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Fareed Zakaria GPS
: The Rise of Anti-Muslim, Anti-Immigrant Sentiment; What the World Thinks of Donald Trump; Interview with Brandon Stanton and Aya, A Refugee From Iraq; Solution for Cutting Greenhouse Emissions in Mexico. Aired 10-11a ET
Aired December 13, 2015 - 10:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
[10:00:44] FAREED ZAKARIA, HOST: This is GPS, the GLOBAL PUBLIC SQUARE. Welcome to all of you in the United States and around the world. I'm Fareed Zakaria.
On the show today, shut down the borders. Ban Muslims from entering the United States. That was Donald Trump's call this week and it shook the United States and the world. But remember Trump is not alone. Populists and nationalists are gaining ground in Europe as well. We'll examine the phenomenon at home and abroad.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
DONALD TRUMP (R), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: Total and complete shutdown.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
ZAKARIA: We have Britain's former Foreign minister, David Miliband, France's Bernard-Henri Levy, and Ian Bremmer to talk about it all.
Also, you've heard a lot about people who want to come to America from Syria and Iraq, but have you ever met a refugee? Well, I will introduce you to one.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I want to live in freedom, and I want to live in some place that it's safe.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
ZAKARIA: Finally, what is the cure for climate change? How about Gondolas in the sky? I'll explain.
But first, here's my take. I think of myself first and foremost as an American. I'm proud of that identity because as an immigrant, it came to me through deep conviction and hard work, not the accident of birth. I also think of myself as a husband, a father, a guy from India, a journalist, New Yorker, and on good days maybe an intellectual.
But in today's political climate, I must embrace another identity -- I'm a Muslim. No, I'm not a practicing Muslim. The last time I was in a mosque except as a tourist was decades ago. I'm completely secular in my outlook. But as I watch the way in which Republican candidates are dividing Americans, I realize that it's important to acknowledge the religion into which I was born. And yet that identity doesn't fully represent me or my views.
I am appalled by Donald Trump's bigotry and demagoguery, not because I'm a Muslim but because I'm an American. In his diaries from the 1930s Victor Klemperer describes how he, a secular, thoroughly assimilated German Jew despised Hitler. But he tried to convince people that he did so as a German. That it was his German identity that made him see Nazism as a travesty. In the end, alas, he was seen solely as a Jew.
This is the real danger of Trump's rhetoric. It forces people who want to assimilate, who see themselves as having multiple identities, into a single box. The effects of this rhetoric have already poisoned the atmosphere. Muslim Americans are more fearful and will isolate themselves more. The broader community will know them less and trust them less. A downward spiral of segregation will set in.
The tragedy is that, unlike in Europe, Muslims in America are by and large well-assimilated. I remember talking to a Moroccan immigrant in Norway last year who had a brother in New York. I asked him how their experiences differed. He said, "Over here, in Norway, I'll always be a Muslim, or a Moroccan, but my brother is already an American."
Once you start labeling an entire people by characteristics like race and religion, and then see the whole group as suspect, tensions will build. In a poignant article on Muslim-American soldiers, the "Washington Post" interviewed Marine Gunnery Sgt. Emir Hadzic, a refugee from Bosnia, who explained how the brutal civil war between religious communities began in the Balkans in the 1990s. Hadzic said, "That's what's scary with the things that Donald Trump is saying. I know how these things work when you start whipping up mistrust between your neighbors and friends. I've seen them turn on each other."
[10:05:00] I remain an optimist. Trump has taken the country by surprise. People don't quite know how to respond to the vague, unworkable proposals. "We have to do something," he says. The phony statistics, the dark insinuations of conspiracies. "There's something we don't know," he says, about President Obama, and the naked appeals to peoples' prejudices.
But this is not the 1930s. People from all sides of the spectrum are condemning Trump, though there are several Trump-lites among the Republican candidates. The country will not stay terrified. Even after San Bernardino, the number of Americans killed by Islamist terrorists on U.S. soil in the 14 years since 9/11 is 45, according to New America. That's an average of about three people a year. The number killed in gun homicides this year alone will be around 11,000.
In the end, America will reject this fear-mongering and demagoguery, as it has in the past. But we are going through an important test of political and moral character. I hope decades from now people will look back and ask, "What did you do when Donald Trump proposed religious tests in America?"
For more go to CNN.com/fareed and read my "Washington Post" column this week. Let's get started.
Donald Trump is not an isolated phenomenon in America. And he has many companions and fellow travelers abroad. The attacks in Paris burnished these xenophobic credentials after leader of France's right- wing National Front Party Marine Le Pen. In the first round of regional elections in France last Sunday, Le Pen's party received the highest percentage of votes. The nation votes today in the second round. Hungary, Poland, Finland, Switzerland have all seen a move to the nationalist right.
What does it mean and how will this end? Joining me now from Paris is Bernard-Henri Levy, the French philosopher. Here with me in New York, David Millibrand, Britain's former Foreign minister, now head of the International Rescue Committee, and Ian Bremmer, president of the Eurasia Group of Global Risk Consultancy.
Bernard, let me start with you. What do you make of these really extraordinary results where the National Front has won in six of the 13 regions of France?
BERNARD HENRI-LEVY, FRENCH PHILOSOPHER: I think it will be denied today next -- today, at the second round. They made a big result on the first round. I don't feel that it will be consolidated this time. There has been a huge campaign all during the week on the left, on the right. The French right has understood at the end of the day that these people, Le Pen and so on, were their worst enemies and my belief is that the voters have begun to understand it. So she will not make such a good score this Sunday. This is my bet.
ZAKARIA: David Miliband, you were part of the movement with Tony Blair and Bill Clinton, where it seemed that the center had come to dominate politics, the center right, the center left. What has happened?
DAVID MILIBAND, FORMER FOREIGN SECRETARY OF THE UNITED KINGDOM: I think that populism is strong when the center right and the center left are weak. The center left and center right aren't universally weak if you look at Mr. Trudeau, Justin Trudeau in Canada, center left. If you look at Mrs. Merkell or David Cameron in the UK, center right. They managed to colonize enough territory to be credible and legitimate providers of answers to the problems of the modern world.
What happens when center right and center left are weak, though, especially in tumultuous times in Europe and through the euro crisis and now the refugee crisis? When those centrist movements are weak then of course there's room for the extremes to come in. And that's I think what's happening, the gender setting role of the hard right both in France and in the U.S. has obviously been a master class in some way of political framing.
ZAKARIA: Ian, there are people who will say, you know, the "Wall Street Journal" editorial where it explains that Trump is actually all Obama's fault. Paul Krugman argues that the rise of all the stuff in Europe is somehow the fall of the European establishment. Is there -- were there miscalculations here that led -- that opened up ground for nationalism?
IAN BREMMER, PRESIDENT, EURASIA GROUP: Well, I think the fact that you have this incredible geopolitical tumult in the Middle East and it is all spilling over into Europe is a proximate cause. It's not just about the comparative weakness or strength of the middle. You know, even you can drag the middle towards the left or the right to deal with these questions also.
I mean, I saw after the Paris attacks I have to say it was the most divisive response in a developed state to a national cataclysm that I've ever seen in 30 years of being a political scientist.
[10:10:10] And following San Bernardino in the United States we've had the same level of divisiveness and polarity even though in the U.S. ultimately you're probably going to end up with another more centrist president in 2017. The issues on the agenda are going to get more dominated because of the nature of the fears in the environment, the inequality and the information that makes all this move so much faster.
ZAKARIA: Bernard, in France, do you have a sense, you know, that does seem to be whether or not the National Front wins in this round today? It does feel like nationalism is on the rise, you know, very strong movements against immigrants, against Muslims. All the stuff. Where will this go?
LEVY: Of course, there is this movement and this reactionary trend. But it is not as strong as people say. The people of Paris, the people of France has reacted with some cold blood to the attacks, to the recent attacks. I did not see any collateral or stupid act. I did not see -- and thank, God -- any attack on a simple Muslim people.
ZAKARIA: Don't go away. We will be right back. When we come back we're going to talk about what the rest of the world thinks of the Trump phenomenon.
[10:15:42] ZAKARIA: And we are back with Bernard-Henri Levy, David Miliband and Ian Bremmer, talking about the rise of nationalism and of Trump.
Ian, you follow a lot of the world, you travel a lot. What did they think of Trump?
BREMMER: Well, I mean, there's no question that he's considered a clown, but you know, clowns have been elected before. We've had Berlusconi in Italy, in Labour Party in Britain we have Jeremy Corbin. These are not considered serious actors. You don't have a lot of people saying that they're going to bet or not, bet not on the United States on the basis of the result of the 2016 election.
But what you do see is an understanding that while the United States was seen to be sort of immune to these problems of visceral nationalism over the past decade while it was growing in Europe. You know, Mr. Piketty talking about inequality that was a European phenomenon, that the United States more politically apathetic and stronger.
You're seeing that washing up onto American shores. And the extraordinary reaction to Trump's suggestion that you would have a temporary ban on all Muslims entering the country and the tepid response from Republicans and the mixed response from Americans across the political spectrum, that comes as a deep and stark surprise to most that are very concerned about where America is. What America stands for.
Does it not only export its values? Does it want to, but does it really even live up to them at home? I think that's the question. And when you see the Brits, you know, cozying up to the Chinese in unprecedented fashion, or Angela Merkel going to Turkey and saying, we're going to let you in to the EU faster if you can just keep your refugees there. Or even the French saying we're going to work closely with the Russians in Syria, the Americans aren't prepared to do that.
You see the transatlantic relationship is really falling apart. And this of course is the relationship that's underpinned the global order over many, many decades now.
ZAKARIA: David Miliband, what do you make of Trump?
MILIBAND: I think that for someone like me who's running a humanitarian agency including resettling about 10,000 refugees into America every year it's repelling to hear someone say that the most fundamental value of the U.S. refugee resettlement program which is that it helps people irrespective of their religion is very striking. I would also say, however, that it's important not just to dismiss this as clownish behavior, it's all quite dangerous. Because remember it feeds into precisely the narrative that we don't want.
It feeds into a narrative of the clash of civilization. It feeds into a narrative that aggrandizes those who would threaten society's religious -- multi-faith societies like the U.S. And I think that it's very, very important that a country that has become great because of its openness to the world doesn't undermine precisely the factors that have contributed to its success. And the U.S. does have quite a lot to teach Europe and the rest of the world in this fashion. And I think there's a real fear around the world, that it's going to turn its back on that, if not in the refugee area, in the general turning inwards, away from its national engagement at precisely in this sort of time when there needs to be a strengthening of the global order rather than retreat from it.
ZAKARIA: Bernard, you have been very tough on the issue of jihad and jihadi culture and behavior. The French prime minister has been very tough. But both of you have been very firmed in denouncing what Trump is doing and you really do think it plays into the narrative, the ISIS narrative?
LEVY: When you look at the Trump phenomenon and when you are friend and then admirer of America, as I am, as most French people are, number one, you are sad for America, for the American dream, for the shining city upon the hill. Donald Trump is not -- does not have the dignity to embody that in any way.
Number two, you are sad for the grand party of Abraham Lincoln, of Ronald Reagan, of John McCain. They were grand personal, grand people, even Ronald Reagan, who at the end of the day, defeated communism. The idea that (INAUDIBLE) of these people could be this man who looks like being drunk each time he goes on TV or make a speech is so disgusting and so shameful.
And number three, more important, my feeling is that if I were a jihadist, if I were an adviser of Mr. Putin, if I were an Iranian, I would pray all, every day for Donald Trump winning the primary and maybe winning the election. For all the enemies of America, it would be a blessing to have Mr. Donald in the office, in the power. It will be a blessing for them. They pray for that every day.
And for all those who have a high idea of America, it is a nightmare. And you, American people, have to get away from this nightmare as soon as possible. It's my opinion.
ZAKARIA: David Miliband, when you watch this kind of phenomenon, you're in politics, what is the best way for Republicans who want to kill the Trump phenomenon, who are trying to figure out how to handle it. What's the way you deal with somebody like him? Just partly I ask this even watching the press. Nobody quite knows how to deal with him. You know, he makes up phony statistics or he just -- you know, he'll say something that is blatantly untrue. And here he's running for president. How do you get your arms around that?
MILIBAND: It may be fascinating to say it but I think the only way to fight anger is with answers. And serious politicians who expect to exercise power and want to exercise power need answers. And I think that in that sense it's important to keep a sense of perspective. I think about 20 percent of the American population are registered or likely Republican voters. Mr. Trump has a third of the 20 percent. So it's important to keep a sense of perspective.
And the most important thing, I think, for any elected or aspiring politicians to remember that the majority of the minority doesn't make a majority. And you have to keep faith that the fact that the commonsense that the clear articulation of an alternative agenda does hold the affection and the loyalty of people who want to advance the country. And so the worst thing I think is to run in the slip stream of extremism because that only feeds it.
ZAKARIA: Ian Bremmer, very quickly. Do you think Trump could win the nomination? You guys analyze this stuff.
BREMMER: I think it's very unlikely. But we do have to understand that in the last week Trump has dominated the American airwaves on all sides of the political spectrum without spending a single dollar. And the establishment media is perceived as part of the problem just as the establishment politicians not to the people we may spend all of our time talking to, but precisely to those that are saying that they are likely Trump voters. There are more women than men. And they're not just Republicans.
We have to recognize that. And 60 percent of those Republicans is not just Trump. It's Carson, it's Cruz as well. There's extraordinary antipathy right now towards the establishment of all stripes. That is new in America and it's not going away.
ZAKARIA: Ian Bremmer, David Miliband, Bernard-Henri Levy, thank you very much.
On Tuesday you can hear from Donald Trump and his fellow contenders for the 2016 GOP nomination at the next Republican debate right here on CNN, Tuesday evening at 6:00 and 8:30 Eastern.
Next on GPS, Hugo Chavez and his infamous Chavismo.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
HUGO CHAVEZ, VENEZUELAN PRESIDENT: Viva, Chavez.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
ZAKARIA: I told you before how the former strongman's policies brought economic ruin to Venezuela. But it's not just Venezuela. It turns out the era of Chavez and other left-wing populist in South America might be over.
[10:27:37] ZAKARIA: Now for our "What in the World" segment. Terrorism, ISIS and Donald Trump have been grabbing the biggest headlines recently but over the past few weeks an entire continent, South America, has witnessed a seismic sea change in its politics.
Venezuela, Argentina and Brazil, which account for around two-thirds of the continent's population have seen serious setbacks for their left-wing populist governments that have been in power for over a decade.
It all started in Argentina last month when Mauricio Macri, the center right mayor pulled off a stunning upset in the presidential election over the ruling populist party that had been led by Cristina Fernandez de Kirchner. Fernandez de Kirchner and her late husband before her had been in power for 12 years. Then last week Venezuela's Socialist Party once led by the late president Hugo Chavez --
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
CHAVEZ: Viva, Chavez.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
ZAKARIA: Suffered a crushing defeat at the polls with his opponents grabbing two-thirds of the seats in parliament. It was the Chavistas' first nationwide loss in 17 years. And the opposition will now have the power to change the constitution and rest power away from Chavez's lacklustered successor President Nicholas Maduro. In Brazil, mass protests have dogged left-wing president Dilma
Rousseff, along with a 10 percent approval rating, and she now faces the threat of impeachment.
Leftist populists who were once enormously popular in these countries. So why the dramatic about-face? It's pretty simple. They've run their economies into the ground.
As the "Wall Street Journal" pointed out recently Chavez and other populists came to power at the start of a huge boom in the commodities market. They made mountains of cash from selling products like oil, livestock and minerals, funding populist social programs and helping many out of poverty. But they also ran huge deficits and became hot beds of corruption. And now that the boom times are over, their economies are spiraling down.
As the "Journal" points out Argentina's economy is expected to grow less than 1 percent this year.
[10:30:00] Brazil's will decline three percent continuing its worst recession since the 1930s, "The Financial Times" says. Venezuela is in a class by itself expected to plummet ten percent this year with sky high inflation and market shelves bare. One of the worst performing economies in the world, according to the IMF. Can this decline be stopped? Argentina's new president says he will improve the country's currency policy, make peace with the nation's creditors and improve trade relations with the United States and Europe.
In our interview with me a few months ago, Brazil's president Dilma Rousseff promised to enact and implement structural reforms. But little has happened since then. The new victors in Venezuela could have an even tougher way forward. Maduro still wills executive branch power and will do his best to hold onto it. Having avoided reforms for so long, the task is, of course, much more difficult now. But the era of false promises, bad budgeting and populous fantasies seems over. In the long run, that will help hundreds of millions of South Americans.
Next on GPS, there's a lot of talk in America around the world as well about Syrian refugees, Iraqi refugees, but have you ever met one? In a moment you will.
ZAKARIA: At this time when so many people who have never met a refugee from Syria or Iraq, talk about them as if they were experts, I thought it was important for you to meet a real life refugee. Earlier this week, President Obama commented on this picture of a Syrian refugee on a Facebook feed with 16 million followers. Brandon Stanton is the creator of that feed and related blog, "Humans of New York". And the author of two bestselling books of the same name. For more than a week now he has been posting a series of pictures and stories of refugees. Brandon joins me now. In Turkey we are also joined by a woman whose pictures and stories whose story Brandon started posting this weekend. Her name is Aya. Before we begin, a note: Brandon randomly met my executive producer on the street last month, asked to take his picture and posted that picture of him and his son on "Humans of New York." But that has no bearing on his invitation to join me today. Brandon, why are you doing this? Why are you posting these stories of refugees?
BRANDON STANTON, CREATOR "HUMANS OF NEW YORK": You know, I had just kind of as for the blog, I just stopped random people on the streets of New York City. And I found that through what I've learned about interviewing people I've been able to travel other countries and meet people there and tell their stories.
And the population of people that I've been most drawn to are the stories of refugees. I've done two different trips. I interviewed refugees that were going across Europe. And most recently, I went to Jordan and Turkey and I interviewed refugees that had been approved for resettlement in America. And the tragedy of their stories, learning what they experienced in Syria and Iraq has been completely eye-opening to me. And it's been a story that I also want to be able to tell to my audience.
ZAKARIA: Aya, you were seven years old living in Iraq when the Iraq war began. What was that war like for you as a 7-year-old? What do you remember of it?
AYA: Actually, it was like that feeling for seven years old girl to see that war in this age. So, actually, maybe I can't explain it by words. It was really awful. A lot of people dying every single day and guns and bombs and everything. So, it was really horrible thing to see.
ZAKARIA: Tell me about how you lost your friend to a bomb, your best friend.
AYA: I hate to remember it. It was really horrible day for me because I lost my best friend in it. I just remember that she was screaming of pain, and I couldn't do something. And there's some woman just take me out because I was crying that day. So, they just told me that I should go outside and not be in there.
ZAKARIA: And then you see more violence with your father. You see a car explode in front of you. What was that like?
AYA: I remember that it was like an action movie, but in the real life and horror movie in the same time. Because everyone was screaming and running out and some people on the floor and some legs and hands and heads. So, my father just go from the car and me and my father was just looking if there's anyone life there. You can't imagine that. It's just like titanic, but it's in the streets. We were just like saying that is there anyone alive. And everyone was just like there's no sound. And I told that there's no more life now. But we just find some people who are alive and we took them to the hospital.
ZAKARIA: And so, you went to Syria. And what happened in Syria? AYA: Yeah, I went to Syria. Actually, in Syria the life was really
easy and everything was really amazing. The people was really kind. And I didn't feel that I'm a refugee there. I'm not strange. I can speak the same language.
And I can do the same traditional thing. Because it's the same thing. So, it was really amazing life in Syria.
ZAKARIA: But then the civil war began in Syria and there are tanks on the street and you have to flee, you have to run away from Syria.
AYA: We just left everything and one more time, we just left everything. And we come to a new country.
ZAKARIA: So, now you're in Turkey. What is life like?
AYA: Actually, at the first I hated life in Turkey because it's a new country. New language and new people. I can't go to school because I can't speak Turkish. And something like this - so, the situation was really hard. Because everything is different. It's really new life for me.
ZAKARIA: You applied for refugee status in America, and one day you thought that you had been accepted because they updated the website and said that. What did that make you feel like?
AYA: It was amazing moment I will not ever forget it. Because it's meaning that I will go, I will do everything to go there. It's my dream because my mom was talking a lot of about United States. And it's a good country. And it's the country of dreams. And if you work hard you're going to have everything. So, I just thought that this is the life that I want. And my dream come true. So, it was amazing moment that I will not ever forget in my life. I was just like dancing with my family. And it was amazing night.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
ZAKARIA: That isn't the end of it. The story does not quite have the happy ending you think it does.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
AYA: And when that letter comes, I just feel bad. I can't dream anymore.
ZAKARIA: When we come back. More from Aya.
ZAKARIA: We are back with Brandon Stanton, of "Humans of New York" and Aya. A woman who fled first Iraq and then Syria. She now lives in Turkey. She's 20 years old and supports her entire family as an interpreter. Aya says she received notification that she had been accepted to come to the United States, but then a few months later something happened. She picks up the story right there.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
AYA: We were being ready to go there and even we take our bags and everything and buy some new clothes and everything. And after that, in December, in the mail, the normal mail, they just sent us that message that destroyed my dream, I can say. Telling that you had rejected. You're not getting to go to United States of America.
So, it's not just for me. It's for my family. It was really bad news to hear because we had that hope that we're going to go to new life to the country that we're dreaming in it. And there's my end and we are going to live happy life and everything. And when that letter comes, I just feel bad. I can't dream anymore.
ZAKARIA: What would you say to Americans who worry that too many people are coming in from outside and that they worry about this large number of refugees?
AYA: Well, actually, not all of the American thinking in the same time. But I just can say that we're running away from war. So, we are not going to be dangerous in your country. We just want to live in peace and we want to live that good life. We want to work. We want to study. So, we are really normal human beings. What we just like - so a lot of horrible things in our life. And when someone - when some person do or does like a bad thing, that doesn't mean that all of the people are doing the same thing. We should just say that it's individual things.
So, it's not all the Muslims people or not all the Arabic people are bad people. We have the bad people and the good people in the same time like American people. It's everywhere in this world. We have the bad guys and the good guys. But there's really good human beings. They just really need to come to your country and to start a new life, to start a new hope.
ZAKARIA: Why is your English so good? Where did you learn English?
AYA: My English when I was like six or seven years old I was loving like Hollywood and Los Angeles and New York and I was just like watching movies and listening to music and when the American come to our country I was talking with the Americans like soldiers. And I was doing that practice with them, actually when the other people there scared and afraid from them. I was just like running out and just telling them that I want to do practice. Please can you help me? And there were really nice people. And I just like discovered that they are human being like us. And they are lovely people. So, I can speak with them. I can do my practice with them. And that's fine. So, from there I get my English.
ZAKARIA: What would you do if you did come to America?
[10:50:00] AYA: I hope that I can do something really useful for all the human beings. Maybe I can open an organization or work for this. I will be volunteer. I will help all the people. So, that's what I'm going to do. I want to live in freedom and I want to live in some place that it's safe. I want to study. I want to work in like legal way. I want to travel. I want to have that - first, support that I'm going to tell the people that I am that country's citizenship. I want to be proud of saying that I have that country's citizenship. And for sure America is my dream. I was dreaming all the time that I will be that American citizenship someday.
ZAKARIA: What will happen if you don't manage to get to America?
AYA: I will be lost like now. I will be human being without dream. I will say like this, I will be lost all the time.
ZAKARIA: You told me that when you would hear about the very small number of refugees who were allowed into the United States, you were struck by how each one really, the only ones who got in had almost heartbreaking stories of suffering and hardship.
STANTON: There are millions of refugees. The United States is taking 10,000. They have the luxury of saying no to almost every one. And so, they don't need a reason to say no. They don't need for someone to be a security threat to say no. They can say no for anything. I interviewed 12 families. The 12 families in Turkey and Jordan that were going to America that were willing to be interviewed. I interviewed all 12 of them. They all either had an extreme physical handicap in the family or a Ph.D. That's how selective we're being. And because of that, people like Aya who is one of the most beautiful human beings I've ever met and she's done everything right, she's done everything right. She did it the legal way and she applied and she has nowhere to go and they're telling her no. And what's going to happen to her?
ZAKARIA: Brandon, Aya, thank you very much.
ZAKARIA: Reducing greenhouse gas emissions was a major goal of this week's Paris climate talks. It brings me to my question of the week. Which of the following cities is the most congested in the world? Los Angeles, Beijing, Istanbul or Mexico City? Stay tuned and we'll tell you the correct answer.
This week's book of the week is "Who Speaks for Islam: What a Billion Muslims Really Think" by John Esposito and Dalia Mogahed. You hear a lot these days about Muslims and what they believe. Well, here are the facts provided by two experts on Islam who have combed through opinion polls, surveys and election results. In today's charged atmosphere, this book provides an essential voice of calm and reason.
The correct answer to the "GPS" challenge question is C. According to Tom Tom's annual traffic index, Istanbul is the most congested city in the world followed by Mexico City and Rio de Janeiro. Los Angeles ranks tenth on that list. Mexico City officials have an unusual idea for one way to deal with that city's terrible congestion rate. The solution isn't to reduce the number of cars on the roads by increasing subways and buses. It's a loftier goal.
The next time you are stuck in the traffic jam, imagine how you would feel if you could soar above all of the cars stopped below. Well, officials in Mexico City are proposing a system of elevated gondolas that would allow their citizens to do just that, "Escorts" has reported. Take a look at this animation of the proposed gondola system. As you can see from the model these gondolas fits two passengers. They can change direction on the track. In fact, commuters can save time by stopping only at their destination unlike a subway or bus. A ten mile gondola system could transport 200 million passengers a year, the government says.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
DR. RENE DRUCKER, HEAD OF THE MINISTRY OF SCIENCE, TECHNOLOGY AND INNOVATION IN MEXICO CITY: If it works, it can become an overall frequent way of transportation across the entire city and in many other cities in Mexico.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
ZAKARIA: Mexico even developed this $2.4 million prototype to demonstrate how the gondolas would work. Installing such a system would be cheaper than building a subway, the government says, by millions of dollars and cheaper to run than the bus or subway. It certainly is an interesting plan if the funds can be raised. And one that would contribute to Mexico's goals of reducing greenhouse gas emissions. Not to mention easing the frustrations of people who spent hundreds of extra hours in their cars every year. This year Mexico pledged to reduce greenhouse gas emissions by 22 percent by 2030. Now, for Mexico and other developing countries to actually hit the targets that they have outlined, it will take a lot more than a few admittedly nifty technologies like elevated gondolas. Thanks to all of you for being part of my program this week. I'll see you next week.