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U.S. to Boost Support for Syrian Rebels; Colorado Wildfire Turns Deadly; U.S. Worried NSA Leaker May Defect; Prince William Part Indian; Election Day in Iran

Aired June 14, 2013 - 12:00   ET


SUZANNE MALVEAUX, CNN ANCHOR: Full of lies. That's what Syria says about U.S. claims that it used chemical weapons. As the back and forth intensifies, we look at what happens next.

Will NSA leader Edward Snowden defect to China. Experts say the Chinese have likely made contact. They may be already telling him what to do.

And researchers find something surprising in Prince William's bloodline. We're going to tell you how a distant relative on his mother's side could change royal history.

Welcome to AROUND THE WORLD. I'm Suzanne Malveaux. Michael Holmes is off today.

We start with this, red line crossed. The White House says that Syria has used chemical weapons against the rebels. Now, that sets the stage for the U.S. military to now increase assistance to the opposition fighters. Syria's government strongly deny this allegation, accusing the United States of producing a statement full of lies. That's their words. The claim, the counter claims coming full force. We've got you covered on both sides here. I want to bring in our Athena Jones. She is live at the White House. We also have Fred Pleitgen. He is in the Syrian capital of Damascus.

Athena, I want to start off with you first. White House now has stopped short of saying that the United States is going to put weapons in the hands of rebels. So what kind of military support are they possibly considering?

ATHENA JONES, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Hi, Suzanne. Well, sources here say that the president has decided to increase the size and scope of its aid they're giving to Syrian rebels, including aid that will help increase their fighting capability. They aren't spelling out what that military support will entail, but our own Barbara Starr over at the Pentagon is reporting that the leading options are ammunition for rifles and machine guns. That's something the Syrian opposition desperately needs. New shipments of machine guns, possibly shoulder fired weapons that could attack things like tank, helicopters and jets, and also mortar's and rockets.

Now, the White House is not planning to send U.S. troops to Syria. That's not something the American public would support. And they're also, at this point, not ready to commit to a no fly zone. That's something that people like Senator John McCain have been pushing.

Now, the big question about all this is, will the aid that's provided really help the Syrian opposition tip the balance against Assad or will it be too little too late. They're now fighting not just the forces of President Bashar al Assad, but also Hezbollah, which is fighting with Assad's forces, Suzanne.

MALVEAUX: A lot of complicated issues there.

We're going to bring in our Fred Pleitgen out of Syria. We're having some technical difficulties now, but we'll bring him as soon as we can get him reconnected.

We are also focusing as well, election day in Iran. That's right. This is the country's supreme leader casting the very first ballot. You see him there. Calling on Iran's 50 million eligible voters to do the same. They will choose the replacement for President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, who is now ending his two terms. He is not allowed to serve another term. Sixty thousand polling places, they are open right now across Iran. Voters reportedly turning out in large numbers now.

Now, these are the six men who are left standing. This is out of almost 700 candidates at the start of the election season. We actually could get early results tomorrow.

And in Brazil, at least 100 people were injured. This is during the latest protest over higher bus fares. Watch this.

Wow. Thousands turning out for demonstrations. This is last night in Sao Paulo when the crowd started marching through the streets. You want to watch this here. Riot police confronted them with tear gas and rubber bullets. Just take a look at those pictures. Just a lot of people out there angry over the increase in the bus fares. The bus fares. It would push it up to about $1.55.

A huge battle going on now in Colorado. This is an intense fight against wildfires. This one becoming the most destructive in the state's history. The Black Forest Fire. This is near Colorado Springs. It has now turned deadly. Two people possibly just trying to get out of there, evacuate, never made it out of their home. Dan Simon is in Colorado Springs.

Dan, what have we learned about the two who didn't make it?

DAN SIMON, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, in that situation, you had two people who were trying to flee the fire and apparently they just got caught up. They stayed a little too long and they were found in what was believed to be a garage. The car doors were still open.

But I want to turn now here to the El Paso County sheriff. He -- this is the guy who overseas this community. You're overseeing this effort. These are your friends, your neighbors, who are being impacted here. And everybody who has seen these pictures, sheriff, these incredible pictures of these houses going up in flames, you can't help but be impacted by that. And the question that everybody wants to know is, how are you doing now? SHERIFF TERRY MAKETA, EL PASO COUNTY, COLORADO: You know, it's been a challenging week. It's been full of roller coaster rides. A lot of successes and some things that are very disheartening. Obviously the death of two of our citizens. And I constantly think about what their families are going through and, you know, the pain and what they're experiencing.

But we're a resilient community and we will get through this. We will get this fire put out and that community is really the definition when we talk about the Black Forest community of really bringing to -- the true meaning of the word, community. And they will rebuild and they'll recover.

SIMON: You said a short time ago that you think you may have turned a corner here. What did you mean by that?

MAKETA: You know, I feel like last night was real optimistic. I mean personally witnessing it myself in comparison to the two previous nights with the fire activity I witnessed and the lack of it last night, I was very encouraged. And I'll tell you, I got up this morning, looked at the -- saw the cloud cover, looked up to the north, a lot less smoke activity, and I just feel like today is our opportunity to turn the corner and start gaining some ground on this. And I think we're going to do it in leaps and bounds, or at least I'm cautiously optimistic.

SIMON: That's right, the fire did not seem to spread last night. You didn't lose any more homes. So what's the challenge? What's the biggest challenge you're facing at this point?

MAKETA: You know, I think not only did we not lose any large chunks of land, our efforts were able to control the fire. Now we have a lot of hot spots in there. It's spread over a wide area and it's getting that noose around and starting to choke it off.

The other thing is, our lines, I think, were tested yesterday. We had some winds blowing, conditions that were not favorable to us and that is one of the most positive outcomes is we didn't lose -- we may have lost one home, but through the night we didn't lose one and we didn't see tremendous advancement of the fire and that is encouraging.

SIMON: Sheriff, thanks very much.

Suzanne, as you heard, they're making good progress here. The key is, is that the temperatures are cooler today, the humidity is up and not much wind. So if they're going to make any effort, make any headway, today is a really good day to do that.

We'll send it back to you.

MALVEAUX: All right, Dan, best of luck to him and to so many people out there who are really just trying to get their lives back together. Thanks, Dan.

Now to eastern United States. The coast where severe storms knocked out power to hundreds of thousands of people, left some neighborhoods in shambles. Here's what the skies looked like as these massive storms moved through the Mid-Atlantic and the south. You had winds as high as 70 miles an hour, knocked down power lines and trees. A falling tree killed a four-year-old boy in Richmond, Virginia. His father, too, injured. Lightning was also a big threat with these storms. Outside Atlanta, right here, 900 lightning strikes were recorded in just 10 minutes. And in Pennsylvania, lightening started several fires as well.

Here's also what we're working on for AROUND THE WORLD.

A worldwide girl's education emergency. Well, that is what former British Prime Minister Gordon Brown says we are now facing. He joins us to talk live about the fight to change that.

And are the Chinese telling NSA leaker Edward Snowden what to do? Well, experts actually say it's very possible. We're going to tell you why they say defection is not out of the question.

And Ringo Starr cleans out his closet and puts it all on display. We're going to take you to the exhibit that has Beatles fans buzzing.


MALVEAUX: Check this out. A packed deck at a popular sports bar in Miami collapsed during last night's NBA finals game. That's right. About 100 people fell into the bay below there. About two dozen of them were actually hurt, three critically. Divers searched the waters and amazingly officials believe they have everyone accounted for. Miami Heat player Dwyane Wade talked about the collapse after last night's game against the San Antonio Spurs. He says his thoughts are with all of the victims.

And in Turkey, the prime minister agrees to hold off on demolishing a park until a court hears from opponents about the plan. So, Prime Minister Erdogan met last night with leaders of the protest movement that set off those protests, the riots that you saw by the park plan. Well, he also agreed to investigate claims that police used excessive force on those protesters.

The square in Istanbul, it was crowded but calm overnight. You see the pictures there. Sound of music replacing the sound of tear gas cannons being fired. A concert pianist played as protester and riot police simply watched and listened. That's nice.

In Toulouse, France, a crowd cheered on the first test flight of the new Airbus. We're talking about the A-350 XWB. It is designed to go head to head with Boeing's Dreamliner. It has an extra wide body and is more environmentally friendly, fuel efficient as well. And really what is amazing about the plane is the sound of takeoff very, very quiet compared to other conventional jets.

And U.S. officials now say that they are on the trail of the man who leaked details of the government's secret surveillance programs. They say they have a general sense of where Edward Snowden is hiding out in Hong Kong. Today CNN asked Attorney General Eric Holder why the U.S. has not asked for Snowden to be arrested and whether officials even know where he is.


ERIC HOLDER, ATTORNEY GENERAL: This case is still under investigation and I can assure you that we will hold accountable the person who is responsible for those extremely damaging leaks. The national security of the United States has been damaged as a result of those leaks. The safety of the American people and the safety of people who reside in allied nations have been put at risk as a result of these leaks. We are presently in the process of that investigation and I'm confident that the person who is responsible will be held accountable.


MALVEAUX: And officials say there is no indication that Snowden tried to sell the secrets, but they are concerned that China might be reaching out to him right now. here's Brian Todd with that story.


BRIAN TODD, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Top U.S. officials are now openly worried, will Edward Snowden defect?

REP. MIKE ROGERS (R), HOUSE INTELLIGENCE CHAIRMAN: Does he have a relationship with a foreign government and is there more to this story? Clearly there is. We're going to make sure that there's a thorough scrub of what he is - what his China connections are.

TODD: A former senior NSA official and a former CIA officer told me the Chinese government has likely at least made contact with Edward Snowden. One analyst says, over the past few days, it's looked more and more like someone is shaping Snowden's behavior, possibly "The Guardian" newspaper, maybe the Chinese.

So what kind of information does he have? To hear him brag about it to "The Guardian," besides the NSA's telephone surveillance and Internet monitoring programs --

EDWARD SNOWDEN, NSA LEAKER: I had access to, you know, the full rosters of everyone working at the NSA, the entire intelligence community and undercover assets all around the world, the locations of every stations we have, what their missions are and so forth.

TODD: Senior U.S. officials say they doubt Snowden really has all that information. Snowden has said his intent was not to harm the U.S., but former CIA Officer Robert Baer says there's no doubt he's being closely watched.

ROBERT BAER, FORMER CIA OFFICER: You and I cannot hide in Hong Kong. It's impossible. Chinese intelligence has that place riddled with sources, people, cooperative, police, the rest of it. It's impossible to hide in Hong Kong.

TODD: Baer says because of that there's little chance the CIA could capture Snowden through some secret rendition or other method even if they wanted to. Snowden told a Hong Kong newspaper that the U.S. government has been hacking into computers in China for years. If Snowden were to defect, what would the Chinese want most from him?

JAMES LEWIS, CENTER FOR STRATEGIC & INTERNATIONAL STUDIES: What the Chinese don't have is they don't have the knowledge of where we've been successful, whose phone has been hacked or whose computer has been hacked. They don't know that.

And so if he can tell them places, specific places that have been hacked, they can go and close off the source.

TODD: We called and e-mailed the Chinese embassy in Washington, asking if their government has made contact with Snowden and, if he wanted asylum, would they grant it. They didn't respond.


MALVEAUX: Brian Todd is joining us from Washington.

So, Brian, I want to ask you a couple of questions here. First of all, what is the main concern that U.S. officials have about the possibility of Snowden defecting to China?

TODD: Suzanne, they're going to want to know -- U.S. officials are going to want to know whether he gave them information on what Chinese military systems might have been targeted by the Americans.

They're also going to want to know if he gave the Chinese information on what Chinese military officials or intelligence officials might have been target by the Americans.

If the Americans have tried double agents in China and if Edward Snowden gave the Chinese that information about double agents, that is crucial information. That can actually get people killed.

So the Americans are going to want to want to know all of that, and whether he gave that to the Chinese, that's critical information.

MALVEAUX: And, Brian, what about the other U.S. rivals? When we talk about Iran or Russia, could he actually decide that he's going to defect to those countries?

TODD: That's a real concern as well, Suzanne. We know that China is the most likely possibility, but Iran and Russia would love to get their hands on him and get their hands on the information that he has.

An Iranian official at the U.N. called that a ridiculous idea, not worth an answer, when I corresponded with him.

Now, interestingly, a Russian official here in Washington did kind of reiterate what Vladimir Putin's spokesman said, that if he wanted asylum in Russia, they would consider it.

I mean, this guy's a gold mine for information, and U.S. rivals really would love to tap into it. MALVEAUX: I bet they would.

All right, Brian, thanks again. Appreciate it.

Coming up, when Prince William takes the throne, he's going to become the first British king with Indian ancestry. Yes, that's right. We're going to explain right after this.


MALVEAUX: Welcome back.

New DNA testing has revealed that Prince William is actually a bit Indian. The "Daily Mail" reports that scientists have discovered William's great-, great-, great-, great-, great- -- yeah, that was five "greats" -- grandmother was at least half Indian.

The woman lived in India and was a distant relative of Princess Diana, of course, Prince William's mother.

CNN royal historian Kate Williams join us from London. Hey, Kate, good to see you. Kind of fascinating. We get the five "greats," OK. What does this mean for Brits, I mean, that he's part Indian?

KATE WILLIAMS, CNN ROYAL HISTORIAN: This is a big deal in Britain. We're all very excited about this because, you know, Suzanne, in Britain we tend to imagine that our royal family are 100 percent English, absolutely to the core, and it's just not the case.

Yes, we know they're a very Germanic family, but this DNA testing is really revolutionary. What we're learning here is that Prince William and also his brother, Prince Harry, they are of Indian ancestry, and so he's our first, essentially, part Indian king to be on the British throne.

So a big exciting moment for India and Britain.

MALVEAUX: It seems very cool. I'm assuming it's seen as a good thing, yes?

WILLIAMS: Very much a good thing. India and Britain are long friendly relationship.

There are a lot of Indians living in Britain, who, of course, are thrilled by this news.

And I think, also, Prince William, he likes to see himself as a modern guy. And it's a surprise for him as well. I don't think he had any idea whatsoever that this was the case.

The only sad thing is that the DNA actually goes through the mother, so his child won't inherit it, but of course, his child will be, as we know, as he is, part Indian.

MALVEAUX: Why are we learning about this just now? How was this discovered? WILLIAMS: Well, that's really interesting. It's DNA testing. It's -- I mean, every day science absolutely moves forward, and DNA testing has revolutionized history across the world.

It really goes places that the normal historian like me just can't go because it proves to us that, as you say, the great-, great-, great-, great-, great-grandmother of Prince William was actually Indian.

We could never prove that before because people deny it in history. They say they're not. The actual great-, great-, great-, great-, great-grandmother of Prince William, she was taken away from India when she was six, brought up in an aristocratic family, so she herself never knew that she was part Indian, so no one would ever have known if it wasn't for this DNA testing.

So it makes a lot of difference to history. And what I think is that, once you start testing, a lot of us in this country, many of us, will have Indian ancestry or maybe ancestry from all over the world.

So I think it's time we realize our mixed our blood often is.

MALVEAUX: A melting pot, if you will, very much like the United States as well.

WILLIAMS: A melting pot.

MALVEAUX: It will be interesting to see the family photo, the reunion when they all get together.

WILLIAMS: Yes, absolutely. Well, we're hoping that William and Kate will go to India quite soon, and that will be really exciting when he does that.

MALVEAUX: All right, Kate, thank you very much.

WILLIAMS: Thank you so much.

MALVEAUX: Appreciate it.

Iranians are voting today, but will a new president really bring about any real change.

Well, coming up, Erin Burnett, she is inside Iran. That is right, talking to the candidates and the voters about what they are hoping will happen.


MALVEAUX: Welcome back to AROUND THE WORLD. Here are some of the other top stories that we are working on.

The stage is set for the U.S. military to get more involved now in the civil war that's raging in Syria. The White House accuses the Syrian government of crossing a red line by using chemical weapons against the rebels. Officials say as many as 150 people were killed with the nerve gas sarin, and the Obama administration deciding now how to increase military assistance to opposition fighters.

Syria's government says the U.S. report is quote, "full of lies."

A man who police call one of world's most-wanted child sex offenders is back on U.S. soil. Kenneth Andrew Craig arrived in Florida today after being extradited from Brazil.

Now, Craig, he is accused of sexual assault and exploitation against a minor in a Florida case dating back to 1998. Years earlier, he had been convicted of a child sex abuse case in Louisiana.

Police found him living in Rio de Janeiro where he was working as an English teacher.

It has been exactly six months since the massacre at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Connecticut. Today the town is coming together to honor the 20 children and six staff members killed that.

Church bells rang out this morning at 9:30, the time of the attack. Candles were also lit in their memory.

Victims' family members also read the names of people killed by gun violence. They also urged Congress to support background checks on gun sales.

Across Iran today, people, they are lining up to cast their votes for president. Fifty million people are eligible to vote there. Already the government has extended the polling hours to accommodate what is being called a high turn out.

Our Erin Burnett, she is actually there in Tehran right now, talking to people about what is driving them to vote.


ERIN BURNETT, HOST, "ERIN BURNETT OUTFRONT": A hot summer day in Tehran, thousands head to rally for Saeed Jalili.

The voters we met are passionate about the man in charge of negotiating Iran's standoff with the West. They're chanting, death to USA, death to Israel.

But their views were not that clear cut. In the section designated for women voters, I met Fatima (ph), a doctor.

FATIMA (PH) (via translator): We have no problems with the American people, but we resist the trampling on the absolute rights of Iran and its people.

Having our rights ignored by the American government representatives force us into this resistance.

BURNETT: And everyone we spoke with agreed that Iran wants to be respected.

While all the final candidates were approved by Iran's supreme leader, not all are hardliners.

The candidate that seems to be getting the most buzz in the final hours is Hasan Rowhani. This is his campaign headquarters in Tehran, and as you can see, it's pretty busy.

He was originally a fundamentalist, but he's now actually campaigning as a reformer and the cleric has gotten some key endorsements.

Rowhani has talked about being more open, and I asked him campaign manager what exactly that means.

Would he negotiate with the United States?