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CNN Exclusive: Darfur; Sweden's First Suicide Bombing; Afghanistan: 2010; New Yorker Finds Fame in Japan; Most Viral Videos of 2010; Connector of the Day PJ O'Rourke; Parting Shots of Nature Wreaking Havoc

Aired December 13, 2010 - 16:00:00   ET


BECKY ANDERSON, HOST: From Sudan this hour, a CNN exclusive -- one-on-one with rebel forces in war torn Darfur. This as the country's south counts down to a vote to break away from the north.

It's been more than three decades of hell for millions and the world has let it happen.

Tonight, we ask what needs to be done to help Sudan's people?

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

Well, it is the largest country in both Africa and the Arab world. Soon, Sudan could be split in two.

With the story and why we should care, I'm Becky Anderson in London for you.

Well, for this hour, CNN digs deeper into the story of the alleged Stockholm bomber. It turns out the trail leads to London.

Also this hour...


DAUD SABA, HERAT GOVERNOR: If you fight for a cause, which is the independence of your country from the foreigners. So this is not a cause. Foreigners they -- they are in a rush to leave Afghanistan. So don't fight for that.


ANDERSON: The real reason why some Taliban fighters are laying down their arms. Nic Robertson is in Afghanistan's Herat Province for you.

And black in Japan or white in the Koreas -- we take a look at the what it's like to be different in countries where diversity is hardly the norm.

Well, connect to the program online via Twitter.

What's your take on the day's biggest stories?

My personal address is @beckycnn. Do log on and join in the conversation.

Well, the outcome of next month's referendum in Sudan isn't really in question. The doubt, though, is whether the north will allow the south to break away peacefully. And as the world watches and worries, leaders, including the U.N. secretary-general, are warning us not to lose sight of the situation in Darfur. And efforts to end seven years of conflict there, they've triggered a humanitarian catastrophe.

We want to begin tonight with an exclusive report from CNN's Jane Ferguson, who got a rare opportunity to talk with Darfur's rebel leaders.


JANE FERGUSON, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): These are the men of the Liberation and Justice Movement, or simply LJM, in Northern Darfur. Undermanned and outgunned, they are always trying to stay one step ahead of their enemy. They keep up a persistent rebellion against the government of Sudan. Sudanese troops and their hired militia fighters, called Janjaweed, horrified the world seven years ago, ravaging this land in what human rights groups describe as a genocide.

In response, these men armed themselves and took to wilderness hideouts. Now, they hit back whenever they can, always on the run. For years, journalists have been prevented from reporting inside Darfur by the Sudanese government, which has denied the genocide claims. But we were recently invited to visit and live with the rebels in territory they control.

Our only way in -- a three day grueling journey across the desert of neighboring chad. Meeting in a remote forest on the border between Chad and Sudan, the rebel leader, General Banda, and his bodyguards, welcome us.

For much of their food, the rebels rely on supplies smuggled across the border with chad. It's just a few kilometers away, but it takes all day for trucks to arrive, as drivers play a perilous cat and mice game with border patrols.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: They're anti-tanks.

FERGUSON: They're anti-tanks?


FERGUSON: Can you tell me, why is this important, anti-tank?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The road has many, many tanks, bring from Russia, from China.

FERGUSON (voice-over): These rebels thrive in areas like this. They say that's because this is their land. They bring their own livestock, which they eat. And they're always prepared to move on quickly. But these men have only lived this life for the past seven years. They say they joined together only after the government of Sudan, headed by President Omar al- Bashir in Khartoum, attacked Darfur and destroyed their homeland.

In early 2010, 18 separate rebel groups joined together under the banner of the LJM. What's left of their families, meanwhile, survive in refugee camps across the border while they fight.

GENERAL ALI MUKHTAR ALI, LIBERATION AND JUSTICE MOVEMENT (through translator): Before the war in Darfur, they were not soldiers. They were ordinary people. But when the government attacked their villages, they killed the people. They were forced to be soldiers to defend their people and their land.

FERGUSON: The government attacks Darfur's civilians were part of a crackdown after years of protest here against political and economic neglect.

ABDALLAH IBRAHIM AL BAHAR, LIBERATION AND JUSTICE MOVEMENT (through translator): We have no good education, no development. If you travel to Khartoum, you see good schools, not like this one behind me. We became rebels not because of money. We don't want money. We became rebels because we need good schools and good roads and better hospitals.

FERGUSON: Peace could finally be close. For most often this year, LJM leaders have been in talks, hosted in Doha, with the government. Several other rebel groups have yet to join the negotiations, however. A deadline for the agreement this month is fast approaching.

General Banda has been leading the rebels in Darfur for seven years, but now says he's ready to discuss a peaceful solution.

GENERAL BANDA, LIBERATION AND JUSTICE MOVEMENT (through translator): We protect the people and we protect the land, also, from the government. And now we also are waiting for our leaders in Doha. And if they do not sign the agreement, then we will continue the war. Most people here do not trust Bashir. But we want to try with him. We want to try.

FERGUSON: But the general himself is not seen by everyone as a peaceful man. The International Criminal Court has charged him with three counts of war crimes for an attack on U.N. peacekeepers in 2007, which killed 17. While lawyers and negotiators battle out terms of a peace deal, Darfur's villages remain destroyed and empty, their people in refugee camps. These rebels want their families to return home again, but they say that won't happen until the sun sets over a more peaceful land.

Jane Ferguson, for CNN, Darfur, Sudan.


ANDERSON: Well, the fighting in Darfur is separate, of course, from the north-south war -- civil war, sorry -- that's linked to the upcoming referendum. Now, the Darfur conflict, I will remind you, began in 2003, and, of course, continues today. The U.N. estimates 300,000 people there have been killed and counting.

By contrast, the Sudanese civil war raged from 1983 to 2005, killing some two million people. Now, the peace deal ending this conflict requires a referendum on independence for Southern Sudan. That referendum is scheduled to take place on January the 9th and many expect it to pass. With voter registration now over, excitement is growing in Southern Sudan. But some worry that the government in Khartoum may reject the outcome, plunging the country back into civil war.

Well, our Nima Elbagir is in Khartoum, watching the lead up to a vote that could split Africa's largest nation in two.

She joins us now on the line.

What are you hearing and seeing on the streets there -- Nima?

NIMA ELBAGIR, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, we are less than a month away from the referendum, Becky. And the tension here is palpable. Much -- many of the major issues to do with the referendum have yet to be resolved, the status of Southern Sudanese citizens living in the north of Sudan has not yet been resolved. The border between North and South Sudan has not yet been clarified. And the major sticking issue that is emerging is the Darfur issue. The Sudanese government has said that, by contrast, it will happily accept whatever the sovereign Sudanese vote for.

But what they reject, they say, is that their perceived support by the Southern Sudanese government for the Darfur rebels. There have already been skirmishes across the border, attacks by Northern Sudanese helicopter gunships against Southern Sudanese force. And they say that Darfur is the one issue -- support of the Darfuri rebels by the Southern Sudanese is the issue that will pound this country back into war -- Becky.

ANDERSON: Nima, for some weeks now, there has been concern as to whether this referendum on January the 9th will actually go ahead.

If you had to guess, what would you say at this point?

ELBAGIR: Well, I've been speaking to them, seeing the Sudanese -- the Northern Sudanese officials. And they say that their take is that it will go ahead, that this is what the two parties agreed to in the conference, this peace agreement.

But, of course, President al-Bashir has never actually committed publicly or privately in meetings with diplomats and with the representatives of the international community to accept the outcome of the referendum.

And the issue that many of the inner circle are telling me is that what President al-Bashir wants is not actually on the table. And that's the suspense of the International Criminal Court arrest warrant against him. And there really is a sense here that he is holding out on committing publicly to accept the outcome of the referendum until he's offered what he wants. He's basically waiting for his carrot, is what we're hearing here, Becky.

ANDERSON: Nima Elbagir in Khartoum.

Nima, thank you for that.

Our next guest says it's quite possible that Khartoum will refuse to honor the referendum, leading to what he says could be the world's worst war in 2011. "New York Times" columnist Nicholas Kristof won his succeed Pulitzer Prize for his reporting on genocide in Darfur and he joins us now from New York.

And we thank you for that this evening.

An expert on the region recently said that this referendum date is -- and I quote -- "written with the blood of two-and-a-half million South Sudanese heroes."

Let's kick off with this north-south divide and the secession referendum in January.

What is -- what does our expert mean by that?

NICHOLAS KRISTOF, "NEW YORK TIMES" COLUMNIST: Well, I mean the -- the basic problem here is that most of the country's oil is in the south. And the north has depended upon that oil, for, really, incredibly dynamic economic growth and for the support of the regime.

And given the history of the north, it's very hard for a lot of people to see why it would allow two thirds of that country's oil to walk away, unless there really is profound international, you know, attention to really hold Sudan's feet to the fire...

ANDERSON: And there...

KRISTOF: -- and to...

ANDERSON: -- and there has...

KRISTOF: -- to make sure it does honor that agreement.

ANDERSON: And there has been international attention, not least from Barack Obama and -- and Hillary Clinton, some weeks back, talking about this being a particularly difficult situation.

Let's have a listen to what George Clooney said when I spoke to him soon after he arrived back from the region. It's about six weeks ago.


GEORGE CLOONEY, ACTOR: The secretary of State called it a ticking time bomb because the CIA said it's the place of greatest -- with great -- at greatest risk of mass atrocities or genocide. The president has come out with a very strong speech. The United -- the U.N. Security Council had an emergence -- an emergency meeting in Juba. That -- you know, while we were there.

Everyone is aware, with this referendum coming, that they're going to vote for independence. And when they vote for independence, the question will be whether or not they are allowed to. And if they're not allowed to, then there could be a tremendous amount of violence.


ANDERSON: So lo and behold, this is about oil again.

KRISTOF: That's right. It's about oil. And also, I think, one of the basic problems for the north is the fear that if they allow the south to go, that will, then lead other parts of the country to want to spin-off, as well. But it could lead to the fragmentation of the entire regime.

On the other hand, the thing that maybe gives one hope is that both north and south do depend on oil revenue. And the only way, probably, to keep that revenue coming is for the north and south to work together and to forestall -- forestall that war because the -- the oil will come from the south and then go through a pipeline in the north. And probably if the north were to try to seize the oil wells, there is at least some risk that the south would be able to set them on fire to block that pipeline. And then the north will get nothing. And so that is the message that the south is trying to send.

ANDERSON: Nima Elbagir, you'll have heard, was just reporting from Khartoum before we spoke to you, Nick, saying that it seems, at least in diplomatic circles, there is word that Bashir is prepared to negotiate at this point.

Do you buy that?

KRISTOF: Yes. My take is that President Bashir hasn't yet really decided what to do and that there is some hope, I think increasing hope, frankly, that -- that the referendum will be honored. The Obama administration and, really, the international community as a whole, were largely AWOL on this issue until about the last three or four months. And more recently, they've been very on top of -- the Obama administration has really done a spectacular job in the last two or three months, partly to make up for a pretty woeful job prior to that.

And I think that does raise the price to Khartoum for misbehavior.

But there are a thousand things that can go wrong in this deal, aside from the voting in the south, there is supposed to be voting in Abiey in this regime -- this area right in the middle. There are also other areas like Blue Nile state and like the Nuba Mountains that could also become tinderboxes.

So there -- there are still an awful lot of things that can go wrong.

ANDERSON: Forgive my slight naivete here, but the world has, as we've been suggesting, turned somewhat of a blind eye for so long.

Why should we care now, Nick?

KRISTOF: Well, Darfur itself presented, essentially, a challenge not to our interests, but to our values. And, you know, I wish that we had done a much better job in responding to those several hundred thousand people who were slighted in Darfur over the last seven years. But the north-south issue challenges not only our values, but, truly, also, our interests.

If that war does erupt again, then the killing will be on a scale far greater than that of Darfur, maybe 10 times greater.

In addition, that oil supply will be disrupted. I think that is one thing that has gotten China to be much more involved in the north-south issue than it was in the Darfur issue. And there is also some real risk that Sudan will simply just -- just disintegrate and, you know, the costs of this happening and how the Arab world in particular will perceive an Arab wo -- an Arab country with oil being engaged in conflict with the Western world will be quite considerable.

So they're -- everybody has a significant interest in avoiding a new war.

ANDERSON: You've said that you are concerned that this could be the world's worst war in 2011.

If you were a betting man, briefly, what's the chance?

KRISTOF: I would say that there is a better than 50-50 chance that there will be skirmishes, that there will be a certain amount of fighting, a certain amount of conflict. I'd say a little bit less than a 50-50 chance that there will be an all-out complete war. And that, I think, percentage has dropped a little bit in the last month or two, which is a credit to some really hard core diplomacy.

ANDERSON: Nicholas Kristof, as ever, what a pleasure.

We thank you very much, indeed, for joining us out of New York this evening.

We'll follow this story in the days leading up to January the 9th, which, of course, is the secession referendum date.

Well, up next here on CONNECT THE WORLD, a weekend suicide bombing leaves Sweden in shock and Britain wondering whether more could have been done to prevent it.

Plus, he once said that the mystery of government is not how Washington works, it's how to make it stop. Writer and journalist T.J. Hawk gives us his unique take on the world as your Connector of the Day.

Stay with us.

You're with CNN.


ANDERSON: It's 19 minutes past nine in London.


I'm Becky Anderson for you.

Now, Sweden was already coming to terms with its first ever suicide bombing. Now, authorities believe it could have been even worse. The suspected bomber may have been on his way to a more crowded location when his device exploded prematurely, killing only himself.

Per Nyberg is in the Swedish capital, Stockholm, for you -- Per, what is the latest on the Swedish investigation?

PER NYBERG, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Becky, today we've heard from the Swedish security police. And they have confirmed that Mr. Abdulwahab, he was wearing a bomb belt. He was also carrying a backpack with explosives in it and he was also carrying something that looks like a pressure cooker.

Now, they're saying it was pure luck that only one of these bombs actually set off. And it appears it didn't happen where the bomber intended it to, because he was the only one that perished. And today they're saying probably the bomber was heading toward the central station, which, at this time of year and at this time of the day, would have been packed with people.

And also this -- this bomber, he was obviously determined, because in this threat e-mail that he sent just before the bombing, he -- he apologized to his family, saying, I did not go to the Middle East to work, I went there for jihad.

ANDERSON: What's the London connection, Per?

NYBERG: Becky, just north of where you are, actually, right now, in Luton, that is where Abdulwahab was spending a lot of time over the last few years. He also went to an Islamic center, where we've heard that he was trying to spread his -- his radical jihadist ideas.

We spoke to Qadeer Baksh, who said that at the center, they would not accept this.

Listen to this.


QADEER BAKSH, CHAIRMAN, LUTON ISLAMIC CENTER: He began to propagate some distorted views about Islam, some extremist views in our mosque with these worshippers. And we got wind of this. So I confronted him and I asked him, you know, have you been teaching this, and if you have, what's your pretense for it, etc.?

And we engaged in a theoretical debate, at the end of which, I believe, I set him right. And he agreed that he was, you know, misinformed. And that was the end of the matter, only to go and to find that after a couple of days, I heard the same thing, he's spreading this news again.


NYBERG: And now the authorities are saying they had no idea about this man after he left Luton. He -- he completely disappeared off the radar. They had no idea that he could, potentially, pose a threat to Stockholm. And now the FBI and the U.K. are both helping out Sweden in trying to figure out what actually happened.

ANDERSON: Per Nyberg with the Swedish and British connections to this story.

Well, this isn't the first time a terrorist suspect has been linked to the U.K., of course. Umar Farouq Abdulmutallab, the Nigerian suspect behind the plot to blow up a plane over the U.S. on Christmas Day last year had studied at a British university prior to the attempted attack. British militant Rashid Rauf is the suspected ringleader of a plot to blow up transatlantic airliners in 2006. He's believed to have been killed in a drone strike in Pakistan in 2008.

Richard Reid -- you may remember that name -- a British citizen, was sentenced to life in prison after attempting to light explosives hidden in his shoes on board a flight to Miami in 2001.

Joining the dots for you on the day's biggest stories, this is CONNECT THE WORLD.

After the break, are they winning the battle in an impossible war?

Stay with us for a first look at our special series on Afghanistan for you. We're going to be on the road with Nic Robertson this week to find out what messages could motivate the Taliban to turn.

And making it big in Japan -- the American man who's standing out amongst the competition.


ANDERSON: Afghanistan 2010 -- the reality, the successes, the failures.

Tonight and all this week, we're taking you to the heart of Taliban territory to find out what's really going on behind the battle lines. In just a few days' time, the U.S. president's White House led review of its war strategy will be published. That strategy which, despite soaring casualties among soldiers and insurgents and civilians, is expected to conclude that progress has begun to emerge.

Well, now your journey through a nation torn apart by war will be led all week by our CNN International correspondent, Nic Robertson.

He begins our special series in Herat Province, talking to the Taliban fighters who've put down their weapons for peace.


NIC ROBERTSON, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Until a few months ago, these three men sitting in front of me were Taliban commanders.

(on camera): So if six months ago, we'd met and I'd been driving through your area, what would have happened to me?

(voice-over): Mullah Kareem (ph) and his two subcommanders laugh. "In a second, you would have been dead," he says.

They seem to find the idea amusing, but their fight is deadly serious one. He tells me he fought U.S. and Afghan troops for six years, sometimes planting IEDs because he says the Afghan government didn't care about him. But now, they've been convinced that it does.

Not least by this man, the governor of Herat, and this unconventional message -- why fight?

NATO troops are leaving anyway.

SABA: I called on all of the groups that are in Herat. I said, well, if you fight for a cause, which is the independence of your country, of the foreigners, so this is not a cause. Foreigners they're -- they're in a rush to leave Afghanistan. So don't fight for that.

ROBERTSON: Herat, the city, is relatively peaceful. But drive outside and the evidence of lawlessness -- heavily armored police trucks on the near deserted highway -- become a familiar sight.

(on camera): The commanders live over 100 kilometers, about 70 miles, further down the highway. It's far from safe. It's the main road linking Herat to Helmand, Kandahar and the Taliban heartland in the south.

(voice-over): But it is in those outlying, scattered communities the governor's message is having some success. So far this year, he claims, several hundred Taliban and their commanders have changed sides, some induced by the government offer of amnesty and support.

Governor Saba welcomes them all.

SABA: And they have lots of ammunition. They brought it here, though I didn't promise them anybody, because I didn't have the program running yet. But I -- I promise that I will give them some community projects, you know, preparing a mosque, with the little budget that I have.

ROBERTSON: Saba's point man on winning Taliban over, a respected cleric, tells me he uses religious justifications and promises of support to win the fighters away from the war. For Mullah Kareem and his cohorts, it's been a relatively easy conversion. They say they are tired of fighting, want education for their children and seeds for their farms. But they have a warning, too. "If the government keeps its promise to help, there can be peace," Mullah Kareem says. "If they just talk and do nothing, then no peace."

Nic Robertson, CNN, Herat, Afghanistan.


ANDERSON: Well, from defecting members of the Taliban to insurgents gaining ground in one region, Nic Robertson continues our week long special with a look at one of the hardest fights of the Afghan surge -- and it's far from won. Find out why allied forces are facing an incredible challenge -- in fact, this time tomorrow.

Tonight, CONNECT THE WORLD will be right back with more and, indeed, your headlines at the bottom of the hour.


ANDERSON: At half past nine in London, you're back with CONNECT THE WORLD. I'm Becky Anderson here for CNN. Coming up, making it big against the odds, or is it because of the odds? Meet the native New Yorker who's found fame in Japan.

Then, 2010's most viral. The YouTube videos that tickled your fancy this year. We're going to bring you the ones that made the most-clicked list.

And stay tuned for the latest rant from a man who's arguably the king of sarcasm. Hippie turned Wight-ring grouch PJ O'Rourke is your Connector of the Day today.

Those stories are ahead in the next 30 minutes. As ever, at this point, though, let's get you a very quick check of the headlines this hour.

Well, it's not clear why, but Manouchehr Mottaki is not Iran's foreign minister anymore. Iranian state-run media reports he's been replaced. In a statement, Iranian president Mahmoud Ahmadinejad thanked him for his service.

Swedish authorities say the bomber behind an apparent suicide attack in Stockholm may have been on his way to an area of the city packed with shoppers. Prosecutors believe suspect, Taimur Abdulwahab al-Abdaly, may have blown himself up after his bomb prematurely exploded on Saturday night.

The mayor of a town in France says about 20 French schoolchildren and their teacher are safe after a sword-wielding 17-year-old boy took them hostage. The suspect is now in custody.

Julian Assange and WikiLeaks will soon have some competition. is set to launch today. One of its founders is the former number two man at WikiLeaks. He says Assange was dictatorial and weakened the organization.

All right. How to stand out in a crowd. It's not easy if you're living in a city of millions. That is, unless the city is Tokyo and you're not exactly Japanese. Our Kyung Lah meets the New Yorker who is, as a minority, finding appeal among the majority.


KYUNG LAH, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): The Japanese mobile phone ad features an average Tokyo family with some quirks. Dad is a dog. Eldest brother, not Japanese.

Meet Dante Carver, an African-American actor and New York native who, according to Japan's top marketing research company, is Japan's number one TV commercial actor. A stunning achievement for a non-Japanese.



LAH (on camera): Does that happen to you a lot?


LAH (voice-over): As we walked through downtown Tokyo, you understand why. His image is everywhere. Billboards, television. An unexpected face in Japanese pop culture.

Four years in the running, Carver's SoftBank ad campaign remains wildly -- if not curiously -- popular.

LAH (on camera): Japan is just about the last place I would put an African-American actor.

CARVER: Yes, that's also another reason I came. Because it's something most people wouldn't expect.

LAH (voice-over): The Virginia Commonwealth University international business graduate uprooted to Japan five years ago, looking to boldly change his American path and try acting. With no family or connections in Japan, friends called him crazy.

He taught himself Japanese, started auditioning, and landed the role that turned him into a familiar household face. He's even found love, marrying this year.

LAH (on camera): What explains your success?

CARVER: Being different, but being open. I say "being different" for one, what people would expect, that's blatantly obvious.

LAH (voice-over): Japan is 98.6 percent ethnically Japanese. Anyone who is non-Japanese is treated differently, says Billboard Magazine's Tokyo reporter.

ROB SCHWARTZ, BILLBOARD MAGAZINE: Here, they come here and they feel a certain amount of racism, but it's the same for every non-Japanese person. Black people aren't singled out, where they are, maybe, in western cultures, European cultures, or American culture.

LAH (on camera): Has it changed your perception of what it's like to be an African-American in America?

CARVER: Yes and no. I would say no because, I still think America's going to need a little more time. In some ways, we still have those basic blocks we've got to break and get out of.

SCHWARTZ: I think that's a huge lesson right there. I think that's something people need to think about. Why would somebody face as great a challenge in their home country as a place as foreign as Japan?

LAH (on camera): So, you've accumulated a bit of a crowd over here. We need to have an action plan, here, to get you out.

CARVER: That's no problem, I can zip out and cut up the street.

LAH (voice-over): Carver takes off what he eventually dreams will be a Hollywood movie career. The road he anticipates will hold a host of new challenges that he hopes, as he has here, to conquer. Kyung Lah, CNN, Tokyo.


ANDERSON: Well, as Kyung Lah said, Japan's right up there amongst the least ethnically diverse countries in the world. I wanted to take a look at some others that have tiny migrant populations, for you. Algeria, Egypt, Jordan, Tunisia, and Morocco are largely homogenous. All but one or two percent of their residents are Arabians.

In Africa, the indigenous populations of Tanzania, Mozambique, Zambia, Lesotho, and Zimbabwe are equally dominant. At least 98 percent hail from African tribes.

There are few foreign settlers in Bangladesh, for example, 98 percent of the population there is Mongoli, and both North and South Korea are considered ethnically homogenous apart from a handful of migrants from China.

Having said that, we tracked down a young American man who has settled in South Korea. Andrew Cutler is his name, and he's shared with us his experience as a western ex-pat living in an eastern culture. Have a listen to this.


ANDREW CUTLER, SEOUL, SOUTH KOREA: There's been positive experiences and negative experiences. On the positive side, I'd say, people are curious about learning about other cultures.

So, when I first came here, and this applies to many people, many foreigners who come to Korea, people will be very hospitable, they'll be curious about where you're from, they'll be curious about your country. They'll take you out for drinks without even knowing your name because they just want to learn about you and ask you questions and try to be friendly with you, even if you might not speak the same language.

On the other end of the spectrum, I have had -- I have had a couple ugly encounters. There was a situation a couple years ago, when I was in the Coex Mall, actually, where the G20 summit was held last month. And it's the largest underground mall in Asia. I was with my girlfriend at the time, and we had an old man approach us. And he said in pretty fluent English, he said to my girlfriend, "Why are you with this foreigner? You should be with a Korean. He will contaminate your gene pool."

It's hurtful, but you just can't let it color your experience. You've just got to push past it and realize it's the exception rather than the rule. It's -- with Korea becoming a melt -- or Seoul, in particular, becoming a melting pot so quickly, different people show different reactions, and some are very nice, and some are kind of ugly.


ANDERSON: Closing out our segment there. This is CONNECT THE WORLD here on CNN. I'm Becky Anderson in London for you.

We've seen singing dogs, dancing presidents, and even stars in the making. What about annoying oranges? We're going to explain all after this break as we look at what's driving people all over the world to click onto YouTube.


ANDERSON: From a talking orange to a half-naked after-save -- I knew I was going to get -- aftershave seller. If you want it, the internet has got it, of course. And once again this year, you've been clicking on videos ranging from the weird to the wonderful. Phil Han takes a look at some of YouTube's biggest hits.


PHIL HAN, CNN DIGITAL PRODUCER (on camera): 2010 is nearly coming to a close, so here's a look at the most popular YouTube videos of the year so far.

To start things off, let's take a look at the most popular ones. Now, this is a video of 12-year-old Grayson Chance singing Lady Gaga's "Paparazzi." It was a huge hit and came in with more than 34 million clicks. Here's a quick look at the young American performing in his high school gym.

(MUSIC - "Paparazzi")

HAN: Next up, it became one of the fastest-growing online ad campaigns in history, all thanks to the Old Spice man. In 24 hours, it got six and a half million hits, and by year's end, will have nearly 25 million, making it one of 2010's most popular.

ISAIAH, MUSTAFA, ACTOR, OLD SPICE: But if he stopped using lady-scented body wash and switched to Old Spice, he could smell like he's me. Look down, back up, where are you? You're on a boat, with the man your man could smell like.

HAN (voice-over): And probably the most annoying video of the year, a fact its creators are probably loving, the Annoying Orange web series now has one of the most successful YouTube channels so far. And this particular video, dubbed "Annoying Orange Wazzup," has gotten a staggering 27 million hits. Extremely annoying, but here's a look.

LEMON: Yo, where's Kiwi?

BANANAS: Hey, Kiwi!


LEMON: Wazzup!

KIWI: Wazzup!

BANANAS: Wazzup!

LEMON: Wazzup!

KIWI: Wazzup!

ORANGE: Wazzup!

HAN (on camera): Well, those were some of the most popular YouTube videos globally, but here's a look at how three different countries clicked their way to the top.

In the United Kingdom, it looks like teenage girls might have swayed this one, with pop star Justin Bieber claiming the number one spot with his music video "Baby." Not only is it the most popular video in the UK, it's also the most popular music video globally, with more than 400 million hits.

(MUSIC - "Baby")

HAN (voice-over): Now, Indians chose a more inspirational video for their number one spot. A clip of motivational speaker Nick Vujicic, who was born with no legs or arms, was a big draw card for people in the country, who listened to him speak about hope and finding a meaning for life.

The number one YouTube clip from South Korea is a music video of the girl pop band called Girl Generation. They released their studio album at the beginning of 2010 and called it "Oh!" Here's a quick listen.

(MUSIC - "Oh!")

HAN (on camera): Well, you're all probably wondering what the number one most popular video from 2010 around the world is. Well, it's a video of a news interview that was turned into a chart-topping song with nearly 50 million hits.

(MUSIC - "Bed Intruder")


ANDERSON: Phil Han and the biggest clicks of the year, there, for you. So, while the internet can bring us closer together, what we want from it can be, it seems, worlds apart. To discuss that, I'm joined by Lee Hunter from YouTube this evening. While viewers across the world, and across the US, for example, were, apparently, captivated by -- what was it? Double rainbows, annoying oranges and Bieber, Bieber, and more Bieber.


ANDERSON: There are differences -- as to who likes what and where. Does it surprise you?

HUNTER: Yes, it always surprises me. One of the things I was talking about today when I was having a lot of radio interviews is how much the UK loves comedy. And then we just saw in the video there about Korea loves homegrown music, and then, the Indians love motivational speaking.

One of the things I've learned in my time at YouTube is I can never predict it. It always changes. It always surprises.

ANDERSON: Is there anything that's universally liked?

HUNTER: No, I think that's kind of the point. If you take some time and look at YouTube comments, it's a pretty varied bunch of opinions that go there. And one of the great pastimes I have is reading them and trying to figure out who does like what. It's never quite clear.

ANDERSON: What surprises you? Or what has surprised you this year?

HUNTER: This year, one of the things that really surprised me was, out of the top ten that we have, six of them specifically made-for-YouTube videos. So, with the advent of mobile phones in your pocket that can produce cinema-level quality, people are creating these little home movies that are of an amazing quality. And they're getting better every year.

And so, I think from this year into the next, we're going to start seeing a lot more content producers, a lot more bedroom creators who are going to go on to bigger and better things and start moving on around the world.

ANDERSON: And if you had to bet on what would be successful next year, what sort of genres would it be, do you think?

HUNTER: Well, it's a bit hard to say. I'll probably look back on this in twelve months and think, "Oh, God, you got it wrong." But I think comedy's always big. Everyone loves those viral videos where you can e-mail it to your friends, e-mail it to your -- my mum sends me comedy videos from YouTube all the time. I think that always gets a laugh, if it's a two- minute video that gives you a little bit of a chuckle in your day, that will go far.

ANDERSON: And what do you upload?

HUNTER: What do I upload?

ANDERSON: Maybe I shouldn't ask?

HUNTER: Well, exactly, yes, yes.

ANDERSON: A little watershed hour.

HUNTER: You know what? I'm one of the group of people that actually don't upload. Maybe I should do it more. We're trying to make it as easy as possible, but -- talk about the number of people that upload all the time. There's every minute of every day 35 hours of videos. Maybe I should start getting into that trend.

ANDERSON: 2010, 13 million hours of video. Am I right in saying that, was uploaded?

HUNTER: Yes, 13 million hours and 700 billion playbacks.

ANDERSON: That's incredible.


ANDERSON: And next year, as far as content is concerned, you've told us what you think might be the content, but just as far as scale is concerned, do you expect it to double, triple? What's the -- ?

HUNTER: It's hard to say. But what's going to be clear is that it's going to be available on more devices, so YouTube on your mobile is growing through the roof. You're going to see YouTube on your television, you're going to see YouTube on tablets, computers, everywhere these days.

ANDERSON: And where do you expect the biggest growth?

HUNTER: I think mobile. I'm backing mobile. We're starting to see it as a real big factor in terms of the uploads, now. So, you just filmed something on your mobile, press a button, connect to the internet, it's right there.

ANDERSON: So, nobody's getting bored of it?

HUNTER: Nobody's getting bored, at least not me. I watch it for a living.

ANDERSON: Good stuff. Thank you very much, indeed, for joining us.

HUNTER: Thank you.

ANDERSON: Still to come on tonight's show, the man with the sharp tongue and the quick wit. No politician is safe from your Connector of the Day this evening. PJ O'Rourke dishes out the derision, up next.


ANDERSON: He started out as a left-wing hippie, and is now a self- proclaimed right-wing grouch. Let's get you connected with the man who knows no boundaries when it comes to having a grump and having a laugh.


ANDERSON (voice-over): Few people in the world are safe from journalist PJ O'Rourke's wit. Whether he's on a typical rant against the left --

PJ O'ROURKE, AUTHOR/JOURNALIST: Basically, as far as I can see, liberalism is theft. The entire principle of liberals is to go take things from people who earned them and then give them to people who did not earn them.

ANDERSON (voice-over): Or making fun of his fellow pundits on the right.

O'ROURKE: There are plenty of funny conservatives, just not many of them are intentional.


ANDERSON (voice-over): Everyone experiences some time under the knife.

O'ROURKE: And what's horrible for the world is meat on the table at my house.

ANDERSON (voice-over): With his wickedly funny pen, O'Rourke skewers politicians and pundits, conservatives and liberals. Approaching some of the most controversial topics with unparalleled sarcasm.

O'ROURKE: I'm very in favor of the war in Iraq, but I'm very opposed to the peace. The peace is not going very well.

ANDERSON (voice-over): And author of a series of best-selling books, O'Rourke maintains that being a journalist affords him a level of cynicism and reality not given to others.

O'ROURKE: It's an evil world out there. It's always been an evil world. Man is evil, that's what the doctrine of original sin is about. We spent a long time thinking maybe there was something we could do about evil besides fight it. Maybe we could invite it to dinner, or maybe we could have a UN conference where we would talk to evil and understand it better.

ANDERSON (voice-over): Now, he's out with his latest book, entitled "Don't Vote, It Just Encourages the Bastards." He spoke to me about the reasons behind this latest rant.

O'ROURKE: Twenty years ago, I wrote a book about the how of politics, "Parliament of Horrors." And even more rudely named, I wanted to eventually follow it up with a book about the whys of politics. I just started covering politics because it was there and it was stupid. And I was there and not so smart myself, and so, it seemed a perfect match.

But over the years, I realized, I'd been thinking a lot about what made it all tick, and what were the underlying principles of politics in general and American politics specifically. Or lack thereof. And so, I decided I'd take my try at political science.

ANDERSON (on camera): So, what did you find?

O'ROURKE: Yes. Well, I think the title pretty well sums it up, doesn't it?

ANDERSON: You describe yourself as a hippie in your youth, and now, a right-wing grouch. How does that transition work or happen?

O'ROURKE: Well, I got a job, didn't I? That put the whole end to the hippie thing.

ANDERSON: Jeff Nathan asks, "What do you blame most for the current state of American politics? Is it," he says, "the fact that we are all just a bunch of spoiled brats and don't know how to compromise, or is it something else?"

O'ROURKE: Well, something else, would be my choice. Do I have to say anymore?


O'ROURKE: I don't think it's just that we're spoiled brats. But we are in that awkward position of realizing that we have been trying to vote ourselves rich, essentially. Well, not rich, maybe, but trying to vote ourselves free of all sorts of financial responsibilities and personal responsibilities. And we've built up an entitlement system, which is, as the left likes to say, unsustainable.

Especially as my generation dodders off into the sunset, and it's going to be a long doddering, folks. We are -- we're health nuts, we're fitness crazy. We may get Alzheimer's, but we'll still be there. And you'll still be paying for us.

ANDERSON: PJ, is your passion for politics, if I can call it that --

O'ROURKE: You can't. I am passionate about many things --

ANDERSON: But not about politics.

O'ROURKE: But politics is not one of them.

ANDERSON: I was going to ask whether it was born out of a love or hate relationship, but maybe it's a redundant question.

O'ROURKE: I don't like politics to the extent that I think politics is a very powerful tool. The political system, after all, that is to say, the government, has the legal monopoly on deadly force in a free country. And unfree countries, other people can have deadly force, too, but we won't want that, so --

We have -- the political system has the legal monopoly on deadly force, and so, overuse of the political system can be quite dangerous.

ANDERSON: Have you ever had political aspirations yourself?

O'ROURKE: Oh, gosh, no. No, no. I'm -- there are many terrible things you can say about me, but not that.


ANDERSON: Eric, one of our viewers, asks if you can give him some hope that politics will change for the better, finally. Can you?

O'ROURKE: A good question, and a fair question, as we like to say when we have no idea what to say. The -- yes. I think there is hope. And that hope lies in individual liberty, it lies in the free market.

If we were to take the most optimistic view of China, for instance. First place, China's made enormous strides toward people not starving to death. All good. All good. It's made tremendous economic strides. Not as broadly spread as one might hope they would be, but still, tremendous economic strides, obviously.

And let us hope that that leads to increased respect for the individual, increased influence for the individual. And hence, decreased autocratic and arbitrary power.

ANDERSON: Are you aware of whether politicians actually read your books and, perhaps, even more than the president's during your time.

O'ROURKE: I doubt it. There is a Washington way of reading a book, and I'm sure it's a Westminster way of reading a book, too, which is, you get the book, and you to the index to see whether you were mentioned. And you read that part. I mean, who puts an index in a humor book anyway? So, they're kind of out of luck with my book.


ANDERSON: The king of sarcasm, PJ O'Rourke, there, kicking off what is going to be a great week of Connectors of the Day for you. Among them, the Hoff. A TV star who is as popular now as he was in the 1980s when he starred in "Knight Rider." After that sci-fi hit, he lost his KITT in more ways than one, and graced our small screens as a hunky lifeguard in "Baywatch." David Hasselhoff, just one of your Connectors of the Day joining us this week.

Send in your questions, and remember to tell us where you are writing from. It's your part of the show, is where you can do all that. Tonight, we've got a couple of minutes left. Be right back.


ANDERSON: In tonight's Parting Shots for you, the extraordinary power of nature. Now, in a snowstorm, it's usually best to take shelter inside, isn't it? But clearly not in this Minneapolis sports stadium. A blizzard dumped so much snow on the Metrodome that the roof caved in. Fortunately, the 64,000-seat area was empty at the time. On the outside, damage control, but American football won't wait for the repairs to be done. The Minneapolis Vikings and New York Giants game moved to another stadium.

But it's not just snow that's been wreaking havoc this weekend. Massive waves pounded Israel's coastlines, threatening to wash away this historic port of Caesarea.

Water's enormous power also being felt in the US state of Washington. Record rainfall has caused widespread flooding, triggering mudslides and forcing hundreds to flee their homes.

And a sandstorm swept through the city of Riyadh, blanketing the Saudi capital with a thick layer of dust. You can see that, there. It's incredible, isn't it?

The power of snow, water, and sand in tonight's Parting Shots for you. I'm Becky Anderson, that is your world connected this hour. "BackStory" up next here on CNN, right after this very quick check of the headlines for you.

Julian Assange and WikiLeaks will soon have some competition,, set to launch today. One of its founders is the former number two man at WikiLeaks. He says Assange was, quote, "dictatorial and weakened the organization."

Iran's new top diplomat, at least as an interim, is Ali Akbar Salehi. The report in state-run media didn't explain why the change was made. He is taking over from the foreign minister Manouchehr Mottaki.