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CONNECT THE WORLD
Typhoon Hagupit Batters The Philippines; Northern California Protests Turn Violent; Indian Court Drops Case Against Shrien Dewani; Israel Suspected of Airstrikes Inside Syria; Uber Banned in New Delhi; Hong Kong Woman Accused of Abusing Maid; Outgoing US Defense Secretary Visits Afghanistan; Russian Couple Discovers LGBT Loophole; Jordan Parliament Row Sparks Gender Debate; Parting Shots: Spider-Man Visits Cairo
Aired December 8, 2014 - 11:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
HALA GORANI, HOST: This hour, thousands seek refuge from the storm as a weakened but still deadly Hagupit bears down on Manila. We'll have a
live update from the Philippines.
Also ahead this hour, anger in New Delhi, the city bans the car service Uber following an alleged rape by one of their drivers.
Also this, we hear from the woman who just wouldn't sit down. A row in the Jordanian parliament goes viral. We talk gender politics with the
MP at the center of it all, Hind al-Fayez.
ANNOUNCER: Live from CNN London, this is Connect the World.
GORANI: Hello, everyone. I'm Hala Gorani. A storm that roared ashore as a typhoon is still punishing parts of the Philippines. They are
the remnants of Hagupit. And they are now dumping some very heavy rain on Manila, raising concerns about floods in a metropolitan area that is, after
all, composed of 12 million people.
But the worst is over for areas to the southwest that's lost so much devastation from Typhoon Haiyan last year.
And while at least 21 people have been killed, this storm appears to have been far less catastrophic.
Still, however, the Red Cross says nearly 1,000 homes have been destroyed. The storm also forced some 900,000 people to evacuate before it
hit taking no chances, and who can blame them, after last year. CNN's Andrew Stevens is in Tacloban, the city decimated by Haiyan just 13 months
Is there at least some sense of relief, Andrew, at this point?
ANDREW STEVENS, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Hala, an enormous sense of relief, I'd say, here that they have survived the storm after such
a traumatic event just a little bit more than a year ago. It was down largely to the fact that so many people got out of the danger zones, the
vulnerable people who lived on the shore that was really bore the brunt of the storm last year. They knew what nature was capable of and they moved
quickly. The authorities had many, many evacuation centers set up and they got them out.
In fact, no casualties reported here in Tacloban. Compare that with last year 6,300 people lost their lives, Hala.
Also, the typhoon itself was not nearly as strong as Haiyan with speeds here estimated at around 120 kilometers an hour. That is still a
very, very strong storm, but nothing like that 300 kilometer plus winds we were getting here last year.
So an enormous sigh of relief here, people starting to go back to their homes. In fact, Tacloban today, Hala, blue skies, a clear evening
this evening. Walking around the city today, its people sort of rerooting their houses, the sound of people nailing tin back onto their roofs and
also cleaning up the debris.
But pretty much business getting back to normal here. As our storm chaser James Reynolds described it, the Philippines, and particularly
Tacloban really dodging a bullet. GORANI: All right, Andrew Stevens in Tacloban. Andrew, of course was part of our team reporting on Haiyan last year, a markedly different
picture thankfully this year. Andrew Stevens in Tacloban.
Let's take you to India now. Uber has been banned in New Delhi after rape allegations against a driver for the carsharing service. Police say a
26-year-old woman passenger told them that the driver took her to a remote area and then proceeded to attack her on Friday night. Indian authorities
say the suspect lacked the property security badge and background check required for commercial drivers.
Uber officials condemned the horrific attack. They say they are cooperating with the police.
This case is adding more fuel to public anger over sexual assaults in India. Mallika Kapur is live from Mumbai with the latest.
What's been the reaction so far to this issues, in particular with the Uber car service Mallika?
MALLIKA KAPUR, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, this incident has really shaken everybody in India to the core. And the reason for that,
Hala, is because as you know India has been trying very hard to make its cities safer for women. It's been about two years since we had the Delhi
gang rape, which again really brought the issue of women's safety to the forefront in India.
And Uber has been seen as part of the solution, because many women thought it was much safer to hail a private -- to use a private taxi
service rather than just hail a cab on the street. And this is why it's really shaken women here in India to the core who wonder if we can't trust
Uber, if you don't feel safe with a company like Uber, then it's -- what options do we have?
In fact, Uber had become so popular in India, it's barely been here for a little over a year, but it's already prevalent in 11 cities across
India, which makes India Uber's largest market outside the United States. So it just gives you a sense of how popular it was getting in India.
So it really has disturbed people here who feel that if they can't even trust a private taxi service then they have very few options.
GORANI: Right. But what has been -- what has Uber said anything in India -- Uber India about this alleged rape by one of its drivers?
KAPUR: Yes, absolutely. Uber has issued a statement. And Uber has basically said that Uber doesn't hire these drivers directly, it goes via a
local contractor and that it's -- Uber has been suggesting that it's up to the local contractors to make sure that the drivers they hire have -- that
they do the background checks on these drivers.
And it issued a statement saying that "we will work with the government to establish clear background checks currently absent in their
commercial transportation licensing programs." So suggesting that the onerous is not on Uber, that it is on the local officials.
This, of course, has not gone down well with local officials o the Delhi police at all. And they say, look Uber, it's your responsibility,
the buck stops with you. If you are going to hire a driver, whether you hire a driver directly or via a local contracting agency, it's up to you to
make sure that their background is intact. And if you had come to the police and said do a background verification on this driver, they would
have informed Uber that this rapist actually has a criminal record, he has been in jail earlier for an alleged rape two years ago.
GORANI: Mallika Kapur live in Mumbai, thanks very much. We're going to be discussing this further this hour. So stay with us.
Now to South Africa. There was a pretty dramatic end to a high profile murder case there. A judge has thrown out murder charges against
Shrien Dewani, the British millionaire accused of hiring hit men to kill his new bride Anni in 2010. The judge said the prosecution's case was weak
and fell far below the standard needed for conviction.
CNN legal analyst Kelly Phelps joins me on the line from Cape Town, South Africa.
Was this a surprise? This was a classic whodunit case in this instance. Was it a surprise that the case was thrown out?
KELLY PHELPS, CNN LEGAL ANALYST: Well, I think it would have been a surprise at the beginning of the trial, but for those of us who have been
watching the trial develop in court during the state's case it certainly wasn't a surprise by today.
The evidence of the state really didn't stand up to cross-examination. Many of the witnesses crumbled under the pressure of cross-examination and
revealed stark inconsistencies between their various versions of events. And when you heard the judge deliver the verdict today she meticulously
poured over the details of each of the witness's evidence and it was patently clear while she was assessing that she essentially had not choice
but to discharge the case at this point.
GORANI: Was this a fact that there wasn't enough evidence against the husband? Or was it that the prosecution didn't do a good job?
PHELPS: Well, I would say that the job that the state did is certainly subject to criticism. One must be wary of blaming the
prosecution, because after all their case was as the docket that they were handed.
But I certainly think that the police work before the trial could have been much stronger.
It wasn't that there wasn't enough evidence, but rather that the evidence was unreliable. So it was all the evidence of accomplices, there
are evidentiary rules that compel a court to approach that with suspicion and it therefore needs to be corroborated by other evidence.
And far from being corroborated, the various witnesses actually contradicted each other, but their own previous versions given in
statements and during other trials as well as the physical evidence gathered by the state. So really quite a disastrous state of affairs for
the prosecuting team.
GORANI: All right, Kelly Phelps, thanks very much. She's in Cape Town, South Africa there with as we mentioned there a pretty dramatic and
to this very high profile case of a husband accused of hiring hit men to kill his new bride. The case against him has been thrown out.
Still to come, a battle inside the Jordanian parliament strikes a raw nerve on social media. At issue, gender and women's rights. One woman is
standing there in the Amman parliament refusing to sit down. We'll speak to her later in the program.
And are these Israeli jets actually bombing targets inside Syria? We'll get a report from Jerusalem next.
GORANI: You're watching Connect the world. I'm Hala Gorani. Welcome back. We want to bring you some video we just got in to CNN. It's
Britain's Prince William arriving for a meeting with the American President Barack Obama. There is an aura in the Oval Office. We've been told that
the prince was given about 20 minutes this morning to visit the White House as part of a whirlwind trip to the U.S. by William and his wife Kate, the
Duchess of Cambridge.
After the meeting with Mr. Obama, William will talk about illegal wildlife trading at a World Bank session. It's then back to New York where
he and his wife will take in a Brooklyn Nets basketball game.
Let's get back to the Middle East. Planes believed to be Israeli struck inside Syria on Sunday. It happened in a Damascus suburb, according
to the Syrian government and an opposition group.
However, the two sides differ on the target of those strikes. No casualties were reported and Israel has yet to confirm or deny the reports,
which is not unusual.
Let's get more now from our senior international correspondent Ben Wedeman. He is in Jerusalem.
What more do we know about what may or may not have happened involving Israeli jets over Syria, Ben?
BEN WEDEMAN, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, the basic facts, Hala, are that some time yesterday -- late yesterday afternoon, there were
two airstrikes, one on a facility near the Damascus International Airport, one near the town of Demas (ph), which is on the highway between Damascus
and the Lebanese border.
Now, according to the Syrian Observatory for human rights, the target at the airport was some sort of storage facility. The Syrian army,
however, put out a statement saying that that site was a civilian site that we don't know the precise nature of the other target that was hit in Demas
(ph). However it's being widely speculated here in Israel that the intended target was some sort of sophisticated anti-aircraft missile system
possibly coming from Iran and destined for Hezbollah in Lebanon, that certainly is what is being speculated upon.
But Israeli officials are neither confirming nor denying that these were Israeli airstrikes, although we did hear the Israeli intelligence
minister saying that Israel has a policy of doing what must be done to stop the transfer of advanced weapons systems to what they call terrorist
groups. And since January of 2013 there have been a variety of strikes on targets in Syria around Damascus and also the seaport town of Latakia,
widely attributed to Israel -- Hala.
GORANI: OK, Ben Wedeman in Jerusalem. Thanks very much, Ben.
Israel hasn't confirmed this, or for that matter any previous claims of attacks inside Syria. But the New York Times has reported Israel
launched at least five airstrikes in Syrian territory last year. U.S. officials say Israeli warplanes struck a warehouse near Damascus in May
2013 with stockpiles of Iranian missiles that Israel believed were meant for Hezbollah. If that's the case it would be similar to what has been
reported in this case.
In Sunday's even U.S. officials say Israeli warplanes also struck a military base near the Syrian port city of Latakia in October of 2013,
again similar to what's been reported on Sunday.
What are the potential regional ramifications of the alleged Israeli strikes? Let's get that from Rami Khouri, director of the Issam Fares
Institute at the American University of Beirut.
Rami, thanks for joining us.
First of all, what will come of this? Do you think this will change the calculus at all in the Middle East?
RAMI KHOURI, AMERICAN UNIVERSITY OF BEIRUT: It probably won't change the calculus, but what it does is remind us once gain that the Arab-Israeli
conflict, which started as the Israel-Palestine conflict has become a much broader Arab-Israeli conflict remains the biggest conflict in the region
and the background of all the recent events that have been going on in recent years.
The possibility that the Israelis and the Syrians and Hezbollah and others could clash in a war is always there. In recent years, though, the
problem has been not so much Israel with Arab countries, but Israel with non-governmental militant groups like Hamas and Hezbollah. And the last
three or four wars that Israel has waged has been with those groups.
But the Israelis, the attack in Syria is a three-for-one. They see it as hurting Syria, Iran and Hezbollah. And that is the critical alliance
that is facing Israel.
The sad part from the Syrian perspective is that these regular Israeli attacks tend to generate no reaction or any retaliation from the Syrian
either because they are unable to do anything or because they're too tied up with their problems at home.
GORANI: Yeah, that was going to be my next question. I mean, what is likely to be the Syrian response? Because they are saying, even though the
Israelis are not confirming or denying that this was essentially a civilian facility, so they're coming out and actually saying there was a strike.
KHOURI: Well, you know, both sides will say things and not say things. And it's very difficult to know what is the actual truth until
somebody goes on the ground where the strike happened and gets authoritative evidence.
The Syrians are trying to make it appear that Israel is in cahoots with the anti-government rebels in Syria who are trying to bring down the
Syrian government. That doesn't seem to have much credibility, because from the Israeli perspective Syria is the perfect enemy, because the Syrian
border has been the quietest border with Israel for the last 40 years or so, since the 1967 war.
So, the possibility of an Israeli-Syrian clash is zero, really, it's not going to happen. But if it gets to the point where the Syrians simply
have to do something to retaliate, they might try to do it using one of their allies or surrogate groups, or even they might just hire somebody to
go and do something in Israel as some people do.
But my guess is this will not have any significant impact on the regional situation, but it is a reminder that the Arab-Israeli conflict is
the biggest conflict and the most destabilizing one in the region.
And remember the Iranian-Israel tensions that we've had for so many years, including threats of attacks, that only came about when the Iranians
started supporting the Palestinians and helping Hezbollah.
Iran and Israel were best buddies 35 years ago when the Shah was there. They were cooperating on oil and security and all kinds of things.
So it reminds us that we really should focus on resolving the Arab-Israeli conflict in an equitable way for everybody, otherwise it'll keep coming
GORANI: Just one of so many destabilizing factors in the region. Thanks very much. Rami Khouri joining us from New York. As always, really
appreciate your take on developments in the region.
Live from London, you're watching CNN. Coming up, outrage directed at American police over that chokehold case in New York. We're seeing more
protests in the streets and elsewhere. We'll bring you the latest.
GORANI: Hello, everyone. I'm Hala Gorani. You're watching Connect the World.
From east coast to west coast, many Americans are still venting their anger over that controversial chokehold case in New York. Take a look.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: How do you spell racist.
CROWD: How do you spell racist.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
GORANI: Well, that was part of a protest in New York where Eric Garner died, of course. But other major cities like Chicago are also seeing
demonstrations. You'll recall how anger erupted last week after a grand jury decided not to indict, not to go after the white police officer who
put Garner in that chokehold before he died after having several times said "I can't breathe. I can't breathe." People have been using that, by the
way, as a motto, as a chant during their demonstration.
CNN's Alexandra Field joins me now from New York.
And what's interesting, Alexandra, is that this has been now five days, five, six days since the grand jury came back with a ruling now to
indict the white police officer who put Eric Garner in that chokehold. And yet the demonstrations still, it seems, have life here.
ALEXANDRA FIELD, CNN CORRESPONDENT: They have not stopped. There are calls for more demonstrations to continue through the week. And Hala,
these have largely been peaceful protests, but they turned violent in northern California over the weekend. Protesters clashed with police, and
in once case protesters even clashed with each other.
FIELD (voice-over): Violence erupting for a second night in Northern California after 500 protesters swarm an Oakland freeway. A standoff with
police officers who eventually deploy tear gas and arrest a small number of people.
In Berkeley, demonstrators looting multiple businesses. A peaceful protester trying to stop a looter was hit in the face with a hammer.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: A guy with a crowbar comes in and starts stealing stuff, like as much as they can get.
FIELD: This after a grand jury decided last week not to indict Officer Daniel Pantaleo in Eric Garner's chokehold death.
GWEN CARR, ERIC GARNER'S MOTHER: Peace is the message. We don't want any violence, but keep on keeping on.
FIELD: Just the night before, a group of agitators in Berkeley, California, broke windows and threw what they could at the hundreds of
local police in full riot gear. Some demonstrators saying on social media police were firing rubber bullets. Police have yet to comment.
In New York City over the weekend, a few hundred people clashed with police, staging die-ins at Grand Central Station, Apple's flagship store,
and Macy's in Herald Square.
The national outcry even hitting the field.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: He gets away, but he goes down.
FIELD: Washington Redskins defensive lineman Chris Baker making the "hands up, don't shoot" gesture after a play Sunday, and several NFL and an
NBA player wearing "I can't breathe" T-shirts.
ERIC GARNER, KILLED BY POLICE: I can't breathe.
FIELD: New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio tells ABC News this week his predecessor, Rudy Giuliani, fundamentally misunderstands the reality.
BILL DE BLASIO, MAYOR OF NEW YORK CITY: You cannot look at an incident in Missouri, another incident in Cleveland, Ohio, and another incident in
New York City, all happening in the space of weeks, and act like there's not a problem.
FIELD: Giuliani blasted de Blasio on FOX News last week, saying it's, quote, "racist" to not acknowledge block on black crime after de Blasio
said he tells his biracial son to take special care around police. RUDY GIULIANI, FORMER MAYOR OF NEW YORK CITY: You should spend 90 percent of
your time talking about the way they're actually probably going to get killed, which is by another black.
FIELD: Garner's widow told NBC's "Meet the Press" she fears for her children.
ESAW GARNER, WIDOW OF ERIC GARNER: I'm so afraid of what could happen to them in the street by the police. I'm afraid of the police.
FIELD: Police in Oakland say that five of their patrol cars were vandalized during the protests over the weekend, about a dozen people were
arrested in San Francisco's Bay Area and a couple of police officers were told had minor injuries -- Hala.
GORANI: All right, we'll continue following that story. Alexandra Field in New York. Thanks very much for that report.
I'll have your world news headlines just ahead. Plus, the outgoing American Defense Secretary pays a final visit to the country that's been a
U.S. battleground for a thirteen years. His one-on-one interview with CNN's Jim Sciutto is in 10 minutes. That and more just head on CNN. Stay
GORANI: Your top stories this hour. The remnants of Typhoon Hagupit are dumping heavy rain on the Philippine capital after lashing areas to the
south. The Red Cross says at least 21 deaths can be blamed on the storm, and several hundred homes have been destroyed as well. But a lot less
catastrophic than last year with Haiyan.
The British man accused of plotting the 2010 murder of his new bride during their honeymoon in South Africa is now a free man. A judge threw
out the murder case against Shrien Dewani saying the prosecution's case was weak and fell far below the standard needed for a conviction.
Uber has now been banned in New Delhi after rape allegations against a driver for the ride-sharing service. According to the police, a 26-year-
old woman passenger says the driver attacked her after she ordered an Uber car on Friday night in Delhi. Authorities say the suspect lacked
credentials required for commercial drivers.
What does this mean for Uber? It's having issues in New Delhi, of course, with this terrible alleged rape, and also issues in the United
States. Uri Baruchin joins me here in London. He's strategy director for The Partners, a brand strategy design and innovation agency -- or I should
say -- yes, innovation agency. Uri, thanks for being with us.
URI BARUCHIN, STRATEGY DIRECTOR, THE PARTNERS: Hello.
GORANI: When you read the news about what happened with an Uber driver in New Delhi, what's the first thing that goes through your mind?
BARUCHIN: Well, the first thing that goes through my mind is that, in fact, the bigger a brand is, the more scrutinized it is. And probably this
wouldn't have made such headlines in the West and outside India if it wasn't Uber, which is a very prominent brand that has been very rapidly
expanding, and occasionally expanding with some questionable issues involved.
GORANI: It's trying to defend itself saying it's not -- the onus is not on Uber to have verified the credentials of this driver accused of such
a terrible crime against the woman passenger.
BARUCHIN: Well, while I'm not an expert on the legal aspect of it --
BARUCHIN: -- when it comes to branding, you're always responsible, because what you're always doing is managing the associations that people
have when they hear your brand. And of course, now, in Indian, especially, they're going to have very -- very tough issues in order to claim back the
trust that they've lost.
In the West, however, I personally suspect that for a lot of Western customers, this would be seen as an Indian issue, because there's also --
GORANI: Not an Uber issue --
GORANI: -- an Indian issue.
BARUCHIN: Because it's almost like --
GORANI: And why the distinction, do you think?
BARUCHIN: Because there -- it's almost like there are two brands here. Indian in the last two years has been in the spotlight for questions
around the safety of women, sadly. And while Uber had some stories about relatively mild sexual harassment, if there is such a thing, it has been
able to hold itself up because of loyal following.
GORANI: Well, let's talk, though, about some of the issues Uber has had, especially in the United States, these accusations of building
profiles of female passengers. The rest of it, accusations of outright sexism inside the company. What do you -- how is it -- how do you rate its
BARUCHIN: I think that Uber is growing so quickly that some aspects of its brand management have been neglected. And the bigger it is, the
bigger the damage it's going to get.
GORANI: Are the executives getting a bit arrogant here?
BARUCHIN: I think --
GORANI: When you become too successful too quickly, you start losing sight of who --
BARUCHIN: I don't think --
GORANI: -- you're serving?
BARUCHIN: I don't think it's a question of arrogance, I think it's a question of focus. They've just been focusing so much on expanding, they
forget that they're only worth as much as the customers who are trusting them and willing to use their service.
GORANI: The question is, is there a real risk here? Because Uber is the one that expanded the most quickly, the one with the most success in
this model, this business model. But others are waiting.
BARUCHIN: Yes. Yes.
GORANI: I mean, others are waiting in the wings. If you fall --
BARUCHIN: And there --
GORANI: -- somebody's going to take your place.
BARUCHIN: And there are not -- like, the quality of experience isn't as different from the experience Uber is giving as it used to be. It's
getting to be much more crowded. And also, people are starting to realize some advantages. And of course, it's different from one country to
another. But some people are realizing the advantages of the more traditional tax service, for example.
GORANI: Why? Because -- what does Uber need to do here? Does it need to reassure on privacy? Does it need to reassure on --
BARUCHIN: I think the way Uber is working is that it doesn't hire drivers directly.
BARUCHIN: But that doesn't mean that they don't have any responsibility for the people who are eventually supplying their services.
And I think what they'll have to do is they'll have to find a way to be more responsible and be more demanding of the people who are working for
GORANI: Doesn't that increase the price? The more you have to tweak the --
GORANI: -- the quality.
BARUCHIN: It does. It does. It does.
BARUCHIN: And it's a very -- it's a very delicate balance, and it's a very delicate situation that they're going to have to work through.
GORANI: Do you think in ten years' time, Uber will still be the market leader in this industry, here?
BARUCHIN: Personally, I doubt it. Definitely not on a global level, because the regulations are so different between markets.
GORANI: Thanks, Uri Baruchin, the strategy director for The Partners. Thanks very much for being with us --
BARUCHIN: Thank you.
GORANI: -- here in London. Now, to graphic testimony in Hong Kong by a maid who says she was brutally beaten by her boss. The woman denies it
and has pleaded not guilty to all but one of the charges. This is making headlines in Hong Kong and around the world, and with the story, here is
our Anna Coren.
ANNA COREN, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Disturbing testimony emerging from Hong Kong's district court behind me, where 23-year-old
Indonesian domestic helper Erwiana explained that she was allegedly tortured and abused by her Hong Kong employer over a period of six months.
Her employer, Law Wan-tung, a 44-year-old mother of two, is facing 21 charges, including assault against Erwiana and two previous helpers. Law
has pleaded guilty to one of the charges that involves not paying for Erwiana's insurance. But for all the serious charges, she has pleaded not
In court, Erwiana took the stand, saying she was beaten, punched, had teeth broken, and on one occasion was knocked unconscious. She described
how Law shoved the nozzle of a vacuum cleaner into her mouth, cutting the inside of her mouth and lips. As well as using a vacuum cleaner, Erwiana
says law would hit her with a mop, coat hanger, ruler, and a ladder.
Well, the Indonesian maid also described her harsh working conditions, saying she was forced to work 20 hours a day and was only allowed to sleep
for four hours in the afternoon. Her daily meal, three pieces of bread and a bowl of rice.
Erwiana's case came to light after these horrific pictures appeared of her in pain and being treated in hospital for severe injuries. As a
result, the story gained international attention as a spotlight was suddenly shown on the plight of the 300,000 domestic helpers from the
Philippines and Indonesia who work here in Hong Kong. Many claim they are treated like slaves and second-class citizens.
They earn one-third of Hong Kong's minimum wage. Their living conditions are often appalling, and they're not allowed to get permanent
residency, despite many of them working here for decades.
Well, considering that Law Wan-tung is being tried in the district court, she's only facing a maximum seven-year sentence. The issue being
tried in the high court, if found guilty, she would have been facing life imprisonment. The trial is due to last for a month.
Anna Coren, CNN, Hong Kong.
GORANI: Later this month, the US will officially end its combat mission in Afghanistan, a fight that began after the terrorist attacks of
9/11. Chuck Hagel has been defense secretary for only a fraction of that time, but the handover is happening under his watch even though he's
leaving soon, his job as defense secretary coming to an end.
He went to Afghanistan for what is a final visit. CNN's Jim Sciutto had a chance to talk with Hagel one-on-one.
JIM SCIUTTO, CNN CHIEF US NATIONAL SECURITY CORRESPONDENT (voice- over): This is Chuck Hagel's fourth trip to Afghanistan, but his last as secretary of defense. We traveled with him to Tactical Base Gamberi in
eastern Afghanistan, where he met with troops, sharing his own experience as the first enlisted combat veteran to serve as defense secretary.
SCIUTTO (on camera): Do you think there'll be a loss for the defense secretary position to have someone who didn't have that experience in the
CHUCK HAGEL, OUTGOING US DEFENSE SECRETARY: That's not for me to decide. Everybody brings to their positions their own set of experiences
and their own strengths. I believe my set of experiences fit me very well, but that's Chuck Hagel. I don't ever judge anybody else.
SCIUTTO (voice-over): At the end of this month, US forces will give up their combat role for training, advising, and assisting Afghan forces, a
new mission as the US prepares for a complete withdrawal in two years.
SCIUTTO (on camera): The US made similar investment in blood and treasure training, advising and assisting Iraqi forces. We saw how they
dissolved with the advance of ISIS. Why are you confident that Afghan forces will perform better?
HAGEL: They want us here. They want us to help them, assist, advise, train. How we left Iraq was totally different. The Iraqi government did
not want us there, the Iraqi people did not want us there.
SCIUTTO: It is train, advise, and assist. But US forces will still be able to do force protection if there's a threat to US forces, go out and
neutralize that threat. And in addition, you mentioned combat enabling. That speaks to close air support. How much danger will US troops be in
even as they transition out of an official combat role?
HAGEL: This is totally different from where we've been the last 13 years, what we have ahead for the next two years. But I think bottom line
is, we've got to realize, this is still a war zone. This is still a war.
HAGEL: And so, you put men and women in a war zone, they're still in a war zone.
SAVIDGE: Taliban attacks are down this year from 2013, but Secretary Hagel's visit comes during a new wave of Taliban violence in the capital,
SAVIDGE (on camera): What's the most concerning thing you've heard from commanders? The thing that scares you the most?
I think this country, first of all, has made tremendous progress. Where Afghanistan was five years ago, two or three years ago, there's
hardly any comparison. But it still has threats. Al Qaeda, Taliban. They have built the Afghan security forces a very strong security force
institution. So, yes, still challenges ahead, but I think every sign is that they can do this. But it's still a dangerous place.
GORANI: Chuck Hagel, there, his final major trip to Afghanistan as secretary of defense.
The Arabic hash tag #SitDownHind -- hash tag #SitDownHind -- is getting quite a bit of attention on social media. We'll tell you what
sparked it and talk to the woman at the center of it.
And overcoming the obstacles for love. How one Russian couple had to find a legal loophole to get married. That's coming up.
GORANI: You're watching CNN, I'm Hala Gorani, welcome back. An LGBT couple in Russia have made history with their wedding. Same-sex marriages
are illegal in the country, but a loophole allowed the two brides to have their ceremony anyway. Senior international correspondent Matthew Chance
has exclusive scenes from the event.
(MUSIC - MENDELSSOHN'S WEDDING MARCH)
MATTHEW CHANCE, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): It's a marriage anti-gay campaigners in Russia were powerless to stop.
Same-sex weddings here are banned, but these two St. Petersburg brides, a gay woman and a male-to-female transsexual, have found a loophole.
According to their official documents, this is just a man and a woman tying the knot.
ALYONA FURSOVA, BRIDE (through translator): To be honest, it's scary and uncomfortable because we don't know what to expect in the future. We
can get married now because I have female documents and Irina has male ones. But already, we've heard that government officials are preparing a
law to forbid this.
CHANCE: Russia's record on gay and transsexual rights is patchy. Controversial laws banning gay propaganda to minors, even teaching children
about homosexuality causing outrage among rights activists.
Lawmakers in St. Petersburg have called this marriage "unnatural," telling CNN the couple should be committed to a mental asylum or emigrate
to the liberal West. There have been threats on social media, too. But the newlyweds say they intend to ride out the abuse.
IRINA SHUMILOVA, BRIDE (through translator): I really hope it helps people to understand that if they fight for their rights, they can get
them. I want this sort of reaction in the gay and transsexual community, but I also want regular people to be more tolerant of relationships. That
would be really cool.
CHANCE (on camera): In a country where traditional family values are actively promoted by the government and the rights of sexual minorities so
often trampled on, this extraordinary marriage was always going to be controversial. Alyona and Irina say they hope their example will help
change attitudes. But the fact is, in this increasingly conservative modern Russia, that's going to be a struggle.
CHANCE (voice-over): A struggle in which the mere power of love may not be enough to prevail.
Matthew Chance, CNN, Moscow.
GORANI: A parliament session in Jordan has gone viral on social media because of this altercation.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
(MAN SHOUTING IN ARABIC)
(END VIDEO CLIP)
GORANI: A few members -- it has to be said, male members -- repeatedly asked female MP Hind Al-Fayez to sit down to allow another
member to speak. Instead, she continues to protest, asking for her mic to be switched on.
That prompted Yehia al-Saud, the man on her left, to curse her and use the quote referring to the mandatory allocation of some seats to women. He
was asked to apologize. Instead, he repeats his statement to some laughter and applause. The session was dismissed.
The hash tag #SitDownHind has been trending in the Arab world, with many poking fun at the exchange with memes and the rest of it. Here are a
few of the images. You can see a few members of parliament with though bubbles praying for Hind to sit down.
Here's a popular picture from the move "300" with the caption, "Come on, Hind, sit down!" And a picture of Hind herself reading, "I'm not
Let's hear from the woman at the center of this story, Jordanian parliament member Hind Al-Fayez. She joins me now, live from Amman with
What was going through your mind when this was all happening in parliament, Mrs. Al-Fayez, when you had that member of parliament quoting
essentially, insulting your presence there by saying he is opposed to the idea of a quota on the Jordanian parliament. What were you thinking?
HIND AL-FAYEZ, JORDANIAN MEMBER OF PARLIAMENT: First of all, thank you for having me. And unfortunately, the entire incident was before that
defending the pan-Arab nationalism, and we were talking about the very important and severe issue that Jordan is going through about importing the
So, we were extremely provoked by those two issues, and I was really surprised by having my fellow MP -- changing the subject into the female
quota, which is also a very important issue for the Jordanians.
And what I had in mind, and if you can see the way I was staring at him, what are you talking about? We are now MPs, no matter what, if I won
through the quota, if I won through the national list, by the end of the day, I'm a parliamentarian now. You judge me by my performance, you judge
me by my achievements, not by being a female or a male.
GORANI: And what --
AL-FAYEZ: So, I was wondering, I'm looking at him wondering -- go on.
GORANI: I was going to ask you, he was asked to apologize, the MP Yehia al-Saud. Has he done so?
AL-FAYEZ: The female caucus at the parliament, they boycotted the session the very next day, and we asked Yehia al-Saud to apologize, but the
Speaker of the House, he apologized for the female parliamentarians.
And by the end of the day, I would say what he did probably was for the advantage of the females, and not for the disadvantage of the female.
Because it triggered a very important issue that we as the Jordanian in specific and the Arabs in general, we're not taking woman empowerment that
AL-FAYEZ: So, I think the feedback that we got from the people, from the comments, they were extremely positive. They were supporting me, which
means that the Jordanian people are extremely frustrated from having the women in the back rows, and they want them in the front rows. They want
them -- in parallel with men. So, I think by the end of the day, the result was very good and positive, so --
GORANI: But, Mrs. Al-Fayez --
AL-FAYEZ: -- I'm not asking for his apology.
GORANI: Yes. I wanted -- one of the things that struck me in that video there of the altercation in parliament is that the men around you
were giggling. Many of the men found this quite amusing --
GORANI: -- it seems. How do you react to that in particular?
AL-FAYEZ: I wouldn't say that they were giggling as much as they were wondering how stubborn that woman is. And if you want the truth, if he was
talking to Hind Al-Fayez as a citizen, I would probably take that as a simple thing. But you're talking to a member of parliament, and I'm
talking about a major issue.
So, if you believe in the goal that you have, if you believe in the case that you're defending, you don't look around you. You just focus on
the target that you want to achieve. So, I didn't see my colleagues. And even when I saw the video, that made me insist on going forward.
And as I told you earlier, the feedback that I got from the people, don't sit, keep on standing. And not to mention, now, we're having an
initiative for the women, we shouldn't sit until we defend our rights, until we really find that minimum of 33 percent of the parliament are
GORANI: OK. And you're saying you're not asking for an apology from that particular member of parliament, and you think, based on the reaction
you've gotten from ordinary Jordanians, that what? That things are bound to change? Or is this something that's going to be still very difficult,
an uphill climb here?
AL-FAYEZ: Always. It's always going to be uphill. But it's not that easy to achieve a real stand -- a real strong cause. It's not easy to
achieve the goal that you want to achieve. But I keep saying, and I'm really proud of the Jordanian people.
Not only the Jordanian people, the feedback that I've got from all around the world, especially the Arab world, that they're supporting what
we did. And we're no longer considering the women are in the back seats or in the back rows. Women are supposed to be in the front seat.
The feedback that I got through the comments were extremely positive. If you want to talk about percentage, not more than 4 to 5 percent were
negative comments, while very high percentage were very positive. Which means that people are so keen to see real change in the parliament.
And not to mention that -- the frustrations of the parliamentarians, the people are extremely frustrated of the parliament.
GORANI: And --
AL-FAYEZ: And seeing that --
GORANI: Yes, Hind Al-Fayez --
AL-FAYEZ: -- there is a woman in the parliament.
GORANI: I've got -- we've got to leave it there, unfortunately --
AL-FAYEZ: To see that there's a woman in the parliament is doing --
GORANI: We've run out of time, but thank you so much. And it -- we have seen that as well, the frustration with politicians in the Arab world,
certainly, and in Jordan as well.
Hind Al-Fayez, thanks so much for joining us from Amman on this and the reaction you've gotten to that altercation in parliament that led to an
important discussion on an even more important topic. Thanks to Hind Al- Fayez.
This is CNN. Coming up, you know city life is getting tough when even a super hero says he's exhausted. After the break, a look at Cairo through
the eyes of Spider-Man.
GORANI: In today's Parting Shots, we take you to Cairo. Spider-Man had made an appearance in the City of A Thousand Minarets, and he is
finding life rough. A photographer followed around a friend dressed as a super hero to ask the question, if Spider-Man spent a normal day of an
Egyptian's life, what would happen?
The answer, he'd be exhausted, according to the man behind the mask. "All Egyptians are super heroes for enduring these difficulties every
single day." It has to be said.
Well, what do you think of that story? We'd like to hear from you on Facebook and Twitter. I'm Hala Gorani, thanks for watching. I'll see you
on "The World Right Now" at 3:00 PM Eastern later on CNN. Stay with us.