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Syrian Flag Flies Over Qusayr; Turkish Protests Remain Peaceful; Zynga Announces Massive Layoffs; Flood Waters Continue to Soak Central Europe; Alex Rodriguez, 20 Others, Implicated in Doping Scandal; Susan Rice Expected To Become Next National Security Adviser

Aired June 5, 2013 - 08:00:00   ET


MICHAEL HOLMES, HOST: Hello everyone. I'm Michael Holmes at the CNN Center. Welcome to News Stream where news and technology meet.

Well, Syria's flag flying over the key city of Qusayr after weeks of fighting, but the bloodshed there could be far from over.

In Europe, a bad situation gets worse -- surging rivers are set to bring more flooding to already soaked areas.

And CNN's Freedom Project gets some results. One Filipino woman's battle to stop human trafficking gets noticed at the highest levels of government.

We begin this hour in Syria and what is being called a major setback for the rebels and their drive to overthrow President Bashar al-Assad. The government says it now controls the strategic town of Qusayr. This coming after weeks of intense fighting. Government troops in the border town were backed by Hezbollah fighters from Lebanon. A rebel spokesman has warned that the loss of Qusayr will lead to a whole new level of sectarian fighting.

Mohammed Jamjoom is monitoring the region. He joins me now from CNN Beirut.

And, yes, the loss of this town in a strategic sense for the rebels is incredibly significant, but also the involvement of Hezbollah fighters on the government side and what that means as well.

MOHAMMED JAMJOOM, CNN INTERNATIONA CORRESPONDENT: Yeah, that's right, Michael. This really a stunning setback for the rebel fighters in Syria.

Now Qusayr, you had Hezbollah fighters backing the Syrian regime for the past few weeks trying to retake control of this town. Well, today, they were able to. The Syrian rebels fled that town. They left the area. They simply didn't have enough ammunition, that's what we heard from the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, to take the kind of pounding that they were getting from the Syrian assault on that town.

Now as you mentioned, one of the key factors in the fact that the Syrian regime was able to retake this town was the fact that Hezbollah fighters had been pouring into Qusayr across from Lebanon into Syria by the tens of thousands, by most estimates, over these past few weeks.

The battle has been raging for about three-and-a-half weeks. Today, it was a decisive one for the regime. There are very dramatic pictures that have been showing up on televisions today, showing the aftermath of this battle. In one of these images you see the Syrian regime flag flying once more from a clock town in the center of downtown Qusayr.

So we can't highlight enough just how important strategically this town is. One of those reasons is because it is a strategic supply line for the rebels. Another reason is the fact that the regime has overtaken this town now, means that they can push onward, try to get into Homs province, that's another rebel stronghold.

So, really, really a blow for the momentum of the Syrian rebels and showing yet again that the tide really seems to have turned these past few weeks and the Syrian regime really making gains in some strategic parts of the country. Now we heard from the Syrian National Coalition. They had a reaction to what happened today. This is what they told us. The National Coalition renews its warning of possible appalling massacres and mass murders that may be underway in the event that the international community stands silent watching al-Assad's gangs of terrorists and extremists carrying out collective punishment against the innocent people of the city.

And this is a statement that really underscores something else you were just talking about, Michael, the fear of more sectarian violence. The fact that the Syrian regime has overtaken the city, the fact that it was a rebel stronghold, there are renewed concerns that the Syrian regime and the Shabiha fighters, militias that support the regime, will go after Sunnis in that town, that the battle will become bloodier and more sectarian in nature, and that that will lead to more sectarian violence across the country in this brutal civil war in Syria -- Michael.

HOLMES: Speaking of which, also the FSA leadership saying -- and in the wake of Hezbollah's involvement in Qusayr saying that if the Lebanese government doesn't stop the Hezbollah fighters from crossing the border than the rebels feel they'll have the right to fight Hezbollah in Lebanon. What would that mean?

JAMJOOM: Well, that's right. And this brings up a whole other passel of problems. You know, we heard this from the rebels the past couple of weeks. On many occasions they've warned the Lebanese government, they've put them on notice, they've said that if the Lebanese government doesn't stop Hezbollah fighters from going into Syria that the rebels will feel free to cross over into Lebanon and try to take on Hezbollah fighters here in Lebanon.

It really just shows you how much concern there is about a possible conflagration here, and about Lebanon being drawn more into the conflict in Syria and the fears of spillover.

Even today, there are incidents that are highlighting how fragile it can be here.

Now just a short while ago, we got a statement from the Lebanese army information directorate. They said that five missiles had been fired from a Syrian helicopter, that they struck a town called Khairabad Awadh (ph) near the Lebanese town of Assad (ph) that there had been no casualties.

Since then, we've heard a condemnation of these helicopter attacks by the Lebanese President Michel Suleiman.

It really just goes to show that there are increased fears, not just for a wider regional war, but that Lebanon itself, which is always on such a delicate balance and it's so fragile here, that it could be drawn more into this conflict. Nobody really wants to see that happen, but everybody seems to see this just spiraling out of their control over the past few weeks. And it really just goes to show how much fear there is about that happening -- Michael.

HOLMES: Yeah, very significant development in this war and the dynamics potentially changing. Mohammed, thanks so much. Mohammed Jamjoom there in Lebanon.

And Britain and France say now that there is proof chemical weapons have been used during the civil war in Syria. The French foreign minister citing test samples that he said confirm the presence of sarin gas. Laurent Fabius told France 2 that the Syrian government is to blame in at least one instance.


LAURENT FABIU, FRENCH FOREIGN MINISTER (through translator): There is no doubt that it is the regime and its accomplices, because we have the total chain of custody between the moment the attack happens, the moment the people the killed, the moment we take the samples, and the moment we analyze the results.


HOLMES: Well, at the same time, the United Nations Human Rights Council released a draft report that says it has reasonable grounds to believe chemical weapons have been used in Syria as well.

It didn't specify which side it believes has used them. The United States has said it needs time to review all this information.

All right, let's go into Turkey now where the Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan is in Tunisia, the birthplace of 2011's Arab Spring. But Mr. Erdogan has said there will be no Turkish spring. Back home, protesters again on the streets, that's despite a partial apology from the government. The deputy prime minister saying sorry for what he'd called police aggression against some of the initial peaceful protests. But his apology not extended to people he said caused destruction on the streets.

Well, some of the demonstrators are demanding Mr. Erdogan's resignation. Remember, these protests started over a park in Istanbul.

Gezi Park is the last green space in the city center. And it was set to be cleared for a development that included a shopping mall.

But the crowds gathering in Taksim Square now are broadly criticizing the prime minister's policies. It is not just about a park anymore.

It's a different story in the nearby neighborhood where Mr. Erdogan grew up. Ivan Watson takes us there.


IVAN WATSON, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Ali Vatansever takes careful aim and shoots. The champion archer is training on a new archery range that was inaugurated barely a week ago by the prime minister of Turkey Recep Tayyip Erdogan.

ALI VATANSEVER, ARCHER (through translator): The prime minister is the perfect person. He has reconquered our hearts. We are proud and we thank the prime minister for this place.

WATSON: The new archery range was built in Kasamplaza (ph), the proudly working class neighborhood in Istanbul that the Turkish prime minister still calls home. The mood here very different from nearby Taksim Square where thousands of demonstrators have been calling for the prime minister to resign.

(on camera): The neighborhood where Recep Tayyip Erdogan grew up is located barely a mile away from the protests in Taksim Square. And while in some districts of Istanbul residents have been banging pots and pans at night in protest against their prime minister, here locals proudly fly the flag of his ruling political party.

(voice-over): This neighborhood is a bastion of support for Erdogan and his ruling Justice and Development Party, or AK Party.

HASAN DOKUMACI, AK PARTY OFFICIAL: We trust this government, AK Pary, and Recep Tayyip Erdogan. We trust too much.

WATSON: Erdogan has repeatedly dismissed the street protests that have spread across the country, calling them the work of a small group of troublemakers. On Monday, he reminded Turks that in the last national election, his party won 50 percent of the vote.

RECEP TAYYIP ERDOGAN, PRIME MINISTER OF TURKEY (through translator): Currently, we are having difficulty in keeping at least the 50 percent of this country at home. And we are telling them to be patient and not to get trapped in these games.

WATSON: Political scientist Cengiz Aktar interprets this statement as a threat.

CENGIZ AKTAR, POLITICAL SCIENT PROFRESSOR: If you put 2,000 people in the streets, I can put, you know, 10 times more than that. I mean, this is a very irresponsible way of tackling the crisis, because that mean, you know, a kind of civil war between two people.

I mean, is it the way you solve a crisis? I'm afraid not.

WATSON: In Kasamplaza (ph), members of Erdogan's 50 percent said they would take to the streets to defend their prime minister if they were asked.

HASSAN DURAL, DRIVER (through translator): Hopefully it wouldn't come to that point. The prime minister has gathered millions of supporters with a single word. But those who love this country don't want turmoil.

CENGIZHAN SAFI, ISTANBUL RESIDENT (through translator): We don't take the protesters seriously, because they are the minority. We are already the owners of this country.

WATSON: Ominous words from Erdogan's supporters, Turks who are convinced they are a majority that, for now, remains silent.

Ivan Watson, CNN, Istanbul.


HOLMES: And wire services are reporting that a group representing the protesters has met with the deputy prime minister.

Nick Paton Walsh joining us from the Turkish capital live in Ankara there.

Nick, what have you heard about that? What's the latest on the noisy streets behind you?

NICK PATON WALSH, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, just behind me about 200 or 300 meters in that direction was where the meeting took place between the deputy prime minister and this group called the Taksim Platform. Now they have emerged from that with a clear set of demands, demanding the right to protest like this in key city centers, demanding the sacking of the governors of the various districts where there's been unrest, and the police chiefs there as well, an end to the use of tear gas and also the Gezi Park, that park in Istanbul that started all this, be allowed to stay where it is. Plus, the release of everybody in detention connected with these protests and the pledge that they won't subsequently be investigated. That's quite a long wishlist, you might say in some ways.

We've also heard, though, a development, troubling I think to some, the suggestion that about 20 activists have been arrested for what apparently is described as disrupting the social order through the use of social media. That would suggest Twitter messages that perhaps tried to stoke up protests here.

Many of these quite young as well.

Michael, I should tell you what you're seeing behind me is a stark change in what we've been seeing in the past few days. This is an organized protest by the opposition, by unions. They have trucks, they have loud speakers, they're mostly adults, perhaps those who are striking today as part of a broader movement here.

It's not large in number at all. And most importantly, there are no police, really, to be seen. They're tucked away back up in that corner near government offices.

So this mark change in police tactics in the last 36 hours -- no more tear gas here in Ankara, very nonconfrontational. Last night, we ever heard about police having bottles thrown at them. They moved towards the people who threw them at them. They scattered. And that was it. There was no tough handed response.

So we are seeing a softening here. But as you just said earlier, the first set of concrete demands from these protesters, Michael.

HOLMES: So there's a change in mood. What is the momentum of the protest movement, though, Nick. Is there a sense that this has legs?

WALSH: I think scrappy, to be honest. What we've seen in the past few days. Yesterday, 15, 16-year-old girls -- there wasn't a blood type on their forearm, but calm, willing to negotiate with the police, not being tear gassed. We haven't seen the anger that was sparked by the relentless use of tear gas in the past 48 hours before that.

So no rock throwing, complete calm.

This is different. This is political. This is organized.

It is apparently supposed to go home and end at some point, we hear. And there is, according to protesters, a letter from the administration asking for no more unauthorized demonstrations, an implicit threat there.

So concerns about what the authorities will do if this goes on indefinitely. But at this point, without tension, without fear, and frankly the violence we've seen in the past week or so simply not in evidence, a marked change from the authorities, Michael.

HOLMES: All right, very good to have you there, Nick.

Nick Paton Walsh in Ankara.

And this just into us here at CNN. The U.S. ambassador to the United Nations Susan Rice will be President Barack Obama's next National Security Adviser, that coming from a senior administration official.

Let's bring in White House correspondent Brianna Keilar with all of the details.

Brianna, tell us how this came about. Is this a surprise? And what's the next step?


Well, this is a big foreign policy team shakeup for President Obama here at the White House. I think it came as a little bit as a surprise. Some folks wondered, certainly -- maybe -- or I should say, some people wondered exactly why the timing now.

We did know, of course, that it wouldn't have been that unusual for Tom Donilon, the presidents national security adviser to leave the White House after his first term, but he has said that he wanted to be here as the president ushered in a new secretary of state and a new secretary of defense. He's done that now. So maybe not entirely surprising considering how long Tom Donilon has been here.

But he will be replaced -- this is really the news here -- by Susan Rice, the embattled U.S. ambassador to the UN. And so she will take his place as national security adviser. And this is key, because even though it's a very important role, the Senate does not have to confirm this adviser to President Obama which would have been a problem for Susan Rice.

You'll recall she was the -- very much the mouthpiece of the administration following the attacks in Benghazi, Libya. She came out publicly and using White House talking points really stressed the role of a spontaneous protest as the cause for that attack that killed four Americans, including the U.S. ambassador to Libya Chris Stevens back in September.

Well, we quickly learned that it wasn't a protest that caused that attack, there was a role of terrorism. And she really took the brunt of that criticism from Republicans. She had been considered in the president's second term as his likely pick for secretary of state. Instead, that role went to John Kerry because Republicans were threatening to block her if President Obama nominated her.

So this is another powerful role that she will be able to fulfill to President Obama whose confidence she obviously has. But she'll be able to do so without any sort of intervention or blocking from Republicans.

We're expecting, Michael, I'll tell you, an announcement from President Obama in the Rose Garden. This is going to happen this afternoon announcing that Susan Rice will take over for Tom Donilon. But also we expect he'll announce that Samantha Power, who is a long-time foreign policy adviser to President Obama going back years, that he will announce that she is going to be his pick for U.S. ambassador to the UN, Michael.

HOLMES: All right. With all the news there, Brianna thanks so much. Brianna Keilar there in Washington.

You're watching News Stream.

Still to come, mass evacuations underway in flood stricken cities across central Europe. We're going to get the latest forecast from the world weather center.

And the surviving Boston bombing suspect speaks to his mother for the first time since the attack. Hear that exclusive conversation coming up.

And a CNN Freedom Project documentary about that woman's fight against human trafficking. Well it spurred some action from the Philippine government. We'll have that as well when we come back.


HOLMES: Welcome back everyone. Rivers are still rising and raging across Germany and also the Czech Republic as that region suffers through the worst flooding in many, many years.

German chancellor Angela Merkel pledging $130 million in emergency aid to affected areas so far as she toured town devastated by the deluge. The German military has been called in to help protect property and evacuate residents.

Now in the neighboring Czech Republic, the national fire services says eight people have died as the result of flooding like the floods you see there on your screen. Austria and Switzerland also seeing very heavy rainfall.

Now when the water subsides, the cleanup, of course, begins for one riverside town in Germany's Saxony state. That process has already begun.

And this is how the Downtown Pub, you may remember that photograph. We've shown it here to you several times over the last couple of days. It's in the center of Grimma. That's how it looked on Monday. Well, as you can see, the flood waters had almost reached the top of the ground floor doors and windows. Well, this is the same pub yesterday. Have a look at it. The waters clearly receding, most of it draining away. Its owners now left sweeping out muck and removing ruined furniture and fixtures.

Heartbreaking for homeowners and business owners.

Well, Mari Ramos is at the world weather center, joins us now with the latest on all of this and what can be expected -- Mari.

MARI RAMOS, CNN WEATHER CORRESPONDENT: Hey, Michael. Yeah, really amazing images coming out of that entire region here across central Europe. Millions of people are affected and we're talking about thousands of kilometers of river that are already flooded.

Let's go ahead and start a little bit from the beginning here.

These are the major rivers that we're talking about across central Europe. You can see the effect anywhere from parts of France, Switzerland, all the way up through the low countries, through Germany, all across central Europe here. And then of course you have the Danube that extends all the way out back to the Black Sea.

This area that we highlighted right here in the middle, this is where they have the heaviest rainfall. 100 to 200 millimeters of rain that fell very, very quickly. All of that water has to drain out from this area into these major rivers as it make -- as they make its way out to the sea.

So we've had significant flooding along the Rhine, and then of course along the Vltava River and then back up now through the Elbe River. And then of course you have the Danube, the second largest river in Europe that spreads all the way out, like I said, through more than 12 countries. And those countries downstream, now, like Romania, Bulgaria, all of you -- Slovakia - - need to begin to see what's going to happen with this in the next few days.

I want to bring you into kind of a ground zero, so to speak. Some of the worst flooding that we've seen has been along the Vltava River here across the Czech Republic. We have some pictures to show you. Let's go ahead and roll those first ones, first of all.

And this is in Prague. And in Prague, the water is starting to go down. We've seen those river levels peak. We're starting to see those levels starting to go down, but even as of the last 24 hours you can see how widespread that water was.

And you know what, sometimes you think, well, you know, maybe it's only going to be a few centimeters, or it's going to be a meter or so. Even a few centimeters of water can cause significant damage to homes or businesses. So that is a huge concern.

Come back over to the weather map over here. Let me take you a little farther to the north up the river, right over here in Melnik where the Elbe and the Vltava River meet. This is the flood gates from that area, Michael. And you can see the water rising very, very quickly to one of the highest levels we've seen. But we're starting to see that kind of begin to peak down just a little bit more.

We have pictures from this area also. And I just want to show them to you very quickly, where we saw water up to the windowsills, or almost to the first story buildings. We're starting to see that water slowly come down.

But Melnik is one of the areas that has been hardest hit.

Come back over to the weather map one more time. As we move away from here, I want to take you to the border up farther to the north here between Germany and the Czech Republic. Right here in this particular area. Look at this peak, very, very quickly just rises right up to the top. This area, the water is still peaking. And it has not finished peaking. This gives us an indication that along this area here, as it meets the Elbe, and continues to move farther downstream, the water here still rising, so all of these areas are still a big concern.

As far as the rain, Michael, that, for now, has ended. Back to you.

HOLMES: Just heartbreaking. Imagine having to clean up after all of that, not to mention the loss of life. Thank you, Mari. Good to see you Mari Ramos there.

Well, you're watching News Stream, still to come here on the program, speaking out in defense of her sons. We'll tell you what the mother of the Boston bombing suspect had to say after talking to her surviving son for the first time since the attack. We'll be right back.


HOLMES: Now for the first time since a Boston Marathon bomb attack, the parents of the suspects have spoken to their only surviving son. And they've shared a recording of that phone conversation with ITN.

Now this is the first time most of the world has heard Dzhokhar Tsarnaev's voice. As Phil Black reports, Tsarnaev's mother still believes he is innocent.


PHIL BLACK, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Anzor and Zubeidat Tsarnaev only had two sons, both are accused of a terrible crime. One is dead. And they do not know when they will see the other. All they have now are photos and the recording of one brief conversation with their youngest Dzhokhar.

When he spoke to them from jail in Massachusetts, his mother asked if he's in pain.

DZHOKHAR TSARNAEV, BOSTON BOMBING SUSPECT (through translator): No, of course not. I'm already eating and have been for a long time. They are giving me rice and chicken now, everything's fine.

BLACK: The mother told her youngest son you're my life. You need to be strong.

DZHOKHAR TSARNAEV (through translator): Everything is good. Please don't say anything.

BLACK: Even one week later, listening to this call again is an emotional experience for Zubeidat Tsarnaev. She says she was surprised by how calm Dzhokhar was during their conversation.

ZUBEIDAT TSARNAEV, TAMERLAN AND DHOKHZAR'S MOTHER: I felt like he would scream that, you know, what's going on, you know, what's going on? He would ask the world what's going on. But momma -- instead, he was just calming me down, you know what I mean? He was trying to calm me down. Momma, you don't worry about anything.

BLACK: Tamerlan Tsarnaev was killed after shootout with police and run over by his brother while trying to escape. Dzhokhar was found hiding in a boat. U.S. officials say he wrote a message there admitting he and his brother were responsible for the Boston Marathon attack.

But the men's parents insist their sons are innocent. And they're mother still speaks proudly of Tamerlan's strong religious beliefs and his attempts to pass them on to his youngest brother.

ZUBEIDAT TSARNAEV: Tamerlan and I would pray, because it is an obligation. That's our religion. How would not we pray, then what Muslim we are? So that's what Tamerlan needs to tell to Dzhokhar, you know, we are not Muslim, we cannot call ourselves Muslim if we don't thank our Allah five times a day as it's written in Koran.

BLACK: Phil Black, CNN, Moscow.


HOLMES: And still here to come on News Stream, she spent years battling modern day slavery in the Philippines, now Cecilia Flores-Oebander is getting the high level help she's always wanted. We'll tell you how a CNN documentary helped out on that score.


HOLMES: Welcome back, everyone. I'm Michael Holmes at the CNN Center. And you're watching News Stream. And here now are your world headlines.

Susan Rice set to be the next U.S. national security adviser. A senior administration official says President Obama will announced later today that Rice will replace Tom Donilon. Rice is currently, of course, the U.S. ambassador to the United Nations. Her remarks calling the attack on the U.S. consulate in Benghazi, Libya a spontaneous protest initially prompted controversy.

In Syria, members of the opposition acknowledged rebels have lost the strategically important town of Qusayr. Government forces aided by Hezbollah fighters from Lebanon took back the border town after weeks of fighting.

Meanwhile, France says medical samples from Syria have tested positive for the nerve agent sarin.

And there have been more clashes between police and protesters in Turkey today. Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan is out of the country. He's on an official visit to Tunisia. But his deputy did make that limited apology on Tuesday for what he called police aggression against some of the initial peaceful protests.

4,500 commuters were evacuated from an underground metro station in central Moscow after a fire broke out in a tunnel. The incident happened near the Kremlin during morning rush. 11 people have been taken to the hospital.

And Pakistan's national assembly has officially elected Nawaz Sharif as prime minister. Looking there are live pictures of his swearing in ceremony. His party won a controlling position in an assembly at last months elections that handed him another term as (inaudible) return to that job. It is the first time in Pakistan's history that one elected civilian government has given way to another.

We've got a followup for you now on the CNN documentary "The Fighters." It, of course, profiles a Philippine human rights activist and her crusade to protect children from the sex trade.

Now the documentary focuses on her efforts to convince the boxer and politician Manny Pacquiao to take part in her campaign.

Well, we can now report that after seeing the film, the Philippine vice president organized the viewing for politicians, journalists and business leaders in Manila. And he is demanding that they also take action.

Kristie Lu Stout with the details.


KRISTIE LU STOUT, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Who doesn't like to see a dream come true. Cecilia Oebanda runs the Visayan Forum. For two years, the CNN Freedom Project followed her as she attempted to convince Philippine icon Manny Pacquiao to become the leading voice in the fight against trafficking.

At an event at the vice president's palace, she watched her wish unfold.

MANNY PACQUIAO, BOXER AND CONGRESSMAN: (inaudible) the dignity and honor of the lowly (ph), the joy and happiness is much greater than any championship belt.

LU STOUT: More than 150 journalists, politicians and business leaders listened to Pacquiao, Oebanda, and the vice president as he spoke of the urgent issues brought up by the CNN film "The Fighters."

CECILIA FLORES-OEBANDA, VISAYAN FORUM FOUNDATION: We know that the trafficker and our enemy will do everything to stop our operation. As the CNN picture, the (inaudible) partners, it shows to the world that fighting traffickers is not an easy job.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Oebanda dreams of what it would mean if (inaudible) most fearsome opponent.

OEBANDA: I hope that Manny realize that this may be the hardest, or the toughest fight that he can wage.

LU STOUT: The film chronicles several cases of children who have been victimized by traffickers and forced into prostitution. Their story shocked many in the audience.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Human trafficking is such a disgraceful, shameful crime. And we definitely all have to band together -- schools, private organizations, the government, you know, every single one of us to be involved in the fight against human trafficking.

LU STOUT: Earlier in the day, dozens of Philippine police officers also raised their fists in solidarity and signed a commitment to take on human traffickers. The next day, this happened -- the Philippine port police and the Visayana Forum rescued 14 women and girls.

Philippine vice president Jejomar Binay says "The Fighters" has galvanized the entire country to respond to what it's seen on screen.

JEJOMAR BINAY, VICE PRESIDENT OF THE PHILIPPINES: Many have experienced, many have seen pictures, but they were silent about it. And now of course of the CNN show, well, yes, it should have been condemned even before (inaudible).

LU STOUT: And if you've seen the film, you'll be happy to know this time Manny Pacquiao was there even before the event started. And he told Oebanda he'll be there any time she and the girls need him.

Kristie Lu Stout, CNN, Hong Kong.


HOLMES: And you can find out more about CNN's commitment to end human trafficking and fight modern-day slavery on our website. Go to for information on hotlines and charities engaged in this battle all around the world. See what you can do to take a stand.

Big story in the U.S., Major League Baseball's highest paid player facing suspension, that's according to a report from the sports broadcaster ESPN. It's unnamed sources say New York Yankee Alex "A-Rod" Rodriguez is among some 20 players connected to a performance-enhancing drug scandal. The allegations are the latest blow for the frequently injured slugger of late who has been chasing the leagues home run record for some time now.

Well, Rodriguez and others deny using performance enhancing drugs. The scandal all revolves around a Miami area clinic.

Rachel Nichols following developments from Florida.

Put this in perspective for international viewers. I mean, A-Rod is huge, or certainly has been huge, in Major League Baseball, on a bit of a decline of late.

RACHEL NICHOLS, CNN CORREPSONDENT: Yeah, no question. Look, he is the highest paid player in the game. And it doesn't just involve him, it also involved another former MVP, Ryan Braun. He is named in this report as well.

So you've got two former most valuable players. You've got several other players who are near at the top of their game at their respective positions. This is a wide ranging scandal at the very highest levels of the sport considered America's past-time. So it's a huge blow. It's certainly something that shakes people around this country, because they don't want to feel that the game they're following is rigged, that you have to cheat to win. And certainly parents whose kids grow up wanting to play baseball don't want to feel like their kids have to take performance enhancing drugs just to compete on the field.

This is definitely been an issue for Major League Baseball for more than a decade. Certainly the league was accused of not taking it seriously enough at the beginning of this era. Now they're pursuing this so aggressively they've spent more than a million dollars in this investigation. Teams of investigators, and the fact that the person who supplied these drugs is now coming forward to admit that he did that is a huge break for them.

Of course, there's still a long way to go. Players had the opportunity to appeal this. And there's got to be some hard evidence there, because even if this man is coming forward and saying, hey, I did it. I supplied them with performance enhancing drugs, it can become a he said, he said situation. The suspensions only hold up if Major League Baseball has some proof.

HOLMES: What sort of penalties are we talking about? And also for people not familiar with the story, what exactly is the allegation? There was a clinic in Miami and...

NICHOLS: Yeah, there's a clinic in Miami that providing HGH, other kinds of performance enhancing drugs. And a local Miami newspaper actually unearthed some records with lists of names and you know notations by them. You know, a decent amount of paperwork.

But again unless somebody is going to stand behind that paperwork and say, oh yes this notation means that I shot up so and so with drugs or this notation means I swear under oath that I supplied so and so with drugs, Major League Baseball hasn't been able to do much about it.

Now they've been able to convince the owner and the founder of this clinic to come forward, put under oath his name behind these allegations. They had to strong arm him into doing that, of course. And the players when they do their appeals will say, hey, he's basically a paid witness.

So, it's going to be an interesting back and forth. But Major League Baseball very serious about this.

Right now, the penalty under the collective bargaining agreement is a 50 game suspension for a first offense. They're actually intending, according to this ESPN report, they're intending to go into this with double barrels, basically saying the first offense was having committed it, taking the PEDs. The second offense is having lied to investigators when asked in the past about this. So they're actually going for a 100 game suspension for some of these guys.

We'll have to see it pans out, but this could rock the game of baseball. Again, two former MVPs, that's never happened before.

HOLMES: Yeah, that's two-thirds of a season for those uninitiated in such things. Rachel, thanks for your reporting on this. Rachel Nichols in Miami.

Well, just ahead here on News Stream, new online social games like Words With Friends and Farmville have a future. We'll discuss the outlook for mobile gaming after the break.


HOLMES: Well, for awhile, it felt like everyone on Facebook was playing Farmville. Certainly a couple of CNN anchors sitting near me. Well, Farmville is one of the leading social games on the internet, simple games you can play in a web browser. And they often work best when you play with friends.

But things aren't going so well for one of the biggest companies in social games. Just yesterday, Zynga said it's going to lay off almost a fifth of its workforce.

Now for more on this, let's bring in our regular contributor. Nicholas Thompson is editor at and joins us from our New York bureau.

Zynga couldn't do anything wrong last year. What happened?

NICK THOMPSON, NEWYORKER.COM: I know, it's extraordinary. About a year ago, it looked like Zynga was going to take over the gaming industry. Their growth trajectory was extraordinary. They had had an IPO. There was some signs of trouble at the company, but things looked very good. And they had a lot of money.

They ended up with a couple -- they ran head first into a couple of trends. The first is they were overly dependent on Facebook. Everybody played these games on Facebook, which meant that when Facebook changed its news feed algorithm, whenever Facebook changed anything, it would have a huge effect on Zynga.

They also ran into the revolution in mobile, which is changing everything. It's harder to play these mobile games, it's harder to play Farmville on your mobile device, so as we all switch to mobile devices, those games lost some of their competitive edge.

And then also the thing that everybody thought was going to make Zynga thrive forever, all of the data it had, the data its had on how users played, when you would give them rewards, when you would give them perks, it turned out all that data didn't really help them as much as people thought it would.

HOLMES: Yeah, that's interesting. So it was a -- was it just that this was in some ways a fad, or did they misunderstand the target audience, those who are out there playing?

THOMPSON: I think -- I mean, yes, partly yes, they lost some of their creativity. I think they understood the target audience out there, but maybe they tried to understand them a little too much. In order for a game to succeed, it doesn't just have to match what's worked in the past, which is what you have data on. In order for a new game to succeed, it also has to be creative, it has to be different, it has to be beautiful, it has to be imaginative. So it's possible that Zynga got trapped by some of the analytics they had and some of the data they had and they tried to recreate the experience that had worked before. And then the new games just didn't work as well. They weren't as successful.

HOLMES: You know, Draw Something. They bought that company, I think, for something like $200 million last year, but then they shut it down. So there goes that money. What happened there?

THOMPSON: They just bought at the peak. I mean, that was a very weird transaction. Even at the time I remember thinking, my god that's a lot of money to pay for -- Draw Something, oh my god -- OMGPOP, the company that owned it, you know, had a very, very simple game, you know -- a game that would be very easy to imitate, that game that would be easy for you to stop playing. You don't get sucked into deeper and deeper levels and deeper and deeper worlds.

And so what happened is they just bought it when the maximum number of people were playing it. They bought a fad and the fad disappeared. Now who knows whether they ruined it, they changed it. But really I think they just bought into a bubble at the peak and that showed poor management, poor decisionmaking and overpaying on Zynga's part.

HOLMES: You know, it's interesting, Zynga actually applied for a gaming license in Nevada. I mean, do you see the future of these sorts of things -- these sorts of games in gambling?

THOMPSON: That's very interesting. Zynga sees some future in it. I think it's going to be quite hard for Zynga to succeed as a gambling company. Because first once you start becoming a gambling company there's kind of a -- sort of a nasty air that comes around you. It seems a little dark. So it would hurt the rest of their branding, so they'd have to move very cautiously.

Secondly, it's an extremely competitive space. So there are lots of companies trying to make money off gambling, because so much money can be made off gambling. So Zynga would be an upstart. And at this point with all of the chaos at Zynga, all of the people there losing, I can't imagine that they would really -- they would really thrive in such a competitive market.

But they make a big bet on it, as you might say.

HOLMES: Yeah, not looking great, though.

Nicholas Thompson, thanks so much, editor of and CNN contributor. Appreciate it.

And you are watching News Stream. When we come back, when he landed on the moon, Neil Armstrong said, "that's one small step." Can you finish the phrase? Why researchers are now (inaudible). Stay with us.


HOLMES: The times, they are a-changing. The largest hotel in New York City getting rid of room service, not because anyone has been complaining about the service or even the prices -- sometimes they are outrageous -- the hotel's manager just says hardly anyone wants it these days. Here's Felicia Taylor.


FELICIA TAYLOR, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Room service, certainly something that you would enjoy at this luxurious hotel The Plaza in New York, but just down the street at the Hilton it's about to be a different story.

The New York Hilton Hotel in Midtown Manhattan, which has about 2,000 rooms, plans to end room service this summer, citing labor costs and a lack of demand. The landmark hotel plans to develop a self-service model called Urban Kitchen to combine the experience of a gourmet food market with an on-the-go mentality. The hotel says this offering is currently unique to New York Hilton Midtown. And we have no current plans to roll out the initiative more broadly.

But hotel experts say it's a trend that could catch on.

Here at the Hudson Hotel in Midtown Manhattan, room service is already scaled back and no longer comes with that posh white gloved silver tray service.

Explain to me what the extra cost is that doesn't allow it to be cost effective, or is there just not the demand?

MIKE WALSH, GENERAL MANAGER, HUDSON HOTEL: There's not the demand, plus pending on the number of employs, you have to call somebody, you have to have a cook to make it, you have to have delivery, you have to have pickup. And people don't want that.

You look in the Big Apple, right, what's outside our doors is restaurant after restaurant after restaurant.

TAYLOR: Is this an experience for the hotel that's actually going to be a loss in the sense that people will be attracted to other hotels that do offer this kind of service.

WALSH: I don't -- you know, the ways of the past -- and I think why it is becoming a trend, is because room service was a loss leader.

TAYLOR: So what are the amenities that a hotel does make money on? I mean, is it really just on the room itself?

WALSH: We make it on the rooms and then we make it on beverage, right? That's why you have great mixologists in New York, you know. We just opened a beer hall, you know, Hudson Commons. You know, it's a modern beer hall. It's easy. You can go in, you can get a beer, you can get something off the tap, you can get a great drink. It's unique, creative for mixologists. That's what people are looking for instead of just a box in a hotel.

TAYLOR: The clientele has mixed feelings.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: They need to be competitive, I guess. The better the room service, the better the user experience.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Even when we're traveling -- we go to the Caribbean, we don't generally eat at the hotel. We'll go out on the town and, you know, to experience the life outside of the hotel.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: So I'm glad they're not having room service. It'll get more people out on the street.

TAYLOR: And in tough economic times, hotels are taking a harder look at the bottom line.

But in a city that never sleeps, hoteliers are banking on room rates, not room service.

Felicia Taylor, CNN, New York.


HOLMES: Well, it was supposed to be a routine flight from Singapore to London, but it turned out to be anything but for passengers and crew on board a Singapore airlines flight last week. Now their plane hit severe turbulence and dropped about 6,500 feet. It's about -- 65 feet -- 6,500 would be a bit dramatic -- 20 meters or so, let's put it that way, in just five seconds. Alan Cross was on the plane and he explains what happened.


ALAN CROSS, PASSENGER: Just as we were about to have breakfast the captain turned on the seat belt sign warning us that it was going to be a little bumpy for the next few minutes. Then it got a little bumpier and he said that he was going to ask the cabin crew to suspend breakfast service. Then the captain comes on a few minutes later and sort of barks at the cabin crew, flight attendants please take your seats. And I remember thinking that's kind of weird, that's bit of a harsh tone coming from the cockpit.

And then suddenly, it felt like we were in an elevator and somebody had cut the cable. The plane suddenly dropped this 50 or 100 feet and everything violently rocketed off all the tray tables into the ceiling. You literally felt your stomach go up through your throat. It happened so quickly. And the aircraft recovered to quickly that there really wasn't any time to feel anything other than what just happened?

I mean, you look at the picture of the cabin crew sitting in their seats. That picture was taken probably 15 to 20 seconds after I was aware enough to be able to pull my phone out of my pocket.

If you look at the expression on the cabin crew's face, it's like, yeah, this happens. We've been there, done that.

Once everything stopped shaking, the captain came on and ordered to cabin crew to go and check on any injured passengers. When it became apparent that nobody was seriously injured or had been killed, which has happened in these incidents in the past, they went into cleanup mode. And they moved at the speed of light.

The first thing they did was clean up all the debris, all the glass, all the food that had been spilled all over the place. Once that was out of the way, they put down blankets to absorb all the goo and to protect against any sort of broken glass that might be still on the carpet.

Once that was all carried away, they went to began scrubbing -- the ceilings, the walls, they handed out towels to the passengers so we could wipe ourselves off.

It's about a 13 hour flight nonstop from Singapore to London and I was expecting to have a quick breakfast and then to curl up and have a long sleep. Didn't quite work out that way.


HOLMES: 20 meter drop like that. Goodness, me. That's passenger Alan Cross there recalling some terrifying moments.

Singapore Airlines, by the way, released this statement about the incident, quoting here, "Singapore Airlines Flight 308 experienced moderate to severe turbulence en route from Singapore to London on 26 May. 11 passengers and one crew members sustained minor injuries when the aircraft experienced a sudden loss of altitude and were attended to by medical personnel on arrival at Heathrow airport," unquote.

The airline also stressed that the seat belt signs were on at the time. So next time you're flying, maybe take a look at those.

Well, it's one of the most iconic quotes in history when Neil Armstrong landed on the moon, he said "one small step for man, one giant leap for mankind." Or did he? Here's Tom Foreman.


NEIL ARMSTRONG, ASTRONAUT: The eagle has landed.

TOM FOREMAN, CNN CORRESPONDENT: When Neil Armstrong stepped out to become the first man on the moon, not a soul on Earth could have guessed he would land in the middle of a cosmic controversy.

ARMSTRONG: That's small step for man, one giant leap for mankind.

FOREMAN: The problem, the first part of his historic sentence, "that's one small step for man" is grammatically incorrect. It should have been one small step for a man. And that missing a has been setting off grammarians ever since.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Liftoff, the final liftoff of Atlantis.

FOREMAN: Through all the years, NASA has insisted that he did say the a and modern microphones would have picked it up. Instead, the word was lost on scratching old equipment operating nearly a quarter million miles away.

And Armstrong, though he rarely gave interviews, throughout his life agreed with NASA.

ARMSTRONG: Thank you so much.

FOREMAN: Many scientists have tried to analyze the recordings and break down the sound waves with inconclusive results. But now researchers from Michigan State and Ohio State believe they have evidence that Armstrong's utterance may have been shaped less by space than by something very down to Earth.

The famous astronaut was an Ohio boy. And these researchers studied hundreds of recordings of natives saying the words for and a. And they found almost 200 times the words were pushed together, making a sounds like "fra." So listen again.

ARMSTRONG: That's one small step for man.

FOREMAN: Like the moon trip itself, the theory may be a long shot, but it could also prove the final word on the words of the man on the moon.

ARMSTRONG: Beautiful, just beautiful.

FOREMAN: Tom Foreman, CNN, Washington.


HOLMES: Meanwhile, scientists are digging up the remains of not one, not two, but three Triceratops, a three horned plant eating dinosaur. The bones about 67 million years old, about as old as me, found near Newcastle in the U.S. state of Wyoming.

Excavating them expected to take about a month. Researchers believe the dinosaur trio could be a family group, either a male and a female and their young, or two females looking after a child.

Well, before now, there was no indication that Triceratops moved in groups. One of those skeletons apparently in very good and complete shape.

Well, that is News Stream, but the news always continues here at CNN. World Business Today up next.