Return to Transcripts main page


President Obama's UN Swan Song; Kremlin Denies Russian/Syrian Involvement in UN Aid Convoy Attack; Working to Reverse Japan's Low Birth Rate; Angelina Jolie Files for Divorce. Aired 11a-12p ET

Aired September 20, 2016 - 11:00   ET


[11:26:28] HANNAH VAUGHAN JONES, HOST: Well, welcome to you. You're watching Connect the World. You have been watching our coverage of

President Barack Obama's final address to the UN General Assembly, after eight years as president. He's just been addressing all of the members

there and talking about diplomacy, the need for it, of course, addressing the refugee crisis as well as he hosts a fringe event a refugee summit on

the edge of that general assembly meeting.

I want to change gears now and we've got some celebrity news that's just come in to us here

at CNN. And a source tells CNN that the actress and humanitarian Angelina Jolie has filed for divorce from the actor Brad Pitt.

The couple has been married for just two years. They have been together, though, for several more years. They have six children together. And I

understand it's about 12 years that they have been together as a couple.

Well, CNN Money's senior media correspondent Brian Stelter joins me now live from New York with all of the details on this. And Brian, there's a

certain irony, really, that whilst the world's focus is supposed to be on the refugee crisis, the UN's refugee ambassador is now somewhat stealing

the limelight.

BRIAN STELTER, CNN MEDIA CORRESPONDENT: Yeah, this is actually the rare story that President Obama and the UN General Assembly members are going to

care about from the entertainment world, from the celebrity world, because we are talking about two of the most famous people on Earth, very much

known for their philanthropy efforts, for their work with the UN and other organizations.

But yes, after two years, Brad Pitt, Angelina Jolie are splitting up, Angelina filed for divorce yesterday. A source tells me this is something

that they are trying to do in a cordial, cooperative manner. We will see if that lasts, of course. Unfortunately we know how this goes sometimes,

especially when children are involved. And how custody battles sometimes ensue.

But for now, yes, Angelina splitting from Brad Pitt. We have not heard from either side yet, but presumably we'll hear more from the court filing

later today.

JONES: And as you said just two years of marriage, and there was a lot of pressure on both of them for years, for the last ten years or so, for them

to actually get married.


JONES: And their wedding I believe was covered in lots of celebrity magazines. In the end, their children heavily involved in that wedding

itself. And it seems to have disintegrated just in the last couple of years of their whole relationship.

STELTER: That's right. All of this week's tabloid magazine covers now being ripped up and

rewritten because of this news. You know, these are two of the best known celebrities on the planet. They recently actually started a movie

together called By the Sea which was about a couple's tumultuous marriage.

Honestly, I want to go back and rewatch it now and look for clues in the movie, you know, because as we both know, these sorts of stories get

scoured by people who want to know what really, want really went wrong. But in the middle of it are all of their kids and what will happen to their

kids, which makes us a more serious story.

I saw some people online suggesting this should be called Braxit, a nod to Brexit, because Brad

and Angelina -- Branjelina -- are no more.

JONES: Brian, I'm just wondering what you make of the timing of all this, and I'm not suggesting that it was planned in any way, but given the fact

that Angelina Jolie does have such a high profile role as a UN ambassador for refugees, and then announcing this very personal detail just a day

ahead, or the day of, rather, the refugee climate -- the refugee crisis summit at the UN.

STELTER: I actually hadn't even thought of that timing. Maybe she's trying to bury some

news while she's busy with her work, with her career, with really what is one of her main jobs now, which is her work on behalf of refugees.

According to TMZ, which was the first to report this news, the filing takes effect on September

15th. So, as of last week, the couple is no longer together.

We haven't seen the documents yet. We don't have any further details about it.

JONES: Brian, always good to talk to you. That is the breaking news that we're bringing you this hour on Connect the World here at CNN. The news

that Angelina Jolie and Brad Pitt are set to divorce.

The other news we're bringing you, of course, is from the UN General Assembly as they're in New York.

You're watching Connect the World. Do stay with us. We'll have all the world's headlines

coming up after this break.


[11:33:04] JONES: Welcome back. You're watching Connect the World. I'm Jannah Vaughan Jones sitting in for Becky Anderson today.

U.S. President Obama has addressed the United Nations for the last time before he leaves office. And Syria's civil war will weigh heavily on Mr.

Obama's legacy. Now, after just one week of relative calm in Syria, its cease-fire seems to have all but completely fallen apart.

Crumbling what's left of the (inaudible), this attack came on Monday. A number of trucks and a

warehouse all full of food and medicines were hit near the city of Aleppo in the north of the country when you can get a better sense of all of the

damage from that attack after sunrise.

An aid group tells CNN nearly 20 people lost their lives, including humanitarian workers.

Well, both Russia and Syria are denying they had anything to do with the attack. CNN's Fred Pleitgen is on the ground for us in Damascus, and

Matthew Chance is working his sources in Moscow.

Fred, I want to begin with you. Now that we're learning that various aid agencies said that

in the short-term, at least, they are going to be pulling their people and their medicine out of Syria, out of Aleppo, in particular. What kind of

impact is this going to have, again, in the short-term, on the civilian population there?

FRED PLEITGEN, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: It is going to have a major impact, Hannah.

You know, one of the reasons why this cease-fire was put in place in the first place was to try to get humanitarian aid to a lot of the besieged

areas in Syria, but generally also to a lot of areas where that aid is needed.

Now, if you look at some of the places that this aid was supposed to reach, particularly where

that aid convoy was attacked, that's to the west of Syria in a place that's held by the opposition. It's not a besieged area, but it is an area where

humanitarian aid was badly needed.

Now, as you have rightly said, both the Syrian Arab Red Crescent and the United Nations have said that they are going to stop aid distribution for

now. The Syrian Arab Red Crescent says they're doing this in protest for at least three days after this attack took place.

And just to give you an indication of just how devastating this is for the local population there, this convoy that was attacked had 31 trucks, 18 of

them were destroyed. It was carrying aid for some 78,000 people. And a lot of that aid and also a warehouse that was used by the Syrian Arab Red

Crescent was destroyed. And the head of the Syrian Arab Red Crescent for that area was killed in that attack.

So, certainly a devastating effect not just in that area, but in others as well.

You know, it was interesting, because Secretary of State John Kerry said just yesterday that he believed that the aid had literally just gotten

rolling to some of these areas. There were some aid convoys that got through yesterday. For instance, one went to an area north of Homs. But

now all of that has stopped. And as you have said before, quite rightly, the cease-fire itself has pretty much stopped as well, and the violence is

flaring up again.

So tragic in many ways, the attack on this aid convoy and generally also the state of the violence here in Syria at this point in time, Hannah.

JONES: And Fred, you mentioned that U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry, he's also been speaking today at the UN General Assembly, talking about the

discussions they've been having there about Syria. He and others have said that the cease-fire in Syria is damaged, but not dead.

From your position on the ground there in the capital, is that true?

PLEITGEN: Well, I would say that if it's damaged, it's very badly damaged.

I mean, look, we were in Aleppo over the past couple of days. We returned there just one and a half days ago, I would say. And you could feel how

the violence was increasing, even as the cease-fire was going on. It started, when we were going there. There was very little in the way of

firing that we were hearing, but by the end of the it, by the end of the weekend, you could already feel those breaches becoming more and more. You

could feel that the weaponry was getting a lot more heavy.

And then yesterday you had various air strikes that took place on the eastern part of Aleppo, on those the rebel-held districts, and you have the

Syrian government, for their part, also saying that they believe that the truce has expired. They said that it expired around 7:00 p.m. local time -

- local Syrian time, that was about 23-and-a-half hours ago, and that they said that there's no indication that the cease-fire has been extended.

Now, the U.S. says that doesn't matter to them. They say that their agreement is with the Russians and not with the Syrians, and that they say

that the Russian need to make sure that the Syrians keep continue to abide by the ceasefire. But at this point in time, very difficult to see that

the ceasefire is still in place in any sort of meaningful way, especially when you speak to the folks in Aleppo who have been witnessing a lot of

violence over the in the past 24 hours -- Hannah.

JONES: Well, let's get the view then, from the Russians and from the Kremlin in particular -- speak to Matthew Chance who is there for us in

Moscow at the moment.

Matthew, any response as yet from the Kremlin as to these allegations that in some way Russia was to blame or the Syrian regime was to blame? Who are

they saying was to blame?

MATTHEW CHANCE, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Yeah, well, there has been a response in the past couple of hours, and it's much in the vein of

responses we've seen time and again from the Kremlin, when they're confronted with allegations that

they've carried out attacks that have caused civilian casualties. In this case, an attack on a humanitarian convoy.

The response has been one of categorical denial. The Russian defense ministry has issued a statement, the spokesman for the defense ministry has

gone on camera, on state television talking about how they've examined in close detail the strike that was taken by the aid workers on the ground,

and determined there was no munitions used in the destruction of that humanitarian convoy, the Russian defense ministry saying instead the blaze

that destroyed that convoy was a mysterious one which they say began at the same time as a large scale rebel attack on Aleppo.

And so while distancing themselves and their own aircraft and their own allies in the Syrian government from this atrocity, they're also trying to

lay the blame for it at the feet of the rebels, the attacks from which they say never really stopped since the cease-fire was agreed last week.

The Russian defense ministry in a previous statement said that, look, it is senseless, is the word they used, for the Syrian government to continue to

abide by the terms of the cease-fire when it is constantly coming under attack from the various rebel groups on the ground.

They say they recorded some 300 cease-fire violations by the rebels since the truce came into force last week, and the responsibility for that they

say is with Washington.

It was Washington's part of the deal to prevent the rebels from striking at Syrian government targets and to separate the moderate rebels from the more

jihadi elements that were never a part of this truce. And the Russians say that Washington has completely failed to do that. And that's why this

cease-fire, they say, has broken down, Hannah.

[11:40:00] JONES: One of the points of the cease-fire, Matthew, is that by the end of it there was hopeful chances of military cooperation between

Russia and the United States.

Now, the fact that the cease-fire itself was so long fought for and the diplomatic negotiations were so tense, I mean, can you ever see now the

likelihood of any kind of military cooperation between the U.S. and Russia and intelligence sharing of that sort in order to bring about any kind of

peaceful solution to the crisis in Syria?

CHANCE: Well, you're right, that was one of the key terms of this cease- fire agreement, this cessation of hostilities.

First, they were going to allow in humanitarian aid, demilitarize the road into Eastern Aleppo, so that the civilian population numbering tens of

thousands of people, their suffering could be alleviated. Once that cessation of hostilities had held for a week, the United States and the

Russians were going to start planning joint air strikes against what they say are their common enemies, the Islamic State group, the other sort of

jihadist hardline groups fighting against the Syrian government inside Syria.

And it was always going to be a tricky situation to navigate, not least because both the Russians and the United States support opposite sides in

this conflict. The Russians are close allies of Bashar al Assad, the Syrian president. The United States thinks he should go and think he

should be replaced by alternatives.

And that was always going to be a sticking pointed when it came to military cooperation between these two powers.

And obviously this situation has just made it a whole lot more difficult to even imagine.

JONES: It certainly has. Matthew Chance live for us in Moscow, also Fred Pleitgen live

for us in the Syrian capital of Damascus. Gentlemen, thank you very much indeed.

Now, in Europe as a whole, the UN refugee agency says 300,000 migrants have arrived on the continent this year alone, many of them are Syrians.

Well, my colleague Becky Anderson spoke recently to Federica Mogherini, the European

Union's foreign affairs chief and got her assessment of how Europe has handled the massive influx.

One year ago, Mogherini spoke of a defining moment for the EU, telling the European parliaments, we must act well, we must act fast, and we must act


Well, Becky started by asking Mogherini whether she believes the bloc has followed through on her urgent call to action.


FEDERICA MOGHERINI, EU FOREIGN AFFAIRS CHIEF: Yes, I believe that today we are much better off than one year ago. And that somehow the European Union

has managed to respond to the crisis, starting to work also on the root causes of migration, understanding that this phenomenon is a complex one.

We need partnerships to work on that. And we need to understand this is the new normal in the world of today, and that is why it's very good for

the European Union that globally we start sharing responsibilities also with other partners starting from the UN.

BECKY ANDERSON, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Let's be clear, the issue of migration brings with it an awful lot of challenges that the EU

countries are facing. Just what are the biggest challenges? And what are the priorities now, until the year's end?

MOGHERINI: You know, the European countries, yes, are facing a massive flow of refugees. But this is not a European crisis. Other countries,

starting from the region, but also in Africa and in an Asia, are hosting many more refugees than we are doing. So that is the approach we've taken,

to work with them, sharing responsibility. And for us, what is important is to act immediately on supporting refugees, that's what we're doing with

Turkey, with Jordan, with Lebanon, with Iraq. We are the first donors for the Syrian refugees, up to 7 billion euros that European Union has

dedicated to support the Syrian refugees. But again, doing it in partnership, especially with international agencies and the NGO.

ANDERSON: You were in Turkey recently. How close are you to a deal on visa-free travel with Ankara?

MOGHERINI: We have settled very clear benchmarks for the visa-free regime with Turkey as we do with all our partners that are interested in that. So

the same goes for Kosovo or for Ukraine or other countries that are entering the same kind of process.

The benchmarks are clear. One of these benchmarks relates to the anti- terrorist law that we've asked Turkey to change the scope of that law. For our standards, it's far too large.

ANDERSON: So, at present there is no deal.

MOGHERINI: ...flexible.

Well, benchmarks are clear. Turkey knows what we need to be done before we go there.

And let me tell you, this is a work in progress.

ANDERSON: Right. How important is Turkey to the EU in finding a humane way of dealing with this refugee crisis?

[11:45:04] MOGHERINI: It is.

Turkey is the first country in the world hosting refugees from Syria. But Turkey is not only important for us in relation to the refugees. This is

very important for me to stress. Our relation with Turkey covers internal domestic developments, especially issues related to rule of law, human

rights, fundamental freedoms including media freedom.

But also we work with Turkey on other issues that are absolutely important for us, such as the

Syrian crisis or the settlement of the Cyprus issue.


JONES: That was our Becky Anderson speaking to the EU foreign affairs chief.

Still ahead on Connect the World, world leaders generally have a reputation for being quite reserved, but sometimes they veer way off the script.

We'll look back at some of the whackier moments at the UN just ahead.

Plus Japanese Millenials are struggling to socialize and a new report shows just how big of a problem it is for Japan. All the details coming up after

this break.



AMIR DAFTARI, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Is this the next big addiction: kids spending hours on smartphones and tablets. One South

African company is turning this potential problem into a tool for academic excellence.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Top Dog today is one of Africa's largest ed tech companies. We have over 3.5 million users. And what we really are doing is

we are fundamentally changing the way millions of people learn so they can acquire the knowledge to shape their future.

DAFTARI: Top Dog Education is growing at an average of 4,000 new subscribers a week. It offers a broad spectrum of supplementary online

lessons. And what sets it apart is its ability to tailor each of the lessons to a students' individual goals.

UNIDENITIFIED FEMALE: We'll get the team to do research on the different section.

DAFTARI: The global private tutoring sector is projected to surpass $100 billion by 2018, and founders Claudia and Ryan Swartzberg (ph) are tapping

into this lucrative market.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Private tuition typically cost $80 per subject per month in South Africa. At Top Dog we bring that price all the way down to $4.

DAFTARI: Learners subscribe by signing up on the Top Dog website. Here they are able to access a large library of video and text-based educational

resources. At just a click of a button, a computer generates content in real time.

Course material is overlayed with a complex layer of data. This provides teachers and parents with individual insights into a child's progress.

Schwartzberg (ph) says they see an average of 7 to 8 percent improvement in grades.

[11:50:04] UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Then we have electrical wires, which are also known as transmission lines.

DAFTARI: It was as a student that Ryan first became aware of the need for a service such as

Top Dog. He started the company part-time in 2010. The concept took off, and both siblings joined the business full time in 2012.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: When we started from inception it was just two of us, now we are a team of 65 people. And that comprises of data scientists,

educational experts, software developers, and content writers.

DAFTARI: Growth has been significantly boosted through a number of investment and partnership deals with corporate heavyweights such as


UNIDENITIFIED FEMALE: What gets me really excited about our future is that we can help millions of students reach their full potential and have a

relevant education for the future that they want and the careers that they want.

DAFTARI: The company's focus, creating Africa's next generation of top dogs through education.

Amir Daftari, CNN.



JONES: You're watching CNN. And this is Connect the World. I'm Hannah Vaughan Jones. Welcome back.

We turn to Japan now. And the country has an aging population, and a new government report shows things are unlikely to get better anytime soon.

More than 40 percent of young single men and women there are virgins and many are struggling to change that.

Will Ripley looks at why sex is such a problem for Japanese Millenials.


WILL RIPLEY, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Tokyo's famous red light district Kabukicho caters to pretty much every sexual desire. The kind of place

that could make you think most of Japan is obsessed with sex, until you meet people like Takashi Sakai (ph), who asked us to hide his face and

change his name.

You're 41-years-old, have a good job, but you've never had sex.

Approaching middle age, he's never had a relationship or even been kissed.

UNIDENITIFIED MALE: Are you a virgin? Are you a virgin?

RIPLEY: A real-life virgin of Steve Carell's character, the 40-Year-Old Virgin.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE (through translator): I was a little surprised they made a movie about someone like me.

RIPLEY: Sakai (ph) is not alone. A Japanese government study says more than 40 percent, nearly half of Japan's adult singles, are virgins. While

some prefer it that way, others would like their fortunes to change, a difficulty blamed on everything from a stagnant economy to Japanese Manga

fans favoring fantasy over reality.

For some of these mostly Middle Aged men, this nude art class is the closest they've ever been to an actual naked woman.

Classes like this try to help people feel more comfortable with their sexuality. There's even this textbook specifically for virgins to help

them break down their barriers to sex.

Class organizaers know the apparent disconnect is leading to fewer relationships, record low birth rates. And a shrinking population, a

crisis threatening the world's third largest economy.

"By solving the virgin problem, I think we can solve many other social problems related to sex," says Shingo Sakatume (ph). His non-profit offers

sex education and assistance

"In Japanese society, we have so much entertainment," he says. "Why do we need to choose love or sex?"

Sakai (ph) is a mountain climbing 41-year-old who appears to lead a normal life, hiding his virginity from family and friends.

Do you have hope that you're going to meet someone hopefully soon?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE (through translator): I keep having hope.

RIPLEY: Hope to fall in love, get married, start a family, hope that someday he'll have more than a sketch to call his own.

Will Ripley, CNN, Tokyo.


[11:55:33] JONES: What a difference a day makes, eh? Well, imagine what seven years of them can do.

A short time ago, the American president spoke at this year's UN get- together. But let's rewind almost exactly seven years ago to the day, and this is Barack Obama at his first annual UN General


OK, let's bring those images up side by side. And, yikes, it looks like the White House certainly does add a few gray hairs.

And of course dealing with some of the antics at the UN wouldn't exactly help you relax either. For your parting shots on Connect the World, our

Richard Roth gives us a taste of that.


RICHARD ROTH, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Some of the most memorable moments in UN history occurred during General Assembly week.

Asking to decide which is the best General Assembly or the best moment, very hard.

I mean, there was the time George Bush as U.S. president was sitting in the Security Council chamber during that week and he passed a note to

Condoleezza Rice and a photographer in one of the overhead booths zoomed in on it and you could tell he was saying he had to

go to the bathroom.

How about Moammar Gadhafi, long time leader of Libya? He was supposed to speak like everyone else for 15 minutes. He went on for 96 minutes, at one

point ripping a page in the United Nations charter.

Another big moment happened several times -- then President Ahmadinejad of Iran denounced various aspects of 9/11, attacked the west and various

western countries had their representatives get up out of their chairs and head for the exists.

I remember the time U.S. President Bush spoke in 2006...

GEORGE W. BUSH, 43RD PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Your lives and the credibility of the United Nations is at stake.

ROTH: Afterward, the Venezuelan leader Hugo Chavez spoke. And in probably one of the more memorable quotes he came up to the podium and he said he

detects the smell of sulfur in the air, indicating he felt the devil in George Bush had been there.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: And it smells of sulfur still today.

ROTH: Another moment, Turkish leader Erdogan demanded to go inside the General Assembly hall when the Palestinian President Abbas was about to

declare the quest for statehood. What happened, Turkish security tried to get in the wrong exit door to go in and UN security kept them out, and

there was a fist fight and a battle with various uniformed UN personnel on the floor.

This is the Super Bowl of diplomacy, and you never know what can happen during these special weeks.


JONES: I'm Hannah Vaughan Jones. And that was Connect the World.