you enough. We worked hard, we had an incredible victory. Be encouraged. We have won, and we've got a lot of food, we've got the room all night, so God bless you. So, let's party.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
FOSTER: Republican John Boehner almost broke down during his speech, even though he won.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
REP. JOHN BOEHNER (R), OHIO: I've spent my whole life chasing the American dream.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
FOSTER: It's safe to say, I think, those are tears of joy, and Boehner is expected to be the new Speaker of the House of Representatives. A huge night for him.
Stay with CNN for complete coverage of the new US Congress as it gets settled into Washington. For tonight, though, I'm Max Foster, that is your world connected. Thank you for watching. "BackStory" is next after a look at the headlines.