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CONNECT THE WORLD
British Parliament to Vote on Controversial "Three Parent" Procedure; U.S. Weighing Arming Ukraine; One Square Meter: Microliving In London; Donetsk Airport Before and After; UK Parliament Votes to Allow Three-Parent Babies; Head of UN Inquiry on Gaza Offensive Quits
Aired February 3, 2015 - 11:00:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
FRED PLEITGEN, HOST: And breaking news this hour here on CNN. Britain is now the first country in the world paving the way for so-called
three parent babies. Parliament here in London has just voted to allow a controversial invitro fertilization technique that uses DNA from three
people. Doctors say it would mean that some incurable diseases passed to babies through their mothers could be prevented. But critics are raising a
host of ethical concerns.
We'll have a quick look at how all of this works, doctors start with two fertilized eggs, or embryos. One includes DNA from both mother and
father. The second embryo comes from a donor. Both embryos contain a nucleus and the surrounding mitochondria. The mitochrondria from the
parents' baby embryo are unhealthy. Doctors can remove the nucleus and transplant it into a donor embryo with health mitochondria creating one
health embryo now containing the DNA of both parents and the donor. Three people leading to one baby, free from mitochrondrial disease.
Now all of that is obviously pretty complicated and we have our own Erin McLaughlin here to help us understand first of all we had that
graphic, but tell me a little bit more about how this exactly works.
ERIN MCLAUGHLIN, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Yeah, they're saying this is a three person baby, some scientists are making the argument that it's
actually a 2.0001 person baby, because essentially what this is focusing in on is something called mitochrondial DNA, which makes up .1 percent of all
DNA inside of a cell. And what they're doing is they're taking a mitochrondrial DNA from a health female donor and combining that with the
DNA of two of the parents.
And this is designed to prevent mitochrondrial disease, which can lead to a number of different ill effects on the baby once the baby is born.
But crucially mitochrondrial DNA it's crucial to point out that that is different than the nuclear DNA which involves things like hair color, eye
color. This is having to do with the mitochrondria, the energy pack of the cell.
PLEITGEN: A decision like this is never easy for a society. And in medicine right now the debate is often not what can we do, but what should
we do. And watched the debate and it was one that was very emotional, wasn't it?
MCLAUGHLIN: It was an emotional debate, it certainly was a spirited debate -- not unusual for the House of Commons here in the UK. And the
people who were -- the MPs who were against this procedure raised a number of objections. Some wanted to see more testing. There are concerns that
given the nature of mitochrondrial DNA and the fact that it can be passed down to future generations, some of the MPs wanted to see more research in
that direction, more research into what could potentially be the long-term implications of this.
There were religious objections, considering this involves embryos. And there are also ethical objections as well. There are concerns that
this could be opening up a door to the so-called designer baby in which parents choose the eye color and the hair color of their babies. But it's
worth mentioning that this provision, this legislation before the House of Commons today in no way leads to that. That would be the subject probably
to a very strong debate if this country ever decides to consider that.
PLEITGEN: Thanks very much for that, Erin Mclaughlin, for watching the debate, for keeping us updated. And we're going to have more on this
story throughout the hour. While some scientists say the technique will prevent children from suffering diseases and painful conditions, which
probably is true, critics say the ethics are questionable. Throughout this show, we'll weigh both sides of that debate looking at the pros and the
cons and the wider ethical considerations.
And of course we will analyze that vote in the British parliament in favor of allowing this procedure and all of the consequences that are
Now we're going to move on to the crisis in eastern Ukraine. And staggering new numbers of the human cost of that conflict. The United
Nations has just released new casualty figures that say that more than 5,300 people have been killed since April, another 12,000 have been
Civilians are increasingly caught in the crossfire between pro-Russian rebels and government forces. In the past three weeks alone, the UN high
commissioner for human rights says more than 200 civilians lost their lives in the fighting.
He says an escalation of violence could be, quote, catastrophic for people there.
Now for months, the United States has refused, debated whether or not to provide arms to the Ukrainian forces. But with mounting civilian
casualties this is now said to be considering the idea of so-called defensive weapons.
For more on that, we go to our CNN chief security correspondent Jim Sciutto who is Washington right now. And Jim, it appears as though --
first of all, a very difficult decision for the U.S. and one where perhaps the White House, the State Department could be a little bit at odds.
JIM SCIUTTO, CNN CORRESPONDENT: There is. There appears to be disagreement within the administration between Defense and State and the
White House, but even possibly within the White House, although more coming to the side of reconsidering sending defensive weapons to Ukraine. What
Well, what has changed, really, is that Ukrainian forces are losing on the ground. They're losing ground to Russian forces as you've had this
infusion of heavy Russian weapons and also more Russian troops pushing this even out of the east into the west as you get Mariupol and closer to
So, that's the difference on the ground. And while the economic sanctions have clearly raised the cost for the Russian economy that hasn't
changed the calculus on the ground for Vladimir Putin. So this puts those defensive weapons back on the table.
Certainly doesn't mean the decision is made. We have Ben Rhodes on. He's deputy national security adviser to the president last night and he
said it's still his review that more arms will only make the situation worse. But you do have others in State and Defense and it sounds from
talking to Hill sources, which I've spoken with, even some in the White House who are beginning to come around on this, but still no final decision
PLEITGEN: And you mention, this is obviously an international effort to try and pressure the Russians and the U.S. is working with its allies,
I want to play really quick a soundbite from Angela Merkel, because she flat out rejected any sort of weapons to the Ukrainians. Let's listen
in to that real quick.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
ANGELA MERKEL, GERMAN CHANCELLOR (through translator): Germany will not send Ukraine any deadly, lethal weapons as I said yesterday. We are
focusing on a diplomatic solution. And the foreign ministers have made it clear that if the situation get worse, a qualitatively new situation, then
it will be necessary to work on further sanctions.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
PLEITGEN: She's talking about further sanctions. How concerned are the folks in Washington that any sort of weapons deliveries to the
Ukrainians could lead the Russians to further escalate the situation?
SCIUTTO: Extremely concerned. And Fred, this has been the balance from the beginning that, one, it's the view that if you send defensive
weapons -- and keep in mind when we say defensive they're still pretty powerful weapons -- anti-tank missiles, anti-aircraft missiles. But the
view is that if you send those weapons you're not going to beat the Russians. This is one of the most powerful militaries in the world. It
really just would right the balance a bit to lay the groundwork for negotiation.
There is that point of view.
But there is also great concern, which remains in the White House that if you send those weapons and they have a USA stamp on them, you know,
figuratively if not literally, that that will spark further Russian aggression, Russian pushback. And this is one of the difficulties from the
beginning for U.S., the administration for intelligence is reading Vladimir Putin's intentions and his reactions to these things. It's a difficult
thing to do. And the president said the last thing he wants to do is further escalate the crisis. It's a tough -- it's difficult calculation to
But on the other hand, the situation is getting no better no the ground there. And that's why you have voices in the administration saying
we have to do something because sanctions has not lead to the bargaining table, perhaps you have to right the military balance on the ground to make
the bargaining table a possibility.
PLEITGEN: And just really quick, Jim, while we have you here. Secretary of State Kerry is of course traveling to Ukraine on Thursday.
What are the likelihood that this is going to be one of the main topics. What do you think he's going to tell the Ukrainians?
SCIUTTO: I'm sure it's going to be one of the main topics. In my experience you may have the same, Fred, that when you speak to Ukrainian
officials in private they will say they need more help. In public, they'll say they're very happy with the help they're getting from the west,
financial support, et cetera, some of the minimal humanitarian aid, but also some military aid such as nightvision goggles, et cetera, but that in
private they will say they need more help.
And I won't be surprised -- I don't know this, but I wouldn't be surprised if the secretary hears that -- I'm going to be traveling him to
Kiev, it's certainly something we'll be pressing them on to see if the Ukrainians make the push for this now as well.
If they sense that now is the time to push the Americans over the edge for this kind of aid.
PLEITGEN: Thank you for that. Great analysis as always. Jim Sciutto our chief national security correspondent in Washington, D.C.
Now, after the release of Australian al Jazeera journalist Peter Greste from an Egyptian prison seems very possible that his colleague
Mohamed Fahmy might be next. There are indications that Fahmy, who also used to work for CNN, could be let go and deported for Egypt as early as
today. He held Egyptian and Canadian passport, but has apparently renounced his Egyptian citizenship preparing the way for deportation.
al Jazeera journalist Bahar Mohammed is also still being held in Cairo. All three journalists were sentenced to seven years in prison on
Now CNN's Ian Lee is in Cairo for us. And he has been monitoring the situation. Ian, how imminent could the release be. And what spirits is
Mohamed Fahmy right now, not that you have been talking to his relatives?
IAN LEE, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, Fred, we're just waiting, really, for the call when we know that he's going to be heading to
the airport and out of the country. We are told that Peter Greste really only had about 20 minutes before he was told to pack up and gather his
things he's heading to the airport to leave. So we're waiting for that.
But talking to his family members, they're anxious. They're ready for him to move on and talking to his fiance, she's ready for them to -- him to
get released so they can get married. So a lot of anxious nerves right now while they're waiting for Egyptian government to approve his deportation
and then the Canadians will help take him to the airport, Fred.
PLEITGEN: Ian, both you and I know Mohamed very well. And one of the things that apparently, if all of this goes through, is a part of all this,
is the fact that he's had renounce his Egyptian citizenship. Now on the face of it, he still has Canadian citizenship. That doesn't sound like
much. But knowing him, this is a huge blow to him, because it's someone who really identifies with that country.
LEE: You're right. This was -- he gave it up very reluctantly, I'm told. He does love Egypt very much. He considers himself a proud
Egyptian. We're hearing reports from his family as well saying that he comes from a proud history of Egyptians who have served in the army, have
served in the police force. And for him to give it up it really hurt him to the core.
Now he will have his Canadian citizenship and could possibly come back and visit Egypt as a tourist on that, but it really is a blow to him to
have to give that up.
But it's a move that he was willing to make if it meant that he was going to be released and he would start his life sooner -- Fred.
PLEITGEN: Absolutely, Ian. Certainly a blow from him. Nevertheless looking forward to freedom. Of course, we'll be looking at Mohamed's
situation and also the situation of Bahar Mohammed. We'll continue to cover those events. Thank you very much Ian Lee there in Cairo.
And coming up, a way to help families to have a healthy child, or a dangerous path to, quote, designer babies. More on that landmark British
parliament vote allowing so-called three parent babies. We'll look at the pros and the cons right after the break.
And the head of a UN inquiry into alleged war crimes during the Gaza conflict steps down after Israel's prime minister accused him of bias.
We'll hear his side of the story in about 30 minutes. That's coming up.
PLEITGEN: You are watching CNN. This is Connect the World. I'm Fred Pleitgen. And I'm live for you today in London. Welcome back to the show.
Now, Greece has gone through a lot in the past six years since the beginning of the financial crisis. It's nearly impossible for young people
to find jobs there. And the ones that they do find are often very low paying. As a result, hundreds of thousands have left the country, while
many who have stayed have fallen into poverty.
The Greeks show their dissatisfaction with their current situation by voting for the left-wing Syriza party into power. And now that new
government needs to deliver on its promises. And to do so top Greek politicians are on a tour of Europe looking to get relief from the tough
conditions of the EU bailout.
The main paymasters in Germany, of course, are against any debt relief, while some southern European countries seem to be more amenable to
Greek prime minister Alexis Tsipras and finance minister Yanis Varoufakis are meeting with their Italian counterparts in Rome today. And
it seems that Varoufakis has a new plan that is pleasing some European investors.
Daily Beast Rome bureau chief Barbie Nadeau joins us live.
Now Barbie, tell me first of all what was said during this meeting? And the interesting thing also about this situation in Italy is that there
are a lot of people who don't like the reforms that the Italians have had to initiate to get out of their debt troubles as well. So they might find
quite an audience there, wouldn't they?
BARBIE NADEAU, DAILY BEAST ROME BUREAU CHIEF: That's right. I think Greek Prime Minister Tsipras is definitely finding a friend here in Italy
and Prime Minister Matteo Renzi.
When the two finance ministers met earlier today, they talked about Italy's -- the Italian finance minister talked about the importance of
growth. That's obviously something very, very important here in Italy as well.
You know, there was a recent survey here in Italy, 40 percent of Italians think they'd be better off without the euro. So you've got a lot
of the same sort of sentiment that put Tsipras in power in Greece.
Italian Prime Minister, though, Matteo Renzi, who is also very young. He and Tsipras are the two youngest prime ministers in Europe right now,
you know, are working together basically to try to combat, you know, the stronger northern European countries.
Matteo Renzi is looking at this I think very much as an opportunity to sort of to shepherd the Greeks into Europe and try to get them to sit at a
One of the things that Italians have proposed is a debt summit, which would put all of the leaders of the EuroZone together at the same table, so
it wouldn't be so much them against us, it would be lets all talk about what's really viable here, especially for the situation in Greece and as
well in Italy and in Spain and Portugal, some of these areas that are really, really suffering through the austerity that they've had to go
PLEITGEN: It's interesting. And you're obviously there in Rome right now. And the interesting thing about it is that people like Alexis Tsipras
is deeply unpopular with the German government, for instance, and with a lot of other governments as well that have given money to Greece, but not
that unpopular with many people. And I assume it's the same in Italy as well, because there's a lot of people in those countries who are just sick
of austerity measures, who are sick of high taxes, who want governments to invest more.
What's the mood among the Italian people towards this new Greek government?
NADEAU: Well, you know, Italy does own quite a bit of the Greek debt. So there is not complete forgiveness, let's say, they don't necessarily
want Greece to default on the money owed to the Italians, certainly, but there is an understanding. You know, Greece and Italy share a lot of the
same problems when it comes to Europe, not just economically. They also deal with a lot of the refugee situation, their regular immigration and
those sorts of things. They feel they're very much on the front lines of Europe for the rest of Europe.
But I think they also see themselves as part of a different Europe than perhaps Germany. They don't see themselves as equal financially
certainly, economically, there are two different Europes at play. Certainly Italy falls in line with Greece, Spain and Portugal in that
But I think Matteo Renzi is looking at this as a way to open up some dialogue and to make himself look very much as the mediator. Maybe Italy
can come out as a statesman in this situation to help sort of foster the changes that need to be -- and the dialogue that needs to take place in
order for everybody to come out of this with their currency in tact, let's say.
PLEITGEN: Barbie Nadeau, thank you very much for that. And it does appear as though the front for austerity seems to be somewhat crumbling.
And that brings us straight to New York and Richard Quest who just had the opportunity to speak to the Greek economy minister.
Richard is now with us live from New York. Richard, growth linked bonds seems to be the new thing that the Greeks are floating.
What's all of it about? And what did the minister have to say?
RICHARD QUEST, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Good evening, Fred.
Yes, the first rumors of this proposal came out in London late on Monday night. And now for the first time we have a Greek minister actually
officially confirming what has been widely known. That Greece is proposing some form of bond swap. And basically the thrust of the idea is you take
the existing bonds owed to the ECB and to the various European institutions and you swap them for a new type of bond that either has a lower interest
rate or a further maturity rate, or in this case, it would be -- the repayment would be linked to economic growth.
It's very simple, Fred, you don't need a degree in economics for this one. If there's no growth, the bonds don't get paid. If there's growth,
the bonds get paid.
Now this effectively means, of course, that the owners of the bonds, the various governments in Europe, would be losing out, because it would
take longer to repay. I put it to the economy minister that some would perhaps say he's blackmailing northern Europe.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLP)
GEORGE STATHAKIS, GREEK ECONOMY MINISTER: We're not blackmailing the European partners. We are proposing the most logical solution nowadays
accepted by many headquarters around Europe. So, we are talking sense. We are finding -- trying to find the most logical solution, which is good for
We are investing of the idea of mutual leaders, not only the idea of conflict and blackmail.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
QUEST: And the core of it, the minister said, is a U-turn. It's a U- turn on policies on austerity, a U-turn on the grinding, crushing pressures that have been put on the economy, Fred.
PLEITGEN: Richard, just really briefly, are European countries going to go for this? Are the Germans especially going to go for this?
QUEST: You remember the old line, Fred, I owe the bank $1,000. That's my problem. I owe the bank a billion dollars, that's the bank's
problem. That's what you have here. Greece owes 300 billion euros. That's Europe's problem.
PLEITGEN: Richard Quest, thank you very much. It is indeed Europe's problem and Germany's problem and the IMF's problem. We'll wait and see
how this could get sorted out. Thank you very much there in New York.
And live from London this is Connect the World. And coming up, an exclusive look inside one of the hardest hit areas of the Ukraine conflict,
the airport in Donetsk, but first a microliving in London, this week's One Square Meter explores how housing in the British capital is getting smaller
with tiny living spaces now making it big.
JOHN DEFTERIOS: Finding somewhere to live is one of London's challenges. The greater London authority estimates that 49,000 new homes
are required in the UK capital every year.
But in 2013, just under 20,000 were actually built.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: There's huge housing pressure. The last five years have seen a real population growth in London. And we've just crossed
8.6 and by 2030 we're going to be knocking on 10 million.
DEFTERIOS: So-called microliving is an increasing trend.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Generous ceiling heights.
DEFTERIOS: Although house builder Pocket would argue that their 38 square meter properties are perfectly proportioned.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: They don't have any car parking, because they don't have cars anymore. They have a space for bicycles. And to be
honest, you don't need a bath in your bathroom. Nobody has time to have baths anymore.
You can start to shave off in every area.
DEFTERIOS: This zone two development would sell four around $350,000, that's 20 percent below market value. The conditions to buy are
restricted. And this (inaudible) remains with the property, maintaining its status as affordable.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Demand is unbelievable. All of the Pocket developments that are built are prioritized for sale to people who live or
work in the borough (ph). They have to earn under 66,000 pounds. And they can't already own another property.
DEFTERIOS: However, owning a home is still out of reach for many Londoners.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Most people in their, you know, first of second jobs in their sort of early to late 20s can't even afford to rent a studio
DEFTERIOS: Welcome to Camden Collective, this is an upmarket youth hostel style setup, which is aimed at young professionals. Small bedrooms
and shared communal spaces.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We have a range of units here, ranging from about nine square meters and going up to 20 square meters.
Our prices here start at about 200 pounds a week. And that's all inclusive of all your utility bills, the weekly linen change, the room
cleaning, the consierge, it's an all inclusive rent.
DEFTERIOS: Bianca Poulio (ph) pays 425 a week for 14 square meters.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: It works out for me, to be honest. I have everything I need here.
DEFTERIOS: These companies have also caught the attention of businesses, desperate to keep their workers in the city.
ANNOUNCER: There are nurses, teachers, designers, engineers...
DEFTERIOS: Pocket is popular with local authorities for keep key workers nearby. And the Collective is in talks with consultancy KPMG to
house its graduate workers.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We've got a new scheme coming up in Wilson Junction, which is 323 units. And there's we've got 10,000 square foot of
common spaces ranging from spas to libraries to secret garden rooms to disco laundrettes. I think it is a new, more permanent approach to living,
especially in city centers.
DEFTERIOS: The key to both of these company's success is in the location. Both developments are central and convenient, making microliving
an interesting option for many Londoners.
John Defterios, CNN.
PLEITGEN: Welcome back, this is CONNECT THE WORLD, I'm Fred Pleitgen, and these are the top stories at this hour.
Britain is to become the first country in the world to allow the use of technology to create so-called "three-parent babies" via invitro
fertilization. The technique uses DNA from both parents and a donor. It would mean some incurable diseases would be prevented, but critics say it
raises a variety of ethical concerns.
Al Jazeera journalist Mohamed Fahmy may soon follow his colleague in being released from an Egyptian prison. Canada's foreign affairs minister
says Fahmy's release is imminent. Fahmy held Egyptian and Canadian passports, but he apparently renounced his Egyptian citizenship, clearing
the way for his deportation.
And Greece's finance minister laid out a new plan for restructuring his country's debt. As he arrives in Rome for talks with his Italian
counterparts, investors are responding positively to the proposal, which reverses his original call for a write-off of much of that debt. Greek
prime minister Alexis Tsipras is also holding talks in Rome today.
The United Nations has just released new casualty figures on the conflict in Ukraine. It says by now, more than 5300 people have been
killed since April. Another 12,000 have been wounded in the fighting between pro-Russian rebels and government forces.
We're going to stay with that topic. And there's almost no place in Ukraine that reveals the scale of the destruction brought on by the
fighting like the airport in Donetsk. The international hub in eastern Ukraine used to be a point of pride, a brand-new $750 million terminal that
was added in 2012, big enough to handle more than 3100 passengers per hour.
These images show the airport's control tower before the fighting began compared to what it looks like now, a mere skeleton of what it used
to be. The ongoing clashes have left the airport in shambles. The hope it once represented, at this point, at least, is gone.
Now, CNN's senior international Nick Paton Walsh gained access to the airport and shows us the destruction firsthand.
NICK PATON WALSH, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Nowhere has the fighting been fiercer in the worst war to hit Europe since
the Balkans then here, Donetsk's once proud Sergey Prokofiev International Airport.
WALSH: Ukraine's army is still shelling here.
WALSH: Despite being pushed out of this former stronghold two weeks ago by these Russian-backed separatists, themselves heavily armed. This is
their form of airport shuttle.
WALSH (on camera): We're moving, now, in an armored car towards the new terminal of the airport, territory which the separatists have taken but
is still regularly under fire from the Ukrainian military.
WALSH (voice-over): We pull into the airport long-term underground parking.
WALSH (on camera): He was just saying that occasionally shells are still landing here.
WALSH (voice-over): The fight for here killed hundreds, as Ukrainians used service tunnels to hold part of the complex. The men claim these
bodies were left in the Ukrainian retreat. The last call for passengers on this walkway passed months ago. These pictures from three years ago
showing how it used to sparkle.
WALSH (on camera): Hard to imagine how just six months ago, we were here flying out of Donetsk at this that was then a state-of-the-art
international terminal. Just look at the destruction and how this symbolizes how far eastern Ukraine has fallen.
WALSH (voice-over): Mortars often fall here, so we move fast. They used to call this the new terminal, opened two years ago for football fans
coming to see the European championship. But that newfound European optimism has evaporated.
The war here is entering a new phase, with the heaviest of weapons and the random shelling of civilians, in which victory has become more
important than its spoils.
These men blame Barack Obama for this devastation. Russia blames NATO for fomenting this war. NATO says nonsense, and that many of these
fighters are actually Russian regular army. Blame, hatred, and charred remains everywhere. But to Ukraine's bright hopes of modern prosperity,
the gate is closed.
Nick Paton Walsh, CNN, Donetsk.
PLEITGEN: And unfortunately, that conflict seems to be getting worse rather than some sort of solution being in sight.
Now, want to get more, now, on that vote in British parliament to allow babies created with the DNA from three people. Britain is the first
country in the world to allow the advanced invitro fertilization technique to be used. Take a look again at what exactly that would entail.
Instead of a baby being a combination of cells from a mother and a father, usually, the faulty part of the cells from the mother, the
mitochondria, would be taken out and replaced by healthy mitochondria from a female donor. The resulting baby would be free of disease that the
faulty mitochondria would have caused.
Now, a short time ago, I asked David King, director of the watchdog group Human Genetics Alert why this procedure is so controversial.
DAVID KING, DIRECTOR, HUMAN GENETICS ALERT: Well, for me, it's not about saving the embryo or anything like that, so I'm not a pro-lifer.
It's about the fact that once we cross this ethical line, which has been one drawn in the sand for a long time by governments all around the world,
that we shouldn't intentionally manipulate the human genome in ways that will be passed down the generations.
Once you cross that line, it's very hard both logically and in practical terms to then not take the next step and the next step, and you
end up in that future of designer babies, which everybody says they want to avoid.
Actually, we already have a perfectly safe and reliable technique to avoid the birth of children with these conditions, which is called
conventional egg donation. It happens every day of the week. And these techniques are sort of a refinement to that in that you transfer the
mother's DNA into the donor egg.
Now, all that achieves is not that you allow -- create a child that could otherwise be created. What you're doing there is just simply making
the mother the genetic parent of the child. Well, everybody knows that that's important to most people, but it's not actually a medical benefit to
On the other hand, you're risking the child's health just through the techniques themselves, very severe manipulation of embryos that is far
beyond anything that's been done before in IVF. And though we know that when you do those kind of things to embryos, it has long-term effects on
These are called epigenetic conditions. That's to say, what happens if something goes wrong with the whole regulation of the way genes are
expressed in the egg and then in the embryo and the fetus and the child. And that can cause a variety of results, for example, excessive growth or
undergrowth. Both of those two are quite common in epigenetic problems.
So, you're risking those kind of things for the sake of the mother's genetic relatedness. And I don't know, call me old-fashioned, but I think
that my understanding of medical ethics is that you don't put your patient at risk unless you're delivering a significant medical benefit to that
patient. And that's not what's going on here.
My position on embryos and all of that is I actually agree with the petitioner, I'm one of those few people who are not at one extreme or
another. British law says that the embryo is not a person, but it's a "morally significant entity," is the phrase, that you need to be careful
exactly what you do and don't do with it.
People always say, oh these slippery slope arguments, they're not valid, we've got checks, we've got regulations. It's always -- in my
experience, it's always those same people who a couple of years down the line, they come back and say, well, now we want to do this next thing.
And actually, you've agreed in principle two years ago to what we want to do now, so this is just a slight modification, so you've got no grounds
to complain about it. And so, we take the next step, and the next step, and that's -- people are paid to make this happen, and our society calls it
progress. I think we need to think about our concept of progress.
PLEITGEN: And sitting on the other side of this debate is Dusko Ilic, an instructor in stem cell science at King's College here in London, who
joins me now in the studio. Sir, first of all, welcome. So, there are ethical concerns and there are religious concerns. What do you make of the
case against this --
DUSKO ILIC, KING'S COLLEGE LONDON: Look, every new procedure, especially scientific procedures, bring in opposite opinions. It never
happened that everybody's for it. So, this is one of them. It sounds very risky, but it is reasonably safe.
PLEITGEN: Is it, though? What are some of the risks involved? Because the gentleman I spoke to before, he said there are risks.
Obviously, every time you plant DNA from one egg into another, there are risks that can happen.
ILIC: But it's not only that. If you go to the dentist just to get a tooth extracted, it is a benign procedure, but there is a risk it won't
work. So, you have to sign it off that you are not holding the dentist liable.
PLEITGEN: But a dental procedure is something different than having a baby, isn't it?
ILIC: Well, it is. But this is a greater risk in a way. But still, all that we know, it is reasonably safe to go ahead.
PLEITGEN: How does all of this work? We've been trying to explain it a little bit. And how well has all of this been researched? You're saying
that the risks are fairly minimal. How much do we actually know about what those risks could be?
ILIC: Well, it was never tested in humans, but it is what all that we tried before in laboratory in animals, this should work.
PLEITGEN: What are the potential benefits for all of this? What sort of diseases would possibly go away? How much safer could having a baby be?
ILIC: It is a hundred diseases are running though the families, it is through mother's line. And they can be very devastating, from mild
symptoms to very sever, practically kids cannot walk, cannot talk, and they're dying relatively young.
So, with this procedure, in such severe cases, if families agree, they go for it, they can completely get rid of the disease, and not only save
the first child, but it is also their future generations.
PLEITGEN: How well can something like these mitochondrial diseases be detected in the eggs of a woman who wants to have a baby beforehand. How
well can you tell someone who's coming to you and says I want to make sure that I'm all right. Can you tell her, well, you are at the risk of having
a baby that has a mitochondrial disease?
ILIC: It can be detected in a certain way, yes.
PLEITGEN: It can be quite quickly? What do you make of this whole debate that's going on now where people are warning of possible designer
babies, that this --
ILIC: They --
PLEITGEN: -- whole debate, you could engineer your own child?
ILIC: That is completely nonsense. Even such a procedure like this one had to go first to Parliament to change the law to allow something like
this. So, it means if you want to do anything similar, it would again have to go through Parliament to change the law to allow you to do something
like that. So, yes, it is nice to hear science fiction stories, but it is far from reality. No designer babies.
PLEITGEN: Dusko Ilic, thank you very much for coming on the show today.
PLEITGEN: And I'm sure that you watched this vote in Parliament, also, with a lot of interest.
ILIC: Oh, yes. Thank you.
PLEITGEN: Now, Israeli officials are hailing what they see as a diplomatic victory of sorts. A man they accuse of bias will no longer lead
a group probing what happened in Gaza last year. That story's coming up next.
PLEITGEN: You're watching CNN, this is CONNECT THE WORLD with me, Fred Pleitgen. Welcome back to the show. And there's been a big
resignation at the UN committee that's been widely condemned by Israel in the past.
Professor William Schabas is stepping down as head of the inquiry investigating alleged war crimes committed during Israel's offensive in
Gaza last July and August. Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has accused Mr. Schabas of bias against Israel and says his group's upcoming report on
what happened should be shelved altogether.
UN estimates that more than 2100 Palestinians died in the Israeli offensive against Hamas, the majority of them being Palestinian civilians,
according to the United Nations. Israel suffered 68 casualties, and the man at the center of this controversy is with us now from London. So, sir,
first of all, what was your reasons for giving up this post?
WILLIAM SCHABAS, FORMER HEAD OF UN INQUIRY ON GAZA OFFENSIVE: Well, Israel's been attacking me, as you just said, since I was appointed last
August. A couple of weeks ago, they announced that they were going to make attacks on me and on my credibility central to their attacks on the report
of the commission.
They made a formal complaint a week ago, and it became clear that I was just getting in the way of the work of the commission. And so, what
I've done is resigned, I've made the target smaller. The commissioners can get on with their work, the staff will get on with the work, and the report
will come out, and he won't have me to kick around anymore.
PLEITGEN: They said that you have an anti-Israel bias. What do you say to that?
SCHABAS: I'm of Jewish origin myself, I don't have an anti-Israel bias. In the past, before I was appointed, I made statements critical of
Israel, like most people who are involved in international human rights as I am, I'm a specialist in international human rights.
And so, that's about statements I made in the past. When I took on the job, I made an oath to be independent and impartial, and nothing that
the commission has done, either myself or anyone else on it, has been criticized since the day we started our work. The test is whether we're
independent and impartial while we're doing the work, and they haven't got a complaint there.
PLEITGEN: Well, the Israelis say that one of the big issues that they have is that you did some consulting work for the PLO.
SCHABAS: That's way before I became a member of the commission. I think that's greatly misunderstood. I'm a professional, I'm an expert in
international law, international human rights law. Many governments call on me for opinions. I give them. They pay me, that's the end of it.
It doesn't mean I'm taking sides with them. I'm not an advocate for them. Frankly, if Israel were to call me up, I'd give an opinion to them,
PLEITGEN: One of the things that they've also said is that they believe that the whole inquiry would be one-sided. It was very difficult
for you to even access Gaza because you were stopped there at least once. What do you think that this report can actually show? How all-encompassing
can a report like this be? Because there's no doubt it's going to be criticized heavily when it comes out.
SCHABAS: Well, Israel's been criticizing it from the beginning, long before anything --
PLEITGEN: They feel the whole report should be shelved, right?
SCHABAS: Yes, of course. Well, there's no report to shelve right now, because the report hasn't been written.
PLEITGEN: But it will come out in March?
SCHABAS: It will come out in March. At the beginning of the work, they said it's all going to be one-sided, they're only going to look at
Israel, they won't look at Hamas. Netanyahu himself this morning said that. He said, oh, they shouldn't look at Israel, they should look at
He's forgotten the point that we did look at Hamas. We have looked at Hamas. We had several Israeli victims from inside Israel who traveled to
Geneva, one poor man who had is legs blown off by a mortar in a kibbutz on the border with Gaza, and they made him travel to Geneva to meet with us
because they wouldn't let us go and meet with him in Israel.
That's all going to be covered. That's all going to be dealt with. And Netanyahu says stop the report. Those Israeli victims are going to be
very disappointed with that. What the work of the commission does -- has done is looked at victims wherever they are, the West Bank, East Jerusalem,
Gaza, and Israel itself.
PLEITGEN: The organization Hamas is deemed a terrorist organization by the United States, by the EU, even though right now there is, of course,
a ruling by a court here. You, however, when asked and when interviewed refuse to call it a terrorist organization. Why is that?
SCHABAS: I was asked --
PLEITGEN: Because it doesn't really make a difference to your reports, does it, whether you call it a terrorist organization or not?
SCHABAS: Oh, no, no. Oh, no, but an Israeli journalist tried to ambush me with this after I was appointed as a member of the commission,
saying, "Do you think Hamas is a terrorist organization?"
And I said that's an inappropriate question to ask of me because I'm supposed to be independent and impartial. I don't make opinions, I don't
venture opinions about things until the report comes out.
What they were -- on the one hand, they were attacking me, saying that I was lacking impartiality, and then when I do something to demonstrate I'm
impartial by refusing to make a statement and to answer such a question, they attack me for that.
And the next day, Prime Minister Netanyahu said, "He says that Hamas is not a terrorist organization," which of course is not what I said, and
you got the quote right. I just said I refuse to answer that question because to do so would compromise my impartiality.
PLEITGEN: Why do you think the Israelis are taking such a hard-line approach? Why do you think that they've attacked you so heavily? Is it
because they generally have issues with you? Or do you think it's because they won't like what's going to be in the report?
SCHABAS: Israel's never liked this report.
PLEITGEN: Because they were -- there was a lot of -- it was when you were on the ground reporting from there, there was a lot of antagonism from
both sides, from both Israel and Hamas, who were basically trying to portray their view of the situation.
SCHABAS: Well, of course, when you're talking to the leaders and the people who represent the political bodies that are involved, you have to
take everything they say in the context of the fact that they're defending a position.
But most of the people that we met with were victims of various kinds and various contexts in East Jerusalem, as I said, in the West Bank, Gaza,
and in Israel. And they didn't really have axes to grind. They're just victims, and they want to tell about their victimization, and we had to
But yes, this is the most controversial and toxic terrain in the world, and has been for decades. And that continues. So, it's a hard job.
But I'm very confident the two commissioners and the professional staff of 12 people who are working for the commission, they're going to
keep doing their job, and all I've done is made the target smaller so that they can get on with it now and issue the report in March.
PLEITGEN: You mentioned the comments made by Prime Minister Netanyahu. I want our viewers to listen in to those really quick, so,
we'll be talking about it.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
BENJAMIN NETANYAHU, PRIME MINISTER OF ISRAEL (through translator): The resignation of the person who headed the inquiry, a job he should not
have done to begin with, is the best proof of the defined and structured agenda-driven and anti-Israel notions of this council.
The UN Human Rights Council held in 2014 more discussions on Israel than on North Korea, Iran, and Syria together. This is a biased, one-sided
council, and those who should have been summoned and questioned over there are Hamas members and their partners in the terror organization, and not
(END VIDEO CLIP)
PLEITGEN: So, what he said there was that the UN Human Rights Council held more debates on Israel than Iran, North Korean, and Syria. What do
you make of this criticism?
SCHABAS: Well, I don't think that's true.
PLEITGEN: The way that he laid it out.
SCHABAS: I don't think that's true. But there you heard him in the statement where he said, "They should look at Hamas." And I've just
explained that, of course, we did that.
The other thing was that in his early statements, back in August, when I was appointed, he called for me to resign, or he called for me to be
removed. Now, I've resigned -- and he said, "The fact that he doesn't resign and the fact that he's not being removed shows they're biased." Now
I've resigned, he says, "That shows they're biased."
I mean, I don't know what he wants. I don't know how to satisfy this man. Of course, his statements are internally contradictory.
What the world needs is for more light to be shed on that conflict and for independent and impartial examinations to give a voice to victims
wherever they are, whether they're Jewish Israelis or Arab Palestinians, and to hear that hurt so that we don't have carnage like the whole world
saw last July and August.
PLEITGEN: William Schabas, thank you very much for joining us. And I'm Fred Pleitgen, and that was CONNECT THE WORLD, thank you for watching.
And stay tuned for "The International Desk" with Robyn Curnow. But coming up just before that, we'll take you to Ghana for this week's African Start-
KWABENA DANSO, FOUNDER AND CEO, BOOMERS INTERNATIONAL: Hi. My name is Kwabena Danso, founder and CEO of Boomers International in Ghana.
Welcome to my workshop.
UNIDENTIFIED CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): In the Ashanti region of the southern part of Ghana, Kwabena Danso started a bicycle company with a
DANSO: We do bamboo bicycles, bamboo bicycle stands, and bicycle baskets for now. We make different types of bikes from here. We have the
mountain bike, we have the road bike, we have the city bikes. And we have the woman version of it.
Like watch to see what I'm holding right now, you see this design? It's the look of fiber from this region, from the Ashanti region, that is
used in designing this bike. And this bike is purely handmade, and so it's unique.
UNIDENTIFIED CORRESPONDENT: Though bamboo bicycles were invented more than 100 years ago, Danso and his partner got inspired to create them in
2009 after seeing a concept by Craig Calfee.
DANSO: We're looking how we can engage the youth in the rural areas into a meaningful venture, trained and well-skilled. And we came across
that idea, and I got in touch with the person who invented it. We managed to get him to come down to train these people. And since then, I've been
doing this, training the youth in the rural areas.
UNIDENTIFIED CORRESPONDENT: Danso works with the youth through the whole process, from the harvesting of the bamboo to the assembly of the
bicycles. He, however, has some challenges to overcome.
DANSO: Funding is a big issue, and sometimes -- they capital down because the cost is also as high that if you don't take care, you will run
out of business. So, it's difficult getting capital, and funding is a huge issue.
I've often caused to do with electricity supply, or sometimes you will not have lights, electricity supply, you have to rely on your generator.
And so, it made the cost of production very high.
So, this is one of our finished products. This is a ladies' bike. As you can see, it's a ladies' mountain bike, ladies' bike. And this hollow
go. It is very strong, as you can see, it can take anybody can sit on it without causing a problem.
In the next five years, our aim is to conquer the world market. We want to explore everything with bamboo. We want to make this place the
point where you come and you get everything from bamboo, ranging from transport, which is bicycles, furniture, household items, and even houses.
We build houses with bamboo. That's our focus.