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Crackdown in Syria; A Powerful Story of Loss; Tiger Swings Back into Action

Aired August 4, 2011 - 16:00:00   ET


BECKY ANDERSON, HOST: -- out across Hama in Syria. Protesters want the world to do more, but tonight, why the international community says their hands are tied.

Plus, $50 billion wiped off the value of searches in Europe echoed by a slide in stocks stateside. Our Jim Boulden explains why investors around the world are spooked.

And worried about piling on the pounds as you fly and flop this vacation period?

We reveal where in the world you are likely to go home with more carryon than you left with.

These stories and more tonight as we connect the world.

First this hour, chilling accounts of new atrocities in Syria. Just a day after the international community called for an end to the violent crackdown there. Human rights activists at least 109 people have been killed today alone in and around the city of Hama. Many were reportedly shot in the head at close range.

Witnesses say snipers are firing from rooftops, helicopters are whirling overhead and tanks are pushing into the city center -- a sharp escalation of a military offensive meant to crush anti-government dissent.

Well, a virtual blackout makes it extremely hard to get information out of the city. Phones, Internet service and electricity, we are told, have been cut or severely disrupted. And the government isn't allowing CNN, alongside other broadcasters, inside the country to confirm witness accounts.

We are still, though, following for you the very latest from the country.

We are in Beirut in Lebanon this evening.

And that is where we find Arwa Damon -- Arwa, what do we know at this point?

ARWA DAMON, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Yes, Becky, it's been incredibly difficult all day to actually reach individuals in Hama, not just for us, but for the activists who are based inside Syria and outside, as well. And that is what, they tell us, makes what is happening especially terrifying, because one can only begin to imagine the worst.

There has been some information trickling out, the death toll that you mentioned there. And we had also been able to ascertain from various sources that the military still controlled the city. Snipers were positioned on rooftops. There were still very serious shortages of food, water, especially medical supplies.

We did manage, at one point, to reach a resident of Hama by satellite phone. And we should tell everyone that the individuals speaking to us via satellite phone do so at great risk to themselves. Often, they have to step outside, find a safe location where they won't be spotted by the Syrian security forces to be able to make these brief calls.

This individual telling us, describing how he had to sneak between buildings, snake up against walls to move around to avoid detection by snipers.

And here is how he described the situation.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It's a very awful situation over there, because food problems still like, you know. The medical supplies, the medical problems are like, you know, still an issue. I mean people, they cannot (INAUDIBLE) reach to the hospitals because of a snipers going on. Some people saw today, like we had some people came over from -- from the city. And they said that they saw a lot of tanks and a lot of soldiers (INAUDIBLE) they were trying to -- they were heading over to Hama.


DAMON: That same resident also telling CNN that two people who he knew had tried to leave their homes to go and find food when they were shot at.

And while this is happening, Becky, what can only be described as an act of defiance. Both today and yesterday, people going out to demonstrate in other parts of the country, literally risking their lives time and time again to declare their support for what the residents of Hama are going through, but, also, just how to keep the pressure up on the Assad regime, continuing to call for the regime's downfall, continuing to say that they are peaceful demonstrators. And also, at the same time, we're hearing increasing requests from activists directed at the international community for it take true, decisive action.

ANDERSON: Arwa Damon is one of the few journalists who has spent time in Syria over the past couple of months.

Arwa in Beirut for you this evening.

Arwa Damon reporting.

Well, the military offensive in Hama began on Sunday, which, of course, was the eve of the Muslim holy month of Ramadan. The regime apparently didn't want to risk it becoming a catalyst for even bigger demonstrations.

Dan Rivers now takes a look for you at how the conflict has escalated across the country this week.

And we do warn you that some of these images are disturbing.


DAN RIVERS, CNN CORRESPONDENT: (voice-over): This is how the Assad regime heralded the start of the holy month of Ramadan. Through the night and through the day, the brutal onslaught of tanks and machine gun fire continued relentlessly. As the devout were fasting, columns of troops streamed along empty highways in a renewed attempt to crush Syria's uprising.

The sky choked with smoke, the streets with soldiers. Rounding up bloodied protesters one by terrified one to goodness knows what awful fate.

You don't have to look far to see the terrible human toll in this conflict. And that's what this is rapidly becoming, according to some.

BARAK SEENER, SYRIA ANALYST, RUSI: This is going to slide into a civil war, because the regime is becoming increasingly over stretched. The regime, now, the army has to enter urban settings. They aren't trained to do so. And because of their lack of professionalism, they're going to be increasingly willing to use live firepower. So that's going to create a bloodbath.

RIVERS: In some places like Hama, the bloodbath is already clear to see. This video was posted on YouTube and aired on Syrian TV. It's not clear who's dumping these bodies or who the victims are. But despite these appalling scenes, the protesters seem unbowed, thousands gathering every night to chant defiantly.

Rasha is part of a network of dissidents outside Syria which is distributing this video.

"RASHA," SYRIAN DISSIDENT: I think I'm seeing the worst video every day. Watching those videos are just making me collapse and unable to continue. So I just stopped. But the video of the mother who, her husband was killed by Hafez al-Assad and her son was killed by Bashir. Her voice was just unbearable.


RIVERS: How many more mothers will be mourning for their sons before the month of Ramadan is over in Syria?

Dan Rivers, CNN, London.


ANDERSON: Well, Amnesty International is slamming the United Nations Security Council resolution on Syria as limp and completely inadequate, because it says it lacks any teeth. Condemnation alone, indeed, hasn't stopped the bloodshed, as you and I know.

Many Syrians want to know how many people will have to die before the world takes action?

Well, earlier, I spoke with diplomat Oliver Myles, a former British ambassador with extensive experience in the region and Razan Zeitouneh, a Syrian lawyer and human rights activist.

And I began by asking Razan what she and those on the streets want the international community to do next.


RAZAN ZEITOUNEH, LAWYER & HUMAN RIGHTS ACTIVIST: We all the time expect more from the international society. After waiting for a long time for a real condemnation from the international society, the presidential statement yesterday wasn't a very clear (INAUDIBLE), actually. We are still waiting for a thorough and definitive international condemnation against the Syrian regime.

We are expecting the donation, not only a statement, after more than four months of committing crimes against the Syrian people, there is no real reason that the international community don't act for Syrians (INAUDIBLE)...


ZEITOUNEH: -- until this moment.

ANDERSON: Oliver, are Razan's expectations unrealistic?

And if so, why?

OLIVER MILES, FORMER BRITISH AMBASSADOR TO LIBYA: I think that the expectation that the international community will intervene is, I'm sorry to say, unrealistic. I just don't see how it could be done effectively.

I was very -- I had deep misgivings about our intervention in Libya for a number of reasons. Most of those reasons were cleared away and I've become a moderate supporter of the intervention, which we've carried out in Libya. But even there, you can see there are huge difficulties and many people doubt whether it's going to be effective in the end.

But many of the difficulties in Syria are much greater.

For example, there is no possibility that we're going to get a mandate from the United Nations Security Council for military intervention in Libya -- in Syria, as we did in Libya.

ANDERSON: Razan, your response?

ZEITOUNEH: The most important thing that the Syrian people themselves, they reject any military action in Syria. What they are calling for is political pressure, is political actin against the regime. And it's not logic that after four months, there is not even a resolution from the Security Council.

We want to help stop the bloodshed as soon as possible. Sanctions must -- need to be from U.N., not only from countries like U.S. or EU. We need more pressure to try and (INAUDIBLE) of the regime to the international court. Such a procedure is what we need. Not -- it's not a military action, which we completely refuse.

ANDERSON: What the Syrians are saying is, is why is the international community waiting, when it was prepared to get involved elsewhere?

MILES: Of course people in Syria are desperate. And -- and they -- they feel the world must do something to help them. They're clutching at straws. But that doesn't mean that we have a -- an appropriate or an effective course of action to hand. We don't. And we've got to admit that.

All we can do is try to support the Syrian people themselves in sorting this out as best they can. And that means, for example, we had a statement last night from the Security Council in support of -- of the -- the protesters in Libya, calling on the Libyan government to improve its performance.

It's ineffective, I know.

But what else is there that we can do?

ANDERSON: Razan, as -- as we discuss this this evening, my sense is that there are still people protesting on the streets and dying on the streets.

How long do you think the Syrians can keep up this momentum of protest against the administration?

ZEITOUNEH: I think the Syrian people say this clearly. They are going on. We see that every time the regime is something more violent against people, people are more determined to go on. They started -- they were -- they will not stop anymore.

But what will be different is the number of killed people, the number of people who are in detention, the number of people who are under suffering.

This is what will be different when we desire to have actions against the Syrian regime.

ANDERSON: How has your life changed as a result of what is the last four months worth of protests?

ZEITOUNEH: It's, actually, our life has stopped at the moment of March 15. Now, everything is related to the revolution. Everything is related to our work and activities to support this revolution, to support the people who are sacrificing themselves in the streets and to get rid of this regime and to get their freedom.

ANDERSON: Oliver, if you had one message to the Syrian people tonight, what would it be?

MILES: Sympathy, feeling that they are -- they have suffered terribly, not only in these last weeks and months, but over the years. They've had the most oppressive government, almost, in -- in the region. And I have every sympathy. And I think anyone who knows the country has every sympathy with them.

But there is very little we can do to support them except to encourage them to concentrate on peaceful protest, as large numbers as possible taking part in protests, especially, I would say, in Damascus and Aleppo, in the big cities in Syria, which have been relatively without protests in the -- in recent weeks.

That's the best advice I can give. And I -- I feel in my heart sorry -- sorry that I can't offer anything more. But I -- in all honesty, I believe that if we were to talk about military intervention or something of that kind, we would get ourselves into a worse mess.

ANDERSON: Our top story this evening, the world offers condemnation but little else, as the death toll continues to rise in Syria.

Friday prayers will be important, of course. And we will monitor the situation for you as it continues this week.

You're watching CONNECT THE WORLD here on CNN.

We'll be back after this.


ANDERSON: A warm welcome back.

This is CONNECT THE WORLD on CNN at 18 minutes past 9:00 out of London.

I'm Becky Anderson for you.

A look at the other stories that we are following for you this hour.

And just moments ago, Wall Street ended a day that it would like to forget. Well, let me tell you, that was a sound that investors were hoping for, because things were just getting worse and worse and worse. U.S. stocks took a nosedive. The preliminary loss, the ninth biggest point loss ever for the Dow Industrials. Not among the top percentage losses, though, at 4.31 percent. Not a lot of volume in these markets, of course. Look at that number -- 11300 odd. I mean that's way down on what the top number ever was.

So we've got a team on the ground both in London and New York. That report coming up for you in 14 minutes time.

Well, she's not worried at all -- the words of Christine Lagarde's lawyer. The new IMF chief, in the job only a month, faces an investigation over her role in a 2007 financial dispute. Now, Lagarde is accused of intervening in a court battle between a French tycoon and Credit Lyonnais, which is a French bank, of course. A French court wants to find out if Lagarde, who is the former finance minister of France, gave Bernard Tapie preferential treatment because of his support for President Nicolas Sarkozy. Lagarde denies any wrongdoing.

Well, Nigeria has a long slog ahead of it. That is the word from a landmark United Nations report on what could be the world's largest ever oil cleanup.

Now, Nigeria is trying to restore its devastated Ogoniland, polluted by more than 50 years of oil operations. The UN's assessment comes as Shell agrees to pay out hundreds of millions of dollars after the oil giant accepted liability for two big spills in Nigeria's fishing communities.

Well, in Libya, our team on the ground has come across a powerful story of loss that illustrates what ordinary people are living through as this civil war there drags on.

My colleague, Ivan Watson, joins us now from Tripoli with the latest details -- Ivan.

IVAN WATSON, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Becky, this was a tough scene personally to see. We were taken to the town of Zlitan, about an hour drive to the east of Tripoli to witness a funeral taking place for two young boys, aged three and five, and their mother, who had all been killed this morning, around 6:30 in the morning, residents and relatives told us, when their house, a two story villa that we were also taken to, they claim was hit by a NATO air strike.

And we witnessed -- we saw the bodies in the coffins and they were buried there. A very tough scene to see.

We've contacted NATO. They have been pounding this town of Zlitan, which is very near the front lines in the center of the country, for weeks now. They confirm that there was an air strike carried out against what they say was a command and control center at 6:30 a.m. local time this morning, roughly at the same time that residents say this house was hit.

And they do not say, though, that they have any evidence of civilian casualties. They do say they are going to look into this matter and take reports of civilian casualties very seriously.

Surviving relatives, they question NATO, which has a mandate to intervene here in Libya from the United Nations Security Council, to defend civilian lives.

They're asking, how are you protecting civilian lives if you have, in fact, killed these two little boys and their mother -- Becky.

ANDERSON: Ivan Watson on the ground there in Libya for you, a story that we certainly should not forget.

You're watching CONNECT THE WORLD out of London with me, Becky Anderson.

Coming up, a golfing legend makes a roaring return, but can Tiger Woods make a splash in Ohio after months of injuries and personal problems?

Well, you've seen the ups and downs. It's been a grueling day of trading on Wall Street and across markets in Europe. A recap of investor mood after this.


ANDERSON: Well, he hasn't won a tournament since 2009 and his career, as you will be well aware, is overshadowed by controversy. But after a three month break and with a different caddy at his side, the world of golf is watching as Tiger Woods swings back into action.

How is he doing?

Ted Rowlands with an update from the WGC Bridgestone Invitational in Ohio -- Ted.

TED ROWLANDS, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, Becky, Tiger is doing very well. He's two under par. He's through 13 holes now and he's missed a few putts. He could be even further under par. He seems to be very comfortable back.

He says he feels 100 percent. In fact, he said he's healthier now than he has been in years. He says taking the extra time off that his doctors wanted him to take off has made all the difference in the world.

Now, the big question is will it be the old Tiger that comes back, the dominant Tiger Woods, that basically annihilated the field for years, that had that momentum that nobody should they be able to catch him?

Or will it be the Tiger of recent years, where he has done fairly well at times, but hasn't be able to win certain tournaments and close out victories when he has had the lead?

We shall see. It's the first of four rounds, of course, at this tournament. But so far, so good, Tiger at two under par -- Becky.

ANDERSON: Just before you go, we know he's got a new caddy. It's a mate of his, effectively, who's been with him through thick and thin, as it were.

How is he -- how is he performing as a caddy?

ROWLANDS: Yes, well, he's got his buddy. Byron Bell is now carrying the bag. He's not caddying. We were watching him earlier play a few holes. And Tiger is doing all the reading of the greens and doing all the work. His buddy is carrying the bag.

You know, he seems to be doing well. And I think psychologically, whatever happened between he and his long-time caddy, he made the decision to break away and having him on the bag just wasn't going to work out.

He's -- he talked about it earlier this week and said it's a decision that he's comfortable with. And he had some great years but he -- he had to make -- make the change, and that's what he's done.

The new caddy, his buddy, Byron Bell, is not the permanent replacement. He's just filling in for now.

But you could definitely tell Tiger, as we mentioned, is doing all the work.

ANDERSON: Good stuff.

Ted Rowlands for you out of Ohio this evening.

Well, that is just, of course, one of the big stories out of the world of sport today.

For the rest of your news, Mark McKay is for you at the CNN Center -- Markie?


Yes, European football clubs, they continue to play a broad and a long and winding warm-up to their respective domestic league campaigns.

No matter where Barcelona travels around the world, there is interest in the reigning European champs. Last weekend, the Catalonians suffered a setback at the hands of Manchester United in a friendly outside of Washington, DC. Well, on Wednesday, Barcelona's U.S. tour continued in South Florida, a friendly against Mexico's Chivas Guadalajara. Things looking up for Barca in the opening minutes, when David Villa scored the first goal of the night. A nice right foot in there.

But in the second half, Chivas equalized. Marco Fabian's spectacular strike hits the back of the net and Chivas were just getting warmed up, a sweet hit here worth checking out again.

And a few minutes later, Chivas, after the nifty celebration for its forward, Omar Arellano, down the right side. Plenty of time to cross to Fabian, who finishes with a stunning bicycle kick. Two amazing goals from the young Mexican striker. Chivas scored two more, completing a shock -- 4-1 friendly victory over mighty Barcelona.

In about an hour, we'll expand on this sports day, Becky.

"WORLD SPORT" just about 60 minutes away, right after "BACK STORY".

ANDERSON: I just hope you keep replaying that kick, that -- that goal.

MCKAY: Very nice.

ANDERSON: Wasn't it?

We love a bit of that.

Mark, thank you.


I'm Becky Anderson at 28 minutes past 9:00.

In four minutes time here out of London, ugly markets, big fears -- some answers, though, on the way for you.

Then in 10, eat, play and love -- well, especially eat, at least. You can still make it to a triple digit birthday even if you never touch a salad. Believe me, that coming up.

Plus, a world exclusive -- director Luc Besson tells me about a woman we all want to know more about. That coming up in about 20 minutes time.

Stay with us.


ANDERSON: At half past nine in London, you are back with CONNECT THE WORLD on CNN, the world's news leader. Let's get you a check of the headlines at this hour.

A sharp escalation in the death toll in Syria as the military tries to crush anti-government dissent. Human rights activists say at least 109 people were killed today in and around the city of Hama, many reportedly shot in the head.

Emergency officials in Shanghai are preparing for Super Typhoon Muifa. As the storm moves past Okinawa and into the East China Sea, it is currently packing winds of 160 kilometers an hour and is expected to make landfall in China Saturday or Sunday.

The US National Hurricane Center says Tropical Storm Emily is actually weakening as it hits the mountains of Hispaniola and that it soon could be downgraded. The storm reportedly has been hitting southern Haiti with strong winds and rains.

US congressional leaders have reached a deal that would end a stalemate over funding the Federal Aviation Administration. Four thousand aviation workers were furloughed during the impasse, but this measure would now allow them to return to their jobs.

And investors across Wall Street and Europe were plenty --


ANDERSON: -- today. The major US indexes, the Dow, S&P, and the NASDAQ all erasing their gains for this year, 2011, so far.

In Europe, stocks slid to their biggest one-day drop in more than a year, as well. Investors were rattled after European Commission president Jose Manuel Barroso warned that the euro zone's debt crisis is spreading, investors worried that the global recovery may be faltering.

So, an ugly day for investors, who have yet to get the most crucial news of the week, that being tomorrow's US jobs report for the month of July. Now, that is a major barometer of how the world's biggest economy is faring.

My colleague Alison Kosik is looking ahead to that. She joins me life from the New York Stock Exchange with news, first, of course, of Thursday's horror show. Alison?

ALISON KOSIK, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Oh, yes, I'll give you the rundown first, Becky. Yes, we watched stocks plummet today with fear that really gripped investors, and then they just wouldn't let go of that fear today.

What investors are worried about is the possibility of a new global recession, and that Europe's debt problems could be spiraling out of control. We watched the Dow settle down, 512 points is actually the biggest one-day point loss for the Dow since November of 2008 and the ninth biggest point loss of all time.

The blue chip average, that's now in correction territory. It's defined as a ten percent decline from a recent cyclical high. The S&P 500, that also hit the same milestone today.

One of the biggest concerns today is the European debt crisis. We've been hearing about these troubles all year, but now the worry is Italy, Italy being the world's eighth biggest economy, that it may default on its own debt.

But now, Wall Street is also looking for the big jobs report coming out on Friday. They're bracing for it. They're fearing the worst, but if this number that comes out winds up having an upside surprise, we could see stocks rally back. Becky?

ANDERSON: Keep on eye on those. The Asian markets, of course, opening fairly shortly. We'll -- we also saw plenty of selling across Europe. Thank you, Alison.

Before coming to air, I asked my colleague Jim Boulden to break today's trading here down for us. He started by pointing out that there may be a lot of anxiety washing around Europe's stock markets, but it's not wholesale panic.


JIM BOULDEN, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: It started really badly because of worries of global economies slowing down. Then, when Wall Street opened up, you just saw the -- they fell off the cliff very, very quickly in the last 30 minutes.

But you look at the breadth of the companies that suffered today the shares. Luxury goods. That tells you that they're worried about global growth and worried about things happening, so companies like Burberry's down, Richemont.

And then we saw a lot of banks falling. That's because of the European debt. They're holding onto this debt. And then you saw car companies, exporters as well, falling. So, it wasn't just the debt story, it was everybody across the board. But it was thin volumes, we always have to say that, in August.

ANDERSON: It doesn't help when then European commission president, Jose Barroso --


ANDERSON: -- says that the debt crisis is spreading, and I quote, "and EU members must reconsider their stability mechanism."

BOULDEN: And what it -- he has been pushing for this a lot more than the politicians have been, but he's stating the obvious. Because we've seen what's happened to Italy this week, and we saw it happen again today.

The European Central Bank had a press conference, Jean-Claude Trichet. Some people wanted to hear from him big changes, or maybe new bond buying. We didn't hear anything that dramatic.

ANDERSON: You alluded to volumes being thin.


ANDERSON: For those of you who don't watch the markets like you and I do, it just means that there aren't as many buyers and sellers in the market. And that, understandably, is because it's August.


ANDERSON: And things -- things move a lot more, don't they --

BOULDEN: They do.

ANDERSON: -- when there aren't as many people in the market?

BOULDEN: And it exaggerates itself. So, you might see a market up 100 points and down 100 points. We actually saw stocks went higher earlier on Thursday, and I thought, oh, OK. Maybe some -- maybe a little bit of buying opportunity. And that proved to be a very false dawn.


ANDERSON: Jim Boulden with me earlier on on why he believes these markets are doing what they are doing. What they are doing is going down at the moment.

Well, coming up, what is your worst habit? Smoking? Drinking? Eating fried food and too much of it? In two minutes, we're going to tell you why you could still live to an incredibly ripe old age even if you indulge in more than the occasional vice. Stay with us.


ANDERSON: All right. Everything is bigger in America. Use your imagination -- or you don't need to, here you go. The Grand Canyon, Times Square, the state of Texas, and also, apparently, the tourists.

A poll just released by the weight loss company Obesimed found that visitors to the United States gained more weight during the trip there than on any other vacation in the world. So where else, we thought, do we pack on the pounds?

Let's take a look for you. Greece ranks fifth. There you go. Why? All that feta cheese, spanakopita, and desserts with honey will send you home more than, I am told, three kilos heavier.

This won't surprise you, number four coming in for you this evening. Italy. No doubt thanks to all that delicious pasta, bread, wine, and cheese.

France is third. Croissants, crepes, creamy sauces just might be worth the extra 3.3 kilos, I'm told.

How about this one? The Caribbean. The Caribbean islands ranked second with those all-you-can-eat buffets and plenty of pina coladas on the beach. I've never had one of those, I don't do that sort of thing.

And, as we mentioned, it's the US that comes out top. A two-week trip there may send you home with excess baggage worth more than three and a half kilos.

Well, if your jeans feel a bit tighter the last time you came home from holiday, we have some good news for you. You have plenty of time to shed those pounds, and that is because weight gain and other bad habits may not actually affect your longevity.

In fact, a new study finds that people who smoke, drink, and avoid exercise can even live to the age of 100 or more.

Senior Medical Correspondent Elizabeth Cohen is going to explain how that is possible. Make us all feel better, Elizabeth.

ELIZABETH COHEN, CNN SENIOR MEDICAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, Becky, I don't know if this is going to make everyone feel better, but a new study says that it is way easier to live to be 100 or even older if you are genetically blessed. And I was honored to attend the birthday party of one such person.



COHEN (voice-over): Guess how old this woman is. Eighty? Ninety? A hundred? No. Think higher. Dorrie Aber-Noyek is turning 104 today.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Congratulations. I hope I make it to 104.

COHEN: Dorrie's what scientists call a super ager.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: And she has all her marbles.

DORRIE ABER-NOYEK, CENTENARIAN: I would love to have a little of your strength.

COHEN: She lives on her own independently in Florida.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Dorrie has to go to work.


COHEN: And once a week, she even delivers mail at Memorial Regional Hospital.

ABER-NOYEK: I'll slow down if you want me to.

COHEN (on camera): You're all over this place. You're walking here, you're walking there.


COHEN: Where do you get the energy at 104?

ABER-NOYEK: I don't know. I often wonder, but I feel good.

COHEN (voice-over): At 104, most people are, well, dead. So what's kept Dorrie not just alive, but alive and thriving? It hasn't been exercise.

COHEN (on camera): No running, no working out at the gym?


COHEN (voice-over): It hasn't been diet.

ABER-NOYEK: Every day, I eat cookies. Every single day.

COHEN: A new study reported in the Journal of the American Geriatrics Society says that what keeps super agers like Dorrie alive so long seems to be their genes.

The study looked at nearly 500 people ages 95 to 112 and found their lifestyles were really no different than anybody else's. Similar diets, similar exercise patterns, they were just as likely to be overweight and to drink alcohol.

All that makes sense to Dorrie. Her mother lived to be 99. Her daughter is 76, but looks way younger.

COHEN (on camera): You've got some pretty good genes, huh?

ABER-NOYEK: I have some very good genes, yes.

COHEN (voice-over): A genetic blessing that may be the most important secret to an exceptionally long life.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Many more, Dorrie, many, many, many more.



COHEN: Now, centenarians often have genes that give them high levels of what doctors call the good kind of cholesterol and other genes that lower their risk of cardiovascular disease.

Those of us who aren't lucky enough to have those genes, well, we do need to worry about diet and exercise, because we don't have genes that are protecting us. Becky?

ANDERSON: Good stuff, Elizabeth. Thank you for that. Always a woman of reason when it comes to health-related issues.

So, what has kept Dorrie living to 104? Her lifestyle or her genes? Well, as you might imagine, it's hard to get a consensus on this type of thing, but we're going to try tonight.

Carol Symons is a nutritionist and says even if you are blessed with good genes, you still have to eat well. She's with me here in the studio.

And Dr. Nir Barzilai is going to tell us how your genes might even protect you, even if you smoke and drink. He's one of the authors of the longevity study we've been talking about this evening. He joins us live from New York.

There's lots of people watching this program who will be cheering your report this evening, so just give us the headline or that which we haven't already heard out of Elizabeth's report, if you will.

NIR BARZILAI, ALBERT EINSTEIN COLLEGE OF MEDICINE: Well, you know what scares me more is, if you want to be 100, I'm not telling you that you should start smoking and eating and stop exercising. It's those people that have the protection that can actually do that, but we wouldn't know before they're 100, so we should all keep doing what the doctor tells us to do.

ANDERSON: Oh, don't be disappointing for most of our viewers. Carole, a protective gene, of course, is important, here isn't it? We're not all going to live --


ANDERSON: -- to 100 and smoke, drink, and eat fatty foods.

SYMONS: But it's knowing whether you've got the protective gene. You could -- your parents could live to 100, we always check on people's lifestyle, parents, how long they've lived, what they died of when we see clients.

But even if you have a mother and a father who lived until over 100, it doesn't necessarily mean you have both those genes, so --

ANDERSON: So are we saying tonight that you can't split genes versus lifestyle. Doctor, is that what you're saying, there?

BARZILAI: Right. I think, unless we know what's the -- what genes you have and how they interact with you, what you have to do is do what you guys are saying and what the doctors have been saying.

ANDERSON: How often do we test people who are nearing a ripe old age, as it were? I mean, I -- are there enough reports to suggest that this is both genes and lifestyle at this point?

SYMONS: Absolutely, absolutely. And we don't wait --


ANDERSON: Hold on, there.

SYMONS: We don't wait until people have reached a ripe old -- a lifestyle. We test them when they're my age going into their 50s, early 50s, or even 40s.

We look at genes and snips, they're called, the way your genes are different to the next person's, where you have a defective gene, as it were, you could call it.

Like, there's a particular one called ApoE, and you can have different variations, which will make you much more susceptible to getting Alzheimer's.

So, if you test a client and he comes out with the ApoE3-4 or 4, variation, you need to know -- you know that you've got to adopt a lifestyle that's very anti -- doing all those things that's going to prevent you getting Alzheimer's.

ANDERSON: Right, OK. So, all the greedy people who've been watching this show tonight and thought that they were going to get a really good headline message from both of you, they're not necessarily. So near.

Firstly, how do we live longer and healthier?

BARZILAI: So, I think the major -- and we all agree on it -- the major thing is, you stop smoking, you do exercise, you do what you weigh. And then, you ask your governments to support aging research because aging is the major risk for all those diseases we're trying to prevent, and that's our goal.

In the meantime, the nice thing is that the genetic studies are being directly translated to drug development, and there are several drugs out there that hopefully will be available soon so that we can try and prevent the aging process, prevent age-related disease, and you just buy time by meanwhile exercising --


BARZILAI: -- and watch what you're eating.

ANDERSON: Carole, I'm not sure that you were able to see our monitor, but while Nir was speaking, there, we were showing women exercising. Not everybody has to get into a gym, let me tell you. There's some pretty frightening sights. We've just got to keep healthier.


ANDERSON: It's gone.

SYMONS: Oh, what a shame.

ANDERSON: There you go.

SYMONS: I mean, I actually work in a medical center that is attached -- we have a gym attached to it, and some people enter. And I do running an anti-aging website, which is called Anti Age Me. And it's all about disease prevention.

And we look at people's genes, we see what they've got the likelihood of getting, and then we try to adopt -- get them to adopt a lifestyle to prevent that.

And it's really -- aging and aging research should be all about prevention. Not waiting until the people have got the disease and then trying to treat it. It's all getting people healthier before they've got the diseases so they don't actually get them.

We don't need to, we can all be healthier --

ANDERSON: I don't --

SYMONS: -- if we adopt the right lifestyle.

ANDERSON: I can't then rely on two grandparents who were 97 before they sadly passed away, who drunk, smoked, and eaten horrid food all their lives. No, I shouldn't rely on that.

SYMONS: Well, you can't rely on it. You've got a much better chance than, say, me, who my father died of cancer --


SYMONS: -- my mother has diabetes, my grandmother died of diabetes. So, now I've adopted an anti-diabetic lifestyle so that I don't get the things they got.

ANDERSON: Important information for you this evening out of these two clinicians. We thank you very much, indeed, for joining us. Your experts on the subject.

You're watching CONNECT THE WORLD. Up next, a world exclusive for you.


ANDERSON: The lady revealed in just two minutes. My big interview tonight is with the director of what is a much-anticipated biopic on one of the world's most famous freedom fighters.


ANDERSON: Well, the daughter of a slain independence hero and a symbol of the fight for democracy in her own right, Aung San Suu Kyi spent almost 5500 days incarcerated in her Myanmar home before her release in November last year.

The political side of her story is well-known. Less so, the personal sacrifices this Nobel Peace Laureate has made for her country.

Well now, in a new film shot amid great secrecy, Aung San Suu Kyi's extraordinary tale is being told and, tonight, in a world exclusive, we are bringing you the first look at the docudrama known simply as "The Lady."


ANDERSON (voice-over): Revealed at last. The Luc Besson film set in Myanmar. A story about one of the world's most famous struggles and the pro-democracy leader at its center.

"The Lady" is the much anticipated docudrama about Myanmar opposition leader Aung San Suu Kyi.


ANDERSON: It marks the return to the director's chair for the acclaimed French filmmaker who's brought us the likes of "The Big Blue," "The Fifth Element," and "Leon: The Professional."

ANDERSON (on camera): What was it about Aung San Suu Kyi's story that drew you back?

LUC BESSON, DIRECTOR, "THE LADY": I knew a little bit about her. I read a couple of articles. And I read the script, and I fall love with the story and I was so touched by it, I cried a few times during the reading of the script.

And I thought this story should be told. She is the female Ghandi. I didn't know the power of this woman and how she means for the people and -- she fights for democracy for almost 30 years without any weapons.

It's the only rebel with words and without weapons.

ANDERSON (voice-over): Besson was still making the film when Aung San Suu Kyi was unexpectedly released from house arrest in November last year.

BESSON: It was very difficult for me, in fact, because I was almost sure that she would never get free. She got under arrest -- house arrest for 15 years, and I didn't think they would let her go. And that's most -- one of the reasons why we made the film.

So, when suddenly in the middle of the shooting, she was free, I was very happy, for sure, for her, and a little lost, in fact, but --


ANDERSON (on camera): Luc, there's been a lot of mystery --

BESSON: -- I was very happy for her.

ANDERSON: -- surrounding the shooting of this film. Why?

BESSON: Oh, the mystery was not to -- for any publicity reason or anything. We were scared to -- that they would shut the shooting.

We shot in Thailand, and we almost had to give a fake script without her name, and some people were, after a couple of weeks, they were looking after us, probably some spies were around.

So, we were -- we want to do the film as long as we can in Thailand, and I shot a couple of weeks in Burma before Thailand, pretending to be a tourist, but I got some great shots from there. And I just want to be sure that no one can stop us to do the film.

ANDERSON (voice-over): Michelle Yeoh of "Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon" fame stars as the pro-democracy leader.

ANDERSON (on camera): Why was she the best person to play this character, do you think?

BESSON: When you met an actress and you feel that it's the role of her life, you have 50 percent of the job done. She was so involved in it. She learned how to speak like her, to move like her.

She was -- impregnee. I don't know the word in English. Like a sponge with the character. And when you talk to her about the part, you can tell.

And the second thing is, she's looking 70 percent already like Aung San Suu Kyi.

ANDERSON (voice-over): Besson says making "The Lady" and finally meeting Aung San Suu Kyi has been life-changing.

BESSON: It's such a strange feeling to work for a year on someone that you never can meet. And you finally meet when you finish the film.

So, I was so -- so scared when I met her. I just want to do things wrong. She's a very -- strange woman, in a way. She's adorable, she's all peace and she gives you everything. And at the same time, some of them call her the "steel orchid." She can be so strong and so determined.

And that's what's difficult for Michelle Yeoh to play the part, because most of the time you love her, and the other half you hate her. You know? It's -- she never gives her feelings, she's always very -- very stiff like this.

ANDERSON (on camera): Listen, though, you've been criticized for being the most Hollywood of France's film directors. Do you take that criticism?

BESSON: You know, the French always have to criticize everything anyway. So --


BESSON: I don't know what it means. I'm not born in Hollywood. I love American cinema, and I love Kurosawa. And I love the English cinema - -


BESSON: -- and the Spanish cinema. I love the cinema of the world. And I'm from my generation, and I tell the story I want to tell, and some people loved it, and some spend their time to criticize it, but it's always more easy to criticize than to make films.

ANDERSON (voice-over): And Besson has made some difficult movies, not least, "The Big Blue," with his extensive underwater scenes, a film born out of his love for the ocean.

BESSON: When I was, like, 17, 16, I wanted to be a biologist, but I realized that if you want to study dolphins, they have to be in captivity, and that's what I don't like. So I -- I decide that I'd rather love them and film them and make story about them rather than put them in jail, in fact.

And I'd rather go and dive and talk to my friend down there rather than study them in an aquarium or something like that.

ANDERSON (on camera): Filmmaking or SCUBA diving?

BESSON: Oh, you're tough on me.


BESSON: No, because that's my two favorite things.

ANDERSON: No, you -- give me an answer.

BESSON: All right. Filmmaking.

ANDERSON: Excellent. What do you --

BESSON: You know, I made --


BESSON: I made ten films and I did 5,000 dives. So, I'd rather make more films.


ANDERSON: Luc Besson, the French film director, there, with an exclusive first look at his new film on Aung San Suu Kyi, which premiers at the Toronto Film Festival next month.

Well, another big interview not to be missed is with Ed Stafford. Next week marks the anniversary of the British adventurer's historic walk around the length of the Amazon. One year on, he reflects on the horrors of that jungle journey, but it hasn't stopped him planning another expedition.

Find out more about Ed and other big interviews that we've got coming up here on the show,

Well, 50 years ago today, a baby was born in Hawaii, and he grew up to be the president of the United States. Barack Obama is one of the youngest US presidents in history, but he's aged quite a bit in the last few years, as world leaders are wont to do.

Let's, for your Parting Shots tonight, take a look, shall we?

A young-looking Mr. Obama burst onto the world stage at the Democratic National Convention in 2004. But by the time he was elected president four years later, well, he was starting to go just a little bit gray.

And in the three years since then, well, the grueling job has taken its toll. The president insists he still has the same fighting spirit, and his hair -- a little bit of gray hair, he said, is nothing compared to the premature aging of other world leaders.

Well, check out former British prime minister Tony Blair on the day he took office in 1997. Ten years later, showing signs of wear.

President -- Chinese president Hu Jintao is bucking the trend. Here he is in 2002. Nine years later, barely changed. Maybe he can share his secret if he calls to wish the American president a happy 50th birthday.

That's your world connected this evening, I'm Becky Anderson. The world news headlines and "BackStory" will follow this short break. Don't go away.