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NewsCorp Under Fire in U.S.; Murdochs Agree to Testify Before British Parliament; Suicide Bombing at Funeral of Afghan President's Half- Brother; Connector of the Day: Jay Leno

Aired July 14, 2011 - 16:00   ET


BECKY ANDERSON, HOST: Closing in on Rupert Murdoch. As protesters make their feelings known on the media mogul's New York doorstep, the FBI says it's begun an investigation into 9/11 hacking claims.

Gearing up for a grilling in the UK. Murdoch and his son James confirm they will testify before British lawmakers over the ever-widening scandal.

Plus, this hour, weapons flooding the streets of Cairo. How the dreams of a post-revolution era seem to be dying.

And the US funnyman Jay Leno gets serious about his passion. Find out more in our big interview this hour.

These stories and more tonight as we CONNECT THE WORLD.

Well tonight, fast-moving developments in the phone-hacking saga that is engulfing Rupert Murdoch's media empire. A federal law enforcement source in the United States says the FBI is investigating potential News Corp phone hacking there.

The source says it's looking into allegations that News Corps employees or associates may have hacked into phone conversations and voice mail of 9/11 survivors, victims, and their families.

In the UK, Murdoch first says "Thanks, but I'm busy" to Britain's parliament. Then, he changes his mind and agrees to answer lawmakers' questions. News International executives Rebekah Brooks and James Murdoch will also be grilled. We've got the lowdown on that for you.

And London's top cop was in the hot seat this Thursday over police handling of the hacking case.

In New York, anger rages among protesters outside Rupert Murdoch's Manhattan townhouse as more US lawmakers join the call for a federal investigation. And Australia's disgusted prime minister also speaking out.

We start with the UK for you this evening. News International confirms to CNN that Rupert Murdoch and his son James will be at Tuesday's parliamentary hearing, along with Rebekah Brooks.

There was some question over whether the media baron could be made to testify before British lawmakers. The Australian-born Rupert Murdoch is an American citizen, and he had already said that he'd answer questions at a judge-led inquiry further down the line.

Well, my colleague Atika Shubert is monitoring what has been a tumultuous day here in the UK. She's at Westminster for you this evening.


ATIKIA SHUBERT, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, an abrupt U-turn by Rupert Murdoch and his son James. It turns out they will be coming to this committee hearing at the House of Commons on Tuesday.

Initially, they had said they would not be able to attend, but when a summons was issued, it appears they changed their minds, and they now say they will be attending alongside Rebekah Brooks, the head of News International.

And you can expect that lawmakers will be grilling them on the phone- hacking scandal, really trying to find out just how widespread this culture of phone-hacking was, and also why when it was first brought up many years ago did they not investigate beyond that one instance, saying that it was an isolated case.

Now, in other developments in the phone-hacking scandal today, police made another arrest of a former deputy editor for "News of the World" Neil Wallis.

And it does turn out that, in addition to being a former deputy editor with that paper, he was also a communications consultant for the police, showing perhaps their very close nature of the relationship between "News of the World" and the police.

Atika Shubert, CNN, London.


ANDERSON: That's the UK side of the story today. In the US, the FBI are taking a closer look at questions raised about News Corps itself over allegations that it hacked the phones of 9/11 victims. Well, that is from a law enforcement official talking to CNN.

And the US chorus of disapproval against Murdoch is getting louder. Some of the protesters outside of his Manhattan townhouse, especially the activists from the group Color of Change accused Fox News of race bating. News Corps is, of course, the parent of Fox News.

On top of that, on Capitol Hill, a key member of the US House oversight committee says that News Corp may have engaged in political, and I quote, "or personal espionage."

Congressman Bruce Braley is asking Congress to look into allegations of possible bribery at one of Murdoch's US divisions. Braley also had a question for the media tycoon.


REP. BRUCE BRALEY (D), IOWA: Is this the type of behavior we can expect from your businesses, a US business, involved in foreign practices that could be in violation of the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act?

Everything we're hearing about this growing problem is that it involved reprehensible conduct by people who are trained to follow a journalistic code of ethics that I learned in journalism school right after Watergate. Accuracy, objectivity, fairness, and integrity.

And we've seen this blurring line with many of the News Corp flagship papers and other things where you blur the line between fact, news, opinion, and political propaganda, but no one thought they were engaging in any type of spying into the private lives of US or British citizens.


ANDERSON: Some questions, then, for the Murdochs tonight. Joining me is Catherine Mayer, "Time" magazine's London bureau chief. And this has been a story that you guys have been on for some time, now.

Braley poses a question, there, about the Foreign and Corrupt Practices Act. Will he get an answer out of the Murdochs, do you think?

CATHERINE MAYER, LONDON BUREAU CHIEF, "TIME" MAGAZINE: I don't think he'll get the answer out of the Murdochs. I think he'll get an answer quite quickly in some ways out of the course of events.

This is all unfolding at breakneck speed. And it's interesting, because there's kind of a head of steam, now. And so, what's happening is that these questions that would not even have been raised before are being raised and then dispatched in very quick order.

ANDERSON: What chance the FBI investigation would uncover any wrongdoing, do you think?

MAYER: The FBI investigation is -- there's a little irony there, which is that it's going on quite a slim report. There has -- when the news first broke about the scale of the hacking, people were rightly horrified at credible reports that, for example, Milly Dowler's phone may have been hacked.

None of that is, of course, proved, but there are very good reasons for that. What the happened is a bit of a frenzy, if that happened, well, a lot of other things may have happened.

And I am not saying that the 9/11 report is incredible, but I'm saying it only has appeared in one paper and then was picked up.

And so, the fact of the FBI then acting on it both shows you what a head of steam this has and shows you, also, we're talking -- this is a story about journalism, and it is a story about trying to get to the facts.

And one of the problems about the heat around the stories that we may be getting further away from the facts rather than closer to them.

ANDERSON: And you bring up a good point. I've been on this story, now, for -- what? We've been doing it now for six or seven years -- but specifically, for about a week and a half now, and I know you've been doing this, as well.

Is there a concern that media, to a certain extent, is building up a head of steam, and that this story is almost getting away from us and the facts as we know them?

One could never have imagined that we would have seen Rupert Murdoch today being jostled outside his London home --


ANDERSON: -- being flanked by his son and his son-in-law and, really, looking like a man extremely shaken.

MAYER: Yes. I think there is a real problem here. One of the problems is, this is a story that should have come out a long time ago. And it is a story with ramifications that are very, very serious.

So, the moment it starts to come out and people realize, my God, we've sat on this, there is, then, this desire to keep pushing very fast.

It can very easily turn into, as I say, exactly the beast that we're trying to criticize, which is, effectively, bad journalism, lynch mob mentality, all of the things that we worry about that the tabloids may have been responsible for, and we may all fall into that trap.

It doesn't mean that we shouldn't all be continuing to pursue this, and all the investigation's good, but bear this in mind.

ANDERSON: You make a very good point. Let's move onto the UK.


ANDERSON: Tuesday next week is an enormous day, now, in this -- let's call it saga or scandal, what everyone would call it --

MAYER: Best show in town, I think.

ANDERSON: Best show in town. The Murdochs --


ANDERSON: -- Rupert and James, we now know will testify in front of a parliamentary committee --


ANDERSON: -- as will Rebekah Brooks, who is the CEO of News International. Will that be under oath?

MAYER: They have the option to put them under oath. If they put them under oath and, then, if they were found to have lied under oath, they would be subject to perjury laws, just as in a court.

What mostly happens with these committees is that they don't interview people under oath. And one of the reasons that they don't is because there are different ways of getting to the truth, and one of the funny things is, if you put people under oath, they're more likely to say less than if they are in a sort of freer situation.

On the other hand, given the level of -- the history of this case, where there is the feeling that people have come to these committees and at least been economical with the truth --

ANDERSON: To say the least.

MAYER: To say the least. It may be that there is, now, pressure for that. But that will be down to the discretion of John Whittingdale, who chairs that committee.

ANDERSON: I almost can't believe that I'm saying we await next Tuesday to see the next stage in this saga because, goodness knows, there could be three or for others before that. But my guess is, now, this is a story which will really find its head of steam, as it were, on Tuesday next week when they testify, won't it?

MAYER: I think you're right, except I also expect to leave this studio and come outside and find that something else has happened.

ANDERSON: I said to one of my domestic colleagues, domestic US colleagues the other night, "Blink and you'll miss something."


ANDERSON: And I think this week has been something like that. Thank you very much --

MAYER: You're welcome.

ANDERSON: -- Catherine. "Time" magazine for you tonight on this story.

Well, to Australia, now, where Rupert Murdoch was born, and where the media is now under intense scrutiny in the wake of what is an evolving scandal.


JULIA GILLARD, PRIME MINISTER OF AUSTRALIA: I anticipate we'll have a discussion amongst parliamentarians about this, about the best review and way of dealing with all of this. I'll be interested in people's ideas.

And I think whatever Parliament does or doesn't do, there is going to be a national conversation about the media's role and media ethics in the weeks and months ahead.


ANDERSON: It's truly a global story, isn't it? And the next big date, then, to keep in mind is Tuesday, July the 19th. With a multibillion-dollar empire at stake, media mogul Rupert Murdoch will hold the world in thrall as he faces Britain's parliament. And, of course, we will bring you live coverage and expert analysis of that here on CNN.

It's 13 minutes past 9:00 London time, I'm Becky Anderson. You're watching CONNECT THE WORLD. Up next, searching for suspects. Authorities in India on the hunt for the plotters of Mumbai's deadly bombing. That, three minutes away for you.

Then, taking up arms. Guns flood Cairo's streets as residents fear for their safety. That's eight minutes away.

And great expectations. Rory feels the pressure at golf's British Open. Stay with us.


ANDERSON: A warm welcome back, you're with CONNECT THE WORLD here on CNN. I'm Becky Anderson in London. Let's get a look at the other stories that we are following for you this hour.

And a suicide bomber in Afghanistan has detonated a device hidden inside his turban, killing at least six people in a Kandahar mosque. Several high-ranking Afghan officials were amongst those gathered to mourn the death of President Hamid Karzai's half-brother. Fifteen people were wounded. No one has yet claimed responsibility for the attack.

Indian police are pouring over security camera footage, searching for clues to help them track down those responsible for the worst terror attack on Mumbai in years.

Three bombs exploded just minutes apart during the evening rush hour on Wednesday. Authorities now say 18 people were killed, another 131 were wounded. No one, again, has claimed responsibility and, at this stage, authorities won't even speculate on possible suspects.


P. CHIDAMBARAM, INDIAN UNION HOME MINISTER: Intelligence is collected every day, every hour. But there was no intelligence regarding an imminent attack in Mumbai.

That is not a failure of intelligence agents, it was simply that unique. The nature of things, whoever perpetrated this attack has worked in a very, very clandestine manner.


ANDERSON: That's the news from India.

Well, the United Nations has a new member state.




ANDERSON: South Sudan is now the 193rd country to take a seat at the international organization. The new nation's vice president accepted the honor after the General Assembly approved the nomination. South Sudan gained its independence from Sudan at the weekend.

A company controlled by Chinese artist Ai Weiwei is contesting charges that the dissident did not pay his taxes. Ai was released in June after spending three months in custody.

He had called for an open hearing into the tax case, but the meeting was closed. He could face $1.7 million in back taxes and fines. His family and human rights activists say he's being persecuted for criticizing the Chinese state.

An American miniseries starring a British actress as a California restaurant owner is the top nominee for this year's primetime Emmy awards. The nominations recognize the best in US television. Top production was the drama "Mildred Pierce, with 21 nods, including one for its star Kate Winslet.

Another HBO series, "Game of Thrones" got 13 nominations, and the awards will be presented on September the 18th.

You could call it an arms race in a country where many streets are no longer safe. Coming up, how a security vacuum in Egypt has triggered a huge demand for personal firearms.

And later, good reason for the grim faces in Washington as the stalemate over a deficit reduction plan drags on. The White House says by Friday, something has got to give.





ANDERSON: An electrifying moment for Egypt. This is just seconds after protesters learned that they had achieved the unthinkable. People power had unseated the dictator at the heart of the Arab world in just 18 days.

Wild cheers broke out in Cairo's Tahrir Square after news broke that Hosni Mubarak was stepping down. People all over the country hugged in celebration, many crying that Egypt was finally free.

Fast-froward, of course, five months. That was back in February, and we are now seeing a second revolution of sorts, at least in Tahrir Square. People are angry at the slow pace of reforms, accusing interim military rulers of sabotaging their ideals of their uprising.

Protesters began be this sit-in on Friday and say that they will stay until their demands are met. The government has recently made some big changes, including delaying September elections by a month or two. That may sound like a setback for the democratic process, but many protesters actually support a delay to give new political parties time to organize.

Another big change in the country, the overhaul of a hated police force. Hundreds of high-ranking officers have been sacked. But interim leaders still have to figure out how to handle a soaring crime rate, a consequence of the security vacuum, as it were, after the revolution.

Well, as Fred Pleitgen now reports, some residents aren't waiting for help. They are taking matters into their own hands.


FREDERIK PLEITGEN, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): In this rough Cairo neighborhood, a place the police almost never go, we find the weapons that are flooding Egypt's streets. Cheap, homemade guns, simple, lethal, and in high demand as security has deteriorated in the revolutionary turmoil.

Khalid Hussein has three pistols for community defense, he says.

KHALID HUSSEIN, ENREPRENEUR (through translator): "Before the revolution, a weapon cost about $50," he says. "But after that, it went up to about $150 because there were so many robberies and other crimes."

PLEITGEN (on camera): So, as you can see, these guns are very rudimentary. They're basically a single barrel, a trigger, and a hammer. And they take these single shotgun rounds.

PLEITGEN (voice-over): Even Khalid's kids are handy with the steel.

He runs a thriving recycling business here and assures us he would only use the guns to protect his neighborhood.

But since Egypt's revolution, the role of the police force, perceived by most as brutal, corrupt, and incompetent, has been greatly diminished. Crime has skyrocketed.

Citizens formed community militias to defend their property during the uprising, and many, like Saeed Ata, are still taking security into their own hands. Saeed owns several major electronic stores in Cairo and says he keeps guns in all of them.

SAEED ATA, SAEED ELECTRONICS: Lots of trouble on the streets. Some stores were robbed. Lots of stuff was taken, money. They even had trucks to carry the goods.

PLEITGEN: Authorities say they are trying to tackle the problem but, so far, there is little improvement. That's good for this man, who calls himself "Khanofa." He broke out of prison during the uprising, where he was serving time for drug trafficking, a crime he says he didn't commit.

Since the revolution, he says the cops can't touch him in this neighborhood.

"KHANOFA," FUGITIVE (through translator): "It's great," he says. "I feel very safe here among my cousins and the people of this neighborhood."

PLEITGEN: It comes as no surprise that "Khanofa" supports the revolution, as most other Egyptians still do. But it has left the country in a major quagmire. A weak police force that almost no one trusts, soaring crime, and more and more people taking matters into their own hands.

Fred Pleitgen, CNN, Cairo, Egypt.


ANDERSON: Security isn't the only thing that has changed for Egyptians. The economy, of course, has taken a serious battering since the 18-day revolt. The country's growth rate has plunged to less than two percent, and that was from an earlier prediction of some five percent, I'm told.

Egypt's foreign currency reserves also taking a huge hit, dropping 25 percent to just $28 billion. The tourism industry, which accounts for ten percent of the economy, has seen a 40 percent drop in the number of people coming to the country. Many of the country's famous sites -- and you recognize these, of course -- remain quiet and relatively empty.

Another important factor is inflation. The cost of basic staples continues to soar, with food and beverage prices rising by nearly 19 percent.

We wanted to hear from -- what should we call them? -- ordinary Egyptians, as it were. People who are just trying to get on with their daily lives with all these changes taking place. So, we talked to Gigi Ibrahim, a blogger who gave us almost daily updates on the revolution back in January.

I talked to her just before the show started and asked -- started asking her about the country's military rulers and when they might fulfill their promise of a democratic transition. This is what she said.


GIGI IBRAHIM, EGYPTIAN BLOGGER: Hopefully, not too long. The sooner the better they're out of power. And that's what we're pushing for.

We're pushing for a civilian state where there is even a presidential council, some people talking about a presidential council until we hold elections and so on. But at least until the parliamentary elections.

ANDERSON: How realistic is it that the military will be out of power anytime soon, given the fact that these elections are already, of course, delayed?

IBRAHIM: Well -- how realistic is it? I can't tell you, really. Nobody thought that we would take Mubarak out, so nothing is impossible in at least the streets' view.

However, obviously, when you're confronting the military, it's completely different when you're confronting the president.

It will all determine whether the supreme council will adhere to the demands of Tahrir and the rest of the squares or not. If they -- if the demands are not met, I presume that things will escalate and then anything could really happen. But as long as they adhere to the demands, that at the end what people want.

ANDERSON: Is there still a will? And where there's a will, of course, there is always a way. But is there still this sense of momentum, or do you feel, at this point, given that we're now into the middle of July, we're six months on from what was the most momentous moment in Egypt's history, that things are dissipating somewhat?

IBRAHIM: Yes. There is definitely a lack of political will from the supreme council to take the required steps towards fulfilling these demands. We know that some of these demands are not going to be implemented right away. However, there are steps that must be taken for those demands to be met, and those steps haven't been taken.

There are some demands that don't require any much time or any cost whatsoever that could be implemented. So the lack of time and will that they haven't been implemented is giving the protesters and the people that took part in the revolution a lot of concerns. And that's why we're back in Tahrir.

ANDERSON: Are you optimistic or pessimistic at this point?

IBRAHIM: I'm very optimistic. I am very optimistic. Tahrir is so strong, people are so determined. The fact that it's not just happening in Tahrir, that it's happening in Suez, Alexandria, Asyut, Mansoura, Siwah, and at least ten other governances, so it's really making me hopeful that pressure works.

And the fact that they gave some concessions, even though they -- it's not what we demanded, but the fact that this pressure is working is pushing people to even push further for all demands to be met in the way that we like them to be.


ANDERSON: Gigi Ibrahim, a regular guest on this show over the last six months, keeping us bang up to date.

Still to come, we've got all the news headlines for you. You'd assume that, wouldn't you, on CNN? Then, will US Golf Open champ Rory McIlroy live up to expectations at the British Open? We've got the first round action for you.

And it's the threat that's giving US debt talks extra urgency. Why America could lose its stellar credit rating.

And he's a hardened battler in America's talk show wars, but find out which guest almost brought Jay Leno to tears.


JAY LENO, HOST, "THE TONIGHT SHOW": You hang people with their own words, basically, which seams fair. Comedy's a lot like the mafia. Don't touch the wives or the families, you just go after the person.



ANDERSON: Going beyond borders, this is CNN. You're watching CONNECT THE WORLD, I'm Becky Anderson, live from London for you at just after half past nine. Let's get you the world news headlines at this point.

Rupert Murdoch is defending News Corp saying it has handled the phone- hacking crisis "extremely well in every way possible." Now, this is a quote from the "Wall Street Journal," and it is his first significant public comment since the scandal broke.

The media baron has also done a U-turn and now says he will testify before the British parliament next week.

Meanwhile, a federal law enforcement source in the US tells CNN the FBI is investigating potential News Corp phone hacking in America. The source says it's looking into allegations that News Corp or associates targeted victims of the September 11th attacks.

Well, Libyan leader Moammar Gadhafi has sent an audio message to his supporters saying, and I quote, "It is impossible for me to leave my loyal people. I will remain with my people and with my firearm until the last drop of blood. We will win over this unjust campaign," end quote.

A suicide bomber in Afghanistan killed at least six people in a mosque in Kandahar. Several high-ranking Afghan officials were amongst those gathered to mourn the death of President Hamid Karzai's half-brother.

Funeral services were held today for former US first lady Betty Ford. She's being buried at her husband's presidential museum in Grand Rapids in Michigan. Now, Betty Ford's public battles with breast cancer, with alcoholism, and addictions to pain pills broke social taboos back in the 1970s.

Well, the first round of the British Golf Open got underway in Sandwich in England on Thursday, and the tournament favorite is definitely popular with British fans looking for a local hero to cheer for.

Newly-crowned US Open champion Rory McIlroy is from Northern Ireland, of course, and quite the welcome as he strolled out onto Royal St. Georges to tee off. But he didn't have the best of starts, bogeying two of his first three holes. CNN's Shane O'Donoghue is at the course for you.


SHANE O'DONOGHUE, CNN SPORTS CORRESPONDENT: It was supposed to be another day at the top for a young golfer making a mark on the game. And it was. Except that today wasn't all about Rory McIlroy.

The real star was an amateur 20 years of age from Welwyn Garden City just north of London called Tom Lewis. Now, he won the British boys' championship here two years ago, so he had some form over the course.

But nobody could really have expected him to go around in 65, that's five under par, and it means that he's now tied on top of the leader board alongside Denmark's Thomas Bjorn.

He's the man who blew a three-shot lead here in 2003 with just three holes to go, so there is some scar tissue for Bjorn, but what a comeback in this first round at the Open.

For McIlroy, though, all eyes were on him, but he really struggled in the early stages of his first round, but got it together and managed to get home in just one over par in more testing conditions during the morning play.

So, that's one over for McIlroy on 71, but 65 is the magic number for Lewis and Bjorn, on top of the leader board here at Royal St. Georges. Back to you.


ANDERSON: For more on the British Golf Open, I'm joined by "World Sport's" Mark McKay. We don't call it the British Golf Open, we just call it the Open, of course. Mark, it's an amateur, Tom Lewis, of course, who's making headlines today. Remarkable stuff, huh?

MARK MCKAY, CNN SPORTS CORRESPONDENT: No doubt about it, Becky. Tom Lewis played alongside five-time champion Tom Watson. What does that mean?

Well, it's significant as the young 20-year-old was named after the golfing legend, and so many times during Thursday's opening round, Becky, the youngster outshone the grisly vet, 65 as Shane mentioned, tied for the lead the amateur is with Thomas Bjorn.

It's the lowest individual score by an amateur at the Open championship, so he has a bit of history in the big, young Tom Lewis does. He's also the first amateur golfer in 40 years, Becky, 43 years to own at least a share of the lead at this golfing major.

He has great memories. As Shane mentioned, he won the British boys' championship, the amateur championship, in 2009. Now, Becky, we'll see how he handles the pressure going into round two and eventually into the weekend.

ANDERSON: I seem to remember a boy called Justin Rose doing fairly well at the Open some years ago, and it all fell apart. But let's hope he does well.

What's happened to McIlroy? Has he got the yips, as we call it in golf?

MCKAY: Maybe right at the beginning of his round. As Shane mentioned, the conditions during the morning session were pretty rough, and that probably contributed to Rory coming out of the gates and bogeying two of his first three holes on Thursday, Becky.

One over 71, he's six shots back of the co-leaders. He does come here with big expectations, high expectations. Winning the US Open by eight shots will certainly do that.

He has progressed in each major that he's been in, and after today's round, Becky, McIlroy told reporters that, if he goes out and shoots a 69 tomorrow, he'll feel very good about his position going into the weekend.

So, we'll see how Rory handles the expectations that not only follow him through this weekend at Royal St. Georges, Becky, but every major he plays from here on out.

ANDERSON: Yes, I know, absolutely. You know, I've chopped my way around that course. I actually played it in 96, which is probably as good as I will ever play. I think it was a unique day, because the course is so difficult. But these guys, they'll just chop it up, as we know.

All right, what are the other headlines out of the world of sport, Mark?

MCKAY: They do make it look easy, don't they, Becky? Yes. Elsewhere around the world, over in France, another day in the middle of July means another grueling stage of the Tour de France.

Thursday was particularly challenging. French cyclist Thomas Voeckler proudly wore the yellow jersey on Bastille day for the first mountain stage of the Tour.

Voeckler involved in a mishap after the day's first climb, causing one of the pre-race favorites, Andreas Kloden, to suffer a heavy crash. Kloden would continue, and so would Voeckler, who did retain the yellow jersey.

But it was the Olympic road race champion Samuel Sanchez who crossed the finish line first. Significantly, the defending champ, Alberto Contador, lost further ground, and his main rivals, the Schleck brothers, Frank and Andy from Luxembourg, and Australia's Cadel Evans.

In the United States, the perjury trial of former major league baseball star Roger Clemens ended in a mistrial Thursday after jurors heard statements in a prosecution video that the judge had ruled inadmissible until later in the case.

Clemens, a one time dominating pitcher is accused of perjury, obstruction of justice -- of Congress, and making false statements about his alleged use of steroids and human growth hormone. He faced a maximum sentence of 30 years in prison and $1.5 million fine on the counts against him.

Clemens, one of the most feared pitchers in all time during his days, during a career that lasted more than two decades. A September 2nd hearing is set to decide whether to retry this case.

I'll have much more on golf's Open championship, plus a live interview with super lightweight champ Amir Khan ahead of his next bout. That's, Becky, at the bottom of the next hour on "World Sport" right after "BackStory."

ANDERSON: Excellent stuff, I'll be watching. Mark, thank you very much. Mr. Mark McKay with your sports news this Thursday. You're watching CONNECT THE WORLD, of course, here on CNN.

Coming up, tensions are high, but the stakes are higher. We take a look at why Washington is at fever pitch with a crucial deadline around the corner. That in 90 seconds. Stay with us.


ANDERSON: A very warm welcome back. It is 40 minutes past 9:00 in London, I'm Becky Anderson for you.

Now, fighting the financial fires. Many countries are plagued by devastating debt burden, and they are all desperately trying to find a way out. Let's take you through what's been happening around the world this Thursday.

In Italy, radical austerity measures are set to gain approval in parliament there. It's passed the senate and will now go before the lower house on Friday.

Ireland's austerity program is on track with a green light for growth there. That's the verdict, at least, from the co-called troika, a team from the International Monetary Fund, the European Central Bank, and the European Commission.

The European Union says it regrets a decision by credit rating agency Fitch to slash its rating on Greek government bonds. Fitch downgraded the debt to triple C, one level above default.

And the US has its own credit ratings problems. Moody's is raising the pressure on lawmakers to increase the government's debt limit with a warning it may cut its triple A debt rating.

Right now, US president Obama is in his fifth straight day of talks on slashing the budget deficit. He is insisting on getting a deal by August the 2nd. Now, that is when the US will hit its $14.3 trillion debt ceiling, the legal limit on government borrowing.

Let's get more on this, now, with CNN's Senior Political Analyst Gloria Borger, who is with us in Washington.

Those numbers, actually, are -- they're almost beyond belief, aren't they? When we've been talking about sort of the 100 or 200 odd million -- or billion, sorry -- that we've got to bail out the Greeces of this world. Those numbers are remarkable. What's going on at this point?

GLORIA BORGER, CNN SENIOR POLITICAL ANALYST: Well, it's a little bit dysfunctional, to be honest, Becky.

It's -- at this moment, you've got sort of an impasse where House Republicans say there's no way they're going to raise taxes and the Democrats say, well, we're not going to make entitlement cuts, those automatic spending programs that cost so much money, like Medicare and Social Security. We're not going to do that unless you give on the tax issue.

Right now, they're both pretty intransigent on it. Early on, it looked like the House speaker and the president of the United States were going to cut a deal, which would have been rough $3 of spending cuts for every dollar of tax increases, which is a pretty good deal.

But the Republicans couldn't float that by their own caucus, and so, you've got a lot of new Republicans in the House, all of whom have taken a pledge not to raise taxes. And so, they've kind of boxed themselves in, and they don't want to break the pledge.

ANDERSON: Gloria, I'm being told in my ear that debt talks have started at the White House. We're looking at an --


ANDERSON: -- August 2nd deadline, at this point, and we've been doing this story across Europe now for -- what is it? -- nearly a year or more. The idea of a default on US debt seems inconceivable to me, but am I wrong?

BORGER: It does.

ANDERSON: I mean, there's a lot of political posturing going on, here. Of course, we're going into a political election in 2012. Is it conceivable?

BORGER: Well, there is. Yes, there -- I don't -- I still, call me an optimist, I still believe -- that it's not going to happen.

What's interesting here is you have a presidential campaign going on in which you have a bunch of Republican presidential candidates out there saying it would not be Armageddon if the US defaulted, OK?


BORGER: And then you have congressional leaders, Republican and Democrat saying, "Yes, it would be Armageddon if the US defaulted."

I think in the end, it's the leaders who are in the room negotiating, so I think they're going to make sure this doesn't occur, even if in the end they end up going to some kind of stopgap measure to allow them to continue to keep talking.

I think the big question in Washington right now is whether they take advantage of this moment, this political moment, to do a big deal, a really far-reaching deal, or whether, in fact, they just crawl across the finish line. At this point, I think it's more likely, sad to say, that they just crawl across the finish line.

ANDERSON: All right, well, watch this space, we'll have you back. Gloria, thank you very much, indeed.

BORGER: Yes, sure, sure.

ANDERSON: The view out of Washington for you this evening. And tomorrow, all eyes will be on Europe when the banking authority releases results of the latest bank stress tests, as they're called.

That's 91 banks across 21 countries, banks a key part, of course, of Europe's debt crisis because they hold billions in bonds from financially troubled governments. Let's hope the report will identify the weak banks, pushing national regulators to strengthen their finances.

Both sides of the pond, for you, this evening. And back in the US, how politicians have handled -- or arguably, mishandled -- the economy has provided no end of comedy fodder for this man. Up next, we're going to talk to a legend of late night talk TV. Jay Leno on men behaving badly and his true obsession. Stay with us.


ANDERSON: He is an icon of late night comedy who can knock a politician's ego down to size with a single punchline. Jay Leno's barbs are still sharp after almost 20 years at the "Tonight Show" desk.

But speaking to my colleague Zain Verjee, he revealed he does have a tender side, at least when it comes to his true love, cars.


RICKY MINOR, ANNOUNCER, "THE TONIGHT SHOW": And now, your host, Jay Leno.

ZAIN VERJEE, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): He's one of the gladiators in America's late night talk show wars, a game where ratings dictate your rise and fall, everyone's a target.

JAY LENO, HOST, "THE TONIGHT SHOW": And during the speech at a high school, former president George W. Bush said he's really enjoying the fact that he's no longer president. Hey, join the club.


VERJEE: Including the host himself.

LENO: Well, what -- what is the special message?



LENO: Fired? Thank you, thank you, Donald Trump.

VERJEE: Leno's on again, off again role as host of NBC's "The Tonight Show" has captured as many headlines as his guests.

JERRY SEINFELD, COMEDIAN: You know, in the 90s, when we quit a show, we actually left.


VERJEE: Leno's been at the top of the ratings, making "The Tonight Show" a must for politicians on the sell. But the only thing the host is buying, it seems, are cars. And lots of them. I sat down with Jay Leno as he visited the UK to take a look under some British bonnets.

LENO: This used to be the center of the automotive world at one point, certainly in Europe. And it kind of went away, and now, it's -- bit by bit, it's coming back.

VERJEE (on camera): Why are you so obsessed with cars? What is it about your passion over cars?

LENO: You know, it's -- I like transportation, I like -- I mean, to me, most countries, their base is their industry. And I don't think we would've won World War II if we had not had the ability to manufacture airplanes and guns. And when you send all that out, well, you lose something. You lose the heart.

VERJEE: How many cars do you have?

LENO: Oh, you sound like my wife.

VERJEE: Oh, God. In the neighborhood?

LENO: Well, there's a lot. There's about a hundred and something. Some are quite valuable and some are just -- I'm sort of like Mia Farrow. I see a car in the street that looks abandoned --


LENO: I bought a Corvair the other day. It was $600, and it was going to get junked. And I couldn't let it get there, and I brought it back to the garage. You buy it for 600, you put 50 grand in it, you sell it for 12.5. That's better than the stock market.

VERJEE: What is it that makes late night comedy talk, the kind of show you do, such a big winner with US audiences? What is it?

LENO: Well, obviously, they're inexpensive to do, which sort of makes it easy for the networks. And you're on every night. Most television is taped and shown later.

And when you do a TV show every night, people watch the news. We come on in the States right after the news, so people watch the news, and then they watch you make fun of the news they just saw. We don't tape three shows on a Monday and then air them. We tape literally just hours before you see it.

VERJEE: So how -- what's the line between really serious stuff that's going on around the world that affects people's lives, the world, and then the jokes? Because you need to hit the right note. And it's OK if it's a little bit offensive to --

LENO: Yes, but --

VERJEE: -- to an audience, you kind of want a bit of that, but what's a --

LENO: -- if it's not a very powerful people, then it's OK.


VERJEE: So, you had fun with the Anthony Weiner story, then?

LENO: That was a fantastic story.

VERJEE: Right. Is it scandals that give you good material?

LENO: Scandals are --

VERJEE: You want scandals.

LENO: Men behaving badly, the peter tweater, there's nothing better than that.


LENO: I'm getting a tweet. Oh, my gosh. Oh, my gosh. It's from Congressman Anthony Weiner. Look at that. Oh, my gosh.



LENO: The Anthony Weiner scandal is the perfect thing because it's a man behaving badly. Nobody was killed, nobody was injured. The only person is just his pride and, obviously, who does that? I mean, it's ridiculous.

VERJEE: It was a lot of great fodder --


LENO: Yes.

VERJEE: -- for all the late night --

LENO: Oh, yes, it was great.

VERJEE: -- late night shows. Give people a sense of the process involved behind your show. So, you guys all sit in a room and everyone's writing --

LENO: Yes, you sit in a room --

VERJEE: -- just kind of choosing --

LENO: -- and you pray for something --


VERJEE: You sit in a room and pray.

LENO: Bill Clinton was the golden age of comedy. It didn't get any better than that. George Bush, pretty good there. Oh, boy, yes. Fantastic! And of course, Obama, not so much. He's --


LENO: Well, he's well-spoken and he's serious and he does not seem to have those sort of usual flaws. Reads from teleprompter a little bit too much, but that's OK. But we have Sarah Palin and we have some of these other people, so it's actually -- I think it's going to be OK.

VERJEE: Who do you think will give you the best fodder for being a presidential candidate?

LENO: Well, Sarah --

VERJEE: Give you the best material. Sarah Palin?

LENO: Sarah Palin is fantastic. She has the fire in the belly, that's what she said. See, it's not the fire in the belly, it's the air in the head.


SARAH PALIN, FORMER VICE PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: And Alaska, being so different from Los Angeles. Here, when people have a frozen look on their face, I find out it's Botox.



VERJEE: What do you think of her? I mean, you've met her. You've interviewed her.

LENO: Sarah Palin?


LENO: You know, in my job, I try not to question people's motives, I just try to question their judgment. And I don't like to take sides. It's not -- I mean, I have an opinion, but I try to keep it to myself. And you go with the joke. You hang people with their own words, basically, which seems fair.

Comedy's a lot like the mafia. Don't touch the wives or the families, you just go after the person. And that's sort of the criteria I use.

VERJEE: Who's been the best interview?

LENO: It was John Kennedy, Jr. Because I was a child when his father was killed. And you've all seen that famous photo of him saluting the casket.


LENO: And I remember sitting in the living room with my mother watching that as a kid, a 12, 13-year-old. And my mother crying profusely, just couldn't stop crying.

You know when you're a kid you kind of -- "Mom, are you -- ?" How do you make your mom stop crying?


LENO: And I remember seeing the image of it. And I hadn't thought of that in 40 years, whatever it was. And as I shook his hand, I saw him in the monitor shaking my hand, and I almost started to cry --


LENO: -- because I went back to my mom sitting there, and I wanted to say, "Look. He's OK. I mean, he's fine." And it was really emotional. It was just an odd -- but it didn't strike me until I saw his face and I realized, that's the kid that was saluting.

VERJEE: Do you ever get tired of always being on?

LENO: It's much worse if you -- like you play a doctor, if you're a doctor on a TV show, if you're Patrick Dempsey --

VERJEE: Right.

LENO: -- from "Grey's Anatomy," you go to a party. "Patrick?"


LENO: "I'm not really a doctor."

VERJEE: Right.

LENO: So, to me, when people talk to me, that talk about my wife or my cars or motorcycles, or something. They actually talk to me as me, so it's actually not as unpleasant as all that, actually. It's actually --

You know, you don't go into this business if you don't like people. And I enjoy talking to people, and you always learn something odd. There's always just odd people.

VERJEE: There's always sort of odd --

LENO: You know people that say, "I don't like you, but my wife's a fan." Well, thank you, sir. That's very kind.


ANDERSON: Zain Verjee with Mr. Jay Leno, your big interview this evening.

And coming up on CNN, we've got some great specials to tell you about. First up, our Freedom Project, where we join the fight to end modern-day slavery with no excuses.

CNN's Jim Clancy convened a panel with several of the major players trying to stop human trafficking around the world. Amongst them, noted author Kevin Bales, actress and UN goodwill ambassador Mira Sorvino, and US congressman Chris Smith, a major focus, getting businesses to track their supply chains, making sure they know who is working on their products at every stage.


KEVIN BALES, PRESIDENT, FREE THE SLAVES: It can be sorted out. It can be traced. And of course, it also depends on precisely what you're trying to trace. Some things are more difficult than others.

But we know it can be done, because it is being done, and the beginnings of that process on a lot of areas, from minerals that go into our cell phones to cocoa that goes into the food that we at and so forth. All of those are going along.

What has to happen is that consumers have to be part of that process, as well, in supporting and asking for, demanding that they have the information about what's in the supply chain for the things that they buy.

JIM CLANCY, HOST, "FREEDOM PROJECT: THIS WEEK'S FOCUS": Well, there's some limits here. How many people have -- how many people would give up using their cell phone if they know the coltan was being mined illegally in the Democratic Republic of Congo. Raise your hands.

Really give up -- would you really give up your cell phone? Or would you just -- would you rather look for one that was safe, one that was approved in one way or another? Mira?

MIRA SORVINO, ACTRESS, UN GOODWILL AMBASSADOR: I just wanted to ask a question of Kevin, because I've read your fantastic book, "Ending Slavery," and I wanted to know, do you feel that the government has a role in beefing up their laws in terms of regulating the chain of product and supply and whether there's third party slavery involved?

BALES: The answer is absolutely. And in fact, the test coalition right now has suggestions about the re-authorization of the Trafficking Victims Protection Act, which would close a couple of the existing loopholes in that very law and make it possible to say not even a tiny amount of slave-made good can reach the United States.

CLANCY: You know what I'd really like to have is what I've mentioned here. Somebody that would tell me, your cell phone's approved. Your cell phone's clean. Your product that you have bought here was not made with slave labor. Possible? Congressman?

REP. CHRIS SMITH (R), NEW JERSEY: Well, I would actually disagree that human rights and profits are incompatible. If the companies adopt a corporate strategy that realizes that you can't exploit people, you can't use sweatshops and have parts of the chain --

CLANCY: But remember, we want to empower them, the consumers, to join this fight.

SMITH: But that's where transparency, that's where the efforts that Julia Ormond and others have expended in California to get corporate buy-in and to really make it so that there's a peer pressure, not only a legal pressure, but a peer pressure, to be on the side of not being exploitative.


ANDERSON: Yes, it's a good debate. See more of that panel discussion Friday on the CNN Freedom Project, our new weekly rap show, 18:30 London, 19:30 Berlin time.

And then, Saturday, CNN's Going Green special event begins with "Extreme Science," hosted by environmentalist and CNN Special Correspondent Philippe Cousteau. Now, it's an unforgettable journey to a land of extremes and some important research on climate change. You can see that this hour Saturday night.

And at the same time, you can participate in a live chat on Facebook with Philippe. Go to for more details.

I've just got time for your Parting Shots this evening. In a phenomenon dubbed Manhattan Henge, twice a year in New York City, the sun sets in perfect alignment with Manhattan streets, sending out fingers of light between the skyscrapers.

The "Henge" in the nickname refers to Stonehenge in England, of course, which is also perfectly aligned with the sun during the summer and winter solstices.


ANDERSON: Let's keep that music up as we say that's it for our -- you for -- from us tonight. I'm Becky Anderson, your world's connected, thanks for watching. The world news headlines and "BackStory" follow this.