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Deal on U.S. Debt; Why Dagong Downgraded U.S. Credit Rating; Violence in Syria; Woods Says He's Ready for Comeback

Aired August 2, 2011 - 16:00:00   ET


MAX FOSTER, CNN ANCHOR: A debt deal at last, but no praise from the U.S. president. After months of arguing and a weekend scramble, the U.S. Congress narrowly avoids financial disaster.

Then, the struggle for Somalia -- African Union troops try to hold off militants, as the country descends further into famine.

And CNN's Freedom Project gets results -- how a story we aired inspired action in India.

These stories and more tonight as we connect the world.

First, the United States steps back from the brink of default with just hours to spare. President Barack Obama today signed emergency legislation to raise the government's borrowing limit after the Senate passed a bill by a comfortable margin. The compromise deal, approved on Monday night by the House, raises the debt ceiling by around $2.5 trillion whilst requiring massive budget cuts over the next decade.

Just because the president signed off on the deal doesn't mean he was happy about it. You could say the same about virtually every lawmaker in the House and the Senate who voted yes.

Our Richard Quest watched the bruising political battle in Washington unfold.

Where does this leave us, then -- Richard?

RICHARD QUEST, HOST, "QUEST MEANS BUSINESS": Where it leaves us is with a debt ceiling that is immediately raised by the best part of a trillion, budget cutbacks of basically the same amount, 900 and some billion, and a super committee to be formed that promises to really focus the mind on the deficit, the long-term deficit reduction.

Before we hear from some of the people involved, you've got to put this into context, Max. Just tonight, the Dow Jones off very sharply, more than 200 points. That is a ringing condemnation, in many ways, of what happened here in Washington.

When the president signed the bill into law earlier in the day, things did seem a little bit rosier.

Here's what Mr. Obama said in the Rose Garden.


BARACK OBAMA, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: In the last few months, the economy has already had to absorb an earthquake in Japan, the economic headwinds coming from Europe, the Arab spring and the rile in oil prices, all of which have been very challenging for the recovery.

But these are things we couldn't control. Our economy didn't need Washington to come along with a manufactured crisis to make things worse. That was in our hands. It's pretty likely that the uncertainty surrounding the raising of the debt ceiling for both businesses and consumers, has been unsettling and just one more impediment to the full recovery that we need. And it was something that we could have avoided entirely.


QUEST: So that is the scenario that we move into the next process. And for that, Max, you're looking at this super committee. This committee will have six members of each party, chosen by their leadership. It will come up with a raft of proposals for long-term deficit reduction and tax reform. And that, will, of course, be voted by the Congress.

But make no bones about it, that part of the process promises to be as ugly and as acrimonious as anything we've seen so far, because even if the committee members get on with each other and do good work, the vote itself, come November and December, will most certainly not be an easy one -- Max, any -- to put this into perspective, Ambassador Robert Kimmit is a former deputy Treasury secretary.

He joined me here earlier and gave me an idea of what's in store ahead.


ROBERT KIMMITT, SENIOR INTERNATIONAL COUNSEL, WILMERHALE: We've been through these debt limit fights for 25 years. The decision is always made on the last day.

But here's the important point. We are focused on the issue of our time -- the role, the size, the cost of government. So it didn't surprise me that it took time for people to come to grips with this existential issue for both the U.S. and global economy.


QUEST: And that -- and that is really the question, because connecting it all together, it doesn't matter whether it's the U.K. with austerity, Italy now with its latest measures, or, indeed, Germany, right the way down to Greece. Wherever you are in the world, it's this question of the relationship of the people to their government and what is to be expected that's now firmly on the agenda.

FOSTER: A lot of people would have been watching Wall Street and very concerned to see the Dow falling for eight straight sessions now. And immediate concerns about the politics, perhaps, a result.

Does that mean that the Dow can -- can come back or will there be this cloud hanging over this now?

QUEST: A cloud hanging over, no hesitation. I don't even need to think about that. The Dow should have had another relief rally today. The Senate passed its -- the -- the bill. The president signed it. There is going to be a debt ceiling increase. That's going to be some form of deficit measures. But it didn't.

The Dow is concerned and investors are concerned -- oh, and one other -- one other bit of good news. Fitch rating agency confirmed the U.S. AAA rating.

The reality is, the long-term growth and health, in the medium-term of this economy, is questionable and that's what the market is focused on and given a thumbs down today.

FOSTER: Richard in Washington.

Thank you very much, indeed, for joining us on the program.

Well, when Barack Obama took office at the beginning of 2009, he did so with a wave of public support and huge expectations. You'll remember, I'm sure.

One month into his term, 76 percent of Americans approved of the way he was handling his job. But the honeymoon didn't last very long at all. Let's look at October, toward the end of 2009, Mr. Obama's approval rating sank to 54 percent.

Things only got worse for the president months before the mid-term elections in 2010. His job rating hit an all time low of just 42 percent.

Over the next few months, Mr. Obama's approval rating hovered in the high 40s and the low 50s. And that was until Osama bin Laden was killed. Let's go to May this year.

The president saw a bump to 54 percent after giving the order to kill bin Laden. And come forward to this week and a CNN poll conducted yesterday found that only 45 percent of Americans approved of the way Mr. Obama was handling the job, just a few points of his all time low.

Now, President Obama took heat from the right and the left during the debt crisis. In fact, some of the most stinging criticism came from the people in his own party who said he conceded too much to Republicans, betraying the middle class and the poor.

Now, for more on how the budget battle may have affected Mr. Obama's popularity, let's bring in Robert Worcester, founder of the MORI Research and polling organization.

You've watched these things come and go. You've watched presidents come and go, haven't you, Bob?

What's your read of those figures?

How concerned should he be?

ROBERT WORCESTER, CHAIRMAN, MORI POLLS: Ah. I think you have to start with the electorate in the United States when he was elected, when 53 percent voted for him. So I'm hardly surprised that he went from 79 percent in hope, just after taking office, down to 54 percent, because those are the folks who said, we want this guy to be our president, more or less.

He then fell down to the low 40s. And that would be concerning. But that's not going to be an election, after all, until next year. And it's a long time. A week is a long time in politics, Harold Wilson once said. And over a year is a very long time, indeed, even for American elections, which, of course, are already on now.

FOSTER: And there's an argument, isn't there, that at this point, you actually want almost low poll numbers because that allows you to, you know, create a wave going toward the election, right?

WORCESTER: Now that sounds very manipulative and absolutely 100 percent right.

FOSTER: Yes. Well, in terms of those figures, we all talk about how he compares to his current rivals.


FOSTER: But in terms of history and other presidents, where does he stand, would you say?

WORCESTER: Well, he stands much better than a number of them. Certainly Nixon comes to mind. But I think the point is this is another, "this is the economy, stupid" election. It's going to be. If the reversal of his economic planning and the resuscitation of the American economy is thrown into a tailspin by this action today...

FOSTER: He'll blame the compromise.

WORCESTER: Ah, he'll blame the compromise, specifically, the Republican Congress, because it wouldn't have happened if there had been all three. So if the economy does turn down, not recover, this time a year from now, I think he's going to walk it. Number one, "it's the economy, stupid," as I say.

Number two, you don't beat somebody with nobody. And the Republicans haven't got anybody at the moment that they can put up as a legitimate opponent in the White House race next year.

FOSTER: And if the economy does do well, they will obviously claim credit.

WORCESTER: Of course.

FOSTER: In terms of his main rivals, where does he stand?

WORCESTER: Well, he's a pretty well level thing. There have been three or four polls in this last three weeks, say, and he's gone in two polls ahead by 1.5 percent in one and 3 percent in the other. The Pew organization, I just checked it myself, the most recent one -- and I've got a lot of respect for Pew -- he's -- the Republican is ahead by 2.5 -- 2.5 percent. But the Democrats are ahead in the previous one, by Rasmussen, plus one. And NBC/"Wall Street Journal" plus three in the previous two.

So if you take those apart, all you can say is they're level pegging him.

FOSTER: And people around the world will have -- get -- will be used to their own polling organizations in their own countries.

How accurate do American polls tend to be?

WORCESTER: Well, they get a lot more accurate as -- as people's minds focus. When I -- when I looked at these and it was 43-41 in one poll, roughly, you're looking at 80 percent and you've got 20 percent who say somebody else or their Uncle Tom or whatever, rather than who the candidates will be.

FOSTER: So they're not focused on the election right now?

WORCESTER: Precisely. They're focusing on approval, and that's OK. But again, you don't beat somebody with nobody.

FOSTER: OK, Bob, thank you very much, indeed, for joining us.

WORCESTER: Thank you.

FOSTER: Now, the debt compromise in Washington was good enough for the credit rating agencies. But not everyone shares the same faith in the U.S. economic system.

As Stan Grant now reports, another firm downgraded America's debt months ago and is knocking it down yet again.


STAN GRANT, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Guan Jianzhong has pored over the U.S. financial books and he doesn't like what he sees. He once worked as an accountant for a Chinese firm on Wall Street, but now he says he's lost faith in America's economy and its political system.

GUAN JIANZHONG, CHAIRMAN, DAGONG GLOBAL CREDIT RATING COMPANY (through translator): The two political parties acted in a very irresponsible way and it greatly exposed the negative impact of the political system on the economy.

GRANT: Guan heads up Dagong, China's only independent international credit rating agency. While the big three -- Moody's, Fitch and Standard & Poor's -- watch and wait, Dagong has already downgraded the U.S. once last November. And now on the back of the debt crisis, Guan says he's marking America down again.

JIANZHONG: Our downgrading of the U.S. simply reflects the U.S. inability to pay back its debt. It reflects reality.

GRANT: The people who work here pride themselves on being independent -- Dagong says it is not controlled by the Chinese government -- and will make the hard calls where other international credit ratings agencies will not.

JIANZHONG: People are used to credit ratings by the big three, but the financial crisis has proved them wrong. They can no longer shoulder the responsibility of rating the world.

GRANT: Downgrading the U.S. could hurt China. As America's biggest international creditor, any damage to U.S. financial credibility could cost China billions of dollars. Analysts say China, with big reserves of cash and committed to low currency, high export growth, is tied to the U.S., like it or not.

PATRICK CHOVANEC, ECONOMIC ANALYST: There aren't that many other markets that are as deep or as liquid as treasuries. I actually expect there are none. So -- so when they accumulate reserves, this is really the only place they can put them.

GRANT: Dagong, though, has a warning -- China needs to start looking elsewhere to put its money.

Stan Grant, CNN, Beijing.


FOSTER: Now, a disturbing video is causing an uproar in Syria n raising new questions about the character of the protest movement there. We'll have details on that along with the latest violence and efforts to stop the crackdown in just two minutes time.

Starving in Somalia and defying the Al Shabab militia -- in 20 minutes, the effects of famine and Ramadan in Vog -- Mogadishu.

And awareness leads to action -- a brothel manager is arrested in New Delhi and stolen children rescued, after CNN's Freedom Project put the problem in sharp focus. The full story coming up in 35 minutes.


FOSTER: I'm Max Foster in London.

You're watching CONNECT THE WORLD.

And here's a look at other stories we're following for you this hour.

Nearly five months into Syria's uprising, some of the most shocking images yet are emerging. A warning -- they may be hard to watch and you may wish to turn away. The videos we're about to air show bodies being dumped in a river. Again, some of you may find this upsetting. It's unclear exactly where and when the video was shot. But it shows bodies floating in a river, their blood tainting the water. Curses can be heard in the background.

Whoever posted these images on YouTube says thugs loyal to the Syrian president dumped the bodies of anti-government protests. But according to Syrian state TV, the perpetrators are actual part of the protest movement. And at least one member of the opposition agrees.

CNN cannot confirm any of this because we're not allowed in Syria, but Arwa is following this story for us from CNN Beirut.

You'd better tell us what you've managed to find out -- Arwa.

ARWA DAMON, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Yes, Max, those most certainly are incredibly disturbing images. And they're really just going to underscore how violent this uprising in Syria is becoming and also how complex, with Hama now becoming the focus of the Syrian uprising.


DAMON (voice-over): "Lucky you. You've gone to join your father," this woman wails over her dead son's body in the city of Hama. Her husband killed, according to a voice on the clip, in 1982, when the current president's father launched an infamous bloody crackdown against what was an armed uprising by the Muslim Brotherhood.

Two generations were killed in Hama by a father and son in power. The city now at the epicenter of the latest Syrian revolt and battle for power.

Residents and activists say that Syrian security forces are indiscriminately firing at homes, hospitals and mosques -- part of a renewed crackdown that began on Sunday -- a warning, activists say, that the regime will not hesitate to spill blood, even during the holy month of Ramadan, in its bid to wrest control, forcing residents to set up makeshift barricades and defend themselves however they can.

But Syrian state TV offers a very different narrative of events in Hama. The anchorwoman presented this clip as evidence that armed gangs are responsible for the killing and destruction. The video shows men, whose faces are concealed, firing weapons. Their target is unclear.

(on camera): CNN is currently not being allowed back into Syria. We cannot independently verify any of these videos or either account of what is happening inside Hama. But what is indisputable is that the situation in Syria is growing more brutal and complex. A graphic video, that I should warn some viewers may found unsuitable, was posted to YouTube and it illustrates that brutality.

(voice-over): A posting to YouTube claims the video shows Assad thugs cursing as they throw dead bodies off a bridge in Hama.

Syrian state TV aired the same clip, but the banner states that it was armed gangs tossing the bodies of martyred security personnel.

One activist questioned the video's authenticity.

RAZAN ZAITOUNEH, ACTIVIST: The (INAUDIBLE) has been right for a while. It is summer. It hasn't been running for a while. So there is a lot of suspect about this video, who is behind it, who is really those people who are dumping these killed people in the river.

Various places.

DAMON: Another prominent Syrian activist told CNN he was 100 percent confident that the video is authentic, this was the river near Hama and that the dead are Syrian intelligence, killed by a local Syrian fundamentalist group that fought in Iraq and takes pride in showing such images. But he adds, "They are not at all representative of the democracy- seeking demonstrators."

Despite the very different narratives, an indication perhaps that the situation in Syria could be spiraling dangerously out of everyone's control.


DAMON: The emergence of this video comes at an especially sensitive time for Syria, as the United Nations is debating a resolution, as the European Union and the United States are talking about slapping on additional sanctions.

But as one activist was telling us, if, in fact, it should be confirmed that the -- those in the video carrying out this atrocious attack were, in fact, this fringe fundamentalist group, then it would be up to the demonstrators to take to the streets in even greater numbers, not just to chant for the downfall of the regime, but also to -- with a unified voice to call for condemnation of this type of violence and highlight the fact that this most definitely is not the Syria that they are looking for -- Max.

FOSTER: Arwa, thank you very much, indeed, for that.

Now, at least 20 people have been injured in a bombing outside a Catholic Church in Kirkuk in Northern Iraq. Staff from the church were among those wounded in the blast. Nearby homes were also damaged. Church attacks are becoming a common problem in Iraq. Seventy people were killed in a similar bombing in October last year.

The world's biggest automaker, Toyota, has announced a 99 percent plunge in its first quarter profits. The company says the huge fall is mainly because of a stronger yen and this year's devastating earthquake and tsunami. Production stopped at a number of Japanese plants after they were damaged by those disasters.

Police here in London say they've arrested an eleventh person in connection with the phone hacking and bribery investigation. The -- the suspect, identified by officials only as a 71 -year-old man, is being held on conspiracy and corruption charges. British media are reporting the suspect is a former managing editor with the now defunct "News of the World".

Coming up on CONNECT THE WORLD, reaching out to Asia -- we'll visit Russia's gateway to the East. Our special report from Vladivostok is up in around 20 minutes time.

But first, good to go -- Tiger Woods says he's feeling great ahead of his return to golf.

We'll have all the day's sports news after the break.


FOSTER: (INAUDIBLE) support now and from the world's number one golfer. Tiger Woods says he's ready and raring to go, as he prepares for his comeback to the sport. Woods has been out of the game for almost three months with a knee injury. He'll return to the course at the world championships in Ohio on Thursday.

Woods says he's now pain-free and pleased with his preparations. He also defended his decision to sack caddy, Steve Williams.

So, can Tiger climb back up in the rankings?

Well, Candy Reid joins us now from CNN Center.

I'm sure the sponsors hope so.

CANDY REID, HOST, "WORLD SPORT": Yes, Max, I think so.

Can you believe it?

Tiger Woods is currently ranked 28th in the world rankings. He hasn't won a tournament, Max, since November 2009, when his personal life imploded. He hasn't won a major title -- of course he had 14 to his name - - since 2008.

So that means that there's a lot of up side for Tiger Woods as soon as he starts playing well and winning tournaments, well, his ranking is going to go back up again.

But as you say, he's playing this week at the Bridgestone Invitational in Akron, Ohio. And then next week, he's going to be playing in the major, the PGA Championship right here in Atlanta, Georgia. And his good friend, Bryon Bell is actually going to be on his bag. He fired his long-term caddy, Stevie Williams -- they were together for 12 years -- just a couple of weeks ago. It was a bit nasty. All that's according to Williams.

Anyway, but Tiger, well, he says he's pain-free, as you said, and he's ready and ready to get back to winning ways.


TIGER WOODS, GOLFER: Can I beat these boys?

That's fun. That's fun. Getting out there and -- and trying to win golf tournaments, being there with a chance to win, whether you -- you win or fail, just being there, is just a rush. And it's just so much fun. And trying to pull off the shots that you've done in practice when it matters the most and see what you've got, that's fun.


REID: Now, Byron Bell is just going to be an interim caddy for this week and probably next week at the PGA.

But after that, well, who knows?

Tiger says that the applicants to be his long-term caddy, they've been filling up. So you can imagine the pieces of paper from everybody who's been applying, Max. I think you should, too. It's quite lucrative, I hear.

FOSTER: Oh, it's -- you know, I'd even manage to put him off his game, I'm sure.

But I was -- I was alluding to it, in terms of sponsors, actually, the whole sport needs Tiger, right?

They -- you know, they all ride on his...

REID: Yes.

FOSTER: -- success. So this is good for the whole sport?

REID: Oh, absolutely. We've had quite a few other winners recently, including Mory -- Rory McIlroy, who has been wonderful for the sponsors, too. But everyone likes Tiger Woods. As soon as Tiger Woods is playing, people are tuning in. That's absolutely the case, whether he plays well or not. They just love the way he plays.

He's got that competitive edge, hasn't he?

And, of course, he's got 14 majors. Jack Nicklaus has 18. And 19 is definitely the number Tiger is going for. He says he's got plenty of time and as long as he's healthy, he can do it.

All right, Max...


REID: All right, Max, we've got some other sporting headlines.

A case of lost in translation for one Serbian tennis player. Bojana Jovanovski flew from last week's tournament in Maryland to Colfax for the San Diego Open. When no one arrived to pick her up from the airport, she phoned the event organizers, who said they were looking for her in the terminal building.

Bojana said, "Well, I'm the only one here." That's when they twicked (ph) she's flown to Carlsbad in New Mexico instead.


Jovanovski had to spend the night there before flying the remaining 900 miles to California. She got to the tournament just half an hour before her match, which, unfortunately, she lost in three sets to ninth seed Roberta Vinci. At least she played. Good on her.

Finally, a bit of rough and tumble. Have a look at the American collegiate wrestler, Ellis Coleman. And that was a move apparently called the flying squirrel. The student athlete from Northern Michigan University surprised his Iranian opponent right at the whistle, leaping up and over him, one of the most ridiculous takedowns, perhaps, you'll ever see.

Coleman won the match and went on to earn the Greco-Roman bronze medal at the Junior World Championship in Romania. And it was all down for the flying squirrel.

We'll have much more on our half hour show, "WORLD SPORT," which is in about 60 minutes time -- Max, I'm coming over to London and I'm going to practice that move on you.

FOSTER: Fantastic. And now I know what a flying squirrel is, you know, away from the wildlife world, you start thinking all sorts of things.

I look forward to seeing you.

Now, a case of lost in translation for one Serbian tennis player. We were talking about that a little earlier on. But we want to tell you about an exclusive interview with a man widely regarded as the world's best footballer.

The great Pele has joined forces with a fellow football legend, Eric Cantona, to resurrect a once glamorous American club. The New York Cosmos are back and will be playing a widely anticipated exhibition match against Manchester United on Friday.

Becky asked Pele, would his own club be able to win its first match in 25 years?


PELE, FOOTBALL LEGEND: Always, you have to trust. You know, I never think before the game, my team is going to lose. Always -- or we're going to lose. Always I have the confidence, you know?


FOSTER: Well, do join us for our big interview with Pele tomorrow night here on CONNECT THE WORLD.

Starving people set personal safety aside, as militants try to tighten their grip on the Somali capital. The offensive underway and the African Union's response.

Then, connecting Russia to the Far East -- we tour the country's biggest Pacific port.

And retrieving lost childhoods -- a brothel bust in India sheds light on human trafficking in connection with our CNN Freedom Project.

Stay for that.


FOSTER: You're back with CONNECT THE WORLD on CNN, the world's news leader. Let's get a check of the headlines for you this hour.

A done deal. US president Barack Obama has signed emergency legislation to raise the debt ceiling, avoiding an unprecedented government default. The Senate and House approved the bill earlier, ending months of bitter partisan debate.

Despite that deal, the Dow plunged nearly 266 points today, its eighth straight loss. Weak economic data overshadowed any relief about a resolution to debt crisis. This is the Dow's longest losing streak since October 2008.

New video posted online appears to show fresh graves in the Syrian city of Hama. The UN High Commissioner for Human Rights says at least 145 people have been killed there since Friday. Human rights activists say Syrian's security forces began storming the city over the weekend.

The trial of deposed Egyptian president Hosni Mubarak is scheduled to begin on Wednesday, but his lawyers say he's too sick to be moved to Cairo for the trial. He's accused of ordering the killing of protesters and faces corruption charges as well.

The operator of Japan's crippled nuclear power plant says it has measured lethal levels of radiation. A spokesman says readings on Monday showed the highest levels since the earthquake and tsunami.

Those are the headlines for you this hour.

Nearly 80 percent of human trafficking victims are sexually exploited. It's just one of the many horrifying facts we're highlighting in the yearlong CNN Freedom Project. We're using our global reach to shine a spotlight on modern-day slavery.

But it's not just about the depressing statistics. We want to show you how awareness of the problem can lead to action. Today, we got word of exactly how that can happen.

Following a CNN Freedom Project investigation, authorities have arrested a brothel owner in New Delhi. More on that big development in just a moment.

But first, we want to remind you about our documentary, Nepal's Stolen Children, which highlighted efforts to prevent forced prostitution.

Actress and activist Demi Moore saw firsthand the tireless crusade of our 2010 CNN Hero of the Year, Anuradha Koirala's mission to prevent thousands of women and girls from becoming victims.

We want to remind you of a specific clip from the documentary, when Demi traveled to the Nepal-Indian border to see how one group is trying to stop Nepalese girls from being trafficked into Indian cities.


DEMI MOORE, CNN SPECIAL CONTRIBUTOR (voice-over): Today I'm with Anuradha at the Kathmandu Airport boarding a plane for India. Or to be precise, to take me to the border Nepal shares with India.

It's across that border that thousands of Nepalese girls are trafficked each year into brothels of Mumbai, Delhi, Kolkata, and other Indian cities.

In just four hours at the border, I saw several thousand people crossing over.

Anuradha introduces me to Maiti Nepal's own border guards. Their slight appearance belies an intense determination, which is born from their own experience. All of Maiti Nepal's guards were themselves trafficked into brothels.

There are 50 guards working for Maiti Nepal across ten checkpoints. Every day at the border, they will intercept on average 20 girls at risk of being trafficked.

MOORE (on camera): Can you explain to me how it exactly works?

ANURADHA KOIRALA, HUMAN TRAFFICKING ACTIVIST: What she said is every girl they watch, and they watch the men, also. They watch and as soon as they catch a suspect, they keep the -- one should ask the girl or should ask the boy, and then they cross-question.

After cross-questioning, if they find that whatever they're saying is not true, then if it is a boy, they hand over the boy to the police station, and then they take the girl and go to the transit home.


FOSTER: Well, of course, thousands of girls from Nepal still end up being trafficked into India, and a few days after that documentary aired, police raided one brothel in New Delhi's red light district. Nine girls were rescued and, today, Indian police tell CNN they've arrested the manager. They hope to arrest the owner on Wednesday. One of the victims was just ten years old.

It's just one example of how awareness can turn into action. CNN's Mallika Kapur spoke to the deputy commissioner in charge of that raid. As she reports, now, rescue efforts like this are becoming more common in India as police begin to make it a priority.


MALLIKA KAPUR, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): New Delhi's GB Road is the city's largest red light district. Police estimate 2,000 prostitutes live and work here.

They come from all parts of India and neighboring countries like Bangladesh and Nepal. Many, especially minors, are sold into the sex trade by human traffickers.

The area falls under the jurisdiction of deputy commissioner of police Aslam Khan. Put in charge of this area three months ago, anti-trafficking organizations say she's already made a difference.

ASLAM KHAN, DEPUTY POLICE COMMISSIONER, NEW DELHI: We concentrate on minor girls because the trafficking issue is about the minor girls only.

They are being brought from Nepal, they are being brought from the other parts of India in the name of giving them a job here or any other projects. But they are illegally trafficked here.

KAPUR: Just a few weeks ago, police got a tip from a charity group that minor girls were working at this brothel, so Kahn picked a team and set out.

KAHN: Then to the raid. We -- first of all, we blocked all the entryways, then we made a search. We found that yes, there were nine minor girls there.

KAPUR: Surendra Kaur was also on the raid. She shows us the entrance to the brothel. She tells us six of the nine girls rescued were from Nepal and looked to be between 12 and 16 years old.

KAPUR (on camera): All of them minors?

SURENDRA KAUR: Suspected to be minors. They are saying that, "Because we are Nepalese then we are, by reason, we are looking small. But willfully, we are living here, and no one has trafficked us over here." But --

KAPUR: But you had your doubts.

KAUR: Yes, yes. Because we had doubts, so we rescued them and sent them to Nirmal Chhaya.

KAPUR (voice-over): Nirmal Chhaya is a government shelter where suspected victims are taken for medical tests to determine their age. Police say once they confirm a girl is underage, they file charges against the brothel owner and the trafficker.

Tracking them down is tricky, but the police say they're encouraged by successes. Twenty-six brothel owners in this area have been arrested in the last two years.

KHAN: The police are becoming more and more proactive. That is the main reason behind this and yes, we cannot deny the fact that being more lady officers, yes they also bring about a change.

KAPUR: Triveni Acharya has been working with the police for 18 years. Her NGO, Rescue Foundation, regularly tips off the police and goes on raids with them, like the raid on the brothel where the nine girls were found.

TRIVENI ACHARYA, RESCUE FOUNDATION: Previously, when we called police, they say, "No, we have no staff." Now, police are becoming very sensitized.

KAPUR (on camera): Is this a change?

ACHARYA: Yes, it's a big change.

KAPUR: Big change?

ACHARYA: Yes. I think history can change.

KAPUR (voice-over): A change that extends to the police's attitude towards the girls, too.

ACHARYA (through translator): "Earlier, they talked to the girls rudely, used foul language," Acharya says. "Now when they rescue the girls, they talk tot hem with respect. They say, 'Come on, child, dress properly and come out with us.'"

KAPUR: Recognizing the girls as victims instead of criminals, that's the biggest change. A change the women in charge, the women on the ground and, perhaps, some of the girls behind these windows hope will last.

Mallika Kapur, CNN, New Delhi.


FOSTER: Now, you're watching CONNECT THE WORLD. Up next, a postcard from Vladivostok. Becky visits the Russian port for the latest installment in our Gateway series.


FOSTER: Well, to many of us, Vladivostok seems a far-flung and mysterious part of the world, but it's closer than you might think.

Half a million people live at Russia's biggest Pacific port, a massive gateway to Europe and Asia is still part of Russia, but seven time zones away from Moscow, and you'd be forgiven for thinking you're elsewhere.

Vladivostok is so important to Russia's connection with the East that it's host to the 2012 Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation Forum known as the APEC conference. It's also the latest destination in our special series of reports, The Gateway. Becky had a look around and sent this report.


BECKY ANDERSON, HOST (voice-over): Vladivostok. In Russian, "Lord of the East." Sitting on the Pacific Rim seven time zones away from Moscow, this misty port city is Russia's gateway to Asia.

Vladivostok's hinterland is huge. There are 400 million people who live within a 1,000-kilometer radius of the city. For Moscow, that figure is just 100 million.

It's easy to forget this is still Russia. Tokyo, Beijing, and northern Australia are closer than Moscow.

EVGENY KONOPLYA, CHIEF DOCKER (through translator): Our port is located in the Far East. Where does the sun rise? In east. Everybody says Moscow is the center of Russia, but I think we need to have the capital closer to Vladivostok, because everything starts in the east.

ANDERSON: On the far eastern seaboard of Russia, Vladivostok is at a crossroads of international shipping corridors. Corridors which lead to Japan, Korea, China, and beyond, channeling money into Russia from Asian boom economies.

This trading post of the east has been here for 114 years.

ALEKSEY DOVBYSH, COMMERCIAL PORT OF VLADIVOSTOK (through translator): Vladivostok Commercial Port is one of the biggest docking companies in the far east of Russia. Our port is crucial to the economy.

ANDERSON: In 2010, seven million tons of cargo passed through here.

ALEKSANDR NOVIKOV, FORKLIFT TRUCK DRIVER (through translator): If the port is busy, I can lift up to 150 containers in a 10-hour shift. My son works here, too. I want him to become a driver just like me.

ANDERSON: Containers stuffed with goods -- cars, machinery and sugar coming in, steel, iron and coal going out.

NOVIKOV (through translator): I'm not interested in knowing what's inside the containers. I'm interested only in carrying them. Sometimes we're told about more delicate cargo. For example, the container is light, around five tons, I can feel it. I know that there must be a car inside, so I carry it more carefully.

ANDERSON: From Vladivostok, it's just two hours drive to China.

ANDREW SHAPOVAL, CUSTOMS OFFICER (through translator): During the past two years, the amount of imported goods from China to Vladivostok Port has increased by 30 percent annually.

ANDERSON: This land was once ruled by the Chinese and, while the feel of the city is intrinsically Russian, Chinese goods are everywhere, and so are the tourists.

This is Chinatown. It's Russian owner says the prices are low and the quality is high.

ALEKSANDR OSTASCHENKO, CHINESE MARKET OWNER: First level is construction material. Second level is home material, home products. And third level -- and second level is this, clothes, shoes. And third level is very good, it's Chinese fast food restaurant, it's Panda Express.

ANDERSON: Russia is putting its faith in the Far East and the potential of this port city. Next year, 2012, Vladivostok will host the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation, or APEC summit. In preparation, $22 billion has been invested. New bridges, new roads, new hotels.

It's a tide of construction, paving the way for the port's future. And with the global economic compass tilting eastwards, Vladivostok is perfectly placed to increase its magnetic pull.


FOSTER: Well, coming up on CONNECT THE WORLD, as militants try to tighten their grip on the Somali capital, the offensive underway, and the African Union's response.


FOSTER: In Somalia, millions of starving people, a decades-long civil war and, right now, new maneuvers by militants. The group al-Shabab is intensifying its attacks against African Union troops in the Somali capital as famine ravages the country. Nima Elbagir brings us this exclusive report.


NIMA ELBAGIR, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): The Ramadan offensive has begun in earnest in Mogadishu.

Every year in the Islamic holy month, the African Union forces supporting the fragile Somali government come under intense attack from al Qaeda-linked Shabaab militants. The Islamic holy month has always enabled them to rally support at home and abroad.

African Union forces, under-resourced and under-supported can only look on as the supplies roll in.

FRED MUGISHA, MAJOR GENERAL, AFRICAN UNION FORCE COMMANDER, SOMALIA: Extremists are still receiving supplies from the sea and from the air from those who sympathize with them who share the same ideology.

Even three weeks back, there's two ships, two smaller boats, came from the direction of Yemen, and they offloaded some weapons. We got the information in time, but we had no capacity to stop this. And I think the international community, again, should do a little bit more to solve this problem.

ELBAGIR: But in spite of all this, the AU is making gains. The roads that lead to the front line in Mogadishu may look deserted, but you now have to travel further than in years past to reach Shabaab territory.

ELBAGIR (on camera): This is the new front line here in Mogadishu. It's quite far to the northeast of the city. The last time we were here nearly two years ago, the government and the African Union controlled only a triangle of territory: the port, the airport, and the state house.

Today, out of the 17 districts in Mogadishu, they control about 8.

ELBAGIR (voice-over): For the civilians who have fled Shabaab territory and their edict banning foreign aid groups, the expansion of the secured zone has given them the courage to seek refuge and aid in the capital.

And the AU says, given the resources, it could do even more.

PADDY ANKUNDA, LIEUTENANT COLONEL, AFRICAN UNION SPOKESMAN: The African countries need to do more. We cannot wait for anyone to come and do this job here. Somalia is part of Africa and the world is safer with a stable Somalia.

We need more troops, first and foremost from Africa. Of course, the entire world being affected by terrorism can possibly contribute from a distance, and that we will be able to do the job. But if the African countries do not wake up to the call, then it's only going to remain a dream.

ELBAGIR: After we left this front line, two AU soldiers were killed in gun battle with two would-be suicide bombers.

As they wait for that much-needed support, getting the job done here will come at a high price.

Nima Elbagir, CNN, Mogadishu.


FOSTER: Let's zero in now, then, on another type of much-needed support in Somalia, and we're talking about international aid. The country is suffering from its worst drought in 60 years, and that's caused a terrible famine.

Louis-Georges Arsenault visited the region last week. He is the director of Emergency Programs at UNICEF and comes to us today from New York. Thank you so much for joining us.

Presumably, you're not going to send your people into an area where there's a civil war. So, not only is there the famine, you're being hindered by all the military action there as well, right?

LOUIS-GEORGES ARSENAULT, DIRECTOR OF EMERGENCY PROGRAMS, UNICEF: Well, we have had -- the access is difficult at the time in Somalia, there's no doubt about that because of the conflict going on.

But I have to be from the onset saying that UNICEF has been in Somalia since 1967, and we never left the country. We have national offices, we are working with partners on the ground, the national or international NGOs throughout the country, including central south.

FOSTER: So, put this into context for us. How bad is the situation in terms of famine in Somalia as compared with previous famines there?

ARSENAULT: Well, it is true that it is cyclic in the countries we have seen famine over and over the years, but this year, there's a combination of factors.

It is true that the drought is extreme for many reasons, but we also know that high price has also impacted very much the population. And the ongoing conflict doesn't help, so all of these reasons are compounding the situation.

This is one of the reasons why people have started to move and to seek support within Somalia but very much outside, as well, in Ethiopia and in Kenya.

FOSTER: That's right, those neighboring countries are under pressure, aren't they, from people leaving Somalia? So, what sort of pressure are they under now?

ARSENAULT: I just came back last night from the region, where I was able to go to Dolo Odo in Ethiopia at the Somali border and was also was able to go to Dadaab and Liboi in Kenya at the Somalia border, and the situation is very different from one country to the other.

In Kenya, the camp that we have there for several years, the population has doubled over the last couple of months, so the situation is quite dramatic, and being able to respond to the needs.

And being able to work at the border, also, it was quite extraordinary to see the tremendous suffering that the people have had to do, walking sometimes -- I spoke to several women and children -- 25 days before getting to the border in Kenya. And when they were in at the border, it took another almost 100 kilometers to get to the camp.

So, there is a lot of work that is going on right now near the border to support the communities which are receiving these poor Somalis, but also enhance the capacity to help the people with a transition base in Liboi so they have better access and we are sort of addressing the suffering before they reach to Dadaab.

Because it increases the protection issues very much with this long, long journey that they have to go before getting to the camp.

FOSTER: Yes, but at least there's a positive there, isn't there? Because once they're out of the conflict zone, you can offer proper support and you got the resources you need to help them once they cross the border.

ARSENAULT: Absolutely. The situation was very difficult in the Dadaab camp three weeks ago, and I was with colleagues who were there three weeks ago, we could compare notes over this weekend, a couple of days ago, and clearly the situation is improving on the ground even though the influx is still very high in Kenya.

And as I was there Saturday, there were 27,000 refugees which were waiting to be registered. So, there is still an amazing pressure to do -- to increase our capacity on the ground.

But everybody is -- has their hands on the deck and really ensuring that people have the best they can get in the camps, but it doesn't mean that we cannot or should not focus also on the communities in northern Kenya, which are also suffering a great deal from a drought. Same thing in also in Somalia and in Ethiopia.

FOSTER: OK, well, thank you for joining us and good luck with your work. Louis-Georges Arsenault at UNICEF, thank you very much.

Now, CNN viewers have always played an important part in our reporting, and today is somewhat of a milestone, we can tell you. We are celebrating iReports' fifth birthday. The service has revolutionized the way we report the news, and the stories come from the people who watch us.

So, in tonight's Parting Shots, we thought it would be good to look back at some of your incredible work.


TEXT: On March 20, 2010, CNN invited people around the world to share a one-minute walk.

LEE CRAKER, BAGHDAD, IRAQ: Getting to work right after lunch, Al Faw Palace, Baghdad, Iraq.

JOHN DIKAR, TRUJILLO CITY, PERU: This is Trujillo City in Peru in South America.

JUAN PEREA Y MONSUWE, THE NETHERLANDS: Hello, world. This is Juan Perea Y Monsuwe, coming to you live from the Black Forest in the deep south of the Netherlands.


JEREMY BERG, GOKASE, JAPAN: This is Gokase, Japan.

ANDESON COOPER, HOST, AC 360: Thank goodness you were near enough to kind of respond as quickly as you could. When did -- what did you see when you first arrived at the scene?

MICHAEL ROBERTS, CAPTAIN, ODYSSEA MARINE: Well, Anderson, we arrived on location around 2:30 that morning. At that time, it was still dark, but you could pretty much see the blaze. It sort of resembled the sun coming over the horizon.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I'm so excited. I'm so proud to be an Arab today. For the people of Egypt who wanted freedom, who wanted to be better, who wanted to have a better life.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It is still going. Oh, my God, the building's going to fall!


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The whole ground was shaking so much, it was -- it was unreal. I can't describe it. It's just -- it was -- it felt like someone was just pulling you back and forth, like side to side as hard as they could.


FOSTER: Well, it does feel like yesterday that we launched iReport, but there you see the results.

I'm Max Foster. Thank you for watching us. The world headlines and "BackStory" will follow this short break.