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Tensions Escalate on the Korean Peninsula; Tricks of the Trade

Aired December 23, 2010 - 16:00:00   ET


BECKY ANDERSON, HOST: South Korea says it's demonstrated it can destroy the enemy at a single stroke. To which the North responds, come any closer and you'll face a sacred war. Fighting words from Pyongyang just days after a U.S. diplomat thought he'd calmed things down.

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

Well, by almost all accounts, the situation on the Korean Peninsula is the worst in living memory. Despite a flurry of diplomatic activity, the fear now is that things could get even worse.

I'm Becky Anderson in London, with a story that could have ramifications the would over.

Also tonight, do the Rome embassy bombings link back to Greece?

We'll dig a little deeper for you.

Pakistan in 2010 -- a look at a nation struck by disaster, as we continue our series of defining moments of the year.



ANDERSON: -- it's Christmas, Australian style -- how they do it Down Under.

That's coming up in the next 60 minutes. That is CNN.

Well, one side promises a merciless counter-attack to any further aggression, while the other threatens to use nuclear bombs. Tensions on the Korean Peninsula are escalating even higher, as North and South battle to win a war of intimidation.

We're going to begin for you tonight with Kyung Lah in Seoul.


KYUNG LAH, CNN CORRESPONDENT: South Korea displayed a strong show of force in a military drill. Though regularly schedule, it is notable for its scope. South Korea's army saying that this is its largest winter live fire land and air drill. The skies about two hours outside of Seoul filled with helicopters, with fighter jets. On the ground, some 100 different types of weapons.

So this was part military exercise, but it was also part show. And the concern from the international community is that South Korea could miscalculate and give North Korea a reason to attack.

Now, that was not the case. There was no physical response from North Korea. But there was a statement issued via North Korea's state-run agency. North Korea threatening to launch, quote, "a sacred war" using a nuclear deterrent. It is a threat here heard from North Korea before.

South Korea's president, for his part, also continued the tough talk in a visit to an army post. South Korea's president saying that he thought that patience would lead to peace on the Peninsula but that is not the case and in order to contain North Korea, North Korea should know that if South Korea is attacked, this country could launch a merciless counter-attack.

Kyung Lah, CNN, Seoul.


ANDERSON: Well, the crisis between the two Koreas did seem to cool a bit during Bill Richardson's recent visit to Pyongyang. The New Mexico went as a private citizen, not a formal representative for the Unit -- U.S. government.

Still, he met with many top North Korean officials and impressed on them the U.S. position that their, quote, "bunker mentality" isn't working.

Now, here's how Richardson described the conversation once he returned home.


GOV. BILL RICHARDSON (D), NEW MEXICO: The tension was very high. It was a tinder box. And I said to them, look, this is the worst you can do if you retaliate. This is a chance for you to be statesmanlike for a change, which you haven't been lately. And it's important that you also look at some arms control measures that I had proposed, more IAEA inspectors, sell your spent fuel rods, a hot line. And -- and I think they've turned the corner a little bit, recognizing they've got to be more pragmatic.


ANDERSON: I think they've turned the corner. Well, Richardson said that on Wednesday night, yet just a few hours later, North Korea threatened nuclear war.

So what's changed?

Well, our next guest may have some thoughts on that.

Chris Hill was a U.S. envoy to North Korea under President George W. Bush.

He's also served as U.S. ambassador to South Korea.

Chris, Bill Richardson certainly came back thinking that he played a game changer, to a certain extent.

Are you surprised by North Korea's reaction today to these military drills from their southern rival?

CHRISTOPHER HILL, FORMER U.S. AMBASSADOR TO SOUTH KOREA: No, I am -- I am not at all surprised, unfortunately. This is pretty much how they manage these things. Obviously, when Bill Richardson came on his Christmas visit, they were -- they tried to be on good behavior. But I think this is more typical.

I think what has really happened is the South Koreans have begun to lose patience with this kind of behavior. And there have been a series of escalating, provocative acts by the North Koreans. And I think the South Koreans are not in a mood to turn the other cheek.

And so, clearly, we're in a very tense period. But I would stop short of saying that this is -- is somehow spinning out of control.

ANDERSON: What do you think will happen next?

HILL: Well, it's hard to say. You know, often, the North Koreans take a really hard line for a couple of days and a softer line to kind of keep you off balance. So I would not be surprised if there's somewhat of a softer line in the next couple of days.

I mean what is -- what is important to understand is the South Koreans are conducting tests, military drills. And they used a kind of international standard. They announce exactly what they're doing. Everyone knows it.

So the North Koreans choose to make very incendiary comments. I think it really speaks to the fact that even totalitarian dictatorships have politics.

And so I think what we're seeing within North Korea is kind of a political response.

ANDERSON: All right. And we must let our viewers know, or remind them, at least, that this is -- they had something like 43 of these drills this year. And they last for 45 minutes. As you say, the North Koreans have chosen to use fairly incendiary language about the last two.

Let's talk about these -- these diplomatic visits, if you will. Jimmy Carter was in the country earlier this year. Jimmy Carter was there back in 1994. A lot of people are casting parallels at the moment between then and now.

Bill Richardson has been in the country, as you know, over the last five days or so.

How do these visits work?

They don't get to talk to the president.

What do they achieve?

HILL: Well, sometimes you have a situation where events are moving quickly and nobody wants to make a step that will come out and somehow bring the situation back into harmony. So you get some third party going in there.

And the -- the occasion of the third party visit is an opportunity for one side to make a -- a less belligerent statement and then get the thing, you know, back on track.

I think with respect to Governor Richardson, for whom I have a great deal of respect, I mean to go in there just before Christmas and then to come out and describe what he had done, I think it would -- it behooves us all to hear some of this from the Koreans. And, clearly, we're not hearing the same message from the North Koreans.

I really think that we are dealing with a situation where North Korea has some serious internal problems and North -- and South Korea, they're getting kind of tired of -- of taking this.

I mean they had been providing humanitarian assistance over the years and the North Koreans have never sent one thank you to the South Koreans. So when you look at South Korea's police, you know, sure, there are a lot of people who think that the North Koreans are misunderstood and we're provoking them. But there are more and more people in South Korea who are just kind of fed up with it.

ANDERSON: They are now starved, of course, of Southern supplies -- the South Koreans sitting an awful lot of aid that -- that would normally be get -- getting down to North Korea. You know the country well.

How difficult will it be for people who live there at this point?

And do you sense any opportunity for change at the top in North Korea any time soon?

HILL: Well, I don't expect any change any time soon. I mean , clearly, they have a tough situation in North Korea, where they're trying to pass power onto a third generation. If that works, that's a long-term proposition. But even if it doesn't work, it's kind of long-term. So I don't look for anything dramatic.

I think what we're seeing, though, is the North Korean military, which, believe me, does not spend a lot of time in sensitivity training or, you know, worrying about what other people think of them. And they, increasingly, kind of make their own decisions. And when the North Korean military makes their own decisions, you see a very, very belligerent position.

It's not so much that the -- somehow the civilian leadership is -- is more reasonable. But certainly, the civilian leadership has a better idea of what's out in the rest of the world than the military does.

ANDERSON: Do you fear for the worst?

HILL: Well, I think one always has to prepare for the -- for the worst. But I think that this is one of these situations which is very unpleasant, very tense, but one which we will get through.

ANDERSON: Christopher Hill, who has been a regular guest on this show recently, as the rhetoric has been -- more charged, let's say, from the Korean Peninsula.

Always a pleasure, Chris.

Thank you very much, indeed, for joining us.

And that's your expert on the subject for you there.

Well some of your are sharing your thoughts on the story. Here are some of the comments from our Web page.

Ziggi asks: "Is Dr. Strangelove alive and well in North Korea?"

Speakzmymind says: "War would be disastrous. Millions would die due to the close proximity of Seoul to the border and the innocent people in North Korea. I hope this really never happens."

And from another viewer: "I highly doubt both countries want war. I think South Korea knows it might not be the best for the country. And even if they win, they'll sacrifice a lot. I don't think a war is worth it for either party."

And finally from Monobot: "You'd think it would be easy to destroy North Korea, but you forget that their military outnumbers South Korea's two to one. Without U.S. and/or Chinese support, I don't think South Korea would win."

I think you need to look at the policy of their military to perhaps dispute that.

But anyway, we'd love to hear from you. Do join the debate. Just head to our Web site,

Now, don't go away. We've got plenty more to come, including a review of one of the biggest news stories of 2010 -- from devastation to recovery, but how has progress been made?

We'll take a look at the situation in Pakistan a half a year on from its catastrophic floods.

And he's played a starring role in many a battlefield, including "Blood Diamond" and "Gladiator." But our Connector of the Day, Djimon Hounsou, isn't stopping there. We're going to take a look at the why he's fighting for some very special causes.

That, after this.


ANDERSON: A very warm welcome back.


I'm Becky Anderson for you in London.

After almost a week of extreme weather and travel gridlock, Europe's major transport hubs may finally be back in business. Around 1,000 people spent the night at London's Heathrow, hoping to fly out after days of canceled flights. The airport ran about 90 percent of its flights on Thursday, they tell us, handling 200,000 customers.

Well, they are all facing a daunting challenge, trying to clear that backlog of passengers.

Let's start with sort of progress these airports have been making, shall we?

Guillermo Arduino has been tracking the flight status updates for us across the week.

He's at the CNN Center and he's got the very latest from there -- Guillermo, what have you got tonight?

GUILLERMO ARDUINO, CNN METEOROLOGIST: Icy, now double digits when it comes to delays. So we don't see 200, 300 minutes anymore. We see only 15, 20, 60, 90 minutes. So it's much better.

When you look at this, it scares you a little bit, because the red dots here are indicating that we have -- we still have excessive delays. So Germany, France with excessive delays.

But I must say that in this area, we have snow right now. That's in Dublin. We do have snow in Dublin. And we're going to zoom into Britain again. And I'm going to take this airport in particular, Luton. It's with cloudy skies right now and we don't have so much action from the point of view of weather.

But I'm going to take a look Heathrow, in particular, and I'm going to show you that we have some flights en route, even though one is going to Glasgow with 70 minute delay. Then we have New Castle, Aberdeen here again in Scotland with cancellations. And scheduled 160 minutes. So some are still posting excessive delays, but it's not that bad compared to what we saw yesterday.

Charles de Gaulle, even with snow right now -- and we have a lot of snow in France -- some cancellations. As you see, these are arrivals. We have several cancellations for this hour. But some are scheduled flights.

Then Frankfurt, we're dealing with some bad weather in Germany, too. En route, en route and schedule, scheduled, en route, 31 minute delays from Venice in here. Istanbul operating OK. Then scheduled, en route. So Frankfurt appears to be fine.

And, finally, Amsterdam, I chose departures this time. And we see that things are OK. As far as I see, everything is scheduled and going to operate much better. And we also have some bad weather over there, as well. That's important to point out.

Do you want me to tell you about the weather, what's going to happen in the next days?

We're going to take the full screen graphic. And I started in Britain. So Dublin is reporting snow right now. New Castle is reporting snow. But England, as you see, conditions are much better. So it's on the dry side. And the snow is not going to come back. It's not going to be warm. It's going to be cold. The cold air continues to slip in because the jet stream is down there to the south. Where we have this humidity, then, we have the perfect combination for the snow.

And that's happening in France, in -- in the Netherlands, in Belgium and Germany and Poland. That's happening now. And what you're going to see is that the storms are moving to the east. So we will continue to be in the clear, especially in Britain and in France.

Again, if you are watching from an airport right now, we know that you're frustrated. You're dealing, basically, with what happened before, with the backlogs, even though they are making a lot of progress. And we have been hit by other storms in areas here, in Central and Eastern Europe that may impact, also, your connection. Your aircraft may be somewhere else where we have bad weather. But the progress is evident, Becky. And also, it's moving to the east right now.

ANDERSON: Yes. All right, and if you are watching in an airport, I do hope you get to where you're going to...

ARDUINO: Absolutely.

ANDERSON: -- tonight, tomorrow morning, at least before Christmas.

Well, it's been an incredible ordeal for many. The anger and frustration and despair, I'm sure they've felt it all. But now with an end in sight, we thought we'd show you why the wait is all worthwhile.

This is London's Gatwick Airport arrivals.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I'm looking for -- forward to Christmas and spending it with my son's family -- my English family.


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Oh, it's been dreadful. I was stuck in Vegas for four days without my kids and didn't know if I was coming home for Christmas. Oh, thank god we're home.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We managed to bring our parents home. So it's going to be a great Christmas for us. My wife and my little boy, they're waiting for my flight. So it's great.


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: We're so looking forward to having Christmas with snow.



There is really something wonderful about watching people come through the arrival lounge.

All right, up next, the next time you use your laptop in the airport or in another public place, for example, make sure you protect your personal information. It's alarmingly easy, apparently, for hackers to set up fake free wi-fi spots -- hot spots, then sit back and collect your private data once you sign on. Tips you won't want to miss coming up on the show.

And later, the stores are open literally around the clock to accommodate all the procrastinators in the lead-up to Christmas.

Stay with us.


ANDERSON: You're watching CONNECT THE WORLD here on CNN.

It's 22 minutes past 9:00 in London.

Well, many of us can't imagine life without the Web, can we?

We rely on it for everything from banking to shopping to social networking.

But are we, at the same time, exposing ourselves to some privacy risks?

Well, that is our special focus this week.

Earlier, we told you about Google's charm offensive in France, the search engine demonstrating the way a high tech tricycle captures images of famous monuments, attempting to shake hostility toward its Street View mapping project and ease privacy concerns there.

Well, today, we're sharing some warnings about using free wi-fis so you don't have to learn the hard way.

A former hacker revealed some tricks of the trade to CNN's Ted Rowlands.

Listen up.


TED ROWLANDS, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Inside Terminal Five at the Los Angeles International Airport, dozens of people are on their computers.

Gregory Evans is a former hacker whose resume includes two years in federal prison.

GREGORY EVANS, CONVICTED COMPUTER HACKER: We were doing almost a million dollars, if not more, a week against some of the biggest corporations in the world. ROWLANDS: We set up in the corner of the terminal so that Evans, who now owns a cyber security company, could show us just how vulnerable people are to hackers.

EVANS: I will go and set up a fake wi-fi and watch everybody connect to it. And once they connect to it and they start surfing the internet, now what I'll do is to just grab all their traffic.

ROWLANDS (voice-over): We launched a fake network named LAX Free Wi- Fi. Within minutes, people started connecting to it. Evans then showed us how a hacker can record everything off of a computer that joined our network by tracking what I was doing on my laptop.

EVANS: So if they go to their bank, it'll grab all their banking information. If they go to their Facebook, it'll grab all that, their Twitter accounts. If they're writing love letters, I can grab all of that.

ROWLANDS (voice-over): Or, Evans says, even worse, if a hacker has enough time, spyware can be installed, which stays with the victim.

EVANS: You get on the plane, you go one to country, I go to another. But everything that you do, as long as you have that computer, is going to be e-mailed back to me.

ROWLANDS (voice-over): During our experiment, we stumbled across what appeared to be a real hacker at work. Along with our fake network, there was another one called Free Public Wi-Fi. Airport administrators told us T-Mobile is the only authorized Wi-Fi provider.

(on camera): So you think that there could be a hacker here right now?

EVANS: That's correct.

ROWLANDS (voice-over): Catching and prosecuting a hacker, especially at an airport, is extremely difficult. E.J. Hilbert is a retired FBI agent who specialized in cyber-crime.

E.J. HILBERT, RETIRED FBI AGENT: It's virtually impossible to catch them. Law enforcement is aware of this. And there's always the next piece. You steal the cards, you steal the information, you've got to use them somewhere. And that's when you start getting the real investigations going.

ROWLANDS (on camera): Experts say there are a few things you can do to protect yourself. If you're at an airport or a public spot, find out who the Wi-Fi provider is and use that. If it costs some money, pay the money. They also say change your password every now and then and use different passwords for different accounts. Another tip, turn your computer off when you're not using it.

ROWLANDS (voice-over): And if you do go online using a public Wi-Fi, keep in mind that someone may be watching you.

EVANS: You don't know if you're getting on a true Wi-Fi or you're connecting to some hacker's network. Like, you don't know if you're connecting to me or if you're really connecting to the airport.

ROWLANDS (voice-over): Ted Rowlands, CNN, Los Angeles.


ANDERSON: That's good stuff.

All right, you can be sure the Web has been getting a workout in the lead-up to Christmas, of course. And online shoppers may be onto something, particularly if they've avoided this -- the annual buying frenzy. Thousands hitting the storms -- storms? -- hitting the stores armed with lists.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Actually, I've only bought three gifts. I bought everything else for myself.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Oh, family. My daughter, my husband and uncles, practically friends. So I'm really doing a huge shop so I can't say.



ANDERSON: Christmas shopping around the world, up next.


ANDERSON: A very warm welcome back to the studio here in London.

You're back with CONNECT THE WORLD.

I'm Becky Anderson.

Coming up, do we ever learn -- well, Christmas shoppers around the world making an eleventh hour dash for gifts. We're going to hit the stores in London, Dubai, Hong Kong and in Havana.

Then we look back on one of the world's biggest catastrophes. The Pakistan floods affected 20 million people. We'll review their plight five months after the crisis hit.

And then, a man with roles that extend beyond the big screen. "Gladiator" star Djimon Hounsou joins on as your Connector of the Day.

Those stories are coming up in the next 30 minutes.

I think I'll get you some headlines first.

Italy's interior minister says two bombs that exploded at embassies in Rome on Thursday have been traced back to Greece. But Greece now says there's no evidence that is true. Both bombs were hidden inside parcels. One exploded inside the Swiss embassy, seriously wounding a mail worker. The other bomb exploded a few hours later at the Chilean embassy, injuring one person there.

"Newsweek" reporter Barbie Nadeau joins us on the phone from Rome. What do we know, at this point, to be true?

BARBIE NADEAU, "NEWSWEEK" MAGAZINE (via telephone): At this point, we know that there has been an anarchist group here in Italy that has claimed responsibility for this -- for these two bombings.

As the police investigated the bombings, they discovered a small box on both -- in both sites, in which the Federation -- the Informal Federation of Anarchists lay claim to these bombs. And they did it, they say, in the name of Lambros Fountas, who is a Greek protestor who was killed last March in Athens.

So that's -- we have that confirmed from the police here in Italy, that the bombs at least -- we still don't know where they came from, where they were sent from, because they were sent through the post office and not through a courier service. So, there's no list, there's no trace, basically, of how -- where they came from when they arrived at these embassies.

But we do know that the Informal Federation of Anarchists here in Italy has -- is claiming responsibility for these.

ANDERSON: Do we know anything more about the group?

NADEAU: Well, the group is closely tied to a network of anarchist movements that are present in Greece, in Spain, and in Italy right now. And these are some of the groups that are present in these protests that we've seen lately. Some of these young adults have been arrested in the last couple of months in London and in Italy last week and in Athens earlier. And in Barcelona, there was some presence.

These groups really do work in sort of a network, and they work in collaboration sometimes, and they work with -- you don't want to use the word "conspiracy" necessarily, but they are all really on the same team.

ANDERSON: Any indication yet, then, as to why the Chilean and Swiss embassies in Rome were targeted?

NADEAU: Well, the Chilean and Swiss embassies were also targeted in Athens in November earlier this year, along with a host of other embassies.

These are embassies, certainly the Swiss embassy makes sense on a lot of levels, because there are a number of Italian anarchists in Swiss prisons right now. There's a noted Swiss anarchist in an Italian prison right now, who started a hunger strike this week.

There are a number of famous Chilean anarchists who've lost their lives in the their last period of time, and whose names and missions are invoked, basically, when these groups do things like they've done today here in Rome.

ANDERSON: All right, we're going to leave it there. We thank you very much, indeed. A lot of new information coming to you there from Barbie Nadeau on the explosions in Rome at embassies there across the city.

Well, in other news, fresh threats out of North Korea. Pyongyang has warned it's ready for a sacred war, as they call it, using its nuclear weapons. It follows new military drills by South Korea.

The International Watchdog for Human Rights has turned its sights on the Ivory Coast following reports of post-election atrocities. The United Nations says it's received credit roll, but reports said at least 173 people have been killed in the past week alone.

The Iranian president has made a New Year plea during a summit in Turkey. Mahmoud Ahmadinejad is urging world leaders to choose cooperation over confrontation when nuclear talks resume next month.

Those are your headlines.

Two days to go before Christmas, and the spending spree, it seems, is on. Last-minute shoppers are hitting the stores, even in countries where the annual holiday isn't a tradition. We're going to take a look at the Christmas season in Dubai, Hong Kong, and Havana. First, Jim Boulden joins what is nearly the eleventh hour buying frenzy here in London.


JIM BOULDEN, CNN CORRESPONDENT (on camera) : Now, this is Selfridges on Oxford Street in central London. They say it's been a mixed December for them so far, and the snow had a lot to do with it.

SALLY SCOTT, MARKETING DIRECTOR, SELFRIDGES: Very busy. I think it finally hit everybody that Christmas is upon us and the days are numbered for shopping. So, we're very busy here, today, at Selfridges.

But, honestly, December's been mixed, because we've had, as you know, quite a lot of snow in the UK.


SCOTT: Which is not what we're used to. So, it has had a bit of an impact on business. But our people have made it to work, and people want to come shopping.

BOULDEN: Of course, we want know for a while whether Thursday was the busiest shopping day in UK history, or just the busiest shopping day in December. Selfridges says, in fact, they expect Friday, the last day of shopping, to be its busiest day. Jim Boulden, CNN, London.

MOHAMMED JAMJOOM, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT (on camera): I'm Mohammed Jamjoom in Dubai. Now, while many the world over are aware that Dubai is a prime shopping destination, some are still surprised that it's also a prime Christmas shopping destination.

The United Arab Emirates is a Muslim country but, at this time of year, it's not uncommon to find Christmas displays, Christmas trees in the malls, holiday shopping going on almost around the clock.

Now, today, this mall is absolutely bustling. Ex-pats and Emirates are all out. They're here in droves. Some of them, trying to find last- minute Christmas gifts just two days before Christmas. Others, just trying to take advantage of the seasonal discounts.

ANNA COREN, CNN CORRESPONDENT (on camera): I'm Anna Coren in Causeway Bay, one of Hong Kong's busiest shopping centers. And just days away from Christmas, this place is absolutely packed.

Now, the Chinese don't traditionally celebrate Christmas, but considering Hong Kong is a former British colony, this holiday is certainly on the calendar, as you can tell from the lavish Christmas decorations and displays, some shopping malls spending millions in US dollars.

Now, more and more mainland Chinese are actually coming here to Hong Kong to shop, where luxury goods are significantly cheaper, thanks to the absence in sales taxes. In fact, the Hong Kong tourism board says the number of visitors from the mainland is up almost 30 percent, which means retailers can expect a bumper Christmas.

PATRICK OPPMANN, CNN CORRESPONDENT (on camera): I'm Patrick Oppmann in Havana where, for decades, Christmas was not celebrated officially. The government has since restored Christmas as a holiday here but, around the capital, you see few Christmas trees or decorations.

People are out on the street behind me, doing some Christmas shopping, but economic tough times means, in Cuba, you don't see too many packed malls or stores. What people do do, though, is Nochebuena, a traditional Christmas Eve gathering with their families and loved ones.


ANDERSON: All right, there you go. Christmas around the world, the festive season for you. Now, up next, we're looking back at one of the biggest disasters of the year, the Pakistan floods. Millions of people were washed from their homes during a two-month deluge. Five months on, is the country recovering, or is it still in crisis? We'll take a look at that after this.


ANDERSON: As we count down to the end of the year, CONNECT THE WORLD is looking back for you on the stories that have resonated around the globe. How they were covered, why they mattered, and what legacy they leave. And we began with the legacy of the vuvuzela.




ANDERSON: South Africans made sure the world would never forget their World Cup. Thirty-two nations played in the tournament, which was full of upsets and ended in jubilation, of course, for Spain and sorrow for the Netherlands.

We also spent some time looking back on Haiti this week. 240,000 people were killed in the magnitude seven earthquake there in January, and the pain hasn't ended for Haitians. Efforts to rebuild thwarted by a cholera outbreak and political violence. The country 11 months on, sadly, remains in crisis.

And tonight, we are reflecting on another catastrophe. Remember the Pakistan floods? The monsoon rains began in July and didn't stop for two months. At least 1700 people died, and a further 20 million were affected, many becoming refugees in their own country. Well, here's how our reporters covered those devastating months.



REZA SAYAH, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT (on camera): This muddy lake that you see didn't exist about a week ago. These are the flood waters that have buried entire villages in the district of Gotki in northern Sindh province.

Thousands of people still stranded in some of these villages, and the navy special services here in Pakistan has been using about 20 boats in this region on rescue missions. We're on their hovercraft, and we're along for the ride on this mission.

All right, it looks like we've arrived at the village and, as you can see, most of the homes underwater.


SAYAH: What is he saying?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: He's saying, "Take the people out."

SAYAH: A lot of these people didn't want to go a few days ago, but now, you can see, most of their village is under water. Now, they're saying, "All right, it's time to leave." These are conditions these people have lived in for about a week now.

About 40 to 50 people in this village being rescued, and they keep coming. Most of them are children, they're grabbing the belongings that they can. We saw what appeared to be a newborn wrapped in a blue blanket. And they just keep coming.


SARA SIDNER, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Ahmed Raza Chandio was ready to go to battle to stop anyone from breaching the levee he's standing on.

SIDNER (on camera): Are you prepared to shoot someone if they try to break the levee?

AHMED RAZA CHANDIO, LANDOWNER, MEHAR VILALGE (through translator): "Yes, we will fight for our security," he says. "We don't care who is on the other side. Our children and women are here. How can we let them drown?"

SIDNER (voice-over): If this levee is breached, everything he and thousands of his neighbors own will be washed away in Pakistan's historic floods. The problem is, those who live upstream in cities like Nasirabad, say the levee must be broken to save everything they own.

RUSTAM ALI SHEIKH, NASIRABAD RESIDENT (through translator): "The biggest problem is that this water will reach our city, Nasirabad," Rustam Ali Sheikh says. "Hundreds of villages will go under water, and hundreds of rice mills and millions of business transactions, too."

SIDNER (voice-over): Sheikh says all cities should be saved, but he can't think of how.


DAN RIVERS, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): It is a flood like nothing seen here in living memory. This it the International Red Cross warehouse outside Nowshera. What should be a busy distribution hub getting vital supplies out to those in need is instead under a meter of water.

At its height, the water was three times deeper than it is now, soaking 25,000 canvas tents in sewage-polluted water. There is $15 million worth of supplies here, and officials are wondering how much is salvageable. This depot is four kilometers from the river but, even here, these vital stockpiles weren't safe.

RIVERS (on camera): Many of the aid agencies had supplies pre- positioned in Pakistan but, as you can see, there is no way they're going to be able to get these tents and cooking utensils and family survival kits out to the people that need them. Now, instead, they're going to have to turn to their depots in countries as far away as Malaysia and Dubai.



SIDNER (voice-over): Aslaam Noon cries out to God. And now, the dirt in front of him, is his little boy's fresh grave. He is one of several grieving fathers from the same extended family. There are four new graves here. Each mound, covering a young child.

Samina Noon lost her only son. He was 8. "I had only one, he was my life," she says. "I loved him so much. She is my cousin, she lost her two children."

At least they found their children's bodies.

Shazaadi Banglani hasn't. Two of her children are still missing. "We tried to get out, and I could only grab a few of my children. We couldn't grab two of them," she says. "They went in the water." Shazaadi has not filed a missing persons report.

SIDNER (on camera): Villagers tell us they don't tell the government often, because they don't believe anyone from the government's going to do anything anyway. So, instead, they hire gentlemen like this. He's a fisherman and, instead of getting fish, he's fishing out bodies here.


ANDERSON: Well, here we are now some five months on since the floods hit, but has the situation in Pakistan improved? I sat down with our Senior International Correspondent Dan Rivers, who you saw file one of those reports, who shared his thoughts on the country's recovery. He began by reflecting on what struck him most at the height of the crisis.


ANDERSON: And joining us now is Sir Dan Rivers, one of our lead correspondents on the story. Dan, when you reflect on Pakistan 2010, what are your enduring memories?

RIVERS: I think one of the things that really sticks in my mind is flying up the Swat Valley in a helicopter over the terrible scenes of destruction, that you could really see where the torrents of water had literally scoured clean the valley floor. And that gave you a real powerful sense of just the magnitude of water that had been rushed down these valleys.

And then, one of the other memories I have is of going to a Red Cross depot, where all the aid had been sitting pre-positioned, in fact, for a different disaster that -- when the Taliban had been in the Swat Valley. So, there were actually a lot of resources there.

But this depot was completely flooded. There were boxes of aid floating around in sort of two, three meters of water. And just seeing all of that money and resource and effort that had been completely ruined was really very powerful.

ANDERSON: Six months on and moving into 2011, how do things stand?

RIVERS: It's looking still pretty grim there, actually. I was just talking to a senior UN official there who was saying they've only got about half the money they need. There are still 700,000 acres of arable land under water, which is about the size of Long Island still under water. This is five months after the floods. And it's a pretty hot country, so you imagine how big it was at the height.

The problem is, he's saying that, going into the winter now, this water is just sitting there going stagnant. It's not evaporating, it's not hot enough to get rid of it. And there is a big risk now, as there is in Haiti and has been borne out in Haiti, of cholera, of malaria, of dengue fever, now breaking out. So, this is a disaster that is continuing to affect millions of people.

ANDERSON: There was much talk at the time that the military effort was actually a very successful one. That, perhaps, the government effort was less so. And the international effort was disappointing, possibly with some sort of donor fatigue after Haiti, of course. How much better can the international community do going forward?

RIVERS: I think a lot better. This official I was speaking to was saying, we still need $900 million of aid just to meet the amount of money they said they needed to get through one year. We're already halfway through that year. So, there's a massive amount of shortfall in what they were asking as a bare minimum to save lives and what's been delivered.

And the WHO was saying that they are start -- going to start running out of supplies and have to start scaling back in February. The World Food Program is going to have to start scaling back in the next couple of months.

So, if people don't start putting their money where their mouth is, then it's going to have big impacts on people on the ground. And there's still 500,000 people just in Sindh alone who are unable to go back home. And that's just one province, so it's a massive, massive ongoing crisis there.


ANDERSON: The Pakistan floods, one of the stories that our team here at CONNECT THE WORLD chose as one of our defining moments this year.

Up next, one man who is doing his bit to improve the lives of people in the developing world. Best known for his roles in "Gladiator," and you'll also remember him in "Blood Diamonds." Djimon Hounsou is your Connector of the Day. Find out what a -- what he is fighting to change after this.


ANDERSON: Here's a story for you. A man who doesn't just step into roles on the big screen. Let's get you connected with a Hollywood star on a mission.


ANDERSON (voice-over): While his name might not always ring a bell, his face most certainly will. Actor Djimon Hounsou has a film roster that many in Hollywood would die for. He first captured the world's attention in the acclaimed Steven Spielberg film, "Amistad," and went on to star in blockbusters such as "Gladiator" and "The Island." The Benin-born actor has also been nominated for two Academy Awards for his roles in "Blood Diamond" and "In America."

But Hounsou's life off the silver screen has received equal attention. He's been an outspoken campaigner in the fight against climate change. And this month, he's teamed up with Project Red in a fight against HIV-AIDS in Africa. He spoke to me about how he thinks the world is doing to combat this disease.

DJIMON HOUNSOU, ACTOR: The biggest frustration, I think, it's knowing that it's preventable. It's knowing that it's preventable and, certainly, not -- it cost only 40 cents to -- a day for a woman to receive the care. And that the fight against AIDS not reaching the people in need. That leads to tragedy here.

ANDERSON (on camera): Suzanne asks, "It feels like everyone is always talking about helping out in the fight against AIDS. And yet," she says, "little tangible progress seems to be being made." Do you agree with her on that point?

HOUNSOU: It's not there, yet. We have the medication, it's not that -- that expensive. The only problem is in those countries, it's -- the minimum to survive on a daily basis, obviously, is lacking. So, obviously, that adds another sort of like a dilemma to the issue.

But I believe we have ways to prevent any child, any unborn child attracting the HIV-AIDS virus. And we have the medication for it, so we should just find ways to get it to the people. And the only problem here is, how is it that we have the medication, how is it that we can't --


HOUNSOU: We're still having over 45 percent of women in -- around the world and, certainly, more importantly, in Africa, that are not getting the proper care.

ANDERSON: The viewers applaud your work on this situation. I need to, though, ask you a couple of questions that people have sent us about your role in movies. Bimal asks, "What did it feel like to play a role of a man caught up in the horrors of Sierra Leone, the civil war there." He's, of course, referring to "Blood Diamond."

HOUNSOU: This was a very profound story that needed to be highlighted and, certainly, that needed to be told. The experience itself was unforgettable for me. I've experienced so many things in making that film that I didn't think that the world -- that the diamond world understood what we were trying to do at the time. And, suddenly, reaching out the world consumers --


HOUNSOU: Of diamonds, certainly, to avoid any conflict in those places.

ANDERSON: Many people will ask -- and I'm interested, too -- what was it like to work with Leonardo DiCaprio?

HOUNSOU: It was great. Great. He's a wonderful human being, and also has a great compassion for humanity. Does a lot of things outside of the filmmaking in order to support people in need and people ravaged by diseases and, also, our climate. The climate change, the global warming, is also an issue that it's -- that he has that heart. And he works hard for it and trying to champion people --


ANDERSON: Ben asks --

HOUNSOU: With diseases as well.

ANDERSON: "How does it feel to be a movie star out of Hollywood?" When you started off, did you ever think that you would be where you are today?

HOUNSOU: No. All of it was, again, I guess it was a dream, and a dream that you need to, obviously -- it's almost like an unborn child that you dream about day in and day out and, eventually, it comes together. And it's wonderful. But, again, I guess the war continues, and it's a never- ending struggle to try to get the -- to be part of great stories, great roles, and so on, so forth. So, it's not easy. The fight continues.


ANDERSON: Hollywood star Djimon Hounsou, there. And tomorrow night, we've got a real Christmas treat for you. A Connector of the Day special. And yes, the cast of Harry Potter has made the cut. If you missed our candid interviews of the stars of this magical movie franchise, do join us on Christmas Eve. That's the 24th, of course, that's tomorrow, Friday. To find out more, head to

For tonight's show, we've got about two minutes left. Bit of a treat for you. Stay with us.


ANDERSON: We're not going to excuse ourselves. Let's get festive, shall we? What do you get if you take 65,000 LED lights, 7 kilometers of cabling, 200 individuals channels, and more than 500 hours of work? Try this Christmas masterpiece from Kym Illman in Perth, Western Australia.


(MUSIC - "Dance of the Sugar Plum Fairy")


ANDERSON: I'm Becky Anderson. That is your world connected. "BackStory" is up right after this very quick check of the headlines for you.