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Violence in Syria; Casey Anthony Verdict; Interview with John Malkovich

Aired July 5, 2011 - 16:00:00   ET


MICHAEL HOLMES, CONNECT THE WORLD, HOST: Tonight, as gunshots ring out again across Syria, an army sniper tells us she was ordered to fire on unarmed protestors.

Thousands of miles away in Britain, a Syrian dissident says the regime in Damascus is threatening to keep her silent. Plus, up next, the Casey Anthony opera murder trial that gripped America and we find out what being John Malkovich is really like. These stories and much more tonight as we Connect The World.

Hello everyone, I am Michael Holmes. You have seen the pictures, you have heard the cries of protestors who say they are being massacred in the streets while much of the world looks on in silence. Now, a Syrian Army deserter is speaking out about his country's uprising, telling us that he chose exile over orders to kill civilians.

We begin this hour with a remarkable report from Ivan Watson.

IVAN WATSON, CORRESPONDENT, CNN: Syrian troops in tanks squaring off against antigovernment demonstrators. Snapshots of a bloody government crackdown that's gone on for months. Now, a man who says he's a deserter from the Syrian Army claims in an interview with CNN he was given orders to shoot unarmed protestors.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: There were protests and chanting. Suddenly our officer gave us the order to shoot at the people. It didn't matter how many would be killed. The important thing was for the protest to be dispersed and we started shooting.

WATSON: CNN can't independently confirm the claims of this man who asked that his name and face not be shown for fear of reprisals against his family. But what he says matches eye witness accounts as well as those of opposition groups who accuse the Syrian regime of killing more than 1300 Syrians over the last three months. This 21-year-old says he worked in an ice cream factory until he was conscripted into the Syrian Army last December. There, he was assigned to be a sniper. He says he was pretty good. You can hit a target at those two white towers over there?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: No problem. I can hit it, wherever you want, in the head, in the arms.

WATSON: In March, anti-government protests first erupted in the southern town of Daraa. The soldier says officers told him agents paid by a Saudi Arabian prince had infiltrated Syria and were killing civilians. And you thought Saudi Arabia was attacking Syria?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Yes, we thought it was a foreign plot.

WATSON: On April 25th, the soldier says he was sent down to Daraa to join other troops fighting against these so-called foreign agents. When protestors gathered the following Friday, the sniper says he was perched on a rooftop much like this one. What did the protestors do when the soldiers started shooting at them?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: They threw stones and if someone fell on the ground they picked them up and they were trying to hide behind trees and walls.

WATSON: YouTube videos show protestors in Daraa pinned down by sniper fire trying to rescue civilians who appear to have been shot. The sniper says that over the next month he saw hundreds of unarmed civilians shot in similar circumstances. After a month, the sniper said he'd had enough. He joined a group of 20 other deserters who fled at night to Damascus. A week later the sniper smuggled himself across the border to Turkey where he is now in hiding here in Istanbul while applying for asylum as a refugee.

I'm still frightened here in Turkey he tells me. Imagine how scared I was over there in Syria. A single bullet only costs the equivalent of 14 cents. In other words, in Syria these days, life is tragically brutally cheap. Ivan Watson, CNN, Istanbul.

HOLMES: Well, the Syrian government, of course, has repeatedly said it does not shoot peaceful protestors. It says the military is, instead, targeting armed gangs that it blames for inciting the violence. Well, our Arwa Damon interviewed the Syrian Foreign Minister today. She joins us now live from Damascus. Arwa, what did you hear?

ARWA DAMON, CORRESPONDENT, CNN: Well, Michael, the Foreign Minister was, again, repeating that government statement that they are only targeting armed gangs and I specifically asked him about these reports that we have been hearing from numerous demonstrators and activists that Syrian security forces are indiscriminately targeting them and this is what he had to say.

WALID MOALLEM, SYRIAN FOREIGN MINISTER: It depends on the type of demonstrators. If they have peaceful, I tell you, assure you, nobody can attack them. This is the instruction from President Bashar al-Assad. If there were -- appears peaceful and some arms -- armed people use this opportunity to disturb the security this will -- has to be answered. But, usually, peaceful demonstrators can move peacefully.

DAMON: Now, the Syrian government has come under fairly harsh international condemnation, especially from America and the European Union, both of whom have sought additional sanctions onto the Syrian regime. So, we specifically also asked the Foreign Minister about the impact that those European Union sanctions were having and about the relationship between Syria and the West.

MOALLEM: Our relation with EU today is bad. We used to have association agreement and we discovered that they are not positive partner. This means, when you need them, you find them on the other side.

DAMON: Instead, Michael, the Foreign Minister said that Syria, which he did say is used to this type of international isolation, would look to the East to allies like China and to the South, to the Gulf nations for support and he also said that Syria did not need the European Union or the United States.

HOLMES: Fascinating interview, Arwa, thanks. Arwa Damon there in Damascus live for us.

Well, Syrian dissidents say the long reach of the regime extends far beyond Damascus. Some Syrians living in London, for example, complained that the Syrian Embassy officials there are spying on them, using the information to intimidate them and their families back home. One of these dissidents shared her story with Dan Rivers.

DAN RIVERS, CORRESPONDENT, CNN: These protests outside the Syrian Embassy in Britain have been a weekly occurrence since the crackdown began. But the young dissident here in the green hat, who wants to be known only as Sama (PH) , says Embassy officials have spied on her in London and then informed the Secret Police in Damascus who, in turn, have threatened her mother.

SAMA: They said that they have pictures and to confirm that I was protesting and they threatened her to kick her out.

RIVERS: How can you be sure that it was officials at the Embassy who were filming you?

SAMA: Who would follow me and send it to Syria but the officials in the Embassy? And we -- we all know that they are filming us, Syrian Embassy here is a very good representative of the Syrian regime. They are killers. They can do anything. I don't trust them. I'm scared. I'm just as limited as anyone in Syria. I don't feel like I'm living under the British law.

RIVERS: We attempted to get an on-camera interview with the Syrian Ambassador or any Syrian official in London but they declined. But the Press Attache here did give us a statement in which he described the allegations as being completely without foundation. His statement went on to say, "To set the record straight, let me once again underline the basic truth that the Embassy's doors and services are open to all Syrians, residents in Britain, without regards to their political affiliations." It went on, "We have never spied on anyone."

But Sama (PH) says it's not true and the spying isn't just happening outside the Embassy, it's happening online.

SAMA: They're monitoring everything, the phone calls, Facebook pages, whatever. They went to her -- this is another incident, they went to her with a printout of what I'm writing on Facebook and they were like, well, what the hell your daughter is writing? Doesn't she know that we are seeing or watching?

RIVERS: But the British government remains deeply concerned about claims Syrian diplomats are engaged in very undiplomatic behavior.

WILLIAM HAGUE, BRITISH FOREIGN SECRETARY: Any such activity would amount to a clear breech of acceptable behavior. If such claims were substantiated, we would respond swiftly and appropriately.

RIVERS: Do you think you'll ever be able to go back under the current regime.

SAMA: No, I think I'm going to -- going to wait just until it goes or something to change. I don't think I can go back now.

RIVERS: That must be very difficult because it effectively means you can't see your mother until the regime falls.

SAMA: Yes. It's difficult. This is what we're all going through.

RIVERS: Dan Rivers, CNN, London.

HOLMES: Three and a half months now into the Syrian uprising, human rights groups say that more than 1360 civilians have been killed. Is it still possible for the government to talk its way out of this crisis. Well, President Bashar al-Assad has called for national dialogue talks to begin this week with government opponents. Now, many of them say it is impossible to negotiate properly while the deadly crackdown is still underway.

You're watching Connect The World. When we come back, the jury has reached a verdict. Casey Anthony not guilty of killing her daughter. We'll be following the latest developments live from Florida. Also, a big advertiser deserts a British newspaper after shocking allegations that investigators hacked the phone of a missing schoolgirl.

And the Hollywood master villain. We catch up with an actor whose performances have won him critical acclaim on screen and stage. John Malkovich is your connector of the day. Stay with us.



UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: As to the charge of first degree murder, verdict as to count 1, we the jury find the defendant not guilty, so say we all, stated in Orlando, Orange County, Florida on this fifth day of July, 2011, signed foreperson.

As to the charge of aggravated child...

HOLMES: After 33 days of drama-filled testimony, a stunning verdict to many, Casey Anthony, the Florida woman accused of murdering her 2-year- old daughter has been found not guilty of the most serious of the charges facing her. Almost 11 hours of deliberations, the jury found her guilty of the lesser charges of giving investigators false information.

All right, Casey Anthony's daughter, Caylee, was last seen in June of 2008 but was not reported missing for another month, another 31 days. There were various theories about what had happened to the little girl. Prosecutors alleged Casey Anthony used chloroform to render her daughter unconscious and then suffocated. But, defense attorneys maintained that Caylee was not murdered at all. They say that the child drowned in Anthony's pool. She then panicked and covered up the death.

CNN's David Mattingly has been following this trial in depth. He joins us now from Orlando, Florida. For those of us watching, the response inside the court was quite something.

DAVID MATTINGLY, CORRESPONDENT, CNN: Yes, it was and the defense attorneys and they presented this other scenario of what possibly happened in this case but the way the law works here, they don't have to prove that it's true at all. They did, however, show other things that indicated that the investigators here focused entirely on Casey Anthony and were not interested in pursuing other possible alternatives to how little Caylee Anthony died and when this was over, when the verdict was read and Casey Anthony not only avoided murder charges but avoided the death penalty as well, her attorney came out and said, "There are no winners here." Listen


JOSE BAEZ: While we're happy for Casey, there are no winners in this case. Caylee has passed on far, far too soon and what my driving force has been for the last three years has been always to make sure that there has been justice for Caylee and Casey because Casey did not murder Caylee, it's that simple, and today our system of justice has not dishonored her memory by a false conviction.


MATTINGLY: And that was defense attorney, Jose Baez, saying there are no winners here, a very solemn voice today after this long and tragic story, not the ending that so many people had predicted here, Michael?

HOLMES: What did that ending lead to outside the court, David?

MATTINGLY: Outside the courtroom, the spectators here fall into two categories. There were people who were attracted by the spectacle of this, people who just wanted to see it going on because it attracted so much attention. When they came here and saw the drama on how this played out at the end they are not going home disappointed. But there are thousands, possibly millions, of people who are somewhat emotionally invested in this case, wanting to see justice for little Caylee, the girl who killed here. There has been expressed already outside the courthouse some disappointment by those people.

We heard from the Sheriff of Orange County, Florida, here just a short time ago and he was cautioning people, asking everyone to remain calm, to not express their disappointment violently, to take this and to go back about their lives now that the trial is over and the way the law works here, now that she has been found not guilty of these charges, the prosecutors cannot try them -- try her on those charges again.

HOLMES: David Mattingly, thanks very much, appreciate that there in Orlando, Florida, following this case and, as David pointed out, that many Americans really obsessed is the best word with Casey Anthony's trial, watched it compulsively, it was on television all the time, even before it got underway, actually. Judge Belvin Perry says news coverage of the case may already have surpassed the coverage of America's most famous courtroom drama until now, the trial of O.J. Simpson back in 1995.

Dozens of people lined up every night to snag one of the 50 seats reserved for the public in the courtroom. Recently, at times, the crowd turned ugly. One woman knocked over in a rush for tickets was taken to hospital. So, why has this trial gripped a nation? Nancy Grace, host of her namesake show on CNN's sister network HLN says it is because of Caylee herself.

NANCY GRACE, NANCY GRACE, HOST: I think it boils down to something very simple. The little girl you see on the screen, there's something about Caylee herself, her smile, her persona, we see her in video, we hear her voice. A lot of times when children go missing we don't have the photos or the videos to really get to know them.

HOLMES: So what's going to happen to Casey Anthony now. For more on this, I'm joined by defense attorney and legal analyst, Debra Opri. Let's start with that first, Deb, I mean, in -- in terms of the procedure now she still is guilty of four things. What happens?

DEBRA OPRI, DEFENSE ATTORNEY/LEGAL ANALYST: I think it's going to be a time served. Let there be no mistake, in the American justice system, the media is the 13th jury and what had happened was it was not because somebody loved that little girl. There are many little girls who have gone missing who have been found dead. What had happened was the media -- people shows in particular, pick and choose the cases that they're going to get the most run and play on with ratings and they pick and chose this.

What disturbs me because I've been in many high-profile cases, Michael Jackson case, James Brown, Anna Nicole, this girl, Casey Marie Anthony, whether she did it or didn't do it, her jury trial is done, the jury overwhelmingly repudiated the case and the scrutiny and they said we're going to hang our hat on the reasonable doubt and they went home and they won't even talk to the media. That should be very telling.

Casey Anthony will be a free woman in a few days. I think there are security issues but her life -- her life is over because she will forever be the woman who got away with murder and that is a negative, negative, negative telling story about the American press and it disturbs me very much.

HOLMES: Debra, one -- one thing, sort of watching this as an observer is -- is the level of shock at the verdict and the number of people who thought all along that she was guilty of this and when the verdict came down they were literally aghast. Why was that? There really wasn't any hard evidence, was there?

OPRI: Well, it goes to the fact that the media tried to create a criminal and whether she did or didn't do it the media had already, like Michael Jackson, remember, they had already rendered her guilty of a crime and the shock was because the American public had been conditioned -- conditioned to find her guilty. I said she has a fair trial right and it should not -- it should not be overwhelmed by a First Amendment right and I am a big, big follower of European justice systems where the media cannot comment on ongoing trials and I wish there was legislation in the United States where that fair trial right is protected more than that First Amendment right and I'm a media attorney saying that but I believe Casey Anthony's life is destroyed no matter what because, again, she'll forever be seen as the woman who got away with murder.

HOLMES: You're not the first one to say that about sub judice or lack of it in this -- in this country. Debra Opri, thanks so much. Appreciate it.

OPRI: My pleasure.

HOLMES: You are watching Connect The World. Still to come, backlash as a British tabloid is accused of hacking into the phone of a missing teenager. That story just three minutes from now. Also, Don Riddell is going to join us with the latest sports news. That's in about ten minutes. All the action and the controversy from the Tour de France. Stay with us.


HOLMES: I'm Michael Holmes with the CNN Center. You are watching Connect The World. Becky Anderson is out for the day. We're going to give you a look now at some of the other top stories that we are following this hour. The fallout from the British newspaper hacking scandal has taken another ugly twist. Ford Britain has pulled its advertising from The News of The World after allegations that the Murdoch owned tabloid hacked into the phone messages of a missing teenager girl, later found dead. The U.K.'s largest retailer, Tesco, also advertises with the paper. It stopped short of a boycott and says that it is now a matter for the police. CNN's Dan Rivers with more.

RIVERS: The murder of the 13-year-old school girl, Milly Dowler, in 2002 was a crime which appalled Britain. Last month, the killer, Levi Belfield, was finally convicted but now this story has collided with another major criminal inquiry that has dominated the news for years, phone hacking. The scandal relates to the illegal tabloid practice of accessing cell phone messages left for celebrities in order to get stories.

Now, it seems Milly Dowler's phone was also hacked after she'd gone missing. It's even claimed journalists deleted messages from concerned friends and family to free space on the mailbox and mine more messages for stories. While in Afghanistan the British Prime Minister, David Cameron, was quick to condemn the behavior.

DAVID CAMERON, BRITISH PRIME MINISTER: On the question about the really appalling allegations about the telephone of Milly Dowler, I mean, if they are true, this is a truly dreadful act.

RIVERS: The lawyer representing Milly Dowler's family says they're starting legal action against the paper.

MARK LEWIS, DOWLER FAMILY LAWYER: The family is completely horrified and they thought this was all -- they thought this was all over.

RIVERS: Until now, the hacking of Prince William's phone in 2005 was the first known case resulting in a News of the World journalist and private detective being imprisoned. But then, other victims emerged. Sienna Miller was told her phone had been hacked in 2006, just one of dozens of celebrities targeted. In January of 2011 the former News of the World editor, Andy Coulson, who'd already resigned from the paper over the scandal, was forced to stand down again as communications director for the Prime Minister amid more allegations.

Now, news Milly Dowler's phone may have been hacked in 2002 suggests the News of the World was involved in this illegal practice much earlier than previously thought. It's putting huge pressure on Rebecca Brooks who edited the paper in 2002 and now runs the parent company, News International.

In a statement to colleagues, she denies knowing about phone hacking, saying she's sickened by the allegations, adding, if true, the devastating effects on Milly Dowler's family is unforgivable. Her former boss, Les Hinton, has already been quizzed by a powerful committee of politicians telling them phone hacking was the work of a lone rogue reporter.


LES HINTON, FORMER NEWS INTERNATIONAL EXECUTIVE: And I believe he was the only person but that investigation under the new editor continues.


RIVERS: But the committee chairman has never been convinced.

JOHN WHITTINGDALE, BRITISH PARLIAMENT MEMBER: Well, we set up a time that the claims that were made to us that this was the activities of one reporter and nobody else had any involvement. We said then that we didn't believe that.

RIVERS: News International executives have been summoned to a meeting at Scotland Yard but the fundamental question remains, who in senior management knew about phone hacking and how long has it been going on? Dan Rivers, CNN, London.

HOLMES: Well the maid at the center of sexual assault allegations against Dominique Strauss-Kahn has filed a lawsuit against the New York Post newspaper and five of its reporters following several articles claiming she was a prostitute. The former IMF chief, meanwhile, is facing fresh allegations of sexual assault. The French writer, Tristane Banon has filed a complaint accusing the former IMF chief of attempted rape back in 2003. Prosecutors have yet to decide whether there is enough evidence to press those charges but Strauss-Kahn's lawyers have already filed a counterclaim against the 32-year-old for "false declarations." Here's what Banon's lawyers had to say about that.

DAVID KOUBBI, TRISTANE BANON'S LAWYER: The complaint was filed against Dominique Strauss-Kahn for attempted rape, events of a particular violence and gravity. I'm absolutely not making this matter a political matter. I want to emphasize that. If the politicians decide to not tell the truth, and what I mean by the truth is, what they knew to be true, if they decide to refute Tristane Banon's defense, they will be considered as adversaries.

HOLMES: A lot more to come on Connect The World. In six minutes, Don Riddell will be here to talk about this: Why the reigning Tour de France champion has not been welcomed at this year's race and ... * UNIDENTIFIED MALE: ... minutes Don Riddell to talk about this - why the reigning Tour de France champion has not been welcomed at this year's race.

And a dangerous liaison. Our big interview just 22 minutes away. Stay with us.


HOLMES: Hello everyone. Welcome back to CONNECT THE WORLD. Let's get a check of the headlines for you this hour.

As reports surface of more protestors killed in Syria, an army deserter tells CNN he was repeatedly ordered to shoot-and-kill civilian demonstrators. The Syrian government says it does not target what it calls "peaceful protestors."

A Dutch court has found the Netherlands responsible for the death of three Moslem men killed in the 1995 Srebrenica massacre. The court said Dutch peacekeeping troops should not have allowed them to fall into the hands of Bosnian-Serb forces.

A jury in Orlando, Florida has found Casey Anthony not guilty of killing her two-year-old daughter Caylee. The trial has gripped much of the United States over the past six weeks. She was found, however, guilty of much lesser charges of giving law enforcement officers false information.

Near Baghdad, proof that the violence in Iraq is far from over. Thirty-five people - many of them police officers - killed when two bombs exploded near a government building. Authorities say more than 270 people were killed in attacks in Iraq in the month of June.

And Britain's Duke and Duchess of Cambridge have been given a warm welcome in Canada's Northwest territories. Prince William and Catherine were greeted by hundreds of admirers and met with local aboriginal groups in Yellowknife.

All right. Let's go to the big stories in the world of sports now and let's start with that photo finish in the Tour de France. Check this out.

After a 172.5 kilometres, it came down to that. Australia's Cadel Evans edging out the reigning champion Alberto Contador of Spain by a whisker to win the fourth stage of the race. The Norwegian cyclist Thor Hushovd, he's still retaining the overall leader's yellow jersey however.

Well, Contador is going to be disappointed. The Spaniard hasn't had a great start to this year's tour - both on and off the bike. He's the center of a doping controversy after revealing last year that he tested positive to a banned substance which he claims came from contaminated meat. That case remains unresolved. And some fans aren't happy that he's racing.

And for more on this controversy, Don Riddell joins me now from London.

Don, let's talk about another doping scandal - dig about this doping scandal, why is it still going on if he hasn't been convicted of anything?

DON RIDDELL, CNN ANCHOR, WORLD SPORT: Well, it's just incredible, isn't it? And it's a real problem for the Tour de France.

Contador's rivals have had to grudgingly accept the old rule that you are innocent until proven guilty and so he is therefore riding in the Tour de France in 2011. But it's a really unsatisfactory situation for the sport.

Of course, the Tour de France is an event that is so frequently blighted by doping scandals. They haven't had one yet this year but they're still being plagued by last year's scandal. Of course, Contador failed his test just a month or a couple of months after the Tour last year is when it was revealed to the public that this had happened, and they haven't been able to clear this up one year later. He was cleared to ride by the Spanish cycling authorities and while the Court of Arbitration for Sport is going to have the final verdict on this, they have not been able to get around to looking at it. So they're going to deal with this in August after the Tour de France has been wrapped up and it means that Contador, the sport of cycling and the Tour de France has this shadow - this cloud over his head once again.

HOLMES: Let's call that the lightest cloud.

The amount of banned substance was really tiny but does that matter in the big picture?

RIDDELL: Well, some would say it really does matter. I mean, if you 're trying to clear a guy or if you're someone who's been found guilty, you will obviously look for whatever excuse or explanation you can come up with. I mean, it's worth pointing out that this dosage of clenbuterol, this level of clenbuterol, was 40 times below the minimum standard set by the World Anti-doping Agency and Contador's advisers have said that he would have needed 180 times the amount to have actually gotten any benefit from it. So, I mean, that really is their argument. It was a tiny minute amount and I think that's why this case hasn't been wrapped up by this point because Contador and his people feel that they've got a legitimate explanation here because Contador believes he's clean, he says that he believes in zero-tolerance and he doesn't think he's a drug student so that's where we'll see. But, of course, there are some who say that within sport, there should be a zero-tolerance and there is no excuse for any drugs to be found inside anybody's system.

HOLMES: Well, let's get on to sport's sport then - not the politics of sport. What else have been happening in the world?

RIDDELL: Well, we're going to start off with a guy who's not going to be doing any sport as it happens.

Tiger Woods has today announced that he'll miss a second major tournament in 2011. The knee injury that kept him out of the U.S. Open will also sideline him from next week's Open Championship here in Britain.

Woods has had four operations on his knee already and he injured it again at the Masters in April. He tried to come back at the Player's Championship as you may remember in May but pulled out of that tournament after just nine holes.

The three-time Open champion says that this time, he won't return to action until he has fully recovered.

And England's female footballers have topped their group at the World Cup in Germany to advance to the quarterfinals. They needed at least a draw against Japan but they did much better than that. According to the rankings, Japan are the fourth-best team in the world. But they were well- beaten by England in Augsburg.

The first goal came after a quarter of an hour and it was a very well- taken goal by Ellen White. Great ball from Karen Carney, one-touch from White and it was in over the keeper's head.

England pressed to double their advantage and White had another terrific chance 20 minutes later. It was an acrobatic attempt but the goalie was equal to it. That would have been a superb goal, wouldn't it?

The keeper deserves a lot of credit for making the save. But she was beaten again before the final whistle. Ayumi Kaihori was somewhat out of position here when Rachel Yankey fired in from a tight angle.

England held on for a 2-nil win and all wasn't lost for Japan because they still went through as Group B's second-placed team.

Michael, England will face France in the quarterfinals and Germany have just beaten the French by 4 goals to 2 to win Group A. France finished second and we'll have highlights from all of the day's games at the World Cup in just under an hour's time on WORLD SPORT.

HOLMES: Yes, after BACKSTORY. I'll see you then. Good on you, Don, good to see you. Thanks for that.

All right. Still ahead on CONNECT THE WORLD, behind the scenes at Amsterdam's Schiphol airport. Becky Anderson goes up the control tower to meet the team charged with coordinating the skies - how the flights we take everyday take off and land so safely.

Stay with CNN. We're back in 90 seconds.


HOLMES: And welcome back to CONNECT THE WORLD. I'm Michael Holmes, in for Becky Anderson.

Now, much of what you and I have touched or driven or eaten today has probably come from another country. Trains, trucks, boats, and planes all play a part in bringing goods from around the globe into our homes. Well, here at CNN, we're taking a look at the cogs of this vital supply chain, taking you inside some of the world's major transportation hubs.

Well, at Amsterdam's Schiphol Airport, making sure the planes take off and land safely involves a big team of people who sometimes makes some crucial split-second decisions. As our own Becky Anderson found out, they even watch out for smaller flying objects.


BECKY ANDERSON, CNN ANCHOR, CONNECT THE WORLD (voice-over): From the time an aircraft pushes back from the gate to the time it touches down at its final destination, air traffic controllers are the eyes and ears of a flight crew.

At the Amsterdam control center, Hennie Groep-Koster has a very peculiar view of Dutch airspace.

HENNIE GROEP-KOSTER, AIR TRAFFIC CONTROLLER, SCHIPHOL AIRPORT: What we see here is the Dutch FIR - the Flight Information Region of Amsterdam. At the moment, I'm working on sector west. That's the part over the North Sea.

So I get a lot of traffic at the moment from England, from Scot - Scottish air traffic controllers. It's getting busy at the moment.

I give the pilots instruction to descend, to fly a certain heading. I watch if they are doing what I tell them to do because sometimes they don't.

ANDERSON (on camera): Once an aircraft has established its final approach, the staff in the tower behind me take responsibility for guiding the pilot in.

(voice-over): Here, controllers have a 360-degree view of the traffic on the ground.

ANDRE STUIJT, AIR TRAFFIC CONTROLLER, SCHIPHOL AIRPORT: Everything we do here is based on visual separation. So with the eyes, we can see if two aircrafts are not too close to each other. That's a big main difference with radio control. Here with the eyes, everything gets real.

ANDERSON: Air traffic controllers at Schiphol Airport can handle up to 120 aircraft an hour during their six-hour shifts.

For controllers like Hennie, regular breaks are essential.

ANDERSON (on camera): How often do you need a break?

GROEP-KOSTER: We need a break at least after 2 hours and 20 minutes.

ANDERSON: All right.

GROEP-KOSTER: But most of the time, well, you get a break after one and a half hours - something like that.

ANDERSON: Schiphol Airport was built on land that was formerly wetland and fertile farmland. It's home to more than 70 species of birds. But our feathered friends can pose a real risk to planes and passengers who travel on them.

(voice-over): In 2009, a U.S. Airways Airbus A320 was struck by a flock of birds during take-off. The plane crash-landed on the Hudson River.

Schiphol employs a team of 16 bird controllers who patrol the airport grounds on a 24/7 basis.

MICHAEL DEKKER, BIRD CONTROLLER, SCHIPHOL AIRPORT: I'm Michael. Michael Dekker. I'm a bird controller at the (INAUDIBLE) Schiphol. This is my garden. This is where I work.

ANDERSON: Michael's job is to keep the birds away.

DEKKER: Well, every time there's a change in landing or a (INAUDIBLE), they call us. We check the runways then we go and chase them away.

Our main tools are the flares. We're going to use them because they're the most efficient to scare them away. When you use them, you create a wall of sound so they know this area is unsafe to go.

ANDERSON: If technology fails, it's back to nature.

CHRIS FONTIJN, FALCONER: We are the falconers of the Queen of Holland. So we are working here with other bird controllers. When the flock of birds is very big or far away, we use those falcons. The silhouette of a hunting falcon is enough to get rid of the flock of birds.

ANDERSON: From the bird team on the ground to the staff at the very top of the tower, air traffic control is paramount to passengers' safety.

GROEP-KOSTER: They have to take account of many factors - different, changing all the time. So they have to work the traffic, work your - with your colleagues, work the weather so that's - it's just an act.


HOLMES: One of Holland's most famous exports - flowers. And just a few miles from Amsterdam's Schiphol Airport, we have a hive of activity.


ANDERSON: The size, speed, and scope of the world's largest flower (INAUDIBLE). We take you behind the scenes at Flora Holland.


HOLMES: Do be sure to tune in next week for Becky and on THE GATEWAY.

All right. Coming up on CONNECT THE WORLD, a Hollywood actor who's so good at playing the bad guy. We find out about being John Malkovich.


HOLMES: Welcome back. Our big interview today comes from the world of entertainment - an Oscar-nominated actor with the uncanny ability to play a big-screen villain and play it well.

John Malkovich has starred in more than 60 films. He tells CNN's Monita Rajpal now the secret of his success.


MONITA RAJPAL, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): John Malkovich has played some of the most sinister and disturbing characters seen on the silver screen.

From a serial seducer in "Dangerous Liaisons," a psychotic killer in "In the Line of Fire," to a plane hijacker in "Con Air" - his choice of parts has earned this Oscar-nominated actor a cult following. One Hollywood screenwriter was so fascinated by Malkovich, he wrote a movie "Being John Malkovich," imagining life inside the actor's head.

A self-confessed workaholic, Malkovich has also built himself a reputation as a successful writer, producer, and director and enjoys acting in the theatre. He's currently playing a serial killer in a play called "The Infernal Comedy."

I started by asking Malkovich if he worries about being typecast as a villain.

JOHN MALKOVICH, ACTOR: You would have to remember when you're an actor, you're chosen for things. I know I'm not - I'm not often offered the kind of goody-two-shoes parts.

RAJPAL (on camera): How do you maintain a sense of control over whatever it is you want to achieve for your career as opposed to say what others project onto you?

MALKOVICH: I like to do the things that I like to do - the things that interest me. If that upsets or disappoints people, that makes me sad but not that sad. I follow the things that interests me. It may not be the most brilliant career and I'm sure I've done tons of things that I should not have done in retrospect. But there are very few things I did cynically.

RAJPAL: What are you most proud of - which character do you believe you're most proud of?

MALKOVICH: I'm not sure I'm capable of that sentiment, really.

RAJPAL: Really?

MALKOVICH: I don't think so.

RAJPAL: Do you ever look back and say "Oh, I shouldn't have done that one."


RAJPAL: Yes? Is there one in particular?

MALKOVICH: Oh, there's over 30.

RAJPAL: Really?

MALKOVICH: Yes, sure. Yes, because you don't know when you--.

RAJPAL: And how do you get over that?

MALKOVICH: I'm very used to failure. And I mean failure kind of rides shotgun for me and I'm very used to it and it's okay. You have almost no control over what a movie is once you act in it. They can do absolutely anything with it and that can be good or bad but it's not my problem anymore.

RAJPAL: I - we're going to ask you some of our viewer questions - viewers of CONNECT THE WORLD.

Lorraine asks "What other parts have you always wanted to play and who are some of the other actors you would love to work with?"

MALKOVICH: Parts that interest me come by quite often. I don't typically have some sort of dream role. If I had thoughts like that, it would be more as a director perhaps. And as far as actors I'd like to work with - oh, there's so many fantastic actors.

RAJPAL: Is there one actor you'd love to direct and you haven't had the opportunity to?

MALKOVICH: Yeah, there are people like, say, Bruno Ganz - I would love to direct or - oh, there's so many. I mean, there's so many. I've been incredibly lucky. For me, there's nothing that pleases me more than sitting either in an audience or behind the camera and watching a wonderful actor or actress perform.

RAJPAL: Saads asks, "What are your thoughts on the film industry's obsession with 3D movies?" And - yes, what do you think about that?

MALKOVICH: I just did one - I did "Transformers 3." It will open in Moscow in a few days but I haven't seen it so - and I didn't see Avatar. I don't know that I've seen more than one or two of 3D movies. Now, the movie audience is a super young audience. Very few - very few adults who are say middle aged people like myself go to movies.

I don't know. I had a blast working with Michael Bay. I had a great time working with Robert Zemeckis on one of those motion capture films. Both experiences were very interesting.

I don't mind technological things. You know, movies - it already is that. That's absolutely inescapable. So if it's a little bit more technological or a little bit less, it doesn't bother me.


HOLMES: Now, we've put up some special behind-the-scenes photographs from our interview with John Malkovich. All you have to do to see them is become a fan of the CONNECT Facebook page. Join up there -

Now, tomorrow, the politician killed for his views on Pakistan's controversial blasphemy wars. We're going to speak the daughter of Salman Taseer about taking on her father's battle.

Send us in your questions on our website: Be part of the program.

All right. Well, today's parting shots give us a new take on Alfred Hitchcock's film "The Birds." We all know seagulls can be pretty determined creatures but this one soars to a whole new level.

A photographer who's put his camera on the ground, giving a gull the chance to launch a pretty brazen attack. As it grabs the camera, as you all see, and apparently takes flight taping the entire journey.

The video's been watched by thousands of people on YouTube but there are skeptics who wonder what brought the cameraman and the feathered filmmaker together in the first place and whether maybe it was a stunt for the camera manufacturer. After all, it was shot in Cannes, France - home of a pretty famous festival.

I'm Michael Holmes. Thanks for watching.

Well, Ralitsa will be here with world headlines just ahead and then I'll be back with "Back Story" - if I can get to the studio in time.