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Three College Students Arrested For Helping Dzhokhar Tsarnaev; Moderate Muslims In Dagestan Struggle To Combat Extremists' Narrative; Syrian Government Claims al-Nusra Front Responsible for Chemical Attack; All German Final As Bayern Munich Finishes Rout of Barcelona

Aired May 2, 2013 - 08:00:00   ET


PAULINE CHIOU, HOST: I'm Pauline Chiou in Hong Kong. Welcome to News Stream where news and technology meet.

Three more people have been arrested, accused of trying to obstruct the Boston bombings investigation. Did they try to help the main suspect get away?

Shocking images purported to show an aircraft crashing in Afghanistan. And is this the end of an era for one of European football's greatest club teams?

Three friends of Boston bombing suspect Dzhokhar Tsarnaev have been arrested. Seen here in federal court sketches from a hearing on Wednesday, they're accused of trying to throw authorities off the trail of their college classmate. Brian Todd has the details.


BRIAN TODD, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Three college classmates of Dzhokhar Tsarnaev's now accused of trying to help their friend by getting rid of evidence related to the Boston Marathon bombings and lying to investigators about it. Dias Kadyrbayev and Azamat Tazhayakov, students from Kazakhstan, and American Robel Phillipos, named in a criminal complaint, appeared in federal court Wednesday afternoon. An attorney for Kadyrbayev then spoke to reporters.

ROBERT STAHL, ATTORNEY FOR DIAS KADYRBAYEV: Dias Kadyrbayev absolutely denies the charges as we've said from the very beginning. He assisted the FBI in this investigation. He is just as shocked and horrified by the violence in Boston that took place as the rest of the community is. He did not know that this individual was involved in a bombing. His first inkling came much later. The government allegations as far as -- that he saw a photo and recognized him immediately we dispute. And we'll be looking forward to proving our case in court.

Mr. Kadyrbayev and his family are very sorry for what happened here in Boston. And he did not have anything to do with it.

TODD: The complaint says all three admitted that at UMass-Dartmouth on April 18, the night before Dzhokhar Tsarnaev was captured, they removed Tsarnaev's backpack from his dorm room, put it in a trash bag and into a dumpster. After a two day search of a nearby landfill, prosecutors say they found the backpack.

Here's a photo. They say the backpack contained fireworks, Vaseline and school papers.

STAHL: He did not know that those items were involved in a bombing or of any interest in a bombing or any evidential value.

TODD: The complaint says the three friends also destroyed or concealed other objects, including a laptop. The two Kazakhs, seen here in a photo with Tsarnaev in Times Square, also face deportation proceedings for alleged visa violations.

On April 18, the night before Dzhokhar Tsarnaev was captured, the complaint says the three friends saw photos of the bombing suspects on CNN. Prosecutors say one of them, Kadyrbayev, was texting with Dzohkhar Tsarnaev, telling him he looked like the suspect on the TV.

The complaint says Tsarnaev responded with texts like "LOL," things that were interpreted as jokes like, "you better not text me." And this, quote, "come to my room and take whatever you want."

I asked attorney Robert Stahl about that last text.

STAHL: There was no signal. I think it means the plain English meaning.

TODD: But there are other very curious details in this complaint, like a footnote saying that about a month before the marathon bombings, when the two Kazakh students were eating a meal with suspect Dzhokhar Tsarnaev that Tsarnaev explained to them that, quote, "he knew how to make a bomb."

But again the attorneys for these suspects say their clients had no prior knowledge of the bombings and no knowledge afterward that Dzhokhar Tsarnaev had been involved in the attack.

Brian Todd, CNN, Boston.


CHIOU: And this photograph shows Dias Kadyrbayev apparently eating a meal with the Boston bombing suspect Dzhokhar Tsarnaev. It's taken from the social networking site And a source tells CNN his online activities were one of the reasons he drew the attention of investigators. According to that source, Kadyrbayev and Tsarnaev changed their profile pictures within 15 minutes of each other in the early hours of April 19. That's when the Tsarnaev brothers were on the run.

The source says Kadyrbayev changed his photo to show him wearing a mask from the popular film franchise Iron Man.

Well, the investigation into the April 15 terror attacks has stretched from Boston to the Russian Republic of Dagestan. In the two-and-a-half weeks since the bombings, Russia's federal security service has pledged to work more closely with U.S. authorities. And remember, Russian officials alerted their U.S. counterparts about the now deceased suspect Tamerlan Tsarnaev back in 2011 suggesting he might sympathize with extremists.

But exactly how much did the FSB known and how much information did it share? Little is known about the secretive agency and its culture.

CNN's Phil Black joins us now live from Moscow with more -- Phil.

PHIL BLACK, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Pauline, when President Barack Obama of the United States was asked recently whether he was satisfied about the information the Russians had passed on back in 2011, as you mentioned, when Russian security services, the FSB, first identified or first suspected that Tamerlan Tsarnaev had become radicalized, President Obama responded, "old habits die hard."

What he's talking about there, what he's referring to is that very historic lack of trust that continues to exist between the investigative and intelligence agencies of Russia and the United States. And we've been talking to experts here in Russia, former members of the security services, people who follow them still very, very closely. And they say the Boston case proves that both Russia and the United States and their security services still very much suffer from this Cold War hangover.


BLACK: Lubyanka Square, Moscow, in the days of the USSR this was the headquarters of the Soviet secret police the KGB. When the Soviet Union collapsed, it was inherited by Russia's new federal security service, the FSB.

It was in this building in 2004 the directors of the FSB and America's FBI signed an agreement vowing to work together and overcome decades of Cold War mistrust.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: In addressing challenges to both of our countries, challenges such as terrorism...

BLACK: The sincerity of that spirit of cooperation is now under intense scrutiny in the aftermath of the Boston attack. Officials in this building were concerned about the suspect Tamerlan Tsarnaev back in early 2011. And key questions remain what did the Russians know? How did they get that information? And how much did they share?

(voice-over): U.S. officials say the FBI received some vague information and a request to investigate Tamerlan Tsarnaev. They say they did, found nothing of concern, asked the Russians for more information, and never heard anything back.

Gennady Gudkov served in the KGB and FSB. He believes Russia's concerns about Tsarnaev were routine, low level, and probably based on information he'd shown interest in militants, not that he'd become one of them.

GENNADY GUDKOV, FORMER KGB AGENT: We have a lot of terrorist group and lot of terrorist risks in our country, that's why for our secret service, I think, it was just a common situation.

BLACK: Andrei Soldatov is an investigative journalist specializing in Russia's security services, which he says were strangely persistent in this case by approaching the CIA after the FBI failed to turn up anything on Tsarnaev.

(on camera): You think that tells you something.


BLACK: The fact they went to the CIA after the FBI.

SOLDATOV: That tells me that it was really serious for the FSB. They really needed some information.

BLACK: U.S. officials say only after the Boston attack did the FSB hand over an intercepted communication between one of the bombing suspects and his mother in which they were said to be discussing jihad. The recording was from 2011.

Soldatov says the FSB will not publicly explain its decision to hold back that information or give any comment on this case, because it remains a highly secretive organization accountable only to Russia's president.

SOLDATOV: The FSB is not very interested in public opinion, because they need police on (inaudible).

BLACK: Whatever the FSB knew, experts we talked to agree the Russians were not trying to help the United State when they sent warnings about Tamerlan Tsarnaev. They say it's far more likely they were trying to use the FBI to get information, because they feared Tsarnaev was becoming a threat to Russia's security. The Cold War is history, but self interest and mutual suspicion endures.


BLACK: Pauline, whenever we've contacted the FSB for comment on the Boston case. We have been instructed to put our questions in writing and submit them in that form. We've done that a few times now and we haven't heard anything back. Not a huge surprise given the very secretive culture of this organization that we've been talking about. But what it means is that up until now everything we have learned about what the Russians knew about Tamerlan Tsarnaev before the Boston attacks we have learned from U.S. officials. And that looks set to continue for the moment -- Pauline.

CHIOU: Yeah, very interesting. Thank you very much Phil for describing the relationship between the intelligence agencies of both countries.

Well, a source briefed on the investigation says U.S. officials are also looking for possible links between Tamerlan Tsarnaev and a Canadian boxer turned Jihadist. Nic Robertson has an exclusive report from Dagestan where Islamic convert William Plotnikov was killed by Russian security forces.


NIC ROBERTSON, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: In these lush mountains, Dagestan's rebels hide from Russian forces. Our journey here a trip into the unknown.

We're on our way to the village where Canadian boxer William Plotnikov was killed in a gun battle with Russian forces. 15 minutes from the secure coastal highway Butumayesh (ph), a tiny town of 3,400 people.

(on camera): We're being given special permission to go into the graveyard.

(voice-over): They are all moderate Muslims here and follow peaceful traditions.

(on camera): Prayers being said.

(voice-over): Plotnikov's grave not hard to find at the cemetery's edge, a place for strangers. He was a convert to Islam.

(on camera): Well, this does seem to be his grave. Plotnikov, William Vitaliavic (ph) his father's name, born 3rd of May, 1989. Died 14th of July, 2012, last summer.

(voice-over): The local imam tells me we had never seen him before. We didn't know anything about the rebels he was with. His father came from Canada and asked we bury him a Muslim.

Indeed, as I talk to local officials, they all tell me the same -- the rebels he joined lived out of town. When I asked if they had ever seen alleged Boston bomber Tamerlan Tsarnaev, they all tell me no.

The town mayor tells me, "I wish I could say we are safe, but since last summer we worry. Can we take our cattle to the forests?"

On the edge of town, they take us to the farm where Plotnikov faced off with Russian forces.

(on camera): The gate's been locked up. They've just opened the gate to let us in. This is the farm up here. Fields are overgrown. It looks like it's been deserted for a long time. There's vineyards over here, an orchard back up here. It looks like a shotout van as well over here.

(voice-over): Six other rebels died in the firefight. Two days later, Tsarnaev left the region. The farm owner survived the battle. In his police confession he never mentions Tsarnaev.

(on camera): The farm appears stuck in time from last summer. The clothes are still hanging up here, a camouflage t-shirt, a camouflage hat, and in the wall this modern straw wall, you can see the bullet holes up here, here, peppering it all over.

(voice-over): This official tells me they are trying to prevent such situations, counseling vulnerable young men, trying to build the local economy. Italians and Israelis, he says, have just visited. Both want to invest.

Amid such fertile fields and bucolic charm, easy to imagine a better life, but reality seems never far away.

It feels quite enough here, but we've just learned in the past 12 hours three policemen, one of them a senior counter terrorism cop have been killed in a shootout with rebels in a town not far from here. Two other policemen injured as well. It's typical of the battle that's going on daily here with the rebels.

Nic Robertson, CNN, Butumayesh (ph), Dagestan, Russia.


CHIOU: Still ahead on News Stream, North Korea sentences an American man to 15 years of hard labor, but there's still no word on what exactly Kenneth Bay is said to have committed.

Plus, Syria's information minister responds to claims of chemical weapons use. We have an exclusive interview there.

And these pictures purportedly show the last moments before a cargo plane crashed in Afghanistan. And expert explains why it could have fallen from the sky.


CHIOU: You are watching News Stream. And you're looking at a visual version of all the stories in our rundown today. We've already covered the arrests of new suspects in Boston. And now we'll take you to North Korea where an American man has been issued a harsh punishment.

North Koreans state run media are reporting that this American has been sentenced to 15 years of hard labor. Kenneth Bay has been detained in North Korea since November when he arrived there as a tourist. Our senior international correspondent Dan Rivers joins me now live from the South Korean capital of Seoul.

Dan, what exactly is North Korea accusing Kenneth Bay of doing?

DAN RIVERS, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, they're accusing him of attempting to overthrow the regime effectively. But we don't know exactly what he did to generate those charges. They've been very tight- lipped. All we know is that the supreme court started this case only on Tuesday. Today, Thursday, it's already sentenced him to 15 years hard labor.

He was in the country legally. He runs tours in and out of North Korea from a neighboring city in China. And has been in and out a lot without any problem at all, as far as we're aware. So it's different from other cases in recent years where people have snuck into North Korea or inadvertently cross the border. Here, he was there legally with their permission. He's obviously done something to anger them.

Some analysts, though, are suggesting actually they have targeted him because of the timing of all this. They're looking for leverage with the United States. He, as a U.S. citizen, is the perfect bargaining chip, if you like, for them to try and generate some sort of interaction. In the past, high profile presidents, former presidents like Bill Clinton, Jimmy Carter have come in to negotiate the release of prisoners. Everyone is now wondering if that's going to be a similar story with Kenneth Bay.

CHIOU: Yeah, Dan, I want to ask you more about the timing of this, because tensions between North Korea and the U.S. have been very high recently. So presumably, as you say, North Korea will probably use this American as a pawn. So what kinds of negotiations might be going on right now?

RIVERS: Well, the U.S. doesn't have any diplomatic presence in North Korea, as you know. Sweden acts on its behalf. We understand Swedish officials did manage to visit Kenneth Bay on Friday.

Now I would guess through the back channels, through countries like Sweden, there is some sort of negotiation being done to try and get someone high profile in. We don't know this for sure. I'm just guessing what is going on.

There's been reports in the South Korean media that possibly former President Jimmy Carter is keen to go in, that he's trying to negotiate that with Secretary of State John Kerry. So that may be a deal that's in the offing. We haven't confirmed that. But it wouldn't be a surprise. He went in in 2010 to negotiate the release of another American, this time an American who had -- you know, inadvertently strayed into North Korea, swimming across a river in China.

This is a slightly different case.

But as you say, the timing is interesting. This is coming hot on the heels of very, very high tensions in the region with North Korea's rhetoric really ratcheting up, talking about targeting preemptive nuclear strikes at the United States. We've had their third nuclear test in February of this year. The rhetoric was ratcheted up during huge, big military maneuvers involving the U.S. and South Korea. So this, perhaps, is the kind of response to that.

In addition to all that, Pauline, we've also got this situation in the jointly run Kaesong Industrial Park inside North Korea, which has effectively been shut down, because North Korea has pulled the plug, pulled all its workers out. There are now still seven South Korean managers in there trying to negotiate a deal on that as well.

CHIOU: Yes, a lot of pieces there moving around on this diplomatic chess game.

Dan Rivers, live in Seoul, thanks so much for the update there.

There is anger in India after the death of an Indian prisoner in Pakistan. Sarabjit Singh was attacked by fellow inmates last week and then fell into a coma. Pakistan's foreign affairs ministry says he died of cardiac arrest early on Thursday. His family claims he was taken off life support without their consent, that's according to our partner network CNN IVN.

Singh was convicted of spying and carrying out bomb attacks that killed 14 people in 1991. He spent more than two decades on death row. Singh's family says he's a victim of mistaken identity. Indian politicians are demanding justice from Pakistan. Media reports say two inmates have been charged with Singh's death.

India has also been rocked by another shocking rape case. And this time the victim was a four-year-old girl. CNN's Ram Ramgopal has more on this very sad story.


RAM RAMGOPAL, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: A heartbreaking scene in central India. Tears and cries of grief from the family of a young rape victim. The four-year-old girl died nearly two weeks after being attacked. Her tiny body was marched through the streets of her hometown before being buried. The girl had been in a coma since the April 17 attack. Doctors say she had suffered severe brain damage and was on life support. Late Monday, her conditioned worsened and doctors could not save her.

ASHOK TANK, DOCTOR (through translator): At around 7:45 pm the rape victim was declared dead after suffering a cardiac arrest. The victim's condition had been deteriorating.

RAMGOPAL: Authorities say the girl had been kidnapped from her home and raped, her bleeding body left in a field. The girl's parents found her unconscious the following day.

Police say a 35-year-old man has been arrested and confessed to the attack. The victims' family is now asking authorities to seek the death penalty.

AALOK VAJPAYEE, VICTIM'S RELATIVE (through translator): We hope from the administration, the police and the court that a fast track court will hear the case and that the accused will be given the death sentence.

RAMGOPAL: Sadly, this is the latest in a string of high profile attacks on girls and women in India. The recent rape of a five-year-old in New Delhi triggered widespread protests in the capital. Both cases seem to have reignited concern about safety for young girls in India where, according to UNICEF, one-in-three rape victims are children.

Ram Ramgopal, CNN, Atlanta.


CHIOU: Such an awful story there.

In other news now, the AFP news agency is reporting that more than 60 people have been killed after a gold mine collapsed in Sudan's Darfur region. The local commissioner in Jabel Amir district also says a rescue operation is underway. Now back in January, the area was the scene of Darfur's worst unrest in years.

Could computer technology have helped identify the Boston bombers in the sea of people at the marathon that day? Well, experts say no. Coming up next on News Stream, our own Tom Foreman puts his own face to the test and tells us what's being done to improve facial recognition software.


CHIOU: You're watching News Stream.

And now back to our top story. Three new suspects have been arrested and charged in the Boston bombing's investigation. Officials say they were all university friends of the alleged bomber Dzhokhar Tsarnaev. One also attended the suspect's high school. The 19-year-olds are not charged with involvement in the actual attack. Instead, one is accused of making false statements to authorities, the other two are charged with concealing evidence after the attack.

Now the FBI has no doubt been using computer technology to assist in its investigation into the Boston bombings, but many are wondering why facial recognition software failed to identify either of the Tsarnaev brothers. Well, Tom Foreman has been looking into that.


TOM FOREMAN, CNN CORRESPONDENT: When the FBI release these photos during the search for the Boston suspects, there was hope that computers might help as they do on shows like CSI, comparing facial features with existing data and coming up with a name.


FOREMAN: But even though pictures of both brothers were in public databases, the computers that searched that data missed them and came up empty. The government has been working on facial identification software since the 1960s, and companies like Facebook and Apple use similar technology to tag people in photos. But security analysts widely admit this technology is not good enough to spot a suspect in a crowd. At Carnegie Mellon, Marios Savvides runs the CyLab Biometrics Center.

MARIOS SAVVIDES, DIRECTOR, CMS CYLAB BIOMETRICS CENTER: One of the toughest problems is low resolution. When you look at images collected from standard city TV footage, the faces are way too small.

FOREMAN: His team is developing next generation software to change poor and partial images into much clearer pictures. They're creating programs that can reliably match images of people to their true identities, despite low light, movement, odd positions.

SAVVIDES: Off-angle is a big challenge. How do you match an off-angle image that is say, 50 degrees, 60 degrees, 45 degrees off angle to a face that's just a frontal sort of, you know, passport-type photo?

FOREMAN: They're even transforming flat pictures into 3-D. Look at what their lab did with a single photo of me. In less than an hour, it was turned into a series of images showing how I might look from above, from the left, from the right. Savvides believes such programs can and will substantially improve the reliability of facial recognition and lead police to suspects much faster.

SAVVIDES: And ultimately, hopefully save a life. Because that's our aim. That's our goal. That's everything we do here.

FOREMAN: For now, the FBI is installing its latest version of facial identification software to work with security cameras coast to coast as part of a billion-dollar program called Next Generation Identification. Still, in Boston it wasn't technology but human investigators who triumphed.

Tom Foreman, CNN, Washington.


CHIOU: A top Syrian official is speaking exclusively to CNN. Just ahead on News Stream, we'll go live to Damascus and tell you what the country's information minister has to say.

Also, a horrific plane crash in Afghanistan apparently caught on video. The latest on the investigation into what went wrong.


CHIOU: I'm Pauline Chiou in Hong Kong. And you're watching News Stream. These are your world headlines.

An American man has been sentenced to 15 years of hard labor by North Korea's supreme court. A U.S. official says Kenneth Bay went there with a valid visa and was arrested last November. North Korean State Media says Bay was found guilty of, quote, serious crimes, but they didn't give any more details.

India's prime minister is demanding justice after an Indian inmate was killed in prison in Pakistan. Sarabjit Singh died after what Pakistani authorities said was a scuffle with other prisoners. Singh had been on death row for two decades after he was convicted of spying for India and planting bombs in Pakistan.

A report commissioned by the UN and USAID says humanitarian agencies were too slow to react to drought and famine in Somalia in 2011. The study says some 260,000 people died, more than half of them under the age of five.

An investigation is now underway to determine the cause of this cargo plane crash in Afghanistan on Monday. All seven people on board died.

Chris Lawrence tells us more about the victims and what may have happened to the flight. And we warn you viewers may find the images in this report disturbing.


CHRIS LAWRENCE, CNN CORRESPONDENT: The video is dramatic and disturbing. A Boeing 747 just stalls and falls back to Earth in a massive explosion just seconds after takeoff. The video purportedly shows a cargo plane that crashed Monday near Bagram Air Base in Afghanistan, killing seven American crewmen including Brad Hassler (ph).

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: If I could trade places with him so that he could be with his family, I would in a heartbeat.

LAWRENCE: That's Hassler's brother who says Brad got married just two weeks ago and his wife is pregnant with their second child.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: This is his daughter Sloan, who is two. And who we don't see in here is the baby that's on the way who we expect to see in October.

LAWRENCE: The 747 was bound for Dubai, carrying equipment as part of the U.S. military's drawdown from Afghanistan. The civilian cargo plane was loaded with five MRAPs, each weight about 27,000 pounds.

STEVEN WALLACE, FRM. DIR. FAA ACCIDENT INVESTIGATION UNIT: Securing them is absolutely critical to safety.

LAWRENCE: Steven Wallace (ph) is the former director of the FAA's accident investigation unit. He says there's no forgiveness in a plane's center of gravity.

Basically there can only be so much weight at each part of the plane.

WALLACE: So it's critical that the total weight be within the limit and that the plane be balanced.

LAWRENCE: The 747 can take off a couple of different ways -- when it's carrying passengers, it'll take four to five minutes to reach 15,000. But in Afghanistan there's always the danger of being shot out of the sky, so the pilots need to gain as much altitude as possible while they're still over Bagram. A 747 carrying cargo can reach altitude almost two minutes faster.

WALLACE: The typical concern with a cargo aircraft, and this has caused accidents before, is that when the airplane is rotated with the nose up, the cargo moves aft if it's not properly secured.

LAWRENCE: It's much harder to have a massive shift of weight on a commercial 747 because the passengers and the weight are evenly distributed in the seats. It's just one of the possibilities that the NTSB is looking at as their investigators arrive in Afghanistan.

Chris Lawrence, CNN, Washington.


CHIOU: President Obama leaves today on a three day trip. The first stop is Mexico where he'll meet with the country's new president Enrique Pena Nieto. Talks are expected to focus on economic issues, but cross border drug violence will also be a major part of their discussion.

Then it's on to Costa Rica. Mr. Obama will discuss developments in Central America with leaders from around the entire region.

Well, a new petition is calling on President Obama to keep his promise to close the prison facility at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba. It was created by Morris Davis, who is the former chief prosecutor for terrorism trials at Guantanamo. And as you can see, it already has more than 104,000 signatures. And among other things, they are demanding that the Defense Department transfer prisoners cleared for release.

The first inmates arrived at the Guantanamo Bay facility in January of 2002. And now many of the remaining prisoners are staging a life or death protest against their plight.

But Jonathan Mann shows us how authorities are responding.


BARACK OBAMA, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Why exactly are we doing this? Why are we doing this?

JONATHAN MANN, CNN CORRESPONDENT: President Obama once promised to close Guantanamo Bay, tried for a time, was rebuffed by congress and public opinion and then essentially moved on. But many of its prisoners haven't moved on. And they're pushing themselves onto his agenda again.

There are 166 being held there. Some are awaiting trial by U.S. military tribunal, others considered not easily put on trial, still others waiting to be transferred overseas with their transfers on hold, some have attempted suicide. About 100 are said to be staging hunger strikes in protest against what they consider unfair treatment and a desperate fate as prisoners without any realistic prospect of freedom.

OBAMA: I don't want these individuals to die. Obviously the Pentagon is trying to manage the situation as best as they can.

MANN: The Pentagon is force feeding the hunger strikers it considers in real danger of starvation, 23 according to a military spokesperson, pouring liquid food through a tube pushed up the nose and down the throat. And it defends the practice.

COLONEL GREG JULIAN, PUBLIC AFFAIRS CHIEF, U.S. SOUTHERN COMMAND: This is the same procedure that's used in civilian hospitals for people that are in a condition where they're unable to eat normally.

MANN: But force feeding gets a different description from a current prisoner who says he endured it and dictated this account published in the New York Times.

"There was agony in my chest, throat and stomach. I had never experienced such pain before. I would not wish this cruel punishment upon anyone."

An expert in medical ethics puts it this way.

ARTHUR CAPLAN, NYU MEDICAL CENTER: These people are basically shackled and bound. They're not trying to accept the treatment. The more you struggle, the more you resist, the worse it is.

MANN: The U.S. President is pledging to take a new look at Guantanamo and the fate of the men held there. IN the meantime, GITMO stays open and the hunger strike continues.

Jonathan Mann, CNN.


CHIOU: Syrian President Bashar al-Assad has made a rare public appearance. He visited power plant employees in Damascus on Wednesday. And the outing came amid more violence in the country's civil war. Bombs have exploded in the capital for three days in a row.

The two year conflict has killed an estimated 70,000 people, mostly civilians. Recently allegations of chemical weapons use have grown louder.

Well, Fred Pleitgen sat down with Syria's information minister in an exclusive interview and he joins us live now from Damacus.

Fred, what did he have to say?

FRED PLEITGEN, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, one of the main things, of course, that we talked about was these allegations of chemical weapons use. Of course, the United States is now saying that it has evidence that chemical weapons were used in Syria. However, it doesn't know who exactly used them. So I hit Syria's information minister with that. And he denied that it was the government who used them. Let's listen in.


PLEITGEN: The United States says that it has evidence that chemical weapons were used in the conflict here. Did your armed forces use them?

OMRAN AL ZOUBI, SYRIAN INFORMATION MINISTER (through translator): The government would never use chemical weapons if we had them. We have proof that Islamist Jubhat al-Nusra have used chemical weapons. America is not serious about discussing this type of chemical weapons used. They want to accuse Syria and not search for the truth. It is shameful.

PLEITGEN: Do you fear that this could draw the United States into increased action?

ZOUBI (through translator): The most important question is why western countries have given such weapons to al Qaeda and Jubhat al-Nusra. Do they want to increase terrorism or do they want to find a pretext to invade Syria? They are trying to make them stronger, it means that the western countries are on the same sides as these terrorists.

PLEITGEN: How do you view President Obama's position, then, because President Obama is taking a lot of heat in the United States for not taking more action on Syria. How do you view his approach?

ZOUBI (through translator): President Obama says chemical weapons are a red line, then he is in direct accordance with President Assad who also thinks that chemical weapons are a red line.


PLEITGEN: And Pauline, one of the other things that really stood out in that interview was sort of a complete denial on the part of the information minister to accept that parts of the opposition and of the armed opposition here in Syria have legitimate concerns. He basically said he felt that most of those who -- or pretty much all of those who are armed here were part of Islamist extremist groups. And really that seemed to leave very little room for any sort of negotiations, Pauline.

CHIOU: Fred, we've also been hearing about more bombings in Damascus. You've been there for a few days now. Is the war getting closer to the capital?

PLEITGEN: Well, I'll tell you, I've been here for three days and we've had five major bombings here in the Syrian capital. So certainly a lot of people are quite afraid at this point in time and do feel this conflict seeping in closer and closer to home.

The other things (inaudible) of the regular sort of shelling that we hear, it was jet fighters in the air. It was some very heavy weapons being used, also a lot of small arms fire that you could hear as well. So it certainly seems as though things are heating up here in the Syrian capital. There was some shelling just now as well.

Whether or not that indicates any sort of shift in momentum on the battlefield, it's still very, very much unclear. But I can tell you people here are much more anxious than they were when I was here last two months ago, Pauline.

CHIOU: OK. So that's the comparison there.

Be careful, be safe. Thanks so much, Fred. Fred Pleitgen reporting live from Damascus.

A world sport update is just ahead on News Stream. Bayern Munich make history in the Champion's League. And Amanda Davies will be here with much more coming up next.


CHIOU: Well, these two pictures sum up an historic night in European football as Bayern Munich swept into the Champion's League final, possibly ending Barcelona's reign as Europe's dominant club team.

Let's find out how Bayern did it and get reaction to last night's semifinal. Amanda Davies is at CNN London live and joins me now with all the details -- Amanda.

AMANDA DAVIES, CNN SPORTS CORREPSONDENT: Hi, Pauline. Yeah, it really was incredible scene. We've often seen teams out played in Barcelona, but it's very rarely Barcelona who have been that team, they're generally inflicting the pain on their opponents.

But if there was any doubt how much Bayern Munich want to win this year's Champion's League they laid it all to rest on Wednesday night. Their 3-0 victory in the second leg means that they saw off Barcelona 7-0 on aggregate in their semifinal, booking their place at Wembley in three weeks time.

Barcelona were always in for a tough night after their 4-0 defeat in the first leg. And their hopes were further dented when Lionel Messi was left on the bench still struggling with his hamstring injury. And Bayern really didn't hold back. There were goals from Arjen Robben, an own goal from Barca's Gerard Pique, and then another from Thomas Muller. It saw them through in style.

So Bayern into their third final in four years by virtue of the biggest margin of victory in a semifinal of the Champion's League and the Bayern coach Jupp Heynckes says his side are looking for redemption for their recent defeat.


JUPP HEYNCKES, BAYERN MUNICH MANAGER (through translator): We were convinced we would reach the final, because my team play a superb brand of football. We were confident we had a chance. It comes from day to day training and because the players believe in our style and our philosophy. That is why I don't care about the opposition we face.

TITO VILANOVA, BARCELONA MANAGER (through translator): I don't think we need to change any player, what we need to do is get our injured players back because they are top players. Bayern Munich got here with all their players. We made it here without some of our key players. I still think our squad is very good.


DAVIES: So there's plenty for Pedro and the team to talk about in today's CNN FC, complete analysis of the week's Champion's League action. This week, it's Owen Hargreaves and Gus Poyet joining the team in the studio. Of course they go on air as ever at 5:00 pm London time.

And of course we want you to get involved and get in touch with us as well. The usual addresses on Facebook and Twitter.

His three awards in a week for Tottenham's Gareth Bale. The winger has been awarded the English Football Writer's footballer of the year award just days after winning the Professional Footballer's Association player of the year and the young people -- young player of the year gong (ph). He won 53 percent of the votes. That's 10 percent more than Manchester United's Robin Van Persie in second place. He's almost single-handedly credited with keeping Spurs in the hunt for the Champion's League next season with 19 goals in 29 games.

Anti-doping officials in Spain are investigating a number of doctors in connection with a new criminal case centered on the Lance Armstrong doping affair. A court investigation has been opened by magistrate in Allen County (ph) where some of the events outlined in the U.S. Anti-Doping Authority report into Armstrong took place.

Ana Munoz, a head of the National Anti-Doping Agency in Spain has said there is evidence that a crime may have been committed.

History has been made at the Volvo China Open in Tianjin with a 12 year old becoming the youngest ever golfer to play a European Tour Event. But it's been a baptism of fire for Ye Wo-cheng, the schoolboy amateur shot a seven over par opening round of 79. He managed to hold par over the first five holes, but struggled from then on, so he's got plenty of work to do to make the weekend cut.

And of course Ye Wo-cheng's debut follows 14-year-old Guan Tianliang's impressive performance at The Masters a few weeks back.

So a little bit of a tough day at the office for him, but certainly one to watch for the future, Pauline.

CHIOU: Yeah, he's only 12 so he has time. He certainly has time.

All right, thanks so much Amanda.

It's long been known that times were tough for early American settlers, but now there's no archeological evidence that desperate times led to desperate measures. Researchers say these 17th Century skeletal remains suggest that colonists at Jamestown, Virginia practiced cannibalism to survive, but only after the person had already died.

They say the proof is in markings like these found on the skull and shinbone, which could have been made by a small hatchet or a cleaver.

The remains come from a 14 year old girl of English origin. And historians are calling her Jane. And experts have been able to recreate her face, which she can see here.

It appears she had already died when her fellow settlers tried to feed on her.

Around 240 of the 300 colonists at Jamestown died in the winter of 1609 to 1610 when they were under siege and experiencing food shortages.

Well, if there was ever a doggy who needed to go on a diet, it's this one. Coming up next on News Stream, we'll tell you about this wiener dog's struggle with weight. We'll be right back.


CHIOU: Let's get a check of the forecast right now. And we've got extreme weather in the U.S. from fires in California to winter storms in the Rockies in the month of May? Mari Ramos is live at the world weather center with more. Mari, what is going on?

MARI RAMOS, CNN WEATHER CORRESPONDENT: I can see that puzzlement look in your face. It really is quite strange, especially the snowfall. It has been very heavy, especially considering we are in May, that's having a lot of -- giving us a lot of problems as far as travel. We're going to talk about that in a moment, but let's start in areas where the dry conditions are the ones that are causing the problems. Let's take a look at the video from California.

Look at that, it's amazing the flames. This fire was first reported at around noon yesterday. And it's already burned more than 3,000 acres in the foothills here of California. The Santa Ana winds are blowing. It means very strong winds coming off the mountain from the land to the sea, makes for very warm conditions, very dry conditions as well. And it was very windy, too. Winds up to 55 kilometers per hour fanning those flames, very dry conditions there in California. This is not too far from L.A.

And what happens is it's very dry, then you get the lack of -- you have the lack of rain which has persisted throughout the winter months -- dry conditions, warm conditions and then strong winds. They're not sure how the fire started, but it already burned at least one home and injured one firefighter. He was taken to hospital with -- or that firefighter was taken to hospital with minor injuries, fortunately nothing serious.

But as you can see, it's still a serious situation.

And then that's in the west, but go through the pictures from the snow, because it's really quite something to see this contrast. And there you have it. Pauline, it looks like winter. And this is in Colorado. Yes, Denver, but Denver had temperatures close to 25 degrees Celsius just a couple of days ago. And now they're dealing, and digging, out of the snow. The snow is continuing to move farther toward the west and moving out of the Rockies and into the plains now, the northern plains in particular. We'll get some very heavy snowfall again. There are winter storm warnings posted across some of those areas. So this shot of cold air will continue making its way across the central plains.

Come back over to the weather map. I'm fascinated by these pictures, really. Some of the snowfall totals, you can see them right over here. And Boulder, they had 20 centimeters of snow. And in South Dakota, 15 centimeters already. And they're going to get even more as we head through the next couple of days. So that shot of cold air will continue with temperatures in some cases up to 20 degrees below the average for this time of year.

This will reach you all the way down into northern Mexico on the other side of the border, so be prepared for that. California, though, this western side, remains quite dry.

And the winds again expected to pick up throughout the day today. So that's going to be definitely something we'll continue to monitor as that rain and snow mix line continues to move toward the Great Lakes region.

Let's go ahead and move on. I want to take you to the Middle East. And we've been talking about this story already for a week, Pauline. The snow continues -- even though the temperatures are a little bit warmer right now, there are still plenty of cloud cover across this area. And it is very unusual because if you really think about it May only has maybe one day, or two, of cloud cover across this region. And we've had already -- well, the first two days of May. And then pretty much the last week of April.

In Medina in Saudi Arabia, they had 20 millimeters of rain. Their monthly average is five. So that just gives you an example of how intense this rainfall has been. They don't get much rainfall here, especially in May. April, yeah, you know, it's the tail end of the rainy season.

What I'm concerned with here is that we are going to see more rain. That area of low pressure is kind of lifting a little farther to the north, so a lot of flooding potential is going to be across portions here of Southern Iraq, Kuwait, maybe northern Saudi Arabia and back over toward Iran. But still some scattered rain showers through Saudi Arabia, the UAE, and yes for you, too, in Oman. Back to you.

CHIOU: A lot to talk about. Excessive rain in the Middle East and then snow in May in the west in the U.S. Keeps you busy. Thank you so much, Mari.

Now to a little dog with a big problem. At one time, Obie the obese dachshund weighed a whopping 35 kilograms. And he slimmed down, but that led to a different problem. Jeanne Moos shows us what happened next.


JEANNE MOOS, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): If you think you're sagging, consider Obie, the obese Dachshund. Used to be you could actually hear his belly dragging.


MOOS: But on Tuesday, Obie dragged himself to Oregon expert vets and went under the knife after months of weight loss.

DR. ALON KRAMER, OPERATED ON OBIE (via phone): It is a modified tummy tuck, yes. Because we removed redundant skin and had to reconstruct.

MOOS: The idea wasn't to make Obie lose weight. He had already done that. At his worst, screen left, he weighed 77 pounds. Screen right, he dropped 40.

(on camera): Obie's previous owners were elderly and ill. They overfed him, practically killing him with kindness. (voice-over): Eventually, Obie was adopted by a veterinary technician. Nora Vanatta had to fight for custody of Obie. He got praised just for managing to waddle down the ramp Nora set up.

VANATTA: Good job!

MOOS: Frankly, Obie's belly made him look like something that had washed up on the beach. Thanks to an overweight management formula, fed to Obie in a dish that slows the dog down as he eats, he started losing weight. He didn't appreciate veggies.

VANATTA: Eat your carrots.


MOOS: And he was too fat for the treadmill, demonstrated by Nora's other Dachshund, but over eight months...

VANATTA: Look at him go!

MOOS: ... look at his weight go down. Here he is at 41 pounds. By the time of the surgery, he weighed 37 1/2. But there was no way this extra skin and flab would ever disappear on its own. Plus, it was black from inflammation and infection. So in a two-hour operation...

(via phone): How much did you take off him?

KRAMER: It ended up being about 2 1/2 pounds of tissue removed.

MOOS (voice-over): Dr. Kramer says the 7-year-old is recovering faster than expected.

(on camera): The goal now is to get Obie to lose another five pounds so he'd be the perfect weight for a standard Dachshund, 30 pounds.

(voice-over): Finally, Obie can see and even lick his own paws. He's become what he is, a wiener dog and not a stuffed sausage.

Jeannie Moos, CNN, New York.


CHIOU: His dilemma gives you pause, doesn't it.

Well, in other news now, a video just released by IBM is giving an amazing new meaning to the phrase small screen. Take a look at this movie the company calls "A Boy and his Atom." The dots you see are actually individual atoms magnified more than 100 million times. And to give you an idea of how tiny this is, it would take more than a million of those atoms to reach the width of a single human hair.

Scientists used a two ton machine called a scanning tunneling microscope to carefully arrange each movie frame. It's all part of IBM's research into new ways to store digital data.

The company says so-called atomic memory could one day store all of the movies ever made on a device the size of a fingernail. Pretty incredible to imagine.

And that is News Stream, but the news continue right here at CNN. World Business Today is coming up next.