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Sepp Blatter Fires Back; Star Wars Shattering Box Office Records; African Startup: Feed Green Ethiopia; Investigators Rule out Terrorism in Las Vegas; Appeals to Supreme Court Fail in Indian Rape Case. Aired 11:00a- 12:00p ET

Aired December 21, 2015 - 11:00   ET



[11:00:09] SEPP BLATTER, FIFA PRESIDENT: I am sorry. I am sorry that I am still somewhere a punching ball.


ZAIN ASHER, HOST: A defiant FIFA president Sepp Blatter hits back against his eight year ban from football. His rival Michel Platini was

also slapped with a ban as well. We're going to be having analysis and background this hour.

Also ahead, controversy reignited in India as a gang rapist walks free after serving three years. We'll speak to one campaigner pushing for


Plus, a force that is making box office history, the new Star Wars release is shattering records and why the box office frenzy is far from


ANNOUNCER: Live from CNN Center, this is Connect the World.

ASHER: 17 years at the helm of world football, now Sepp Blatter has been hit with an eight year ban from the game. It was an unusual twist of

fate. It was actually FIFA's ethics committee, the same committee that Blatter helped set up, that passed the ruling.

The head of European football Michel Platini was also given the same punishment as well.

Now, this all started, just a bit of background for you, this all started back in 2011, about four years ago, when Blatter authorized a $2

million payment to Platini. The committee found that both men broke FIFA's code of ethics. Blatter says he's going to appeal.


BLATTER: I am sorry. I am sorry that I am still somewhere a punching ball. That I am sorry that I am as president of FIFA this punching ball.

And I'm sorry for the football. I'm sorry for the Federation Internaionale de Football Association I'm serving now more than 40 years. I'm sorry for

that. I'm sorry for the 400 plus FIFA team members that are working in FIFA. I'm sorry about that. 'm sorry.

But I am also sorry about me, how I am treated in this world of humanity and humanitarian qualities.


ASHER: That was Sepp Blatter a few hours ago with a sort of quasi apology.

I want to dig deeper on this. I want to bring in our Alex Thomas who has been following this story pretty much from the beginning. He joins me

live now from London.

So Alex, Sepp Blatter has been banned for about eight years. We knew that he was already stepping down as head of FIFA in a couple months. So,

explain what this ban is going to be meaning in practical terms.


arguably the most famous head of the sport, most popular sport, the FIFA president since 1998 -- and he's been at the governing body for over four

decades -- might miss the chance to slip quietly and respectfully into retirement, maybe as an

honorary president of FIAF and could well miss the chance to anoint his successor in the next presidential election held at the end of February.

And let's not forget, Zain, that that election is only being held because Blatter himself was forced to call for it just four days after

being re-elected for a fifth term back in May.

There are no set term limits like a U.S. presidency or a prime minister's term of office in a Democratic country. The FIFA presidency can

last as long as you like.

But certainly back in May, he should have served out four years except for this scandal that has erupted, mainly after the arrest days before that

election in May. And he's been the face of the biggest controversy in FIFA's 111 history.

ASHER: And speaking of those elections in a couple of months, the favorite, I guess, the most likely person to replace Sepp Blatter would

have been Michel Platini. Now that he's been embroiled in all of this, who is the favorite to replace him in a couple of months?

THOMAS: Platini is still desperate to get into that election, of course, and he and Blatter are both going to appeal as best they can. They

were both disdainful at the FIFA ethic committee's verdict and announcement earlier on Monday, Zain. But we're left with five candidates at the


Platini has until January 26, effectively one month before the election to try to get on the ballot paper. And the list of candidates

that are left without Platini, men that people in football kind of know, but many of the football fans, and certainly FIFA's fiercest critics don't,

certainly not one name that jumps out as the inspirational leadership style figure that could really turn the reputation of the game around.

And FIFA's very future is still in peril while Blatter and Platini continue fight to clear their name, refusing to admit any wrongdoing.

ASHER: And Sepp Blatter said he's going to be fighting until the end. He said I'll be back at the end of that press conference.

When will we know the results of the appeal?

THOMAS: Essentially they have got around ten days to launch an appeal with FIFA's own appeals process first. They have to go through that step

before turning to the court of arbitration for sport which is the highest court you can go to appeal this sort of sports administration decision.

Blatter has even mentioned going to Swiss civil courts. And of course the real unknown in all this, Zain, is that this crisis was sparked by two

criminal investigations, one in America, one in Switzerland. We've seen more arrests since that -- the dawn raids in May. That could well all kick

off again. People have been spoken to and witnesses interviewed all the time.

So, there's more to come from this crisis, whether or not it involves Blatter and Platini and even if their football careers end in shame.

[11:05:37] ASHER: Yeah, he's questioned about what is going to happen to Sepp Blatter's legacy in all of this and what's going to happen to his

football career.

Alex Thomas, live for us there. Thank you so much. Appreciate it.

I want to turn now to the U.S. where police say in Las Vegas -- police, excuse me, in Las Vegas say a woman intentionally plowed her car

into crowds of people on the city's iconic strip. At least one person was killed and more than 30 people were injured. And as our Stephanie Elam

reports, the driver had a young children in her call during all of the chaos. Take a listen.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: This is a huge tragedy that's occurred on our strip.

STEPHANIE ELAM, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Breaking overnight, a massive and deadly hit-and- run on the famous Las Vegas strip.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We have determined that this is an intentional act.

ELAM: Police say a female driver in her 20s ran her vehicle up onto the sidewalk, bustling with tourists twice, possibly three times, plowing

into nearly 40 people between Planet Hollywood and Paris Resort and Casino. The fatal incident unfolding while the Miss Universe pageant was under way

inside Planet Hollywood.

LT. DAN MCGRATH, LAS VEGAS METROPOLITAN POLICE DEPARTMENT: She's in the detention center right now. She's speaking to detectives.

ELAM: The suspect, speeding off with a 3-year-old toddler inside, was quickly apprehended by police less than a mile away. Investigators believe

she's not a Las Vegas native but say this is not an act of terrorism.

MCGRATH: The information I got is she may have been here for a short period of time, but she's not -- she's not from here. This is a recent move


ELAM: Shocked witnesses say pedestrians scrambled to stop the woman.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The car rolled right in front of me. By the time I looked over to the right, all you could see was her driving away and people

are, like, bouncing off the front of the car. You can hear. People were punching the window, trying to get the -- apparently, the child out of the

back seat. She accelerated again and just kept mowing everyone down.

ELAM: Investigators turning their attention to the vast amount of surveillance cameras outside the casinos.

CHIEF BRETT ZIMMERMAN, LAS VEGAS POLICE DEPARTMENT: We will comb through that footage to get a detailed idea of what occurred.

ELAM: This as witnesses describe a horrific scene.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: It looked like she wasn't even trying to stop the car. She had both of her hands on wheel and was looking straight forward,

and there were men running after her trying to stop the vehicle. And they couldn't get to her. They were yelling, "Stop, stop," and she just wasn't



ASHER: Well, that's Stephanie Elam reporting for us from Las Vegas there.

Rescue workers are trying to reach at least 85 people who are missing after a landslide in China. A man-made pile of earth basically collapsed

in an industrial park burying absolutely everything in its path.

The disaster took place in a Shenzhen, a city known as China's tech hub.

Andrew Stevens has more from neighboring Hong Kong.


ANDREW STEVENS, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: This was the moment a wall of mud slammed into three industrial parks in southern China on

Sunday. The sheer force of the landslide toppled multistory buildings burying some of them and smashing others to rubble.

Hundreds of rescue workers are still combing through the debris and mud as the number of missing climbs higher.

More than a dozen people are being treated at a local hospital. Among the injured, an 8-year-old boy.

"It was so scary, we just jumped off the building," he says.

About 1,000 residents have been forced to leave their homes. They spent Sunday night sleeping in temporary shelters. Officials now say the

cause of this landslide was man-made, a pile of earth and construction waste that grew as high as a 3 story building. Locals tell state news

agency Xinhua that hundreds of trucks dumped construction waste here every day for at least two years. Premier Li Keqiang have ordered an



ASHER: Shenzhen, on the border with Hong Kong, is one of China's fastest cities. It was chosen in 1980 by the then supreme leader Deng

Xiaoping to be one of the first cities to lead China's economic revolution. From a quiet fishing village, it's now home to 10.8 million people, and

it's the center of China's tech industry.

Andrew Stevens, CNN, Hong Kong.


ASHER: Time for a quick break here on Connect the World. Still to come, we turn now to India to speak to the chairwoman of an organization

that petitioned to keep a convicted rapist in custody. The young man now walks free.

We'll have the details coming up. But first, a decade's long career in absolute shambles. We'll look at what today's ruling will mean for Sepp

Blatter, FIFA, and the beautiful game of football.



[11:13:32] BLATTER: I'm sorry about it. I'm sorry. But I am also sorry about me, how I am treated in this world of humanity, humanitarian



ASHER: A defiant Sepp Blatter there speaking just hours ago, our top story this hour on Connect the world. I'm Zain Asher. Welcome back.

Eight year bans from football for FIFA President Sepp Blatter and his European counterpart Michel Platini. For more on what this could mean,

joining me live now from London is Matthew Gwyther, editor of Management Today.

So, Matthew, thank you so much for being with us. You've covered this story from the very beginning.

Your reaction to the ban, first of all.

MATTHEW GWYTHER, MANAGEMENT TODAY: I'm wondering who precisely Blatter is sorry for. He's saying he's sorry for me. He's sorry for

football. He's sorry for FIFA.

ASHER: I think he's sorry as in he's sad, as opposed to he's apologizing.

GWYTHER: Yeah, I don't think he's apologizing for anything.

ASHER: No, he's not.

GWYTHER: I think he doesn't really genuinely in his heart believe he's done anything wrong.

ASHER: Right. So, in your opinion, do you think that FIFA in the long-term can recover from

this kind of scandal?

GWYTHER: Well, I know in Britain we're often accused of sort of having a satirical bent, but on one of the amusing websites this morning

there's been a thing saying that Panini, the children's soccer sticker thing, has launched a 2015 FIFA corruption scandal album. So, it will

allow fans to collect every member of the FBI, the RAS, Interpol, Swiss teams investigating FIFA.

The problem is at the moment, they don't seem to be able to put a line in the sand and move away from it.

One of the prime candidates apparently to take over the job, Jerome Champagne is saying that history will judge Blatter better than the news


I don't -- I'm not sure if they've sort of accepted what's going on.

ASHER: But what do you think this will do specifically to Blatter's legacy to his football career. I mean, Blatter, Michel Platini, they have

both been fined tens of thousands of dollars. But surely what is more important to them is the huge damage that this will do to their careers.

GWYTHER: Well, I think their careers are pretty well over.

I mean, Blatter's legacy still in the developing world is a positive one. Because whatever you say about him, he still did bring large amounts

of money to those countries to develop the game there.

But they had zero corporate governance. And in the end, it sort of took the FBI to catch up with them. And it's going to take many years to

restore their reputation.

One of the problems they've got now really is winning the support back at the sponsors. The sponsors are clearly a vital part in the stakeholder,

you know, universe. They're providing large amounts of money.

And if I were FIFA, I would be doing rather more than they appear to be doing at the moment to get them back onsite.

ASHER: So, what do you think should be done especially in terms of reforms that FIFA should commit to?

GWYTHER: Well, there have been some suggestions put forward that you need someone who is almost completely fresh to the game, not people who

have been involved with the organization already. So, whether it be an international businessperson or something like that who has no direct links

with it, but understands, you know, what an amazing thing international football is, but also understands what reputation means and what the values

of corporate governance are.

ASHER: Let's talk about the elections in a couple of months. Because Sepp Blatter was supposed to be step down in a couple of months anyway.

There are supposed to be elections. You mentioned Jerome Champagne. Who are the other sort of top contenders now that it's unlikely that Michel

Platini is going to get the job?

GWYTHER: Well, there's been mention of the Tokyo Sexwale from South Africa. He -- some people would say has his own reputational issues, has

been involved there a lot. There are many presidential candidates. No women there as usual. Why not get a brilliant international business woman

in to run the organization?

I mean, it has such enormous potential. And a fresh start would be a brilliant thing for them to do at this point in time.

ASHER: And Matthew, obviously much has been said about Sepp Blatter. But as you mentioned, you know, he has long enjoyed support, particularly

in Africa and in Asia as well. How do you think the support he has from those markets is going to affect him in the long run?

GWYTHER: Well, it will do, because the ballot is secret and clearly there will be sort of politicking going on behind the scenes. You know,

he's made a lot of people very wealthy all over the globe and a lot of these people who have benefited from that will be involved in the voting.

It's very difficult to get these things, especially when they're secret in the way that they are, completely cleaned up.

But one has to try and be optimistic and positive about it. I mean, at least he's now been put to one side. And they've got the opportunity to

start again.

ASHER: All right, thank you so much. Appreciate your perspective. I know that they're appealing, Michel Platini and Sepp Blatter are both

appealing. So we'll see what happens with those appeals.

Matthew Gwyther, than you so much. Appreciate it.

GWYTER: We will. Thank you.

ASHER: You can stay up to date with the latest on the scandal engulfing the world of football on our website where you'll find the

special collector cards which provide a who's who of who has exactly been implicated so far in the FIFA scandal. Just go to for

more information.

Live from CNN Center, Connect the World -- this is Connect the World. Coming up, the U.S. president is defending his strategy against ISIS. We

take a look back at the terror group's growing reach over the past year.

And next, African Startup takes us to Ethiopia where a spice company is offering unique opportunities for women in the workforce. That's coming

up after the break.



[11:22:53] SENAI WOLDERUFAEL, FOUNDER, FEED GREEN ETHIOPIA: I was working at Ethiopian Airlines when we were checking in customers, I noticed

most of them -- most of Ethiopians that go back to the country where they reside, they take a lot of kilos of Ethiopian spices. So there I noticed,

OK, if there's this much demand, I think I can start the company and I can export it from Ethiopia. So, that's how we started the company.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Inspired by more than 2.5 million Ethiopians living abroad, Senai Wolderufael and his partner launched Feed Green

Ethiopia in 2012.

They started by buying spices from local markets, but then they had to find customers.

WOLDERUFAEL: We were trying very hard. We were trying -- we were online all the time. We were trying to contact people everywhere.

Eventually we would send them samples. They will test it. And when they like it, they will

tell us that we negotiate the price. After that, the sales happens. We know it's going to take time

to do that. When the sales started to pour in, it was a very good start for us.

We started with $2,000. When we finished the fiscal year, we were able to raise more than $100,000 in revenue. It was motivational, it was

inspirational for us.

So, at that point, we were like, OK, let's do this harder now.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Today, customers order products from the Feed Green website and Wolderufael ships them directly to their door.

WOLDERUFAEL: Our main product is the paper. After paper, you know, our clients will ask

us other products as well: chickpea powder, black cumin, the cardamom.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Feed Green offers 18 different organic herbs and spices as well as injera bread. And in 2014, it expanded by introducing


The company buys the beans locally and roasts them.

WOLDERUFAEL: For the coffee, we're trying to penetrate the market now and the competition is very hard for roasted coffee, because when we target

a city in the United States, there are like thousands roasters there. So we have to compete with them. That makes it hard.

But obviously for now the spices is more profitable one.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Feed Green Ethiopia has 18 employees, mostly women.

WODLERUFAEL: The reason we do that is because in our society, in Ethiopia, females do not have the same opportunity as men, so we want to

help. We want to see that changed. The fact that I'm actually able to create opportunities for some people, I'm very happy about that. That

gives me joy. I want to create a company that I would love to work for as an employee.

I love my job now because I'm making the company that way, so that makes me happy.



[11:30:08] ASHER: Crime has won, we have lost: those words from a mother in India whose daughter was the victim of a fatal gang rape in 2012.

The mother was reacting after one of her daughter's attackers was released from custody after serving just three years in detention.

India's highest court said they didn't have the power to keep him in custody any longer. He had served the maximum sentence possible for a

juvenile offender.

The Delhi commission for women petitioned unsuccessfully to keep him locked up. and the chairwoman of that commission Swati Maliwal is with us

live now from New Delhi.

So, Swati, thank you so much for being with us.

So, in your opinion, Swati, what would be fair in this particular case? We know that he's just 17. Given just how atrocious, just how awful

this crime was that he committed, how long would you have wanted to keep him away for?

SWATI MALIWAL, CHAIRWOMAN, DELHI COMMISSION FOR WOMEN: The first factor that he was 17-and-a-half. He was just two or three months away

from actually turning 18.

Secondly, it was a completely barbaric crime where even rods were inserted inside the victim's vagina as a result of which the woman died.

And thirdly, the fact is that it's very sad that under the juvenile justice act of the country, there was absolutely no way of keeping him

beyond three years. And even the high court of Delhi has ruled that there is nothing on record as to what kind of a reformation has gone through.

So -- and there -- the IB of the country has actually reported that there were various problems during this particular person during his

retention. So we basically actually told -- we appealed to the supreme court and we have appealed that please, for heaven's sake, don't let this

man come out at least until it is ascertained what kind of mental reformation has he gone


Because this man could actually now be walking free and may repeat the offense. So, the only petition that the Delhi commission of women has done

was on that -- that was the demand. And it's extremely sad that the supreme court, under the supreme court of the country, also, though they

said we completely share your views and we completely share your concerns, we

are tied down by the Juvenile Justice Act, amendments to which, unfortunately, have been pending in the parliament of the country for the

past seven or eight months.

So, that is the demand now of the Delhi Commission of Women and also of the parents of the victim that whatever that India has in a way failed

to give justice to this victim, to Nirbhaya we call her, the Fearless One, but at least give justice to all the new Nirbhayas that are being created

in Delhi every day.

Just a month back, we had a girl who was brutalized in such a brutal manner she was raped, she was a 2-and-a-half year old toddler. She was

gang raped and she was bang raped by two juveniles, and she was left in a park bleeding at 12:00 in the night. That is what is happening in Delhi

every other day.

So we had a now we're appealing. And now we are appealing to our parliamentarians to completely, to amend this particular bill so that if a

person -- the reformation has to be ascertained before that person is set free and that bar of keeping only three years -- because right now the bar

is that you have to keep him for only three years and after that he can go free.

At least it should be ascertained whether that man has been reformed or not. And only once that person is reformed, only then that person

should be set free.

ASHER: Right. So, Swati, I know that you've been fighting very, very hard to keep this young man in detention. It hasn't worked. In terms of

reforms, let's talk about wider reforms that needs to be in India. I know that there was a 2013 anti-rape bill that was passed to give harsher

sentences to people who are found guilty of rape.

Has that done anything to deter rape cases there in India?

MALIWAL: No, not at all. There are various problems with the laws and the implementation

of the laws. In fact, as the Delhi Commission of Women -- I have just assumed the chair four months back -- and the first thing that we did was

we called for data. And we were totally shocked to see what we got.

We realized that in 2014 only nine people were convicted in Delhi for crime against women. Can you imagine? There were 11,000 files that were

registered, and only nine cases, nine people, nice cases actually get convicted.

So, that is what is happening in Delhi. People are not scared at all.

ASHER: Right. And you have more people coming forward. So that number is...

MALIWAL: Absolutely. People are coming forward. And we keep telling our women we are

having all kinds of schemes, (inaudible) which means that you teach your daughter, you tell her -- you encourage her to come out. And we tell women

that please come out, please complain. And when the woman complains, then the entire system just works in quelling that voice.

And if you -- and we broke down this nine number. We tried to analyze why is it so low, why is the conviction rate so low in India. And we

realized that the charge sheets were filed by the police only in 35 percent of the cases.

If only 35 percent of cases are actually charge sheeted, that is the first step to justice. There the justice is denied.

After that we also issued a notice to the forensic laboratory. And we that realized in the forensic

laboratories, 1500 forensic samples have gone expired. So, who is responsible, do you know?

That is the problem. The fact is that forensics are not working, the police is not filing proper charge sheets and the courts, they keep

languish -- these women, these victims they keep visiting the courts four years, five years, despite the 16 December 2012 rape, that we had these

fast track courts that were created in Delhi, they're not functioning in a fast track court manner.

So, the fact is, that a woman raises her voice and then she struggles and struggles and struggles. And many times, and most of the times, she

gives up.

ASHER: And Swati, I just want to ask you very, very quickly because we are running out of time. But I want to ask you very quickly. I know

that in the aftermath of Joti Singh's (ph) rape, some Indian politicians came out and said that she asked for it by going out at night.

Do you think all the protests we've seen, all the outcry, has that at least done anything to change

attitudes towards rape victims there in India?

MALIWAL: I think a lot needs to be done. And every other day we are having these kind of statements by politicians even now. So it is

happening. And it is extremely sad because in India we actually worship women, we worship a girl child, we worship her energy, the creator, all

kinds of things.

And at the end, at the same time, we have these huge patriarchal mindsets which actually further lead to further victimization of the

victim, which is extremely sad and gory.

ASHER: Swati, thank you so much. Swati Maliwal, thank you so much for joining us live here. Appreciate it.

The Republican race for U.S. president is now down to just 13 candidates. Senator Lindsey Graham has just announced he's ending his

presidential bid.

Graham told CNN in an exclusive interview that he's hit a wall with his campaign. The South Carolina Republican he been polling at less than 1

percent in national surveys, but he did manage to make headlines with his attacks on the front-runner in the race, Donald Trump.

In a new interview, U.S. President Barack Obama fires back against Republican criticism of his strategy to fight ISIS. Mr. Obama told

National Public Radio that his plan is actually working, but he admits his administration could do a better job of explaining its anti-ISIS strategy

to the American public.

That strategy has relied heavily on airstrikes, but many Republicans have called for U.S. ground troops to be added to the campaign as well.

And some of our international correspondents have seen the horrors inflicted by ISIS firsthand. They sat down to discuss what ISIS has done

this year and what dangers the group poses in 2016.


CLARISSA WARD, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Paris has been such a gamechanger, because as closely I've been following the sort of reach of

militant groups like ISIS in Europe and in the west, I had never expected them to be able to pull off something this organized, something this well


NIMA ELBAGIR, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: But do you think it was that organized and that well orchestrated. No, I don't think it was.

WARD: The main thing that didn't go as well as they were hoping were the vests.


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: But they accomplished their goal.

ELBAGIR: Yeah, but there's a difference between extraordinarily complex, well organized attacks that need an infrastructure and eight guys

with some vests and automatic weapons.

WARD: Oh, no. I think they had an infrastructure.


bit about this is I think the lack of the short-term memory. I mean, it was a decade ago that we were

looking at al Qaeda carrying out massive attacks which killed scores of people. And we kind of forget the fear and panic of those days.

WARD: Well, also, the whole nature of recruitment was different. Like al Qaeda was recruiting in the masjid (ph), in the mosques and it was

an entirely different process. Jihad was a very abstract...

WATSON: And now these are Facebook jihadists.

WARD: Now these are like your own friends...

WATSON: Who are doing it in their bedrooms.

WARD: Recruiting each other in their bedrooms. And so it's a completely -- I think for intelligence authorities, it's a very frightening


ELBAGIR: But this kind of -- I know he grew a beard. He started going to the mosque, these are the tell tale signs of radicalism, that

entire landscape has changed now.

ARWA DAMON, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDNET: But all this goes to the greater underlying issues we have in society. And what ISIS has now done

for people that are even slightly so inclined is give them that sense of purpose.

ELBAGIR: And identity.

DAMON: So, then the other question is, it's not just in terms of intelligence, how do we fight this, but how do you actually fight that

ideology? How do you revamp societies where these kids have a different sense of purpose?

[11:40:09] WATSON: All these kids, their parents came to Europe for a better life. And the sad irony is that their offspring grow up into people

who attack Europe.

WARD: And we have this misconception that ISIS is all about radical Islam. ISIS is a product of like a bunch of very complex geopolitical,

historical trends that have been brewing for years. This is not just about Islam.

NICK PATON WALSH, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: It's also terrifying that some guys who clearly aren't particularly mentally well

configured in San Bernadino can go and shoot some co-workers with a lot of assault weapons and put something on Facebook and that somehow joins a

global movement.

ELBAGIR: And it's almost like a wave of hysteria, you know, that's building on each other. You know you saw Paris happen and then you saw San

Bernardino kind of crest off it, and then crest -- it's like a contagion in the way.

WARD: But I think there needs to be not hysteria, but let's not underestimate the threat either. I mean, it is huge.


[11:41:07] ASHER: Our CNN international correspondents there discussing ISIS.

Time for a quick break here on Connect the World. Coming up, Ms. Colombia was crowned as Miss Universe, but get this, only for about two

minutes. We'll explain why her reign was so short just ahead.

But first, a force to be reckoned with: how the new Star Wars is rewriting box office history. That's coming up.



UNIDENTIIFED MALE: Nothing will stand in our way. I will finish what you started.


ASHER: No doubt you've seen the trailer. The force is well and truly awake. Star Wars: The Force Awakens had its biggest opening in movie

history, that's according to Disney, and $247 million in North America over the weekend. That works out to more than $1.8 million for every single

minute of the film: a phenomenon we have been watching very closely here on CNN.

You're watching Connect the World with me Zain Asher. Welcome back.

CNN's senior media correspondent Brian Stelter joins me live from New York with more on this.

So Brian, I always have this fear that when a movie is so hyped up, it will never, ever live up to expectations. That is my personal fear. But

in this case, in this very rare case, I think it actually did. Have you seen it? What are your thoughts?

STELTER: It has a 95 percent positive score on the website Rotten Tomatoes. This is where all the reviews from all the different critics are

aggregated. And yes, you never see a tent poll franchise film like this do that well among the viewers.

Now, partly that's because everybody has got a little Star Wars geek somewhere inside them, right. Everyone has affection for this franchise.

But it's also partly because Disney put it in the right hands, they put in the hands of director of JJ Abrams who brought back some of the

original stars like Harrison Ford and Carrie Fisher. And then created new stars as well.

So, this is really working on all these different levels.

And for Disney, this is just the beginning, you know, the CEO Bob Iger came out this morning and said that the movie is doing even better than

expected. And of course many people will see it over the Christmas holidays and New Years holidays. And it will continue to perform well for

the weeks to come.

ASHER: Yeah, and Disney shares actually rallying majorly because of this news last time I checked.

But Brian, what will this mean for the careers of John Boyega and Daisy Ridley?

STELTER: Well, for one thing it means more Star Wars to come. You know, if you look at the

Disney slate, they have got four more Star Wars movies in the pipeline, some of them are parts of this series, at least one spin-off is also in the


So, these actors are going to be on a wild ride for many years to come. And when I say ride, they'll also be part of the theme parks. And

there's at least two theme parks involving Star Wars in the works at Disney World and Disneyland. So, we're going to see more of those

kind of extensions.

And I think it's remarkable to think about how well the movie has done even without the Chinese box office. You know, China is the number two box

office in the world now. This movie hasn't opened there yet. And even without China, this beat the all time opening weekend record. So far $528

million worldwide.

ASHER: Well, I have been persuaded. I'm going to go and see it as I can get tickets.

There were huge lines in Maryland where I was this weekend. So, I was like I'm not even going to go into those lines. But I will make plans to

go and see it some time over the next few weeks. Brian Stelter, live for us there. Thank you so much.

STELTER: Thank you.

Whether you are Star Wars fans or not, it's hard to avoid all the merchandising tying in and surrounding the new movie. Here is our Anna

Stewart with more.


ANNA STEWART, CNN CORRESPONDENT: The Force is strong with the latest Star Wars

movie, with record box office sales on its opening weekend.

UNIDENTIFED MALE: Nothing will stand in our way.

STEWART: Disney is set to make $2.4 billion in ticket sales, according to Imura (ph). But that pales in comparison to the mega brand

cashing in on merchandise deals.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Well, we've estimated Star Wars could generate $5 billion in global merchandise sales for

Disney this year. For Disney in terms of revenues, a 10 percent cut of that, which is kind of a standard licensing fee for a studio film would

generate $500 million for Disney.

STEWART; And the branding really is everywhere. It's found its way into your cereal. And a trip to Subway, could be, well, out of this world.

It's fairly easy to for Disney to find some merchandising opportunities, this shop here in London is filled to the brim with

everything from lightsabers, Darth Vader fancy dress, you can even get your own personal droid. Of course, for some of the other brands, finding a

Star Wars tie-in is a little bit more of a challenge.

So, this year the ads have got creative.

Take Covergirl, helping you channel a Stormtrooper look.

ANNOUNCER: New from Covergirl.

[11:50:03] STEWART: Or HP, which can help even the biggest Star Wars geek get the girl of his dreams.

Possibly far fetched, but all of these brands hope their efforts will pay off and win over the hearts of consumers, Anna Stewart, CNN, London.


ASHER: All right, live from CNN center, this is Connect the World. Being crowned is every beauty pageant contestant's dream. But for Miss

Colombia, the happy moment sadly did not last very long. We'll look at why things got so awkward at the Miss Universe pageant. That's coming up.


ASHER: And in our Parting Shots for you tonight, this year's Miss Universe pageant ended in a kind of very awkward way. Here is our Boris

Sanchez with more.



BORIS SANCHEZ, CNN CORRESPONDET (voice-over): For a brief moment Sunday night, Miss Colombia celebrated being crowned Miss Universe, but her

reign lasted only a few minutes.

HARVEY: I have to apologize. The first runner-up is Colombia. Miss Universe 2015 is Philippines.

SANCHEZ: Miss Universe 2015 host Steve Harvey misreading his cue cards and naming the wrong contestant as the winner. The two women awkwardly

standing at the end of the stage, paralyzed by the snafu.

HARVEY: This is exactly what's on the card. I will take responsibility for this. It was my mistake. It was on the card.

SANCHEZ: Miss Colombia stripped of her crown, stunned viewers watching as Miss Universe 2014 placed it on the head of winner Miss Philippines, the

show abruptly cutting to credits.

Some of the other judges taking to social media...


SANCHEZ: ... Judge Niecy Nash tweeting this video.

[11:55:08] NASH: Oh, my God! This is crazy right now. It's pandemonium in here.

SANCHEZ: Harvey himself tweeting after the show, saying, quote, "I'd like to apologize wholeheartedly to Miss Colombia and Miss Philippines for

my huge mistake. I feel terrible," even posting a picture with Miss Philippines backstage, saying he was able to apologize to her and Miss

Columbia personally, who tearfully also spoke out after the show.

ARIADNA GUTIERREZ, MISS COLUMBIA 2015: Everything happens for a reason, so I'm happy.

SANCHEZ: But the newly-crowned Miss Universe perfectly summing up the shocking turn of events.

PIA ALONZO, MISS UNIVERSE 2015: It's a very nontraditional crowning moment.


ALONZO: It's very -- very 2015.


ASHER: Oh, I cannot imagine having to hand back that crown. That was our Boris Sanchez reporting for you there.

And now continuing our Parting Shots, you're looking at Iraq's first beauty pageant in more than 40 years. Held on Saturday, it's a small but

important moment of levity in a country regularly hit by violence. Some of the contestants even faced death threats just for taking part.

The winner, a 20-year-old university student from the northern city of Kirkuk, a city that has been fighting to defeat ISIS, she says she hopes to

serve as a role model for women in Iraq.

All right everyone, I'm Zain Asher and that was Connect the World. Thank you so much for watching. Have a great evening.