Return to Transcripts main page


Still No International Movement on Syrian Conflict; SpaceX Dragon Capsule Set to Splash Down Off Coast of California; Sudan Denies Use of Cluster Bombs on Civilians

Aired May 31, 2012 - 08:00:00   ET


KRISTIE LU STOUT, HOST: I'm Kristie Lu Stout in Hong Kong. Welcome to News Stream where news and technology.

And we begin in Syria where the Free Syrian Army says it will resume fighting if the government doesn't abide by the ceasefire.

Evidence emerges that cluster bombs may have been used in the conflict in Sudan.

And could you go without the internet for a year? Speak to one tech writer about his self imposed exile from the web.

Now the Free Syrian Army is telling Bashar al-Assad and his military put down your weapons by Friday and get down of residential areas or the spokesman for the rebel says they will pick up their own guns to defend civilians. But as the Syrian town of Houla grieves the victims of last week's massacre it faces more burials.

Witnesses say more shells have been falling on Houla, killing at least two people. They say the intense attacks resumed right after UN observers left the town.

Now take a look at the bottom of your screen. And as we cover the events that are taking place in Syria we want to remind our views of just how many people may have been killed since the conflict began more than a year ago. Now the numbers, we are reporting. They come from opposition groups and CNN is unable to confirm the number because of severe restrictions on reporting in the country.

Now UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-Moon warns that last week's massacre in Houla could plunge Syria into a catastrophic civil war. Now Britain's Channel 4 News chief correspondent Alex Thomson managed to get into Houla and reports that residents say the killers came from villages surrounding the town and went house to house slaughtering entire families.


ALEX THOMSON, CHANNEL 4 NEWS: The UN warned us, you passed the last Syrian army checkpoint, then it's no-man's land. Space out the vehicles as we go across. And if shooting starts, do a U turn and get the hell out. You're on your own.

It is a chilling, mile long straight drive through the broken empty buildings. Watch the dead horse rotting in the street on the right, passed that and the abandoned armored personnel carrier of the Syrian army and you are in to rebel held Houla.

We'll cut Assad's throat they chant.

They want to scream at us, they want to shout, they want to chant, they want to show us fragments of shells. I have scarcely ever seen people so desperate to tell their story.

UN observers simply embraced before they can observe anything at all.

The chanting, the relief, the anger is palpable in this place. We've seen very few people from the outside. We've certainly never seen a journalist here since the horrors overtook this town back on Friday.

From that moment, we were taken away, swept up, led from house to house where everyone has a story to tell. And when it comes to the man who carried out the massacre here on Friday, it is the same one -- this man, who didn't wish to give his name, speaks for everyone here it seems.

Hang on, this is important. You know where these militia came from.


THOMSON: Which villages did the militia come from. Tell me that.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: el-Habu (ph), (inaudible), el-Khour (ph), and from the Alawite (inaudible).

THOMSON: So you think these are Alawite Shabiha from nearby here.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Yes. 100 percent.

THOMSON: How do you know that these men are Shia Shabiha from nearby? How do you know that/

UNIDENTIIFED MALE: They wear -- they wear -- wearing black clothes.

THOMSON: Black clothes.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: And we're writing on their forehead la becca ali (ph).

THOMSON: La Becca Ali (ph)is a Shia slogan in this region.

Houla is no the plane, overwhelmingly Sunni. The killers, they say, came down from the hills to the west where the villages are Shia and Alawite. To the southwest, this is Kabul (ph), named again and again by people here as a village where the killers had come from. And so to Houla to the northwest, again named by different people at different times in different locations as being a place where the killers live.

Time and again they showed us their videos of the massacre aftermath. We can't show pictures of children virtually decapitated by knives, women with their faces shot away, tiny mutilated bodies of toddlers.

Survivors, scarred by all this, constantly brought to our attention like 3-year-old Sadara (ph) who is wounded by shrapnel, but her mother is dead.

Well now, though, time was up for the Red Crescent and the UN. We had to move out. South, back across no man's land, and away from this stricken place.

Alex Thomson, Channel 4 News, Houla.


LU STOUT: Now as he mentioned, opposition fighters have given the Syrian government until Friday to lay down its arms, retreat from residential areas and allow humanitarian aid. Now they want evidence that government forces will obey the terms of the UN brokered peace plan that has so far largely failed.

Ivan Watson joins us now live from Istanbul. And Ivan, reports now of new shelling in Houla, what more can you tell us?

IVAN WATSON, CNN CORRESPONDENT: That's right, activists saying that town has come under fire with the video evidence to back up those claims -- you can see explosions and dust clouds on the hills around Houla, and also disturbingly video of a funeral emerging from there showing at least two people being buried and that fits with the descriptions that some of the residents have told CNN by telephone that we've reached there. And another video of farm fields on fire around Houla. The narrator says that this is a result of government artillery that then sets the fields on fire with the wind clearly whipping this up.

So the indications are that combat is far from over in this area that has caught the world's attention in the wake of this nearly unspeakable atrocity that resulted in the deaths of at least 49 children under the age of 10, mostly killed by hand -- Kristie.

LU STOUT: And as you can see from that video, the nightmare just drags on there in Houla. And Ivan, Syrian rebels, they have issued a Friday deadline for the government to withdraw troops. What will happen if Damascus doesn't comply?

WATSON: Well, that's not entirely clear. It's kind of an open-ended threat. And depending on which rebel commander you talk to, because this is not a uniform, highly structured, hierarchically structured organization you kind of get different interpretations of what exactly this deadline means.

The fact of the matter is, the rebels have been fighting in recent weeks. I've talked to commanders who have carried out attacks within the last couple of days in revenge, they say, for the Houla massacre. One rebel commander claiming to have set fire to a police station and a city hall in the town of Attanap (ph) in the north of the city earlier this week.

And we've even had some rebel commanders claiming there's no such thing as a 48 hour deadline. And that's a bit of a confusion when you're dealing with these localized militias, these armed groups that have sprung up. After months of bloody and brutal crackdown by the Syrian government, these communities have come together to protect themselves and now they're operating almost as grassroots village guards that often operate very much in autonomy carrying out attacks or defensive measures, competing in some cases for resources and they don't always have a uniform message -- Kristie.

LU STOUT: Ivan Watson reporting for us. Thank you for that.

Now the United States has placed sanctions on a Syrian bank on Wednesday. And other options are being considered, including opposition support, humanitarian aid, and tougher sanctions.

But as Barbara Starr now reports, plan B is far from being set in stone.


BARBARA STARR, CNN PENTAGON CORRESPONDENT: A new atrocity, the carnage in Syria only grows. The Obama administration remains focused on diplomacy, monitors, and former Secretary-General Kofi Annan's negotiation effort. It's the only gameplan for now.

DENIS MCDONOUGH, DEPUTY NATIONAL SECURITY ADVISER: As it relates to what the plan B is for Syria, we're still on plan A. The Annan plan is part of plan A, but we're not betting the farm on the Annan plan.

STARR: While the Obama administration says using force to get Bashar al-Assad out is not an option at the moment, it is on the table.

GEN. MARTIN DEMPSEY, U.S. JOINT CHIEFS OF STAFF CHAIRMAN: As you know, my job is to provide the commander-in-chief with options. And I think the military option should be considered.

STARR: CNN has learned that U.S., British, Jordanian, and Israeli military officials are discussing what to do if Syria falls apart. The possibilities include sending in troops to protect Syria's chemical and biological weapons and providing massive humanitarian assistance. There is a push by some for more immediate action.

REP. MIKE ROGERS, (R) MICHIGAN: For certain things and capabilities the United States has that can, in conjunction with our Arab League partners, could provide a tipping point. So it would provide certain capabilities to units that we know who are trying to overthrow the Assad regime that we can vet, that we can test, that we can understand who completely that they are.

STARR: The starting point: Persian Gulf nations including Qatar and Saudi Arabia have talked of arming the rebeles.

JAMES DOBBINS, RAND CORPORATION: The Syrian opposition are not going to be in a position to take and hold ground against the Syrian armed forces. What they can do is engage in raids, provocations.

STARR: The bottom line, there is no appetite for yet another war, especially before a presidential election. But if the worst were to happen, the U.S. military says it is ready to go.

Barbara Starr, CNN, The Pentagon.


LU STOUT: And we'll have more on the international reaction to Syria with what China and Russia are doing about the conflict there.

And deadly warfare, evidence the Sudanese government is using cluster bombs on civilians.

And is it happily ever after? A closer look at the tradition of arranged marriages in India.


LU STOUT: Now they are weapons of another era. They are designed to kill and maim indiscriminately. Now cluster bombs are now banned in more than 70 countries, but there is now evidence that the government of Sudan is using them against civilians in the province of South Kordofan. It's a claim that Sudan denies.

David McKenzie reports.


DAVID MCKENZIE, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Nestling in a crater watched over by villagers, a deadly and illegal weapon -- a soviet era RBK 500 cluster bomb which failed to detonate after being dropped on this remote village in Sudan.

Bomblets litter the nearby field. Each of these bombs carries 126 submunitions, damning evidence that the government of Sudan is using such weapons in its campaign against rebels in the area. But its civilians who are the victims of this conflict.

People in the area say they hear the drone of warplanes almost daily. They scramble into caves and climb into stone shelters when the bombs star falling.

LAURA CHEESEMAN, DIRECTOR, CLUSTER MUNITION COALITION: Cluster bombs are known to be indiscriminate, unreliable weapons. This is why they've been banned under international law. And really it's the humanitarian impact of these weapons that makes it so atrocious that Sudan has used them.

MCKENZIE: Human Rights Watch says the government's bombing of this area may amount to war crimes and has demanded an end to what it calls indiscriminate attacks.

A Sudanese military spokesman told CNN, quote, "we don't use cluster munitions in South Kordofan. We have no ties to such weapons." Adding, "there is no need to use these kind of weapons to begin with, the fighting is in open space, the renegades don't have concrete fortifications."

He also insisted these pictures could have been taken anywhere. But we know they were taken near the village of Angolo (ph). Villagers say the bombing never stops.

"Today they bombed with their airplanes," says this resident. "They bombed up there in the mountain and close to here."

The rebels in this area, the SBLM North (ph) group want to be part of the newly independent south. They depend on the civilian population for support and food. So the Sudan government's military strategy appears to be to terrify civilians into fleeing the area and to starve the rebels out. And many have.

Every day, more than 500 arrive in camps like Udan (ph), many of them desperate for food. Here, the children draw Antonov bombers that have devastated their villages, 2,000 of them, have arrived in the camp as orphans.

KLAUS LJORRING PEDERSON, DANISH DEMINING GROUP: With the pattern of warfare now, you see a higher and higher percentage of civilian casualties, because it's not the old traditional war where it's armies meeting in a designated field, it is a warfare that involves many, many civilian casualties.

MCKENZIE: Khartoum denies that its ever used cluster munitions, but the Danish Demining Group says there is a pattern of cluster bomb use in Sudanese wars.

These Chilean made PM1 bomblets are still found throughout South Sudan, dropped by Sudanese bombers during the bitter civil war.

Years after the fighting, these armored piercing munitions are just as deadly.

PEDERSON: They can land in fields and homes and villages, and of course poses a risk to civilians. And civilians do not recognize what is a bomblet and dangerous and highly explosive, and what is a toy. So you see a lot of curious children after these raids go and identify these exciting and new objects and blow their hands and heads off.

MCKENZIE: A terrible legacy for the villages of South Korofan. More than a 100 countries have signed up to the convention to ban cluster munitions. Sudan says it will as soon as possible. But on this evidence, the government seems very reluctant to surrender these weapons and the terror they inflict.

David McKenzie, CNN, Nairobi, Kenya.


LU STOUT: And now to Iran where a Washington think tank says new satellite images seem to show a clean-up if not a cover-up. Now here's an image of the Parchin military base. And the group suspects it is a site for nuclear weapons testing.

Now this is it in early April. You can see the two small buildings right over there. And now here is the aftershock, taken just last week. The two buildings are gone and there are heavy bulldozer tracks near the site. Now that lead to the suspicion that Iran cleaned up the base before UN nuclear inspectors are allowed to visit.

Now still to come here on News Stream, in India arranged marriage is a prevalent custom and can lead to happy unions, but not for all. A special CNN Freedom Project report is next.


LU STOUT: Now all this week we are bringing you a special CNN Freedom Project series on arranged marriages, and particularly this small segment of them that are forced marriages. Every three seconds somewhere in the world a girl under the age of 18 is married. Now in India, 90 percent of these marriages are arranged between families. And with a divorce rate barely over 1 percent, proponents argue that arranged marriage is a good way for young people to find a suitable partner.

But what happens when a proposed marriage goes wrong? Sumnima Udas looks at both scenarios.


SUMNIMA UDAS, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: The naming ceremony for one month old Avir (ph). The love and happiness around him is palpable, but for his parents Aditya and Priyanka marriage was not based on love.

PRIYANKA ANAND, MARRIED: We met once with the entire family.

ADITYA ANAND, MARRIED: For dinner, the night that I arrived.

P. ANAND: And then the next day the two of us just spent a little time together. And then by the evening I think we went back to our parents and we were like, sure, let's go ahead with it

A. ANAND: She went back and said yes. I took my time.

UDAS: But how can you marry someone you've just met once?

P. ANAND: You grow up knowing that you need to be open to the idea that it happens in our culture, that it works out as well.

UDAS: Aditya is a trader on Wall Street and Priyanka is completing her MBA. They both grew up all over the world -- Hong Kong, South Africa, London. But when it comes to marriage, it had to be the Indian way.

A recent survey found 65 percent of India's youth believe the final decision on marriage should still be taken by their parents.

RANJANA KUMARI, DIRECTOR, CENTRE FOR SOCIAL RESEARCH: Unlike when you look at the western societies where autonomy means you are an individual and you are an autonomous being in yourself, but here you see it in relation to your family. And that is why grown-up men or a woman would depend on the parent's decisions for many, many things, not only -- and as crucial as marriage they would definitely want their parents to be part of the decision. On, perhaps, make the decision or them.

UDAS: The government says 95 percent of marriages in India are arranged. Supporters of the tradition say there are many advantages. The families are supportive, religious, social, and financial backgrounds are similar. India's 1.1 percent divorce rate suggests they have a point.

But there's also a deep cultural hostility to divorce, which is seen as shameful in India.

A. ANAND: The option of the divorce, while it's there really isn't there.

UDAS: In an evolved version of arranged marriage, like this one, there is a chance to say no.

P. ANAND: Today, parents do give you an option. The family does give you an option to meet the person to see if you do get along with them. It's not forced anymore.

UDAS: But in another household, a very different story. Meena was just 14 when she says her parents forced her to marry someone she had never met.

MEENA, CHILD BRIDE (through translator): They used to blackmail me. My father and my grandfather said if I don't get married they'll swallow poison and kill themselves, that's how they forced me.

UDAS: She says she didn't even know what marriage meant at that time.

MEENA: I had heard of the word marriage, but I didn't know anything else about it -- why people get married, what happens after marriage.

UDAS: Meena now succeeds, comes from Haryana one of India's wealthiest states. Even though under aged marriage has been banned for decades, a nationwide survey carried out in 2005 found that almost half of the marriages in rural India involve brides younger than 18, the age of consent.

Ask anyone here and they'll tell you there's is an arranged marriage. But the problem is, in villages like this one, arranged means forced.

Meena says her marriage quickly became a nightmare. She alleges her husband and in-laws beat her regularly.

MEENA (through translator): Once I saw them burn my sister-in-law's hand. I got so scared I thought they would do the same to me. When I think about it, I get very upset. I never thought my life could fall apart so quickly, even before my life had even begun. I never knew marriage could be like hell.

UDAS: Speaking with CNN, Meena's husband denied all her claims and insists he didn't know she was underage when they married. Police are investigating the case.

Two weeks ago, Meena escaped. Her uncle and aunt agreed to protect her.

SAVITA, MEENA'S AUNT (through translator): There is a saying in Haryana, if a daughter dies the family is lucky. If the belief is such that even before a girl is born she's seen as a burden and the death of a girl is celebrated. You can just imagine when kind of environment these girls live in even now.

UDAS: But the calls keep coming, her parents demanding she return to her husband.

Your parents still tell you, you need to go back. Why?

MEENA (through translator): They say divorce is the biggest insult to a family's reputation. Society will mock us. They just care about their reputation and honor. They don't care at all about their daughter's life. Even in front of the police, my father said he would kill me if I don't go back.

UDAS: Meena says she doesn't know how long she can keep hiding. But for now, at least, she's enjoying a taste of freedom.

Sumnima Udas, CNN, New Delhi, India.


LU STOUT: A fascinating and nuanced look into all sides of the custom.

And just ahead here on News Stream, echoes of an earlier massacre. Nic Robertson draws parallels between events in the Syrian city of Houla and the 1995 slaughter in Srebrenica. We'll discover what lessons, if any, had been learned.


LU STOUT: I'm Kristie Lu Stout in Hong Kong. You're watching News Stream. And these are your world headlines.

Now reports continue to surface in east Africa of Sudanese forces dropping cluster bombs on civilians areas. Now cluster bombs are considered indiscriminate killers and their use unjustifiable. More than 70 countries, not including Sudan, have agreed to ban them.

Now Montreal police are searching for this man (inaudible) killing and dismembering a man, filming it, posting a video online and then sending body parts to various addresses in the Canadian capital of Ottowa. Police say the suspect is thought to be a porn actor.

Now revelations have emerged of contact between James Murdoch and Britain's Culture Secretary Jeremy Hunt on the day he was given the job of ruling on a takeover bid by the Murdoch family company News Corp. Now Hunt told an inquiry into press ethics that he judge the $12 billion bid to take over BSkyB impartially, but admits he was sympathetic to the News Corp. plan.

Now a resident in the Syrian town of Houla says government forces are shelling the area again. The town is the site of last week's massacre and more than 100 men, women, and children were killed. Syria says it expects to complete its investigation into the Houla massacre some time on Thursday.

And for some, the gruesome events of Houla six days ago stirred unsettling memories of another massacre -- the killing of at least 7,000 Bosnian Muslims in the city of Srebrenica was a catalyst for the international community to stop Serb forces in 1995. Now Nic Robertson saw those atrocities firsthand and reports on the parallels of the situation in Syria.


NIC ROBERTSON, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Houla has horrified the world -- some killed through shelling, the others according to the UN brutally murdered by regime loyalists, war crimes some at the UN suggest.

RUPERT COLVILLE, UN HUMAN RIGHTS COMMISSION SPOKESMAN: But the majority appear to have been the result of house to house summary executions of home and getting into houses and killing men, women, and children inside.

ROBERTSON: The more I see what's happening in Syria, the more I feel we've seen this before.

Last week I was sitting in the trial of Ratko Mladic, the Bosnia-Serb war criminal accused of the biggest mass slaughter since World War II in killing of 7,000 Muslim men and boys.

Ratko Mladic on trial in The Hague accused of war crimes, ethnic cleansing, genocide, 20 years after the crimes the details, the man, are chilling.

When you're inside there and you're looking at this man, and I saw him many times in the 1990s in Bosnia, he's still got such an intense stare in his eyes. And at times he really glowers, glowers at the people who are watching him -- the victims, the wives, the mothers of all those people who died in Srebenica.

Like Houla, many victims in Srebrenica were gunned down in cold-blood. The Srebrenica killings came after three years of stop-gap international intervention. UN troops were there, too few to prevent the slaughter.

And for three years the world closed its eyes and it knew what was happening from the satellite imagery and it was getting the pictures from the ground. And I sat there in that court room thinking this is what's happening in Syria. Today we know what's happening. We have the images.

Srebrenica became an important catalyst for real intervention. Air strikes stopped the Serbs in their tracks, reversed their gains. They sued for peace.

So the question I ask myself, will Syria unfold like Bosnia? A slaughter so horrified the world will have no choice but to take action. The experts are not so sure.

FOUAD AJAMI, SYRIA ANALYST: I used to believe that if there is a Syrian Srebrenica to go back to the Balkans, that we were forced if you will, we were pushed into Bosnia by the horror of what happened in Srebrenica. I know don't even know if there is a Syrian Srebrenica, I'm not even sure we would come to the rescue.

ROBERTSON: In the 90s, Russia backed the Serbs. Today it backs Syria. In the 90s, Russia was stumbling out of Communism. The U.S. overran their protests. Today, Russia is resurgent, rich in oil, it can and is ignoring the west.

What I learned watching Mladic, justice delayed for the victims is no justice at all, just ask he women of Srebrenica.

When we ask them, OK, isn't it good that Mladic is on trial, isn't that good? The answer comes back every time, no. You should have stepped in at the time and stopped the slaughter.

Mladic is no Assad. The Serb never did control all the levers of power. The Syrian president on the other hand, does. The writing for him may be on the wall: al-Assad one day in The Hague. Right now that looks as unlikely as Mladic walking free.

Nic Robertson, CNN, London


LU STOUT: Now two super powers are helping protect Syria diplomatically. One of them is China. As a permanent member of the United Nations Security Council, China has already used its veto power to block resolutions that would have mandated tougher measures against President Bashar al-Assad's regime. As Stan Grant reports from Beijing, China's stance doesn't look likely to change any time soon.


STAN GRANT, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: At a briefing here inside the foreign ministry, China has once again reiterated that it does not want to see any hasty intervention in China. It says the peaceful diplomacy is what is needed to bring about an end to the violence there and is backing the former UN secretary-general Kofi Annan. This is what the foreign ministry spokesman had to say.

LIU WEIMIN, CHINESE FOREIGN MINISTRY SPOKESMAN (through translator): The Syrian situation is very complex and very grave. We believe Kofi Annan's mediation has been productive. And we should give him more support. It takes time to resolve it. And we believe there will be ups and downs, there may even be backsliding, but we should not lose confidence or admit failure easily.

GRANT: China and Russia have been criticized for their ongoing support for Syria, especially in wake of the recent killings in Houla. Now China says it wants to see a full investigation into those killings, but is very concerned about outside pressure and the creation of even more instability inside the country. China says it will continue to work with the Syrian government. It is in constant contact with partners in the Arab world. And will also continue to offer its support for Kofi Annan as they try to bring about a resolution to this crisis.

Stan Grant, CNN, Beijing.


LU STOUT: Now besides China, superpower Russia is also blocking international intervention. And earlier this week, the Russian foreign minister suggested all sides are to blame in Syria. And he compared the carnage in the country to a night at a disco. You heard right, a disco.


SERGEY LAVROV, RUSSIAN FOREIGN MINISTER (through translator): You know it takes two to dance, takes two to tango. Even though in the current situation in Syria what we have is not the real tango, we seem to be having a disco party where many players are dancing. And they should all dance in the same way.


LU STOUT: A bizarre metaphor there. Now Russia has condemned last Friday's massacre in Houla, but it insists the new measures against Syria would be premature.

I want to bring in Phil Black now live for us from Moscow. And Phil, has Russia's stance changed at all since the killings in Houla?


As you say, they have condemned the violence there, but they have not joined the broader international community in laying most of the blame, if not all of the blame, on the Syrian regime and its supporters. Instead, Russia says until there an investigation has determined precisely what happened on the ground there, it chooses to believe that both sides of the conflict were to blame for those deaths that took place.

Russia has not attempted to explain publicly why the Sunni dominated opposition would massacre women, children, men from its own branch of Islam, people who have no apparent ties, sectarian or otherwise, to the regime. But for the moment, Russia is saying no to going back to the UN Security Council for any sort of resolution that would call for sanctioning, punishment, or any form of regime change despite the ongoing, profound failing of the Annan peace plan to this point, Russia believes it is the best and only way of ending the violence there, Kristie.

LU STOUT: I mean, why the support? I mean, Russia along with China has blocked previous attempts to impose UN sanctions on Syria. Why?

BLACK: Well, as you heard from Stan there, Russia and China both oppose in principle the idea of foreign intervention in a sovereign state. So Russia says it is not defending the Assad regime in any way. It is not defending him personally, instead it says it is defending international law and the right of the Syrian people, it says, to choose their own future without any sort of outside interference.

Russia, though, is also concerned about what would happen in the event that that regime falls. And it's a clear point of difference in the assessments between Russia and other western countries. Russia is of the view that if the regime falls, then chaos, violence, possible civil war becomes very, very likely.

The broader international community believes all of those things are increasingly becoming more likely the longer Assad and his regime hold power -- Kristie.

LU STOUT: So there are geopolitical concerns, also sovereignty an other core reason. Does Russia have key and strategic business interests in Syria?

BLACK: Throughout this crisis, a lot has been made of the fact that Russia and Syria are old allies going back to Soviet times. They continue to do business. Russia continues to sell arms to Syria throughout this time unapologetically so. Russia has a small naval refueling base in the Syrian port of Tartus. And Syria is Russia's last remaining point of influence within the Middle East region.

So, yes there appears to be -- or certainly analysts point to some self-interest in Russia's motives here as well.

But there is the broader principle that Russia appears to be drawing the line in the sand, say some other analysts, the belief that they are putting an end to the idea that the United Nations or other countries can decide who will rule any given country. They believe, Russia believes, that that's what happened in Libya, that that was a mistake to allow that to happen. And they're not going to allow that to repeat itself in Syria, Kristie.

LU STOUT: All right. Phil, thank you very much indeed for that. Phil Black reporting live for us from Moscow, a key and powerful ally for Damascus.

Now up next, a year with no internet: it sounds like the sort of punishment a parent gives a teenager, but it's something a writer for this website is doing by choice and I'll ask them why straight ahead.


LU STOUT: Now right now you're probably on or near a device connected to the internet -- tablets, smartphones, gaming consoles, they all take us online. But one man thought those gadgets were taking up too much of his time, so Paul Miller, he decided to go offline for a full year. And, he's senior editor of The Verge, it's a tech focused website.

Now here are the rules. He cannot browse the web, not even over somebody's shoulders. No Netflix or any other form of streaming media, no paying bills online, and going above and beyond, no text messaging. Now credit cards are still allowed, so if the phone, though voice over IP services are not. And he'll still write for the Verge using thumb drives to deliver his work.

He can also appear on the site's webcasts, but can not upload any of the video.

Now it has now been 30 days since he pulled the plug. As you can imagine, it has not been easy getting in touch with Paul, but he joins us now live from CNN New York. Good to see you, Paul.

And tell us, first, why? Why did you decide to leave the internet?

PAUL MILLER, EDITOR, THE VERGE: I just wanted some time to myself. I wanted to do some personal study and I know I am most productive when I don't have the internet on. I just, you know I disconnect, I unplug, I go to a coffee shop with no wi-fi if I really want to get something do so like why not spend a year getting stuff done.

LU STOUT: Now let's bring up your Twitter page. And we can see at the top your send-off tweet. You basically said good-bye internet in all caps.

How has it been since you sent this tweet out? Tell me about your very first day on your internet fast. How did it feel. How did it go?

MILLER: It felt really calm, really like zen for me. I've talked to a lot of people. I'd say there's like two camps. Some people like panic even if I mention the idea of leaving the internet, people like panic and freeze up. For me, it's just such a relief. It's just such a -- nobody can get ahold of me, nobody can, you know, infringe on my time, and you know text message me or email me and pull me out of my head space.

LU STOUT: Yeah, it's kind of like a detox right?

Now during your internet fast -- yeah, have you come across occasions when we're online and we don't even know it, we don't even realize it?

MILLER: Not too often. I do -- I still go to work. And everybody around me is on the internet. And they have to keep reminding themselves - - oh, I want to show you -- oh, I can't show you that.

My roommate has to remember that he can't show me this Instagram photo, you know. So it's all around me, but I haven't accidentally stumbled on to it. I have nightmares about getting on the internet just because leaving the internet was so public. Everybody knows. So if I screw up, everybody is going to know, you know.

LU STOUT: Yeah -- what kind of phone are you using these days?

MILLER: I have this horrible like kind of a pre-paid AT&T phone. I'm trying to get like a real old Nokia with like Snake on it or something. It's just, you know, I disabled internet, so even if I accidentally hit the button I can't load anything up.

LU STOUT: Oh, dear. OK, you're using this ancient phone. It doesn't even have snake on it.

How has your internet fast affected your social life?

MILLER: I actually think it's been really good just because I have to pick up the phone, I have to call somebody, or I have to do something face to face. And so there are times when I'm more out of touch with people for a period of time, because we're not just texting back and forth casually. But when I do pick up the phone I do call them we have a good serious conversation, or I just meet them in person and when I'm in person with people you know there's no distraction, there's nothing pulling me out of that, it's just me and them you know for as long as we're hanging out.

So I really love it, you know, socially even though I'm, you know, missing far flung acquaintances on Facebook for sure.

LU STOUT: But you're actually having real face time, not Facetime using some piece of technology.

Now you're one month into your year long internet fast. I mean, what has been the takeaway for you so far? What aspects of the internet are truly valuable and which are not?

MILLER: I think the internet is so valuable -- it's such a modern convenience. And I think -- I think maybe a generation before me or my parents maybe see the internet as just this perfect modern convenience of getting things done. But I know a lot of people my age tend to just live on the internet and just fill all their free time. And I think the big thing that I try to do, and I think I am doing is reclaiming my free time.

So right now I'm bored a lot. And, you know, I'm sometimes a little lonely too, but I'm learning to fill that in with things that aren't just, you know, browsing or just you know hanging out on the internet.

LU STOUT: Well, Paul Miller we're following your story very closely on the verge. And you know what, I mean, I fantasize about being on a complete internet detox. So if you get to live vicariously through you, here's wishing you the best of luck. Thank you very much indeed. Paul Miller there.

Now it is a big, big world that Paul Miller is missing out on online. The networking giant, in fact Cisco just released its latest study on global internet use. And according to Cisco, last year we used over 30 exabytes of data every month, or in simpler terms that means 30 billion gigabytes. Now that's enough data to fill almost 500 million iPads every month.

Now just ahead, we'll get a French Open update where Roger Federer has made history again. Alex Thomas will tell you just which record Federer has added to his collection.


LU STOUT: Now Liverpool football fans around the world are still waiting to here who the new manager of their team will be, although as Alex Thomas can tell us, it is unlikely to be a big surprise -- Alex.

ALEX THOMAS, CNN SPORTS CORRESPONDENT: Yeah, Kristie, five time European Champions Liverpool are expected to confirm later on Thursday that Brendan Rogers will be their new manager. The British media are reporting a deal has been done that will see the 39-year-old move to Anfield from Swansea City. Rogers will replace Liverpool legend Kenny Dalglish who was sacked at the end of a season which saw the club fail to qualify at the European competition, although they did win the Carling Cup.

In Tennis, the men's fourth seed Andy Murray survived a scare before reaching the third round of the French Open earlier on Thursday. A semifinalist at Roland Garos last year, Murray suffered severe back spasms as he lost the opening set of his match against Finland's Jarkko Nieminen 6-1, however the Brits ignored advice to pull out and went on to win the next three sets.

There were less dramas for six seed David Ferrer who as you can see won his second round match in straight sets.

The French Open has already seen Roger Federer rewrite tennis history again by beating Romania's Adrian Ungur on Wednesday. The Swiss player has overtaken Jimmy Connors as the man with the most victories in grand slam tournament history. Federer's win was his 234th in a major championship and will face Nicholas Mahut of France next.

Straight to game two of the NBA's eastern conference finals. The Celtics trailing the Heat 1-0.

Let's pick up the action with Rajon Rando, though, who had a great night here taking the ball coast to coast for the lay-up. As Boston take control in the opening quarter.

But Miami and their superstars fought back eventually taking the lead in the third. A block from LeBron James followed by the lay-up and foul on Dwayne Wade at the other end as they take a seven point lead.

Boston stayed hot on the Heat's heels, though. A three from Ray Allen tying the scores in the dying seconds. And then LeBron failed in the last ditch attempt at a winning basket, so this one goes to overtime.

Here's Wade again slashing through the lane for the off balance jumper. And he's fouled. He'd make the free throw.

Rondo ended up with a career high 44 points. But it wasn't enough to stop the Heat winning. And they go two up in the series.


DWAYNE WADE, MIAMI HEAT GUARD: We put a lot of effort into coming back. Kind of like I said after the game, you know, give us a lot of credit for doing it, but we should never dig so deep of a hole. But give them credit. You know, they played very well early on. They were on the attack. Rando was really on the attack. He played an unbelievable game. So, we do what we have to do to get a win.

DOC RIVERS, CELTICS COACH: I told them. I said we played extremely hard. I thought we played with great heart tonight. But I didn't think we played smart all the time. And there's things we can absolutely fix and we'll do that. And we'll be ready for Friday.


THOMAS: Whatever happens in the climax to the NHL season, ice hockey history will be made. The battle for the famous Stanley Cup put underway on Wednesday night between the L.A. Kings who have never won it, and the New Jersey Devils as the eighth and sixth seeds respectively either team could rewrite the record books as the lowest ranked side to be crowned champion.

Game one was at Jersey's home rink. And we pick up the action in the first period. The King's opening the scoring, and Jordan Nolan finds Colin Frazier for the shot that beats Devil's keeper Martin Brodeur.

On to the second period when New Jersey levels the game. Patrik Elias denied, but eventually Anton Volchenkov gets the goal. And at 1-1 this is heading into overtime.

There are more than eight minutes of an extra period before the crucial play here from L.A. Andrei Loktionov beating Brodeur after the fast break up the ice. And the Kings win 2-1. Their 10th victory on the road. They're one up in the series.

That's all for now. We'll hear from former Liverpool player John Scales on World Sport in just over three hours time as well as an interview with two time F1 champion Fernando Alonso. He's been speaking to our own Amanda Davies in Spain. For now, back to you in Hong Kong, Kristie.

LU STOUT: All right. Good stuff ahead. Alex Thomas thank you.

Now all hours will be gazing off the coast of California in a couple of hours. The first private spacecraft to visit the International Space Station is set to splash down in the Pacific Ocean. Now Dragon's first mission has been a huge success for SpaceX so far. And Space analyst Miles O'Brien says that opens new horizons for the company.


MILES O'BRIEN, SPACE ANALYST: This is a demonstration flight. And none of the -- other cargo that went up or is coming down is considered critical or mission critical as it were. They sent up things like underwear. I guess they figured the crew can go without that. I don't know if -- I don't know -- to me, that's pretty critical, I don't know. But anyway, leave that aside for just a moment that the fact is this has gone well. And if none of this cargo had gone up or down, the show would have gone on.

Now the next mission which comes up in the later part of this year, assuming everything goes well today and NASA gives a green light for it, as we expect it will, the next mission will be a for real cargo mission with so-called mission critical items. And as time goes on they will -- there will be more important stuff that will go up and down on Dragon.


LU STOUT: Miles O'Brien there.

Of course, SpaceX's aspirations to carry more than cargo. It wants to ferry people into space one day. And European astronaut Andre Kuipers who we see here, was one of the first to enter the Dragon capsule. And he posted this picture to Flickr. And his caption describing Dragon, it read this, quote, "beautiful, spacious, modern, blue LEDs. Feels a bit like a sci-fi film set. Of course, it's from Loss Angeles."

Now she is just six years old, in second grade, and totally adorable. Lori Anne Madison is the youngest person to ever take part in the National Spelling Bee in the U.S. competing against kids up to 15 years old. Now she made it through the first round, but then came this.


LORI ANNE MADISON, SPELLING BEE: Ingluvies -- E-N-G-L-U-V-I-E-S. Ingluvies.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: That is incorrect.




LU STOUT: Oh, I want to give her a hug.

By the way, ingluvies, it's the term for the crop, or the craw, of birds.

And that is News Stream, but the news continues at CNN. World Business Today is next.