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Turbulence in the Market; Berlusconi Announces Further Austerity Measures; Short Selling; Syria Uprising; Premier League Football Season Kicks Off; Tougher Talk Towards Syria; U.S. Pushing for Embargo on Syrian Oil; Dire Conditions in Somali Hospitals; Mogadishu Doctors Inspire Others; Week on the Web; Online Muppet Marriage Campaign

Aired August 12, 2011 - 16:00:00   ET


MAX FOSTER, CNN ANCHOR: Finishing on a high -- markets close up after a week of rallies and routs. It's been a turbulent week for traders, but are they really panicked?

Plus, as thousands take to Syria's streets to demand change at the top, we'll ask, when will the U.S. echo their call?

And close to death, but will -- but with little help to hand -- we go inside a Somalian hospital on the front lines of the famine.

These stories and more tonight as we connect the world.

A rocky ride, but it has ended on a high. At the closing bell, the Dow has finished well into positive territory. It caps a week of turmoil in the market, which has swung from extreme lows to extreme highs.

Felicia Taylor is standing by at the New York Stock Exchange -- you couldn't make it up, though, could you, Felicia, after -- after this week, it's actually finished at this point it started the week. The week never happened.


FELICIA TAYLOR, CNN CORRESPONDENT: It's unbelievable. I mean it really is. I mean I have to tell you, honestly, I didn't think we were going to see two consecutive up days. I thought the volatility was going to continue. And it did. There was still a lot churning in the market today. But it got some better than expected news and that's what it concentrated on.

Let's do the bad news first, though.

Consumer confidence has dipped to a 30 year low. It was a level of about 63.7. It's now at 54.9. We were looking for a leveling of 61, so it's well below expectations.

But Wall Street ignored it. It paid more attention to the retail sales number retail sales number. And that came in just in line with expectations, which was up about .5 percent. Minus autos, though, it was also up about .5 percent. And that's the significant part there. That was better than expectations.

So you've got a market that really is looking for the positives. It wanted to trade higher. There was certainly that consumer confidence number that could have given it direction to the down side, but it didn't. There were buyers in this market today, two consecutive days.

And like you said, we pretty much ended where we started.

FOSTER: It was an amazing week.

We're going to remember this for a long time, aren't we?


FOSTER: Felicia, thank you very much, indeed.

You've had a crazy week yourself, I know.

Now, European markets also clawed back the losses suffered during the week. All ended the day up at least 2 percent -- all green.

The CAC in Paris was amongst the best performers, up more than 4 percent.

And now those gains are despite figures out today showing the French economy ground to a halt in the second quarter.

It's not really rational, is it?

There was also bad news out of Greece. Its economy shrank again in the second quarter, putting it on course to enter a third consecutive year in recession. And in the past hour, Italy has taken emergency action to stave off its own fiscal meltdown.

Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi announced further austerity measures, which include tax hikes to reduce the country's budget deficit by 2013, as demanded by the European Central Bank. The Italian lender spoke a short -- leader -- spoke a short time ago.


SILVIO BERLUSCONI, ITALIAN PRIME MINISTER (through translator): We have decided, in accordance with the demands of the Institute, so that we could justify, in particular with regard to Germany, Finland and the Netherlands, to justify the spending of public funds coming from Germany. Almost 30 percent of this money comes, actually, from German citizens.


FOSTER: Well, bank stocks have taken the brunt of the volatility this week amidst concerns over whether Europe's financial system can sustain the debt crisis.

To end the speculation, to calm the market, Belgium, France, Italy and Spain have now sat a temporary ban on short selling.

But what exactly is this mechanism some of the European markets are no longer allowed to use?

Well, a little earlier, I asked Richard Quest to spell it out for me.


RICHARD QUEST, HOST, "QUEST MEANS BUSINESS": The concept of short sell sounds complex, but, actually, it's rather straightforward.

Imagine I believe the price of oranges is going to fall. And I want to sell oranges, because I want to make money, but I haven't got any oranges to sell.

So, I immediately come to my good friend, Leoni (ph), and I say, can I borrow your oranges and I'll pay you a fee afterwards?

I then take these oranges and I sell them to Max for $20...

FOSTER: Twenty?

QUEST: Twenty dollars. That's the going price.

FOSTER: Those are good oranges?

QUEST: They're very good oranges I've got $20. And I'm right, the price of oranges does fall. It halves, in fact. So now, I can take $10, I can go into the market and buy some oranges, which I then give back to Leoni with a $1 fee and I've made $9 profit.


FOSTER: More from Richard in a moment. But it remains to be seen whether or not the ban on short sell will have the desired effect over the coming weeks. Many analysts argue that it is a blunt instrument, pointing to 2008, when it was last imposed. That ban only helped stir up further uncertainty here in the UK.

Let's take a look now at how the market twisted and turned this week, because it really has been an extraordinary week.

Take a look at that volatility -- down, up, down, up, ending up, of course. We were talking a bit earlier with Felicia about that.

On Monday, the ECB started buying bonds from Italy and Spain after an emergency meeting. And that really set the tone for -- for the week.

The downgrade in the U.S. was on Friday. And this was the first response. So that's where we started the week, at 11262 points.

And now, by the end of Monday, we were at 10809. So a big sharp fall.

On Tuesday, we had a bit of a rebound initially, but it fell back sharply. And that's when we heard from the Fed about the decision to hold interest rates on hold. That was here. And you saw it go down. But then it flew back up. That was a really quite crazy day. Tuesday's close was 11236.

Now, on Wednesday, the story was really about France and whether or not its credit rating would be downgraded. And it really upset the markets. Only rumors, nothing confirmed, falling up, down, to close at 10719.

On Thursday, the Italian government outlined plans for deficit reduction before Sarkozy and Merkel, the leaders of France and Germany, said they would meet to discuss Eurozone financial governance. And that actually had the impact of a big gain, but quite an extraordinary gain, ending 11143.

Then we had today's market, another rise. So it was positive, two days of rises, ending at 11269.

Back to Monday, 11262. You really couldn't make it up. All the losses of the week, all the volatility of the week wiped out.

Monday, we start as we started on Monday this week.

On paper, so to speak, it looks like traders have endured a chaotic wk.

But was the roller coaster as extreme as it appeared?

Poppy Harlow was on the trading floor of the New York Stock Exchange when the closing bell sounded yesterday and spoke to those who have been at the front seat.

KENNETH POLCARI, MANAGING DIRECTOR, ICAP EQUITIES: Because I've got to go over here to Citibank for a minute. Because of the electronics, I don't necessarily have to go and stand in the crowd anymore. I get all the information I need right here in my hand now.

HARLOW: But don't -- don't you get something from being in the crowd?

POLCARI: Yes, you do and you get something from being in the crowd?

POLCARI: Yes, you do. And you get something from being in the crowd right on the opening and you get something right on the close.

DOREEN MOGAVERO, PRESIDENT & CEO, MOGAVERO, LEE & CO.: This week has been unusual. I mean, we had orders through -- Monday through yesterday all day long, all day long.

HARLOW: What's next on your list for the final minutes of trading?

POLCARI: OK. So what's next on my list is I'm going to run around to all those stocks that I was in today and I'm going to get those final -- I'm going to get these looks.

HARLOW: You're hearing a lot of traders now yelling, "Buy everything! Buy everything!" We've got five minutes left in the trading day.

MOGAVERO: You see that some of the brokers are running around checking the prices. For us today, we're good.

POLCARI: Because what I do, that's part of my job, is to be the eyes and ears for the customer.


Hold on. See, I'm getting another order.

MOGAVERO: Well, on a day like yesterday, I only had time to execute all my orders because the orders were coming in so quickly yesterday. Today, not so much. I'm getting some now, as you see. But on the days where the orders are -- I'm really getting some.

HARLOW: What traders, what Kenny is doing right now, he's looking at imbalances in the stocks that he holds, the stocks that he's trading. He's looking to see if there's more sell orders than buy orders. That's going to help him determine whether or not that stock is going to close higher or whether that stock is going to close lower.

POLCARI: If I go to Bank America, you can see that there's no imbalance. In fact, there's 6.2 million paired off, which means there's 6.2 million to buy, there's 6.2 million for sale. So if nothing changes, the stock will not close at the last sell. It's not going to close up, it's not going to close down.

The stock is trading below our limit at the moment. There is a little bit -- there's nine -- there's 100,000 to buy in the bell. I'm way away with my order. My order is -- this stock is trading 30 cents below my limit. There's no way I'm going to make that sale, unless a buyer should come into the stock in the next three minutes and take it up.

So I'm going to go hang out over there so I can just make sure that that's not going to happen without me knowing it.

MOGAVERO: I think most of the people on the floor are very prepared for the volatility. I mean, that's what we do.


HARLOW: We'll take this day. The Dow industrials ending this session up about 400 points.


MOGAVERO: That's it. Gaining. We're done.

POLCARI: We sold off 100 points. And when you first got here, remember...

HARLOW: We did.

POLCARI: It was up 500.

HARLOW: We were up over 500 points.


HARLOW: And this last half hour of trading, we sold off more than 100 points.

POLCARI: We sold off 100 points. Now, you saw that.

You were here when that happened, right?

It wasn't panicky by any stretch. You almost didn't even feel that we sold off 100. But the fact is that's how -- that's how seamless it is.

MOGAVERO: We're back. Another day.


FOSTER: Well, it's been a crazy, crazy week for anyone involved in the markets.

Richard Quest, you've had a crazy, crazy week.

QUEST: Ah, but it's been...


QUEST: Excuse me. I think I have a bit of a -- I'm sort of hoarse, as well.

I'm just looking at the numbers now and depending on where you take your point of reference, last Friday's close or Monday's open, you're pretty even Stevens. I think you're down by about 1.5 percent on the week, as we -- as we stretch it.

Now, bearing in mind we saw swings of 3 and 4 percent most days of the week, 400 point moves, that's an extraordinary net-net to equal. Eleven thousand -- we closed last Friday at 11444 and we're closing just a couple of hundred points off that.

FOSTER: And as you went through the week, can you -- I mean you were struggling to make any sense of it, weren't you?

Everyone was. But it was about volatility, right, this week?

It wasn't about gains or losses. It was just crazy volatility.

QUEST: It was volatility on the backs of rumors that didn't justify the extent of the volatility. We had a Fed meeting. We had the ECB announcement. We had the G-7. You had a downgrade. You had worries about SocGen in France. You had worries about France's own sovereign debt rating.

The sheer amount of noise in the market is what drove that volatility.

But if you come to the end of the week and you really say, are we any worse off economically, the only thing we can say with certainty is that growth is slowing in the U.S., considerably more than the Fed. The same in the UK. The Bank of England is worried. And the ECB in Europe is also concerned.

FOSTER: There does seem to have been a change in sentiment over the week, because perhaps a bit more rational at the beginning of the week. And as you pointed out these negative bits of news when the markets were falling. But today, there was a -- a different -- a mix of news. But there were -- the traders were jumping on the positive news and bringing the market up, ignoring the negative news. So that's...

QUEST: I think it's...


QUEST: -- I think, basically, the market came to its sense. Friday afternoon and the market basically realized what had happened. We were in a -- it's almost as if we were in a hypnosis, in a trance during the course of the week. And, you know, I was on Wall Street Monday and Tuesday and I came back here and I was in the market here Wednesday, Thursday and Friday. And it's as if people just couldn't -- were lost in the maze of what to do next.

You heard from Poppy Harlow's report. You've heard from Felicia Taylor and the gold market yesterday. Again and again, people were just lost.

And what does that mean for next week?

I simply don't know.


FOSTER: OK. Richard, we'll be back with you to explain what did happen. You look back on at it on Monday evening.

The government crackdown intensifies in Syria, meanwhile. But despite the violence, the resolve of the people remains resolute. We'll have a live report just ahead.

Plus, he's a -- he's a fan favorite but now Arsenal transfer rumors are surrounding Cesc Fabregas.

And they're icons of children's television, but are Burt and Ernie more than just friends?


FOSTER: I'm Max Foster in London.

You're watching CONNECT THE WORLD.

Here's a look at the other stories we're following for you this hour.

Risking death for a chance at democracy -- ten -- tens of thousands of Syrians once again defy the government crackdown, protesting across the country after Friday prayers. Human rights activists say security forces responded with bullets, killing at least 13 people. This YouTube video is said to show demonstrators in the town of Harasta running for safety as gunshots ring out.

We can't confirm that, because Syria won't allow and most other foreign media inside the country at the moment.

Our Arwa Damon is monitoring developments, though, for us from Beirut -- Arwa.

ARWA DAMON, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Max, and what has been especially remarkable is when we see demonstrators go out in various cities and towns where there has been where there have been a significant military crackdown.

In Homs, for example, where I believe we do have live pictures to show our viewers, that is especially something to pay attention to, simply because between Wednesday and Thursday, more than two dozen people were killed in Homs while they were demonstrating. And still, as we can see in these images, a fairly sizeable crowd masses, taking out to the streets, calling for the downfall of the regime, despite the reality that just 24 hours ago, people were being killed for doing the very same thing.

And we have seen similar images, albeit to a small degree, in other parts of the country. In Hama and Dair Alzour, for example, two major cities that have been the brunt of the military crackdown, there people tried to go out and demonstrate. Eyewitnesses in both areas that we spoke to saying that people following Friday's prayers at noon tried to go out, but just as they began chanting their anti-regime slogans, prepositioned Syrian security forces began firing on them.

At that point, they had to disperse. But then they say they tried to gather and go out and demonstrate again.

And we've seen similar scenes playing out across Syria throughout the day. Most certainly what this points to is to the determination of these demonstrators and the fact that they will not be deterred by the ongoing use of military force to push them off of the streets.

They say that at this point, they're willing to carry this whether or not it means that they literally will die for it, because they say this is a regime, because of the fact that it has used so much force against them, cannot stay in power -- Max.

FOSTER: Arwa, thank you very much, indeed.

The streets throughout the U.K. remain quiet heading into the weekend, but authorities are busy trying to track down suspects and bring them to justice. Sixteen hundred people have been arrested and process through the courts in connection with the riots and many of them remain in custody.

Meanwhile, police have arrested a 22-year-old man on suspicion of murder.

On Thursday, this 68-year-old Ealing man died from his injuries after getting beaten in West London earlier this week.

Rioters turned to social media to help them organize big numbers and get people on the streets. Now authorities are using technology to fight back. This time, to put offenders behind bars.

Police in the Manchester area are hoping to hunt down looters by projecting their faces on giant screens in Birming -- and that's something in Birmingham. They hope shoppers will recognize possible offenders and turn them in.

Offs are also turning to Twitter and naming and shaming people who have been convicted of rioting. But some of the Tweets are more generic.

Here are a few examples for you.

"Just -- just locked up another man for stolen goods after he bragged on Facebook that he couldn't be caught. Wrong."

Another Tweet, also from police, said: "Fourteen-year-old boy just charged with burglary after a man saw his picture in a newspaper and dragged him into a police station."

A roadside bomb in Afghanistan has claimed the life of a NATO service member, the seventh to die in just three days. The rash of attacks comes on the heels of the worst single incident loss of life for U.S. troops since the war began. Taliban insurgents shot down a U.S. military helicopter last weekend that was carrying 38 Afghan and American personnel.

The surge in violence is raising questions about NATO's ability to meet its troop drawdown target.


BRIG. GEN. CARSTEN JACOBSON, INTERNATIONAL SECURITY ASSISTANCE FORCE SPOKESMAN: The end game for NATO is to hand over security responsibility over all of Afghanistan to the Afghan National Security Forces, stepping aside as they are stepping forward, getting better in quality and executing the missions on their own on a daily basis.

Once we have -- have achieved that, the NATO mission can come to an end. Hopefully, against only very reduced numbers of terrorists, we'll have to be seen in the three-and-a-half years that we've got left.


FOSTER: In Pakistan, the paramilitary soldier who shot and killed unarmed -- an unarmed man in Karachi has been sentenced to death. The June incident was caught on video and it sparked nationwide outrage against Pakistan's security forces. An anti-terrorism court also fined the soldier $2,300 and handed down life sentences to five other troopers and a civilian.

The U.S. presidential election is still 15 months away, but White House wannabes are already busy vying for the job. During a debate in Iowa on Thursday night, Republican frontrunner, Mitt Romney, walked away unscathed, but long simmering tensions between two other candidates boiled over, as Michelle Bachmann and former Minnesota Governor Tim Pawlenty aggressively attacked each other's records.


TIM PAWLENTY (R), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: She's fighting for these things. She fought for less government spending. We got a lot more. She led the effort against Obamacare. We got Obamacare. She led the effort against TARP, we got TARP.

She said she's got a titanium spine. It's not her spine were worried about. It's her record of results. If that's your view of effective leadership with results, please stop because you're killing us.



REP. MICHELE BACHMANN, (R) PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: When you were governor in Minnesota you implemented cap and trade in our state. You said the era of small government was over. That sounds a lot more like Barack Obama, if you ask me.


FOSTER: Well, rescue crews in North Carolina have taken part in some unusual herding. They were called in to retrieve a three month old calf that had managed to fall down a well. Rescuers had to construct a frame and use several pulleys to raise the animal, which was stuck for around 36 hours. Despite its ordeal, the calf suffered no injuries apart from a scratch on its back. A happy ending for you.

One of football's longest ever transfer sagas could be coming to an end. That's just ahead on CONNECT THE WORLD in 60 seconds, all the latest details on Fabregas and whether the Spanish footballer is heading home.

Then coming up on the show in just over 10 minutes, Clinton calls on the world to say no to Syrian oil.

Is anyone listening and will it make a difference?

That's ahead here on CNN.


FOSTER: The new Barclay's Premier League football season kicks off this worked. If you're not a footie fan, then let me tell you, this is pretty major. Over 70 million people around the world watch the league on TV every week. All the talk just hours before kick-off is surrounding Cesc Fabregas, though, who may no longer be Arsenal's top player and captain.

"WORLD SPORT'S" Don Riddell joins us from the CNN Center with the latest on this.

We've been talking about this a lot.

So why is it -- why are the rumors different this time around?

What have you got?

DON RIDDELL, CNN SPORTS CORRESPONDENT: Well, it does seem to be getting very, very close, if, in fact, it's not already done. The Spanish media, Max, are going with it. They're saying that Cesc Fabregas has returned to Barcelona.

But it's not been confirmed by the club yet and we are waiting to see. But it does look as though we are getting pretty close to what will be a major signing, a major signing for Barcelona.

Fabregas will be returning to the club where he played as a youth. And he is seen as the successor to Xabi, one of their top midfielders.

So a huge coup for Barcelona if and when they do confirm it.

A big loss for Arsenal, who also could lose one of their other star players, Samir Nasri. It's expected that he could sign in the coming days for perhaps Manchester City.

So not a great way for Arsenal to start the season this weekend.

FOSTER: No. A few changes going on.

So how do you think that that's affected the chances of the main teams, though?

What -- what's the dynamic going into this, do you think?

RIDDELL: Well, you know, when you -- when you're talking about who the favorites are, you never look beyond the traditional top four in the Premier League and it's hard to look past Manchester United.

But it's interesting, when we look at the -- the summer spending and see who's been spending the money. That gives you a good idea of who is the most ambitious.

And as you'll see there, Max, it's Manchester City that have topped the summer spending with a whooping $82 million. A lot of that money going on their staff, signing Sergio Aguero.

But as you can see, there are three clubs who have all spent a pretty similar amount -- Man City, Liverpool, who brought in Stewart Downing and Jordan Henderson and also Manchester United, who spent most of their money, or a big chunk of it, on their new goalkeeper, David de Gea.

The London clubs, Arsenal and Chelsea, if you go by those numbers, at least, would appear to be at least ambitious. But don't tread too much into that. I think those five teams will certainly be there or thereabouts.

FOSTER: Yes, and as we go into football, we're seeing, we're going into the final golf major, aren't we?

We're in the middle of that.

So how has that been going?

And how has that been tied up?

We were talking about Tiger yesterday.

But how is the game looking?

RIDDELL: Well, Tiger remains a talking point, doesn't he?

At the moment, as we speak, he's fighting to stay in contention -- well, not even in contention, he's fighting just to stay in the tournament, because at the moment, he's going to miss the cut.

Within the last few minutes he's made a couple of birdies and he's -- he's improving. But he is still well over par, as you can see, seven over par. The projected cut is four over par.

So at this point, unless he has an absolutely blinding back nine, Tiger Woods will be heading out of Atlanta later this afternoon.

Steve Stricker still leads the tournament. The 44-year-old American, he's one under -- one over for the day, but still six under for the tournament.

Adam Scott is playing the round of the day so far. Of course, he made headlines by winning at the weekend with Tiger's old caddy on his back, Steve Williams. And that partnership looks to be continuing to do very good things.

Rory McIlroy, the other major talking point. You'll recall that he's the young star who won the U.S. Open in record breaking circumstances earlier this year. You can see there he's playing with a strapped right wrist today, following what was quite an injury scare for him yesterday.

But he had it scanned last night. It's a strained tendon. And he decided this morning that he was OK to play.

Here's what he had to say about it.


RORY MCILROY, GOLFER: When I woke up this morning, it was stiff, but it wasn't as painful. And, yes, I mean as long as I had a few shots on the range and, you know, I felt as if it was OK to go out and play. I feel as if I can play to the best of my abilities with it. But, you know, I'm -- I'm not worried about it long-term. You know, it should -- it should take, you know, a few weeks just to heal.


RIDDELL: Rory actually shot a 70 yesterday, Max. It was 73 today. That was because, on the 17th, he put it in the water and triple bogeyed. So not a great way for him to win the round. But he's still in the tournament.

And we'll have much more coverage on the PGA Championship in "WORLD SPORT" for you coming up on CNN with Mark McKay in about an hour's time.

FOSTER: We look forward to it.

Don, thanks very much.

Now, words alone haven't worked nor have sanctions targeting top officials. And now the United States wants the world to turn off the tap and stop buying Syrian oil. We'll look at new efforts to pressure the regime of President Bashir Assad.

And later, no electricity, no running water, patients being treated in the hallways -- we'll take you to a hospital where conditions are heart- breakingly dire.


ANDERSON COOPER, CNN ANCHOR: In a country which is the epicenter of a famine, now there's a catastrophe happening here. You would expect there would be more medicine. You would expect there to be kids getting fortified milk or -- or getting PlumpyNuts. But you don't see any here. It's just mothers sitting with their kids and many of the kids end up dying.



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.

After a week-long wild ride, U.S. markets finish on a high note. The Dow was up almost one percent at the closing bell. Despite the gains on the final day of trade, U.S. stocks were still down 1.5 percent on the week.

Regulators in four European countries are trying to reduce market volatility. France, Italy, Spain, Belgium have temporarily banned short selling on financial stocks. That's a strategy allowing traders to profit from falling prices.

At least four people have been killed in a train crash in central Poland. Reports say at least 30 other people were hurt when the train derailed. There's no word yet on why the train jumped the tracks.

A setback for the Obama administration. A U.S. appeals court says parts of the health care reform bill passed last year are unconstitutional. The White House championed it, but 26 states filed suits against it.

Human rights activists say security forces in Syria killed at least 13 people today. Tens of thousands of demonstrators took to the street across the country after Friday prayers.

Those are the headlines this hour.

U.S. officials are talking tougher these days when it comes to Syria, now saying the country would be better off without President Bashar al- Assad, and he's lost the legitimacy to lead, they say. But they can't seem to say the words many Syrian protesters want to hear most, and that's "President al-Assad must step down."

We've been hearing that the Obama administration will indeed make that declaration soon, but it hasn't happened yet.

On Friday, during a joint appearance with the Norwegian foreign minister, U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton explained the hold up, saying the world must speak with one voice.


HILLARY CLINTON, U.S. SECRETARY OF STATE: We're trying and succeeding at putting together an international effort, so that there will not be any temptation on the part of anyone inside the Assad regime to claim that it's only the United States, or maybe it's only the West.

Indeed, it's the entire world, and we're making the case to our international partners to intensify the financial and political pressure to get the Syrian government to cease its brutality against its own citizens and to make way for positive change.


FOSTER: Clinton also called on the international community to hit Syria where it hurts and stop buying Syrian oil and gas. Our White House correspondent Dan Lothian joins me now to talk a bit more about this.

It's interesting hearing the Secretary of State, there. There's a strategy, here, isn't there? But she seems a bit frustrated by it.

DAN LOTHIAN, CNN WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: There is frustration and just to carry on that point that she was making there in her last remarks, that she was calling on these international -- the international partners to get on the, as she put it, quote, "right side of history."

In other words, to make sure that they stop providing any kind of weapons or buying oil from Syria in order to provide -- to produce this economic pressure that would cause Assad to step down.

But you're right, there is frustration here, because there's been a lot of pressure from the U.S. already. There's been strong rhetoric and still, as the U.S. believes, a lot of the wrongs continue in Syria.

And so, whether or not the president himself will come out at some point and call on Assad to step down, you're seeing top aids, Secretary Clinton, and others using very strong language, letting Assad know from afar that it's in his best interest to step down, too leave that country.

FOSTER: Are there particular countries she's waiting on? I presume she wants some Arab support, for example. But are you aware of any particular nation she's waiting to step in?

LOTHIAN: Well, we know China is one name that has been thrown out there, but right now, no more specifics in terms of who else they're waiting to get on board.

The bottom line, though, is that it's clear that what has caused the administration some pause in terms of coming out with stronger language before now or either the president himself being very direct in calling for him to step down is that they want to make sure that international partners are part of whatever is done.

You heard Secretary Clinton talk about how they want to, essentially, take away some ammunition, if you will, from Syria so they won't be able to say that this is just the U.S. acting alone or that this is just something that's being pushed by the West.

The U.S. wants to make sure that all of these international partners are on board 100 percent in order to apply the kind of pressure that they believe will be effective.

FOSTER: Dan Lothian at the White House. Thank you very much, indeed.

Well, a widespread embargo on Syrian oil could put a huge squeeze on the country's economy. According to the International Monetary Fund, Syria gets about a quarter of its revenues from oil and gas sales.

Some of the biggest customers are in Europe. Italy, France, Germany, and the Netherlands all buy oil from Syria. China and India also have energy ties, and the U.S. is urging all of them to turn off the tap.

Let's get more on these calls for economic pressure on the Syrian regime. We are joined by Murhaf Jouejati. He's a professor of Middle East studies at the National Defense University in Washington. He's also former advisor to Syria's delegation to Middle East peace talks. Thank you so much for joining us.

It would hit them hard, isn't it, if Clinton achieved this and people weren't buying from Syria, it would hit them very hard. It's a crucial tool, isn't it?

MURHAF JOUEJATI, PROFESSOR OF MIDDLE EAST STUDIES, NATIONAL DEFENSE UNIVERSITY: Absolutely. It's, as you said, it is 25 percent to 30 percent of government revenues. So again, an embargo on the oil export of Syria would hit the pocket of the Assad regime very, very deeply, depriving him in large part to be able to pay the death squads that he has unleashed against the civilian population.

FOSTER: What would be the internal impact? Would it undermine the president, which is what the intention is, or would it undermine the whole system?

JOUEJATI: I think it would undermine the regime without necessarily hurting the people. Syria has the ability -- the indigenous ability to produce the fuel that it consumes, so if there were an embargo on oil exports, if there were sanctions against oil companies that transport oil out of Syria, that would hurt the regime, again, not necessarily the people.

And the good thing about it, also, it would not affect world oil market prices at all, really, because the Syrian oil production is rather little.

FOSTER: It's not that small, though. I think that's probably the concern, isn't it? That it would have an impact on oil prices at sensitive time in the world economy?

But also, it has to be said, those countries using this fuel need it. You can't just turn off the tap, because actually it's being used. It's not that simple, is it? It's a good political tool, but it's economically very tricky.

JOUEJATI: It is not as tricky as you might think. Syria produces 390,000 barrels of oil per day. That is not very much. It's a lot in terms of the revenue it generates for the Assad regime, but this is, frankly, quite easily replaceable by other exporters.

So again, I do not think it's going to affect oil prices dramatically if at all.

FOSTER: But what you may need, I presume, maybe the Americans are working on this, perhaps speaking to another oil producer to step up their production to counteract this for countries like Italy and Germany, for example, who use Syrian oil.

JOUEJATI: Well, look. Since the countries of the region, namely the GCC countries, have recently also jumped into the fray in asking Assad to stop his violence against the civilian population, since Saudi Arabia has issued a stern warning.

I don't think it should be too hard to Washington -- for Washington to be able to convince these countries to increase their oil exports just very slightly to meet what would be lacking as a result of an embargo against Syria.

FOSTER: OK, so what are we waiting on? Do you suspect that, perhaps, Secretary Clinton hasn't got the support from those European leaders, for example, that she needs? Why is it not happening?

JOUEJATI: You know, the prerequisite to all this, really, is a unity in the international community, and I'm talking here specifically about the Security Council.

Washington and its partners and its allies in the Security Council, namely France and Britain and Germany and Portugal, should really weigh in on Moscow in order to withdraw its threat to veto any condemnation of Syria in the Security Council.

It is a Security Council resolution that condemns the Assad regime that is going to be the prerequisite to all this. It is only then that we could talk about an international community acting in unison, whether in oil sanctions or other sanctions or what have you against the Assad regime.

This is what is going to get the attention of Assad in understanding that Syria is not his family farm and that the Syrian people are not his cattle.

FOSTER: President Jouejati -- I'm sorry, Professor Jouejati, thank you very much, indeed, for joining us with that perspective on Syria.

JOUEJATI: Not yet.

FOSTER: Not yet. Now, it's a job most people wouldn't accept, working in a war zone, putting their very lives on the line. So, who are these people and why do they do it? Part four of our series straight ahead.


FOSTER: Well, the numbers are staggering and the images are hard to comprehend, but the U.N. says the humanitarian catastrophe in Somalia will get even worse unless more funding comes in now to help with the aid effort.

All this week, we've been on the front lines of the famine. Anderson Cooper takes a look now at the horrific conditions inside one Mogadishu hospital.


ANDERSON COOPER, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): There are so many kids in Mogadishu's Banadir Hospital, the new arrivals are being treated in the halls. There are coughs and cries, but you don't hear much complaining. That takes energy, perhaps, and there isn't much of that.

Many children and their families have walked for weeks just to get here. This little boy can barely take any more steps.


COOPER: There's no running water, no electricity, after 20 years of fighting in Mogadishu, there's not much left at all.

COOPER (on camera): In a country which is the epicenter of a famine, now, there's a catastrophe happening here. You would expect there'd be more medicine, you'd expect there'd be kids getting fortified milk or getting plumping up.

But you don't see any of that. Just mothers sitting with their kids, and many of the kids end up dying.

COOPER (voice-over): Mothers try to keep the flies at bay. Fathers soothe their sickly kids. The worry, the fear, it's the same the world over.


COOPER: What parent can stand it when their child is in pain?

Many kids are able to bounce back. With quick intervention, they gain weight day after day. For others, however, the malnutrition is too far along.

CNN's Nima Elbagir introduced us to Abdullah Hassan, who lost a daughter. Now his 18-month-old son is sick, as well.

COOPER (on camera): You must be very worried about your child. How long has your child been sick?

COOPER (voice-over): "For the last six months he's been ill," he says. "But as the famine has tightened around us, no one's been able to help us. So then, we came here, and now we're just hopeful."

In the corner of the room, Mohammed and his wife Rugia (ph) sit in silence. Between them, we notice a small pile of cloth. It turns out, it's covering the body of their sun. His name was Ali. He was just one year old.

NIMA ELBAGIR, CNN CORRESPONDENT: He came up from the areas held by al-Shabaab and it was just so difficult to get out, it took them so long to get out, that by the time they arrived, there was nothing anyone could do for him. He died about two hours ago.

COOPER (on camera): So, this child has just died.


COOPER: And what will they do with him now?

ELBAGIR: They don't even have enough money to bury him, so they're just sitting here, hoping that someone will come and someone -- in this situation, nobody has any money, but they're hoping that together people try and put money in together when things like this happen, and they can raise the funds. Otherwise, they have no means of burying him.

COOPER (voice-over): Mohammed and Rugia have already lost their two other children. Ali was the only child they had left.

COOPER (on camera): What will they do now?

ELBAGIR: They said they don't know. They're just going to -- for them, the most important thing is just to try and find a way to bury the child, and then they're going to try and figure out what they can do from here.

They have nothing. They left their entire family, they left everything in the areas they've come from, and they have nothing here. The only reason they took that risk was to save the baby, and now the baby's dead.

COOPER: You've seen a lot of -- a lot of this over the last few weeks.

ELBAGIR: Yes. Mogadishu's always difficult. Somalia's always difficult. People have been dying here for a while from the violence, the insecurity.

But the famine is -- the numbers here are extraordinary. The U.N.'s estimating that nearly a million are going to die if the aid pipeline isn't strengthened, if more funding doesn't come in to sustain the aid effort here.

COOPER (voice-over): The aid effort is underway but, for too many kids, it may already be too late. They are not numbers, not statistics. They're boys and girls with names and with parents. Boys and girls who never had a fair chance at life.

Anderson Cooper, CNN, Mogadishu.


FOSTER: As you can see, conditions in Mogadishu are dangerous and desperate at best. But what's it like for the doctors there? All this week, we've been following medics who work in conflict zones, the pressures they face, and the targets that they've actually become.

Yesterday, we heard from a photographer, Andre Liohn, who told us about his work in Libya. In this report, he describes the remarkable role of a doctor he befriended in Mogadishu. Atika Shubert reports.



ANDRE LIOHN, PHOTOGRAPHER: In Mogadishu, I have my good friend, Dr. Yousuf, and he said, "You know, I feel that we are repairing weapons here.

"Because every time that a young man comes here and we treat them, we know that once he is feeling well again, he's going back to the front, he's going back to the front, and he's going to fight, and probably he's going to kill people, and maybe he is going to be killed as well.

"So we are only repairing weapons. But if they die, if they died, they will never have the opportunity to change."

But as I see, he has -- he donated his life to the cause that he's fighting for in his own way. And living at the hospital, of course, has a major impact on his life, both personal, emotional, and probably also economical life.

But he stays there. He has a room that is his own -- only place where he has some kind of privacy. Because everything else is common, is for everybody.

And I heard -- I asked anyone, how is his room? How does it look like? And very few people knew. And they never asked him to see the room or any question because they're all, it must be something very personal.

ATIKA SHUBERT, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Sohur Mire grew up next to the Medina Hospital and, inspired by the work she saw taking place there, decided that she one day would become a doctor.

She escaped from Somalia during the civil war. She trained as a doctor in England and is planning to return to the region later this year.

I met her in a crowded cafe in central London and, over a cup of tea, she talked to me about her country and her work.

SOHUR MIRE, DOCTOR: I avoided going back for many years because I always thought I would be overwhelmed of the needs of the people and I would feel lost if I went back, not being able to have a focus.

So, going back as a doctor made me feel a bit more empowered, that there was something I could focus on, and that could be constructive for the people.

SHUBERT: A story she told me about an incident in Mogadishu in which medical students were killed at their graduation ceremony highlights the tragedies faced by the people of Somalia.

MIRE: These students graduated and, unfortunately, were killed by a suicide bomber and they died on their graduation day. And I think that sort of highlights it to me, the need for somehow going back and doing something and supporting those people who are struggling in this environment.

Whoever did it was making a political statement and disregarded the lives of civilians.

SHUBERT: Doctors are among those who are called in to deal with the carnage and help people heal in whatever way they can.

MIRE: Doctors have always been respected, health care workers have always been respected, nurses, doctors, all of them, and were allowed to carry out the work they do, which is so important, not only for other civilians, but also for the war wounded, and that could be fighters of any parts of the community.

And I think the most important thing is for these factions that are fighting to accept doctors and to protect them, and for the community to protect doctors and allow them the security that they need to serve the people, the community that they want to serve.


FOSTER: Atika Shubert compiling that report for us.

You're watching CONNECT THE WORLD on CNN. Coming up, your Week on the Web.


FOSTER: It is Friday, so it must be time for Phil Han and his Week on the Web.


PHIL HAN, CNN DIGITAL PRODUCER: Welcome to another edition of Week on the Web. This is the place where we want to bring you the best stories from across social media over the past seven days.

First up, though, take a look at this video. It really does prove that nature is unpredictable.

HAN (voice-over): This group of tourists were viewing the Tracy Arm Fjord in Alaska when suddenly a 200-foot piece of it fell into the sea.

Large chunks of ice fell into the air and hit the boat, injuring one woman who was on the deck. That video has over a million views.

Now, off to Japan. Many of us know that the Japanese are fans of unique games and unusual sports, but have you heard of mingling?

The goal? Walk through a large group of people without getting knocked over.


HAN: Or even try running. That video has over three million hits.

Now, you'd think most dogs like water, but not this one. This little pup does everything he can to hang on for safety.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I can't believe he's not, like, just giving up already.

HAN: With more than 600,000 clicks, he still refuses until the very end. We never do find out if he had his bath.


HAN: No, this isn't the cast of "Glee," it's actually the Seventh Commando Battery of the U.S. Army stationed in Afghanistan.


HAN: They were filmed singing the "Glee" version of the Journey's "Don't Stop Believing."

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Check this out.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Yes, that's good right there.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: All right, let's go.

HAN: Now, this is definitely a new twist on the term batting practice. This player continues to hit the ball, which bounces off strategically placed nets. Even a second ball gets thrown into the mix without any trouble.




HAN: With over a million views, people are asking, is this for real, or just a brilliant fake? You decide.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Yes! One more! Yes!

HAN: And one of the most popular videos this week from YouTube with nearly two million hits, it's Maroon Five's, "Moves Like Jagger."


HAN: I'm Phil Han, CNN, London.


FOSTER: If all that wasn't enough for you, plenty of you are getting involved in an online Muppet marriage campaign. "Sesame Street's" Bert and Ernie have been roommates for more than four decades.

Now, that's -- now that same-sex marriage is actually legal in New York, will they express their true feelings for one another? It's an important story. Jeanne Moos takes a look.


JEANNE MOOS, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Do Bert and Ernie have a secret?


MOOS: Are the "Sesame Street" Muppets coming out of the closet?

JIMMY KIMMEL, HOST, "JIMMY KIMMEL LIVE!": What if they are gay? What if they're neck-deep in each other's fuzz every night?

MOOS: The gay buzz has been around for years, but now there's an online petition asking "Sesame Street" to let Bert and Ernie get married.

The petition was dreamed up by gay activist Lair Scott.

LAIR SCOTT, GAY ACTIVIST (via telephone): When I was nine years old, I wondered if they were a gay couple.

MOOS: There's been a lot of purely circumstantial evidence.

SCOTT: They sleep in the same room.

MOOS: They take baths together. Look at the photo on their wall.

BERT, "SESAME STREET": Well, that's our picture.

MOOS: Oh, sure, there are also counter indications.

KIMMEL: Let's talk about Bert's eyebrow. No self-respecting homosexual would leave a uni-brow like that unplucked.


KIMMEL: If there's one thing gays do, it's pluck.


MOOS: They've begin together more than 41 years, and just as folks speculated that Tinky Winky the purple Teletubby with a purse was gay --


MOOS: -- rumors have swirled around the roommate Muppets.

MIKEY TRAHANT, COMEDIAN, "MIKEY'S GAY TODAY": Bert, not gay. Ernie, very gay. And no matter how hard you try, Ernie -- and I've tried, believe me -- you can't switch them.

MOOS: But the petition to let Bert and Ernie marry has spawned petitions to stop them.

MOOS (on camera): "New York Daily News" even wrote an editorial on the subject entitled, "They're Just Muppets."

MOOS (voice-over): It sarcastically asks, why stop there? Why not march Yogi Bear and Boo Boo down the aisle, too. Funny, but not applicable.

SCOTT: That's more of a mentoring situation.

MOOS: The creators of "Sesame Street" are not budging. They say Bert and Ernie are best friends, they remain puppets and do not have a sexual orientation. But denials don't stop suggestive songs, like the one from the show "Avenue Q" --

CHORUS, "AVENUE Q" (singing): If you were gay, that'd be OK.

MOOS: The petition organizer knew when he was five years old --

SCOTT: That I had an attraction to Tarzan.

MOOS: So he wants role models for other young gay kids watching TV.

Though chances for a wedding for Bert and Ernie seem nil, still someone joked, will the reception be in Oscar's can?

OSCAR THE GROUCH, "SESAME STREET" (singing): I love trash!

MOOS: Ernie may proclaim who he's true to.

ERNIE, "SESAME STREET" (singing): Rubber Ducky, you're the one.

MOOS: But the gay spoofs keep bubbling up.


MOOS: Jeanne Moos, CNN.


MOOS: New York.


FOSTER: We will, of course, bring you an update on that story if there ever is one.

I'm Max Foster, thank you for watching. The world headlines and "BACKSTORY" follow this short break.