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Global Travel Gridlock; Interview with Gordon Brown

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


BECKY ANDERSON, HOST: The E.U.'s top travel official says no disruptions across the region are, quote, "unacceptable." But the man who runs Europe's busiest airport tells CNN, despite his best efforts, he can't ensure families will be together this Christmas. And so a crisis ripples on, from Tokyo to Toronto, disrupting lives far beyond a weather affected Europe.

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

Well, you could say London's Heathrow is the epicenter of a global travel nightmare. Tonight, we're going to hear from the man who runs that airport.

I'm Becky Anderson in London with the story and all the missed connections.

Also tonight, 308 million and counting -- the U.S. announces its 2010 Census, as China and India endeavor even bigger counts.


GORDON BROWN, FORMER BRITISH PRIME MINISTER: There's nothing that a British regulatory system could have done to have prevented the American sub might -- prime crisis.


ANDERSON: Well, you put the questions to him and Britain's Gordon Brown is offering up his defense for the global financial meltdown as tonight's Connector of the Day.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Yo, this is crazy. Yo, I just got hit.


ANDERSON: That is how 2010 began for Haiti. And it only got worse. We're going to look back as part of our series on the defining moments of the year.

And, as always, do get involved. We'd love to hear from you.

What are your biggest or best moments of 2010?

Tweet me, @beckycnn.

That it the show in the next 60 minutes.

Well, more delays and more despair -- we begin with global travel gridlock this evening, as an Arctic blast continues to cripple transport hubs across Europe.

London's Heathrow Airport, just a short time ago, reopened its second runway. Thousands of passengers enduring yet another frustrating day there, as airlines struggle to clear the backlog of passengers after two days of cancellations.

Now, take a look at the this video shot by one of our producers. This tent has been set up over the car park outside Terminal 3 at Heathrow. It's sheltering those just waiting to check in their luggage.

Well, to the rail links now and Eurostar passengers cued out the door and around the block, as trains were delayed or canceled because of speed restrictions and the extreme weather.

Germany's high speed train system had severe delays cause by frozen tracks and heavy snowfall in some areas. Its major airports were also suffering. The German transport minister asked state authorities to allow night flights on a case by case basis to ease the load.

Well, now, as this travel chaos swirls across the continent, Europe's transport commissioner is blasting the delays. He says he's extremely concerned about the level of disruption, that it's unacceptable and it shouldn't happen again.

Siim Kallashas also summoned the heads of airports across Europe to Brussels to explain the travel mess and how to prevent it in the future.

Well, how do things stand right now?

For the latest updates at some of the worst affected airports, Guillermo Arduino for you at CNN Center -- Guillermo.

GUILLERMO ARDUINO, CNN METEOROLOGIST: Becky, I see again in that Britain is at the top of list with the problems and -- and that the rest of Europe, there are several airports, I must say, that are not reporting. Here, when you see a diamond in green, it says unavailable information. So it's not clear for us what's going on.

But I'm going to zoom in and I'll show you Britain here, for example. This airport, Liverpool, with partly cloudy skies, excessive delays. And then we have here, of course, London City Airport, excessive delays, too; London Heathrow, excessive delays.

And Southampton, before we had people from that airport reporting that they were operating OK. No information available right now from this Web site.

But let's take Heathrow again -- much better, though, I must say. Cancellations here could be two or three flights -- two flights, Glasgow, Aberdeen, actually, from within Britain, as you see. Everywhere else schedule, schedule -- 140 minutes, 32 minutes delays; Athens, Belfast, Glasgow. So pretty good.

Then Charles de Gaulle also much better, scheduled 75 minutes be -- delayed en route here, 60 minutes from Stockholm, an Air France flight, en route, en route, all OK.

And then Frankfurt, finally, two cancellations. I see -- but not three. Venice, London and London. But apart from that, with some delays, things are working much better.

So you take a look at the map again and we see the concentration of the -- the delays, especially in Heathrow.

Now, let's throw the maps, because there are some changes. I think that we're dealing, basically, right now, with the backlog, basically, because we see rain mostly. And I want to emphasize, once again, that these temps are below average were an anomaly. And in two hours-and-a-half is the official beginning of winter. Now, try to convey that to those people still trying to accommodate their flights.

But we are seeing much better temperatures in here. So we see rain all over. There are very few parts of Europe where we see snow right now.

Here in Ireland, especially in Wales, we see some snow. Getting much better in London weather-wise.

I -- I was also looking at what was going on in terms of temperatures. Despite the rain, because of the flow of warmer air from the south, we see rain right now. No freezing conditions. The winds are not significant. Manchester, 13 kilometers per hour; London, 0 kilometers per hour wind.

So things are much better for now. But by Thursday and into Friday, we go back to cold conditions. We may see a freeze. On Thursday, we may see some snow in Paris. Then we will see snow toward to the east.

But this system is going to bring now the rain. When the temps go down. We may see freezing conditions, at least -- and this is the important part -- we see some time try to accommodate people like two days until Thursday comes, where we see the change in this pattern. I will keep you posted.

ANDERSON: All right.

Good, Guillermo.

Thank you for that.

ARDUINO: You're welcome.

ANDERSON: Well, the CEO of airport operator, BAA, says that he is confident that two thirds of scheduled services out of Heathrow will be operational on Wednesday, as long as the weather doesn't deteriorate. But there is some snow still forecast. Certainly over the next 24 to 36 hours, as you can see there on the map.

So if your travel plans include flying, the message tonight, well, is don't bank on getting home before Christmas.

So how does Colin Edwards respond to accusations from the E.U.'s travel chief that the disruptions are -- and I quote -- "unacceptable?"

This is what he said to me earlier.


COLIN MATTHEWS, CEO, BAA: Well, we are deadly serious about this. And that's why yesterday, we were sitting with the airports to do something that no airport has done before, which is actively, together, to plan a realistic schedule, instead of each airline hoping that they can sneak in the few extra flights, agreeing together this is the realistic amount.

ANDERSON: But you weren't prepared. That's what the E.U. is saying. That is the point.

MATTHEWS: Well, we had invested. We believed we were well equipped to cope with cold weather, which we did until Saturday in midday. We were extraordinarily disappointed that the intensity of that snow on Saturday meant that we didn't clear the stands as quickly as we wanted to -- wanted to.

We couldn't -- no one could be more disappointed than me that that's the case. When we've got every passenger in the right place, then we will look at this and figure out what new equipment we need to buy, what new resources we need to put in place, because maybe it is the case that we're going to face subzero temperatures for weeks on end and snow intensity, as we've seen recently.

If that's the case, of course, we will need to spend money to have the right equipment in place. And that's what we'll do.

ANDERSON: You have failed hundreds of thousands of customers.

What do you think that does to the reputation...

MATTHEWS: Well, you know...

ANDERSON: -- of Europe's busiest airport?

MATTHEWS: -- of course I have to stand up to that -- that challenge. But I think it's wrong to talk down this country. You know, for instance, to have a flight effectively traveling, you need to have airports open at both ends of the route. Today, that's not been the case. One of the limiting factors today is that transport across the whole of Europe is disrupted.

We're not the only country facing that challenge. I'm not shirking my responsibility to fix the issues here at Heathrow, but you're wrong to imagine that it's just the U.K. that has had challenges with snow and ice. It's not.

ANDERSON: To those affected, Colin, do you want to take an opportunity to apologize?

MATTHEWS: I've done that repeatedly and I'll do it again today. I couldn't be more sorry for all of the disruption and all of the plans. I met people in the terminals who needed to get to the other side of the world for weddings, for holidays, for Christmas. And I am desperately sorry that that's the case.

My focus today is getting them where they want to be as quickly as they possibly can. When that's done, then we'll answer that questions about what should we have done different, what new equipment do we need, what new resources do we need to make sure that we can cope with this kind of weather, which is now unprecedented here at Heathrow.


ANDERSON: The CEO of the airport operator, BAA, which, of course, runs Heathrow.

Colin Mathews there.

We're going to stay on this story.

Up next, reports from Europe's busiest hubs, from London Heathrow to Berlin Airport. And we'll also see how passengers from as far away as Toronto in Canada are stranded.

Also, our Connector of the Day for you is a man with more time on his hands at the end of this year than last. It's Gordon Brown, the former British prime minister.

And later, remembering the earthquake that devastated the Western Hemisphere's poorest nation. We're looking back at the year's top new stories here on CONNECT THE WORLD.

Do stay with us.


ANDERSON: A very warm welcome back to you on CONNECT THE WORLD.

I'm Becky Anderson in London for you.

Now we've been looking at the travel delays and hearing what officials are doing about that. It's a story that's, of course, playing out across every -- almost every major European hub, affecting hundreds of thousands of people.

So we asked our reporters to gauge the scenes for you.


FREDERIK PLEITGEN, CNN CORRESPONDENT: I'm Fred Pleitgen in Berlin, Germany, where there have been travel disruptions both in the air as well as on the ground. Frankfurt Airport had to shut down earlier in the day for several hours because of heavy snowfall there. The authorities are telling us that more than 500 flights had to be canceled throughout the day, not only because of that snowfall, but also because of disruptions at other airports, not just in Germany, but around Europe.

Right now, the people in Frankfurt say the situation is getting somewhere better. All runways are operational there. And hey say they hope to come to terms with that bad -- with that backlog within the coming hours and hopefully get back up to speed on Thursday.

ATIKA SHUBERT, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, it's more travel misery for anybody trying to catch a flight out of Heathrow Airport today. More than half of the scheduled flights have been canceled today.

And people have been setting up camps inside Heathrow terminal, determined to either get on a flight or simply because they have nowhere to go. In the words of one passenger: "Heathrow is beginning to look like a refugee camp.

Atika Shubert, CNN, London.

JIM BOULDEN, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, for two days, we've been hearing about this long line -- this lone cue here at St. Pancras International Train Station. It's just about dinnertime now and you can see the cue outside is gone. It used to snake down around the corner, all the way down to the British Library.

But in the last couple of hours, there have been a number of trains going to Paris and to Brussels and the cue is now officially only inside.

Eurostar is telling people, if you don't have a ticket, don't come, because they're not going to sell any seats -- any new seats -- until after Christmas. In fact, they haven't sold any seats since Saturday. This is just the people who've had tickets, who have been disrupted and are now finally able to get the backlog cleared and hopefully get themselves home to Paris or to Brussels in time for Christmas.

Jim Boulden, CNN, St. Pancras Station, London.


ANDERSON: And we're rounding out the story on those European travel hubs for you. But the chaos isn't limited to Europe, of course. Frustrations are also being felt by thousands booked to fly into Europe.

Here's CBC's Ron Charles at Toronto International Airport.


RON CHARLES, CBC CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Dennis Leslie left Winnipeg on Saturday to join his wife and kids in England for the holidays. He got as far as Toronto and he's been told he may not be able to continue his journey until next Wednesday. He called his wife, who left for Europe a month ago.

DENNIS LESLIE: There's dozens and dozens of people that are in front of me.

CHARLES: He's hoping to get to Europe in time to see his 1-year-old son celebrate his first Christmas.

LESLIE: I'm hoping to get there before Christmas. Give me a Christmas present -- put me on a plane.

CHARLES: How about trying to get to Spain through Heathrow?

This couple left San Francisco on Friday. They're stuck in Toronto as their vacation days tick away.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: We will be spending here one week of our Christmas holidays in the airport if we don't find any other alternatives.

CHARLES (on camera): Air Canada is warning that getting people to their destinations in Europe will continue to be a huge challenge. Heathrow is rationing landing and take-off slots, giving Air Canada just a fraction of its normal number of flights.

(voice-over): To make matters worse, airlines were already fully booked for the holidays, leaving practically no seats for passengers who need to be rebooked. Some people on the few flights that did make it from London to Canada got receptions like this.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It was actually getting quite bad. In the end, people were getting angry, pushing around. And so you just felt that you were stranded. You could do nothing, right?

So it was pretty bad.

CHARLES: There are no guarantees people traveling to and from Europe will get on their way before Christmas.


ANDERSON: Ron Charles there from Toronto.

We want to keep -- help you keep track of the travel chaos. So we've created an information hub on our Facebook page for you. There, you'll find links to transport services, including BAA and Eurostar, which will direct you straight to all the latest information. And a warning tonight - - the head of Heathrow, who you heard from earlier, says do check their Web site before you travel to the airport to make sure your flight is listed. If it isn't, he says, don't travel there.

That's for you.

Next up, admissions from Gordon Brown -- the former British prime minister tells us where he thinks his government got it wrong.

Gordon Brown is your Connector of the Day.


ANDERSON: All right. Eight months out of office, but he is still making British politics his business. Tonight's Connector of the Day joins a long list of leaders who have put pen to paper in the wake of their term at the top.

Let's find out what this former resident of Number Ten has to say.


ANDERSON (voice-over): Gordon Brown's term as Britain's prime minister is one most politicians would prefer to avoid. Less than a year after taking office, Brown had to face one of the worst financial downturns in history and a populace that was getting increasingly angry, his governing Labour Party.

As former finance minister, Brown took over the country's stewardship from his colleague and political rival, Tony Blair. His economic background made him a strong candidate to help the country through the precarious years ahead.

BROWN: My school motto, I will try my utmost. This is my promise to all of the people of Britain.

ANDERSON: That didn't stop an angry public from blaming him for the recession's impact and taking it out in the polls.

BROWN: I know I'll never beat -- beat Mr. Cameron on style or beat Mr. Clegg on style. But I believe I lead them on substance and policy.

ANDERSON: After serving one of the shortest tenures ever on Downing Street, Brown's term as prime minister came to a quick halt in May of this year, when he handed the keys of Number Ten over to the Conservative's leader, David Cameron.

Today, Brown is out with a new book on the financial crisis. Anything but the typical memoir, the book looks at the causes and impact of the crisis.

He spoke to me about what he believes leaders must focus on moving forward.

BROWN: Well, I think for the first time in 2010, the West is now being out produced by troth world, out manufactured, out export, out traded, out invested. And there is another wave of change going to happen, and that is that there's this massive Asian consumer market going to develop. And it's probably going to be about twice the size of the American consumer market.

And this is a huge opportunity for the West. And we've got to gauge our policies in the right way so that we can get into these markets and not only have good consumption at home, but get benefits from export markets abroad.

So you've got to invest in education and not cut it, you've got to be for free trade and not be protectionist and you've got to have global cooperation so that we can help China, India, Indonesia and these countries raise their consumption more quickly and open up these markets, which I think will rebalance the world economy and give us, potentially, about 50 million more jobs over the next few years.

ANDERSON: You took over as prime minister in the U.K. in 2007. One of our viewers, Luis, asks: "When you became prime minister, did you have any idea what lay ahead?"

BROWN: No, because we had done our own simulation exercises, believe it or not, with the United States of America before I became prime minister. And we had been looking at what might happen if a -- an institution like Lehmans or Northern Rock collapsed.

And what we did not know and what nobody knew in the -- in -- right around the world, including the bankers themselves -- was just how entangled the institutions were with each other and just how big the shadow banking system was and just how little diversified the risk was across those who might have been able to cover that risk.

So we learned a very big lesson about the nature of the global financial system. And that's why I feel the -- and I think we acted quickly, but I think we need global financial supervision in the future. You can't just do it in one country now.

ANDERSON: Hang on. Hang on. You were chancellor...

BROWN: I'm not so sure we can...

ANDERSON: -- of the exchequer here.

Gordon Brown, you were chancellor of the exchequer for...

BROWN: Right.

ANDERSON: -- a decade. You'd been a champion of the bankers for many years.

Wasn't it your job to find out about this shadow banking system?

BROWN: It was -- it was, indeed, necessary that we knew about it. But let's -- let's be honest, if you've got banks that are operating not just in one country, but in many, many countries, and if you've got shadow institutions that are operating not just from your own country, but in tax or regulatory havens around -- around the world, you can't deal with that with a national system of regulation.

There's nothing that a British regulatory system could have done to have prevented the American sub prime crisis or the hit on the American institutions that brought most of the investment banks down.

What you needed was actually something that I had proposed -- and I'm not wanting to sort of be in any way arrogant, but in 1998, I said, after the Asian crisis, if you don't have an early warning system and if you don't have global method -- mechanisms for supervising the institutions, you're going to have the sort of crises that -- that -- that bedeviled Asia.

And we did not learn the lesson then. We didn't act sufficiently strongly after the Asian crisis. And the result was, of course, that the banks were unsupervised in a whole range of countries in which they were operating. And that really was part of the problem.

ANDERSON: Joseph K. One of our viewers, Gordon Brown, asks this question. He says: "A lot of people blame you for leaving the U.K. in such a terrible economic state. Do you honestly think that you could have done nothing else?"

BROWN: Obviously you, you learn from mistakes that have been made and you -- you learn from experience. And, look, the reason I've written this book is to show that we can learn lessons from what happened, in what was a global and not national crisis. This was hit in -- hitting every continent and every country. And the issue, then, is how you can prevent this in the future.

We didn't have high levels of debt in the United Kingdom before the crisis. We -- we didn't have an economy that was in any way out of control. We had low -- low inflation.

But what we didn't reckon on -- and nobody reckoned on -- was just how pervasive a problem that started in America to the stability of our financial system could actually be.

Now, we learned that lesson so that it's not repeated again. And my worry is that we haven't yet done enough to prevent a volatile financial system from causing problems in the future.

ANDERSON: Joseph Stiglitz, in reviewing your book, says that at times he wished for more detail, particularly on George W. Bush's response to various moments at the -- at the beginning of the crisis. He says to you: "(INAUDIBLE) Bush's response to your calls for recapitalization of the banks and, indeed, for G20.

So, how did the White House first respond?

BROWN: Well, I -- I went to see George Bush right at the height of the financial crisis. I -- I changed my travel plans, because I had been at the United Nations, went to Washington to see him. And to be honest, we had three issues to discuss. One -- one was the -- the recapitalization of the banks. And at that time, let's be honest, Hank Paulson, the American secretary of the Treasury, was going down a different route.

I said to George Bush, look at our route. And then within a week, things had changed. The Americans did look at that course of action. But at the point I met him, he -- they were going down another road.

They -- the second thing was the G20 meeting. And George Bush did agree to have that G20 meeting. I remember him saying, I'm not going to leave America during the period of the -- the presidential elections and the -- the hand over. So if you're going to have this meeting, it's got to be in America.

But I already had all the different world leaders I had met in New York the night before all ready to sign up to have that meeting and prepared to have it in America.

So it worked out that we had the first meeting of the G20 in -- in November and it worked out, also, that the second meeting was London. And that was a successful meeting...


BROWN: -- as a result of the work that was done to prepare for that in November in America.

ANDERSON: The book doesn't contain any of the sort of gossip that Tony Blair's did, nor, for that matter, Peter Mandelson's or Alistair Campbell's.


BROWN: I'm not really -- if -- if I'm being honest, so much interested in who said what to whom at what point and -- I'm not really interested, actually, in looking back, only to learn about what we can do for the future.

So I -- I really just sort of concentrated on what -- what -- what happened and what the implications are. This is not a memoir. If anything, it's closer to some -- an employment manifesto about how we can create jobs in -- jobs in the future.

So I'm not -- I'm not looking back to reminisce. I'm looking back to see what can we learn. And I do tell a story about how the world came together. And I do tell another story about the danger of the world not coming together in future.

So I -- I don't apologize for the way I've done it.


BROWN: But I -- I can understand it's not a -- an autobiography and it's not a personal memoir of...

ANDERSON: All right...

BROWN: -- details of who did what to whom or said what to whom. And that -- that's not -- you know, that's one school of history. I'm more interested in another school, learning the lessons and -- and what you do for the future.

ANDERSON: Well, if you were to write that kind of memoir, then, what would it say?

BROWN: I doubt if I will write that sort of memoir. I think -- I think the past is the past, you know. And I -- I think you've -- in the long sweep of history, the things that will matter will be the decisions that people made and will be whether we can learn lessons and do better in the future. And I'm not so sure that gossip about who said what, you know, we're all -- we've all got our political jobs to do.

But I -- I think it's more important about what -- what is the outcome and what then happens. But, you know, other -- other people will be fascinated by books like that and I'm not. That's just the difference.

ANDERSON: Have you read theirs, out of interest?

BROWN: No, I haven't. And maybe -- maybe it's because I've been too busy writing things myself. But I haven't. And it's no di -- it's no disrespect. I just -- I just -- it's not really interesting to me. What I'm interested in is...

ANDERSON: All right...

BROWN: -- what happens in the future. But I (INAUDIBLE)...

ANDERSON: How does it feel to be out of...

BROWN: I appreciate the (INAUDIBLE).

ANDERSON: How does it feel to be out of front line politics?

BROWN: Well, it's an involuntary decision.


BROWN: I would prefer to have won the election. I -- I feel that we had only done stage one of the things we had to do after the crisis. I'm - - I'm worried that the next two stages, building the financial system and getting global growth and helping Britain in that way is not going to happen easily. But I've got to accept the verdict of the electorate.

And I'm personally very happy. I've gone back to Scotland (INAUDIBLE) in London now. My children are being educated in -- in Scotland in Fife and I'm back to the constituency where I was brought up and where I've been elect -- elected for nearly 30 years and amongst friends. So I'm -- I'm actually enjoying seeing my children.

But I -- I -- I feel I've got a duty, you know, not because I want to get back into national politics, but a duty to sort of explain what happened. I mean this is not for money, because it's a charity book. I just want to explain what happened and what lessons we can learn.


ANDERSON: Back amongst friends for the first time for some time, I must say.

Former British prime minister, Gordon Brown there.

Tomorrow night, a Hollywood star hailing from the West African nation of Benin, best known for his roles in "Gladiator" and "Blood Diamond," Djimon Hounsou is with us and answers your questions.

To find out more, head to

Well, up next, with an army of workers and a budget in the billions, the U.S. Census has been called the nation's largest peacetime mobilization in history. Now that the 2010 figures are finally out, we're going to see why the head count that happens every 10 years is so important.


ANDERSON: You're watching CNN, this is CONNECT THE WORLD, I'm Becky Anderson for you in London. Coming up, the count comes out. The US Census results are released, and it's not just the numbers. The figures have a very real-life impact. We'll explain why.

Then, a year of despair in the western hemisphere's poorest nation. Our look back at 2010's biggest stories continues, remembering Haiti's earthquake and all that followed.

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

Hope for passengers stranded by Europe's bad weather. London's Heathrow Airport has reopened its second runway, but authorities still say it could be the weekend or longer before flights return to normal.

A likely foreign policy win for US president Barack Obama. The Senate voted to cut off debate on a new nuclear arms control pact with Russia. Reports say there are enough votes to pass it, probably on Wednesday.

Well, Iraq finally has a new government. After a nine-month stalemate, the Iraqi parliament has voted in Prime Minister Nouri al- Maliki's cabinet. Some vacancies, though, do still remain.

Italian police say a suspicious device found on a train near Rome lacked a detonator. The black box with wires hanging from it was found inside a plastic bag under a seat.

All right. The numbers for the 2010 US Census are out, showing the country's population now tops 308 million. That's a lot of people. But it was actually the slowest growth rate in a decade, since the Great Depression.

The census not only documents demographic trends, but also has a huge impact on the makeup of Congress. Kate Bolduan takes a look at some of the winners and some of the losers this time around.


KATE BOLDUAN, CNN CORRESPONDENT (on camera): With these new census numbers, we're getting the first snapshot of how the political landscape is really changing for the next decade here in the United States.

The south and west of the country are the big winners here, while the Midwest and the north not faring as well. And here's what I mean by that. The new numbers decide how many House seats each state gets in Congress. Generally, the more representation, the better.

Texas is gaining the most Congressional seats, which is four. Florida is gaining two seats, and then you have Arizona, Georgia, Nevada, South Carolina, Utah, and Washington state all gaining one seat.

And then, there are states losing Congressional seats, actually. Ohio and New York are each losing two. Then you have Illinois, Iowa, Louisiana, Massachusetts, Michigan, Missouri, New Jersey, and Pennsylvania are each losing one. In all, it affects 18 states, here.

And if you look at this through a political lens, it appears that Republicans are gaining the most advantage from the new numbers. That's because most of the states seeing population increases are Republican- leaning states.

And Republicans also made some very big gains in the midterm elections in winning governorships and winning over state legislatures. These, of course, are the people who will control the redistricting process down the road. All of this impacts, really, the political landscape and the road to the White House in 2012. Kate Bolduan, CNN, Washington.


ANDERSON: All right, well, that's how things work stateside. Other countries are taking a census, as well, this year. The tiny Caribbean island of Barbados began its head count in May, but results won't be out until early next year. The last census in 2000 showed a population of around 269,000.

In South America, Argentina has released preliminary results from its 2010 census. The population has risen to about 40 million, that's about 11 percent more than the last census in 2001.

Over in Asia, we have the population powerhouses, of course. It takes a lot of manpower to count heads in China, the world's most populous country. More than 6 million census workers collected data this year. One -- they estimated 1.3 billion residents. Final results are expected next April.

India also began a census this year. That's a massive undertaking, and not just because of sheer numbers, of course. It's also creating a biometric database, collecting photographs and fingerprints that will be used to issue identity cards. India's population estimated around 1.2 billion.

Well, for millions of years, there were no more than 10 million human beings on Earth at any given time. But over just the last 200 years -- get this -- the world's population has exploded. Look at the changes in just the last century.

Back in 1910, for example, there were an estimated 1.75 billion men and women on the planet. Now, in 2010, that number is believed to be around 6.79 billion. And if demographic trends stay on track, more than 9 billion people could inhabit the Earth by mid-century, by 2050.

So, what have we learned from studying all of these facts and figures over the years? Well, our next guest has some answers for you. He's an expert on this. Dr. John Weeks is the director of the International Population Center in San Diego in California.

So, let's kick off with the US Census that we've just had released. What do you take from that?

JOHN WEEKS, DIRECTOR, INTERNATIONAL POPULATION CENTER (via Skype): Well, there are a couple of things to take from this. First, the census count came out to be a little bit higher than Census Bureau officials had thought it would be.

This happened in the 2000 census as well, and almost certainly is a function of undocumented immigrants. We found more in 2000, and we probably have found more this time, as well. We thought there were about 305 million Americans. The census counted 308 million.

And that also speaks to the issue of states that are the red and the blue states, ones that are Republican or --


WEEKS: Those states that have added seats to Congress -- remember that's a zero-sum case, of course. If one state adds, another state that loses. But those states that have added seats to Congress are, in fact, all states --

ANDERSON: All right.

WEEKS: In which there have been a steady increase in the Latino population. So, down the road, if --


WEEKS: As those individuals become politically more active, those currently red states may wind up going back to the blue side, because traditionally Latinos have tended to lean to the Democratic Party.

ANDERSON: All right. So, we're seeing a change in the makeup of the American population, particularly in some of the areas in the South. China's population, I believe, diversifying in a similar way to the US.

WEEKS: Well, yes, that's right. The Chinese population, of course, is dominated by the Han majority, which represents about 90 percent of the total population. But that 10 percent minority is, of course, a very large group. If you take 10 percent of 1.3 billion people, that's 130 million. That's like the population of --


WEEKS: Mexico. So, this is very consequential. That population tends to be in the west of China, tends to be Muslim population, Uyghurs, for example, a rather -- a famous group, recently, for their approach to want to get a little more autonomous. And the Chinese government has essentially responded to that by trying to encourage members of the majority to move west and to intermingle with the minority populations.

But, at the same time, the minority populations have not been under the mandate of the one child policy. And so, it is growing at a much more rapid rate than the Han majority.

ANDERSON: We're talking about nearly 20 percent of the world's populations in China, I believe. It's about 19.5 percent. The other enormous population, of course, is India, where we're seeing what I believe to be a dramatic difference between the north and the south of the populations there. Just explain.

WEEKS: Yes. The south of India has, for quite a while, been much more modern, demographically, than has the north. So, in the south in a state like Kerala, you have fertility rates that are below replacement, you've got a high level of life expectancy, high levels of education, both of males and females.

Whereas, in the north of India, you still have very high levels of fertility, still have above-average levels of infant mortality, very crowded villages, people who are not getting along nearly so well economically.


WEEKS: There's a real north-south divide in that --

ANDERSON: We were talking earlier on about just how few people there were in the world in 1910, and just how many there are now and how many we expect to inhabit the Earth by 2050. What are we to ultimately learn by studying these facts and figures?

WEEKS: Well, of course, adding two billion more people to the world - - more than two billion, between now and the middle of the century, is a big project. And if we look at where in the world the United Nations' population division expects those people to be out, the single biggest answer is India. And not just India, but --


WEEKS: The northern part. So, what happens to northern India is very, very important to the rest of us.

Now, in terms of percentages -- percentage terms, South Saharan Africa will actually grow, in percentage terms, more quickly than anywhere else in the world. But numerically, the biggest single group of people, about half a billion of the two billion between now and the middle of the century are expected to be in India.

ANDERSON: Fascinating stuff. John, I know you love these facts and figures. Always a pleasure to get you to pick them apart for us here on CONNECT THE WORLD. A classic story from him. Sir, we thank you very much, indeed, for joining us.

You're watching the show that, of course, joins the dots on the big stories happening around the world. Next up, Haiti's horror year. We're going to look back and ask, can this devastated nation every rebuild? That, up next. Stay with us.


ANDERSON: Well, CONNECT THE WORLD has seven live shows left for 2010, and we are hoping that you can join us for all of them. One of the things that we want to do is look back at the biggest news stories of the year, how they were covered, why they mattered and, perhaps, more importantly, what their legacy will be.

We began with an event that resonated around the world and, for many, still is ringing, thanks to this.




ANDERSON: Yes, love them or hate them, the vuvuzelas will always define the South African World Cup. Thirty-two nations played in the tournament, which was full of upsets, and ended with a victory for Spain, of course, the score one-nil against the Netherlands.

Well, tonight, we're going to go back to the very start of the year, the 12th of January.



UNIDENTIFIED MALE: This is crazy, yo. I just got hit.


ANDERSON: The magnitude 7 earthquake that hit Haiti killed some 230,00 people. A further three million were affected in what turned out to be the first in a series of crises to strike the nation this year. Let's take a look at the horror that, for Haitians, has been 2010.



IVAN WATSON, CNN CORRESPONDENT (on camera): Right behind me, and you can hear her voice sometimes, is an 11-year-old girl named Anaika San Luis. She's pinned underneath this rubble.

And the volunteers, here, are snaking through a hose right now to give her some drinking water. She's about ten feet away, and you can see the braids of this little girl's hair. I talked with her, she's wearing glasses, and she's crying. She's in a lot of pain right now. She's terribly scared.


WATSON: The girl we talked about last night, Anaika San Luis, 11 years old, trapped under the rubble of a house. Very active, very afraid, in pain, but talking with us and with the rescuers, the volunteers that were trying to get her out. And your heart went out to this little girl.

And, as we told you last night, she was cut free and being rushed to some kind of medical care. Well, we talked to her uncle this evening, and he gave us very sad news that, shortly after she went to a first aid station, she passed away.

It's pretty heartbreaking. Her last words, the uncle says, were, "Mama, ne me laisses-pas mourir." Which means, "Mother, don't let me die."


KARL PENHAUL, CNN CORRESPONDENT (on camera): It's quite clear, here, that people are breaking into these warehouses because they're hungry and they're desperate. But at the same time, within the crowd, you can see the presence of gang members.


PENHAUL (voice-over): You can make out what appear to be the ringleaders, armed with sticks and iron bars. Off camera, you can even see them charging money to permit people to loot.


PENHAUL (voice-over): Gangs have long provided muscle in Haitian politics. Many here are angry with President Rene Preval's response to the disaster.


"The state is not reacting. We have to change the state," he says.


PAULA NEWTON, CNN CORRESPONDENT (on camera): I want you to take a look over here to where this gentleman is scavenging. Look at this garbage. Can you even estimate how many plastic bottles there are in here and everything else? Imagine the filth under there.

The big issue here is, we talk about a cholera outbreak. We talk about sanitation. How is sanitation possible? This is a major thoroughfare in the city, and it's piled high with garbage. Garbage that no one ever seems to collect.

Now, Jose's going to turn around here, he's going to show us the crane. This is just a mess. The crane, I think it's behind the billboard over there. Now, they attempt at times to kind of break the logjam of the garbage. And the only reason why is because the garbage literally here, when the water rises, is lifted and the garbage litters the streets completely.

It is so depressing for people that we've spoken to here, everyday Haitians. It makes them feel completely hopeless, as if nothing is ever going to change here.


WATSON (on camera): We were trying to just move through town, and we started to see lots of people running and kind of joyously clapping their hands and waving their arms in the air, and take a look at what unfolded.



WATSON (on camera): All right, so -- some of the security forces -- wow, it's starting to hurt. Just fired teargas or pepper gas to disperse the crowd. Haiti is in the midst of a political crisis right now. Not much else you can call it.


ANDERSON: As you saw there, Ivan Watson has spent a great deal of time on the ground in Haiti over the past 11 months. I caught up with him a little earlier and began by asking what has struck him most. This is what he told me.


WATSON: What's been very difficult is going back in the months since the earthquake, most recently ten months after the earthquake, and seeing very little improvement for more than a million people living in temporary shelters and camps around that stricken capital, despite many of the promises that were made.

And if anything, seeing their plight compounded by a political crisis stemming from an election that has been deeply, deeply problematic.

Amid all the suffering I saw just in recent weeks, Becky, one of my translators, his girlfriend was shot in the back in political clashes while on the way to a supermarket, and she died that night after having an operation. This is ten months after the earthquake. That translator lost his wife and child and his home on January 12, 2010.

ANDERSON: It really doesn't bear thinking about. As you say, lots and lots of questions, and so very few answers in Haiti. What is in store for Haitians in 2011?

WATSON: Well, right now, you -- in addition to having this huge homeless population, in addition to having a cholera epidemic that has killed at least 2500 people and infected more than 100,000 people, you have a political crisis. And one of the great hopes was that a new government, a new president, could come in and give a vital kickstart to the reconstruction effort in Haiti. And that looks like it's being delayed.

And Becky, one of the things I'm most afraid of, and which saddens me most, is the possibility that I could go back to Haiti a year from now, and those same displaced person camps that are in the center of Port-au-Prince, are likely still going to be there.

Despite all the promises made, despite the hundreds of millions of dollars pledged, money spent on the ground as well, that nothing will change, if in the first ten months after the earthquake, no one has made a move to resettle those hordes of homeless people and give them some kind of a better place to live than underneath a tarp and some corrugated metal under the baking sun in the town square, the central square of the Haitian capital.

ANDERSON: And where does the international community fit in, Ivan? There is no doubt, let's face it, that the world has let the islanders down. But what does the international community need to do next to try and help their lot?

WATSON: I don't think there's an easy answer for that. The United Nations, the United Nations peacekeepers, have all been on the ground in Haiti for a year providing, effectively, a parallel government. And some have argued, yes, that's helped stabilize, it's helped keep the nation going. Others argue that has stunted the development of the government.

And a big question that the international community has to start helping itself, is at what point is it contributing to the problem by collaborating with leaders that have proven to be taking advantage of the system, taking advantage of billions of dollars of aid money and not really working to help their own people, their own citizens, recover in the wake of this cataclysm.


ANDERSON: Ivan Watson for you. Sadly, still more questions than answers for Haiti. We'll continue looking at other defining stories of 2010 in the coming days. Do stay with us, we'll be right back this evening.



ANDERSON: If you've ever wondered what airport would be the best to have a snooze in -- and you may be in an airport at the moment and, if you are, I'm so sorry. We may have found the answer for you. A site called Sleeping in ranks the top ten best and worst airports to catch 40 winks in.

First up, the not-so-comfortable. In at number three is Moscow's Sheremetyevo Airport. The site says the airport "continues to be dirty and chaotic" and that there is a serious shortage of seats.

Ranking second-worst is Beauvais Airport outside of Paris. Now, this airport is in the middle of the French countryside, so maybe that's why part of the terminal building is, quote, "a tent," according to the site.

And taking the cake for the worst airport in the world to try and sleep in, well, it's Paris's Charles de Gaulle.

For some of the best places to put your feet up and nod off, though, there is Hong Kong's International. It comes in third with its nine-hole golf course and even a 3D movie theater.

In at number two is Seoul's Incheon. The airport has plenty of free wi-fi and, according to its review, lots of great, inexpensive Korean food.

But lucky you if you're at this airport, the best to get a good sleep and winner of the coveted Golden Pillow title, that'll be Singapore's Changi airport, consistently ranked as one of the best airports in the world. Changi has spa facilities, sleeper chairs, extensive gardens, and even a rooftop pool

Well, the editor of the Guide to Sleeping in Airports, Donna McSherry, is with us, and she's on the phone now from Toronto. I'm assuming that you've done all these airports, have you? By volition or not?



MCSHERRY: I am a travel agent, but I have not been to all of these airports. I kind of rely on the visitors and the votes and all the reviews that come in, and that's how we determine the best and the worst.

ANDERSON: All right, so you've had some people who've had a miserable time, and other people who've had quite a remarkable time at some of these airports. Listen, there are hundreds of thousands of people around the world tonight who are in airports, sadly, and we do wish them the best. What are your top tips?

MCSHERRY: Our top tips, they're -- well, for these people who are already there, it's kind of difficult to go prepared, but we suggest to be prepared. You should go with an inflatable mattress or a pool raft for nice padding when you're resting on the floor, because some of those seats have armrests, so you can't stretch out on that. So it looks like the floor will be the option.

And simple things like eye shades and ear plugs, bring an alarm clock for the morning, and blanket and pillow. If you don't have one, then you can ask the airlines or the airport, and they will provide it. Hopefully, they will provide the stranded ones.

For just exploring -- for other tips, we just recommend that you explore the terminal. Some bigger airports don't have -- one terminal may be really bad condition, but if you just move around, take the shuttle around, some of the other terminals may be more comfortable, less noise, that type of thing.

ANDERSON: All right. Well, I'm wondering whether you've got any advice on how to avoid spending an awful lot of money. These terminals are absolutely catch men, aren't they? For those of us who like to shop. And if you're stuck there, it's a disaster. Aside from shops that sell blow-up beds, which is what you're suggesting we should take, how do we avoid spending money?

MCSHERRY: To avoid spending money, well, you know, a little $2 pool raft isn't too bad. But just -- you can sleep on the conveyor belts, in wheelchairs, under the seats. You just have to use a little bit of creativity in order to survive the night.

ANDERSON: You're telling me you're a travel agent, and much of what's on this fabulous site that you've got up and going is provided by those of us who've had nightmares. What's your worst travel experience, though?

MCSHERRY: My own personal experience, I've been pretty fortunate. I haven't been like some of the people on my site. But I'd say the strangest was when I was settling down in Lima, in Lima, Peru. I was just getting comfortable and, all of a sudden, the military -- six members of the military came up to me, and I thought they were going to send me out somewhere. But, no, they were just concerned about my safety, and they moved me to an area that they deemed was safe for me to rest the night.

ANDERSON: Oh, bless them. Good on them.


ANDERSON: Good for you. I'm glad -- that story ended up with a happy ending. We're going to leave it there, we've got to take an advertising break. We do thank you. For those of you -- if you are at airports this evening, I hope that helps. Not sure it will, but -- and we do feel for you.

I'm Becky Anderson, that's your world connected. "BackStory" and your headlines are next, right after this short break.