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Hundreds of Migrants Feared Dead in Mediterranean; Battle for Fallujah Enters Critical Phase; ISIS Spread into Libya; U.S. Remembers Soldiers on Memorial Day. Aired 11:00a-12:00p ET

Aired May 30, 2016 - 11:00:00   ET


[11:00:10] LYNDA KINKADE: It's Memorial Day in the United States. And you're looking at live pictures of U.S. President Barack Obama at

Arlington cemetery in Virginia. Let's take a listen.


KINKADE: Today is Memorial Day in the United States, a day to honor all the men and

women who paid the ultimate sacrifice, serving in the U.S. military.

You just saw pictures there of the U.S. President Barack Obama laying a wreath at the tomb of

the unknown soldier and he's due to speak and make some remarks in about a half hour from now. We will take those remarks live when they happen.

Well, now for the rest of our edition of Connect the World. I'm Lynda Kinkade.

We turn now to the battle to the city of Fallujah in Iraq. It's quickly moving towards a crucial stage. The Iraqi army says it's now ready

to storm the ISIS stronghold to take it back from the terror group.

The offensive began last week. Since then, Iraqi troops have been mostly fighting in towns

and villages around the city pushing towards Fallujah.

And while a few hundred civilians have managed to get to safety over the last few days, the United Nations estimates that tens of thousands of

people are still trapped.

CNN's Frederik Pleitgen is following this story for us live from London and joins us now. Fred, just explain for us how difficult it is for

people to get out, people that want to get out of that city.

[11:05:21] FREDERIK PLEITGEN, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: It's very difficult. And that's one of the reasons why so few have actually

managed to leave the city and why tens of thousands are still inside.

Fallujah is a city that's basically been under siege from Iraqi security forces, but also from affiliated militias, many of them Iranian

trained, Iranian-backed Iraqi Shiite militias that are around that city. And of course it's been under aerial attack for a while as well. And from

that vantage point it's very difficult for people to actaully leave the city.

At the same time, they are essentailly hostages of ISIS inside that city. Of course, ISIS itself on the ground is very repressive. There have

been talks of reprisal against people who have tried to flee. So, essentially there are some some who say that the population, the civilian population, of Fallujah is for ISIS, essentially something like a

human shield as these Iraqi security forces are advancing towards the actual city of Fallujah.

And of course one of the things that ISIS has done in the past and in many other battles is they've essentially hid among the population. That's

one of the things the Iraqi security forces say they believe will happen again, is that they will be involved in urban combat in

that city with a lot of civilians there on the scene, basically in danger of getting in between the warring factions there.

KINKADE: Fred, we have seen claims that ISIS is doing well. The Iraqi army is also claiming

that it's doing well, it's raised flags in places where ISIS flags once stood.

What's the picture likely to be?

PLEITGEN: Well, it's a little more muddled than that, but there is certainly no doubt that ISIS has lost a lot of territory both in and around

the Fallujah area, a lot of very key towns that they've lost as well. But also in Syria they've also lost a lot of territory.

We hear these numbers of territory that ISIS has lost. Well, a lot of the territory that it has lost, quite frankly, is desert, very sparsely

populated areas. However, there is also a big push by the Iraqi security forces, by Kurdish forces in the north of Iraq, by Kurdish forces in Syria

and then also by the Syrian government to take territory away from ISIS.

And so they have lost some. But at the same time, you have seen them launch counter offensives in some areas as well and some places they

haven't been able to hold the terrain that they've gotten very long. But it has been something that they've been doing.

And one of the key things that ISIS has been doing as well is launching terror attacks in

places like Baghdad to try to drive fear into the local population in those places, done the same, for instance, in Damascus in Syria as well.

But there is no doubt at this point in time that ISIS is losing a lot of territory, and that, of course,

the Iraqi security forces, the Syrian military, Kurdish forces, and also, of course, the coalition of the U.S. and others, bombing from the air, is

certainly making a difference and certainly putting a lot of pressure on that group.

KINKADE: Yeah. Certainly some good news for the U.S. coalition and the Iraqi government. Frederick Pleitgen, thank you very much.

Well, at least 65 people have died crossing the Mediterranean Sea trying to reach Europe in the past week alone and officials fear the death

toll could soar as high as 700 with hundreds more remaining missing.

Despite the perilous journey migrants and refugees continue to flee. Nearly 195,000 have made the dangerous crossing to Europe this year, that's

according to the International Organization for Migration. The vast majority arrived in Greece via Turkey.

And take a look at the dramatic difference between this year and last year. During the first five

months of 2016, the number of refugee arrivals is more than twice the number the same period last year.

Now for more on this story senior international correspondent Ben Wedeman joins me live from Rome.

Ben, these are incredible figures. And the problem it seems is only expected to get worse as

the weather warms up.

BEN WEDEMAN, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONENT: Yes, but it's important, Lynda, at this point to qualify those figures.

It's almost 200,000, three quarters of them, however, crossed from Turkey into Greece and that route is now closed.

As far as the route between Libya and Italy, it stands at about the same level it was last year, around 40,000 at this point.

Now, what we're seeing, though, is with improvement of the weather in the Mediterranean a

dramatic increase, more than 14,000 have crossed within the past week. And where Italian officials are being quoted in the media as saying that as

many as 15 boats last week were living -- leaving the Libyan coast towards Italy and it's expected of course that those numbers will continue to

increase during the summer as is often the case.

And we know from officials here in Italy as well as in Libya that there are hundreds of thousands of people, mostly from sub-Saharian Africa,

waiting to cross, make this perilous crossing that is left, we believe, hundreds dead in the past week. It appears that total death toll so far

this year has exceeded 2,000, compared to 3,700 in all of 2015 -- Lynda.

[11:10:27] KINKADE: And Ben, just paint a picture for us of the type of boats that these migrants are boarding on to get into Europe?

WEDEMAN: Well, there are two kinds of vessels that they cross -- or they try to go in. A lot of them are basically rubber dinghies that are

very flimsy. They're overcrowded, overloaded with people. And the others are -- for instance, what we've seen in the past week is a lot of these.

There are about 25 meter long fishing boats, which are not designed to hold 500 or 600 people as has been the case so

often in the last week. They are just crammed to the gills. The weight is too high so they're very unstable to start with.

And often times when rescue ships approach these vessels, a lot of the people will come to

one side, which causes it to capsize. Now oftentimes there's more than one deck. In the lower deck, more people who have paid less are crammed in

there so the lucky ones are on top when the ship capsizes. They can swim away, but many are stuck underneath and they go to the bottom.

And of course even for the lucky ones on top, who manage to get into the water, even if they

have life vests, which life vests, which isn't often the case, after a few hours at sea, they will die of


So, this is a deadly crossing. And it appears that the human traffickers who have become

quite active in Libya, have no scruples about sending people out to sea in these rickety boats. And we've heard time and time again that often times

the migrants and refugees when they actually see these boats that they're going to -- supposed to get into and go out to the sea, they turn around,

try to leave, but they are forced at gunpoint to get on board -- Lynda.

KINKADE: Horrific, absolutely horrific circumstances.

Ben Wedeman live for us in Rome, thank you so much.

Well, the driving force of Libya's economy is now in the crosshairs of ISIS. CNN witnessed firsthand how ISIS militants are threatening the

country's lucrative oil industry. They're fighting to take over key refineries to fund their operations. And as our Nick Paton Walsh reports,

ISIS now has a refinery in its sights.


NICK PATON WALSH, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPODENT: A distant spec from up here, but this is Libya's shimmering prize, oil worth billions, but part

paralyzed by government in-fighting and now most troubingly in ISIS's crosshairs.

This is the Malita refinery, which pumps gas direct along the Mediterranean seabed to Italy.

It's upped its defenses, but one plant worker points out what he says is a militant stronghold in a hotel just down the coast.

The sea is pretty much open here.

On this jetty, the graffiti says that god is great, but you don't want to just rely on him.

NATO have expressed concerns that ISIS is trying to get its hands on boats to perhaps fashion some sort of crude, pirate navy. And in a place

like this so vital to Europe's energy, you can see how worrying that must be when you have this much

shoreline to try to defend.

MOHAMMED ARAB, SPC SECURITY: Cease to have have too many faces here, you know. Sometimes the test comes from the sea, otherwise maybe it comes

from the land. You don't know how is it.

WATLSH: ISIS have already hit some facilities in the east, the damage and oil fires caused visible from space in these NASA images.

Their own propaganda shows a wider scope of ambition. This attack on an installation in the eastern town of Rast Lanoush (ph).

They want to control the industry and its potential billions, yet have so far mostly disrupted production and sown little panic in the U.S.

presidential race.

DONALD TRUMP, 2016 REPUBLICAN PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: ISIS is making millions and millions of dollars a week selling Libya oil. And you know

what? We don't blockade. We don't bomb. We don't do anything about it.

WALSH: Trump is wrong. ISIS haven't made much money yet and don't control any oil fields, but their attacks are costly to what's left of the

crumbling Libyan state, bringing closer the day ISIS could seize control of refineries and sell fuel on the black market.

There already is a a thriving black market trade in Libya's oil, these boats evidence of that, tanks use to try and ship Libya's black gold, an

infrastructure here that ISIS could so easily use were they to get their hands on key refineries.

Europe watching this slow collapse just across the water.

Nick Paton Walsh, CNN, Malita, Libya.


[11:15:26] KINKADE: And as Nick's report shows, Libya has emerged as the next battleground against ISIS. The country is also one of the key

pieces of the migrant story I was discussing with Ben Wedeman earlier.

Most migrants heading to Europe via the Mediterranean are smuggled through Libya. So, why is the country that once boasted one of the highest

per capita income levels right across Africa now a hotbed of extremism, human trafficking and violence?

Well, the answer to that can be found in the volatile political situation that emerged after the fall of Libyan strongman Moammar Gadhafi.

My colleague Becky Anderson recently caught up with the first leader who came to power after Gadhafi's fall, Mahmoud Jibreel. She began by asking

him how he thinks Libya can deal with its current challenges.



army, defending the sovereignty of Libya and fighting terrorism. And this is a test for the credibility of the international community. They should

unite all the military bodies in the country under one flag to fight terrorism.

BECKY ANDERSON, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: John Kerry has recently referred to the new UN-backed body as the only legitimate

government in Libya. Is it?

JIBREEL: It depends how you define legitimacy. I think he put it accurately. Let's see, UN-

backed, international community backed the government. But is it backed by the Libyans? This is the question, you know.

I don't think a real national consensus was established. I don't think that the -- this political agreement was inclusive enough, simply

because the real players,the real doers on the ground, starting with militia leaders, political leaders, and tribal leaders were not included in

this dialog with (inaudible) you know, they've been excluded.

We had one government, then we had two governments, now we end up with three governments. Why don't the international community pull those forces

in the east as presided by Haftar and those forces in the west under the banner of Saraj (ph) and the banner of the GNC, whatever banner is, put

them under one banner.

ANDERSON: What is the argument of doing that?

JIBREEL: Let me be very honest with you, you nkow, the experience of Ppresident el-Sisi in Egypt was not a good experience in the western mind.

And I think that they are afraid if they push hard with this support, military support of Haftar, they might end up

having another Sisi in Libya.

I think this is a nightmare for them.

ANDERSON: General Haftar has said that ISIS has no chance of establishing in Libya while he is around. Is that true?

JIBREEL: ISIS or ISIL is well spread in Libya today.

ANDERSON: How well spread, sir?

JIBREEL: Most of the people talk about Sirte as the main folks of Daesh today. I think most of Daesh troops are sleeping cells in Tripoli

itself, you know. And I think my own nightmare is that the real battle against Daesh is going to be in Tripoli itself, you know. And this is

going to be a nightmare for all people who live in Tripoli because those elements, foreign elements, have penetrated all different districts of

Tripoli today.

Now, they are waiting to re-emerge in Tripoli if they've been defeated in Sirte.

ANDERSON: Conceivably could the partial lifting of this weapons embargo to arm groups of people under the auspices of the GNA provide mores

weapons that could potentially get into ISIS hands in Libya going foward?

JIBREEL: That's possible. That's possible, because weapons trade is well spread in the country, all types of trade. There is only militia

economy and terrorism economy in Libya, you know, there is no national economy. These are the two operative economies in the country.

If we are serious, as a presidential council, we would buy weapons from those militias and arm this -- and your body, if you want this body

reemerge instead of importing more weapons and making things worse and worse.

What we need is the unity of those armed forces in Libya and this, the duty of the international community.


KINKADE: Well, today is Memorial Day in the United States, a time for honoring men and

women who died while serving in the U.S. military.

Americans keep the memories of their war Heroes alive by visiting their graves on this day,

leaving flowers, flags and other symbols of gratitude.

President Obama is leading commemorations at Arlington National Cemetery, the final resting place for hundreds of thousands of servicemen

and women.

Well, let's go live now to Arlington National Cemetery. Our Pentagon correspondent Barbara Starr is there.

Hey, Barbara.


You know Arlington has been the nation's final resting place for so many military members for

some 150 years. This is a place where 400,000 people have been laid to rest and it is really the history of the United States' conflicts. You see

up back in the green hills here, veterans of World War I, World War II, Vietnam, Korea, all of it, but it is here where we are standing section 60

that the majority of those who fell on the battlefield in recent years, in Iraq and Afghanistan, have been laid to rest.

We're going to have the camera pan over a bit so everyone can see what is happening here today

on Memorial Day in the United States. Americans coming out, paying their respects to the fallen. We see mothers, fathers, young children, 90-year-

old grandmother is here for her grandson, so many people -- battle buddies are here -- coming to pay their respects to visit their loved one buried


And it is so different here because over the years, this has filled up to be very candid -- when we first started coming, section 60 was an empty

green meadow and now so many over the years laid to rest here, those who have fallen on the battlefields that are back in the headlines -- Fallujah,

Ramadi, Baghdad; in Afghanistan: the Korangal (ph), Jalalabad, Kandahar, all of these places.

So we are awaiting President Obama's remarks, but here at section 60, just down the hill from the official ceremonies, so many Americans gathered

to pay their respects on this Memorial Day 2016 -- Lynda.

KINKADE: OK. Our Barbara Starr reporting for us live from Arlington. Thank you so much.

And we will stay with us -- if you can stay with us, we will continue to follow the Memorial Day commemorations. We'll bring you President

Barack Obama's remarks as soon as he begins speaking at Arlington National Cemetary. It should be in about ten minutes from now.

You're watching Connect the World.


KINKADE: Welcome back. You're watching CNN. And this is Connect the World with me Lynda Kinkade.

Well, in the race for the White House, there is renewed talk of an independent candidate joining the race to take on Donald Trump and Hillary

Clinton. And trump is still generating headlines with new comments about illegal immigrants.

CNN politics reporter Sara Murray brings us up to date.


DONALD TRUMP, 2016 REPUBLICAN PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: We're going to rebuild our military, and we're going to take care of our veterans.

[11:25:04] SARA MURRAY, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Donald Trump making the case to veterans at the annual Rolling Thunder motorcycle rally,

a tribute to the armed forces.

TRUMP: Illegal immigrants are taking much care, really are taking much better care by this country than our veterans, and that's not going to


MURRAY: Trump, insisting the undocumented immigrants he plans to deport are treated better than veteran, and after months of scrutiny, also

promising to explain where the $6 million he says he raised for veterans' charities went.

TRUMP: We're announcing on Tuesday all of the groups that we put up this money, and we raised this tremendous amount of money, because we love

the vets.

MURRAY: This as the presumptive nominee is battling new efforts to derail his presidential campaign.

"Weekly Standard" editor Bill Kristol teasing a possible independent opponent, in a continued effort to stop Trump, tweeting, "There be will an

independent candidate, an impressive one with a strong team and a real chance."

Trump unleashing his anger in a series of tweets, calling Kristol a dummy and an embarrassed loser, warning the Republican Party to unify

behind him if it wants to win in November.

COREY LEWANDOWSKI, TRUMP CAMPAIGN MANAGER: A third party run by any candidate is a complete disaster, and you're handing over the White House

to the Democrats.

MURRAY: The Libertarian Party also locking down their ticket, selecting two former Republican governors, New Mexico's Gary Johnson and

Massachusetts' Bill Weld, to challenge both parties' candidates, especially Trump.

GARY JOHNSON, LIBERTARIAN PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: Taking him on when he says that Mexicans are murderers and rapists, when -- I mean, it's

incendiary. Call him out on what is really racist. It's just racist.

MURRAY: But for now, the Trump campaign is staying laser-focused on the Clintons.

PAUL MANAFORT, TRUMP CAMPAIGN CHAIRMAN AND CHIEF STRATEGIST: Trouble follows the Clintons everywhere. People are frustrated with all the drama

around the Clinton family.

If they're going to be back in the political milieu, then their history is relevant to what the American people can expect.

MURRAY: Now, that Rolling Thunder motorcycle rally over the weekend is specifically designed to remember people who are taken as prisoners of war

or listed as missing in action.

Of course, Donald Trump has a rather interesting record on this after last year criticizing John McCain, who was a POW, saying, "I prefer people

who weren't captured." Despite all that, he still seemed to get a pretty warm reception here in Washington.


KINKADE: U.S. President Barack Obama is due to speak in the next few minutes to mark Memorial Day at Arlington Cemetery. We are going to take a

quick break and we'll go back to Arlington Cemetery when we come back.



[11:30:23] KINKADE: We're going to leave those top stories for a moment. The U.S. President Barack Obama is about to speak at Arlington

cemetery to mark Memorial Day. Let's listen in.


[11:44:43] KINKADE: You've just been listening to U.S. President Barack Obama. This is his last Memorial Day as commander-in-chief. And he

did say that he has no more solemn obligation than sending the men and women of America into harm's way.

And he said for all those who still have a voice the living it is our responsibility to show our gratitude.

We are going to take a quick break. We'll be right back with much more of Connect the World.


[11:48:03] KINKADE: Well, a zoo in the United States is facing criticism after it killed a gorilla to protect the life of a young boy.

The child had entered the gorilla's enclosure and zookeepers say it was a quick decision that was needed to save the boy.

Jessica Schneider has more and she joins us now live from Cincinnati.

Jessica, the family have not yet explained how the child got into the enclosure, but the zoo has

given their version of what they think took place. What have they said?

JESSICA SCHNEIDER, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, Lynda, you're right. The family

hasn't said much except that the child is safe and they are thankful. Zoo officials, however, have gone

into detail about how this 4-year-old boy got into the enclosure area and the exhibit with the gorillas.

The zoo director says that the boy went under a rail, through some protective wiring, through some bushes and then climbed on to the moat wall

and that's when he dropped 15 feet into the moat below. The visitors heard a splash and that's when the screams started. And that's when this

rescue effort started.

It was about ten tense minutes of that gorilla dragging and pulling and then standing over that

little boy until zoo officials said that they had to choice, they did have to shoot and kill that gorilla. They said it was all to save that little

boy's life.

KINKADE: Wow. It is quite extraordinary to hear how that little boy had to get through so much to get into the enclosure.

I understand animal activists are angry about this, but they're focusing their anger on the

family, not the zoo.

SCHNEIDER: Yes. There is a lot of anger about this. There's frustration, there's sadness, there's confusion and there is anger. In

fact, there's a petition that's circulating right now. I just checked it, there are more than 100,000 signatures. People online are

signing this saying that the parents should be criminally charged for negligence for letting their child presumably get away from

them and get into this enclosure.

So a lot of people are calling for the parents to be criminally charged and some people saying as well, that the zoo shouldn't have taken

this action, but the zoo saying it had no choice, Lynda.

[11:50:08] KINKADE: Right, a very difficult decision. We will stay across this story. Jessica Schneider, thank you so much for joining us.

Well, video games have come a long way since the days of Pac-Man and Centipede. Now there's a new generation of games and the players

themselves are not just competing for fun, they're also playing for money, a lot of money.

Now, the game is called esports. And we're all this week we're taking you inside this world of competitive gaming. World Sport's Don Riddle has

more on the surging popularity.


DON RIDDELLL, CNN WORLD SPORT: It's a scene you'd expect at any major sports event: fans lined up for hours outside, merchandise stands doing a

roaring trade, broadcast cameras ready for action and fever-pitch excitement during the game, except this...

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: It's a brilliant play going out...

RIDDELL: Is a little bit different.

This is esports, the sport for the digital generation. At the Intel Extreme Masters in Poland, some of the world's best teams are going head to

head in games like League of Legends and Counterstrike.

And it's already worth an absolute fortune.

RALF REICHERT, MANAGING DIRECTOR, ELECTRONIC SPORTS LEAGUE: The most simple way to describe esport is that 200 million fans worldwide watch it.

This is bigger than the NHL.

RIDDELL: Last year's League of Legends world championship final attracted 36 million viewers, an audience that sports like the NBA can only

dream of.

These are dynamic games in which lightning quick reflexes and communication are critical for success and players are fated like rock


OLOF MJBJER, PROFESSIONAL GAMER: When you're a player, you're so focused on

playing the games you don't -- you block everything out. But when you win, you see

everyone like, the whole arena full, it's unreal.

CRAIG LEVINE, CEO, ELECTRONIC SPORTS LEAGUE AMERICA: Players like Mjbjer (ph) in League of Legends are international icons Call of Duty

players like Nate Shot have over a 1 million Twitter followers. So, there's a stardom and celebrity element to it.

RIDDELL: Once maligned as a pastime for lethargic kids in basement, esports is now highly lucrative.

The Pakistan-born Said Sumeil Hassan (ph) has amassed career prize money of almost $2 million. He's just 17 years old.

As you can see, in this aptly named bar called Joystick, there's still a niche market for retro video games, but things have changed so much,

since Kong was king.

Over the last 15 years the advent of internet technology has enabled esports to explode into a highly sophisticated and global gaming community,

a creation of Twitch, of which Amazon paid almost a billion dollars in 2014 helped turn it into a spectator sport.

MARCUS GRAHAM, DIRECTOR OF PROGRAMMING, TWITCH: Twitch is a game changer, not only because of what it represents in that it represents

basically, like, the first global cable channel for esports.

KEVIN LIN, COO, TWITCH: As much as I might like Stephen Curry I probably can never see the guy anywhere. He probably will never respond to

a tweet of mine. It's very different in esports. And that all is happening on Twitch where my favorite League of Legends player

realistically might respond to my question.

I mean, I might even get to play a game with this guy.

RIDDELL: That's why sponsors are paying very close attention to the growth of esports. It might be the only way maybe to reach an elusive

young demographic.

Games like Starcraft II aren't just meant to be played, they were specifically designed with broadcasting in mind. And that's now an

industry standard, and it is impossible to cap the potential of esports in the future.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Gigi Cult (ph) secures his championship title 4-2.

REICHART: esports is a global sport. It has a huge advantage here any other sport and these teams usually are focused on regional

championships and then have some international competition. Esports is in its own definition global. You can play against someone in any game at any

time in the world, and, therefore, we're saying it's going to be from that perspective, actually much more global

than any sport can ever be.

CARLOS RODRIGUEZ, TEAM OWNER: It's safe to say esports will be very, very close, even though in compare with professional sports we see today,

like football, basketball and whatnot. For traditional sports and traditional media, so

to say, I would be scared, you know?

RIDDELL: Don Riddell, CNN.


KINKADE: Well, still to come, we'll take you beneath the waves in Australia to look at a problem devastating a world heritage site: the Great

Barrier Reef. That story just ahead.


[11:56:25] KINKADE: welcome back. Well, oceans cover more than 70 percent of our planet's surface yet as few ever really come to see or know.

In today's Parting Shots we're taking you off the Australian coast to the Great Barrier Reef. A new study found at least a third of the UNESCO

World Heritage site has now been lost to coral bleaching.


TERRY HUGHES, ARC CENTRE OF EXCELLENCE FOR CORAL REEF STUDIOS: These massive bleachings that are occurring at the scale of almost an entire

ocean, they're completely unprecedented.

We've just completed an underwater survey on 84 reefs along the Great Barrier Reef measuring the amount of mortality from the third coral

bleaching event. On average we found that 35 percent of the corals have been killed by this bleaching event.

This is the third time in 18 years that the Great Barrier Reef has suffered mass mortality from bleaching and it's certainly by far the most

severe. If the bleaching is severe, it's prolonged, if the hot water hangs around for a sufficient amount of time, that's when we start to see very

significant amounts of mortality.

Corals are the backbone of the reef. They're the architects. They make the habitat. It's a problem for the whole ecosystem.


KINKADE: Well, I'm Lynda Kinkade. And that was Connect the World. Thanks for watching.