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Turmoil in the Ivory Coast; The Big Gasoline Strike; Education in Zimbabwe

Aired December 29, 2010 - 16:00:00   ET


BECKY ANDERSON, HOST: United Nations peacekeepers come under attack in Ivory Coast as tens of thousands of refugees flee into neighboring Liberia. Tonight, the United States tells us only one outcome will do -- the removal of self-declared president, Laurent Gbagbo.

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

Well, the diplomacy continues, but so do the threats.

I'm Becky Anderson in London with the very latest on an escalating crisis in Ivory Coast.

Also this hour, many of us are already suffering pain at the pump, but could fuel prices be about to soar further?



GEORGE CLOONEY, ACTOR: They have been enslaved and sold and tortured and raped and killed and they've fought for this right, for this vote. And they believe they have it and they're going to take it.


ANDERSON: Why George Clooney believes the people of Sudan must get the chance to vote on their future in early January.

And remember, you can always connect with the program online via Twitter. My personal address is @beckycnn. Do log on and join the conversation.

First up tonight, more diplomacy and increasing world pressure. It's a day of rapid developments in the Ivory Coast political stalemate. The three West African leaders who failed to persuade Laurent Gbagbo to step down as Ivory Coast president say they will return to Abidjan next Monday.

Well, for now, the ECOWAS group of West African nations they represent says threatened military action is off the table.

The world community is turning up the heat on Gbagbo. The European Union more than tripled the number of his supporters facing shake -- sanctions, to 61. And the U.N. secretary-general, Ban Ki-moon, today recognized the ambassador appointed by the internationally recognized president, Alassane Ouattara.

So, for now, no civil war, but also no end in sight to this political stalemate.

Let's find out what's going on on the streets.

Let's bring in journalist Eric Agnero.

He's on the line from Abidjan.

What is the picture there inside the country?

ERIC AGNERO, JOURNALIST: Becky, you know, the Ivorian gets mixed messages. In the -- earlier, they thought the diplomacy. Then there was no more pressure and then suddenly, you know, things are getting a little bit hotter.

The general of the streets Ble Goude, who is under U.N. sanctions and was the leader of so-called Young Patriots. Called today his followers to come liberate, after the 1st of January, to liberate the hotel that serves as the headquarters for Mr. Ouattara.

On the other hand, Mr. Ouattara said, OK, we'll agree to -- to offer the -- the leaders for -- for mediation, but it's clear that I am the president and they have to discuss how Laurent Gbagbo will go.

ANDERSON: You talked about a guy here by the name of Gorde (ph), who, to all intents and purposes, I think, could be described as Gbagbo's henchman.

Empty rhetoric or a credible threat that he will threaten the hotel where Alassane Ouattara is holed up and, of course, supported by U.N. troops?

AGNERO: In fact, he said clearly we -- we'll come in with our bare hands. But I think that it's rhetoric. You know, things are getting a little bit tense. There's more pressure from the international side. So people are showing up their muscles and then you will see, maybe, increased face-off with the U.N. soldiers, too.

We would think -- I would think until I see -- I see them, you know, on the ground, after January the 1st, that is rhetoric.

ANDERSON: All right...

AGNERO: So but Ble Goude has a long history of these kind of rhetorical, you know, attitudes or rhetorical moves. So it's basically (INAUDIBLE), I would say.

ANDERSON: OK, as we talk, we're looking at pictures coming to us from Abidjan. U.N. troops under attack on the streets today. Bangladeshi troops, blue helmeted. It's part of a U.N. contingent there.

What is the state, on the streets today, of Abidjan?

Is it calm?

AGNERO: Yes, today it was calm except some parts of the city, you know. There were strikes and the transporters, some unions of transporters decided to follow the call from Mr. Ouattara outside. So there were not too much buses running around. So people -- the streets were really empty in some parts of the city.

But, you know, it's calm until, you know, you have a U.N. -- U.N. -- U.N. convoy that -- that comes then people come out. So it's isolated, you know, events. So generally, it was calm. Generally it was calm, except for these -- these incidents with the U.N. troops.

ANDERSON: All right. Isolated -- isolated incidents, as you've seen pictures there here on CNN of those, as Eric Agnero reports to us from Abidjan.

So with -- thank you, Eric -- no sign of Gbagbo losing his grip, some inside Ivory Coast do face dangerous, starting with those U.N. troops. Gbagbo has ordered them out and his supporters are harassing them. Yesterday, they attacked a U.N. convoy, injuring a peacekeeper.

Ivorians who fear more violence are fleeing into neighboring Liberia by the thousands and state TV says expats from other West African nations are under threat if the nation itself comes under attack.

Well, Gbagbo's government has threatened to expel ambassadors if the countries recognize the presidency of Alassane Ouattara, the internationally recognized election winner.

A small U.S. military contingent is in Abidjan to study possible evacuation plans for the U.S. embassy there. Well, "The Guardian" newspaper, in the U.K., and National France-Presse, reporting that the Ivorian interior minister claims that the U.S. sent mercenaries to oust Gbagbo.

Well, I talked about America's presence there with William Fitzgerald, who is a -- a State Department official -- earlier on today, asking first about those allegations that the U.S. is behind a plot to overthrow the Ivorian leader.

This is what he said.


WILLIAM FITZGERALD, U.S. DEPUTY ASSISTANT SECRETARY OF STATE: That's silly. The -- we have no intention of overthrowing the government -- overthrowing the government of -- of Cote d'Ivoire. That's just his attempt to take everyone's eyes off the real issue, which is that Alassane Ouattara won the election with 54 percent of the vote.

ANDERSON: So what is the US' intention vis-a-vis Ivory Coast at this point?

FITZGERALD: Well, we are -- we have started with a regime of sanctions, targeted sanctions, including a visa ban of -- of Laurent Gbagbo and his family, as well as those who support his illegal seizure of power.

ANDERSON: With respect, sir, that's making...

FITZGERALD: And they'll...

ANDERSON: -- no difference whatsoever. He's still there. Ouattara is still holed up in a hotel and the country continues to be in crisis.

FITZGERALD: Well, yes, it is a political crisis. It's a political stalemate. In fact, you saw yesterday that ECOWAS and the Africans are seized with the issue. Yes, unfortunately for a lot of people, sanctions don't work quickly enough. But beyond what we're doing bilaterally, there are also U.N. sanctions. Within the region itself, the West African Monetary Union and the -- the regional bank has suspended President Gbagbo's access to Cote d'Ivoire accounts and they have turned those accounts over to Alassane Ouattara.

And at the end of the day, what we're looking for is a peaceful solution.

ANDERSON: If ECOWAS were to suggest a power sharing deal, is that something that the U.S. would support?

FITZGERALD: No. This election was clear. We've been down that road before with Cote d'Ivoire and with Laurent Gbagbo. Again, this is his attempt to remain in power. He should put -- he should put what the -- the wishes of the Ivorian people ahead of his own personal ambition. We been down this road before with a power sharing agreement.

We held -- the elections were held. They were judged free and fair by everyone, including up in the north. The Carter Center was there. E.U. was there. ECOWAS was there. He lost. That's it. He needs to go.

ANDERSON: How much pressure will the U.S. itself put on Gbagbo?

I'm thinking here about military pressure.

Are you prepared to put boots on the ground, ships off the coast?

FITZGERALD: Well, at this point, really, it's -- the Africans are taking the lead on -- on any sort of issue of...

ANDERSON: No, but you've said that (INAUDIBLE)...

FITZGERALD: -- of military...

ANDERSON: -- were to decide that power sharing...

FITZGERALD: -- intervention...

ANDERSON: -- was the way forward, that you wouldn't support that.

So I'm asking you, what and how far is the...

FITZGERALD: No, and I...

ANDERSON: -- States prepared to go?

FITZGERALD: And I'm telling you, ECOWAS, as the sub regional organization, has diplomatic efforts going through. I think their statement after their extraordinary summit was quite clear, that if Laurent Gbagbo refuses to step aside, they would consider some sort of intervention.

The United States will assist with our allies, our partners on the ground and the international community to try and get Laurent Gbagbo to leave power.

ANDERSON: How optimistic are you, Mr. Fitzgerald, at this point, that Gbagbo will leave any time soon?

FITZGERALD: Well, it could very well be a longer-term process than what we had hoped. We had hoped he'd see the -- that the right thing to do would be to -- to step aside. But unfortunately, the more and more that we look at it, he seems to be digging himself in.

Now, that's fine, except that he's also going to have to answer for the human rights violations that apparently have been going on -- 176 already declared -- deemed dead in extrajudicial killings. He's going to have to answer for that.


ANDERSON: William Fitzgerald from the State Department, as tensions in Ivory Coast continue.

That is the very latest on the ground there.

We'll be right back.

You're watching CONNECT THE WORLD.

After the break, looking at what you're paying at the pump all over the world for your cost to fill up your ride. It will only get worse, says one oil industry insider. He explains why the era of cheap is just about gone.

And our special series on Zimbabwe continues with a look at why Robert Mugabe's investment in education is paying dividends for South Africa.

Find out more, after this.


ANDERSON: The big gasoline strike -- that's what the Bolivian media has dubbed new protests over the largest fuel price increase in 30 years. President Evo Morales will address the nation in just a few hours from now. His government ended gas subsidies on the weekend, pushing prices up more than 70 percent -- 7-0 percent -- but saving the government around $380 million.


Now, Bolivians had been enjoying gasoline prices of around 50 cents a liter.

To put this in context with neighboring countries, in Brazil, you'd be paying around $1.58 a liter. In Peru, it's a little lower, around $1 a liter there -- what Bolivians, round about, are paying now. Further north, in Venezuela, an oil-based economy, heavily subsidized, around five to seven cents a liter. Imagine that. A remarkable difference. And that is just South America.

So we thought we'd see how this varies around the world.

So we sent our correspondents out to tell us what's affecting prices in their regions and why.


EUNICE YOON, CNN CORRESPONDENT: I'm Eunice Yoon at a gas station in Beijing.

Here in China, gas costs a little bit less than $4 a gallon. The government wants to keep the price of fuel affordable for most of its drivers.

However, authorities recently raised the price of gasoline by about 4 percent, to bring the prices more in line with rising oil prices worldwide.

Authorities, though, are trying to keep the price under control because people here are worried about inflation.

MATTHEW CHANCE, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: I'm Matthew Chance in Moscow, where you can see, gas prices at this station are just over 26 rubles. That's about 80 cents per liter, roughly $3.20 a gallon.

Russia is, of course, one of the world's biggest oil producers, so you'd expect prices to be cheaper here than in oil importing countries like the United States.

But many Russian drivers say even this price is far too high. The government has been raising prices on fuel, taxes on fuel, indicating that the era of cheap gas, even in this oil producing nation, may be at an end.


Fuel has always been a problem in war torn Afghanistan, that has seen prices steadily increase for a variety of reasons. Most recently, it has been because of construction on one of the major northern routes; also because Iran temporarily stopped trucks, fuel tankers from entering Afghanistan.

And then, of course, we have the ongoing conflict.

The last few weeks have seen fuel prices rise by 25 cents, going from $1 to $1.25 a liter -- a high price to pay in one of the world's poorest countries. The government employee here makes between $110 to $120 a month. The average day laborer, $33 a month. So even the slightest hike in fuel prices makes for a big problem.


Now, many people would assume that fuel prices here in the United Arab Emirates would be extremely low. After all, this is an oil rich country.

But let's break this down. To fill the tank on your average car here, it costs around 100 dirhams. That's about $28 U.S. One liter of gas here costs about $1.72 dirhams. That converts to about $2 U.S. per gallon.

But fuel prices here have gone up twice in the past year and that's because the government here has decided to scale back its subsidies on gas sales.

Now, gas prices here are actually about 30 percent higher than they were when 2010 began and there are rumors that a third increase may happen soon.

And that's causing a lot of consternation among Emiratis and expats here in the UAE.


ANDERSON: All right. Well, gasoline prices have also been rising in the U.S. these past few weeks, for the first time in two years, averaging $3 a gallon. And a gallon in the U.S., of course, is about three and three quarter liters. But that may be nothing compared to what one oil industry insider says is in the pipeline for motorists. Here's the former president of Shell Oil on why he thinks it could rise to $5 a gallon in the U.S. by 2012.


JOHN HOFMEISTER, FORMER PRESIDENT, SHELL OIL: Well, I'm predicting the age of the energy abyss hits this nation between 2018 and 2020. If we just do the math, do the curves, on what we're not doing and what we should be doing and we just overlay a normal, typical economy, the 20th century energy system was great, but it's old.


ANDERSON: All right, John Hofmeister there talking about an energy abyss by the year 2020.

Well, that prediction from the former president of Shell Oil.

Let's see what our next guest thinks of that statement.

John Kingston is the director of news for Platts, which is a leading global provider of energy and metals information.

And he joins us now out of New York.

John Hofmeister also quoted as saying blackouts, brownouts, gas lines and rationing -- that's his projection.

Is he scare mongering?

JOHN KINGSTON, DIRECTOR OF NEWS, PLATTS: Yes, well, I know John Hofmeister and he would never engage in scaremongering.

Let me just say that brownouts and blackouts, I don't understand why that would happen. It certainly wouldn't be as a result of a lack of energy, because the U.S. has tons of coal and the U.S. has, now, massive reserves with natural gas. And, in fact, there are some predictions that the U.S. will not have to build any more coal-fired power plants for many, many years to come because we'll build gas-fired power plants.

So I really -- unless we just don't have the will to build any electricity plants that are needed, there is certainly no shortage of fuel needed to make electricity.

ANDERSON: All right, you talk about an energy...

KINGSTON: Of course...

ANDERSON: -- sorry, John.

He talked about an energy abyss by 2020. He also alluded to $5 on the barrel by 2012.

So, let me put that to you.

Is that realistic?

KINGSTON: I -- I -- I don't think so. It's hard for me to -- to see where that would happen. That would require crude oil prices to be up around $170 to $180. The most bullish forecast I've seen tends to come from Barclay's. And the people over at Barclay's are very, very bullish and always have been. And even they don't see a price beyond $150 by 2015.

You -- at some point, you have to wonder, what sort of level of demand destruction do you get as you start to climb up toward $5?

What level do you get where people start to carpool?

What level do you get where people drive slower and sometimes walk or take the smaller car instead of the bigger car?

That does happen. In 2008, when the price crossed the $4 mark, we saw a lot of that. And it had a significant impact. You know, you don't need to roll back demand by 25 percent to get, let's say, a 25 percent reduction in prices. Prices are set on the margin and a fairly marginal decrease in demand will have a large impact.

ANDERSON: The price we pay at the pumps, of course, is not only dictated by the price on -- on a barrel. And, as you say, I mean, you know, historically, we've been -- we've been very high. And, at the moment, we're trading at $385 and $100 on the barrel. That's not bad given where we've been through 2007 and 2008.

But we're also, of course, when we're talking about the price at the pump, we're talking about subsidies and/or taxes. Now, in some parts of the world, as austerity bites, subsidies are being removed, which is, of course, pushing up the price, Bolivia, for example.

In other places, well, it seems the taxes will be put on the price of a gallon of petrol. So in some parts of the world, the price could also go up.

KINGSTON: Correct. You're -- you're -- first of all, I want to say, your report was very good. That sort of around the world spin, I thought, was -- was terrific. And you -- basically, the entire world pays pretty much the same for crude. There are regional variations. But the idea that you -- it's going to get cheaper in Abu Dhabi because they produce oil, that's not going to happen unless the Abu Dhabi government decides not to tax it heavily. Or, in the case of Venezuela, in -- where they -- where they subsidize it.

Bolivia is a small country, but I think it's an important one in the sense that in 2008 -- again, I keep going back to our -- you know, our peak year -- you could map it out that every country that had an increase in demand that year was a country with a heavy subsidization of the price of fuel.

So many countries are trying to move away from that.

China, you saw, it raising its price. China still pretty own -- pretty much still heavily subsidizes diesel and that causes all sorts of distortions.

If you would get all countries of the world -- it's painful to get there. I don't dismiss that. But if all countries of the world started to pay the world price, you would start to get more efficiency, more demand destruction.

You know, Venezuela, it's great, hey, we get cheap gasoline.

You think that benefits the Venezuelans?

They take that cheap oil and they smuggle it across the border. This isn't really helping the Venezuelan people. I mean the Venezuelans, what they end up doing is they give away crude that they could be getting, let's say, $70 or $80 for and give it away to smugglers for, you know, $15 or $20. That's -- that's not that positive of a country.

ANDERSON: John, I'm going to have to take a very short break.

Fascinating stuff.

We thank you for joining us.

A truly global perspective supported by your expert on the subject tonight.

Mr. Kingston from Platts, we thank you.

After the break -- you're watching CONNECT THE WORLD.

They work, but not in their homeland. When we come back, our special on Zimbabwe continues with a look at why their highly skilled workers are finding jobs across the border.

Stay with us.


ANDERSON: Poverty, unemployment and despair -- you've heard it said before that it was once one of Africa's most prosperous countries. Now, Zimbabwe, at the end of 2010, is still battling its way out of the worst economic crisis it's ever seen.

One path to a better life for many begins in neighboring South Africa.

And on Monday, we looked at why Zimbabweans are fighting to keep their jobs in Johannesburg. But with increased competition comes frustration. Many now fear South Africa will once again see a violent uprising against foreigners.

Well, tonight, we focus on education and why it's a double-edged sword for this struggling nation, as Nkepile Mabuse reports, Zimbabwean workers may be highly skilled, but that also makes them highly valued outside their country.


NKEPILE MABUSE, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Look at the image of Zimbabwean immigrants living in South Africa that the world has become accustomed to seeing -- a nation desperate and destitute.

BRIGHT MBIZI, ZIMBABWEAN BRIDGE ENGINEER: From there up to there, that's one segment. So that's the outline of the bridge that you see there.

MABUSE: Bright Mbizi is among those who have managed to use his country's misfortune to harness his expertise. He's a bridge engineer that has worked in Botswana and Ireland. In 2006, he was recruited by Arcus GIBBs, one of South Africa's leading civil engineering firms.

MBIZI: South Africa, indeed, proves to be the ideal place, manly because of the World Cup. There was a massive boom in terms of the construction.

MABUSE: For all his ills, Zimbabwean President Robert Mugabe is still credited by many for inculcating a hunger for learning that has made Zimbabweans among the most educated people on the continent.

Violent elections, political turmoil and economic collapse over the past 10 years have scattered these skills all over the world.

MBIZI: It's a bridge that we are constructing using incremental launching.

MABUSE: In South Africa's growing economy, Mbizi and others are desperately sought after. He has just designed a bridge in Johannesburg using a highly specialized method known as incremental launching. This technique allows for the construction of a bridge over several major roads with little or no interference with traffic.

IRAJ ABEDIEN, ECONOMIST: The Zimbabweans are filling a critical gap.

MABUSE: Economist Iraj Abedien says skilled Zimbabweans are playing a significant role in the growth of South Africa's economy.

ABEDIEN: Many, many thousands of Zimbabweans and, really, tens of thousands have used the past 10 years to -- to become naturalized South African's they qualify for black economic empowerment, affirmative action candidacy and they fill those positions.

MABUSE: Zimbabwe's unity government wants these skills back to help rebuild the country. But, Mbizi says, talk of an election next year has scuttled any hope of an imminent return for him and many of this colleagues. He says he would rather continue expanding his knowledge and experience on foreign soil while waiting for conditions to improve back home.

MBIZI: The last time opportunity served in part of (INAUDIBLE) designing team working on such a massive project and its experience and exposure are really now take back to them is that all the conditions are the environment is conducive for the reconstruction of the infrastructure in Zimbabwe.

MABUSE: As the deadline for Zimbabweans to get their work, business and study permits draws near, it is abundantly clear how the brain drain in their country has become South Africa's gain. It is their expertise that has helped many, like Mbizi, to not only survive, but thrive during the worst economic crisis their country has ever seen.

Nkepile Mabuse, CNN, Johannesburg.


ANDERSON: Taking a look this week at Zimbabweans at work outside Zimbabwe. This is CONNECT THE WORLD.

Well, England did it. Ahead, a result that's sending reverberations through the world of cricket. I think you know what I'm talking about. Let's talk about that. The Ashes. Up next.


ANDERSON: You're back with CONNECT THE WORLD here in London. I'm Becky Anderson at just after half past nine. Coming up on CNN, Ashes to Ashes, and Australia bites the dust. Ricky Ponting's team failed to take back at the Holy Grail of cricket on home soil, and we ask what went so horribly wrong for the Aussies.

Then, we look back on one of the biggest stories of the year, the debt crisis that deepened and spread across Europe. Are we out of the woods yet.

And George Clooney turns the spotlight on Sudan as the war-torn country prepares to vote on independence. We'll bring you our recent interview with the Hollywood star and detail on his latest bid to end the bloodshed.

Those stories are coming up in the next 30 minutes here on CNN. First, at this point, let me get you a very quick check of the headlines.

The United Nations has accepted the credentials of the ambassador sent by Ivory Coast's internationally recognized president, Alassane Ouattara. The European Union says it will only accept Ouattara's appointees, despite a threat from self-declared president Laurent Gbagbo. Three West African presidents who met Gbagbo on Tuesday say they'll return to Abidjan next week.

Well, finally, all the main runways at all three of New York's major airports are open. Airlines are still struggling to clear a backlog of passengers in the wake of 10,000 flight cancellations due to post- Christmas blizzards. It may take until next week to get everybody home.

Doctors are warning that a water outage in Northern Ireland could set off a major health crisis. Tens of thousands of people have been without running water for well over a week since pipes started to freeze and burst.

Danish intelligence officials say four men are under arrest, suspected of preparing a terror attack. Authorities say an attack was imminent and the target may have been the Danish newspaper that printed cartoons of the prophet Muhammad, you may remember, five years ago.

All right, those are your headlines. Onto the next story, and it's the Aussies have been asking themselves, "How did this happen?" England retained the Ashes today on Australia's home turf in Melbourne. They rolled to a crushing victory in the fourth test, winning by an innings and 157 runs. Pre-lunch result gave the English an unbeatable 2-1 lead with one to play.

Well, how rare is this? It's the first time since 1987 that England has retained the Ashes.

If you're a fan of cricket, then you already know the Ashes is the sport's oldest and most celebrated international rivalry. The trophy is an urn more than a century old. The tradition began in 1882, when Australia beat the dominant England team for the first time. British newspaper, "The Sporting Times," published a satirical obituary stating English cricket had died and the ashes had been taken to Australia.

Well, the next year, the English went on a, quote, "quest to regain the ashes." While there, a group of women presented an urn to the England captain. Inside, ashes believed to be from a cricket bale or stump, those wooden things you see behind the batsman, if you don't know your game.

So, this is a big deal in the sport. I want to talk more about it with "World Sport's" Mark McKay. The British prime minister himself, Mark, suggesting that this victory was, what did he say? I think it was "a late Christmas present for the country." I know he's a cricket fan, and he was somewhat gloating, I think.

MARK MCKAY, CNN SPORTS CORRESPONDENT: Yes, I think so. It'll put an extra step -- your spring in your step if you're English between the -- the week between Christmas and New Year's, won't it, Becky?

Yes. What this meant was bragging rights in a series, as you just mentioned, goes back more than 130 years. And on the flip side of the coin, for Australia, you have wonder what comes next? This was a team that needs to change the environment and their attitude. They were never in it against the English, really, from the start.

It was, as expected Wednesday, Becky, at the Melbourne Cricket Ground, one of Australia's heaviest losses inflicted by the English. Australia have now lost two tests in a home series by an innings, and it was their worst defeat in 98 years.

England's skipper, Andrew Strauss, went as far as saying that winning the Ashes in Australia has always been a bit of a Holy Grail for English sides. The fans you see, there, for the northern hemisphere team agree, while those who follow Australia, they have a different take on what was a very difficult outcome.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I just -- just really been nothing to cheer about all series type of thing. It just -- well, like, the last time when Australia five-nil whitewash, you know? And just expecting that again, hoping some players would find some form.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We actually said to ourselves this morning, watching, why should we bother with it? It's because we've paid for the tickets and we love the game, so we came and watched. And probably watched one of the worst defeats we were ever going to see.

UNIDENTIFIED BOY: Still think the Aussies can win next time. I am. But Ponting needs to go.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It's right there, holiday, isn't it? Rooting for a few days, and, yes, we're going to have to wind up short.


MCKAY: Well, Australia can, indeed, still level the series if they win the fifth test in Sydney, Becky. But for now, the Ashes are gone.

ANDERSON: They are. You heard that little lad talking about Ricky Ponting, who, of course, is the captain of the Aussie team. England, one of the high points in their cricketing history, Australia, one of their low points, of course.

Mark, how does this bode for the future of Australian cricket and, indeed, for Ricky Ponting at this point.

MCKAY: You know, even hearing him speak in the hours after that crushing defeat, you could even hear it in his voice, Becky, that he, perhaps, sees the end is near. He is expected, Becky, to hold onto the Australian captaincy for next week's Sydney test, but it was -- his long- term future as skipper is in doubt in Australia.

You see, this was his third failure, his third failure to win an Ashes series. So you can imagine, with his age and all the pressure on him, he didn't come through. And this could very well be the end for Ricky Ponting.

He had the team behind him throughout this series but, now, the end -- the end came pretty crushing. It could be the end for Ponting as skipper.

ANDERSON: Yes -- and heard one just as we close out, we heard the England cricket fans, and they're called the Barmy Army, of course, and they will be really on the march for this fifth and final test. To a certain extent, one hopes that Australia wins it just --

MCKAY: Right.

ANDERSON: So that they don't gloat too much more. Because it's painful for the Aussies, isn't it, Mark?

MCKAY: No doubt about it.

ANDERSON: Mark McKay. Mark McKay with your -- with your sports news. What a victory. All right.

Still to come on CONNECT THE WORLD, we are looking back on one of the biggest stories of the year. It was a crisis -- and still is -- that brought thousands onto the streets across Europe and two economies to the brink of collapse. So, what next for the European debt crisis, and will it spread into 2011? We'll ask that question, up next.


ANDERSON: All right. As we count down to the end of the year, all this week on CONNECT THE WORLD, I think you would have expected us to look back at the biggest stories of 2010. So, we are. And tonight, we're focusing on one that continues to resonate, and that is the European debt crisis.

Now, the first casualty was Greece, where angry workers took to the streets in protest over tough austerity cuts. Our reporters Diana Magnay and Jim Boulden witnessed some of the unrest.


DIANA MAGNAY, CNN CORRESPONDENT: They're on strike across Greece, and it's the first round of strikes since those new austerity measures were announced. And on that sign there, "hands off our rights," is what the workers are saying.

JIM BOULDEN, CNN CORRESPONDENT: As a business journalist, I don't normally have to suffer from teargas. In fact, I've never felt teargas before. And the protesters went through here 45 minutes ago.


BOULDEN: And that's the camera man sneezing. We did get one of our cameras smashed early on in the demonstrations, but it was mostly peaceful. And then, we had all the teargas and the rioting and some of the violence.


ANDERSON: Well, the cutbacks alone were never going to prevent an economic collapse. So, enter the European Union and the IMF with a rescue package.


OLLI REHN, EUROPEAN MONETARY AFFAIRS COMMISSIONER: The steps being taken, while difficult, are necessary to restore confidence in the Greek economy and to secure a better future for the Greek people.


ANDERSON: Well, the crisis deepened, of course, and the euro dived, and austerity measures spread across Europe. In France, there was resistance to an increase in the retirement age, and a wave of strikes also hitting Spain and Portugal, bringing public services to a standstill.


AL GOODMAN, CNN MADRID BUREAU CHIEF: I'm Al Goodman in Madrid, where the government's austerity measures are leading to a summer of discontent in Spain. The labor reform rules voted in parliament on Tuesday make it cheaper for companies to lay off or fire workers. Unions are angry, and have called a general strike for late September. It will be the first for this socialist government.


ANDERSON: And then, in recent weeks, the Irish fought fiercely against a Greek-style bailout for their ailing economy. It was a battle they lost. The country's banks too in debt to not back a rescue deal.


BRIAN LENIHAN, IRISH FINANCE MINISTER: This has been a traumatic and worrying time for the citizens of our country. They are concerned that we had to seek external support to help us with our economic and financial difficulties. They're worried about the impact of this momentous and difficult decision on all our lives. Yet, in fact, even in this most intractable and complex crisis, there are clear signs of hope.


ANDERSON: Joining us now is a man you will recognize from some of those reports. Jim Boulden, of course. On reflection at this point in 2010, are we better or worse off as a European economy.

BOULDEN: If you look at the economic numbers, 2010 actually hasn't been that bad, because we haven't gotten to the austerity -- tough austerity measures yet coming down the road. And we've seen recovery. Stock markets have done quite well. Economies are mostly growing.

I think the UK has done better than people expected. Unemployment wasn't as bad as maybe we predicted the beginning of 2010. There was a lot of serious worries, they were valid worries, that we could go into double- dip recession. Well, that didn't happen in 2010. I wouldn't like to predict what will happen in 2011 when it comes to that.

ANDERSON: Well, I'm going to ask you that. But before we do that, let's, though, talk about what happened on the streets of so many cities in Europe. Because the economies may be in better shape than we thought they might be by this time --


ANDERSON: In 2010. But certainly, people have made an awful lot of noise about these austerity measures.

BOULDEN: Two things happened at the same time. One, we came out of the recession. But what lingered from the recession was the reality that these economies -- the budget deficits were much worse than we thought. Or, in a case like Ireland, they got much worse than people could even have thought the worst case scenario.

So, then, governments had to face up and say, OK, we're going to do something about this so that the euro could survive. So, you had Greece, and many people said, "OK, OK. We've got this emergency package in place, that's enough." And everything went very quiet. And then, it all bubbled up again in Ireland, and then the worry of where it goes from there.

So, the European Union and the European Central Bank keep playing catch-up. They keep having to see a crisis and then, try to fix a crisis, but the markets want them to be ahead of the game. And they have yet to be ahead of the game.

ANDERSON: 2011. We've seen Greece.


ANDERSON: We've seen Ireland. We've seen Spain. We talked about Portugal. What happens next?

BOULDEN: Well, everyone has said that -- don't take this quiet period around Christmas and New Year's as an indication that things have quieted down. It's just that they needed to quiet down, because of the way things work toward the end of the year. Everything will start again fresh in the new year.

And you look at Portugal as a firewall. If it breaks through Portugal, if Portugal refuses to take a bailout if it needs one, or if something gets really bad, then it floods into Spain, and then all bets are off. I think that's very clear.

But Portugal keeps saying, "We don't need a bailout." But maybe they don't need a bailout for economic reasons, but they might need a bailout from the European Union because that's what the European Union wants it to do to make sure that they get ahead of the game, as I said earlier. So, we might see a lot of pressure on Portugal in the beginning of the year.

ANDERSON: So far as the euro is concerned, finally. What are expectations? What are the experts saying, at this point, for 2011?

BOULDEN: Well, I can't believe we got in the middle of 2010, and people started to debate whether the euro would survive. That's an extraordinary thing, that we got to that level. Then, that came off the boil a little bit. And I think that's not going to come up as much in the beginning of the year, because the European Union got so scared.

So, what we'll have in the beginning of the year is Portugal, people looking at the banks, people looking at Spain, the worse unemployment rate there, the economy -- economic problems in Spain. If these governments can fix these things without too many protesters in the streets. If they can go down that level, then maybe, just maybe, the markets will give them a break. But it's far too early to say.

ANDERSON: Bracing for violence. Sudan is just weeks away from its vote on secession, and a Hollywood star is keeping watch. Stay with us. Our interview with George Clooney is next.


ANDERSON: While millions of people around the world watch him, George Clooney has got his eyes on Sudan. The Hollywood star is spearheading a satellite surveillance project to monitor violence in the war-torn country during a crucial vote on independence next month.

The project comes as ballot papers arrive in Sudan for what is the long-awaited referendum. The vote is a key provision of a 2005 peace treaty that ended a 22-year civil war between the north and oil-rich south.

Well, George Clooney has also teamed up with human rights activist John Prendergast, co-founder of what's known as the Enough Project, which seeks to end war crimes throughout Africa. Well, back in October, I caught up with the pair after they'd just returned from a trip to Sudan, and I began by asking George Clooney why the plight of the Sudanese has so captured his attention.


GEORGE CLOONEY, ACTOR: The Secretary of State called it a ticking time bomb because the CIA said it's the place of greatest -- with great -- at greatest risk of mass atrocities or genocide.

The president has come out with a very strong speech at the United -- UN Security Council had the emergency meeting in Juba. That -- you know, while we were there.

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

ANDERSON: Much of the fight here is over a very oil-rich region. And to be honest, that means the involvement of international oil companies. Do they really care?

JOHN PRENDERGAST, THE ENOUGH PROJECT: It makes it a little more difficult when the Sudanese government is firmly backed by the Chinese, and the Russians, who are selling them arms, on the United Nations Security Council.

Nevertheless, China has an interest in peace and -- because they want to keep the oil flowing. So this gives the United Nations, China, and Europe a chance to work together on a peace process.

ANDERSON: Toddsaed says that without people like you and George, things would seem a lot more hopeless than they are. He asked, though, "Why is there not a bigger effort, like there was, for example, in Iraq and is in Afghanistan? Why don't we see that sort of effort in a region like this?"

PRENDERGAST: We don't need to send thousands of international troops to Sudan. There is a diplomatic solution waiting to be negotiated. There are interests by both parties, that both parties have, that can be addressed in a peace process.

ANDERSON: Tina, George, has just one question for you. She says, "What do you want the little people in this big country to do?" She's written to us from the US, but our viewers will be listening around the world. What's your message to them?

CLOONEY: Yes, well, first of all that they're not little people. And -- and it's not just this big country, it's this big world. We need the international people, as well -- the voices make a huge difference.

It -- you know, they're -- in 2005, there was a peace agreement negotiated because of church groups and college students and the efforts that they made in bringing a voice to -- to the north-south.

That's -- they're -- each little person making that effort and making those calls to their senators, to their congressmen. It is -- this is one of those moments where you can actually -- your voice can truly make a huge difference in this.

ANDERSON: Keira's got a good question for you, George. She says, "'ER,'" in which, of course, you starred, "did numerous episodes on Africa. Did you approach the producers with the idea," she says, "to definitely bring the crises in Africa to the forefront?"

CLOONEY: No, you know, I was long gone. I was off of that show for several years when they went there. That was John Wells and Noah Wiley's, I believe, idea to go there and do it. And I thought that was a really admirable thing. It was a good time to do it when the show was as popular as it was. I thought it was very helpful.

ANDERSON: How much help for you is it that George Clooney's involved in this?

PRENDERGAST: It's -- frankly speaking, no one was paying attention to this issue as shortly as a month or two ago. And right now, what we need is as big a spotlight as possibly can be generated both on Sudan, so -- as a deterrent to General Bashir and his aspirations to take the south and the oil fields militarily, and the spotlight on our president, on the prime minister in Great Britain, and other places, where we need as much political involvement as possible in a negotiated settlement.

So, George brings a lot of cameras and a lot of interest, and a lot of people pay attention because of him. And once they learn about it, then they'll write their letters and their e-mails and they'll make their telephone calls to their representatives and to the president. So I think that's where the big advantage is of bringing him along.

CLOONEY: Well, I think it's also important -- because I don't want to inflate my role in this -- you know, I'm -- I happen to be someone where a lot of cameras tend to follow me. And we're just trying to go to places where they can't get enough cameras on them.

And all my job is to be a megaphone for all of the people, including the administration, including the -- you know, the UN, including the south Sudanese, who want to see avoiding this war, rather than cleaning it up afterwards.

ANDERSON: George, final question. With all the work that you are doing, including the work in south Sudan, are you ever going to find time to get married?

CLOONEY: Good. You asked that question. I'm glad.


ANDERSON: I tried. I tried.

CLOONEY: I know.


ANDERSON: George Clooney and John Prendergast, there. Now, before we go tonight, I wanted to leave you with some seriously sticky situations for your Parting Shots this evening. Imagine looking out of your airplane window at this. For seven straight hours. This is what happened to poor Eric Schoor, who sent us this from New York. Let's hope he had some inflight entertainment.

Well, now, the waiting game got a bit much for travelers at Moscow's largest airport. They have been protesting the cancellation of hundreds of flights due to icy conditions.

Some extreme weather also to blame for this. Burst pipes in Northern Ireland have forced an incredible lineup for emergency supplies of water.

But it was curiosity, not the weather, that was to blame for this one. Don't ask us how, we're not entirely sure, just rest assured the appropriately-named Rebel is now doing fine. That's stranded, trapped, and stuck, tonight's Parting Shots for you. We'll be back with your headlines after this very quick break.



ANDERSON: Those are your headlines here on CNN. From the team here at CONNECT THE WORLD in London, it is a very good evening. "BackStory" with Michael Holmes starts right now. Good night.